It’s hoped the Your Food Producers group-inspired crosses – already estimated to be in their hundreds in the two areas – will spread nationally to highlight the agricultural sector’s various concerns.
A group spokesperso,n Rosemarie Costar, a dairy farmer from Onewhero in north Waikato, said the campaign, which includes a website, was inspired by a similar initiative in Germany.
Costar, also the dairy chairperson of Auckland Federated Farmers, said it stemmed from a small group of farmers getting together to discuss issues.
“We sat down and had a conversation about our concerns and thought we had to do something.”
Group member Bruce Cameron had seen the German campaign while visiting that country.
“We’ve adapted their campaign and started here.”
The signs and crosses started going up in October.
“For us it was about making sure consumers were educated” about how regulations – new and old – can help push up food prices.
For example, new requirements to get resource consents for things previously freely permitted – such as spraying and fertiliser application – could add to costs, she said.
Other concerns included how reducing farm carbon emissions and new animal welfare requirements could add to costs without necessarily achieving all they were designed to do globally and locally.
For example, plans to reduce emissions could cut New Zealand sheep and beef production by 20% and dairy by 5%, resulting in less carbon efficient producers picking up the lost market share.
Restrictions on farrowing crates could lead to higher mortality rates for piglets. Imports from overseas producers, with lower animal welfare standards, may result.
“For us it’s about making sure that legislation that is going through is practical, sensible and workable.”
Costar said others around the country had shown interest in the campaign via social media.
“We would like to see it go nationally.”
Her group had started off with signs at 12 sites.
“Now we want people putting their own crosses up.”
Based on what she’s seen and anecdotal feedback, she’s confident the green crosses are becoming widespread in north Waikato and South Auckland.
“I would hope there’s a 1000 up there.”
Her daughter had counted 46 crosses on one road heading towards Waiuku, she said.
Costar said her group – with a core membership of six – had no party political affiliations as such.
“We’re all involved in agriculture in one way or another.
“It’s definitely not a political exercise.”
Other members of the group include former Waikato Federated Farmers president and regional council chairperson Peter Buckley.
The group’s website says: “We support regulations which achieve the desired outcome without compromising the NZ economy.
“We as NZ’s food producers are passionate about producing safe and high quality food for you, our consumers. NZ food producers have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world.”