Opinion: Dr Jacqueline Rowarth responds to an interview The Country ran last month with Green MP Chloe Swarbrick.
At the end of October we were told that "change is hard". Spoiler alert - we know. We've been changing for decades – some of us have been around since the mid-1940s. All of us were born by the mid-60s.
The words were voiced by a millennial (generation born between approximately 1981 and 1996) showing understanding about what is ahead and why we, as farmers and growers, might be concerned about the future.
The words were broad in scope – the empathising was for "all people who are going through change."
Anybody trying to understand food production should have worked out that food producers deal with change every day. Farmers and growers respond to weather, climate, market signals, interest rates, exchange rates, legislation and societal pressures, as well as the requirements of their particular patch of earth – topography, soil type, plants and animals, pests and diseases.
More generally, as part of the Baby Boomer generation we've not only adopted the modern technologies that are now commonplace - we developed them. The world wide web, DNA fingerprinting, the lithium ion battery, artificial hearts - Baby Boomers were behind them.
Steve Wozniak is a Baby Boomer. So is Steve Jobs.
Think what life would be without the work that has resulted in so many life-improvements. Yes of course we accept that if we hadn't invented and developed things the X-generation or millennials might have done – and that they might have been better.
But the fact is, we did it for them, providing a platform for ongoing improvement. And we worked hard to ensure that the millennials, our children, would have a better future.
It is certainly true that some of the things we've done have had unintended consequences.
Though we were not responsible for the internal combustion engine, the Haber Bosch process the Green Revolution, or glyphosate, we have continued the productivity gains that they have enabled.
Food is more available (distribution and price), in greater variety and is better quality than in the past. Precision application of chemicals over the last few decades (Boomers again) means more control over targets, and less wastage. More people are being fed from each hectare of land than ever before – and there are more and more mouths to feed.
Organics and regenerative agriculture are not going to solve this population problem. And contrary to popular belief, they do use chemicals. Some approved natural chemicals are more toxic than their synthetic alternative.
Another statement requiring challenge is "giving back to the planet more than we've taken from it".
Alchemy? This was usually more about transmutation (base metal into gold, for instance) than actual creation of material.
The Millennial explanation was "ensuring that the planet is healthier than when you began those practices on that land".
The sad implication is that somehow farmers and growers don't have the same aim for the land they look after.
The statement overlooks the basic desire to be able to pass on to the next generation something that has been improved.
Research has shown that most business owners want to do an even better job than the previous generation, however that is assessed. Farmers in the 1950s (The Silent Generation) cleared the land because the government of the time had production as a goal. Clearance was regarded as an improvement.
Removal of subsidies in the 1980s shifted the emphasis to productivity (output per unit of input). The result is that New Zealand's pastoral-based agriculture has lower nitrogen and greenhouse gas footprints than other countries can achieve.
Listen to Jamie Mackay interview Dr Jacqueline Rowarth on The Country below:
Yes it's time to get real – but the suggestion that because change is hard we'll say "oh we're just gonna press pause on this and not do anything about it" is not supported by reality.
We've been told that "Empathy is saying I understand this challenge in front of you - how do we work together to get through it?" Agreed.
But empathy also requires listening and acknowledging that there might be real issues. It might be that the people being asked to change have doubts that what they are being asked to do will achieve the desired objective – and those doubts might be based on evidence.
The Green Party has promised to help farmers change to organic and regenerative agriculture but is unable to provide the evidence that what is being proposed will be better for the environment, the economy or even well-being and resilience. Research suggests that it won't be good for any of these aspects, including the efficiency that we've worked so hard to achieve.
Reluctance to embrace the change isn't about "cutting off our noses to spite our faces". It is about evaluation and calculation based on understanding of the context.
Boomers empathise with everybody who wants to create a better world.
We've been working for the same goal. We're using research and experience based on hard work to ensure that any changes made will be in the right direction.
Knowledge of land-based food production in context cannot be replaced by ideology, however, well-meaning.
• Dr Jacqueline Rowarth has a PhD in soil science and is a Baby Boomer who has enjoyed working with people from all generations. She is also a farmer-elected director of DairyNZ and Ravensdown. The analysis and conclusions above are her own. email@example.com