We should be so proud of what we do, New Zealand, we not only feed our nation, but the world.
We are the most emissions-efficient producers of dairy across the globe and already lead the way in our approach to water, land and stock management.
A billion dollars has been spent by the dairy sector alone on environmental improvements over the past five years.
Healthy and swimmable waterways are of the utmost importance to all of us; this is why so much has been done to protect them already, with the latest MFE Environment Aotearoa 2019 report stating that five out of eight water quality attributes showed a majority of improving trends over the past 10 years. All facts this Government wants you to ignore.
I fear our society no longer reflects the beauty our country is so famous for. This Government has been celebrated across the globe for their focus on kindness and wellbeing, but from where I stand, I see little of both.
Dangerous ideologies and hollow headlines are capturing the public, while often un-educated keyboard warriors take aim at anything that moves them. Provocative and emotive language is now the norm, with very little consideration of the facts.
It is horrifying that I was not surprised by our recent disturbing suicide rates, with so much un-warranted hatred being so freely expressed. The fact that young rural men and older male farmers make up two of the three high-risk groups for suicide is also a fact which can't be ignored.
Far from being celebrated, the New Zealand farming culture has been pushed so far into the mud that our country's economy now faces an uncertain future. The populous opinion is being fanned by often inaccurate and dangerous rhetoric from a Government simply trying to placate the loudest voices in their coalition.
The amount of hostility and vitriol aimed at our farming community has culminated in David Parker's 'Essential Freshwater Discussion Documents'. The proposal will see an amended National Policy Statement on freshwater, the creation of a new National Environmental Statement (NES) for freshwater and a new regulation requiring stock exclusion from water bodies.
It will see the level of nitrates used on farms reduced to a point which will make farming/land use of any type almost impossible. It will be catastrophic to the primary sector; many farmers will be forced off their land and those who stay will be so heavily regulated their product will be sold for a premium as they try and re-coup their costs to survive. Prices will soar at the supermarkets, as like it or not New Zealand has to eat.
Federated Farmers released a report by Local Government New Zealand showing what the new nitrate level proposals would actually look like in the Waitako-Waipa catchment.
The number of dairy farms would fall by 13 percent, sheep/beef/ deer/horse farming by 68 percent. Converting this land to forestry would increase by 160 per cent and there is no doubt the figures will be the same, if not worse, in this region.
These figures should scare you. This proposal will change the entire landscape, and I'm uncertain forestry will keep the economy running let alone any small rural towns. I even question the timing of this document, during one of the busiest times on the farming calendar.
Our farmers have become a target of bullying since this Government came into power.
The relentless tax increases, red tape, moving targets and threats are enough for most to take without external factors such as the global economy, climate change and a currently shaky dairy producer.
I feel sick to my stomach when I read comments and hear first-hand people taking pleasure in the destruction of the very industry which feeds them.
We are the only nation which aggressively attacks food producers, with others paying subsidies and giving tax credits as they realise how vital this sector is to their survival.
I urge our urban family to try to understand the fallout from simply getting on the bandwagon and demonising one sector of society. Understand that your very livelihoods will be drastically affected if this sector continues to be driven down.
It's time we put down the pitchforks. Let's come together and create the New Zealand we all deserve.