Where there’s muck, there’s money, they say in Yorkshire. And in this country, where there’s pong, there’s profit. Until the bloody neighbours bleat about wanting to smell roses, not pigs or mushrooms, and local authorities conspire to shut you down.
A perturbing rise in farming-hostile behaviour is the subject of a critique by Owen McShane, director of an outfit called the Centre for Resource Management Studies, who persistently rails against local government mandarins and their barmy rulings under the Resource Management Act (which the Key government, strongly supported by my wonderful constituents, is pledged to reform).
Agriculture is the most important sector in our economy, this McShane bloke points out in a press release, and the productivity of our pastoral sector is second to none.
Good stuff. He can shift to Eketahuna tomorrow. We are a welcoming community and he should have no trouble getting a resource consent to re-establish his centre here – Harry Cloghead has a disused hayshed that could be converted and we’re state of the art in the broadband department, here in the Tararua region, as the Dominion Post somewhat belatedly reported. The lifestyle and ultra high-speed broadband (the newspaper predicts) will make Eketahuna, and soon the whole Tararua, a destination of choice for many high-tech New Zealanders and to those overseas escaping the economic tsunami and world human over-population.
But we don’t want urban wankers whose idea of the sweet smell of success doesn’t gel with that of the locals.
As McShane puts it (getting to the nub of things) –
“We seem to be prepared to allow highly productive agricultural industries to be closed down because of poor management of the conflict between the adverse effects on near neighbours of the pig farms, chicken factories, and mushroom farms and composting plants and the like.
“We will have difficulty establishing bio-generators and bio-fuel fermentation plants in future unless we face up to the need to acknowledge that these intensive biological industries do not make good neighbours for those seeking a rural lifestyle or even carrying out regular pastoral and horticultural enterprise.
“They certainly will not sit well alongside vineyards and their associated restaurants and tours.”
He reminds us of the closing of a piggery run by the Johnson family on their Waikato property for decades – suddenly it came under attack from near neighbours complaining about the smell and from Environment Waikato who supported the complainants.
Something similar more recently led to NZ Mushrooms, a subsidiary of Christchurch-based Meadow Mushrooms, being forced to close after operating in the Waikato for about 54 years. About 160 workers will lose their jobs because of problems with odours wafting from the company’s composting plant, 3 km from the farm itself.
Another Waikato piggery farmer was fined $35,000 for failing to contain odours, and – earlier in the year – was barred from expanding and developing a 300 tonne-a-day organic waste digestor producing biogas at Keeone near Morrinsville.
The piggery would have been the second biggest in the country, McShane reckons, and electricity would have been generated with biogas produced from piggery waste and industrial waste, such as expired supermarket food and waste from meat and food processing industries.
As McShane points out, councils set their cannons against rural residential subdivisions on the grounds that they remove farmland from productive use, yet they support those same rural
residential landowners when they move to close down some of the most productive agricultural activities in the country.
Thus New Zealand allows highly productive agricultural industries to be closed because of poor management of the conflict between the adverse effects on near neighbours of the pig farms, chicken
factories, and mushroom farms and composting plants and the like.
He draws attention to two short papers that show a serious problem exists and point the way towards a solution. Your hard-working MP will be bringing these to the attention of the Cabinet.