The recent passing of Murray Ball has prompted Jim Hopkins to reminisce about the way New Zealanders used to feel about farming.

Ball's creations Wal and Dog were indicative of a time when the public regarded farmers in an affectionate manner says Hopkins.

Now times have changed and the perception of farming is at a worryingly low level.

Jim believes this is down to lobbying from "angry groups", but also urban New Zealanders' romanticised view of agriculture. A view Hopkins says is often completely disengaged from the realities of the countryside.

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It's time we remind townies that "the heartland is actually the financial heartland as well" says Hopkins who believes if New Zealand disregards farming it will be a very poor country indeed.