Happy new year! (or is it ?)
As I do every year, I made a new years resolution list. While many don’t get completed (and get recycled for next year) I find it’s a good way to set goals and get myself motivated for the year ahead. I even went so far as to buy a brand new planner to help organise myself and keep track of the many projects and things I have planned for the year.
Post-holiday blues have set in already. Although my summer break wasn’t quite full of sunshine as I had hoped I had a pretty good time away. Imagine then my ‘shock’ at being greeted with yet another onslaught of ‘anti-dairy’ and ‘dairy is the devil’ news in the media after weeks of being incommunicado.
I say shock but I’m not really. It feels like every other day there is a new organisation or individual berating and blaming dairy (and farming in general) for the ills of the world. Got a cough? Must be because a dairy cow lives 10kms down the road. Late for work? bloody farmers!
So what this time? Greenpeace. water. pollution. I don’t need to say it, you’ve all probably seen it. *Collective sigh*
There are a number of news articles on this. All of themstirred a bit of emotion for me. That emotion being ‘pissed off’.
I feel I have a right to be pissed off because I work in agriculture. And yes, agricultural journalism is both a ‘thing’ and in the industry. I spend my days immersed in everything happening in the dairy industry, I read the research, talk to the farmers implementing the research, so I consider myself (rightly or wrongly) relatively well informed on all things dairy.
So lets crack on…
“In the ongoing fight between Greenpeace and the dairy industry over the state of our rivers, Greenpeace has won the latest round.” – Newshub journalist introducing the story.
Now, although I’m a journalist, I never went to journalism school, but I fully understand why the media uses ’emotive’ words like ‘fight’ but for me, that just leads to further separation and segregation between agriculture and ‘non-agriculture’.
It also suggests the dairy industry are willing participants in this ‘fight’ which I don’t believe is the case. The fight, if that’s what we are calling it now, is generally always bought to the dairy industry, all they do is defend themselves, as is their right. Imagine the uproar if Greenpeace or SAFE weren’t allowed to make their own comments or defend themselves? The mind boggles…
*Ding ding ding* ROUND 2
And then Mr Russel Norman, Greenpeace executive director shares his two cents, which to be honest, I find laughable. I wonder if any of them has to initiative to pick up a farming paper or magazine and actually look at whats inside?
“Industrial agribusiness has been denying the facts around the dairy industry and water pollution.”
If Mr Norman actually did his research, perhaps he would find that the agriculture industry has accepted the facts around water quality and are taking a number of steps to improve things. Healthy rivers, Horizons one plan, Water Accord are just a few of the things that spring to mind. I myself have written a number of articles on the work going on in the agricultural industry to improve water quality.
His statements about the dairy industry trying to confuse people about the facts around water pollution is verging on grasping at straws to support his argument.
To me, the situation boils down to a few things.
- In ANY industry there will always be a few rouges. The actions of a few don’t define the larger group.
- Research on water quality is extensive. The industry has taken this research and used it as the basis of new research on how this can be improved.
- Farmers are investing more and more into fencing water ways, upgrading effluent systems all of which requires money, money which has been in short supply in recent years. (But wait, aren’t we ignoring the facts of water pollution….? hmm)
- Water is integral to all farming systems. Without water farms can’t function, and with no form of income, farmers can’t live.
- New Zealand farmers are already world leading, and facing challenges other countries haven’t yet. We are learning and improving all the time.
- Just as water pollution didn’t happen over night, the reversal won’t either. Rome wasn’t build in a day!
- Improvements in water quality are ALSO well documented – you just have to WANT to read them.
So where does this leave us now? Starting off the New Year with another round of ‘dirty dairying’ ads campaigns that have the effect of turning the public against the very people that help put food on their tables (and yes I know much of our produce is exported, but that ladies and gentleman is how the world goes round).
So far as I can tell farmers, Greenpeace and Joe Blog living in town all want a sustainable New Zealand for our children and childrens children to enjoy and prosper in, to have the same opportunities and experiences that many of us had growing up. Why then are we fighting each other and playing the blame game? Is the media to blame ? (see, even I’m playing the blame game!)
Surely with a common goal (or at least, I think it’s common? perhaps Greenpeace has a hidden agenda?) everyone could be working together on this issue of water quality? Or at least, for the improvements and hard work going into improving water quality to be recognised and acknowledged.
And after last years shit show of a year, you would think people would want to start 2017 on a happy note. Apparently we revile in misery.