Environmentalists 'exploited' river cattle saga - farmers

  • 28/08/2016

Federated Farmers is hitting back at environmental lobbyists blaming the farming community for the gastro outbreak in Hastings.

Over 4000 people have fallen ill with the waterborne bug in Havelock North, after E. coli was found to be in the local water supply.

Since then, some groups have blamed wandering stock and farming practices for the outbreak.

President Dr William Rolleston says since the saga, farming practices have been unjustifiably put as the root of the cause by some groups.

"They've exploited this to push their agenda, and I think that's disappointing. I think what we were trying to do is alert the public to think about the messages they are getting," he said.

Dr Rolleston says most farmers are actively trying to prevent situations like this occurring.

"You can't do it all in one go - so that is actually a work in progress. You're never going to eliminate a phytograph of cattle standing in a river," he said.

"[If you wanted to], you'd have to sensor waterways in New Zealand, or eliminate agriculture in great tracks of land in the high country."

Dr Rolleston says there is no silver bullet for to stop occasional outbreaks - and sometimes the system fails us.

"There are lots of things councillors can do in terms of mitigation of risk - chlorination is one, putting a deep bore down is another," he said.

"But these are all risk mitigation, which means they reduce the risk. You'll never eliminate the risk."

Mr Rolleston says photos of beef cattle standing in the Tukituki River this week failed to mention the site was downstream from the Havelock North bores.


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