Rural round-up

Urban spread: farmer accuses councils of economic vandalism – Tom Kitchin:

A small group of Hawke’s Bay landowners are fighting to ensure what’s described as “a cancerous” spread of urban development doesn’t destroy quality crop lands on the Heretaunga Plains.

Councils agree that something must be done, but say it’s not an overnight fix.

Most days for the past 25 years, Richard Gaddum has gone up into the hills on his cattle farm above Havelock North to take in the view.

It captures the vast plains with the hills and mountains beyond. . . 

Wool report: on ‘cusp of renaissance‘ – Sally Rae:

A wool working group has finally released its long-awaited report, saying it believes natural fibres are “on the cusp of a renaissance” and a new approach is needed.

The Wool Industry Project Action Group was established in 2018 to look at opportunities to improve returns for the beleaguered crossbred wool sector.

New Zealand was one of the world’s most significant producers of strong wool; it produced around 10% of global wool of all micron types and around 20% of the 500 million kg of strong wool produced globally, the report said.

But increased competition from synthetic fibres had reduced demand for strong wool and led to a long-term contraction of the sector. . . 

Action now needed for wool say industry leaders – Sally Rae:

National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests chairman Craig Smith says the big thing missing from the wool working group’s report is an action plan to deliver the recommendations.

Mr Smith, who is general manager of Devold Wool Direct, was part of the working group in the early stages when it was set up in 2018.

“We all know the wool industry is in a bloody tough space but we didn’t want it to be just another report.”

But the report that had been produced reiterated the industry was in a bad place, and something needed to be done about it — “and here’s a few ideas”, he said. . . 

Night Shift – Milk Truck Driver – Andrea Vance:

Throughout the night, a fleet of tankers is on the road collecting milk from all over the country. Meet a man behind the wheel of one of them.

In the silent, starless night, Darren Mason’s enormous truck thunders off the state highway and onto a country lane, churning up a cloud of dust.

Sleepy cows rise onto their knees in fright, frozen breath suspended in the chill air. A lone dog starts to bark somewhere in the distance. 

The tanker rolls into the yard, its headlights illuminating two huge stainless steel milk vats. . . 

Courgette shortage sees record high prices:

Courgette prices jumped 74 percent to an all-time high of $21.42 per kilo in June 2020, as imports from Queensland continued to be barred, Stats NZ said today.

Overall vegetable prices were up 7.6 percent in June, also influenced by seasonally higher prices for tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and courgettes. These rises were offset by typical falls for winter crops including potatoes, onions, and carrots.

Both tomatoes and courgettes are more expensive than usual at this time of the year. . . 

The art of Michelle Clarke – Cheyenne Nicholson :

A Canterbury farmer who is a self-confessed creative type says it hasn’t been the easiest of roads turning a passion for art into a fully-fledged business but she has done just that and is drawing inspiration from rural life. Cheyenne Nicholson reports.

CANTERBURY farmer Michelle Clarke has trod a rather wobbly career path and even when she settled on art it very nearly didn’t happen. 

But now she has forged a successful art career that has grown her business, The Art of Michelle Clarke, into a full-time job. Her photographs and artwork grace the pages of magazines and walls all around the country and more recently she has turned her hand to writing and illustrating a children’s book. 

Michelle and husband Stephen Tuck manage on a 224-hectare dairy farm at Hororata where they milk 750 cows. . . 

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