Rural round-up

Farmers want to be critical workers as part of Omicron response

Farmers are warning of huge pressures on food supply if they’re not considered part of the critical workforce.

The government has laid out its three-phase plan to tackle Omicron, which would allow critical workers who are close contacts of a case to return to work after a negative rapid antigen test.

But they haven’t defined exactly which workers it covers yet.

Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard told Checkpoint that farmers and other workers in the industry definitely met the criteria of being critical due to looking after animals and producing food. . . 

Farmers prepare as closed borders disrupt harvest amid Omicron outbreak – Samantha Gee:

With harvest season set to kick off for the horticulture sector in the top of the South Island, orchardists, growers and hop farmers are faced with staff shortages due to closed borders.

It is estimated the region needs 1500 more staff across a number of industries: hops, apples, pears, kiwifruit and pipfruit to name a few.

Valima Orchard business manager Matthew Hoddy, who grows apples near Nelson, said more than half of his 220 employees during harvest were made up of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers and those on working holiday visas.

But February 2020 was the last time that car loads of travellers showed up at the orchard, looking for seasonal work picking apples. . . 

‘Razor’ shares rugby secrets with farmers :

Make sure you have someone to talk to when life gets tough.

That was the key message from Crusaders coach Scott Robertson and some rural mental health advocates at a packed gathering of the Ellesmere farming community recently.

Ellesmere Sustainable Agriculture Inc (ESAI), with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries, invited its members and community to listen to four speakers sharing their experiences around leadership, stress, anxiety and depression and the strategies to cope with the pressures life creates in rural communities.

A capacity crowd of nearly 100 farmers, their families and their neighbours were captivated by Robertson sharing some of the secrets of the culture that created the Crusaders dynasty, including their methods to handle setbacks and stress, which according to Robertson apply to both the rugby field as well as the farm. . . 

Quinedale Farm & Stud – a family affair

Taupiri dairy farmer Balraj Singh jokes that when he married his wife Hardeep, he ‘converted’ her.

He’s not talking about sports teams or coffee brands, but cattle breeds.

“I’ve been milking cows since I was 14-years-old, and I was brought up with Holstein Friesians,” he says.

“Before we got married, Hardeep had a small herd of 75 pedigree Jersey cows, but I convinced her to start milking Holstein Friesians. . . 

New lending rules could benefit sector – Nigel Stirling:

New lending rules wreaking havoc on residential borrowers have not had any noticeable impact on farm lending and could even spur the banks to look favourably again at the sector after a lean couple of years.

Since the start of December, banks have been applying extra scrutiny to loan applications in response to legislation designed to protect borrowers from saddling themselves with unaffordable levels of debt.

While the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act had seemingly been motivated by a desire to crack down on loan sharks, it has ended up capturing a far larger share of the market than ever intended.

Bankers are being extra cautious under pains of fines of up to $200,000 if they are found to have failed to follow the letter of the new law when assessing loan applications. . . 

Upland farmers face ‘income crisis’ in transition to new  schemes :

Upland farmers have warned they face an income crisis if significant changes are not made to the UK’s post-Brexit agricultural support system.

In a meeting with Defra, the NFU uplands forum said the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) failed to offer a meaningful return for the costs of managing upland landscapes.

The SFI – the first of the UK’s new environmental land management schemes replacing the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy – will be rolled out this year.

The reform is the most significant change to UK farming and land management in over five decades. . .

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