Word of the day

September 27, 2019

 Plangorous – mournful; resonant or plaintive in sound; characterised by loud lamentation.


Thatcher thinks

September 27, 2019


Rural round-up

September 27, 2019

Southland farmer pens powerful open letter to Jacinda Ardern – Esther Taunton:

A Southland farmer has written a powerful “open letter” to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, urging her to hear farmers’ concerns over proposed freshwater standards.

Ashley Lester’s letter said the eight-week consultation period on the Government’s policy reforms fell during the farm’s busiest time of year.

“To clarify, my team are working 12-hour days to take care of my stock, seven days a week,” she wrote. . .

Water, Protest and Engaging with the Process — September 2019 – Elbow Deep:

The Ministry for the Environment is holding a series of meetings around the country as part of their consultation process for the discussion document Action for Healthy Waterways.

Once the consultation has finished and all the submissions have been summarised, the Ministry will pass their advice on to Cabinet who will then issue a National Policy Statement for Freshwater.

That’s it. There’s no select committee hearing and no need for a law change, the NPS will provide direction to regional and district councils as to how they should carry out their responsibilities under the Resource Management Act.

Realising I needed to learn a lot more about the proposals I attended the Ashburton meeting along with some three hundred other concerned locals, and I’m very glad I did because I learned a lot. Not from the officials giving the presentation, as you might expect, but from the well informed members of the audience. . . 

 

Can Fonterra find a fresh future from a curdled past? – Gyles Beckford:

In 2001 the country’s dairy industry elite unveiled plans for a colossus to bestride the globe.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter needed a name – and the ad-men dreamed up Fonterra – a word derived from the Latin phrase ‘fons de terra’ meaning “spring from the land”.

Inaugural chairman John Roadley said the new name would initially mean little to shareholders, staff and the public.

“Our challenge is to ensure Fonterra means something special to our shareholders, our staff and all New Zealanders within our first year,” he said. . .

Fonterra creates jobs in South Taranaki after job cuts, $605 million loss announced – Jane Matthews:

As it struggles to deal with record $605 million losses, dairy giant Fonterra has set out a plan create more than 30 jobs at its South Taranaki site.

But Eltham’s 34-job gain has come at the cost of 65 in Paraparaumu, north of Wellington, where the company is closing a speciality cheese factory.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell announced the move on Thursday as the company revealed its massive losses during the last financial year. . .

Family turns boutique cheese maker – Toni Williams:

A boutique sheep-milking operation on the edge of Ashburton town is making cheese in the district while the sun still shines.

But decisions on its future will need to be made soon.

Hipi Cheese, owned and operated by Jacy and Allan Ramsay, of Ashburton, started more than four years ago as they worked through their sheep milking processes. Their first milking was in November 2017.

The couple, who both work other jobs, have a micro-farm block of just under 2ha which stocks 24 mostly East Friesian milking ewes but in the past few seasons has included Dairymead genetics with ”a dash of Awassi” . . .

Crops thirsty for more rain – Matt Wallis:

With no substantial rain and the forecast leaving us forever guessing, crops have “hit the wall” as soil moisture reserves have all but depleted coinciding with above average daytime temperatures, wind and multiple frost events.

The current state of the NSW crop is far from perfect and at a crucial stage now of pod filling and flowering while northern Victoria is now beginning to experience symptoms of the NSW crop as the conditions push further south.

While time may be on the side of those further south of the Murrumbidgee, much like Geelong’s chance of adding another premiership to the cabinet, the hour glass is quickly running out. . . 

 


Farmer confidence plummets

September 27, 2019

Farmer confidence has plummeted again:

Farmer confidence is at its lowest level since the March 2016 quarter, with many citing central Government policy as the reason for concern, according to the latest quarterly Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey.

Overall net confidence has dropped from -2 per cent in the previous quarter to -33 per cent and the percentage of farmers expecting the rural economy to worsen over the next 12 months has risen by 18 per cent to 43 per cent.

“That’s extraordinary at a time when prices across most farming sectors are up on where they’ve been in recent years. Farmer confidence is now at levels not seen since we were in the grip of the dairy downturn,” Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon said.

“Government policy is identified as the key worry, with a host of measures being introduced that will affect the profitability and viability of farming.”

We have spent the last week in Western Australia with some of the top farmers from both sides of the Tasman.

Some of the Australians are battling drought but the mood among them was generally positive.

The broad acre farming in the Esperance hinterland is very different from New Zealand conditions and systems. We could only wonder how they could grow wheat when they’d had only 150 mms of rain.

The weather in New Zealand hasn’t been causing much concern and markets for everything except strong wool are buoyant, it’s government policies which are driving down farmer confidence here.

The implement this tractor is towing is mulching gum stumps from hundreds of hectares of felled gum trees in preparation for sowing crops and pasture.

That contrasts with New Zealand where many thousands of hectares of productive farmland is being covered with pine trees, with government encouragement and subsidies.

Sixty-eight per cent of farmers with a negative outlook identified government policy, such as freshwater reform and future greenhouse gas obligations, as a primary reason for their concern.

“Farmers are singled out in the Zero Carbon Bill as the only industry not allowed to offset their carbon emissions, while heavy industry and other polluters can. That makes no sense,” Falloon said. . . 

Australian farmers had no concerns about being forced into an emissions trading scheme and generally face much more relaxed policies around the environment than those we’re being threatened with.

Farm produce is much less important to the Australian economy than  it is to New Zealand’s but their farmers felt better understood and appreciated than ours do.

When we’ve been on trips like this before, we return home thinking it’s easier to farm on our side of the Tasman. But this time we’ve come home thinking that when it comes to government policy, it’s much better for farmers there than here.


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