A society without poets is a sterile and desolate place. Thus, I often read Bruce Bisset's pieces.

In his column on October 13 he says "Even the No 8 wire ingenuity factor is taking a hit these days because of the alleged urban/rural divide - a divide almost entirely in the minds of farmers, arising only because they are reluctant to face the fact the industrial farming model they've bought into is a land (and water) killer."

For a poet this is a remarkably long sentence possibly reflecting a pay per word incentive and impressively links farming ingenuity, urban/rural divides and the evils of industrial farming into one thought. A performance even crazy and erratic Byron and Pushkin would be proud of.

I'm not sure about his claim that there is a rural/urban divide in the minds of farmers but given his penchant for calling us environmental terrorists, land and water killers and all round villains of the first degree then he may have the satisfaction that he is himself responsible for encouraging some of these rabid thoughts.


We live in a provincial economy here where we are interdependent upon each other and talk of rural/urban divides is an excellent example of divide and conquer. To paraphrase an old musical; the cocky and the townie should be friends.

Before the advent of agriculture some 12,000 years ago, humans had a subsistence and nomadic existence. Agriculture allowed the growth of towns, cities and civilisations. With a smaller proportion of the population now required to feed the rest, other trades were able to flourish. Builders, philosophers, writers, stonemasons and yes even poets now had an opportunity and a place in the world.

I'm the chair of the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards and last week we held our annual winner's fielday which this year was on the Holt Family property on the outskirts of Napier City.

Because of its proximity to our urban friends we went to some expense advertising the opportunity to visit this fantastic example of intergenerational wise and sustainable land use. We were delighted to have 50 or so urban visitors join the 100 land owners keen to learn the lessons that this family had to impart on how to farm sustainably in a pretty tough environment.

We were also pleased to have Stuart Nash and Fenton Wilson attend but would have liked more influencers and politicians come to see that many farmers are doing their utmost best to make the world a better place.

For most farmers Bruce, our land is our tūrangawaewae. We love it and value the opportunity to farm and produce quality food for others. We see land ownership as a privilege, not a right.

We acknowledge that our activities do have an impact upon the environment and are working on mitigating these effects. But because of the expense and lag effects in biological systems, it won't happen overnight.

Just as cities are going to have to do with outdated sewage and stormwater systems which are currently pouring pollutants into rivers and the sea and poisoning citizens, as we've recently seen.


If Bruce or any other detractors who regularly speak publicly about farming and would like to do so not from a position of ignorance or dogma but from firsthand knowledge, I'd be delighted to host them on the Holt property, here on my own farm or any one of many other properties that the owners would be proud to open to scrutiny.

Just give me a call Bruce.

Steve Wyn-Harris is a sheep and beef farmer in Central Hawke's Bay. All opinions are the writer's and not those of Hawke's Bay Today.