This year hasn't been short on emotion, debate and outrage, but the most surprising uproar for me has come from the Country Calendar episode on Lake Hawea Station.
I hadn't seen the episode but started to see unhappy murmurs on Twitter on Sunday evening, then who could miss the onslaught that followed on Facebook.
I was intrigued, wow, what terrible things had been said? How insanely outrageous was this episode? What epic conspiracies are being brewed up there in Hawea Station? I immediately checked out the episode.
Where is the great big 'conspiracy'?
After watching my first thought was, is that it? I wasn't disappointed with the episode but couldn't calibrate the incredibly negative comments with what I had just watched. So, I watched it again and took notes, I observed the language, the tone of conversation, noted the references to their own beliefs and listened hard to their philosophy. I don't know Geoff and Justine Ross but after watching this I have a great deal of respect for them.
When did great business capability, strong values and following your belief system become offensive?
They were focused and clear on their business plan and the legacy they wanted to leave, they were objective, balanced and running their farm based on their own values. They have strong knowledge and proven experience of premium global customers' needs and they wanted to create a legacy based on their own belief system. They talked about their pride and belief in NZ farming and immense respect for the sector, their excitement for the future, their desire to share how awesome NZ farming is with the world.
Yes, they admit to being natural disrupters and always looking for ways to do things differently but when did progress, innovation and experimenting with different ideas become offensive?
My experience with farming is that it is very much a values-based sector, no one farm, or farmer is exactly the same, each farmer will have unique beliefs.
Tall poppy is raging hard
One comment that made me go hmmmm said: "Not everyone can sell a vodka company for millions and then buy a farm to try [to] promote their fantasy ideas".
This is correct. Not everyone can work out of their garage, have a great deal of sacrifice, take a decade or so, risking everything, to build up a global brand that is then sold for millions. It's a unique success and how cool is it that a Kiwi did that? How cool that the Kiwi family stayed in New Zealand and reinvested into an awesome sector like food and fibre because they believe in the future of the sector and want to leave an amazing legacy.
Would we have rather seen Hawea station sold into more exotic trees as a pointless offset, or become a wealthy foreigner's and get away without real productive impact?
Pot, kettle, black
It breaks my heart to see many farmers feeling bruised and beaten by society. It's even more heartbreaking, and extremely confusing, to see farmers then beating up on other farmers for being progressive or farming differently.
Farmers seem to be showing more empathy for farmers who do bad things than they do for farmers who are trying to improve perceptions of the sector for the benefit of the sector.
It did give me an awkward chuckle at the number of comments that said things like "I watched five minutes then turned it off", only to then carry on to say how ridiculous it was. Hang on, you didn't even watch it?
So, let me understand this, you get annoyed when others don't take the time to understand your farming business but comment and judge, however it's okay for you to not take the time to understand, then judge someone else?
These people were shining a positive light on the sector, but you want to beat up on them.
I get that many might have felt that it gave a perspective they personally didn't believe was farming, based on how they farm, but people doing things differently and being proud of what they are achieving isn't an attack on you. If you think it is, that is a poor reflection on you, no one else.
Driving for consensus, doing things the same and bagging others for disrupting progress is not democracy - connecting different perspectives celebrating progress and difference is.
• Julia Jones is head of insight at NZX - She has worked across multiple parts of the food and fibre sector for over 20 years, helping businesses and the sector navigate and thrive in uncertainty.