Howl of a protest on way

Jim Macdonald, of Mt Gowrie Station, and Groundswell NZ’s Howl of a Protest Dunedin organiser...
Jim Macdonald, of Mt Gowrie Station, and Groundswell NZ’s Howl of a Protest Dunedin organiser Gill Marshall are preparing for Friday’s event. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
"Farming could be a joy but really it’s a bloody nightmare."

Jim Macdonald has been farming Mt Gowrie Station, at Clarks Junction, since 1970 and he has worked through difficult times.

What farmers were battling now had been "created by a government that does not understand and does not even want to understand," he said.

On Friday, Mr Macdonald will take part in Howl of a Protest, a New Zealand-wide Groundswell NZ-organised event to show support for farmers and growers.

People were encouraged to bring their tractor, ute and dogs for a bark-up in cities and towns to protest against what it has been described as "increasing Government interference, unworkable regulations and unjustified costs".

With 20-odd dogs between Mr Macdonald, his son, Heath, and daughter, Katryna, there would be no shortage of canine contenders to fill the dog box.

Mr Macdonald said it was "time to stand up for what we believe in."

"We don’t believe in this nonsense.

"When you get enough people thinking [along] the same lines, you’ve got to make a stand. It’s as simple as that.

"It’s shocking. Every week, either one or two new things are cropping up.

"Every day you wake up and you think ... what’s she [Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern] done now?"

If it was not for farmers, the country would be broke — "Grant Robertson would have to write out more money" — and it was the rural sector that kept the country going during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gatherings were planned throughout the South, including Alexandra, Gore, Invercargill, Mosgiel, Palmerston, Oamaru, Queenstown, Te Anau and Wanaka.

Dunedin organiser Gill Marshall said it had been decided it was not safe to stop in Dunedin so participants would drive through the Octagon, between about noon and 12.15pm, their dogs barking.

They would then return to Mosgiel where former Invermay head Dr Jock Allison would give a short address and Ms Marshall would deliver Groundswell NZ’s statement on how it sees things.

Even though protest vehicles would be keeping left and letting other traffic flow as smoothly as possible, there would still be significant disruption to the travelling public around Dunedin and Balclutha and more time should be left to get to destinations.

"Respect and safety is what we want for everyone," she said.

Rural New Zealand was "hurting" and Ms Marshall hoped urban folk would support the sector. She had been getting messages of support this week not only from farmers but also agricultural contractors, agricultural service industries, tradies, ute owners and other concerned individuals.

"We’re constantly being told what we can and can’t do. Everyone I know has had a gutsful and we can’t stay silent any more," she said.

Groundswell co-founder Bryce McKenzie, from West Otago, expected an "enormous" response to the nationwide event. It was not just about the rural sector; there had been support from urban folk and tradespeople were organising some of the rallies.

The only major city Groundswell had left off the itinerary — and that was intentional — was Wellington. Mr McKenzie was expecting a "massive" number of tractors in Auckland’s Queen St. The logistics were different in the various areas, with some towns requiring traffic management plans, he said.

Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard said he was not surprised frustration and anger about "the deluge of new regulations and costs from central government" was spilling over into protest meetings.

Earlier this week, Ms Ardern said she understood the primary sector was facing "significant challenges" but insisted that delaying reforms of the rural economy would be "more damaging".

sally.rae@odt.co.nz

Comments

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I understand the farmers frustration. The government has rightly identified the need for our food systems to change but forcing farmers into a corner through poorly thought out regulations is not helping anyone or the environment.
Global greenhouse gas emissions by the livestock sector alone exceed emissions by all cars, trains, ships and planes in the world combined. While the continued environmental degradation of our lands, waterways and oceans is not acceptable or sustainable.
The government need to invest in the research needed to make plant-based and cultivated meat products more affordable and help farmers transit to the future of food production technology. While in the meantime subsidise them so they can start reducing animal stocking rates now.

Global greenhouse gas emissions by the livestock sector alone exceed emissions by all cars, trains, ships and planes in the world combined.
Pat, have you got any scientific figures to proof this outlandish claim ?

Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations - Livestock emissions 18%. Transport - 13%.
But you are right it does seem outlandish. Check this study out which finds that our global food systems are responsible for 34% of the world's GHG emissions.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-021-00225-9

Pat, with respect, one of the best scientific experiments of the modern world presented recently itself. When the globe was in lockdown, farmers kept farming.....but the vast majority of cars boats and planes stopped polluting the air. It has been well documented the effect of restricted travel had on the planet. As soon as the lockdowns stopped, the emmissions went through the roof again....but the farmers went to work everyday, the cows continued farting, because they didn't know any better....and farmers got up every morning and made sure we all still had food on the table. Even if some of you went for the toilet paper first! Seriously Pat, have you seen all the plastic in the oceans? Have you seen the rapid rate of deforestation? Why are we picking on the farmers that produce our food and a huge proportion of our export earnings. Change isn't going to happen overnight, regardless of climate change. We live in a capitalist society, that would have to be the first radical change......it's dependent on structured consumerism and a regulated workforce....good luck with that.

I am not picking on the farmers, please read my comment again. Unfortunately the dip in emmisions globally during 2020 (about 7%) was not even enough to keep us on track to limit warming to 2C.
The leading cause of deforestion is agriculture and the fishing industry is a major contributor to plastic pollution in our oceans. This is why we must start transforming our global food systems now because as you say, change isn't going to happen overnight.
Check this report out https://www.rethinkx.com/press-release/2019/9/16/new-report-major-disrup...

You best stop eating, pat, that'll fix everything.............

Good God! These guys seem to believe their own nonsense.
They should examine a bit of history to learn where the blame for their dilemma lies. Over a century of exploitation and applying non sustainable farming methods by the agricultural industry have come home to roost.
Generations of farmers before them have poisoned and laid waste the land and waterways by over application of fertilisers, over stocking and broadly speaking disregarding their impact on the environment.
Now, the carnage has to stop, farmers are required to use sustainable farming methods and are being expected to put right the harm they have caused and pay for it. Sounds fair to me. You destroyed it and reaped the profits, now you pay to put it right. Stop winging like children and take responsibility.

I think you're under-estimating the amount of money these farmers have generated for the country, so to suggest that "You destroyed it and reaped the profits, now you pay to put it right" is a at least unfair, at worst total nonsense. Where do you think the money that the government throws around comes from? They don't generate any of it themselves. Most of us who work in merry go round companies also do not generate any money we just recycle it. The only people that generate money are those that export their products and bring new money into the country. Turn off that tap, or make it so difficult or expensive to generate that money that people stop doing it, and the lights go out pretty smartly. Reality is without farmers there is no money for welfare, cycle lanes, new harbour bridges, supporting gangs financially, all those things this government is a big supporter of.

What absolute nonsense. Yes exports are the core generator of a country's income, no argument, but to suggest this wealth comes from farmers is nonsense. They'd generate nothing if it wasn't for the support industries around them, freezing works, dairy factories, drivers, ag contractors, fertiliser suppliers, engineers/electricians/mechanics, computer technicians, stock agents, the list goes on. All of these and their employees produce that wealth, not the farmers. It is a production/export chain and farmers are just one link in it and every link contributes to the wealth generation. If one fails they all fail
Lets just look at one link that I'm familiar with. Freezing works. Back in my life time these factories pumped their waste product into the nearest waterway. You wanted big eels go to the effluent output of the local freezing works. Then the world changed, they were required to clean up their act or be put out of business, not just by NZ law but by their customers. They cleaned up their act and they paid for it, themselves. No taxpayer handouts, no protests.
No lets compare the farmers. They caused the problem, they need to fix it and pay for it. Not cry like sooks.

Maybe its much simpler than that. While climate change and environment is an issue, do you seriously think that policy makers give a heck about it? e.g. tackling climate change by building more cycleways, seriously? It's nothing more than "job for the boys" if you ask me.
In the same vein, why should I believe that farming regulations are designed to fix the environment but not to force individual farmers out of business and sell it all to big players (who with their army of lawyers and lobbyists will keep exploiting the sh*t out of the land) i.e. to make rich richer?
Take the land away from people and you can control their guts for centuries to come.

To quote you FFS, "In the same vein, why should I believe that farming regulations are designed to fix the environment but not to force individual farmers out of business and sell it all to big players (who with their army of lawyers and lobbyists will keep exploiting the sh*t out of the land) i.e. to make rich richer?"
That is EXACTLY what dairy farmers faced in the 1990's. You either invest in more productivity or the dairy company won't collect your milk....because you're not 'viable' your operation isn't 'cost effective'......history repeats, only the speech maker has changed chord.
Yes, climate change is a very threatening issue, but change cant happen overnight. Farmers aren't silly, and they're not selfish, they can see what is happening, and they are best equipped to deal with their own problems. No seat warmer from Wellington would know how to deal with the problems on the coalface.....meetings at the local cafe and endless reports doesn't get the job done.

Ird, if you feel that passionate about the problems, maybe stop in at a country pub and tell them all how to farm 'properly'.
I don't think you understand some of the history of New Zealand farming. Fact is, the 'over stocking' you refer to was created by a monopoly dairy company. Farmers were told that small farms were no longer viable. They were told that they needed to increase numbers and work into bigger farms or their milk wouldn't be collected . A younger generation were encouraged to buy up ajoining farms and create 'mega farms'. Productivity was the name of the game, fertilisers were literally poured on to make the grass grow and increase yields so that the dairy companies dealt with less farmers producing more butter fat. Before that time, most dairy farms had fewer than 200 acres and herds were well less than 150 cows. And it was that way for many many decades. In the mid 1990's, Big Business consumed the average farm, pressures were applied to humble families and created the perfect storm that our environment is challenged with now. Most farmers did as they believed was right in the time.....just as you do today. One day....you may have to pay for your past too eh?

I wouldn't say I'm passionate, just cant be bothered with sooky farmers who threaten all of us when their customers and the NZ govt calls them to account.
As to a monopoly dairy company, It was a co-operative, monopoly, dairy company owned by farmers. Apart from overlooking that one small fact your summary of the history is pretty good I'd give 8 out of 10.
But you make my point for me. Their greed created the problem, their fathers and grandfathers and in some cases great grandfathers did exactly the same except on a smaller scale. Especially causing damage in the South Islands high country by stocking country that should never have been stocked.
They knew the damage their actions were causing, they just never thought they'd be called to account. But, the damage has been done, someone needs to fix it and pay for it. I say it should be them.
As for calling at a country pub and explaining my beliefs. Ha! They refuse to discuss it with me at my local, cowards! They weren't happy with me standing at the road side giving a thumbs down to their whinging and whining today either.

The problems that farming faces are not new, no one has a right to act surprised. They have been obvious, in some cases, for decades.
The only thing that is surprising is that farmers no longer have the political clout to stop action being taken, and suddenly they are protesting. I will bet you anything you like that these farmers have all denigrated climate and environmental protesters for years, but now protesting is OK. It is not OK to protest to save the environment, but it is OK to protest to destroy the environment.
If these farmers go broke and are forced off their land they will be OK, they'll get to live a life of leisure on the dole, because that is how these entitled rich people have described the unemployed for decades. If they can't farm sustainably, then they need to go and someone who can farm sustainably can replace them.
Who cares if the banks and chemical companies lose because the land values plummet to affordable levels and farms have to be run in environmentally friendly ways, the banks and chemical companies never cared about us.
Those that refuse to listen shall be made to feel. Mr farmer, allow me to introduce Mr Karma.

Mr Karma, really? Seriously, would be happy to see farmers go broke? I can't believe the acidic comments, obviously coming from those who have absolutely no grasp nor experience on a farm. You do realise that it is only in the very recent years that so called farmers have become as you describe..."rich". Generations of hard working farmers have actually lived on the edge of poverty, but you don't care. In fact, without the hard work of those earlier farmers, the latest generation wouldn't be where they are. These earnings have taken decades of back breaking work to accumulate, and fact is, even now, not ALL farmers are rich, but I can tell you something, they know how to work. They are witnessing some rapid changes and massive costs......but you don't care. They are watching all the hard work come to nothing....but you don't care......you'd rather just see multiple families go broke, but you don't care. Shame on you. Karma indeed......
If this is the attitude and division our country has to face in the pursuit of reversing climate change.......we're in deeper trouble than any sea level rise or wild storm could throw at us.

What a picture of entitlement. Perhaps he could outline tax entitlements he received from successive governments for vehicles and possibly even the education of his off spring. Yesterday’s man for certain.

Oh for goodness sakes. Every business gets tax incentives, do you not know how the business tax system works. Expences are tax deductable. Thing is, farmers have for decades sold their product overseas. It's called 'exporting', it brings millions upon millions of dollars into NZ. The roads you drive on, the hydro systems, any amount of infrastructure that this country is built on......came from decades of export earnings, NOT video games, IT time wasters or tourism, FARMING is what brought the money in.
Mikentte, get youself a pair of gumboots and walk another man's mile. "Picture of entitlement" ? how insulting. Do you want to eat, or would you prefer 'importing everything? Yes, systems need to change, methods need to change, just like every industry in New Zealand. Fact is, many farmers are indeed making huge changes, off their own backs...they are well aware that damage has been done. And while you're at it, take a swing at the building industry. Building houses on the very ground we need to grow food. Crazy. A lot of so called Kiwi's have lost touch with how exactly this country was built....bloody hard work, that's how.

Farmers at least have reasonable things to protest about when control over the land they have cared for for many decades is being taken from them. Government control, heavy taxation, denial of legitimate property rights, regulation of the rural sector so as to control it, all lends itself to frustration while seeing freedoms fought so hard for during the wars the totalitarians started.

No details in exactly what they are protesting: just ""increasing Government interference, unworkable regulations and unjustified costs..." "...created by a government that does not understand and does not even want to understand."

The later is unlikely. The former is a common complaint across all sectors.
We know more then we did when settlers first started clearing land for farms, and many of the old practices are no longer used. But history has shown repeatedly that left unregulated, things can get pretty bad.

Land clearance and logging has wiped out 95% of our wetlands, reduced forest cover from 80% to 25% of New Zealand, and altered most of our native grasslands. Many of the remaining habits are fragmented and small. Most of New Zealand's political regions have less than 30 percent of their reaming forest under long term protection ( DOC control ) Species extinction is likely over the next few centuries if this remains unchanged. And though deforestation is currently very low, its not 0.

It's difficult to balance long term sustainability with short term profit or productivity. I wonder if these people have any better solutions?

Good comment.

We all will pay for it.

Well look, to all you folk critising farmers, have you own protest about the damage to the environment. Stand up tall, take action now! Set the example, do NOW!!!!
That is what is being asked of farmers. They're being asked to task multiple regulations at great cost FAST! So here's your chance to show them how to do it...
Buy nothing that is plastic, nothing that uses fossil fuels, nothing that is grown from soil, nothing that has come from a mine, nothing that remotely resembles mechanised transport, nothing from a forest, nothing imported, then you can stand there in the cold naked as the day you were born.
Then, maybe, if you eat your own sewage, you could come close to being enviromentally neutral. Get real people, all they want is the ability to do their jobs.....you ALL depend on them whether you know it or not. A systemic change will take place as we all adjust to what is needed. Radical and poorly planned changes won't get us anywhere fast. Yes, the climate is changing, yes, we need to move as promptly as possible, but for goodness sakes, look to yourselves and make the changes you can, that's all any of us can do. Start with no unnessessary travel....good luck :)

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