Farming and the EconomyThursday, Aug 30, 2001
There is no doubt that farming and particularly pastoral farming, has been the primary source of the
international exchange that gave NZ its higher standard of living for the past century.
However it is clear that by the measures used, that economically our standard of living has declined
in the comparative rankings with other countries over the past forty years.
Farming politicians and farming commentators need to be wary of taking on the mantle of being the only
source of the future well being of New Zealanders.
Farm production clearly provides the base on which a successful economy is built but care should be
taken that farmers do not drift back into the mindset that they are the only productive group and
anyone outside farming only survives on farmers goodwill.
It was that that mindset in the eighties that brought on the Lange/Douglas rush of blood to the head
based on the premise that farming is a sunset industry. Fifteen years of devastation and restructuring
was required to recover from that self-indulgent mess.
But even worse the economy continued to decline – there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
Farming should be more demanding that other sectors take equally greater responsibility for growing
the total economy in a cooperative and complimentary manner.
Rural grand standing of importance seems to invite negative and destructive reaction from other sectors
in a big way. Symptoms of which are exampled by the Fish and Game folk mounting an attack on Southland
dairying, which sees the only acceptable dairy farm as one without cows or the greenies determination
that there are no circumstances where trees can be exchanged for a mine.
An even-handed approach is required by all sectors of the economy in developing this countries living
standard. The All Blacks are an example of when winning anything is possible but when loosing we
are hopeless and self-destructive which seems to be an undesirable characteristic of New Zealanders.