Rural round-up

More than 800 damaged irrigators:

IrrigationNZ says initial reports suggest more than 800 irrigators across Canterbury are severely damaged and will need to be repaired or written off following Tuesday’s big wind.

“The extent of damage to centre pivots and other irrigators across the region is unprecedented. This is an extremely serious situation as we simply don’t have enough parts to repair all of these machines in New Zealand. We’re looking at a six to eight week time lag before parts arrive and then a similar timeframe before repairs can be completed. If we experience a dry spring, the consequences could be dire for many Canterbury farmers as irrigation will effectively be stymied,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

Gavin Briggs, Owner of Rainer Irrigation, says his company alone is aware of 260 centre pivot spans lying on the ground and another 30 pivots across the region that have lost key components. He describes the situation as “a logistical nightmare”.

“It’s actually quite serious even though we’re still a couple of weeks away from the irrigation season starting. Many farmers don’t have back-up systems for effluent and were relying on centre pivots to do the job. It’s a disaster.” . .

Great support for Canterbury but it’s not over yet:

The past week has been devastating for South Island farmers and with a short sharp wintry blast hitting the far south of the South Island on Saturday, we are not out of the woods yet.

“This has been an overwhelming time for farmers they have taken a huge hit, being Canterbury’s worst wind storm in 40 years, this is likely to hurt them further down the track.” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events Spokesperson.

“The extent of the damage is still being accessed but it is likely to cost millions of dollars and a big part of that will be from over 800 irrigators being damaged. Water access is becoming a big concern and insurance companies are already receiving hundreds of claims. . .

Government’s helping hand for dairy reputation:

Federated Farmers thinks the new Market Connections Fund is an excellent initiative to help New Zealand businesses build back their relations with overseas customers.

“The dairy industry has some ground work to do after the fall out of Fonterra’s recall of product,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairman.

“We know a number of dairy exporters have been affected by this. Many have had product stuck in ports, which is hardly their fault.

“Relationship building needs to be done face to face if it is going to mean anything and I know this is going to be a huge help to those who are serious about repairing the damage done. . .

Our future – Bruce Wills:

This year has been huge for agriculture. We have survived a drought and heavy snow, we have made huge in roads with local government and faced international scrutiny with trade and biosecurity. Despite it all we are still the ‘Silicon Valley’ of agriculture and well on track to reach the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector outputs by 2025.

With local elections here it has been a busy time for Federated Farmers. We have made a massive investment into communicating with regional and district councils, to get a balance between the social, cultural, environmental, and economic planning and outcomes.  This is vital not just for our industries but for all New Zealanders. We need to move forward together so the focus from local government needs to be balanced and fair.

The Minister of Trade, Tim Groser, recently referred to Agriculture being New Zealand’s ‘Silicon Valley’, which conjured up a real sense of optimism for the Federation and farmers alike. New Zealand really struggles with telling the good stories but we have every reason to be optimistic about our future in this country. Groser’s statement captures the reality that agriculture will be as important to New Zealand’s future as it has been to our past. Agriculture has remained the economic backbone of our country and will be for our trade future, the problem is New Zealanders have a bad case of tall poppy syndrome, so celebrating our strengths and successes can prove challenging. . .

Christchurch botanist awarded Loder Cup:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today presented the country’s most prestigious conservation award, the Loder Cup, to Christchurch botanist Nicholas Head.

“Nick Head is a very deserving winner of the country’s oldest conservation award. He has been a tireless advocate for Canterbury’s unique plant life, both through his professional work with the Department of Conservation and as a volunteer and advocate for numerous trusts and organisations,” Dr Smith says.

“His contribution has included extensive work in plant identification, guided field trips, public talks and advocacy for conservation before councils and the Environment Court. A particular benefactor of his work has been the unique plant life of the limestone areas of South Canterbury and the spectacular Mackenzie Basin.” . . .

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