It’s official – water quality improving

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So the voters have had their say and I must confess the result surprised me.

Not so much that National is back in Government, but the way the left split their vote and gave their party vote to National.

What was also of surprise was how this pattern was the same across the country. You would have thought the whole nation had conspired together before voting.

What it does show is that New Zealanders are smart and understand that someone like Kim Dotcom cannot buy us. We as a country are not out for a free lunch and we need to work closer and harder on the matters that count.

Farmers are doing a lot to improve water quality but at the same time we cannot survive without export dollars. Where is the balance and how long should it take to change?

The OECD recently measured cleanliness of rivers among all member countries. New Zealand came out on top: first was the Clutha and second the Waitaki, yet if you listened to some of our political parties you would never believe this was possible.

The Commission for the Environment report stated that 90 per cent of our rivers are getting cleaner. Out of 1,000 rivers only 17 were graded as poor and even they were improving. While water quality overall needs to be better, OECD data confirms it is improving.

Of interest to most of the Waitaki is the drop in the pay-out to dairy farmers and the effect that will have on our community. In true terms it means the average dairy farm has lost $620,000 worth of income against last season.

That’s money that won’t be spent within the community and has significant flow on effects. Farmers will have no choice but to put away their cheque books and hunker down.

If you multiply that loss of income over the whole country the effect for us is going to be huge. On a brighter note though, sheep and beef incomes appear to be holding with a slight improvement over last season. Long may it continue.

By Richard Strowger, president North Otago Federated Farmers