Friday, 24 April 2020 10:05

COVID-19’s silver lining — Editorial

Written by  Staff Reporters
No one knows what the new normal will look like. No one knows what the new normal will look like.

OPINION: Make no mistake, COVID-19 will change things: some things for a month or two, some for a year or two, and some permanently.

No one knows what the new normal will look like.

But it’s likely that dairy farming in New Zealand and food production generally will fare better than most industries and will come out of this stronger.

Last week one industry leader Mark Townshend laid out what he thinks is in store for NZ dairy industry after COVID-19 evaporates.

From a pathway to reduce production, the dairy sector can use post-COVID-19 to look at boosting milk production again.

The greenies and environmentalists will be out there, blaming farmers and their cows for all greenhouse gas emissions.

The pressure to reduce water quality in lakes and rivers will also remain on farmers.

Townshend believes provided water quality safeguards are respected, increasing NZ food production will be both financially beneficial for NZ and globally beneficial for climate change. 

Post-COVID-19 should also slow down, if not stop, urban drift.

Urban drift is a worldwide problem for rural communities.  Globally there are rural challenges everywhere in the world if a greater percentage of the more talented young people drift to urban centres and more of the less motivated and educated stay in rural populations.

The resetting of economic realities under COVID-19 and people changing their views on what is important in life offers rural NZ an excellent opportunity to market itself as a great place to live, raise families and teach their young good values and work ethic.

 Attracting more human talent to rural areas offers the opportunity to improve the leadership in our local authorities, education centres, health centres and social services like sports clubs, churches and arts.

The importance of rural NZ reinstated by COVID-19 experience should also boost farm labour talent pool.

Post-COVID-19 farming should expect to see increased interest from a new pool of people looking to enter farming as a career. Townshend says his farming group has had approaches from airline pilots and sports coordinators about career opportunities in the weeks since lockdown. 

With planes grounded and tourism on its knees, New Zealanders will be looking for dairying and agriculture to keep foreign earnings coming in.

Food production and the value it creates for the NZ economy will not be just important, but very important.

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