Jack Tame: Protesting farmers are hypocrites, but so am I

Author
Jack Tame,
Publish Date
Sat, 17 Jul 2021, 9:54AM
(Photo / Brett Phibbs)
(Photo / Brett Phibbs)

Jack Tame: Protesting farmers are hypocrites, but so am I

Author
Jack Tame,
Publish Date
Sat, 17 Jul 2021, 9:54AM

Two weeks ago, a heatwave in Canada and the U.S caused one thousand deaths. Yesterday, floods in Germany killed at least 125 people. As we go to air, hundreds of people in Buller are being evacuated because of massive rainfall. And New Zealand’s farmers are back home.

You’d have to agree, for the most part the protest was a good bit of theatre. There were a few loopy extremists with whack-job signs, but the majority of tractor drivers are normal and presumably decent people who turned out because they feel unfairly picked on. Freshwater regulations, a ute tax, emissions reductions; they feel they’re being subjected to special treatment of the worst kind.

Speaking of special treatment, did those protesting farmers feel the same way when their industry received the best part of a billion dollars in support for Mycoplasma Bovis? Did they take to the streets to protest hundreds of millions of dollars they received in irrigation subsidies? Did protestors turn out in anger at drought relief packages, or flood relief, or the Covid-19 wage support? If the agriculture sector is concerned about special treatment, just wait until it hears about the Emissions Trading Scheme.

I’ll stop there though because honestly, ALL of us are hypocrites. As the farmers were protesting, I was on a plane. I landed and enjoyed a flat white. I eat meat a few times a week. I’m not so naive as to think dinner just falls out of the sky. All of us, regardless of where we live and regardless of what we do, are hypocrites of varying degrees. And all of us have to make sacrifices if we are to stop plundering the World for the sake of a quick hit and at the expense of the generations who follow us.

For people in urban centres, it’s obvious. We have got to get used to living in neighbourhoods with high-density housing. We have got to stop moaning about bike lanes and start using the bus a whole lot more. For people in rural areas, the changes and sacrifices are just of a different nature.

I understand that for many farmers it’s all just a question of proportionality. Farmers accept they have to make sacrifices but feel the things they are being asked to do are disproportionate to the sacrifices of people in towns and cities. It’s never going to be absolutely perfectly equitable but – take my examples above - if we’re honest, the sector has been well-supported for a very long time.

I don’t think a few thousand extra dollars for a ute and some environmental compliance expenses are going to be so devastating that they fundamentally threaten farming communities’ way of life. So many farmers are already being proactive about adapting for the future, and it’s on government and the rest of us to make sure they are supported as they continue to do so.

One last point: on Thursday, my sister had a baby daughter. I became an uncle for a second time and as my sister sent through photographs, I felt the wonderful, glorious rush of pure love run through my chest.


Sometimes we get way so caught up focusing on what climate change adaptation and environmental protections will cost us as individuals, we don’t pause and consider who we’re making the changes for.

All of us are hypocrites. All of us have sacrifices to make. And all of us have good reasons to make those sacrifices. Mine is called Elsie. She’s two days old.