There is increasing public concern about the practice after photos and film revealed dairy cattle being kept belly deep in mud and rivers being dirtied by sediment runoff from intensive winter feeding paddocks.
Fish & Game Chief Executive Martin Taylor says the agriculture industry needs to take a tougher line.
“What is happening at the moment is completely unacceptable. We need greater leadership from the agriculture industry to stop its worst members continuing their hugely damaging practice,” Mr Taylor says.
“We welcome Otago Federated Farmers’ criticism of forcing animals into mud-filled paddocks and Dairy NZ’s guidelines to improve the situation, but others must also step up and be counted.
“Federated Farmers in Southland needs to say where it stands as it has been actively trying to undermine Dairy NZ’s guidelines and weaken the region’s environmental plan to accommodate intensive winter feeding.
“And nationally, Federated Farmers must commit itself to clean up a practice which is hurting the reputation of many of their members who are doing the right thing and looking after the environment.”
Martin Taylor says opposition to both feedlots and intensive winter grazing is now widespread from right across the community.
“Over the last week, we have seen a huge groundswell of opinion against these practices from environmental groups, Fish & Game, vets and good farmers,” he says.
“They all say what is going on at the moment shouldn’t happen.
“If winter grazing cannot be done in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable way, then it has to be stopped and an alternative found.
“Farming’s bad performers can no longer continue severely damaging our rivers, lakes and streams, taking away Kiwis ability to enjoy their waterways and then expecting the public to pay to clean it up,” Mr Taylor says.
“Agriculture leaders and companies need to come out now and say how they are going to right the wrong of intensive winter feeding that is now being done in the name of profit.”