“Don’t feel sorry for farmers”

On Rachel Stewart at NZH:  Don’t feel sorry for farmers

The urban/rural divide. Is it as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon? Or just a small hop across a watercress-filled ditch? Let’s explore.

Ten days to go and what does National do when they’re anxious about losing power? Why, play to their rural base of course.

There’s a theme, and a meme, emerging. It goes exactly like this: “This election there is a clear divide between those that want to work with farmers and those that want to punish them.”

National, along with their Siamese twins Federated Farmers, are pushing the notion that the so-called “rural/urban divide” is dire, while also ensuring it couldn’t be wider. Why? Because it ensures the chip on farmers’ collective shoulders is as weighty as possible. The current government wants them to feel as hard done by and as misunderstood as can be.

Rarking up the rural base is their comfort zone. By structuring their messaging directly to farmers, they are attempting to cream every last vote from a sector that, deep down, knows that it too is on the ropes. Maybe they’ll even score a sympathy vote or two from those who still hold on to some misty-eyed idea that farming is still all family-run, and the fields are green due to rain.

This crude attempt to highlight the “rural/urban divide” is, in reality, a one-sided affair. Farmers seriously think that know-nothing townies are lining up to strip them of their livelihood; their rugged essence. They see their place in the world as exalted and beyond question.

…I was invited to speak to a Federated Farmers provincial AGM last year, and suggested that they might like to think about their messaging; about maybe front-footing the changes that were clearly coming. I talked synthetic milk and plant-based meat products, and how sheer human numbers on the planet means it’s a certainty.

For my time, I received unreserved disrespect via turned backs and spurned handshakes. A year on, I wonder if those in the room that day have ever stopped to reflect on even one word I said.

Brace yourself for more of this as we head into the final days of the election. The message is this: Farmers are suffering, but the environment is not.

Chrism56 commented:

Another one of the media bubble latte set puts up a Labour defence about how bad farmers are. She complains about using labels to shut down debate, then does it herself. Just helps drive the last few wavering rural/ provincial votes to National and lower Herald sales.

In her article Stewart referred top ‘National, along with their Siamese twins Federated Farmers’. She had gone further in a tweet in Monday (for some reason she blocks me on Twitter):


I think that is quite offensive. If anything like that on Twitter targeted Jacinda Ardern all hell would break loose. The Twitterati didn’t seem to think it was a big deal, although someone reacted:

Stewart describes herself: Columnist, New Zealand Herald. Yet, somehow, so much more.

Other recent NZH columns:

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  1. Pete Kane

     /  September 13, 2017

    Agree Pete, childish stuff. What a way to knock out any lethargy amongst rural voters.

  2. artcroft

     /  September 13, 2017

    Yikes! Check out Stewart’s picture profile, a terrible warning about the dangers of leftist ideology and what it can do to you.

  3. Ray

     /  September 13, 2017

    The fact that Rachael Stewart blocks you, is something you can wear as a badge PG, she blocks almost everybody who might disagree with her, she really does live in a bubble.
    She goes to a farmers conference and treats them like naughty children and wonders why they don’t treat like the anointed one, surprise,surprise.

    • The funny thing is I don’t remember ever responding to any of her tweets.

      • Corky

         /  September 13, 2017

        I quick Google search would’ve had you marked as feral, Pete. You didn’t stand a chance.

        • I grew up on an orchard but it was in a farming district (actually neighbours with the farm where rabbit calicivirus was released) so I’m probably forever tainted. I’m also male.

      • Patzcuaro

         /  September 13, 2017

        Must have been a preemptive strike. She wasn’t willing to risk you going nuclear first.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  September 13, 2017

    A poisonous pratt, isn’t she? With friends like her, farmers certainly don’t need enemies.

  5. Corky

     /  September 13, 2017

    ”They see their place in the world as exalted and beyond question.”’

    Well, that’s crap. Rachel must have a short memory. Back in the 80’s, Labour dealt to the Landed Gentry by quite correctly removing SMPs. The result was farmers crying like whipped pups as their land was sold by auction. Others went from Jags to Falcons. Those Friday spend-ups…gone. Trips overseas- lol.

    The result was innovation on a scale no other agricultural country has matched.Farms have become lean and mean, with many farmers diversifying into secondary income streams. We lead the world in agricultural expertise. Only Israel comes close to matching us. Maybe some farmers still have a Landed Gentry mentality. If they do, no one is listening, and no one cares.

    Farmers have earn’t the right to be our countries mainstay. That said, they are still failing in some regards, and need to be held to account. But not by prats like Rachel Stewart.

  6. Blazer

     /  September 13, 2017

    Farmers contribute 3.5% of GDP,so clearly what they want,what they think is of the utmost importance.The other 96.5% of GDP is provided by mere mortals,some of whom,don’t even like ..Rugby.

    • PDB

       /  September 13, 2017

      DAIRY farmers contribute 3.5% of GDP, not all farmers & dairy is our biggest exporter. You also neglect to mention the many other industries/services reliant on farmers doing well for them to be in business. Fake news.

      • Blazer

         /  September 13, 2017

        Nothing fake about it.Naturally about 25% of that roughly 8 billion total is processing of product.

      • chrism56

         /  September 13, 2017

        What is fake is you talking about GDP. Dairy farming produce is about 30% of our exports by value.Meat and wool are another 20% or so. That is what pays our way in the world. If dairying has to cut back, what is going to replace those export earnings?

  7. I’m blocked on Twitter too. Must be she mandatorily blocks anyone who doesn’t sing from her “Progressive” hymn sheet, as I’ve never interacted with her or mentioned her.

    That picture is disgusting. TBH, I thought the one on the left looked more like her mirror mate than any farmer I’ve ever known.

    The ‘hate the farmer’ meme has overstepped a mark. As someone who has many kms of fenced and planted waterways, gifted land to QE11 in perpetuity and cares deeply about the environment, I’m grossly offended at the whole left line of farmers as first polluters. The combined carbon footprint of the NZ Parliament as they jet around the country campaigning has got to exceed acceptable limits surely!!!

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  September 13, 2017

      I live opposite a farm and know the farmer, who’s a rich man and deserves to be. I don’t know how many men he employs, but it’s a lot-and he does a lot for the community without trumpeting it.

      I am tired of farmers being vilified as selfish sods with no sense of what’s good for the environment. Even if they didn’t care (for argument’s sake, let’s assume that they don’t, although it’s not true) it would be a terrible business practice ! They are an easy target, and it’s offensive to treat them as money-grubbing fools who don’t care what damage they do to the environment. There may be a few like this, but I bet that they are very much in the minority. Some pig farmers I knew would dilute the pig poo into liquid manure and put it on the land as fertiliser, which worked really well. No smell, everything going back into the soil. Then the local iwi leaned on them not to do this on their own farm and send it …into the river.

    • Blazer

       /  September 13, 2017

      no one hates farmers….its the guilt of self loathing and dodgy environmental practices that gets them …excited.