Can Kiwis Take The Agricultural Sector For Granted?

New Zealand has changed rapidly in the last generation. Previously, most of the city children spent their school holidays on relations farms soaking up the fresh air, exercising, being with animals, getting up early in the morning and enjoying those big breakfasts of porridge with fresh cream from the cows that were milked the previous day.

As a result, they understood the issues farmers had to face daily and were sympathetic. Germans apparently still send their children out to farms for the school holidays to experience life in the country.

Successive generations and changes of lifestyle have created a new culture where it is not so cool to be on farms.

Kids would rather stay in the city and text their friends, listen to their iPods and play their play stations while sitting in a warm house at home. While their parents are rushing around making money and having a latté at cafés. As a result, we have a new generation of people who have no connection or understanding of farming or the issues around it.

The recent elections emphasised that point. The whole of New Zealand was blue, whereas the cities were red giving us a local led government. Furthermore, historically, the farmers were recognised for their contribution to New Zealand's livelihood and wealth, but they never even got a mention in the lead up to the election.

Notwithstanding that New Zealand is really one large farm. Go to the provincial towns if you need to be reminded. Go to Gore, look at the agricultural business that dot the streets. Look at the Accountants and Lawyers all occupying buildings and servicing those sectors. Go into Katikati and Te Puke during the kiwi fruit and avocado harvesting and look at the trucks and tractors working carrying fruit and produce. Go to the ports and look at the ships leaving, largely filled with agricultural produce.

New Zealand agriculture needs the support but more importantly the understanding of the public and government. It provides over 50% of our export earnings and supports our high standard of living.

Right now, New Zealand has a large external deficit. The country is spending more than we are earning, and we are now looking at the agriculture sector to increase production and exports which will improve our balance of payment.

In summary:

New Zealand needs the farmers to underpin the wealth of the country. Non-farming people need to remain aware of the importance of agriculture to their lifestyle and livelihood. New Zealand is a great country and we all need to work together to maintain the lifestyle we have become accustomed to.

The recent interest rate hike is being used like a blunt instrument to try and dampen down house prices. The rise will however affect all sectors of the community, including the farmers. New Zealand cannot afford to take the agricultural sector for granted.


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