Contemplating the impact of air travel on New Zealand’s carbon footprint, Sam Sherrard has just spent a family holiday in the United States.

The future is as bright as you make it. I was on the phone the other day, talking about the payout for the upcoming season, and the buoyant milk price in the previous seasons. Despite this there was a lot of pessimism around.

“Farmers are depressed,” I said. Grant* agreed. Then I started listing names of people we knew.

Is Mr X worried about the future? No.

What about Mr and Mrs Y, are they dreading next season? No they are not.

What about Z, how does he feel? “Just got a bigger job.”

The gift shop was doing a steady trade with punters lining up to buy Dairy Company hats and sweatshirts, including a Tillamook dog lead. The perfect gift for the crazy dog lady in your life.

But what is apparent is that banks are tightening their purse strings and being much more selective about who they lend to and what they lend on. This is not surprising when there is uncertainty about what the future of ag will look like.

The announcement of the Carbon Zero bill gives more certainty of the direction of travel, but the exact route won’t be known until it has traversed the select committee process and passed into law.

One of the elephants in the room is the impact of air travel on our carbon footprint. As a country so dependent on air travel we will eventually need to face some tough decisions.

Recently, I was very fortunate to spend three weeks in the United States. It was a big family trip in every sense of the word – don’t get my wife started on the cost of a day’s entry to Disneyland.

After a very enjoyable week with my extended family just the Sherrards’ proper drove down some of the West Coast. More or less directly on the coast from Portland is the town of Tillamook. I had been buying Tillamook yogurt at the more premium end of the cut-price supermarkets we had been shopping in.

The Dairy Co-operative has something of a following, and the visitors’ centre was incredible. The ice cream was not half bad either.

By New Zealand standards this is a boutique dairy company. It seemed to be pushing out two consumer-sized blocks of cheese a second. I know this because from the mezzanine floor in the factory you can look down on the production area and watch the whole cheese-making process.

A series of info boards give an overview of basic animal husbandry – feed the plastic calf anyone? And outlined the cheese-making process.

This kind of transparency from a major brand was popular, there was a steady stream of visitors here on a Wednesday afternoon and it wasn’t even peak tourist season. The gift shop was doing a steady trade with punters lining up to buy Dairy Company hats and sweatshirts, including a Tillamook dog lead. The perfect gift for the crazy dog lady in your life.

The brand development I saw here was impressive. Contrast this with the recently announced sale of Tip Top and this coming hot on the heels of the Westland sale. What occurs to me is that we need to get much better at selling New Zealand instead of just selling New Zealand.

Before our meander down the coast we had our eyes opened in Las Vegas. Personally, I prefer Ngaroma!

A short trip out of the city took us to the Hoover Dam. You can’t help but be impressed by the immense size, but what we really noticed was how low the water level in Lake Mead was – the impact of an extended drought and overallocation.

The dam provides water to California, Arizona and Nevada. It really drives home the value of this precious commodity – and how lucky much of NZ is to have a relatively abundant rainfall. The other take-home was the unappealing taste of much of the tap water we encountered. Maybe that’s why they drink so much awful coffee? We returned home with a new-found appreciation for the quality of the Kiwi flat white and grateful for the great job our neighbour did of keeping all the animals happy and healthy while we were away.