Wednesday, 11 April 2018 11:55

Kiwi farmers’ food validity at stake

Written by  Deborah Rhodes.
Deborah and Tim Rhodes. Deborah and Tim Rhodes.

As we stare down the barrel of a global consumer revolution we need to be brave to tell them what they want: not what they demand, but what we are going to supply them. 

The concept of appealing to every whim of the consumer has driven our farming mentality to that of the oil business: reap now and pay later. Now we are starting to pay as we scramble towards trying to prove in our dairy business that we are different from the rest, and we are -- but for how long? 

As a small family farm in the top of the south, Golden Bay, we have been challenged by cyclone Gita winds and rain, by a water conservation order for Te Waikoropupu Springs, by the demise of the Takaka Hill and the need for our local community to evolve and future-proof ourselves. 

To become the first sustainable region in New Zealand, we must look at all aspects of our behaviour; this means defining what is best farming practice here in the Bay, for us all. 

Our farming practices must therefore be reflected by our cooperative business operations. We need to be brave as farmers to ensure our cooperative business (as a ‘consumer’) reflects that our milk is socially and environmentally sound and label it so in all forms right to the end of the production chain. 

We don’t want to be ‘local and imported product’ branded; we deserve to be ‘NZ Milk’ branded, from whatever co-op. This may mean taking a lesser price and sucking up the margins, but at least we could then say we were truly authentic. 

Our world has become shrouded in half-truths and media-spun messages, but individuals who make up communities, who populate regions and countries and continents are starting to push back, to rebel and demand change from the few.  

As NZ farmers we also must demand a reining-in to protect our authenticity.  

We cannot combat the notion of fake food, fake milk and fake proteins unless we stand out as a compatible model of authentic food production as befits our honest Kiwi personality. We have supplied ourselves for generations with home grown fruit, vegetables, meat and milk and have come to share that with parts of the world. We have supplied them with what we offer and as they have demanded more we have deluded ourselves that we can produce more. 

We can only produce from the resources of soil, land and people, that allow us to do so renewably, that makes us sustainable and responsible, and so be the parents of a demanding consumer child. 

It’s time to listen to our ancestors, our whakapapa and act honourably towards the ‘fruits’ of our personal labour and demand that all along the supply chain our products are labelled ‘NZ Made’.

• Deborah Rhodes and her husband Tim are dairy farmers in Collingwood, Golden Bay.

Featured

Awards help winners’ fine tune

Newly-crowned Share Farmers of the Year Sarah and Aidan Stevenson are looking forward to their leadership roles over the next 12 months.

 

Living the dream on farm

DairyNZ board candidate Cole Groves says he is “living the dream” as a dairy farmer, milking just over 400 cows near Hinds in Mid-Canterbury.

National

Effluent expo canned

The Effluent & Environment Expo, scheduled for early November in Hamilton, has been cancelled.

Fonterra back in the black

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says 2019/20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and…

Machinery & Products

Mowers get a makeover

Well known throughout New Zealand over the past 18 years, Pottinger has redesigned its rear-mounted Novadisc mowers to incorporate a…

Hardy spotlight

High quality, reliable lighting is essential for anyone involved in agriculture or the great outdoors.

Simmm twin water blasters

Italian made Simmm Power Cleaner 100/11 and Power Gun 100/11 single-phase (230 volt) electric water blasters are proving popular in…

OPD argument raging on

A stoush is brewing with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) heavily criticising Farmsafe Australia’s recent Safer Farm Report.

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Cows and earthquakes

OPINION: It has long been suggested that animals have senses that humans don’t, and often behave differently than usual shortly…

Battle is on

OPINION: One of Australia’s biggest dairy businesses is back on the market after the Federal Government knocked back a bid…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter