Farm­ers still have friends

The Northland Age - - Local News -

A sur­vey of New Zealan­ders’ views on the pri­mary sec­tor sug­gests that the ru­ral-ur­ban dis­con­nect may not be as marked as some com­men­ta­tors claim.

The sur­vey, con­ducted for the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries dur­ing last year’s elec­tion cam­paign, when ‘farmer bash­ing’ was high on some politi­cians’ and lobby groups’ agen­das, did find a drop in pos­i­tiv­ity about pas­toral farming among both ur­ban and ru­ral re­spon­dents, which did not sur­prise Fed­er­ated Farm­ers pres­i­dent Katie Milne given the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate at the time.

“It ap­pears we’re united in our de­ter­mi­na­tion to do even more to con­tinue to strive for im­prove­ments in wa­ter qual­ity.

“Dou­ble the num­ber of both city and coun­try folk see wa­ter qual­ity as our most sig­nif­i­cant is­sue when com­pared to a sim­i­lar sur­vey in 2008; af­ter all we are all in this to­gether,” she said.

The pri­mary sec­tor, how­ever, was still viewed as a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to the wider econ­omy, two-thirds of re­spon­dents be­liev­ing the coun­try was bet­ter off when farm­ers were go­ing well. The sur­vey also found that pos­i­tive views of the dairy sec­tor still out­num­bered the neg­a­tive two to one.

Ms Milne added that Fed­er­ated Farm­ers was im­pressed that ur­ban folk shared farm­ers’ con­cerns about such is­sues as biose­cu­rity in­cur­sions and the need for more ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness around preven­tion.

Farm­ers would also take heart in the re­port’s find­ings re­gard­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties and li­cence to op­er­ate.

“The re­port con­sid­ers that the pri­mary sec­tor cur­rently earns its ‘so­cial li­cence to op­er­ate’ by pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and food for New Zealan­ders,” she said.

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