News & Media

Standing up for grassroots farmers in the media

Bryce, Laurie, Mel, and the Team at Groundswell NZ

We’re emailing to update you on some comments in the media that many of our supporters have contacted us about.

Back in April, Radio NZ’s podcast The Detail discussed Groundswell NZ and the New Zealand farming sector, with Farmers Weekly editor Bryan Gibson and Stuff journalist Andrea Vance.

A short selection of Andrea Vance’s comments on the podcast includes that:

  • Groundswell only represents an “angry vocal minority that doesn’t reflect what most farmers are thinking”
  • that “the way [Groundswell NZ has] carried on just does the sector an enormous disservice”
  • “Groundswell are kind of pissing in from the outside”
  • “They are not clear in what they want and the way they behave and go about things just puts people off dealing with them”
  • And that we are “just yelling from the back of a tractor”.

We don’t expect everyone to agree with us, but there is a meaningful debate to be had about where New Zealand’s farming sector is going that can only take place if those involved don’t misrepresent those on the other side of the debate.

Andrea Vance’s comments are factually wrong, as Groundswell NZ has grown to become the most popular grassroots farming group in New Zealand. Our methods, such as the tractor protests and online submission campaigns, have put the concerns of grassroots farmers on the six o’clock news and the front pages of the papers on every Government minister’s desk the next morning.

And as we’ve seen with some of the winter grazing regulations and the Government admitting more research is needed on agricultural emissions, fighting back against unworkable regulations, can force even this Government’s hand and achieve real change.

At the beginning of the podcast, Andrea Vance is described as someone whose “husband works in primary industries”, which could leave someone thinking she is married to a farmer or rural professional, giving her opinion some weight.

What we have since found out, however, is that Ms Vance’s husband works in communications with, among others, Beef+Lamb. As anyone keeping track of Groundswell NZ would know, there has been a fair bit of conflict with Beef+Lamb and some of the other He Waka Eke Noa Partners over emissions policy and the conflict, taken together with the closeness of Andrea Vance’s relationship to Beef+Lamb, would usually mean a full disclosure would be made.

We wrote to Radio NZ about the connection with Beef+Lamb and how this was not sufficiently disclosed at the start of the programme. They told us that the disclosure was exactly as supplied by Andrea Vance.

These sorts of comments have unfortunately become more and more common to see from some sectors, but not usually from those presented as neutral, or even pro-farming.

What’s new, though, is the connection this appears to have to Beef+Lamb, a levy body supposed to represent farmers. Instead, there is a worrying potential that Beef+Lamb is trying to discredit the concerns of grassroots farmers and Groundswell NZ, who represents them. We hope Beef+Lamb is able to confirm that they had no knowledge of this going on.

Groundswell NZ is occasionally accused, by some, of causing division in the farming sector. Far from it, we are only exposing the division that already exists where our traditional representatives have failed to remember grassroots farmers when they attend the fashionable parties in Wellington.

Groundswell NZ wants to work with the wider sector, but we will not pretend a false unity exists when the interests of grassroots farmers are ignored by their supposed representatives.

New Zealand can and should be proud of its farmers. Groundswell NZ is pushing for the sort of honesty in the media that will bring this pride back.

We will continue to stand up for New Zealand’s farmers, growers, and rural communities.

Thank you for your support.

Read more