Chil­dren bul­lied be­cause par­ents are dairy farm­ers

Cambridge Edition - - OUT & ABOUT - GER­ALD PIDDOCK

Dairy farm­ers’ chil­dren are be­ing bul­lied at school be­cause of what their par­ents do, DairyNZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr Tim Mackle says.

There had been ‘‘two or three in­ci­dents’’ of chil­dren who were be­ing sin­gled out in school be­cause their par­ents were dairy farm­ers, Mackle said in a speech at the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Farm­ers Fo­rum at Lye Farm on the edge of Hamil­ton re­cently.

Mackle called it: ’’The sad­dest story I’ve heard’’. The be­hav­iour was in­dica­tive of the neg­a­tive treat­ment many felt the in­dus­try was re­ceiv­ing from the me­dia.

‘‘It’s fair to say that across the coun­try, dairy farm­ers are feel­ing a bit beaten up right now and that’s been go­ing on for the last 18 months.’’

Mackle said he and the DairyNZ board had re­ceived a lot of feed­back on this is­sue. The or­gan­i­sa­tion holds pub­lic per­cep­tion sur­veys of 1500 peo­ple across the coun­try on a quar­terly ba­sis.

Sur­vey results showed it was not as bad as what peo­ple thought, he said.

Over half of the coun­try had a favourable im­pres­sion of dairy farm­ers. The other half was not all neg­a­tive to­wards dairy­ing be­cause much of the re­main­ing 50 per cent were neu­tral.

Those with a to­tal favourable im­pres­sion had lifted from 56-59 per cent since the last sur­vey.

‘‘The point is, we haven’t gone back­wards,’’ Mackle said.

Al­most all of those sur­veyed ei­ther strongly agreed or agreed that dairy farm­ers were valu­able mem­bers of their com­mu­nity.

How­ever, that dropped when sur­veyed peo­ple were asked about the in­dus­try’s en­vi­ron­men­tal record and dropped even fur­ther if they lived in South­land and Can­ter­bury.

Farm­ers should take neg­a­tive press ‘‘with a pinch of salt’’, he said.

‘‘It’s re­ally im­por­tant that

‘‘It's fair to say that across the coun­try, dairy farm­ers are feel­ing a bit beaten up right now. ’’

when we get a ham­mer­ing - and we will get one be­cause it’s an elec­tion year - that ac­tu­ally the numbers don’t back up what the me­dia are say­ing.’’

Mackle said they were not sat­is­fied with the re­sult and wanted to get back to a po­si­tion where New Zealan­ders were ‘‘proud’’ of the in­dus­try.

‘‘Last week’s [Water Ac­cord] re­sult is a great ex­am­ple. [It is] the biggest mo­bil­i­sa­tion to­wards our en­vi­ron­ment that our coun­try’s ever seen.’’

WAR­WICK SMITH

DairyNZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Mackle said there were cases of the chil­dren of dairy farm­ers be­ing sub­ject to bul­ly­ing at school be­cause of their par­ent’s pro­fes­sion.

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