Farmers daily tiptoe around a minefield of regulations and bureaucracy.
Who in their right mind would want to go dairy farming?
Why do a job that risks a $10,000 fine if your neglect to put your helmet on? Why do a job that risks thousands of dollars of product being discarded if it is fraction of a degree over a stipulated temperature? Why do a job that could cost you literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties if you mistakenly allow even an infinitesimal trace of penicillin into the product? And why do a job that has legislation forbidding you from including your family?
People are already turning their backs on the dairy industry as a source of employment, opening the door to immigrants who are striving to better themselves but are lacking opportunity.
This does nothing for the farmer-less generations of young Kiwis moving into the work force.
All the rules and regulations are “for the better” – Work Place New Zealand is trying to promote safer methods so we don’t get hurt or killed. The MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) regulations are there to ensure food safety – you can’t argue with that.
But at the end of the day, those are big picture things and the effect of all the regulation, legislation and compliance is at the grass-root level – affecting the farmers who are daily tiptoeing around a minefield of bureaucracy.
It’s not only costing them a fortune it’s also wearing them down. Depression and suicide are overly represented in the rural areas where people deal with life and death, volatile weather, poor returns and constant criticism, constant regulations and the moving of the goal posts.
Take it from me, this does wear you down.
No-one wants to say stop, this is enough. I suspect many of the MPI regulations are coming from the EU which has an historical reputation for trying to shut down our farming activities because we can do it better than it can.
No-one wants to say “stop it’s not fair”, to fine a rural couple $40,000 for having the kids on the bikes and not wearing the helmets.
Yes, we are all aware they had apparently been warned multiple times and were unfortunate enough to be farming by a main road for all to see, but come on, fining a hard working young couple $40,000 is ludicrous.
But I can hear you bleating “but what if the kids get hurt or killed” and that’s an emotive argument.
There are kids’ lives at risk in urban New Zealand and fines like that are unheard of.
How many kids drowned last year? Way more than got hurt on farm bikes.
Who’s getting fined for not wearing an aqualung in the pool? No-one.
I call it blatant rural victimisation.
The clobbering machine hammering away at people who are trying to get the job done, trying to teach their kids to ensure there are farmers in the future.
In my opinion, farming should not be treated like every other workplace because the lines between your farm and your life are so blurred.
One of the most attractive things about a career in farming is the “lifestyle”.
That lifestyle supposedly makes up for the long hours, the crap weather and the shit and the mud and the bills.
And it is that lifestyle that is being eroded by the PC (politically correct) law-making brigade who are trying to think for us, but they didn’t bother to find out what we were thinking in the first place.
Or is it simply a revenue-collecting exercise by government departments too strapped for cash they have to kill the goose that lays the golden egg – they have been doing it for decades in one form or another.
* Lyn Webster is a Northland dairy farmer.
– Waikato Times