Thursday, February 11, 2021

Earning their reputation again

Farmers complain about being seen as environmental vandals. Meanwhile, down in Southland, they're doing this:

Southland farmers will consider holding more tractor protests, not applying for resource consents, and not paying regional council rates to protest against new freshwater rules introduced by the Government last year.

A farmer’s group called Groundswell will host a meeting in Gore on Thursday to come up with an action plan to protest against the rules.


Groundswell spokesperson Bryce McKenzie said the options the group were considering to protest were ‘’bordering on civil unrest’’.

“How else do you get your message across? We’ve tried to get the message across and that hasn’t worked, so what else do you do? That’s what we now need to decide,’’ he said.

I may be missing the farmer-logic here, but promising "civil unrest" in response to environmental regulation does not a good way to sell yourself as an environmentally responsible industry, or to shake off a reputation for being environmentally destructive. Instead, it seems like a way to cement that reputation, and paint yourself as a problem industry which needs to be regulated more strongly. As for their protest tactics, if they refuse to apply for resource consent then their unconsented farming activities can be shut down (and they can be fined $10,000 a day for continuing without consent). If they refuse to pay rates, their property can be seized and sold to pay them. If farmers wish to be environmental delinquents, I think the public would welcome such outcomes.