Front-foot it

cricketAS THE curtain comes down on another successful Fieldays, NZ’s farming sector has experienced something uncommon nowadays – a raft of positive media coverage.

Positive descriptors such as innovators, economic powerhouse, world-leading food producers, celebrating farming and emerging leaders – to name but a few – were interspersed among the myriad of media stories covering the event.

Contrast this to the regular, daily bashing farming usually takes from urban-dominated media and certain self-important, inexpert, opinionated talking heads.

As Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says, the rural story needs to be told straight from the woolsheds and dairy sheds

“It’s going to need to be from someone in a Swanndri, not a suit,” he says.

Who else can be relied on to explain that farmers have spent at least $1 billion of their own money on environmental measures onfarm?  Certainly not the myopic anti-farming crusaders and their acolytes such as SAFE, Greenpeace or Fish and Game.

Yes, those in farmers who are polluting waterways or treating animals and workers badly need to be held accountable and punished. But these are far and away a minority in the sector – not that you would believe it by the media coverage farming usually gets.

As Guys says, if we really want a message to change the public perception of farming, “it can’t just come from politicians”.

Who else can explain that farmers have fenced enough waterways to cover the distance from Auckland to Chicago and back again? Who else can show the world-leading and innovative things going on every day on New Zealand’s farms?

Events such as Fieldays and environmental award competitions are good, but they happen only annually. Plenty of other good things are happening in our industry every day and we all must take the opportunity to highlight these.

In the age of social media, farmers themselves have the ability to influence public opinion – just as the anti-farming types are doing every day.

Guy has challenged the farming sector to promote our industry to our friends and family who might not know much about it.

We should all take up that challenge – today!