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.

How Republicans should behave

While some US Republicans see the Trump presidency along with Republican majorities in the House and the Senate as an opportunity to get major things done others have expressed concerns and sometimes outright opposition.

Curt Anderson (who served in the Reagan administration) at Fox News asks (and answers) How to behave in the age of Trump? Five essential lessons for Republicans:

How should we behave in the age of Donald Trump? Many politicians, clients, political operatives and staffers have asked me variations of this question over the past month. Being in somewhat uncharted territory, this is a legitimately challenging query.

What should we do when our president says something that we find offensive? What should we say when the press asks us to comment on tweets that we find less than presidential?

This is, of course, only a problem for Republicans.

Here are five principles for Republicans and conservatives to consider as we begin to navigate the Age of Trump.

His headline points:

1. Don’t help the Democrats

The last thing we need right now is rational and calm Republicans dissing our president, even if and when you think he deserves it.

2. Show Restraint

Don’t take potshots.

3. Give the Trump Presidency a Chance to Succeed.

Time will tell on this, but do not assume that he cannot succeed. Every Republican needs to accept this truth — you need him to succeed, for the good of the country, and the party.

There is some debate about ‘for the good of the country”.

4. Limit your dissent to serious policy matters

A healthy and robust exchange of policy views, sans ad hominem attacks, makes our party stronger.

5. Respect the president

We disagreed with the policies of President Obama, almost all of them in fact.  But it was, and is, incumbent on all of us to respect the president of the United States. We have no obligation to agree with him, but we do have an obligation to respect him.

Respect isn’t an automatic right – especially for presidents. They have to earn it.

Should Key treat office of PM with more respect?

A Herald editorial says that Prime Minister John key should treat his office with more respect. They say that things like candid admissions in a recent radio interview robs the office of dignity.

Editorial: Too much information robs office of dignity

How does John Key get away with these things? To expose himself on radio to personal questions to which he can answer only yes or no is bound to endanger the dignity of his office. Thanks to an appearance on Hauraki’s breakfast programme, we now know our Prime Minister has, among other things, stolen something and peed in a shower.

Though that is more than we want to know, it is less than we might learn.

Certainly Key’s answers were more than we need to know, and more than some want to know.

Should Key be candid about personal things? Or should he shut himself off on a Prime Ministerial pedestal? Would that gibe the media more chance of knocking him off it?

To me some of what Key has said and done is not a good look for anyone let alone Prime Minister, especially the pony tail pulling.

But should be have to hide away his personal; character while he’s Prime Minister?

He did not seem at all embarrassed this week when the radio segment was screened on American television’s popular satirical programme Last Week Tonight.

So what’s the problem? Does it diminish his ability to be a respectable Prime Minister?

Those who like him and vote for him will like him all the more for the enjoyment he clearly derives from the lighter side of his job.

It’s a key part of his image, cultivated for political purposes but also obviously revealing a bit of how he is as a person.

Those with no time for him will be disgusted at what he has admitted and think it no part of his job to be answering questions such as these.

But I’ve seen those who have no time for him disgusted at things he does as Prime Minister as a part of his job, like promote policies that he believes in. Like flag referendums.

He is candid to a fault. He holds our highest elected office and he should treat it with more respect.

Or should media respect his right to be himself sometimes, even in front of the media?

Youth counsellor – self esteem versus respect

Youth counsellor Steve Taylor talked to Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB about sexual behaviour relating to the ‘Roast Busters’ case. KIA commented on it at Kiwiblog:

The link to Larry Williams’ Newstalk ZB interview with Steve Taylor (the West Auckland youth councilor) was a breath of fresh air and loaded with common sense wisdom.

The interview: Steve Taylor: Roast Busters behaviour

This is a crisis of parenting and a decline in what could loosely be called societal collective morals. Things that were less widespread are now commonplace. A case in point is pornography. 20 years ago it was rare for teenage boys to have access to porn movies that portrayed predatory group sex as ok – now it is easy to access all kinds of porn.

It also used to be rarer for teen girls to get blind drunk – whereas teen male heavy drinking was commonplace.

Yes, that was my experience when I was a partying teen.

A generation ago there was less concern about self esteem and more concern about boundaries. My mother used to say semi – jokingly that our home was not a democracy but a benign dictatorship! Too many modern parents of teens are afraid to lay down boundaries with consequences. All these trends erode norms and make it harder for parents to find an appropriate boundary and enforce it.

The antics of these young men are outside even the modern norm of casual teen sex. Its one thing to get drunk and shag a girl you meet at a party – that is commonplace. These boys have systematically targeted younger teen girls to find ways to have group sex with them and using alcohol and drugs where possible to assist in their goal. That is predatory behaviour that, was an under aged victim able to lay a sufficiently robust complaint that would stand up in court, could result in rape charges.

This case will have prompted many parents to ponder.