Last week we were in the back blocks beyond Gisborne with the Pastoral management Group.
There’s 24 couples in the group and each year we do a study tour on members’ farms in different regions.
This was all new territory for me and unfortunately the weather – more than half North Otago’s annual rainfall in a couple of days – obscured many of the views.
It also gave us a good idea of the challenges of farming in this area.
Among the properties we visited were farms owned by an overseas company.
They were text-book examples of the good that foreign investment can do.
The farms been run down when bought but local expertise and hard work plus foreign money had brought them up to a very high standard in a short time. Huge paddocks had been subdivided, lanes built, buildings upgraded and tracks constructed. Stock were healthy, staff obviously enjoyed their work, took pride in it and were passionate about it. Profits were ploughed back into the farms to improve them.
One farm had recently converted to organics.
It would be difficult for a smaller operation to do what they’re doing. But with another farm in the group near by to take any stock which has to be drenched, ensuring their welfare without compromising the farm’s organic status, this one has a better chance of success.
There was a fair amount of scepticism from the group about the experiment, but if anyone could make it work it’s this company which is prepared to take a few years of losses in order to let the management and staff give organic farming their best shot.
If only the xenophobes who are opposed to foreign ownership could see the good this company is doing on the farms, for the community through sponsorship and for research with their organic venture, they might realise that it’s not where buyers come from but what they do with the land they buy which matters.