I get really annoyed with the rants from departing industry heads as they try to ‘leave us wanting more’ before they exit stage left.
And so it was with Charlie Pedersen, soon to be ex-federated farmers president.
Yesterday he spoke at the fed farmers conference – predictably it was all about how great the farming industry was and how crap the rest of us kiwis are. He even went as far as to label greenies as a strange group that just don’t care about New Zealand or indeed understand what it means to raise a family.
“The hypocrisy of those consumers living in the most unsustainable environment in the world, a city, to eat the food we produce, but demand only we as food producers accept responsibility for the environmental effects of production just amazes me,” said Pedersen. “If they used the same value set as they used with car driving they would be cutting back on food to save the planet, even perhaps encouraging "more foodless" days for the really righteous environmentalists. But no, they eat too much, exercise too little and abuse and blame the producer.”
Right. Then for his encore an unveiling of a ‘brilliant’ plan to make all kiwis pay even more at the supermarket to cover agriculture’s climate emissions.
Sorry Charlie, but under the proposed emissions trading scheme we already subsidising the agricultural industry to the tune of over a billion in cold hard cash every year, and if we don’t get this reviewed we’ll be covering a whopping 90 per cent of these climate emissions right through till 2018. So what more do you want from kiwis? A taxpayer funded retirement package as well?
Please Charlie, don’t pigeon hole kiwis into boxes. I’m sure the vast majority of New Zealanders would disagree with your speech and the way you’ve lumped us all into categories either we’re unfeeling lazy ignorant townies, greenie extremists or ‘shine my halo’ farmers. Most city folk have drifted from rural areas, have rellies still on farms and actually relate very well to the farming community thank-you very much.
It’s people in these positions of power that should be doing all they can to bridge the gaps not build more walls.
Take a look around you and you’ll find New Zealanders are doing a hell of a lot more than big corporates to address climate change and to cut back on consumption. And shock horror – this commitment to act on climate change is coming from smart, caring kiwis living throughout New Zealand – from farming communities, small towns, off-shore islands, cities, schools, businesses and so on.
Whether we’re driven by economic or holistic reasons protecting NZ’s clean, green image is top of mind, if it’s the fuel prices that are getting you out of your car – great, pat yourself on the back because you’re also helping cut back on our climate emissions.
Reducing electricity use because of the lake levels? Probably not such an issue now what with the tsunami like weather out the window, but keep it up – you’re helping.
So Charlie, get on board, give it a go, try thinking about kiwi’s and our country even half as much as you care about corporate bottom lines and you’ll find you’ve jumped light years ahead in understanding where we’re coming from.
I want New Zealand to be farming into the future and to do this we need to be passing on truly sustainable, healthy farms to our future generations.
And crucial to achieving this goal is acting on climate change. Half of NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the agricultural sector yet they’re currently exempt from the emissions trading scheme for the next five – 10 years. We recognize that money talks and is a way to get companies and industries to act, this is why we want the agricultural industry to be brought into the scheme within the next two years, without this we won’t make the urgent emission cuts necessary to fight climate change.
It’s a challenge, but also an amazing opportunity. Like every other export sector, the farming industry should be itching to get out in front of a new wave of economic opportunity that is fuelled by consumer concern over climate.
Being green and climate friendly is starting to count more and more overseas and all our exporters should be doing everything they can to capture this market. Now is the time for New Zealand big business to actually deliver on our clean, green reputation rather than using it as just a marketing pitch.