Comment on Nelson Mail article

Comment on Nelson Mail article
By Jonathan Kennett

Earlier this week the Nelson Mail printed an article about Project Rameka that was titled “Tree planters slate farmers”. This was completely incorrect, and the journalist, Hayley Gale has since phoned up and apologised. We can only presume that the Editor or sub-editor of the Nelson Mail felt it would generate more sales to have a sensationalist, although incorrect heading, than a true one. Newspapers probably do this all the time.

To set the record straight, I’ve decided to expand on the contents of Hayley Gale’s article here, because those contents were essentially correct, even if the title wasn’t.

We did not slate farmers. Quite the opposite. We pointed out that the farmers around Project Rameka have been supportive. I would like to give a few solid examples.

Dave Edmondson: We bought the project land off Dave. He has been very good at removing stray stock from Project Rameka.

Robert and Myra Fulton: In 2008, Robert and Myra supported the project by buying native trees, and allowing us to dig Totara seedlings from their garden. They have never failed to be welcoming to us and Myra has spent a lot of time writing up the history of the Rameka Valley, which she dearly loves.

Ricky Page: When Gary has call to run stock up the Ramaka Road, he does it as fast as possible so that the cattle don’t stray off the road, and chomp our trees.

Fill and Albie Burgess: The list of help and the amount of friendship from these two farmers is great indeed. Planting trees, providing wholesome food at work parties, cheerful conversation and a welcome bed for the night during storms. Fill and Albie also have 50 ha of regenerating forest at the back of their farm.

You might understand now that Simon Johnson, Bronnie Wall and myself were far from impressed when we saw the title saying we slated farmers.

However, to perfectly clear, we did slate the advocacy organisation Federated Farmers and in particular its leader Don Nicholson. The following quotes will explain why.

Federated Farmers of New Zealand Submission
“Farmer opposition to government efforts on climate change policy has been consistent over the years.”

And another quote, this time from their website.

“Federated Farmers opposed the government’s 2002 ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and remains opposed to it.

Federated Farmers opposes the inclusion of agriculture in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme.”
Fedrated Farmers website (uploaded Dec 2009)

It is clear that Federated Farmers – the organisation – has been opposed to any practical moves to tackle climate change by reducing emissions. Don Nicholson has said that it is not worth trying to reduce emissions because population growth makes this impossible. This is completely counter to the advice coming from every reputable scientific organisation in the world. That advice is, that we reduce emissions urgently.

However, it is also clear that there are individual farmers who chose to make their own minds up. And many, whether it is for climate change reasons or not, are taking actions that are good for the environment they are leaving for their children and grandchildren. Good on them!

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