Comment: Urban and rural New Zealanders need to stop pointing fingers and get on the same page to save the environment, writes Colin Guyton, President Federated Farmers Rotorua Taupō.

Most farmers are upfront when it comes to their responsibilities. We make our living from the land and know that we must protect our environment.

Before Covid-19, the anti-farming sentiment was like white noise, a constant buzzing about what we were doing wrong. We felt like we were getting it in the ear from urban communities and government, as we worked our arses off producing food that is essential for life.

Fast forward to the lockdown. We became "essential" and the silence was deafening.


Once were critics. Shame that it took a global pandemic for those who criticise to wake up to the fact that - while we all have progress to make in lessening our environmental footprint - it's the primary industries that earn this country the lion's share of export revenue, and farmers and growers will be key to digging the nation out of our economic hole.

Yes, farming has an effect on the water quality and the animals we farm produce greenhouse gas.But every human and activity on this earth influences the planet.

Some city folk seem to think they are guilt-free from environmental impact, and happily make the food producers the scapegoat.

What is it with this country that we do not work together? Is it tall poppy or simply a lack of understanding?

Why can we not understand each other's predicaments and move forward to sort problems out? We are practical people, and we have a true number 8 wire mentality.

Firstly, let's agree on the facts where we can, decide priorities and make sound decisions that have the best possibility of succeeding. Working together is likely to mean different land uses and balancing the environment and profitability.

It also means urban and rural getting on the same page.

Stop pointing the finger and understand we all have an impact; buying an electric car does not exempt you from doing way more. It's a fact that when a river passes an urban settlement there is a spike in e coli from stormwater, sewerage and point discharges.


Farmers have invested a huge amount into improving our impact, riparian planting, reducing nitrogen fertiliser, lining effluent ponds, and using a nutrient budget as a tool.

And yes, we recognise that towns and cities are investing many millions in better sewerage and stormwater systems. We all have further work to do.

Global warming is a global problem and of course we need to do our bit. But if New Zealand farmers cut production to emit fewer greenhouse gases, it just means other countries with far higher emissions per kilogram of protein produced will take up the slack.

We need to be smarter than that, and be smarter together.