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Government rejects 'too many cows' report

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/06/2017

A Greenpeace demonstration outside parliament and its report that links intensive dairying with the safety of drinking water hasn't impressed the government.

The organisation's message is "Sick of too many cows?"

The report says contaminated water increases the risk of getting sick from bacteria and other bugs.

"Not only is intensive livestock farming endangering the health of our rivers, but the latest science says there is a chance it may be putting our health at risk," it says.

Prime Minister Bill English says the government is working hard with farmers to achieve higher levels of primary production and at the same time lift water quality.

"I think we'll be able to achieve high quality waterways without killing off all the cows," he told reporters.

"I don't think it's obvious that there's a correct number (of cows).

"What's becoming apparent is that changes in farming practice and requirements like fencing all the streams means that for a given number of cows there's a lot less impact on water quality."

Federated Farmers says the report is sensationalist rhetoric.

"Scaremongering the public with extreme claims in an election year is short-sighted and lacks integrity," said spokesman Chris Allen in a statement headed "Greenpeace report verging on hysteria".

He says dairy farmers have spent more than $1 billion in the last five years on environmental protection and 97 per cent of waterways on dairy farms exclude cattle.

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