Watching politicians speak to the camera I sometimes – and involuntarily - mentally convert their faces into stern and nodding T-Rex heads. All teeth and no lips.
Certain politicians create this dinosauric vision every time they speak. They don't necessarily have to be old; they just have to be a relic of the past. They just have to constantly push for keeping the status quo, and keeping it by whatever means necessary.
One such artefact of yesterday is Agricultural Minister Damien O'Connor. Every time he speaks I see the past. Not the future. Which is odd because he spends a heck of a lot of time talking up future technology as the liberator of farming in this fast-warming world – as does fellow West Coaster, and Federated Farmers president, Katie Milne. Something in the water down there?
After a much-publicised "breakthrough" in the fight to reduce agricultural greenhouse emissions, scientists have identified which bacteria in a sheep's first stomach produce hydrogen as part of the digestion process, and the specific enzymes inside the bacteria that are responsible. In other words, it may lead to more control over animal methane emissions - with "may" being the operative word.
Of course, there's no show without Punch. O'Connor pops up to say what agricultural leaders always say. "New Zealand, if it can do both, that is increase production and reduce emissions, we can help the world feed itself."
First of all, the myth of New Zealand "feeding the world" has long been debunked. Second, even if the research is successful, creating a vaccine or pill that could do that is up to six years away. Six years in this world of what's looking more and more like runaway, and quite possibly exponential, climate change, is an eon.
Nebulous techno fixes appear to exist for the sole purpose of status quo-ism. The implication is always that farmers can continue on with the same number of animals – namely cows - if only they implement the, so far, either undiscovered or unproven methane inhibitors, vaccines, novel feeds, nitrogen inhibitors, and animal breeding solutions. Whatever.
There's something exceedingly opportunistic about it all. It puts me in mind of snake oil salesmen hawking their cure-all elixirs to an unsuspecting 18th and 19th century public. The similarities lie in the fact that everyone wants it to work more than their collective minds can conceive that it likely doesn't.
Agri-tech companies use copious amounts of words like 'revolutionise' and 'inspiration' to describe what they say they do. "Technology will soon help make New Zealand's farms more productive while also making lakes and rivers cleaner," NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller claims. Except, investigating their website provides no real clue as to how they would achieve such a bold assertion.
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Sure, developing on-farm technology that reduce nitrates and saves our waterways is a lovely ideal, but putting all of our overly-optimistic eggs in that one basket is a mistake.
Often, the proposed tech just diminishes natural ecosystems more rather than replenishing them. It's also trotted out in a way that really only serves to achieve 'kicking the can down the road' for another few years. Anything to buy more time, before having to finally face the fact that fewer cows is the only way to farm within environmental limits.
How is agriculture going to make the transition in time to achieve net zero emissions from agri-food production by 2050? Because that's what the Farming Leaders Group have signed their fellow farmers up to. Easy to do, when none of the group will be leaders by then, or likely even breathing.
As it stands, a clear vision of agriculture in this country will not be forthcoming from the usual suspects. No, the epiphany will have to come from farmers themselves, and they will end up driving the change.
Smart farmers have already worked out that they can drop their stocking rate, and still make the same money, while leaching less nitrogen and lowering methane emissions.
On top of all of this is the uptake of synthetic milk and plant-based meat – not to mention people are eating far less meat. A food revolution is taking place right under our noses, and its impact will change everything. Somehow that hasn't quite resonated loudly enough with ag industry leaders. Yet.
I get that they're trying to front foot the disruption they're starting to experience but misleading farmers, and the public, about technology solving all of our emissions problems is, in my view, ethically and morally unsound.
Making changes now – destocking, reducing off-farm inputs and fertiliser use, and reliance on irrigation – are all viable, workable, realistic options. Hoping for some sort of magic technology bullet to solve it all is basically gambling.
But, who knows? Maybe I'm the real dinosaur?
Just don't bet the farm on it.