Opinion: Labour MP Kieran McAnulty took to Twitter to express why he will not be attending today's Howl of a Protest.
I know this is long, but I wanted to make a few comments about the "Howl of a Protest.'
Anyone who knows me well knows that I am passionate about the Primary Sector.
They know both sides of my family have farmed for generations, and that both my parents continue to work in the sector.
They also know that I entered politics to work towards sustainable rural communities.
I won't be joining the protest.
The sentiment behind them doesn't represent the whole sector and undermines the hard work of so many farmers who are keen to get ahead of the curve.
Now is not the time to tread water.
Maintaining the status quo or, God forbid, going backwards will not deliver for rural communities.
We are a trading nation. Our prosperity depends on consumers choosing to buy our products.
We have leveraged the 100 per cent pure, clean and green image that we have cultivated over decades in order to extract the best price possible for our products.
But we mustn't assume that demand will continue as is.
We have never targeted the cheapest markets – we have always sold to the most discerning customers in the world. They want quality, so they choose our products.
However, markets change. And so too does consumer demand.
The markets we're targeting want to know that if they are buying products from the bottom of the globe they can do so with a clear conscience.
Consumers want to know their purchases are environmentally sustainable, that they are climate friendly with high animal welfare standards and that the workers in the industry get a good wage with good conditions.
We have led the world in this. Our farmers are the most efficient producers in the world.
But, we aren't as ahead of the pack as we used to be.
We know there is a lot of change coming.
And we know it is tough. We know there is concern about the pace of change. The Government hears that and has shown a willingness to amend things in order to make it work. We will continue to do so.
We don't agree with those who say it isn't the Government's job to lead on this.
If we stop moving forward to address the impacts of climate change, allow further degradation of our fresh water and don't do more to address animal welfare, there is no way we will meet this Government's goal of working with the sector to achieve a $40b increase in export value.
Because that's what is at stake. We either get ahead of the curve and reap the benefits, or we slowly fall behind.
We used to debate the "why" – in 2003 the Government proposed a levy to invest in research on reducing methane emissions. That was protested and was scrapped.
Now many – including those protesting – are calling for such a fund.
The ETS was introduced as a compromise following protests against a carbon tax. Now many are saying the ETS is flawed and a carbon tax would be better.
I'm proud that as a country we have moved on from that. We no longer debate the "why" and have moved on to discussing the "how".
I acknowledge the constructive work of industry bodies like DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ, and the efforts made by companies like Fonterra.
They understand what needs to be done.
Yet the group behind the protests have criticised them for it.
Many of the farmers I engage with are on board with what needs to be done and are getting on with it.
My bet is many of them will be disappointed by the protests. I am disappointed too.
Not necessarily because of the issues they are protesting – I discuss those with people every day. I am disappointed because of what I fear it will do. There is truth to the concept of an urban- rural divide.
Some in urban areas don't give enough credence to those farmers that have been doing their bit over many years. And farmers resent them for it. This is not where we need to be as a nation.
So much work goes into trying to bring often urban-based environmental groups and farmers together, encouraging them to learn about each other's perspectives.
It is in meeting and learning where we develop respect for those we don't really know. And we were making progress.
It is my fear that the protests will undo this good work. It'll make farmers look stubborn and resistant to change, which on the whole they are not. It'll make them look like climate change deniers, which most of them aren't.
There will no doubt be someone that does or says something that will hurt the image of the farmers I know, and potentially, it'll hurt how those overseas view us.
The markets we are trying to enter have much stricter environmental and climate standards than us.
They will look at our protests and wonder why we are opposing proposals that aren't as harsh as those they have in their own countries. These are the very same people in the very same markets we want to sell more of our products to.
So I won't be joining the protests, but I will continue to back the majority of farmers who want the best price for their products, the best for the environment and the best for our country.