Farmers have admitted how stressful random overhead inspections of effluent systems are. This added stress and the threat of huge fines could be the last straw that pushes many tired and stressed-out people out of farming - to the detriment of everyone.
Townie commentators posted shortsighted comments to this story. If you are not a farmer and you haven't managed a farm effluent system, then you are not qualified to even comment. However, in today's internet world everyone's an expert, airing their two cents' worth at the click of a mouse.
The sanctimonious comment that most annoyed me was:
"If the farmers are environmentally responsible, then they wouldn't have reason to be stressed by the helicopter."
Yes and no.
In a perfect world where we would all like to think we float around with little or no environmental impact it is nice to pretend if we spend the money and get a state of the art effluent system in place, train everyone to operate it correctly and get the powers that be to say it is compliant then Bob's your uncle.
Bring on the helicopters.
But farming is not a perfect world and never will be.
Just saying, knowing what I know about things going wrong in farming even the best system can let you down. Add to this the threat of huge fines and criminal action against you should you fail a random inspection by helicopter, and no wonder the poor farmers are getting stressed out. What does it take for an effluent system to fail?
Mechanical breakdown. Power failure. Weather bomb. Human error. Stock damage, Act of God and so on.
Farmers are often doing a thousand things at once. The things we do are important and sometimes involve life and death (of our precious animals).
You might have a bad day where there is no water for the cows, two cows are dying of milk fever and one needs assistance calving. The kids need to be taken to sports and the effluent pipe has burst open. All are very important and would need prioritising. All I can say is the kids are couch potatoes now.
Here is an opening for the sanctimonious townie to bleat - obviously understaffed, you need to get help. If you are thinking that then you have missed the point again.
Some days farmers are overworked and struggling with imperfect systems. This happens because they are people with limited resources who are backing themselves to make a living off the land.
Suddenly we are in a goldfish bowl, with people saying we are taking liberties with the country's resources and helicopters are swooping in trying to get evidence of the wrongdoing.
How much environmental damage is a helicopter causing?
The money spent on the helicopter should be donated to the farmer to update his effluent system!
In this country there are plenty of people sitting around on their backsides doing not much and apparently judging others who are at least trying to do something. If you're not making mistakes, you're not making anything.
I have worked on many farms with a varied lineup of effluent systems that I have managed to the best of my ability, (helicopters and fines notwithstanding).
One of the most troublesome effluent systems was very unreliable and I would often have to get up in the middle of the night if it rained and manually adjust it.
One day at my own expense I got a serviceman to come and help me figure out what was wrong with the blimmen thing.
He discovered a dead pukaka lodged in the intake pipe.
Perhaps mother nature was getting her own back?
- © Fairfax NZ News