At a time when dairy farming is recovering from an all-time low and lamb is in limbo courtesy of Brexit, it's somewhat surprising that the most contentious issues on my radio show have been water quality and Donald Trump!
Last week I received a delightful missive from Peter Steward of Ohaupo. He immediately piqued my interest when he called me a "typical hypercritical [Peter, do you mean hypocritical?] bleeding heart, liberal left wing tosser", in response to my most recent column about water quality and Donald Trump.
I replied to Peter, thanking him for having the good grace to put his name to his barbs, saying I would respond through this week's column.
A very much abridged version of his letter to the editor has been published elsewhere but I thought I should reply to the unedited, unadulterated, full-insult version. So here goes:
1/ A "left-wing tosser."
For someone often accused of being a right-wing [rhymes-with-banker], I took that as a bit of a compliment. Any political bias I might have is obviously not evident to you Peter.
2/ "You feel good eating, drinking, driving and jetting around the world as you frequently do, watching all that kero getting blasted out and then go on and on and on about climate change and pollution and saving the planet (palm kernel). Hypocritical! If you go around in goat skin and hair clothing, you might have some credibility".
What are you smoking Peter?
3/ "Intensive dairying, you claim, is ruining our soils".
I scoured through my column to find this comment. It doesn't exist because I've never written or said it. I am, however, on record as saying on occasions we're guilty of dairy farming on the wrong soil types. Take a trip down to Southland in mid-winter and you might see some cows up to their hocks in mud grazing a brassica crop on heavy soil near a waterway. There's got to be a better way.
4/ "You say you can't take seriously a man who wants to build a wall on the Mexican border (you forget to add that Mexico will pay) and ban Muslims. Right, the wall; I bet you lock your doors at night! And as any good farmer knows, good boundary fence, good neighbours".
Peter, do you really believe Mexico is going to pay for Trump's fanciful wall? I thought we'd left that sort of Cold War nonsense behind us with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
5/ "The same elitist arrogance you've got by saying you might have to give up your microphone for a hand piece or milking overalls, you wouldn't hack it Mackay with either."
Peter, you're right about the milking overalls. I wouldn't hack the early starts and I'd be next to useless in milking shed as I've never darkened the door of one. However, I've served my apprenticeship on a handpiece and I'd be willing to wager a wee bet for charity that I'd hold my own against you in a shearing shed.
6/ "You university (state sponsored by 70%) types who haven't done the hard yards have to realise the real world. Mackay you're a lost cause..."
Really Peter? You need to do your homework. Haven't done the hard yards? Father died when I was 19, farmed through the 1980s and Rogernomics and survived, set up a private commercial radio station from scratch, we worked six and half days a week to get it off the ground and I've managed to get a rural programme nationwide on two radio networks. Hardly a lost cause, Peter!
7/ In reference to Trump. "Billionaire not paying tax. I've been told you've got a share in a dairy farm, hope you're not offsetting your wage income from your dairy losses. No, no, no, that would be hypocritical."
Rest assured Peter, the considerable losses in the past financial year from my dairy farm investment stay within the farming company. They are not offset against my personal income. You mentioned my 70% state sponsored university education. Well Peter, I now fall into the minority bracket which pays 70% of the income tax. I think I've well and truly paid back my education debt to the state.
8/ "Well Mackay with all those hypercritical, liberal, left biases you are definitely a left wing tosser. Like John Campbell you'll end up at National Radio where you deserve" [belong].
Gee Peter, that's the closest you've got to ruffling my feathers. Not because I don't like John Campbell. I think he's a 'marvellous' broadcaster. Rather it's because I'm not a great fan of state-funded broadcasting. A bias, I guess, from many years of battling against it in commercial radio.
Besides, I'd rather the government spent my hard earned tax dollars on the health system, where it's really needed, or on those less fortunate.
If that makes me a left-wing tosser, then Peter, I'm guilty as charged.