Dr. William Rolleston is a farm leader in New Zealand. This country is a global leader in dairy farming and so has been facing some of the same anti-dairy activism we see in Washington state. A recent speech to a New Zealand institute was titled: "Science in a Post-Truth Era." In it, he made some very valuable observations and offered spot-on advice for farmers in our area. Here are some comments but I encourage you to read the whole article:
On the "war on farming"
“We’ve watched the war on farmers grow since the coining of the phrase ‘dirty dairying’ by Fish and Game some 15 years ago. Even in the last few days I’ve heard farming leaders talk about the hatred directed at farmers, and that NZ has a ‘cowphobia’ and that this election has created an urban-rural divide as big as it ever has been.”
How anti-farm activist misuse science
“Those who work to change public perception in spite of the evidence use a number of tactics,” he says. “They cherry-pick data, they drive fear, they oversimplify, they take data out of context. They deliberately confuse correlation with causation and they undermine trust.”
Cost of regulation and what farmers need to do
“We have seen constant ramping up of regulation with costs borne by the farmers. Perhaps society should consider how our positive [effects] such as the ecosystem services farmers provide every day can be recognised.”
Farmers need to take charge of the narrative. It looks like they are behind the game on water quality, when in fact they are ahead. Given ownership of the problems, they would find solutions that were reasonable, practical and affordable, he said.
Exactly! Save Family Farming's mission can be defined as farmers taking charge of the narrative rather than allowing the lies against farmers to stand.
Interesting article on how Maine is attempting to protect small farmers from federal regulations. It's interesting how issues of farming, particularly small farming, are bringing people across the political spectrum together. Where progressives might favor more regulation and more government involvement, that works against the growing locavore food movement when they see how regulations affect farming. With that concern there can be common cause with farmers of all sizes who have to deal with more and more regulations that are increasingly forcing farmers out or threatening to force them out. In Washington, Ecology's new CAFO permit is a burdensome, expensive and unnecessary new regulation on dairy farmers, but those seeking more and stronger regulation have been pushing it to an extreme that few dairy farmers could survive. To such farmers, the effort by Maine to push back against federal regulations can be an encouragement.
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