04 Aug 2013, 04:48

Down with the dairy industry!

I follow a bunch of people in the IT industry on twitter and over the last couple of years I’ve noticed an increase tweets from developers about how New Zealand needs to move past relying on the dairy industry. I absolutely agree that New Zealand would be best served by generating income from many different sources. Unfortunately I’m seeing a lot of poorly thought out arguments being made, often by people I respect, and I can’t be bothered condensing this argument into 140 characters.

Allow me to climb on my soap box and speak like I’m an expert about why I think most of these people are wrong 🙂 Here are some common mistakes I see being made.

For the IT industry to succeed, farming must fail

Bull. Shit. No pun intended. If farming suddenly fell backwards by a big margin, New Zealand would suffer immensely. I fail to see any connection between farming failing and the technology industry improving and I’ve never heard a good argument made for it. It’s not like we can’t hire developers because they’re all becoming farmers.

This is about the most nonsensical view I see.

The Government over funds the farming sector

Sure, farming gets a bunch of benefits – that’s what happens when you’re the biggest industry in the country! It’s like these same people aren’t watching folks like Rod Drury poke and prod to see how much they can get the government to chip in on the IT industry. That’s fine – as we should as the industry grows. If technology was the biggest industry in New Zealand I’d put money on the fact that the government would have tossed in to have Pacific Fibre funded. Then those in other industries would be complaining about favouritism too.

Give it time tech folk, we’re going to be the biggest. We are in the process of having our house rebuilt of glass – lets stop throwing stones.

Farming succeeds because of Government money

Farming was significant because New Zealand needed it originally. You may have noticed we’re miles from anywhere. Forget shipping meat etc to New Zealand in our early days. We have a perfect climate for farming. Unsurprisingly it grew to be a massive industry. Once we could sell our world-beating quality meats to the world it became even bigger.

See point 2 on why the Government now puts cash and effort into supporting Farming.

Farming isn’t part of the technology industry

New Zealand develops world leading technology in the domain of farming. The industry certainly is driven by selling meat and dairy product but there is some significant money in the technology developed by New Zealand organizations. Parts of farming really are in the technology industry much more than many realise. It contributes to why our farming is literally the best in the world.

So, lets stop looking silly shall we?

Rather than bitching like kids on twitter and blaming other industries, the government — everyone but ourselves — for not being the #1 industry in New Zealand, how about we put our heads down and just become #1? That separates the successful from the losers.

Note: I’m certainly not saying farming is perfect. There are significant challenges facing it as an industry around environmental issues and the constant threat of disease absolutely decimating it as an industry. On the latter point, don’t you think that we, as members of a fast growing industry, should double down on our own efforts to surge ahead in our income generation for the protection of the New Zealand economy?