Dare-to-wear acting prime minister opts for pink gumboots at Fieldays
Pink gumboots were the giveaway as acting Prime Minister Paula Bennett did her best to fit in with the rural crowd at Fieldays.
Bennett went against prime ministerial instructions to wear the traditional footwear of Red Band gumboots on a rainy start to Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
The Deputy Prime Minister is standing in for Prime Minister Bill English who was unable to attend because he's overseas for the Pacific Mission. Before departing he told his deputy the Fieldays was a big event on the rural calendar and gave her some advice on rural etiquette for the main address.
Bennett admitted that it had been probably been 20 years since she last "touched a cow".
For the most part though she gave the rural crowd what they wanted to hear at the opening ceremony on Wednesday.
"This Government is backing agriculture because it is the backbone of New Zealand."
She praised farmers for the resilience of a primary industry sector that "just gets on with the job", despite drought, flooding and tough challenges this season.
"We ride the good times with you and equally ride the hard times."
Export revenue was expected to grow $38 billion this year and jump 10 per cent to $41b next year.
Bennet said the growth was contributing to farming needing more workers.
Trade doors were being opened up as had been seen with sheepmeat exports to Iran and more chilled meat access to China.
Bennett acknowledged the challenges in front of farmers.
She said the Government had resisted bringing farming into the Emissions Trading Scheme until technology had advanced enough to assist them. Nor would an "ignorant" cow quota be introduced.
Farmers had to keep on telling the good stories about fencing streams and lowering stock rates to reduce greenhouse gases and nitrate losses, she said.
At the opening ceremony Bennett launched the industry-led Dairy Action Plan to reduce farm biological emissions.