Monday, January 25, 2010

Basin reservations

How John Key’s government responds to the
[tax] working group’s recommendations is
shaping as its biggest test.—Dominion Post 22.1.10

Maybe. But I think the Government’s response to the
Mackenzie Basin intensive dairying proposal is going to be
a more crucial one. Interestingly, there are signs that it will
put a stop to the idea, which, if implemented, would mark
a significant turning point in New Zealand agriculture. The
latter, for all its faults, and for all its propensity for
dumping artificial fertilizer on the land and vast quantities
of shit in the water, is still by industrialized-world
standards relatively benign. Already, as I’ve written, we’ve
seen the infiltration of US-style feedlots for fattening cattle,
but only on a tiny scale. If the Mackenzie Basin proposal
gets the go-ahead, it’ll be all on for indoor farming on a
European scale, with thousands of cows being kept in
cubicles for up to eight months of the year. Several cows are
already on record as saying: thanks, but no thanks. This has
nothing to do with agriculture in its true sense and
everything to do with profit maximization regardless of the
cost to beast or man.

So there’s that; and even other farmers are uneasy about it,
something Agriculture Minister David Carter publicly
acknowledges—a definite sign that the Government itself is
preparing the ground to block the plan. Even it knows not
to get offside with farmers. But there’s also the potential
despoliation of what one media outlet calls the ‘famously
arid’ basin, one of New Zealand’s iconic landscapes. That's
why the companies behind this proposal thought it such a
good idea, of course: the land, in their eyes, is 'arid' or
empty, vacant, unproductive, and therefore useless for
anything else. It's the Kiwi version of shopping at arids.

Did I just use the word ‘iconic’? I must be wound up about this.

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