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GE Hearing

March 23, 2006

We had our GE hearing yesterday. I haven’t yet heard which way the council went but I’m not overly hopeful. Although I was surprised at just how well our presentation came together we had one more or less tedious presenter who irritated the councillors and despite our belief that the facts should decide the outcome this slip may have been enough for them to decide they didn’t like us. They mayor revealed himself to be boorish and arrogant by telling the presenter to hurry up since he was ‘bored as hell’ – I felt like leaping up and giving him a good slap. I’m sure that’s not how his mother raised him to behave.

Just before the hearing I received a posting from Joy with some good advice on how to deal with a council composed mostly of retired farmers.

…appeal to farmers’ repressed frustration with the current system; appeal to their memory of life before it; appeal to modern examples of success – small sustainable farms that are turning a profit and rebuilding their communities.

I didn’t have time to rewrite my presentation so I just tried to carry the attitude with me while I spoke but I was delighted when the speaker after me, an organic farmer, spoke about exactly this issue. His was a great presentation. He emphasised how with organic farming the farms are able to support a larger number of families and help to bring people back into the rural areas.

He was rewarded with a question from the oldest of the retired farmers about weed management under an organic regime. Our farmer gave us a better answer to this question after the hearing than he gave at the time. Apparently a lot of the weeds are dealt with by reclassification. That is, organic farmers view many weeds as beneficial to care of the land and care of the animals.

It sounds good, although I’m also aware from the US how there is a huge growth in Industrial scale organic farms but I have hope that down here we’ll be a little more immune to it.

Oh yes, I’ve just remembered, there were two unknown gentlemen sitting in the back of the hearing who I mistakenly though were supporters but actually turned out to be lawyers who work for the big agricultural research institute (Agresearch) that operates in our area. Since Agresearch’s opposition to our position consisted of a brief letter to the hearing I presume they didn’t take us very seriously and that their lawyers probably got a bit of a fright at how thorough we were. Either that or they already have the whole thing sewn up via back room deals.

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