Government and farmers agree to primary sector emissions plan

The Government and farming leaders have agreed on a partnership that my be a workable solution to farm emission issues. It gives farmers  few years to come up with solutions themselves, ot else the Government will step in and act.

Beehive:  World-first plan for farmers to reduce emissions

The Government and farming sector leaders have agreed to a world-first partnership to reduce primary sector emissions in one of the most significant developments on climate action in New Zealand’s history.

Today farming leaders and the Government announced a plan to join forces to develop practical and cost-effective ways to measure and price emissions at the farm level by 2025, so that 100 per cent of New Zealand’s emissions will be on the path downwards.

The 5-year joint action plan includes:

  • Improved tools for estimating and benchmarking emissions on farms
  • Integrated farm plans that include a climate module
  • Investment in research, development and commercialisation
  • Increased farm advisory capacity and capability
  • Incentives for early adopters
  • Recognition of on-farm mitigation such as small plantings, riparian areas and natural cover

The Government recognises partnering with Māori will be critical to the success of this joint action plan.

In addition, Cabinet has also agreed that in 2022 the independent Climate Change Commission will check in on the progress made and if commitments aren’t being met, the Government can bring the sector into the ETS at processor level before 2025.

“I’m proud that we have a world-first agreement as part of our plan to tackle the long-term challenge of climate change and we’ve done that by reaching an historic consensus with our primary sector,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“For too long politicians have passed the buck and caused uncertainty for everyone while the need for climate action was clear.

“This plan provides the primary sector with certainty and puts us shoulder-to-shoulder on a path to reduce emissions, with ongoing support to help with the plan such as the $229 million Sustainable Land Use investment.

“This will reduce emissions by giving farmers the autonomy to plan to do so and reward those who do,” she said.

“Our decision to put in place a sector-led plan to reduce emissions at the farm gate shows we’ve listened to farmers,” Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said.

Major reforms to the ETS have also been announced to make it fit for purpose, with a cap on industrial energy and transport emissions, and forester incentives simplified.

“This will help keep our planet safe for future generations. With the world changing at break-neck speed, these changes will drive us towards a low emissions country,” Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said.

“Changes also align the purpose of the ETS with the Zero Carbon Act and the Paris Agreement, so that New Zealand doing its bit to limit global warming to 1.5C,” he said.

“Farmers understand that a changing climate affects them and many are already making changes on-farm to meet that challenge and to enhance our reputation for safe and sustainable food production while maintaining our competitiveness in international markets,” Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said.

“The agreement with sector leaders shows the value of collaboration and provides certainty for farmers, but the hard work begins now to develop the tools and systems to account for on-farm emissions in 2025.

“The Government will back that with investment in research, extension services and advice for farmers,” Damien O’Connor said.

Today’s agreement delivers on commitments in the Coalition and Confidence and Supply Agreements and is the latest step in the Government’s plan that has seen it take more action on climate change in the past two years than the previous 30 years.

Government’s actions to date on climate change

  • The Zero Carbon Bill to get us to zero net emissions by 2050
  • Making clean and electric cars more available
  • Planting 1 billion trees
  • Stopped the permitting of new offshore oil and gas exploration
  • Setting up a $100 million green investment fund
  • Making renewable energy like windfarms and solar easier to build

There has been some criticism that this lets farmers off the hook, and some of that criticism has been directed at Climate Change Minister and Green leader James haw.

NZ Herald: PM Jacinda Ardern dismisses claims Government has backed down on its ETS promises

The Government moved quickly today to dismiss criticisms that its plans to make New Zealand’s rural sector greener was a backdown from a key election promise.

Backdown? or a pragmatic solution to a difficult problem?

Instead, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and a host of farming and agricultural sector leaders today talked up the importance of the new scheme and the “world-first” Government-industry partnership.

“We could have forced the sector into a pricing regime that it was completely allergic to,” Shaw told media this morning.

“But, ultimately that would have been unsustainable.”

Fonterra’s chief executive Miles Hurrell said the announcement was a “significant step forward” and was a much better option than “imposing a broad-based tax”.

Ardern and Shaw talked up the importance of the plan and why the Government needed to work with the agricultural sector, and not against it.

Not long after the plan was announced, the Government came under fire from Greenpeace who labelled it a “major sell-out”.

“An emissions trading scheme without the [agriculture] sector in it is a joke and won’t be able to combat the climate emergency – the greatest threat humanity has ever faced,” the organisation said.

Ex-Green leader Russel Norman now leads Greenpeace in New Zealand. Norman has never had the experience of working in Government, he has only had to promote minor party policies, many of them idealistic and without popular support.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog:  I hear the Greens are unhappy with James

I’m hearing there is a significant group within the  who are very unhappy with agriculture being exempted from the ETS until 2025, and possibly forever.

They’re also unhappy the Greens are supporting the anti-terrorist legislation, and the foreign land sales Green Ministers have okayed.

Green activists probably wouldn’t be happy unless they had full control of Government policies, but they are a long way off having the level of support needed for that.

Male only Santa stance ‘inappropriate’

Farmers (to chain of stores) has sacked a Santa and Santa provider because he has said he won’t consider employing females for the role.

ODT (NZH):  Santa sacked over ‘inappropriate’ comments

Farmers is ditching its longstanding Santa for tomorrow’s Christmas parade in Auckland, after the man behind the beard said he wouldn’t hire women to play Father Christmas.

My Santa director Neville Baker last weekend told the Herald on Sunday he does not cast any female applicants for the role of Santa.

“They apply, and you say, ‘have you misread the ad?’ Putting politically correct things to one side, there’s a certain character people expect to find when they come to meet Santa,” Baker said.

For the past five years, Baker has personally played Santa on the main float in the Farmers Santa Parade, and was booked to do so again on Sunday.

However, in the wake of Neville’s comments, Farmers has announced it is no longer employing their Santa through the My Santa company.

“We are distancing ourselves from this company. We found his comments to be inappropriate and unnecessary and will be not using their services for the parade,” Chairman of the Children’s Christmas Parade Trust Michael Barnett said.

However, last night, Baker said he had not heard from Farmers and insisted he would turn up as usual.

Is this a fair and righteous stand by Farmers? Or ‘PC’ gone mad.

I doubt that many men are considered for roles as Minister of Women or midwife. Perhaps the difference is the discrimination is done on the quiet with those jobs.

Growing support for New Zealand’s ‘Zero Carbon’ goal

New Zealand is seriously working towards dealing with reducing carbon emissions.

As James Shaw has been touring the country consulting on his ambitions for getting New Zealand to ‘Carbon Zero’ (net emissions) by 2050, support for the goal in principle at least is growing, with both National leader Simon Bridges and farming leaders committing to work with the government towards achieving some sort of goal.

Bridges last month Speech to Fieldays on climate change. And:

Three days ago (Stuff): Farmers on zero carbon: let’s do this

In a symbolic show of unity, the Farming Leaders Group has published to joint editorial statement with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, published today by Stuff.

While the piece is described the zero carbon initiative as “a very ambitious and challenging target” and said questions remained about what it meant for food production, it makes commits to working to achieving the goal.

“Today, farming leaders with the support of the Government are stating their support for this goal and the agri-food sector playing its part in achieving it,” it reads.

“The farming sector and Government are committed to working together to achieve net zero emissions from agri-food production by 2050.”

While the Farming Leaders Group is new and describes itself as “informal”, its members are luminaries of the sector, including the leaders of Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb, the Meat Industry Association, the Fonterra Shareholders Council and Irrigation NZ.

It also has representation from major private companies, the Federation of Maori Authorities and Agriculture Trade Envoy Mike Petersen.

Today from Stuff: What is the NZ Government’s Zero Carbon Bill and will it do anything?

New Zealand politicians have a complicated history with climate change.

There has been little in the way of US-style denialism, but the debate on what to do about it has been just as fiery.

That debate has led to a series of arguable half-measures – like an Emissions Trading Scheme that omits our largest emitter – and no certainty for the country on what we are going to do to reach the far-off targets we have signed up to.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw is trying to fix all this and depoliticise the issue  so that, long after his Government is gone, parties from the Left and Right can continue efforts to fight climate change without it becoming a political football. He wants to do that by setting up a completely new legal and institutional framework for climate policy, with a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Change Commission. Here’s what that would actually mean.

What exactly is a Zero Carbon Act?

At its most simple, a Zero Carbon Act would set greenhouse gas emissions targets into law.

Greenhouse gases are the primary cause of human-influenced climate change. Long-lived gases like carbon dioxide are the big ones globally, but down here in New Zealand we also have to worry about short-lived gases like methane from cows.

The argument goes that actually setting these targets into real law will give businesses certainty about the direction of the country, so they can plan long-ahead without having to worry about a new government changing the rulebook from under them.

But it is complicated, politically, economically and environmentally.

This is an ambitious long term goal and it will take a lot of work top get all significant players on board and on track.

 

 

Ardern belatedly fronts up on major issues, still ‘absolutely vague’

Jacinda Ardern has benefited from carefully orchestrated PR and a largely compliant media, but she fronted up, sort of, on two contentious issues this week.

Claire Trevett: Post-Budget glow fades quickly as heartland problems pile up

Ardern is very much the shopfront of the coalition government and until the week before the Budget, it was very much a photo-shopped government.

There was almost a paranoia about the Prime Minister being seen to be facing criticism. Cameras were only invited when it came to events where the PM was likely to get a warm reception. Students, the Waitangi tour, tertiary students, the Pride Parade, arts and culture events.

Meetings with critics of Government policy have happened but behind closed doors. There has been nothing similar to watching former National Prime Ministers get torn to shreds in question and answer sessions with the unions or lambasted at Waitangi. In fact, former PM John Key loved little more than a hostile audience.

Appearing only in front of friendly audiences is not sustainable for a Prime Minister so this week proved a welcome reprieve from saccharine photo ops.

Prime ministers are judged on how they handle a disaster as much as how they handle the books.

Ardern has largely got away with promoting a celebrity type image and avoiding awkward issues, but she departed from the PR script this week, a bit.

Dealing with it meant this week Ardern finally fronted up to dragons – those who are not Labour’s natural constituents.

It started with her meeting with abut 15 farmers in the Waikato to talk about M. Bovis and ended with her meetings with gas and oil sector bosses and workers in Taranaki to talk about the Government’s decision to stop issuing new exploration permits in the future.

It was the first time she had publicly met with either group.

During the campaign, she had promised to meet with farmers after the election. She did meet with farming sector leaders on the quiet twice at regular quarterly meetings that successive Prime Ministers have had with farming representatives.

Ardern could also be fairly criticised for not going to Taranaki sooner and for the lack of proper consultation over the oil and gas decision with the sector or workers involved.

Not only that, she made her oil and gas announcement in front of an unusually unrelated university student audience.

Yesterday she visited with some cash and a vague plan with a vague title by way of reassurance: “Just Transitions.” But at least she visited.

One of Ardern’s trademarks is using strong sounding phrases to say not much in particular – being ‘absolutely vague’.

She has little time to transform her image right now. She may have to wait until after her maternity leave to show whether she can be real leadership material rather than being a vague and ditsy celebrity style politician.

That’s just a few headlines. Ardern absolutely peppers her speech with the term.

Oxford: absolutely

  1. With no qualification, restriction, or limitation; totally.
    1.1 Used to emphasize a strong or exaggerated statement.
    1.2 [with negative] None whatsoever.
    1.3 Used to express and emphasize one’s assent or agreement.
  2. Not viewed in relation to other things.

 

Farmer respect and eating meat

I generally respect farmers (most deserve it, some don’t), but I am gradually eating less and less meat due to lifestyle changes (and a slowing metabolism, meaning greater dietary care is required). Cost of meat is also a significant factor.

Some interesting comments at Reddit: Kiwi Farmers feel that they are not respected as sustainability concerns lead to the average Kiwi eating 20kg less meat

I don’t think it’s sustainability that is causing the average New Zealander to eat less meat but cost, I’m also consuming far less dairy than I once did, and I’m eating more eggs.

I’m not eating more eggs either , even though I run a few chooks (and sheep).

Even if the reason is the sustainability, why should that offend the farmers? I value their well-offness less than I value the state of the environment in terms of atmospheric methane and waterway eutriphication. Why does that make me the bad guy, those are pretty decent reasons to disagree with someone’s business practices.

It’s not people making personal eating choices that farmers find offensive – most farm production is exported anyway. But farmers have been increasingly targeted and criticised by some on environmental matters. Farm pollution has become a dirty issue, as well as methane emissions.

It’s the same for me as well. As a student, it’s getting a bit harder to have a proper diet with rising food costs.

The only dairy I normally have is milk in my coffee and as for meat, I buy the cheapest cuts I can as I’ve got a pressure cooker which means that it can be cost effective.

I have noticed that I’m eating more chicken than I used to as well.

Because chicken is relatively cheap (as well as cheep). Beef and lamb/mutton in particular have become very expensive.

A farmer’s view:

Im not offended if you dont buy ruminant products. I stopped eating red meat because it was by far and away the most effective measure i could undertake to reduce my ecological footprint. I think what dick and di are referring to in this article is more in regard to the interactions that we have with people outside of purely transactional contexts.

Ive had people spit at me, curse me, i had a gp that spent my entire appointment telling me how morally degenerate i am for being a farmer. These are extreme examples of course, and i dont hold these peoples passion for an incredibly important topic against them, but for most of my friends they find themselves being made pariahs simply for being born into a particular passion in life.

We arent saints when it comes to our reaction to the attitude of others, very few are, but that shouldnt preclude the extension of empathy and understanding beyond the simplistic and all too common characterisation of us as motivated solely by greed.

Empathy from all people is the most necessary development in our discussion about the environment. When even mike joy reiterates that the situation we face is not the fault of farmers then shouldnt that tell us something. I have taken responsibility for my actions and the attitudes of my friends and colleagues.

You will not break through to farmers until you vehemently disavow the small minded and ill informed commentary made by the vocal minority.

The vocal minority are unlikely to change their activism.

And taste. Lamb tastes like shit, now that i’m out of home i don’t have to deal with eating a shitty Sunday roast every week because of tradition. I might cook a stir fry but that’s about it for meat.

Maybe that’s a personal thing rather than a change, but it could also be how the product is handled – possibly packed too quickly.

Lamb has always had not a lot of taste. Hogget and whether is better, but it needs to be hung properly before using or freezing. In the summer I hang sheep for  3-4 days depending on the weather, and up to 6 days in the winter. Aged meat is tastier. We had a delicious Sunday roast yesterday.

I think the article is a little misleading.

The reason lamb consumption has fallen through the floor is because the vast majority of them converted their farms over into Dairy farms for higher returns (and increased ‘dirty dairying’). The lamb that was left went into overseas exports, and we are paying far more domestically for lamb. THAT’s the reason why our lamb consumption has fallen off.

We’re actually eating MORE chicken than we used to.

Both of those factors can be explained by price. Chicken is cheaper, lamb is hella expensive. And beef is somewhere in the middle.

Speaking personally, we buy a cattlebeast a year, which works out at about $5.50/kg. If we have to buy beef at $15/kg at the supermarket you bet we’d be eating far less meat. It’s just too expensive.

I think the reason people are less ‘respectful’ of farmers has several reasons:

  • It’s no longer the backbone of our economy, tourism is bigger
  • All of the ‘dirty dairying’ and other farming polluting stories suck, and directly undermine our Tourism industry, which is more important.
  • When times are good, farmers are millionaries and did it all themselves
  • When times are bad, they need government bailouts, everyone needs to club together behind them
  • NZ was in a unique position as post WW2 Europe recovered. Wanting to ‘go back’ to farming smacks of trying to turn back the clock to an era that can’t possibly exist in the current world climate.
  • Producing commodities for export is a very poor way of growing wealth. That’s what the developed countries want the third world countries to do.

A response to that:

Yes. I think a lot of people have grown a little tired of farmers telling others to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, knuckle down and work hard instead of expecting welfare but then immediately having their hands out when the going gets tough.

Complaining that they can’t get good workers when they are not prepared to pay an acceptable rate for hard physical labour with sometimes awful working conditions and poor job security.

I do realise not all farmers are like this but it definitely seems to be the prevailing mentality. As a sector of society these types are extremely loud on social media and people often form their opinions around farmers based on what they see/hear them saying, rightly or wrongly.

Bleating about how city folk have no idea about hard work is divisive and does nothing to help their cause. They definitely have a public image problem.

The main problem here doesn’t seem to be farmers or anti-farmers, but more the amplification of attacks and bleating online.

I also think the article is misleading, but disagree on the reason why farmers aren’t respected; I’d say it’s the media coverage they get.

 

The media does a pretty poor job of dealing with nuanced issues, preferring to have a sensational (positive or negative) spin on everything. Rightly or wrongly, farmers are on the receiving end of negative attention. I’m not suggesting the criticism is baseless, but that it isn’t balanced when compared to treatment of favoured topics.

Media does play a part in amplifying the negatives and the bleating from any side of an argument.

Simple economics:

  • Chicken portions (incl bone) $5/kg
  • Chicken breast $8-10/kg
  • Mince $10/kg
  • Lamb chops (incl bone) $15/kg
  • Eye fillet $30/kg
  • Fish (whole) $10-15/kg
  • Fish fillet $20-30/kg

Stuff with bones needs double. Our household eats a lot of mince and chicken. Eye fillet turns out to be a cheaper treat than lamb chops.

Rather than buy expensive (nice) steak to cook I tend to eat out now. If I am paying through the nose I’d rather someone else does the cooking and cleaning up. Same for fish, my favourite is blue cod but it’s now about $35 a kilo, and it’s a hassle cooking small amounts properly, so that’s another eat out or takeaway (and that’s only occasionally).

Have they considered that maybe the price of meat is what is causing us to eat less of it? Do these people really think that behaviour change due to changing economics is really a lack of respect? Do they feel that they deserve a certain consumption of their product as a god-given right?

I don’t think it’s a lack of consumption that’s the problem, it’s the lack of respect for their farming practices, or abuse.

Interesting graphic showing difference in consumption of chicken, pork, beef and lamb between 2006 and 2016

Year Chicken Pork Beef Lamb
2006 32.1kg 16.0kg 17.2kg 19.4kg
2016 40kg 17.6kg 10.4kg 0.9kg

Statistics NZ food price index tables are available online. Page for June 2005 – May 2008 and June 2008 to present.

Consumption is mostly economic.

Funny thing is, while I produce my own mutton (I prefer that to lamb), despite running chooks and having plenty of space for more we only produce eggs, not chicken meat. We have done it but the killing and plucking and cleaning is a turnoff.

I may have a phobia about plucking poultry – when I was a kid my father would arrive home from opening weekend with a bag of ducks. Plucking was a pain, but as I had smaller hands I also got to pluck the guts. And then had to pick out the shot when eating. And I don’t really like eating duck. But I don’t disrespect duck farmers, i just choose not to eat their products.

If Greens reduce cow numbers by 30%…

…farmers have a solution.

Greens have often said they want to reduce cow numbers by up to 30%.

Farmers rallied in Morrinsville on Tuesday, concerned about what may happen if Greens and Labour get into government and force a reduction in cow numbers.

But they threatened a response – if they have to reduce cow numbers they will increase the size of cows.

mcgiven-small-under-cow-768x465

A spokesperson for Federated Farmers unveils a genetically modified cow that will enable dairy farmers to reduce cow numbers significantly.

 

“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:

Farmers are celebrating but…

…some of the media continue to paint a gloomy picture – by forecasting sunshine!

RadioLIVE Newsroom@LIVENewsDesk

Farmers are celebrating rain – up to 50mls in parts of the North Island …
but forecasters say the sun will be back by Thursday

Message to non-farmers – sunshine after rain actually helps grass to regrow.

And a weather forecast expert said that this rain probably signals the end of the stable weather patterns and a return to more normal wet/dry cycles.

You don’t have to have continuous rain for a month to break a drought.

Presland versus farmers

Auckland lawyer Greg Presland takes a generalised swipe at farmers in a comment at The Standard:

There is a certain irony that farmers, who have a reputation for denying that climate change is occurring and opposing provision of social welfare for members of our community who need it should now be seeking a benefit because of a drought that is undeniably a symptom of global warming.

Questions for Greg:

What reputation do farmers have regarding climate change?
What reputation do farmers have regarding “the provision of social welfare for members of our community who need it”?
Which farmers?

And the statement “a drought that is undeniably a symptom of global warming” indicates little knowledge of droughts or global warming.

A drought in one season in parts of one small country cannot be directly linked to global warming or climate change.

Droughts have happened in New Zealand and around the world for centuries, for millenia. They are natural occurrences.

It is possible we may get more severe and more frequent droughts due to climate change, but that could only be determined by trends over many years, not a single event.

There is a certain irony that lawyers, who have a reputation for denying justice if they can make money out of it and opposing provision of social welfare for members of our community so crime rates will remain high, providing them with endless numbvers of clients, now be seeking a political benefit because of a drought that is undeniably an opportunity to score ideological points.

Just in case someone get’s the wrong idea I’m not presenting that last statement as fact, it’s taking the piss.

There is a certain irony that a lawyer slanders so many with so few supporting facts.

Droughts and farmers versus beneficiaries

As areas of New Zealand declared drought zones in social media there’s been a growing number of comparisons made between assisting farmers compared to not assisting low paid workers and beneficiaries.

Martin Bradbury at The Daily Blog: How the hardship of farmers and beneficiaries differ

Don’t you love how when farmers face hardship the Government can’t rush fast enough to their aid with drought welfare, yet when the poor face hardship the Government responds with drug testing, contraception for solo mothers and 40 hours forced labour in a private prison.

Helen Kelly at The Standard: We’re all beneficiaries now

The recognition of the need to provide income support to farmers during this drought period is illustrative.  It illustrates the importance of having a comprehensive social protection system that steps in when things go wrong including the weather as in this case.   It illustrates the benefit of Farm Owners of having a union that the Government supports and is prepared to fund to provide much needed services such as co-ordination, animal welfare advice and counselling.

Solo mums are a bit like these farmers.  They are working but not earning and need community support to do that.  For them, they now have to attend job preparation courses and look for work.  They can be drug tested, boot camped and have their benefits cut if they don’t answer the phone when WINZ rings them about something. 

Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish (satire): Bennett announces drought relief get-tough measures

Ms Bennett accepted that there was no evidence of widespread abuse of the scheme by farmers.

But she insisted that the new rules were necessary to keep farmers on the straight and narrow. 

“Struggling farmers who are doing their best to manage and who are looking to find alternative work have nothing to fear,” said Bennett. “These rules are about helping to break the cycle of farmer dependency. Some of this dependency is inter-generational. We can’t afford as a nation to have hundreds of farmers begging for help each and every time a drought is declared.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re a farmer or a solo mother,” said Ms Bennett. “If you want a handout from this government then the same rules apply.”

Robyn Norrison New Zealand Labour Party Facebook:

As a side note the farmers moan cause they have no feed for their animals and the govt pays them compensation, what about all the low paid families out there that are having trouble feeding their children where is the govt then, making things worse for them.

Mickysavage at The Standard:

There is a certain irony that farmers, who have a reputation for denying that climate change is occurring and opposing provision of social welfare for members of our community who need it should now be seeking a benefit because of a drought that is undeniably a symptom of global warming.

(micky, a one season adverse weather event in parts of one small country in the world is not “undeniably a symptom of global warming”.)

Comments on blogs follow similar themes of “poor beneficiaries” and “undeserving farmers”.

Low paid families already get government assistance continually through benefits, Working For Families, accommodation allowances, doctors subsidies etc etc. (some farmers may also qualify for some of these).

Some are questioning that farmers facing extreme short term difficulties are getting state assistance.

And they want people who are already getting state assistance, sometimes long term, to get more assistance.

It’s financially tough for people on low wages and benefits.

But it’s hard to compare assistance programmes for farmers who are having short term one off problems due to an abnormal weather event, and a mother who some say should have the freedom to choose the DPB for twenty years without question. Or a worker who receives Working For Families tax credits year after year without question.

And I find it highly offensive to make sweeping statements like “… farmers, who have a reputation for… …opposing provision of social welfare for members of our community”.

Also offensive is the “farmers make money so are bad and deserve any kick in the guts they get” attitudes alongside “poor beneficiaries deserve more and more and more”.

This is just blind bias or ideological pissy politicking.

I acknowledge that it’s only short term tough for farmers – but this means with short tyerm assistance they will be back to earning money and paying taxes again soon.

And I know that being stuck on a benefit without being able to find a job is tough, often for longer than a season of dry weather. And solo mothers and families on low wages can experience long term tough.

But that doesn’t justify denying any other state assistance from anyone else.

Farmers who go broke may become beneficiaries.

We are all a part of our state, we are all due some level of state assistance when justified, and we have to understand there will always need to be tough decisions made about the level and length of state assistance provided.