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Gareth Morgan defends the Horizons One Plan and says that standards need to be toughened, not loosened. Your view?

Gareth Morgan defends the Horizons One Plan and says that standards need to be toughened, not loosened. Your view?
"What is astonishing and truly sobering about the Horizons case is the new low it has set for the willingness of Cabinet Ministers to use their position to further the interests of businesses at the expense of the public and to hell with the environment"

By Gareth Morgan and Susan Guthrie*

Horizons Regional Council in the central North Island has done what all regional councils should do.

It has taken its responsibilities to the public as outlined in the Resource Management Act seriously.

Horizons came up with a plan which will reduce the damage to the environment caused by farming, horticulture and power generation.

Horizon’s ‘One Plan’ proposes to do this by giving the council more oversight over activities that pose environmental risks, for example, requiring consents for activities such as cultivating steep land and imposing upper limits on how much nitrogen is allowed to leach into the waterways as a result of farm activities.

The public will benefit from this plan because it will stabilise water quality in the least damaged rivers, lakes and estuaries and bring the worse affected – such as Lake Horowhenua and the Kaitoke lakes – up to an acceptable level in time.

That means the region’s water ways will be more able to sustain wildlife and be safer to use for recreation than they are at present.

That some of the waterways in the Horizons region are currently in an appalling state is widely known.

Not surprisingly Horizons has had to endure an intense shelling from the businesses that will have to alter their practices. In the face of livestock and horticultural farmer opposition, the second version of One Plan that emerged after consideration by commissioners was much watered down from what the council had originally announced.

Unsurprisingly the Council was taken to the Environment Court by Fish and Game and the Department of Conservation and forced to defend the charge that One Plan Version 2 was too slack.

Fish and Game, and the Department of Conservation won, the court requiring that in order for consistency with the RMA to be maintained, the final version of One Plan has to be remedied to reinstate the stricter provisions and broader coverage (including the requirement that intensive sheep & beef farming and vegetable growing are activities needing to comply).

The persistent complainants who railed even against the diluted version, notably Federated Farmers lost a lot of ground at the Environment Court. They’d clearly not done their homework.

The rights and wrongs of this case couldn’t be clearer.

Farmers who rely on irrigation to support sheep and beef, who grow crops or vegetables, or practice dairy farming with industrial intensity, all have the potential to impart an adverse impact on the environment. Yet they bear few if any of the costs of this. They reap private benefit from their activity but pay very little to cover the environmental damage they cause, some of it irreversible the rest requiring clean-up which the general public has to pay for.

The natural injustice in this is a no-brainer.

It’s is a standard economics problem and the solution lies in regulation.

Horizons Council was supported by the Department of Conservation and both are on the ball in proposing to use regulation to bring about behavioural changes that will reduce the adverse environmental impacts of intensive land use.

The myopia of self-interest of course conveniently blinds the polluter to the rights of others. These persistent opponents of any sanction are now appealing the Environment Court decision in the High Court, convinced they can prove the illegality of One Plan.

There’s a lot at stake here.

Horizons is not the only council to take a serious stand against environmental damage caused by farming and horticulture practices. Success for it in the courts will confirm the precedent set by Waikato Regional Council with its nutrient cap and trade scheme around Lake Taupo.

The nationwide pushback against unsustainable farming practices, especially dealing to the consequences of ever-rising stocking rates is long overdue.

What is astonishing and truly sobering about the Horizons case is the new low it has set for the willingness of Cabinet Ministers to use their position to further the interests of businesses at the expense of the public and to hell with the environment.

Federated Farmers’ onslaught on Horizons has been aided and abetted by David Carter, Minister for Primary Industries. As a Cabinet Minister one might think Carter would represent the wider public interest, rather than just the farming lobby. However he has set out to undermine public acceptance of One Plan, claiming that it will “dramatically reduce” the productivity (read profitability) of farming and as a result be harmful to the public.

He’s said he’ll get the RMA changed – continuing a string of abuses on environmental protection from National’s senior ministers of late who can’t conceive of economic growth without accompanying environmental destruction.

It is a regressive view but one National, faced with a flat economy, is wholeheartedly embracing. In recent weeks Carter has referred to a report his Department commissioned from the Crown Research Institute Landcare Research, implying that this report showed the Environment Court had significantly underestimated the impact of One Plan on farm profitability. The Environment Court had accepted evidence that estimated a rise in costs for farmers of, on average, less than 5%, rising to nearly 17% for some farms. Landcare Research’s report looked at a wide range of policy options, none of which exactly mirrored One Plan. It was a report commissioned for the general purpose of informing local governments grappling with central government objectives for freshwater management. Its publication is timely given the damning findings on the state of our rivers reported in November by the Ministry of the Environment.

A further benefit will no doubt be provided to the Land and Water Forum attempting to arrive at sensible policy on using and polluting sources of fresh water.

In their report Landcare Research researchers did not model One Plan specifically but looked at three types of policies: better management practices (whether introduced voluntarily or by regulation), ceilings on nutrient leaching combined with the ability to trade these limits between farms, and taxing nutrient discharges.

One Plan’s aim is to bring about new management practices while introducing ceilings on the nutrient leakage from farms into the catchment. So it sits roughly as a combination of the first two types of policies that Landcare Research modelled.

However the policy Landcare Research modelled is so far astray from One Plan that the authors of the Landcare Research report specifically said their work could not be used to assess One Plan.

“As a result of the policy assumptions presented in this report, the estimates are not directly comparable with analyses of the One Plan.”

This caveat didn’t stop the Minister concluding the possible profit losses of 22% to 43% emerging from Landcare Research’s modelling were a fair reflection of One Plan. That’s about as sloppy intellectually as you can get – it’s amazing he can be so wrong.

Landcare Research modelled a policy which reduced the flow of nutrients from farms to waterways far more dramatically than is proposed under the Environment Court version of the One Plan. Landcare Research used nitrogen leaching reduction targets of 53% compared to current levels. Horizons’ current policy goal under One Plan is to reduce nitrogen leaching by just 4% to 9% in the first ten years and 8% to 20% over 20 years.

This huge difference makes any comparison between the two absolutely mad.

It is clear that nutrient leaching has continued in the Manawatu at a rapid pace since 2007. Otherwise Landcare Research’s use of 2007 benchmarks wouldn’t have led to such an extreme target for reducing pollution rates today.

So it could well be that Horizons needs to be more ambitious, not less as the Minister and Fed Farmers would have it.

Certainly, the Environment Court wasn’t happy to see goals watered down.

By misrepresenting the profit implications of One Plan David Carter has attempted to undermine Horizons and endorsed the self-interest of the farming lobby – odd he’s also the Minster for Local Government. More importantly this is yet another demonstration of the National cabinet’s open hostility to environmental protection.


Gareth Morgan is a businessman, economist, investment manager, motor cycle adventurer, public commentator and philanthropist. Susan Guthrie is an economist who works at the Morgan Foundation. This opinion piece was first published on his blog and in the DomPost. It is reprinted here with permission.

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good article. Thanks Gareth and Susan!

Well, if it also clobbers the 'treated' sewage discharges from Unclean Urbanites too......

Gareth Morgan - Do you still have a financial interest in a Brazilian Dairy Farm and processing plant? From what I have researched you still have this financial interest Mr Morgan.  Just enlighten all the readers here on how much nitrogen you apply to that dairy farm Mr Morgan? Or will you go into hiding on that issue.
To RMA is not allowed to be used to stop business competition Mr Morgan - yet you think you  can invest in Brazil and then protect your milk price in Brazil by promoting that the RMA in NZ should be applied with severity to farmers in NZ.  Is that a squeaky wheel I can hear?
Mr Moran certainly shows no patriotism to his fellow citizens when it comes to investing. In fact   Mr Morgan doesn't seem to consider citizenship an important component of NZ society and accuses those who don't like foreign investment as being Xenophobic. Well Mr Morgan most of us think that foreign investor money should be carefully directed not just a free for all race. And if Mr morgan is so concerned with Xenophobic attitudes maybe he could start addressing those countries who are Xenophobic and wont let foreigners buy up land at all.
Oh yes and Mr Morgan it was not your dairy farm skill set that you took to Brazil !  Hope you paid all those NZ dairy farmers who developed the farming systems your using? Oh.. perhaps that knowledge was FREE......When piggy backing on a squeaky wheel one should be careful.

cheap shot....
regards the ball and not the man.  But i guess that is a bit too difficult for you.

What's so difficult?
Either Mr Morgan has an interest in Brazilian farms and processing plants, or he doesn't.
Pretty simple question, and relevant I would have thought, given the context of his article.
Let's see if he answers, shall we.

You can have a look at some comments on my blog regarding my interests in Brazil here -

Interesting article outlining environmental requirements farmers and others are going to have too accept and adapt too. Reminds me of a field day I was privilledged enough to attend on Colin Armers farms north of lake Taupo. One attendee was bemoaning the effect of the 'greenies' on his future business sustainability, and Colin acceptingly suggested that the market will work it out. Sentiment I suspect Gareth would agree with.
I agree with the sentiment about the minister of Ag and local govt. One other major travesty he was involved in , encouraged and facilitated was the introduction of Fonterras trading amoungst farmers (TAF), and with it the destruction, not evolution, of 100+ years of cooperative dairy development and future intergenerational succession, for the sake of a few privelidged current shareholders, gifted the capital, and those in the financial sector waiting to get their grubby and destructive mits on it; you probably know a few Gareth. Like the arguement against the one plan, the arguement for breaking up the cooperative dairy industry and Fonterras monopoly (I'll acknowlege shortcomings of substandard governance and leadership, abbetted by a dodgy constitutional structure since formation could have been a good reason) was based on sloppy intellectual foundation championed by Carter and self serving, myopic economists, such as lazy co-op capital, and underperforming monopolistic behaviour focusing on low value commodity, with no regard for the exiciting and visionary possibilities for coopertive enterprises in the modern age, and the sustainable and positive benefits they have on society.
Apart from the need for environmental restoration and stewardship, there's an economic analogy in their. Our economy seems out of kilter, and I think it's more than just a few untrustworthy and poorly regulated money managers and advisors, you've wrote about in the past. We need some bold and visionary economic solutions, much like the one plan.

@ Omonologo -
I agree with the sentiment about the minister of Ag and local govt. One other major travesty he was involved in , encouraged and facilitated was the introduction of Fonterras trading amoungst farmers (TAF), and with it the destruction, not evolution, of 100+ years of cooperative dairy development and future intergenerational succession, for the sake of a few privelidged current shareholders, gifted the capital, and those in the financial sector waiting to get their grubby and destructive mits on it; you probably know a few Gareth.
@ Gareth Morgan - The myopia of self-interest of course conveniently blinds the polluter to the rights of others.
Credit is an oppressive mistress to those extending it just as much as it is to those obligated by it.
Whom do we hold responsible?

Stephen, well put, if I understood your point correctly! The point I'm attempting to make is despite this article raising legitimate concerns about environmental stewardship and holds Carter, Feds et al to account, I believe the concerns about the behaviours and attitudes (for want of a better description) are analogous (and representative) to fundamental economic problems, which contribute significantly to the environmental problems.
In the past Gareth has been arrogantly dismissive of the cooperative dairy model, however  cooperatives which have not hybridised fundamental time honoured principles contribute positively to the lives and businesses of their shareholders, the communities they live in, and society as a whole. To belong to a successful co-op, you've got to be prepared to give a little, not just take. They may not be as stella performers as Gareth, or so called free market neo-liberals think they should be, relative to the stock standard corporate model, but given the intergenerational community focus and longeviety (notwithstanding misguided buerocratic interference at the behest of myopic economists and other self centred types), they are probably less likely to be associated with same degree of environmental degredation. In Gareths case of the financial advisor and environmental campaigner, I'm not convinced we can have our cake and eat it to, certainly not within the framework of current economic thinking which dominates our business landscape.

"Farmers who rely on irrigation to support sheep and beef, who grow crops or vegetables, or practice dairy farming with industrial intensity, all have the potential to impart an adverse impact on the environment. Yet they bear few if any of the costs of this. They reap private benefit from their activity but pay very little to cover the environmental damage they cause, some of it irreversible the rest requiring clean-up which the general public has to pay for"....
All of this sounds wonderful until you stop and think it through The Public will pay regardless as the Farmers / Producers will simply pass on the increased costs to their customers ...The Public ...

Correct its a case of pay now or pay a lot more later.  The point is as you destroy the land's ability to support you have to be more and more intense on whats left until the system collapses.
So the ever increasing costs of fertilizer get passed on....the ever increasing debt burden...etc etc...
All done really to suppport the debt taken on which is typically 35% of the goods cost....

Steven - Where is all this destruction your talk of? Are you trying to scaremonger?
Farmers actually do a damn fine job and are on the whole very good stewards of the land.
Farmers do not have the ability to pass on any increasing cost including fertiliser as you mention above ! Farmers are price takers not price setters. A price taker is at the mercy of the open markets, the weather, Government Policy, bureacratic policy and the exchange rate.
The "debt burden" does not get passed on, the farmer has to manage the debt with all other prices constantly fluctuating, add in the weather, government policy etc which are always fluctuating as well and you will see most things are stacked fairly heavily against farmers. 
You could look at cities and say they destroy the lands ability to support them, cities also have an ever inceasing debt burden tied up in housing debt, how environmentally friendly are the urban sewerage systems? how much water use is in each city? All those manicured lawns and gardens get plenty of fertiliser and chemical weed sprays - maybe you should look at the product sales in NZ for garden fert and garden sprays. Add in all those sports fields, public gardens, golf clubs etc and city people sure use a lot of resourses and environmentally the costs have not even been looked at. 
If people want to be fed in the cities and towns then they need all those people who produce food. Farmers are a very switched on bunch, they have to be, they are running extensive business's against all odds. Famers have to be stock specialists, pasture and soil managers, extremely good on financial matters, they have to do financial budgets, feed budgets, they have to deal with the inefficient fast expanding bureaucratic and compliance issues daily, they make changes as they can afford them just like everyone else. 

not quite right WHODUNNIT. There are new farming systems that have lower pollution and around equal cost. Check out biological farming systems. The environment court said costs of reducing pollution into rivers would by 1% increase. We have to do this. Can't just fill our rivers with poison, nitrogen and phospherous run-off

Its the tradgedy of the commons and its as old as the human footprint. Luckily nature has a technology to combat these issues. Its called a tree. Shade, shelter, soil stability, as many chemicals as we will ever need, and the answer to every single problem facing the planet. Imagine if the pentagon had spent all that money on trees and not bombs. 
As an example look at the flag of Lebanon; it has a cedar tree as its centrepiece. Now where are they all. Gone, with goats as the final, desperate agricultural fallback. Every person who suggests this is too simplistic should read 'Topsoil and Civilisation". The  Middle East suffered climate change, in this interglacial, at the hands of Man. 
I shake my head, when during droughts, farmers stand in a paddock devoid of trees and bemoan the lack of rain. Or after a winter storm, they cry over dead newborns when nary a shelterbelts is  to be seen. A farm with about 20% tree cover, intelligently designed, will always produce more, on average, than the same land devoid of tree cover. And the benefits will be felt off-farm as well. 
Too Easy!

You stole my post, offcut. Even the word 'nary' is a personal favourite. Well done you.

Imagine if the pentagon had spent all that money on trees and not bombs

They'd need bigger planes to carry all the trees over to drop on the enemy (trees being bigger than bombs). Also I don't think it's possible to have a laser guided tree.

bonzai trees?

Seven billion and heading for nine.
And we still want to bring in more people.

good article laying out the reasons and history....meanwhile the so called lovers of land land wail and nash....
oh dear....

Farmers are the back bone of our country, but so too is the environment. If they spent a bit less money bidding up each other's farm values and borrowing stupid amounts of overseas funds, then maybe they would have the cash to farm in an environmentally sensible and sustainable manner.  Or you could turn it round the other way.  If they farmed acceptably the profits would only support sensible and sustainable farm values.  As things stand they have really done it to them selves because at some point down the track (quite close) farm values will return to something more sane and they will also be faced with the extra cost of farming sustainably.  Their debts will be the same.

I used to visit a superbly balanced sheep, beef and deer unit in Southland.  Extensively planted in shelter belts, clear streams and ponds for birdlife an so forth.  A farm that looked after both the stock and the wildlife.
Drove past a few years ago.  It was like the area had been napalmed.  A lone house stood in the middle of an empty paddock, no gardens,trees - nothing.  Vast pddocks had replaced the smaller sheltered lots and an irrigation system marched across on auto pilot.  The stock stood swelterng in the heat....and yep they were damn dairy cows.
And they wonder why the words dairy and dirty go together.  Dairying has so much to answer for...and the Nats are no help at all.     

Labour won't be any help either. Read re Damien O'Connor saying council 'wastewater worse than farmers'. ;-)
Apologies for not posting entire link, but having problem with the copy function.

Yes mr Morgan NOT...The Horizon one plan is very much like Stalins plan for
the peasants that had to be removed from the land.I pity the average farmer
in NZ .Private property rights are being removed by stealth in this country Farmers
dont really own their land when a busy body stasi council can stomp all over your
land   opps sorry theirs and decide its and your future. Comrade Morgan ....
Dont be fooled by this evrio jargon crap its about control .

its plain to see Mr Morgan that all farmers are guilty of polluting the land lets
label them as such as a true socialist would then get the public on your side
and throw rocks at them and tax them off the land.But dont forget to tell the public
that food prices are going to skyrocket . Yes this Green agenda is what its all
about removing private property rights and the right to exist on your land. promote
corprorate farming GM foods etc ,higher food and energy prices all in the name of
saving the planet.

Save the planet? Well eventually it will have to be done, but jiggery poking genes and corporate farming do not strike me as the way.
The only way this planet will be "saved" is when the human race starts taking steps to reduce its numbers. Now there's war, there's starvation or there's education and contraceptives. My choice is the last.
Ramping up and intensifying farming, expecially dairying is not the answer. Milk is a luxury product, I mean what's with the demand for all this baby formula, las time I looked, humans still got the ability to provide their own baby's food themselves.
Raping that planet will not save the planet and I am not sure how people think that those methods will. This applies to activities like fishing etc as well, of course

And corporate farming would in my view, have to be the least environmentally concerned way to farm of all!

Gareth could always enter young farmer and show everyone how its done ...

What is interesting is the attitude of some farmers at least and their mouth pieces....If bruce Willis is any indication the "love of the land" is complete rot....its love of the money pure and simple....
I think there are enough pieces of paper laying out the regulations/policy.  Its simple, user pays...

You have to go a long way back to find the cause. Farmers just followed the carrot, the incentives were there, tax free capital gains, tax deductable interest,  bankers willing to lend over and beyond the call of duty, the incentives  were huge, a gold mine you could never attain in the work force. Millions of dollars a year added to your net wealth.
 As an example I purchased a farm for 600k that 5 years latter had a GV of 2.2 million, for me to make that 1.6mill in the real world would have required me earning  3 mill and paying tax on it. That 1.6 mill was as good or better than saving as it was in land that they are, 'not making any more of', and I could leverage off it.
 The incentives to invest in property irespective of earning was logical when  you look at the huge rewards and dairy was King of the pack, the by products were no so enthusiasticly welcomed by the community. Poor wages, poor at paying bills and long term many are totaly unsustainable. Those in housing had similar incentives. They were the new Jed Clampets, and they showed the way for others to follow, creating a self fulfilling prophecy.
  We need to look at the incentives and they come from the top, NZ didn't mange to catch Helen Clarkes knowledge wave, we missed it by a mile, look at our internet speeds. We failed to encourage new business that paid good wages and gave us good skill sets. We sent our best minds into banking, real estate and asset speculation.
 At the end of the day its a leadership failure and we need to look at ourselves because thats were the fault lies. Its in the way we vote, our  short term thinking, our education failures, our high welfare dependency our nanny State our elite civil servants who now know best and are grossly overpaid, our tax system that distorts incentivesand our politicians who only think as far as the next election. Our belief that the best way to make money is the way JKEY did, off someon elses work and production. We need a fundamentral shift in the way we behave, we need a hard look at our expectation for the work we do, we need to see where our competition is and we need to pull our finger out. We need to stop providing poor incentives in the work force we need to stop paying girls to have babies we need to protect those at risk but we need to do in a way that does not encourage more of the same behaviour.
 In the short term we need to face the fact that we have huge debts on non or poorly performing assets and thats going to hurt a lot.
 Even the elite amongst us have benifited hugley from our tax system and Roger Dougless'  ingnorance. Its easy to give advice and direction once you feel safe on top of the hill, you have made your pile, so now its Ok to look down on the rest and find fault, for you are a gifted one, who walks amongst others as a king.
 A lot of my dairy farming friends have worked their butts of and are now facing financial ruin, its not a fun place to be, and they were just following the money, they could have sold i n 2007and been the next 'Jed Clamperts',they could have been Gareth Morgans neighbors but they missed the boat, they could have been dishing out free advice from their 15 meter fishing boat with their Audi, after a trip to Europe. I feel terribly sorry for them, its no picnic being on the wrong side of the bank.
 The other problem was that we drew attention to Fonterra as a gold mine, a shinning light in the darkness, we attacted the attention of the finance buzzards, and thye have come to pick its bones clean. We got told it was a monopoly, it wasn't market orientated, its was to big to trust to a bunch of farmers. We apointed meglomaniacs to run it, it then gave the wrong incentives to producers, we let it become indebted and it left its flank exposed. Its going to be relegated to history as one of our great failures.

Good post...."to find the cause" very true....really "we" have painted our way into a corner....and the wettest bit is probably the debt.
"best minds" not just here....I think its been the same way for 30 years......why do risky startups etc when you can become a stock broker and "retire" at 45?
With peak oil though I think thats about to change. Though actually this process is entering the second stage.  The first was a move away from expensive production in the 70s that used ever more expensive and copious quantities of energy to services that used little in comparison. 
JK is a child of that first stage, the wrong one to lead into and through stage 2.  His caucus is plainly listening to channel 22, a bunch of clowns. Shearer is frankly like Gough, useless.  I dont know if Cunliff is any hope, but otherwise Ive seen zilch (or worse) from the Labour front bench.  Norman, well maybe, but I have my doubts.....lets say he hasnt as yet proved to be a no.
The rest are No....maybe someone(s) will shine through....but the highly conformist party system is reallly setup to grind those out...

Roger douglas's "ignorance", I dont believe that for a second.
Fonterra, yes I expect that if private equity gets in it will be gutted and saddled with debt...its already not looking too hot.

cool always Andrewj

Great post Andrew. Our other great failure is reported today with Landcorps profit a right royal 27 mil. This government is hell bent on making us all slaves to big banking and big business. Helen Clarke sent us on a tailspin into this mire, John Key is cementing us in the poop.
The poop being working for someone else for menial wages. Slaves for life. This is not what all our ancestors came here for. From Maori, to the english, the scottish, the dutch, the islanders, etc etc, we came to be free. To own our own little piece of paradise. Except now our future, be it farmer or townie is that of renters in our own land. What is John Key doing to stop this?

Andrewj - good post. The only way to stop this boat and change direction is to get rid of most of the taxes as this stops the carrot dangling. People believe that big Government is necessary and so we keep feeding the system and keeping the distortions in place.
I reckon a good bunch of farmers and business people who have some experience under their belt would be far superior at running this country. NZ needs a "practical" approach and farmers and mid size business people have this experience.

Pressed the like button but a bit depressing from Andrewj.

The wool boom created an expectation that you could ride to a bright future if you hitched your wagon to farming. It didnt last long but my father in todays money got over $3,000,000 in the boom, so much money that it was paid out over 3 years, he spent his life waiting for it to return. It was so crazy and distorted. A law firm in a place called Waipawa had the biggest managed trust fund in the country.
 Then we had the EU and that was the writing on the wall.  Now we depend on quota allocation for much of our profitable exports, and break even on the rest. Id love to know what access to Europe for butter is worth to NZ. Same goes for lamb and the USA quota for beef.
Roger Douglas and Prebble gave away Telecom, NZ rail and probably other Im not aware of. BNZ was a cock up that I dont know a lot about. I was young then but it doesn't look like they were geniuses witrh hindsight.

I lost any respect at all for the Horizons Council, when 2 years ago, the Media reported, they fined a Farmer, in the northern Hill Country part of the District for spraying Bracken and Gorse, when the Farmer had not got approval to do so, from the council.
Then we have the Issue of the Polluted Waste Water going into the Manawatu River, from the so called Treatment Station for Palmerston North City.  Polluted water flowing through Horizons Council area, on its way downstream to the sea, and probably being blamed on Farming.
Almost every Farmed Area in New Zealand is Unique. The Variability of land is enormous. eg The MacKenzie Country to Taranaki. Each Area has to be Farmed in a specific way to suit the Landforms, the Soils, Rainfall, etc,  so I think it will be very difficult to have a Single Plan that suits all area's. 

Good post Jack - the like button was not working.

Pot calling the kettle black Gareth. If you have invested in the Dairy industry in Brazil you need to be squeaky clean with what you are doing there before you start throwing the Effluent around here.
There are area's that some farmers need to tidy up with regards to mainly Nitrate leaching etc.
As has already been stated this will cost and the tidy up will happen. The costs will be borne by the farmers first and then will be shifted onto the consumer. There is no doubt about it.
If you complain about the price of milk now then try and buy it in 2020. When even Brazil dairy farmers will be tidying up there act.

Very REAL article by Gareth and Susan.
We all need to disregard the continual self-serving myopic behaviour of David Carter, who is a proper a 'waste of space' along with many of his colleagues whose sense of entitlement makes them blind to any sense of vision as to what can be accomplished by paying attention to the state of our environment.
Fed Farmers lobbying comes under a very similar category.
Lucky for NZ and the finite resources of our Islands (and planet) that not all agriculturists are infected with a short-sighted, self-serving myopia.
There are many farmers who show a real sense of responsibility towards the environment and the future health of their children and grandchildren, but sadly, their far greater agriculture/environmental contribution is being  drowned out by the Egos and lack of vision of Carter  and Co who could do with a 3 in1 vaccination against  Entitlement, Greed and Myopia.
It's very compelling that a Scientist/Environmentalist (Mike Joy) should feel so desperately powerless that he would expose New Zealand's environmental hippo racy   to the World Markets.
Mike Joy has risked being pilloried by the very people who espouse responsibility for the environmental stability of this country.
Joy has taken the ultimate step to try and protect  our beautiful islands against the rapaciousness of Carter Fed/Farmers and other agenda-driven, destructive Lobbyists .
In short, farmers need to be assisted to comply and commit to the standards required and outlined in the Horizons One Plan and similar regional clean-up Plans.
New Zealand agriculture/horticulture should have a vision to adhere to the 100% Pure standards. If this was followed with real integrity, and niche- marketed with skill and ability worldwide, our export profits and the wealth of our famers could well far outstrip our current commodity-driven system.
To achieve both farming integrity and increased profitability, farmers would need to 'take the bull by the horns' and get rid of Carter and his ilk in Fed /Farmers, and elect people who have the courage to reign in those who are making excessive profits on the backs of a DECEITFUL marketing culture.
Address the corruption of Big Pharma who spend zillions brainwashing agriculturists into poisoning our pastures and waterways. Pull back the Banks who push debt in the gain of excessive profit, imprisoning good keen farmers in an unhealthy spiral of over-burdening their land, livestock and families to a future of irresponsible, sick production that the international world is showing signs of rejecting.
We need to show integrity and implement a clean-up of our environment before the rest of the world market calls us to account for false marketing.

...louienz...right on!! 

louienz - NZ food production is pretty darn good on the world scale. Yes there is room for improvement and complacency should never creep in but when you travel around the world and view farming and horticulture systems NZ is far superior to most countries in food production and the associated environmental issues.
Many of the bad practices in agriculture and horticulture that have been exposed on the internet and other forms of literature refer to other countries poor practices and it is then assumed by people living in NZ that those same poor practices are performed broadly here.
Most family farmers are acutely aware of all the issues surrounding agriculture. Unfortunately Best Practices are guidelines by Bureaucrats and this group are far to far behind to make quality decisions. By the time they become aware of a problem the problem is/has been solved by the growers themselves. 
I am somewhat surprised that you can suggest that Gareth has written a good article when he has investments in dairying and processing in Brazil. I think you'll find his nitrogen use is way above anything a NZ farmer is applying.  Dirtying NZ farmers reputation while investing in another countries dairy industry with few standards to breach  is below the belt shot in my book.

Notane - not good enough. To compare to 'the world' is to compare deckchairs.
Agriculture, here and everywhere, relies on fossil fuels. Despite wishfully-produced aces, there is no replacement on the horizon. No grower is within a bull's roar of 'solving' that.
7 billion in overshoot. Don't say you weren't told.

Do you know how much fossil fuel calories it tales to produce 1 of food?
Im suprised you think others think NZ is simialar to abroad though comments by some Farmers mouth pieces suggest bringing in palm kernels etc is fine....well it isnt. 
Apart from that my looking around suggests NZ isnt good enough, but yes abroad is far worse.  the point is not to look at how bad others are but to look at what the future generations of farmers will be left with.  If we really care about the land then that land should be handed over to our children  in as good or better condition than it was received from our parents....right now we are not meeting that it seems. 

Steven - exactly. I remember my kids grew out of putting their hands in front of their eyes to block out an unwanted reality, about the age of two.

Farmers have hedgerows, we need more hedgerows that would fix the problem.

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now,
It's just a spring clean for the May queen.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on.
And it makes me wonder.

Steven - I'm very familiar with the Biogeochemical cycles. Maybe you could stretch some of your learning into the bacteria's, microbes etc that are essential in many of the processes within the biogeochemical cycles. And don't forget to study the marine nitrogen cycle seperately as it is different to the fresh water/soil nitrogen cycle. There are a number of studies which are being undertaken worldwide and I have pointed you towards these in the past especially those that relate to the carbon cycles.
And are you qualified/specialised or have had hands on practical experience in any way when you suggest that NZ isn't good enough with its farming/food growing methods? Or are you just an unqualified armchair critic?
In regards to fossil fuel calorie conversion to 1 of food, I think myself and others have discussed this issue with you to death.

Yes what a great plan it is to protect our special environment. Most of the land around Taupo is unsuitable for dairy production, let it be for sheep and cattle production and lower input production, It is really poor soils and they dont grow much at all

This thread is dead Donker, suffice to say I stand by my thinking outlined in comments above, that it's a misnomer to assign responsibility of environmental degredation directly to farmers without considering the economic fundamentals and principles which foster such results. Having said that you might know, I'm a central plateau farmer, and boyo it's amazing what you can squeeze out of a lump of pumice. Pure alchemey my son. We'll keep the secret ingredients to ourselves, what the heck, one of them is rain water..
There's a rich lister cocky nearby (in fact there's two biggies in the central plateau (wouldn't surprise me if everyone on the rich list is a 'farmer' these days, just need to look at Gareth), who's also got significant landholdings in the mighty SI and central plains, but he's got faith in taupo's sandy soils. Buy low, a bit of abra cadabra and a cowshed, and hey presto, you've made some serious dinero my friend. This person was a Fonterra high flyer (a CAP star, a loyal shareholder, and right behind 100% farmer ownership and control, you know what I mean?) before falling foul of Henry. His advice is let the market decide how best to protect our special environment, right up your alley, who needs co-ops? So tranquilo my friend.