SARAH PERRIAM: Why we should get rid of the word 'townie' for NZ's sake

11/09/2017

There is a civil war brewing on social media between "food producers" and "food consumers" and the aggression has reached the level of straight out bullying.

A friend of mine who works as a Farm Environment Auditor (yes that’s a thing) sends me screenshots of tweets (I don’t have the patience for Twitter!).  One tweet said "You farmers are just a bunch of c**ts, see you next Tuesday, and you deserve everything you get."

If this sort of comment was aimed at women, children or homosexuals, would this be appropriate? Of course not.  But sadly, in this day and age, our Facebook feed is our news, with many are reading the comments rather than the article, looking to confirm their beliefs rather than form new ones.

I understand the passion behind the intense campaigns of our political parties and respect their ambitions for our future. But, we need to concrete a goal-post into the ground for a good five years at least to help our food producers continue to do what they need to do to achieve our aspirations for our environment. You wouldn't keep moving the goal-post around on Beauden Barrett to win the game would you?

I tell you what - it is so crucial we are all in this together.

How do we change the conversation between the opponents within our country to a more supportive one?

This will then assist the tight, unreliable cost margins and increasing social license to operate for our food producers and, in turn, achieve wealth from our reputation for all?

Remember when John Clarke (Fred Dagg), Murray Ball (Footrot Flats) and Frank Torley (Country Calendar) were alive? Those three men contributed so much to this nation by celebrating our love for the people who live and raise families in our regions, and who work thanklessly to underpin the wealth of this nation for all. They did it through story-telling with colour and humour. All we see now is defensive yelling from both sides throwing words across the divide.

So the purpose of this opinion piece is to highlight the human problems in this election – human effluent management (sewerage); our human population growth and its impact on climate change; and our human bullying of each other.

My message to the primary sector:

  1. Every, single one of you needs to tell one person in our urban centres something great you achieved this year towards our environment
  2. Drop the word "townie" and adopt the word "food producer" from and into your vocabulary - be more inclusive with your statements
  3. Be a Curious George not an Angry Bird - help change the conversation by making your statement and then asking a question.

Here's one: "I love producing food. What’s your favourite food and how much do you know about how it’s made?” Or “I’m really concerned about dairy. Why do you use so much water, how are you looking after the environment & how do you look after your cows?"

Sarah Perriam is co-host of Rural Exchange, 5 - 7am Saturdays & Sunday on RadioLIVE.