In defence of farming

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By Kaysha Brownlie

Katie Kenyon grew up on a farm, and if she has a family she wants her kids to grow up that way, too.

But, she doesn't want them to face the same stigma that she says farmers now carry.

"Things do seem to be getting worse and worse for us and it does feel to me like we are being bullied a little bit," Miss Kenyon says.

The 32-year-old Porangahau Shepherd says the general public are ill-informed about farming practices and thinks farmers are getting a bad name because of that.

"People are under the impression that we don't care about the environment, which is just bizarre, our land means a lot to us, it's how we make our living, if we don't look after it we can't afford to feed ourselves and pay our bills."

The sheep and beef farmer penned a letter to the Prime Minister outlining her frustration.

"To have people blaming us, saying we don't care about polluted waterways and whatever else is very, very insulting and that touches a nerve."

"It's become the norm to feel this way towards farming, and the norm needs to change," she says.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy replied to Miss Kenyon's letter - he also phoned her.

He says his family owns a dairy farm, as a farmer he says he agrees with several of Miss Kenyon's points.

Mr Guy says he, too, feels a frustration and the Government is trying to tackle the divide between urban and rural sectors.

Continued below.

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But Miss Kenyon says his reply isn't good enough.

"I've kicked a hornet's nest, turns out there are a lot of farmers out there that feel the same," the shepherd says.

Determined not to drop her case, Miss Kenyon has now turned her hand to poetry.

A line from her poem, An Ode to a Working Dog, reads: "I do my job, and I know that I cannot be replaced, when the whistle echoes around the rolling Hawke's Bay hills."

It's from the point of view of a farm dog - and comes after a social media backlash to a photo of a working dog covered in mud.

"They'd obviously been out having a good time on the farm like mine do, " she says, "and yet again there were some uneducated finger pointers who felt the need to badmouth the owner of that dog and it's all just getting a bit out of control."

Mr Guy says he takes Miss Kenyon's concerns "very seriously" and will work hard to be a strong voice for the rural sector.

An Ode to a Working Dog

By Katie Kenyon

Cold morning's fog and winds without submission,

Not the thickest of mud nor fiercest of suns will deter me from my mission,

I run,

I hunt,

I chase,

I do my job, and I know that I cannot be replaced,

When the whistle echoes around the rolling Hawke's Bay hills,

To my master I will gladly go to be patted and be still,

A steady hand and a grateful tone,

I have a job to do, and it is all my own,

Working the sheep and cattle I play my part,

This country will have food,

Because of my big heart,

And when my job is done, and down goes the sun,

To my master I will gladly come,

For a rewarding meal,

And a warm bed to lie,

I am a happy dog,

And that I cannot deny.

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