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The winds of change keep blowing


dadThere is a gaping hole in the comprehension and understanding between the lives of rural and urban people. This is not disparaging to either, its simply a fact. Rural people generally want to spend as little time in cities as possible and similarly city folk tend to dry retch at the smell of anything ‘cow.’ 

Recently though, this outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis discovered in dairy herds and leading to the slaughter of thousands of mainly young and highly productive dairy animals is going to have far reaching effects on much of our society. In the initial knee-jerk reaction I heard one stupid (my assessment) TV presenter referring negatively to farmers trading on the ‘black market.’ This was totally without foundation as farmers have, for centuries, traded man to man, with friends or by word of mouth. It is not always necessary to do any kind of business through a middle man or agent. 

Anyway, without discussing the problem which, bearing a chemical sort of name with a ‘y’ in it invariably elicits gasps of horror in some quarters, let’s see how it may effect those well away from the farming sector. Small time wheelers and dealers will have to be cautious. Saleyards, too, will probably undergo a raft of new regulations to protect our major earner. 

Farms are getting larger but farmer numbers are therefore getting smaller. Apart from that, subdivision means there are large numbers of small block people who run all sorts of animals, some as pets and, depending on acreage, as cottage industries. Mangawhai is a prime example. Our school Ag Day, and every other school in the district, will this year be without the usual line-up of calves as any risk, however small, is still too great to take in mixing and transporting cattle from different properties. There will be the usual variation of other pets but traditionally this day was ‘calf club day.’ For whatever reasons it has evolved to include town kids and become ag and pet day. 

Now perhaps it is about to undergo further evolution because the move to exclude dairy and beef cattle will change the context of, not only school ag days at virtually every school in the country, but also A & P Shows. Some larger ones like Hastings, Christchurch and the Auckland Easter Show have many hundreds of our top cattle on display of perhaps 20 different breeds. Some have been running for well over 100 years and visited and admired by rural and town folk alike and it’s sad to think this part of our history may be coming to an abrupt end. But we have a problem which must be dealt with one way or another. 

There are conflicting views on the cause and how it came to be here. Being a former farmer I know New Zealand has, for example, imported semen and live cattle from the UK (prior to their foot and mouth disease outbreak), USA, Holland, Gemany, Denmark, Australia and Italy since the 1960s. Whether our border control has erred, who can tell? Though only those whose livelihoods are effected will feel the full force of the repercussions, anything that effects our primary industry will, in some way, have an effect on us all being New Zealands biggest income earner. Let’s hope the cuts don’t run too deep and don’t effect us for too long.

Just my thoughts.

The Mangawhai Focus is the only 'Mangawhai' community Newspaper and is the paper of choice within the local area.

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