Some days have Trish Rankin wondering why it is all so hard for dairy farmers right now.

Is it just me or…

Are farmers feeling more under the pump than ever? I like to consider myself and our farming business pretty adaptable and forward thinking but over the last few weeks I have been left wondering.

Whether it is onfarm infrastructure, off farm strategy or, national policy and regulation, some days it feels like it is all so hard!

Yes, Taranaki weather has been good for winter, growth rates above average. A little chilly but nothing too bad. Some rain fronts have come through – but nothing too arduous. The cows are in good nick and good health.

For us, moving to two new farming business locations has had its challenges. We are flat tack now trying to sort calf sheds, dairy sheds that need a lot of TLC and fencing and water systems that are new to all staff.

We are grateful our kids have stayed at the same schools, rugby clubs, hockey teams and surf life saving clubs etc. However, the headspace to get your head around two lots of everything as well as unpacking over June/July definitely had a tiring effect on us all. I salute all share farmers or farmers who moved this season – it isn’t easy and you’ll now be in the thick of calving likely in new sheds, new systems or new locations!

On a NZ scale though is where I feel farmers are feeling even more under the pump. We have heard about how the silo effect of regulation is affecting farmers. Where the left arm doesn’t necessarily know what the right is doing when it comes to legislation and regulation.

What will work in Southland, likely won’t work in Northland. How we do things in the ‘Naki will be different to how things need to be done in Canterbury. However, our consumers are the same and want the best product we can produce – this is the conundrum.

Then we have the anti-farming groups, who we have got used to over the last few years where every year there is some farming activity that is photographed or videoed that makes social media. Disappointingly Oxfam seems to have joined this anti-farming movement.

Oxfam, an organisation touted as being for a more just, inclusive and sustainable world, which hosts its Trailwalker series here in Taranaki, launched a petition on June 30 to ensure ‘farmers curb climate pollution’ with the following quote…

‘The Government gives unsustainable farming practices a free pass to pollute, and props up an intensive model that treats farms like factories…’


This is from an organisation that relies on farmland to conduct its Trailwalker event to raise substantial funds used to alleviate poverty and provide much needed resources around the world.

Well, I’m not sure about others, but I don’t feel like we are getting a ‘free pass’ in our farming business. We are doing more, being better and striving to do our best for our people, animals and environment day in and day out.

What does it take to curb the anti-farming rhetoric in our urban friends or these organisations? Do they realise if we don’t feed the world with the world’s lowest carbon footprint dairy product – that another country with a worse footprint profile will? I genuinely seek an answer to how we can reach organisations like Oxfam. Or will we keep losing more and more people to the anti-farming movement?