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Anti-farmer policies ludicrous

Letter

Not being a farmer, I don't know of all the challenges farmers now face, but a few points leap out that any city dweller can comprehend:

1. Our forestry policy is seriously flawed.

Land is a limited resource — it is crazy to allow overseas investors to buy our land, subsidise the planting of exotic pines, then have no requirement that they harvest them. The investor is free to milk income from selling carbon credits, taking it all offshore. In 50 years their pines are beginning to die and releasing that carbon back into the atmosphere.

2. The proposed ETS changes are unfair.

How is it that offshore polluters can offset their emissions with exotic pines in New Zealand, yet the NZ farmer, producing food and export products for our economy, can't use the natives he has planted on his land to offset emissions?

3. It isn't only farmers.

The people affected include shepherds, shearers, fencers, stock agents, stock transport workers, meat plant workers, farm advisers, farm supplies workers, agricultural scientists, earthmoving and cropping contractors, engineers and mechanics, rural pilots, then all the admin staff, retailers and tradespeople who service the people above.

If the farmer loses the ability to farm, where do all those people turn? To cities — for your jobs, your houses and your traffic gridlocks? Or the dole and emergency housing?

4. The M.bovis emergency is a poor example of taxpayer money going to farmers; this is a bio-security threat and needed to be controlled.

How many billions has the Government sunk into saving jobs during the Covid-19 threat, while farmers kept on working?

5. Dismissing animal products as easily replaced by plant-based proteins is ill-informed:

a) Intensively cropping land for plant crops year in, year out is unsustainable.

b) Meat has by far the best nutrient and protein-to-calorie ratio.

c) Dairy is the best source of easily-absorbed calcium and red meat is the best source of easily-absorbed iron and certain B vitamins; these nutrients are essential to the healthy development of children and the wellbeing of pregnant and lactating mothers.

How ludicrous for a Government that has loudly sung “health and wellbeing” to deliberately reduce our ability to produce these superfoods.

Deanna Walton

  1. Mathew Bannister says:

    It’s a well-written letter and I agree with many of the sentiments.

    Deanna has identified many of the real-world issues associated with policies of which many agree with the intent, but have a different point of view on implementation.

    Carbon Farming – Without controls on how they are planted and maintained, these could become significant fuel stores for wildland fire in the future. The Ohau and Pukaki fires in wilding pines provide a small taste of what fires in this nature of planting could be without some standards.

    ETS – Offshore credits have been shown time and again to be falsified or not easily confirmed, so I agree with NZ focusing on offsetting here at home for the work it can provide. However, we should recognise some international schemes, especially where they are reforesting vulnerable land internationally and creating work. Farmers are already paying ETS for every kW of power or litre of fuel they purchase.

    The people linked to primary production are also in the same boat as farmers. No accident the national policy framework for co-operation is He Waka eke noa – We are all in the same boat, especially those in the industries and services linked to primary production. Farming often places itself aside from other primary industries such as fishing, extractives, forestry but the larger issues are very connected and common.

    Farmers have had significant investment from central government in addition to M.Bovis response. Investment in border biosecurity, trade access rules for exports, rural roads, water schemes, rural support trusts, CRI research, Callaghan research, AgResearch, university training are all other examples of Crown funds being spent that can benefit farmers. Yip, it could be more transparent, but it does flow from the Crown to the benefit of the primary sector. We must also not forget the significant investments made by previous governments which helped to create the farms presently in production.

    Alternative Proteins are part of the food system and will continue to be. But I would encourage anyone with a strong interest to visit the Sustainable Nutrition Initiative webpage. This group of researchers models the ability of the world to feed itself and has a number of articles based on its modelling of “what happens when?” It is great that NZ is leading the world with this modelling but it does allow for a transparent source of information for governments and individuals.

    The world is better served when we start talking and engaging, instead of shouting that the alternatives don’t work and have no future. Not one of us can know the future, but we can shape it.