This weeks Ladder is awarded to Bernard Hickey for calling for an inquiry, a pause, a stock take, in order to see a larger picture of what is in whose best interest, and for encouraging the government to do likewise.
He has been drawing attention to the negative impacts of increasing numbers of very large dairy farms growing like crazy around New Zealand, and he is calling for a government inquiry, a breather, and a time to take stock.
His primary focus is economic; however, he was also responsible for breaking a story on animal neglect on one of New Zealand’s biggest dairy farms. It was a tale which shocked the nation.
As well as concern about animal welfare, Bernard Hickey points to the impacts on the environment, in particular, the massive irrigation needed, and the leeching of nitrates.
As to the impacts on the economy, he points out that investment in increasing dairy herds is the latest growth industry – growth of huge levels of debt, and land speculation. Many of these large dairy farms are known to run at a loss in order to avoid paying tax.
On Radio Live (5 October) Bernard Hickey said the increased scale of dairy farming is changing the whole country, and constitutes a risk to New Zealand, its reputation and its economy.
This Ladder is awarded to Hickey for seeing a larger picture, one that encompasses animal well-being, environmental sustainability, and the economy, i.e. the need for New Zealand to achieve a good standard of living that is sustainable, not one based on debt and an unsustainable gouging of the environment. Importantly, he is also encouraging the government to see the bigger social, cultural, economic and ecological picture, to pause for a “stock take,” and to clarify what is in whose real interest.
I think it is refreshing to see someone with a focus on the economy whose concern includes the wellbeing of animals and extends to the wider picture.
This is a New Zealand case, but I think there are economic pressures in many parts of the world to make hasty policy decisions without due regard for the consequences. This will not be in anyone’s interest.
What do you think? Send in your Ladder or Shovel Awards.