Sigh: farm open gate days a lost cause

South Waikato News - - Rural Delivery - GER­ALD PIDDOCK

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.

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