Monday, January 19, 2009

Country matters

Cactus Kate is rude about this opinion piece by Don Nicolson of Federated Farmers in the SST though without saying why. She is leaving the assault to Home Paddock, who so far has stayed silent. Maybe CK objects to the absurd intro based on Alice in Wonderland (“It is magic, but so too, is farming”), though probably it isn’t Nicolson’s fault as he has staff to write this stuff.

A better idea of this thinking can be found in this piece, “Town versus Country” from The Press, which is an interview (i.e. not written by Fed Farms’ PR staff) with his actual words. Nicolson makes some very good points about townies’ misconceptions about farms and farming:
Surely everyone knows that agriculture and forestry account for 65 per cent of New Zealand’s exports? You might think Australia is a farming nation, too. Yet, despite those outback farms the size of small European states, agricultural exports are not even 4 per cent of the Aussie economy. We are quite simply the biggest dairy and sheep meat exporter in the world. Or, to turn it around, the society whose fate is most closely tied to what is going on in its paddocks. . .

Our farmers continue to be the least subsidised, the least protected, of any Western state. They are also among the most innovative and productive. For the past 25 years, farming productivity has been growing 3.3 per cent a year compared with a measly 1 per cent for New Zealand workplaces as a whole.
That last statistic is staggering. The whole thing is well worth a read.

1 comment:

Cactus Kate said...

The Farmers Union strikes again.

Any other person/sector/grouping in NZ stating how important they are in any opinion piece would be shot to bits.

His argument about Australia is self-defeating. Agriculture is less than 4% of the Australian economy. Yep. And Australia is a far wealthier country than New Zealanders. Dependence on farming hasn't exactly led NZ to the top of the heap.

Says it all really. NZ might be a farming nation but the wealth in farms is not the produce, it is the land that the farms sit on. Most "salt of the earth" small farmers would be better off selling their land, cashing up and sticking the money in the bank as the returns are so poor even in a record year.

I endured the first 17 years of my life with indoctrinations as to why country is better than town.

Bit over it as I've spent the next 17 years of my life realising there is far more to life and living than cowshit and fence posts.