There has been a lot of publicity about the frustration of farmers in the media of late.
There has also been a lot of misinformation and part truths surrounding farming.
Some of the issues confronting farmers are alien to urban dwellers and getting the real picture can be difficult.
Let's take a brief look at the truth.
Before World War II, NZ's farming industry was unnoteworthy. The advent of WWII resulted in more than 140,000 young Kiwis of all ethnicities being torn away from their homes and families for up to six years and "conscripted" to defend New Zealand, and Britain, from hostile invaders.
11,928 of these young New Zealanders perished in battle and countless more were physically and/or mentally debilitated for life.
Those who survived physically "unscathed" were mentally damaged beyond our imagination. There was no such thing as PTSD in 1945, but our returned servicemen suffered from it and talked dismissively to one another about "shell shock".
However, at that time, there was zero recognition of the size of the mental health problem that affected our people.
After the war, the government had to repatriate the ex-servicemen back into society.
The government's solution was to break hundreds of thousands of acres of government-owned "Lands and Survey" land into blocks that it hoped would make economic farming units. These were often little more than a ring-fenced block of grass land, scrub, and tussock.
These blocks were balloted among the servicemen. If they were lucky, they were leased a block of land and given a State Advance loan to fence, water, house, and stock it.
They were also given an option to buy out the freehold title within the long-term lease (often 100 years) that they occupied.
There were no tractors, utes, or quad bikes - only Clydesdale horses. There was usually no electricity - only diesel engines and generators.
There were no agricultural contractors or machines, to break in the land - only the farmer, his wife and a (very) young family.
These were our men who had fought in trenches, jungles, mud fields, deserts, and city ruins all over Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. Breaking in a new farm was not so bad, relative to what they had just endured.
They set about rebuilding a life and raising a family and were deeply grateful for a chance to do so.
The NZ pastoral farming industry was built off the back of these unbelievably hard-working people. It began as "the food basket of Britain" which at that time was still appreciative of us coming to help them beat off the Germans.
My dad was one of these men and he drew a ballot for a farm at Galatea, after serving in the brutal and bloody Pacific campaign for five years. He took over his 140-acre lease block in 1945 and bought his first tractor, a 25-horse powered Ferguson, 10 years later in 1955.
Power was connected shortly afterwards, but up until 1954 all my family knew was horses, wagons, wood burning stoves, candle-light and kerosene lanterns.
Many of today's farmers are the grandchildren of people like my father.
My generation and our children have some understanding of how today's farming industry evolved. But not always so our city brothers and sisters, nor our politicians.
How short is the human memory (and vice versa) when it suits our personal objectives and beliefs?
Today's public leadership has thanked farmers by vilifying them for climate change, water pollution, animal exports, and even meat consumption. They have introduced the ETS, countless water controls, banned animal exports, introduced capital gain taxes, and the new ute tax, which farmers cannot avoid as they need utility vehicles to operate.
Then they have stopped migrant workers coming to work on farms, while paying some healthy young NZers not to work at all. As one farmer commented on national TV recently, when commenting on the overseas worker issue: "I want to do all the right things. But I need to get time to sleep so I can make it happen."
The last straw that has resulted in the sleeping lion finally awakening and roaring, was the introduction of Special Natural Areas (SNAs).
It defies explanation that New Zealand in 2021 sees it as okay to alienate privately owned land from its legal owners - and with it – farmers' livelihoods. They are taking it in the name of "public good", but without any compensation or payment for either the land itself, or the loss of use of it.
Have we not learned from our past?
The areas are not trivial. In Northland alone, about 42 per cent of the land is affected by SNAs over land owned by 8000 different owners. Sure, public consultation has taken place but the option to refuse is not available to the landowners.
Associate Environment Minister James Shaw had the audacity to brand the nationwide reaction as a "group of Pākehā farmers from down south who have always pushed back against the idea that they should observe any kind of regulation about what they can do to protect the environmental conditions on their land".
Like any big business, the NZ farming business, which is truly world scale and world class, has its few negligent and fly-by-night members.
The media is quick to jump on the band wagon and seek out these news media stories and portray them as mainstream. Real farmers are as disgusted with these people's behaviour, as they are with those who portray them as mainstream farmers.
The average farmer today works seven days a week, in all weather, outdoors, tending real life animal breeding, feeding and welfare issues that the rest of us - from our centrally heated indoor jobs - have no concept of.
They are at the mercy of world commodity markets, the seasonal rains, crops failures, extreme weather events, and animal health issues. None is more aware of the effects of climate change, water quality or biosecurity than farmers.
None works harder to mitigate it than farmers. Many farmers work for years on end without a proper holiday. There is no such thing as annual leave, sick days, or statutory holidays. Any farmer who does not care for his or her livestock 24x7, will not survive for long and will quickly fail to meet payments for the heavy seasonal and property debt levels that farmers must operate to own and run the farm.
So come on NZ, it's time we remembered what happened just 75 years ago and what the primary sector contributes to our economy, our jobs, our businesses, and our lifestyle.
Without them there is no operable economy for New Zealand.
Let's give the primary sector a break and get in behind them to help them. It will be a lot more productive for the planet, the economy, and the country, than the ill-informed vilification that has prevailed.
• Bryce Heard is a Rural Board member and Rotorua farmer.