NZ Farmer - Finger pointing at agriculture misplaced in scary uncertain future

Northland dairy farmer, Lyn Webster, muses on the current state of dialogue about agriculture.

Climate change, rising sea levels, destructive weather patterns, global warming, pollution, overpopulation and mass extinction. People are scared.

The future is uncertain. Collectively we feel guilty and some seek to blame. The United Nations (UN) has predicted for the earth to sustain its unprecedented nearly 10-billion human population by 2050, our dietary preference for meat and other animal products must end.

Is this a not so subtle hint that this world simply cannot maintain us and the domesticated animals that have nurtured us for centuries?

There will not be enough land, water and fresh air resources to go around. It's a stark warning, but weirdly some people in New Zealand seem to have interpreted it and digested it into farmer hate.

The UN is hinting that future generations will feed on protein derived from different sources like insect matter.

Scientists are developing meat like products grown in stem cell laboratories. Movie moguls and IT heads are telling us they can make the amusingly named 'Impossible Food' from plant matter and synthetic ingredients which I personally am finding difficult to swallow.

Of course, all this information made me fearful because I have invested my meagre life into milk production and I am now deluged with information telling me this is unethical and environmentally unsustainable.

I was going to say how sickened I am by the photos of scientists in white lab coats pro-offering petri dishes filled with soggy pink goo and saying 'this is your future food', but I am now pondering the underlying seriousness of the message.

Maybe people that know more than I do are sending a subliminal message to the global population that if you don't sort out alternative food sources soon, your descendants are going to starve to death.

If the planet is truly warming at an incremental rate, there will become a time when livestock numbers cannot survive because they do require feeding and watering.

Humans may hold on a little bit longer and maybe some plant species - suddenly insect protein and man-made meat is looking delicious.

Farming is not to 'blame' for any of this. Intensive farming has only been borne out of mankinds tenacity to eat and survive.

Humans have bred and now the world is over populated, but no government is going to come out and say 'stop breeding' ... yet.

If farmers did not supply the food and the onus fell back onto the individual the environmental impact would be the same or more.

As a group/industry farmers can be somewhat directed collectively to improve their practices. It would be difficult to direct individuals in such a way.

All this doom and gloom is not going to happen in the next five minutes, although it may happen sooner than we imagine.

Any changes New Zealand farmers (who are already considered the lowest emitting meat and milk producers in the world) make will have little or no effect on global outcomes.

New Zealand agriculture features on emissions statistics because per capita our emissions seem high and that is because we have a lot of agricultural output feeding the world and a relatively low population.

This is a unique set of circumstances compared with the rest of the world which should be emphasised and considered in any global action we commit to take.

Personally I am all for New Zealand agriculture leading the way in reducing the impact of farming on the environment.

I cannot envisage any other vocation I could do that would be better for me or you than pasture based food production, which is what I do.