Rural round-up

Staff short as calving begins – David Hill:

Immigration restrictions are continuing to be a headache as calving starts in North Canterbury.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury senior vice-president Rebecca Green said she had endured a 60-day wait to get a farm worker approved by Immigration New Zealand to work on the Cheviot farm she contract milks with husband Blair, after no locals applied for the position.

On the positive side, the Government’s relaxing of visa rules meant a farm worker they already employed has had his visa extended from 12 to 24 months, ‘‘which is really great’’, she said.

‘‘It’s tough for a lot of people. It’s just very stressful and very hard for my husband and our workers who are having to carry the extra load. . . 

Farmer confidence holds but workers concerns deepens:

The latest Federated Farmers Farm Confidence Survey shows positiveness around economic conditions but deepening concern about the ability to plug workforce gaps.

The survey, carried out by Research First in early July and drawing responses from 1,422 farmers, showed a net 18% of respondents considered the current economic conditions to be ‘good’. That’s a 12.4 point improvement from the survey six months earlier and 46 points better than a year ago after the economy was slammed by the pandemic.

Looking forward, a net 39% of farmers expected general economic conditions to worsen over the next 12 months, but that was actually a 5-point improvement on the January survey result.

“The survey was a month ago now and I think farmers were feeling buoyed by strong commodity prices,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard said. . . 

We need to bridge the urban-rural divide – Nadia Lim:

Two generations ago, most New Zealanders had some connection to farming or the land through close or extended family.

My maternal grandmother was a dairy herd tester, for example. In 2021, though, most of us are almost completely detached from the realities of producing food at scale. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why there’s such a huge rural-urban divide, and why farmers feel so under attack (as shown by the recent protests).

My husband and I regularly talk to farmers and growers, young and old, involved in horticulture, cropping and livestock. Whether they are more traditional or progressive, the main frustration is not the “why” something should be done – everyone, bar a few stubborn ones, agree on our country’s environmental issues. It’s the “how” that they’re frustrated about.

The crux of it is that farmers feel they’re being made to be entirely responsible for reversing our environmental problems, in a comparatively very short space of time, with what they feel are unworkable solutions. . .

Growing the world’s most expensive spice in New Zealand – Olivia Sisson:

The laborious hand-harvesting process that makes saffron so pricey hasn’t put off some enterprising growers in Aotearoa. Olivia Sisson pays a visit to a saffron operation in Canterbury.

When rapper 2 Chainz asked this business to make pickles for his show Most Expensivest Things, they put heaps of saffron in the brine.

Saffron is the world’s priciest spice. According to Business Insider, one kilo costs about $NZ15,000. Half-gram containers at New World set you back $10.

So what is saffron and why is it so dear? The MasterFoods packaging offers no answers. . . 

Ambitious waterway plan evolving – Sally Rae:

The green light has been pushed on the Tiaki Maniototo — Protection Maniototo project which will receive $4.55 million funding from the Freshwater Improvement Fund over the next five years, as part of the Jobs for Nature programme. Rural editor Sally Rae talks to project manager Morgan Trotter about what the project entails.

When he reflects on his rural upbringing, Morgan Trotter acknowledges it was a privileged childhood.

Trotters Gorge, near Moeraki, was named after his family and he could often be found playing in Trotters Creek, fishing and eeling, or chasing ducks.

The area comprised lots of farming and fishing families and the vibrant community centred on the local primary school at Moeraki. But the advent of drought, Rogernomics and changes in Government regulations in the 1980s caused a lot of small businesses to fall over, and the school to close. . . 

The trick to feeding ‘weed’ to sheep and not make them dopey – Chris McLennan:

Scientists are trying to find a cannabis plant which does not make sheep high.

Or at least making sure the eating of their flesh does not pass on those famous traits if they have been grazing on it.

Already trials in Western Australia and New South Wales found industrial hemp has shown promise as a summer crop for livestock such as sheep and cattle.

Scientists have been feeding cannabis from WA to a trial flock of 15 Merinos in NSW to discover how much of the psychoactive compound which induces the high ends up in their meat. . . 

 

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