Opportunity and OptimismFriday, Jun 8, 2001
A drive through Marlborough and North Canterbury showed the grim problems of providing winter feed for
their remaining livestock that is facing farmers of these regions.
It was a good reminder of the variability of farming conditions throughout the country and how at times
the packaged media version of life on the farm as being ‘lucrative’ or ‘burgeoning’
and ‘farmers are enjoying a bonanza’ does not match the individual reality
around the country.
It has clearly been a long hard summer for livestock farmers in these regions but one of the pleasures
of the day was a diversion through a couple of wineries near Blenheim. Optimism abounded. It seems
that a difficult year for livestock farmers translates into an excellent year for grape growers
and wine makers.
Perhaps the answer is to put half the farm into livestock and half into grapes then at least there would
be a degree of success in every year. It would also ensure you had something pleasant to sip
as you waited for the drought to break
A striking point of the day was the speed with which a community changes to new opportunities. How individuals
respond to the challenge, of that change, by either accepting and learning and participating
and taking risks or by rejecting and avoiding and criticising and trying to hang on to the old
ways. Change cycles are certainly painful when they become so frequent that they become a blur.
An interesting aspect of the winery visits was the willingness of the producer to stand beside their
product and discuss the qualities and accept criticism or complement. In marketing terms it is a
very short distribution channel and the producer should have little excuse for being uninformed about
what his customer wants or needs..
A mild winters afternoon, a ploughman’s lunch and glass of Pinot certainly left an impression
of optimism for a region that has been battered by climate and change.