A RECENT FARMER SURVEY RECORDED farmer confidence had plummeted even though farm gate prices are soaring. Initially I thought: so what, everyone is feeling down with the Ukraine war, Omicron, and rising costs. What was notable was that the survey was taken before the war started, fuel costs took off and Omicron exploded.

What will the next survey tell us?

With Omicron spreading quickly and most people accepting they will live with it, the fear factor is receding. The focus is increasingly on the economy and the basics.

Kiwis are now waking up to the realisation the country has been poorly managed by the Labour Government. Money had to be spent, but wisely. Printing money and chucking it around was unwise as were many of its policies.

With inflation and costs climbing, crime will rise. Will farms be targets for fuel and stock thefts? The shortage of agricultural and horticultural workers hit businesses and the economy hard. So too did the nursing shortage.

When New Zealand needed workers it got wokers. Instead of nurses we got spin doctors. By woke I mean someone who is recently aware of a perceived or real injustice and is painfully trying to outrage everyone around them with their limited knowledge of it. Or they are bending over backwards to treat this group as extra special.

NZ and western countries haven’t had a food crisis for decades. It was always there on the supermarket  shelf and affordable.

The closest was the Marmite shortage after the Christchurch earthquakes. The Ukraine war has brought a reality check on what is important – food, not virtue signalling. In Germany, a million hectares set aside as a green zone will now be used to grow food.

The ag sector is keeping the country afloat yet the push for NZ to do its bit with carbon emissions has seen an estimated $700 million/year of beef and lamb earnings lost from the economy. Subsidised carbon credits have led to trees replacing stock on pastoral land leading to the loss of families and allied industry. Communities are shrinking and will disappear.

Farmers have also been distracted and victimised by the Government’s unnecessary and unworkable laws. There has been a lack of good governance and accountability among some industry levy bodies, local and central government. Staff (who seem to have forgotten who they work for) run the show, not elected officials. Otago Regional Council staff refusing to cooperate with the Environmental Protection Agency is a prime example.

Governments can’t run businesses. Leave it to the markets and good economics. As economist Adam Smith said, profits flow from capital investments, which are directed to where the most profit can be made.

What the Government must do is cut non-essential expenditure and taxes. Ronald Reagan cut taxes in the
1980s and the United States tax take was the same. Taxation stops innovation and productivity.

Unfortunately Regan didn’t stop spending. To quote Margaret Thatcher: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

NZ will need a Thatcher-type leader to restore its economic fortunes, not someone who will tinker around the edges.

Terry Brosnahan