In the days of my youth, farmers used to descend on town on a Friday. For some, it was a trip to the stock sales, to buy or sell their sheep and cattle, for others it was an opportunity to shop for equipment for the farm at the local farm supplies store, whilst the farmers’ wives stocked up on groceries.
Farmers, growers, beekeepers, rural contractors and tradies will be heading to town tomorrow, but for a different purpose. Groundswell NZ is a volunteer group of farmers and rural professionals advocating for our Grass Roots farmers and rural communities has organised A Howl of a Protest, which will take place in more than 50 towns and cities around the country around lunchtime.
From Kaitaia to Invercargill, tractors, utes, horses, dogs and unhappy rural folk (and plenty of city folk) will assemble to send the Government a message that its policies are hurting the rural sector. Fed up with increasing government interference in their lives and businesses, unworkable regulations and unwarranted costs, thousands will turn out tomorrow across New Zealand.
Turn the clock back a year. New Zealand was locked down, tourism and international education, two of our biggest export earners literally disappeared overnight, and it was left to the primary sector to keep the country’s economy afloat. And despite labour shortages arising from the Government’s determination to keep the border closed, the primary sector responded magnificently, as it always has.
There’s little doubt that farmers are not the current Government’s best friends. But recent events have really grated on the sector, culminating in the Clean Car Discount Scheme, otherwise known as the Ute Tax, which for many farmers already struggling was the final straw. And what a groundswell this proposed protest has created, with new protest venues being added every day this week, and possibly the biggest show of strength ever by our rural friends to take place tomorrow, under the banner of No Farmers; No Food.
Get out and support the farmers and ute-drivers tomorrow, or better still, go and join them. I’m sure you’ll be made welcome, and you’ll help send a message to the Prime Minister and her colleagues that their policies are hurting rural people; they’re quite literally biting the hand that feeds them! Well done Groundswell NZ, and here’s hoping for a show of strength and unity tomorrow that the Government can only ignore at its peril.