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Brian Fallow Comes Close!

In today's NZH Brian Fallow succinctly summarises his conclusions arising from Dr Jan Wrights Waterway's Report and lays blame in a thoroughly balanced manner - we mustn't "demonize" the farmers, or more specifically dairy farmers it seems. But reading between the lines, it seems pretty conclusive that he holds them primarily responsible for the dilemma - just as Dr Wright similarly 'points the finger'.

The problem, as Brian Fallow sees it, is that it really is an either or situation - either the economy, or the ecology.

But is this entirely true? When pay-outs reached $8 was the time that restraints should have imposed requiring capital to be expended at least equally on mitigation measures as those being taken to expand, or concentrate production. This was not done - debt was repaid, and expansion/concentration went ahead in order to respond to market conditions. There was no discernable  increase in expenditure on mitigation as one may have expected. Now that prices heads south towards $5, crying poor will follow like night follows day, and we may expect even the parsimonious moves made towards mitigation to take a very backward step.

Brian is not wrong - it is just that in his efforts to avoid stepping on the delicate feet of the 'cash-cow,' he has chosen to resort to the age-old excuse for in-action. I am disappointed, but not surprised. Until Dr Jan Wright's conclusions are taken seriously by the industry as a whole we are destined to see continued dragging of the chain as every excuse in the book is brought out to avoid facing the inevitable.

And on the other hand, when is enough expansion/concentration of this sector enough? The often repeated mantra that our social welfare system is dependent on increased government revenues from this source simply does not stack up. There has to be a finite point recognised primarily by Fonterra, but others as well that this we simply cannot allow the total despoliation of the countryside in order to keep more and more people on the dole. The fact is that any increase in jobs is being met by ever increasing imported units of labour - where the hell is that benefiting New Zealand?




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