OPINION: It seems to me the ratio of environmentalists who do plenty of finger-pointing and talking vs those who get stuck in and plant/improve things is about 10 to 1.
The reverse ratio is true of farmers. But it’s the blame brigade who get all the attention.
Lately I’ve read some interesting opinion pieces and comments describing the attitude of agriculture leaders, alleging they don’t want to do anything about changing the landscape or environment.
I go to lots of industry events as a Federated Farmer’s representative. I have yet to meet these supposed industry laggards.
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Granted, there were a few around when I joined the federation more than a decade ago, when we thought we could have a fortress mentality. But that attitude is long gone.
It amazes me how these critics can describe agricultural leaders and their attitudes when I never see them at any agriculture industry environment workshops, planning sessions, field days or just offering to help roll up their sleeves and help do the hard yards.
Yes, the hard yards are holding a shovel and changing things on your farm and in your community.
Equally crucial in the eyes of a bureaucrat is doing the paperwork/plans so they can tick them off. That’s important for us producers too, so the industry can report back to the wider community the progress we are making, such as with the Water Accord.
To be sure, our report card isn’t great, but a tremendous effort is going in to making sure we achieve it soon. Hard work and rewards take time.
The buzz words I hear now are: collaborative, research, case studies, leadership, evidence-based approach, science and “walking the walk”. Times have changed, but the view of our industry has not.
The current crop of agriculture leaders ask the hard questions around rules and the science behind them, and make sure they are justified. But when there is a clear reason we have to change, there’s collaboration on how to we do it and what it should look like.
Yes, times have changed and so has the farming industries targeting higher premiums. We don’t just rely on past reputations to justify the current market prices.
A lot of farmers now take great pride in describing to me what they are doing on the environment front, and what their future plans are when they have spare cash to do more.
Doing the right thing means different things to a lot of them. For example, on our farm, the goal is to plant 40,000 natives in the next ten years. We are close to 18,000 down now, with a plan in place to do the rest along with more fencing of sensitive areas.
We also want to update our good management plan in areas like incorporating new research and innovation such as the recently-released CRV Ambreed LowN Bulls we have been using for last five years.
It takes time for the results of farmers’ improved environmental footprint to show and meantime environmental activists are having a field day pushing their agendas.
In my view, the real environmentalists are the ones doing the work; the members of Federated Farmers fencing the waterways, restoring the wetlands, planting the riparian strips, killing the pests – but they are not making much of a song and dance about it because of their work ethic and shyness.
That might have to change when the public are being fed a diet of negativity and bias in regard to farming impacts. So please help the show the good work being done out there; post photos and video clips on social media, tag us all in so we can share your good work. If you don’t like the limelight yourself, send it to us and we’ll share it.
Above all, be positive. The good people of New Zealand will always see past the negativity of people who carp from the couch.