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Farming, A Privilege

New Zealand farming has over the last couple of years under the current government has been berated, belittled & blamed for almost all of the pollution problems that we are facing as a country.

This coalition government has produced many polices aimed at the farmers of New Zealand that are supposedly going to fix all of the problems that we have with pollution of our land & waterways and protection of our national indigenous biodiversity.

Yet now they state that farming is privileged to be working, the same farmers that this current coalition government has made to feel like they are the cause of all the country’s problems in relation to pollution particularly of our waterways.

Let’s look at the average farmer’s working day:-

A day in a farmer’s life usually starts with a tea or coffee and toast at 4.30/5.00am then go to the shed to set up and get the cows in to milk or if shearing, get the sheep into shed to shear etc. Back home at 8.00am for breakfast then out to feed the cows and do maintenance on farm. Home for lunch at 12.30pm then back out to finish the project they are working on. Then get the cows milk them and return home at approximately 6.00pm for dinner.

The same farmers who are struggling with the ridiculous polices that are coming out in relation to farming and the environment. Policies which have the ability to bankrupt good hard working farmers that this government states are privileged to be working during this lockdown for control of Covid 19.

The same farmers that have in many cases been farming their land for generations producing food more efficiently and more environmentally friendly than anywhere else in the world.

So where is the privilege in working 12+ hour a days when we find the bureaucrats and politicians saying agriculture is bad and is the cause of all the environmental problems that the world has.

We see that certain people are saying that farmers are privileged to be working during this period of lock down to control the Covid 19 Coronavirus, yet farmers have always had to work as they currently do, so were they not privileged to be working then and supplying food for New Zealand?

Come and tell farmers that it’s a privilege it’s hard work on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It’s interesting that farmers are being called privileged at a time like this when all they are doing is the same job that they have always done, producing and supplying food for both New Zealand and the export markets.

So are all the emergency workers and essential service workers also privileged to be working at this time as well or is this comment just another example of the current governments disregard for farming generally even though the agricultural sector is the mainstay behind our country’s income?

Farming has been declared by this government as an essential service and as such is allowed to continue to operate under strict protocols to keep all employees safe from the effects of the Coronavirus. So where’s the privilege?

Does this comment somehow relate to the fact that the farmers are actually carrying out their normal work and making money? This is no different to any other essential service (where employees and companies are being paid to carry out their normal work) so surely that can’t be the case.

How come farming has been singled out and told that it is privileged to be allowed to carry on operating during the lockdown period?

Last week a decision was made by the obscure government ministry (Ministry for Culture and Heritage) that all non-daily newspapers were not providing an essential service and would have to cease publishing and distributing.

This decision includes most community and farming print media. This decision is of deep concern as significant numbers of rural residents have limited or no access to reliable internet.

Also many of our most vulnerable citizens, our over 70s, are not computer literate and that access to the internet is rapidly becoming even more difficult now the majority of NZ citizens have heeded the Government’s call to stay home.

Rural and farming periodical newspapers such as Farmers Weekly and Rural News are often the main method by which farmers and rural residents obtain up to date and relevant information.

Surely if it is possible to print and deliver the daily newspapers then it is also possible to print and deliver the rural and farming periodical newspapers. In most cases they are delivered by the rural delivery service and as an essential service, this is still operating.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has issued the following statement on Monday 30th March:

The Government has decided that the sale of essential goods such as heaters, whiteware and computers will be allowed - in recognition of the need for people to safely isolate, stay connected to one another and work or study from home. In order to protect public safety, there are conditions around the selling of these goods. These are outlined below.

The Government indicated at the start of the shutdown that we were considering whether some products could be made available online or by phone and we have decided there are essential non-food products that people should be able to buy so they can safely isolate and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Essential goods are those that will keep people warm (heaters, blankets), replace key household appliances, and maintain people’s health. Examples of essential products are blankets, fridges, heaters and computers or tablets to work from home or do distance learning, or simply connect with people. If people can’t buy these, then we risk people venturing out of their homes more often.

Businesses must operate responsibly and only make available for sale genuine essential goods - goods that are necessities of life while ensuring we restrict the movement of people and workers to combat COVID-19.

The public must order responsibly purchasing only those items that are absolutely necessary to facilitate life and work during the lock down period.

In order to be able to sell these essential goods, businesses must:

  1. Only take orders online or by phone and keep storefronts shut.
  2. Take orders for only essential non-food goods.
  3. Home- deliver all essential goods in a contactless way and not allow people to visit stores to select or collect goods.
  4. Take all appropriate public health measures to protect their staff and customers (e.g. physical distancing, hygiene basics, appropriate personal protective equipment).
  5. Notify MBIE that they meet these conditions and intend to offer essential goods for sale and provide a list of those products.

So when we take into account the rules for this relaxing of the rules around essential goods being sold and apply these to the provision of rural and community newspapers then there is no reason why they should not be delivered.

  1. The orders can be taken only on line or by phone.
  2. The orders will be only for the provision of the newspaper.
  3. Home delivery can be made in a contactless way (Rural delivery as is currently still operating).
  4. Print operators can take all appropriate public health measures to protect their staff and customers (e.g. physical distancing, hygiene basics, appropriate personal protective equipment) as is being done for the printing of the major daily newspapers.
  5. Notify MBIE that they meet these conditions and intend to supply the rural newspapers and/or periodicals for sale and provide a list of those products.

Given that as stated by the Prime Ministers announcement: “Examples of essential products are blankets, fridges, heaters and computers or tablets to work from home or do distance learning, or simply connect with people. If people can’t buy these, then we risk people venturing out of their homes more often.”

The failure to provide an adequate news service to rural people through their normal channels (rural newspapers and periodicals) risks them venturing out of their homes more often to connect with other people.

The rural communities are in most cases isolated enough without shutting down one of their main methods of keeping up to date with the current news.

Maybe farming is a privilege but it has just become an extremely isolated one with this decision to cease the production of the rural newspapers and periodicals, with no reasonable justification.

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