Herald on Sunday - - REVIEW - Kerre McIvor u@Ker­reWood­ham Kerre McIvor is on New­stalkZB, Mon­day to Fri­day, noon-4pm.

When I was a kid, go­ing to stay with our coun­try rel­a­tives was a real treat. I still re­mem­ber the thrill of see­ing a lamb be­ing born, at 7 or 8, on a cold crisp Can­ter­bury morn­ing. In my me­mory, the am­ni­otic sac was a beau­ti­ful, rain­bow colour and I re­mem­ber feel­ing awestruck and com­pletely grossed out.

At an­other rel­lie’s farm, I be­came a dab hand at dodg­ing shitty cows’ tails and putting on suc­tion cups and hos­ing down the milk­ing sheds af­ter the cows made their way back to the pad­docks.

I thor­oughly en­joyed meet­ing Eric the pig when I took my daugh­ter to see her South Is­land grand­par­ents — and a few months later I thor­oughly en­joyed eat­ing him at Christ­mas.

I’ve spent a day film­ing at a freez­ing works and al­though it is an as­sault on the senses — and it took more time than I imag­ined to scrub off dried blood and vis­cera from my face — I came away sat­is­fied the meat I eat was be­ing killed hu­manely, ef­fi­ciently and hy­gien­i­cally.

In fact, apart from the hor­ri­fied look on the steer’s face as it came up the ramp and saw the hor­ror sto­ries it heard as a calf from its older brothers were, in fact, true, the steer didn’t know a thing. Would that my death be as quick and as pain­less.

Suf­fice to say, I un­der­stand what it is to choose to be a meat eater and don’t have too many ro­man­tic no­tions of farms or the busi­ness of farm­ing.

And I’m grate­ful to our farm­ers for cre­at­ing a mod­ern, so­phis­ti­cated in­dus­try that is the back­bone of this our econ­omy. I know it hasn’t come with­out pain.

The fourth Labour Gov­ern­ment re­moved sub­si­dies for farm­ers in the 80s and I re­mem­ber the news of farm­ers, dev­as­tated and bro­ken, walk­ing off farms in fam­i­lies for five and six gen­er­a­tions.

Thirty years on milk fat prices are linked to New Zealand’s well­be­ing. I un­der­stand all that.

And I’m also well aware the re­spon­si­bil­ity for, and the bur­den of clean­ing up our filthy wa­ter­ways is not solely that of farm­ers.

I have writ­ten many times about the need for Auck­land’s coun­cil to bring its in­fra­struc­ture into the 21st cen­tury and stop pol­lut­ing Auck­land’s har­bours, rivers and streams with filth. We have to clean up our own back­yards be­fore we can go in­ter­fer­ing in any­body’s else’s.

And I un­der­stand the ra­tio­nale be­hind David Clark’s open let­ter to Ki­wis, con­cerned about the rift he sees be­tween ur­ban and ru­ral Ki­wis.

The mid-Can­ter­bury farmer launched a pas­sion­ate de­fence of farm­ing this week, de­plor­ing the fact so many of us seem to see farm­ers as the en­emy.

I think it was more the com­ments made by his lo­cal Ash­bur­ton com­mu­nity that up­set him — along the lines of farm­ers ru­in­ing the coun­try­side and de­grad­ing the wa­ter­ways, when Clark pointed out farm­ers were the lifeblood of so many com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try.

I’m sorry farm­ers feel so de­fen­sive. Most of them are do­ing their best to make a quid and look af­ter their live­stock and the land and it’s not in their best in­ter­ests to run a shoddy op­er­a­tion.

But town­ies are al­lowed an opin­ion, even if they don’t have cow­shit in their veins. Farm­ers don’t op­er­ate fief­doms where their word is law — they have to abide by rules and reg­u­la­tions, like us all. Yes, rules are ir­ri­tat­ing and time con­sum­ing and costly and some­times we don’t see the sense in them, but we all have to abide by them. Town­ies need to un­der­stand farms aren’t bu­colic Dis­ney­lands and farm­ers need to ap­pre­ci­ate that the de­ci­sions they make don’t just af­fect their bot­tom lines — they af­fect the rest of the coun­try too.

Mark Mitchell

Farm­ers have to abide by rules and reg­u­la­tions, just like us all.

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