Monday, July 19, 2021

Exporting their social licence

One of the slogans of Friday's ugly farmer protests was "no farms, no food". But the truth is that most of what farmers grow is exported, and kiwis are increasingly being priced out of eating it at all:

If you feel like red meat is more expensive than it used to be, you're right.

Around 95 percent of New Zealand's sheep meat and 87 percent of beef is exported, and what's left behind for locals is being sold at a premium.


Beef + Lamb NZ chief executive Rod Slater said the cost of meat in New Zealand reflected what markets overseas were willing to pay.

"If a housewife in the middle of Oxford in the UK is prepared to pay a certain price for a cut of meat, we have to match that in New Zealand," he said. "We are price takers, not price makers in this country."

I guess you could say that what they're really exporting is their social licence to operate.

So, we get 10% of the food and pay 100% of the environmental costs (which effectively end up as a subsidy to foreign consumers) - and get higher prices into the bargain. Meanwhile, farmers laugh all the way to the bank, having ripped us off at both ends. What, exactly, is in this for us again? And why should we listen to their whining about having to obey basic environmental standards, or pay for their emissions like the rest of us, when the primary benefit of their operations goes straight overseas?

At the moment we give the farming sector an effective $2 billion a year carbon subsidy, plus Cthulhu knows how much in water (both of which pale in comparison to the effective subsidy of past land theft), so we can pay more for food. And that seems like a pretty shit deal. We should end those subsidies immediately, make those "self-reliant" farmers stand on their own two feet for once. And if this means that half of them go out of business, I honestly don't see that as a negative. Again, its not like they provide any social benefit to justify their carve outs and subsidies.