A strange piece written by Federated Farmers appeared on infonews just now. It’s aimed at influencing those observing the free trade negotiation happening in Melbourne.
It starts out tough:
Federated Farmers believes American dairy farmers have nothing to fear but fear itself, if New Zealand and United States enter into a free trade agreement.
1: Now that’s a pretty challenging thing to say – it reeks of “go on – I dare you”
American dairy farmers need to get with the program that free trade will make them more competitive.
2: That’s an incredibly aggressive thing to say – If you have you ever been told to “get with the program” how did it feel?
We’re a little island in the bottom of the Pacific and America’s scared of us. It seems a bit strange.
3: This is a taunt – like the little guy in the schoolyard saying to the big guy “are you scared of me?” – with predictable results.
“I think they’re threatened by how efficient our dairy farmers are.
4: This means “we are better than you” and “I’m scaring you” – again it’s schoolyard stuff and it is doubly insulting as the USA farms are often huge and incredibly productive. They do, after all, produce four times the amount of milk that NZ does.
“They find it very hard to understand that farmers here can work without any subsidies while they cost the average American family US$322 every year at the checkout.
5: This is more taunting – and a swipe at the subsidies. Subsidies are politically untouchable in the USA – and the last people that want to hear about their potential removal are farmers, while the last people they want to hear about it from are farmers from overseas.
“It’s sad that the dairy farm lobby cannot see that these subsidies are not helping them and that protectionism is not the way forward.
6: It’s more sad that the Federated Farmers can’t see that subsidies are literally money in the bank for US farmers, and that Federated Farmers themselves squealed when NZ’s SMPs were removed in the 1980s.
“While many of America’s dairy farmers are hooked on a subsidy drug”
7: This is just abusive. Calling American farmers addicts is simply inflammatory – and will elicit a unified and tough response from those abused.
we’re seeing the emergence of an enlightened group of dairy farmers who realise dairy subsidies are completely unsustainable. They’re the people we want to do business with.
8: If those people have read the rest of this article then they are going to be pretty unhappy – “unenlightened” in fact.
“America may be the land of the free, but their dairy market is anything but,” concluded Mr McKenzie.
9: And a final bit of abuse against America. That’s just not the way to do business in the USA – which is an incredible place if you can get it right.
Let me suggest an alternative positioning for the New Zealand Dairy industry (and country) to make to the USA farmers:
Proposed Positioning for NZ Dairy Farmers to the USA
1: American consumers are demanding an increasing amount and variety of milk products.
2: Farmers in the United States produce 79 billion tonnes of milk each year. New Zealand farmers produce 17 billion tonnes each year, all of which is either consumed in New Zealand or exported to existing customers abroad.
3: New Zealand milk products are aimed at the top end of the market for consumers that prefer a higher fat milk.
4: New Zealand producers, while they are paid no subsidies, are requesting open access to the US market only. They are not lobbying for the removal of farming subsidies in the USA.
5: Open access to the US market will allow US farmers to invest in the NZ industry and vice versa, merging the best practices from each country, increasing product ranges and profitability for the industries in each country.