Bay of Plenty Times

Plea to Govt: Take farm­ers with you

Huge op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead but green­ing of agricultur­e must be more car­rot than stick

- Jamiemack­ay­comment Agriculture · Wellington, New Zealand · Queenstown · Queenstown · Elizabeth II · Congress of the United States · Dunedin · Southland Region · Invercargill · New Zealand · Industries · David Parker · National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty · Keith Holyoake

Farm­ing eh? As the old say­ing goes, if it waseasy ev­ery­one would be do­ing it. As it turns out, there are anum­berof peo­ple in Welling­ton at the­mo­ment telling farm­er­showto do it. Thus, in the process, mak­ing farm­ing any­thing but easy!

Farm­ers cer­tainly face plenty of head­winds in David Parker’s en­vi­ron­men­tal space. But the up­side is the fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by sus­tain­ably feed­ing the dis­cern­ing top end of a bur­geon­ing 9-10 bil­lion pop­u­la­tion are al­most lim­it­less.

Fromthat per­spec­tive, our lit­tle is­land na­tion is uniquely sit­u­ated, pro­vid­ing­we­don’t shoot our­selves in the foot in a fit of pi­ous and zeal­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism at any cost. A goose, a golden egg and a sense­less ex­e­cu­tion spring to mind. As do goose-step­ping politi­cians.

I say this with­out fear or favour, be­cause I’m an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist too. I sus­pect I’ve spent­more­ofmy­own mon­eypro­tect­ing wet­lands and plant­ing trees than­manyof the Green Mpsin Par­lia­ment. Andmy con­tri­bu­tion is min­i­mal com­pared to that of­some farm­er­swho­have spent hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars— whether by re­tir­ing wet­lands, plant­ing na­tive trees or the ri­par­ian fenc­ing of wa­ter­ways— to im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment. In some­cases, it’s mil­lions, by re­tir­ing land or putting it into AQEII Covenant to pro­tect it in per­pe­tu­ity. There was no finer ex­am­ple of that gen­eros­ity this week, than the gift­ing of an iconic Queen­stown land­scape at the foot of the Re­mark­ables Range to the­queen El­iz­a­beth II Na­tional Trust (QEII). Dick and Jil­lian Jar­dine, own­ers of Re­mark­ables Sta­tion, have gifted own­er­ship of900ha to QEII, en­sur­ing the sig­nif­i­cant land­scape and bio­di­ver­sity on the prop­erty is pro­tected for­ever on be­half of all­new Zealan­ders.

As a for­mer farmer and the host of a ru­ral ra­dio show, I know­farm­ing and I get farm­ers. Bytheir very job de­scrip­tion they’re en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, guardians of land manyof them will never sell. But like any sub­set of the pop­u­la­tion there are bad onesw­ho­let the team down. I put that num­berat about 5 per cent. Mind you, if I look at our House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, I think I could eas­ily find six out of 120Mp­sto getmy5 per cent quota of those­whoare also drag­ging the chain. How­ever, whether you like or loathe his politics,

Parker is one of the smarter ones in the Bee­hive. Mymes­sage, or rather plea, be­cause he’s hold­ing all the cards, is forhimto take farm­ers with him. Use a car­rot. Don’t beat them with a big stick.

Ul­ti­mately, weall want the­same re­sult. It’showweget there, and the time­frame in­volved, we­need to get amean­ing­ful con­sen­sus on. Parker is right. We­got past peak dairy in­many re­gions of the coun­try in the past cou­ple of decades. Someof the win­ter­ing prac­tices, es­pe­cially the fur­ther south you go (where they can’t grow grass through June, July and Au­gust), were not ac­cept­able.

I am, though, buoyed by the Prime Min­is­ter’s sooth­ing tones ear­lier in the week­whenad­dress­ing the Pri­mary In­dus­triesnz­sum­mit. Andthat­was be­cause shenow­faces an in­trigu­ing po­lit­i­cal play at play here!

In her wildest dreams Jacinda would never have con­tem­plated a ru­ral red tsunami party-vot­ing Labour. Farm­ers arenowher con­stituency by right. She has amoral and fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tion to look af­ter the goose that lays the golden egg. Even­more­sowhenyou con­sider tourism has been com­pletely laid (eu­phemism for a stronger word) low by Covid. Her eggs arenowin the farm­ing bas­ket.

I in­ter­viewed her on­myra­dio show, The Coun­try, thisweekan­d put it to her that, if Shane Joneswasth­e self-anointed Prince of the Provinces, then she sure­ly­now­takes over the man­tle of thep­mof Provinces?

I’m a born and bred South­lander whonowre­sides in Dunedin. Never in­mylife­time did I ever think true­blue South­land (for­merly CluthaSout­h­land) would party vote any­thing other than Na­tional.

Le­gend has it that in the 1969 elec­tion, whenkiwi Keith Holyoake stormed to a fourth term in of­fice, there­wasan al­most-in­qui­si­tion in the lit­tle farm­ing com­mu­nity of Rivers­dale that I grewupin. Ap­par­ently, when­the num­bers were pub­lished from the lo­cal school polling booth, some­one had dared to vote Labour in our vil­lage. The cul­prit was­n­ever found! Andin a quirk of fate, my­class­mate from the said­same Rivers­dale Pri­mary School, Penny Sim­monds, is­nowthe­new­na­tional Mp­for In­ver­cargill.

Whether Penny will see out her po­lit­i­cal days as a tooth­less back­bench Op­po­si­tion­m­pul­ti­mately de­pends on Jacinda, rather than Ju­dith. If thep­m­can blunt Parker’s teeth, and take the farm­ers of the na­tion with her, she could be here for some­time to come.

Whether you like or loathe his politics, Parker is one of the smarter ones in the Bee­hive. My mes­sage, or rather plea, be­cause he’s hold­ing all the cards, is for him to take farm­ers with him.

Jamie Mackay host of New Zealand's flag­ship ru­ral ra­dio show The Coun­try, starts a monthly New Zealand Her­ald col­umn from today. Tune into The Coun­try on GOLD AM, New­stalk ZB, Hokonui & on­line via iheartra­dio for more ru­ral news.

 ?? Photo / Alex Bur­ton ?? If Jacinda Ardern can prune the thorns within David Parker’s en­vi­ron­men­tal port­fo­lio she could truly be the PM of the Provinces.
Photo / Alex Bur­ton If Jacinda Ardern can prune the thorns within David Parker’s en­vi­ron­men­tal port­fo­lio she could truly be the PM of the Provinces.
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand