OPINION: The proposed livestock methane target reduction looks like a case of the Government killing the golden goose – or more correctly the cow, sheep and deer – of the NZ economy.
A dairy farmer and Federated Farmers Dairy chair, Andrew Hoggard says he is fed up with the negative focus on dairying, reacting to Kiwis' complaints about the sector spoiling the environment.
The recent report by the parliamentary commissioner for the environment again harps about dairying being the main contributor to poor water quality.
But Hoggard says in the catchments with problems there is a lot more than dairy farming going on.
"Dairy farmers have done a lot of good stuff and we are trying to do more. While dairy is part of the problem, we will keep on working on alleviating that. At times it's made out to be the only part of the problem and it is bloody annoying to me as a dairy farmer to hear that."
Urban and industrial areas also need to feel some 'heat', Hoggard says.
It bothers him how little some people know about the farming sector, for example, he gets emails asking why he supports that "foreign company" Fonterra.
"I would hate to see what the survey results would show if you were to ask Joe Public in Wellington or Auckland who owns Fonterra. I still hear people saying Fonterra is stealing all the profits and ripping off farmers."
He hears stories about people who think Fonterra sells its milk powder cheaply overseas; they don't understand that some of this is high value ingredients. Fonterra could be doing more, he says, but on balance they do a great job.
Some people's perceptions of the dairy industry border on bizarre.
"I remember a survey of water quality on the Manawatu River and one answer amazed me. Someone thought all the farmers were taking all their cows to the Manawatu river to wash them, hence the pollution. Do they think I have nothing better to do in my day than to wander my entire herd down to the Manawatu River for a scrub and soak?" he asks.
And some comments by government and local government officials also make him scratch his head in disbelief.