How the hardship of farmers and beneficiaries differ



Don’t you love how when farmers face hardship the Government can’t rush fast enough to their aid with drought welfare, yet when the poor face hardship the Government responds with drug testing, contraception for solo mothers and 40 hours forced labour in a private prison.

Don’t get me wrong, farmers deserve our help when hardship beyond their control strikes, but the momentum of assistance our Government is willing to provide them is in stark contrast to the assistance John Key is willing to hand out when that hardship strikes the poor.

We are told beneficiaries have to do with less because of the global economic recession, which is odd because I don’t know that many beneficiaries who were on the phone to their Wall Street stock broker in 2007 buying lite crude in euros and speculating on a Goldman Sachs derivative market.

Some will argue that beneficiaries deserve what they get because of poor life choices, a devils advocate could claim the same of farmers. Farmers create climate change causing pollution and are as responsible for the drought situation they find themselves in as a beneficiary who has multiple children and can’t get work.

The difference between the unforeseen hardship farmers face and that of beneficiaries is the perception that farmers deserve our aid because they are productive members of society and are thus deserving of support where as beneficiaries are seen as a drag on society.

I would suggest that luck egalitarianism mixed with economic Darwinism is hardly a blueprint for the kind of country we want to model ourselves on.


  1. Yes, some of the taxes from my just above minimum wage will go to help them but when it comes to letting me have a river that’s safe to swim in and enough water in it for fish life to survive, they think that is an unreasonable request.

  2. The difference is beneficiaries are already getting helped out (most of them temporarily) while you are talking about farmers being temporarily helped out.

    Helping out beneficiaries in hardship would be helping out on top of helping out – which in fact can happen now through hardship grants (I think).

    • “Temporarily”? As I’ve noted on my own blog before, farmers in some parts of New Zealand are consistently, year after year, demanding aid due to drought conditions. (Shockingly, some parts of New Zealand aren’t perfect for farming! But god forbid we expect them to figure this out in 150 years.)

      • The bit I don’t get is why farmers, in particular, as a business, deserve to be bailed. There are lots of little businesses going to the wall all the time because conditions didn’t work out for them. That’s what being in business is all about. Weather conditions are the most basic risk in farming. To not have prepared adequately is no different to, say, a small factory finding that demand for its widgets has dipped for a lengthy period, and being unable to pay the staff and rents. To which they need to either downsize, borrow, raise capital, or go bankrupt. None of those involve the government bailing them out. Farms can do all of those things.

  3. Too right Bomber, these days farm owners drive Mercedes and VW Touregs, they can downgrade these to fund themselves through hardship, or go see their bank to increase their od.

    However there are Contract farmers who are now forming part of the underpaid in New Zealand. I know some who are on 24% contracts (This means that they get 24% revenue but must cover a number of cost categories), they have had to dry the cows off and so are making no revenue at all. I have no problem with these people getting some assistance.

    You’ve done some good mahi on this site, well done!

    • I gather from some rellies that the banks these days prefer to deal with large corporate operations and are becoming very disinterested in assisting smaller single owner operator farms.

    • On the whole I agree with you there Saarbo, but I know some farmers who continue to drive around in their old bomb of a ute or car, careful with their money yet generous employers. They make good neighbours.

      Then on the other side you have those farmers that flaunt themselves with new cars, houses, holidays, etc. All the while having lousy employment terms for their workers, sometimes paying below minimum wage, also a generally despicable character.

      All comes down to the good, the bad and the ugly I suppose.

Comments are closed.