Later this month I shall be at the Northland Field Days. I am very much looking forward to them. It is Northland’s largest annual agricultural celebration and, as the organisers say — rightly — on their website, the Friendly Field Days.
It is also a reminder, not that one is needed, of the importance of farming and the primary sector to our country, and the field days are to farmers and townies alike the most visible manifestation of that.
For that reason, the recent comments by associate health minister Julie Anne Genter are both worrying and perplexing. I am prepared to bet they will be a topic of conversation and some derision at the field days.
Julie Anne Genter initially refused to rule out a red meat tax.
To be fair to Julie Ann, it was not — apparently — her idea in the first place, and she has since ruled it out completely, saying her earlier comment was a “figure of speech.”
However, for this Green Party minister to even think about a tax on New Zealand’s second-biggest export, contributor of more than two per cent of GDP and a significant employer throughout the country, is ludicrous.
Even if this tax does not eventuate, there are others such as the proposed sugar tax that points to a government whose simplistic answer to a ‘problem’ is tax it.
That is on top of Agricultural minister Damien O’Conner saying that when it comes to soaring costs and taxes on farmers, there are more to come.
Then arrogantly adding: “Get used to it!”
So, we farmers are the meat in the sandwich. On one side, we are hit by a nanny-state (though Ms Genter would probably consider that term sexist) ideology that uses tax as a weapon, and on the other side the spiralling costs impacting on farmers.
It is not acceptable and at the field days, I’ll certainly be interested in hearing what you have to say about it.