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"We Don't Want Cow Cubicles in New Zealand"

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Contributor:
Dallas Boyd
Dallas Boyd

A Facebook group caught my attention, "We don't want Cow Cubicles in New Zealand." My ears pricked up.

With no previous knowledge of the issue, my first impression brought to mind the image of battery hens, chooks raised in cages, and how farmers earn more for the eggs they sell if they are certified as "Free-Range." I imagined a future in which "Factory Farming" became the norm and non-conventional farmers charged more for their Free-Range dairy products. An inspector from the SPCA would have to visit the farm, inspecting the paddock to ensure the cow was indeed ranging freely, as is the case with chooks.

No, I thought. It sounds too unnatural. Too cruel to farm like that. So in an attempt to disprove my disillusions about the practice, I had to read more. This is what I found out.

"Three companies have applied for resource consent to house 18,000 cows in European-style 'cubicles' for eight months of the year." A great number of Kiwi's are opposed to this proposal and I decided I was one of them.

Numerous reasons were given as to why the practice is opposed - the focus being based on environmental reasons in order to relevantly address the application in regards to resource management requirements. Among some of the given reasons were: it's bad for the cows, bad for the environment, creates a disproportionate amount of waste, consumes a disproportionate amount of water, is bad for public health (e.g. increases the risk of spreading E.Coli bacteria), is bad for the dairy industry and bad for tourism. More emotive reasons for opposing the practise included, "It's not Kiwi... Not in New Zealand!" And honestly, even if I did not have access to the research which highlights the negative environmental and health impacts, I think I would still be opposed to it on those simple emotive grounds - it's not Kiwi. Not in New Zealand. I grew up on a farm, and like my fellow hillbilly friends in the wops, we learned to treat animals and the land with love and respect. My emotional response is, how could animals be treated that way??

Unfortunately, by the time I accessed the homepage providing this information, I discovered that I had already missed one of the deadlines in order to make submissions against one of the Resource Management Applications. However, there is still time to make submissions before the 18th of December if you are interested in sharing your views. Click here and here to open pages where you can make submissions either for or against the applications for the companies Five River Limited and Southdown Holdings Limited. For more information about making a submission and submission guidelines, www.greens.org.nz has provided a Guide

Ironically, the deadline for submissions shares the same date as the closing of the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. World Leaders seem to be (trying) to head towards greener pastures... carbon emission reductions, renewable and cleaner sources of energy, less waste... In that regard, is "Factory Farming" innovative or counter-productive? Behind the sense of pride we feel to be Kiwis, I think we all know that we're not as clean and green as we are percieved to be overseas... Perhaps like never before in history, people are tuning in to critically eye what individuals and nations are doing in regard to peace, nature and human resources. Can New Zealanders afford to take our positive "clean, green" image for granted? Hopefully by the close of December 18th, not only world leaders will have made progress for the future, but we too, as individuals and communities will have taken action to support a better tomorrow for places a little closer to home.  

To join the Facebook group (if you're into that sort of thing) click here. However, this is an issue that should not be solely confined within the gossipy, narcissistic depths of Facebook. If you want to maintain free-range dairy products for New Zealand and preserve the lifestyle of cattle in the outdoors, where they can walk about, graze and breath fresh air, then make a submission to Resource Management and express your view before Friday the 18th.

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