Thursday, April 25, 2024

John MacDonald: Who says farmers can't be trusted?

Welcome to another war of words between the greenies and the government over changes to the Resource Management Act.

With the poor old farmers stuck in the middle, just wanting the chance to be trusted to do the right thing when it comes to protecting the environment. And that’s what I think we should be doing.

You know how people have this concept of Mother Nature and how it’s all peace and love and milk and honey and bees buzzing and gentle rivers and all of that? It’s amazing, isn’t it, how quickly all that goes out the window if the milk and honey brigade don’t like something?

Here’s an example in relation to the Government making five changes to the RMA: “The Government is hellbent on pushing our natural environment to the brink, exploiting everything it can for any profit that can be squeezed out of it".

Who’s saying that do you think?

It’s not Federated Farmers, they’re saying pretty much the complete opposite. They’re saying that the changes announced yesterday are “an end to the war on farming”.

It’s the Green Party which is talking about pushing the natural environment to the brink. In particular, its environment spokesperson Lan Pham. Who comes from the same part of the country I'm in: Canterbury.

Which is a hotspot for dairy farming, especially. Where truckloads of farms have been converted to dairy over the last 20 or 30 years.

One stat I saw today said that the number of cows in Canterbury went from 113,000 in 1990 to 1.2 million in 2019. I’d always thought that we have the most number of dairy cows than anywhere else in the country, But I’ve been looking around online and it might be Waikato. But Canterbury still has a lot.

And the thing that people often talk about when it comes to dairy farming, is the impact that level of expansion and intensity of farming has had and will continue to have on the environment. Because when a cow takes a pee out in the paddock today, it takes 20 years for the nitrates in that urine to work through the soils.

Which means that dairy farmers get a bad rap, but they’re not on their own, all farmers have been feeling the heat.

And, according to Federated Farmers anyway, that’s about to ease with these changes to the RMA that the Government announced yesterday, which are about doing away with things like limits on how much land farmers can use for winter grazing and water quality considerations in consent applications.

If you were to ask me which of the viewpoints I noted earlier align most closely with my view of the world when it comes to protecting and enhancing the natural environment, if I was honest and I had to choose one of them, I’d go with what the Greens are saying.

But, unlike climate activists and politicians, I’m willing to accept that things aren’t black and white. Which is why I think it’s time we just trusted farmers to do the right thing and let them get on with it.

And I say that for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I’ve got friends who are farmers and every time I go and see them, I can see that they just want to do the right thing. But, instead, they’ve had governments and government departments behaving like helicopter parents and watching their every move just in case they do something wrong. And that’s nuts.

And secondly, show me a farmer who wants to poo in their own nest.

They don’t. And this is where the greenies lose it. Because if they think farmers want to destroy the natural environment on their properties for short-term financial gain, then they know nothing about how it all works.

Farms are businesses, yes. But they’re also assets. And why would anyone want to do anything to damage their asset? They wouldn’t.

And that’s why I think that, instead of pulling farmers to bits, we should be trusting them to do the right thing.

Yes, I know, there are muppet farmers - just like there are muppet townies. But we can’t do anything about that. And if you think the Resource Management Act is how you sort out muppets, then you might want to think again. So, we can’t do anything about the muppets.

What we can do, though, is say to the farmers who aren’t muppets, that we trust them to do the right thing - and leave them to it.

John MacDonald is the Canterbury Mornings host on Newstalk ZB Christchurch. - where this article was sourced.

No comments: