Thursday, 14 April 2022 08:55

Editorial: Better together!

Written by  Staff Reporters
It appears the gloves have well and truly come off between rural ginger lobby group Groundswell and the establishment ag-sector bodies. It appears the gloves have well and truly come off between rural ginger lobby group Groundswell and the establishment ag-sector bodies.

OPINION: It appears the gloves have well and truly come off between rural ginger lobby group Groundswell and the establishment ag-sector bodies.

To be fair, the mere existence and growth of the Groundswell movement shows there has been - and for some time - a growing vacuum in the rural advocacy space between the establishment and grassroots farming.

Farmers have been increasingly unhappy with the leadership (or lack thereof) by their industry-good bodies, especially in the perceived lack of pushback from them to the current Government's growing list of regulations it wants to impose on the agriculture sector.

Both DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb NZ - and to a lesser extent, Federated Farmers - have argued that it is 'better to be at the table' than not there at all. However, many farmers would contend that all their leadership has done is serve them up on the menu when 'at the table'. There is some merit in both arguments.

However, what cannot be disputed is that Groundswell has grown from nothing into a powerful lobby in just 18 months. This was clearly evidenced by the huge turnout of people up and down the country at last year's 'Howl of a Protest'.

Recent bickering between Groundswell and current sector representatives is unhelpful and only helps with the Government's 'divide and rule' strategy for the rural sector.

Both sides need to pull their heads in and realise that the rural sector fighting amongst itself does us no favours.

The current ag sector leadership really does need to look at the way it has 'represented' farmers over recent years. It needs to seriously ask why such dissent and unhappiness is rife in the rural hinterland and who are they serving - their farmer levypayers or their own political fortunes.

Meanwhile, Groundswell must look at how it can realistically achieve for the sector. Constantly bad mouthing farm sector leaders and throwing stones at everything they do may garner good headlines, but it does nothing for sector unity.

Robust debate and disagreement is good, but this should be all done behind closed doors. What the sector needs now is a united, strong voice arguing for the betterment of NZ agriculture. Not division and infighting, which only leads to all farmers losing.

We are better together.

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