Sigh: farm open gate days a lost cause
Fonterra and their farmers deserve a pat on the back for organising the open gate days on farms taking place on December 10.
It’s a good initiative and will hopefully be well supported.
The only concern I have is the people who will go are either fellow farmers or those associated with the industry. That’s preaching to the converted.
They are not the people the industry needs to reach.
What Fonterra should do is publicly challenge Greenpeace, Choose Clean Water, Fish & Game, the Environmental Defense Society, Safe, Farmwatch and other critics and all of their followers to put their money where their mouth is and attend the days.
Offer them an open invitation and challenge them to front up, leave their respective echo chambers and respectfully listen and talk to farmers.
They can ask farmers the hard questions about water quality, climate change or animal welfare.
The groups claim their gripe is with their leaders, not with grass roots farmers, well guess what the bulk of the farmer hosts of these days are exactly the latter.
For farmers, the opposite rings true. They can try to justify their farming system to these people. If they believe in what they are doing and have the evidence to back it up, this should not be a problem.
Instead, this day will be a missed opportunity. It will never happen, which is a pity. Heaven forbid that Greenpeace or animals rights groups such as Safe are seen engaging with the ‘enemy’. It might affect their donations. Who knows, if they did, maybe, just maybe, some middle ground would be found and a better appreciation of each other’s views would lead to behaviour change for the better.
The open days came on the back of some big announcements from the dairy industry. Fonterra has revealed plans to combat water pollution and climate change and more lately the dairy industry announced its new strategy, Dairy Tomorrow.
Of course it was decried by the usual suspects, claiming it failed to address cow numbers.
The main reason for not imposing a cap is that the industry wants to address water issues on a regional or catchment basis with iwi, regional and central government.
Former Waikato Regional Council chairman Peter Buckley’s farm at Te Kauwhata is one of those taking part in Fonterra’s open gates day in December.