Friday, 11 October 2019 10:31

Don’t blame the messenger! — Editorial

Written by  Staff Reporters
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

OPINION: It appears the only people surprised by plummeting levels of rural confidence are the Government and Ag Minister Damien O’Connor.

For months we have seen an endless stream of reports – from Rabobank, BNZ, ANZ, NZIER – all depicting a growing lack of confidence and concern in rural New Zealand.

Only last month, an open letter was written to the Government by an agricultural consultancy head, Chris Garland, outlining why farmer morale is at an all-time low. Garland, of Baker Ag, called for more consideration for the rural sector’s lot in the face of ever more onerous regulation.

“This Government’s approach to environmental policy is undermining the mental health and wellbeing of the pastoral sector,” he explained.

Showing just how out of touch O’Connor is with the current feeling in the rural heartland, his response to the letter was a ridiculous tweet blaming the rural media and farm advisors for the current rural malaise.

“If farm advisors and rural media weren’t so keen to repeat negative political rhetoric farmers might feel appreciated,” he claimed.

Really, minister? Your answer is to blame the rural media but you need to take a closer look in the mirror. 

O’Connor and his Government should be basking in the glory of strong commodity prices and a positive outlook for the primary sector. Instead the Government is confronted with a rural sector that is as worried and despondent as during the reforms of the Rogernomics era in the mid-1980s.

In the latest Rabobank survey, farmers overwhelmingly cited Government policy and intervention as the key reason they expect the agri economy to deteriorate during the next 12 months. The bank described this as: “a level never seen before in the history of this survey”. 

The two main Government policies causing the most worry in rural NZ are the impending Zero Carbon Bill and how agricultural emissions will be treated, and the proposed amendments to NZ’s freshwater regulations. 

Instead of lashing out at the rural media and others in the sector for relaying exactly how farmers are now feeling, Damien O’Connor should take ownership of his Government’s actions and polices as the real reason for the waning levels of confidence down on the farm.

More like this

O'Connor to tackle 'tricky issues'

Trade and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor is in the UK and Europe this week in an attempt to breathe some life into the crucial free trade agreements (FTAs) New Zealand is negotiating with the EU and the UK.

Cooler reception

OPINION:The reception at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards the following night in Hamilton was slightly less warm for Damien O'Connor.

National

Cow cull coming?

Farmers are happy to play their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions but the Government has to come to the…

Health Hub returns

The Health and Wellbeing Hub is back at Fieldays this year, focusing on the importance of rural health and providing…

Machinery & Products

Lady muck really does suck

As anyone will attest to – if they’re married to someone with horses, have kids with ponies or are foolish…

The perfect workhorse

Hastings-based Kleer Contractors provides 24-hour machine work and labour for a local food processing plant.

All-new Claas Disco arrives

The Claas Harvest Centre display at Mystery Creek will include the public debut of the all-new CLAAS Disco 10 series…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

More sunlight

OPINION: Your canine crusader hears that not all is rosy in the world of supposed rural sector congeniality.

Cracked China

OPINION: Your old mate reckons Fonterra and its dairy farmer shareholders may well be all cock-a-hoop about the prospects of…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter