Cheltenham farmer Jill Martin is playing her part to ensure not all farmers are “painted with the same brush”.
The feature-length documentary MEAT, billed as “the modern story of the animals we eat”, introduces audiences to three farmers and a hunter going about their daily lives while talking about their relationship to animals.
The story shines a new light on the people, the land and everything that lies behind the supermarket shelves.
Director David White said the film did not tell people what to think, nor was it a propaganda film for farmers.
He believed the connection between consumption and production was being lost and many people did not understand where their meat came from.
Martin said she was well-acquainted with the realities of farming, having built a career on her 320-hectare sheep and beef farm.
The documentary told the important story of those who never got to have their say, she said.
“It just follows day-to-day life on the farm. It shows the journey from lambing right through to drafting lambs off to the [meat] works.
“New Zealand makes its living through farming and there’s a lot of animal groups out there that continually try to bring it down without seeing the full story.
“There are people that live in the city nowadays that would have never stepped foot on a farm, yet they see one thing that’s happened and they think everyone’s painted with the same brush.”
A camera crew trailed Martin for weeks as she managed her 1350-ewe and 1200-calf operation.
“There’s nothing glorified in it. It’s not polished up. That’s farming in all its glory,” she said.
Martin said the agricultural industry had taken a “hammering” in recent years as concerns had grown around the treatment of bobby calves on dairy farms.
Through it all, Martin said animals were a farmer’s livelihood.
“People sit there and say docking is cruel, but if we don’t take the tails off lambs then we’ve got fly strike.
“For me the documentary is the reality of farming – there are bad farmers out there, but we’re not all bad. There’s bad policemen, accountants, lawyers – it’s the same as any industry.”
MEAT is showing at Feilding’s Focal Point Cinema on May 10.
Following the screening there will be time for discussion with Martin and White.