I’ve always liked milk bottles (the lolly variety that is). And I’m quite partial to rural bachelors. So I’m feeling quite at home here at the Fieldays. Apart from the sweets and blokes, the site is a seething mass of people and tractors and electric fence systems. 130,000 + people are expected to pass through in the coming days. It’s the biggest agricultural event in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s quite extraordinary really. People were QUEUING outside the site at 8am and literally spilled into the site as the gates opened. I’ve never seen so many dry Driza-bones moving so quick.
Greenpeace is exhibiting here for the first time. We’ve set up a classic corner dairy, called Tried and True. We’re giving away value-added dairy products (ice-cream, yoghurt and cheese) and the aforementioned milk bottles. Our message is simple: commoditisation of our dairy products has led to a dramatic rise in the intensification of New Zealand farming, which has increased our greenhouse gas emissions and buggering up the environment in several other ways. In other words, somewhere a while back we took the wrong turn, and our farmers are now facing degradation of their land and soils and volatile returns.
What we’re saying is let’s go back to the tried and true, value-added, branded products for which New Zealand farming is renowned and which are going to make the most sense environmentally and economically in the future. It’s vital that our farmers have thriving, truly sustainable healthy farms to pass on to future generations.
Turning our milk into powder is as crazy as the Australians wood chipping their magnificent eucalypt forests to sell to Japan as faceless bargain basement wood chip
Greenpeace is not your average Fieldays exhibitor, let’s be honest. People look mildly surprised to see the world’s largest environmental organisation rubbing shoulders with the milkers and shearers. “Think ya know a bit about farming do ya Greenpeace?” asked one punter. Luckily we do, thanks to Steve Bayliss, our fully qualified, former farmer-turned Greenpeace Climate Campaigner. See a profile of Steve in our “Better Times” Fieldays newspaper.
And it’s logical really. Agriculture is right at the forefront of the climate change debate; it’s a sector that’s already getting hammered by climate impacts, and it’s the sector that has the most to gain from improving its practices. Comprising half of all New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, agriculture can and should be part of the solution to reducing those emissions. As Sign On ambassador Lucy Lawless says “no one ever lost money by adapting to the times.” See www.greenpeace.org.nz/smartfarming for more info.
These guys are in the running for Fieldays Bachelor of the Year, a very coveted crown.