We can live a few minutes without air. We can live a few days without water. We can live a few weeks without food. But to live, everybody needs all three, all our lives.

The air and water are given freely by nature, but food is not so easily come by. To feed the present human population it must be wrested from the earth using all the ingenuity and knowledge and resources we have.

As dairy farmers, we provide several kinds of food, but voices are raised saying we are the country's worst polluters. When the Pike River methane gas explosion occurred, my husband's first comment was, "Who put the cows in the mine?" Because as far as the public heard, only cows produce methane.

Just like humans, our cows defecate, urinate, flatulate and burp. But all the cows' greenhouse gases have been paid for up front, as every blade of grass grown to feed the cows has spent its life madly sucking in carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen.

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As not every blade of grass goes through the cow, some is spare, to add to the payment, as are the hedgerows and shelterbelts and woodlots and weeds grown by that cow owner.

But now some dairy farms are diversifying, growing avocados. A super food that does not pee, crap, burp or fart, yet once again, the agitators are strident in their next condemnation. The use of water. The water used by an orchard is a bit more than the dairy farm used, but more food is produced on that same land.

And note that the water consent application is for X number of litres per day, but on how many days will all, or for that matter any of that allocation be used? One local grower used his water rights only seven times last season.

Most of those who complain about the animal pollution or water use happily go to the supermarket and buy the goods produced by all sorts of farmers from all over the world, but they never produce a single mouthful of food themselves.

Farmers do farm to make money, and why is that wrong? Other folk go to work in various occupations to make money, but I have not seen a march against shop assistants who drive cars to work, or dress designers who use materials made from chemicals, or office workers who use copious amounts of paper made from trees.

So why pick on dairy and avocado farmers? We all use things that have an effect on the world as we go about our daily lives.

All that above just means that I am sick to death of people who produce nothing for their basic needs in this life, complaining of those extremely hard-working folk who produce the world's food, working the land.

SYLVIA BRYAN
Motutangi