The Offal Pit: Hands on experience lost

You've got to love the media. They're our gateway to information, or at least, that's the theory.

If you want rural facts, read the rural papers or the rural sections in the dailies or the radio. At least they get out to some farms and report honestly. Rural reporters may not always write what we want to read or hear, but at least they're straight up.

Given the number of times rural issues have become political over the past year, I thought some of our political reporters would jump at opportunities to get some first-hand experience of what farming is about.

Federated Farmers recently invited every journalist in the Parliamentary Press gallery to attend its Dairy Council tour to do just that.

We covered highly-politicised subjects like farm effluent management and agricultural innovation. After all, the Green Party ran its election campaign on the premise of cleaning up rivers and growing innovation-based jobs. Now Labour leader David Shearer is talking about the need to diversify away from a narrow range of commodities.

So, you would think journalists would have been all over this like a rash. The Federation did not expect dozens, but aside from the usual rural reporters there was only one journo from the press gallery. That tells me what we all suspected; Kiwi farming is world famous, except right here.

It sucks when a Green MP gets media coverage just for canoeing down a river. Getting through to the general media is a challenge for the Federation, but by inviting political media at this time I thought there would be more interest.

The Federation will keep trying. As the success of Farm Day and the number of people checking out the Federation's Facebook page shows, there are other ways to get the message across.

The Offal Pit is an opinion editorial not necessarily reflecting the views or policies of Federated Farmers.

- Hamilton News

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