Rural round-up

September 15, 2017

Dairy conversions falling:

DairyNZ says a fall in the number of dairy conversions in Canterbury signals strongly that fears of a big rise in dairying there are unwarranted.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) reports 20 consents were granted for new dairy farms in the last financial year — nearly half last year’s figure and a huge drop on the 110 granted in 2011.

The last year in which only 20 conversions were consented was 2007. . . 

Dairy farming a game changer for Englishman

Poacher turned gamekeeper is an idiom as old as the hills, but gamekeeper turned Waikato dairy farmer? Now that’s new. The dairyman and former gamekeeper is Ben Moore, who with wife Lizzy farms 450 cows at Okororie, near Tirau in Waikato.

Ben, from Hampshire, in the south of England, was a professional gamekeeper of pheasants in Rotorua when he met Lizzy, daughter of Federated Farmers leader and former dairy industry director Tony Wilding, nine years ago.

New Zealanders would be rightly surprised to discover that right here at home exists a world straight out of Downton Abbey including plus-fours, gun loaders, ground beaters and all. . .

Rural sector underpins growth – Alexia Johnston:

South Canterbury’s rural sector is being credited as a major contributor to recent economic growth.

 Latest economic development figures from Infometrics show the Timaru district has experienced 1.3% growth in the latest June quarter.

That figure is well above the 0.8% recorded for wider Canterbury, but was below the nationwide figure of 2.8%.

Timaru district’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the year to June was $2318million. . .

Wings stabilise irrigators in wind – Maureen Bishop:

The design trials are over; now the field trials have begun for a new irrigator ”wing” aimed at providing stabilisation in times of high winds.

The galvanised wing is the brainchild of farmer Greg Lovett and kite-maker, inventor and engineer Peter Lynn.

The high winds of spring 2013 which destroyed hundreds of irrigators, prompted Mr Lovett to look at some method of stabilising irrigators which could prevent them toppling over.

He sought expertise advice from Mr Lynn. As a pioneer of kite surfing and buggying, and the holder of the record for the world’s largest kite, Mr Lynn knows a lot about wind and its power. . . 

Southland arable farm thrives when dairying flourishes :

Balfour arable farmer Chris Dillon says the first rule of arable farming is that you don’t treat your soil like dirt.

Dillon became the Federated Farmers Southland arable chairman this year and feels strongly that arable farmers deserve strong representation even if they are a small group in the region.

“Arable farms are a minority group in Southland but we play a very important part in it as well,” he says . .

Hail and wet weather take a toll on vegetables – Gerard Hutching:

Hail in Pukekohe and cold, wet weather throughout the country have hit vegetable crops but it is too soon to say how much more consumers might have to pay for potatoes, lettuce and cauliflowers this spring.

Pukekohe grower Bharat Bhana said the hailstorms which came through the region in the last few days had done more damage than wet weather, but in other parts of the country a wet spring has come on top of a soggy winter.

“Onions are smashed, lettuce have got bullet holes in them, looks like a flock of chickens has gone through,” Bhana said. . . 

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Rural round-up

September 9, 2017

Putting NZ agriculture under the ETS is illogical:

Labour’s announcement that it will move agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme in stages will cost the livestock sector at least $83 million in year one, rising to more than $830 million each year when fully implemented.

Federated Farmers agrees that action on climate change is needed. But as New Zealand farmers are among the most efficient producers of food on the planet, it is illogical to put the sector at a competitive disadvantage against export competitors, effectively shifting production to less efficient producers overseas. . .

Farmers should not pay for all water pollution – Basil Sharp:

Water use needs a price, but Labour’s misguided water tax is unfair and would not deter polluters.

We need an efficient, sustainable and fair way of allocating water. From the little detail available, Labour’s proposed water tax does not sound like it offers this. Not only does it fail to target polluters, it risks perverse and distorting effects.

The Labour Party proposes applying a royalty – call it a water tax – of up to 2c per 1000 litres of water. The money collected would be given to councils and iwi to restore local waterways. It is not unusual for governments to charge a royalty on resources they own. Our Government applies royalties to minerals vested in the Crown. . .

Let’s tax this – what are we in for with Labour?

On the cusp of the election, voters are still in the dark about what taxes they might be hit with if Labour is part of the next government.

A tax (“royalty”) on water is confirmed. But Jacinda Ardern has refused to rule out a capital gains tax, a land value tax, and an asset and wealth tax – other than to say the family home is exempt.

“For Labour to say they’re not able to be more explicit about what they have in mind until they have recommendations from the yet-to-be-named members of a tax panel is something of a cop-out, and certainly doesn’t help voters,” Federated Farmers Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says. . .

Mycoplasma bovis – update 8 September 2017:

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ testing programme for Mycoplasma bovis continues at pace with over 15,000 tests now completed by MPI’s Animal Health Laboratory at Wallaceville.

Response Incident Controller Dr Eve Pleydell says the overwhelming majority of the tests have come back negative, with positive results so far only being found on the six known infected properties. . .

Meat and dairy lift manufacturing:

The volume of meat and dairy product manufacturing rose in the June 2017 quarter, Stats NZ said. Sales values also rose, coinciding with high prices.

After adjusting for seasonal effects and removing price changes, the meat and dairy product manufacturing volume rose 8.2 percent in the June 2017 quarter.

“The rise in the meat and dairy sales volume followed falls in the previous two quarters,” manufacturing manager Sue Chapman said. . .

NZ wool market continues to pick up at weekly auction – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s wool market continued to improve at the latest weekly auction, as demand picked up from China, the largest buyer of the fibre, and a decline in the local currency made trading more attractive.

Some 91 percent of the 8,047 wool bales offered at yesterday’s North Island auction were sold, and prices lifted for most styles of wool with the coarse crossbred wool indicator increasing to $3.05 a kilogram, up 6 cents from last week’s South Island auction and 19 cents higher than the previous North Island auction a fortnight ago, AgriHQ said. . .


Rural round-up

August 31, 2017

South Canterbury coastal plan will become operative in September – Elena McPhee:

A change to coastal South Canterbury’s farming rules will come into force next month and despite an initial challenge, farmers say they are now looking forward to helping protect a nationally significant wetland area.

The South Coastal Canterbury Plan Change addresses both water quality and water quantity in the catchment, which includes Wainono Lagoon.

Environment Canterbury councillor Peter Skelton said the schedule set out good farming practices relating to nutrient management, irrigation management, grazing intensively-farmed stock, farm cultivation, and animal effluent. . .

‘Retirement’ is apples for Murray – Yvonne O’Hara:

Former Alexandra retailer Murray Bell has given up heels and soles for Honeycrisp and Jazz.

Mr Bell, 63, retired from his shoe retailing business earlier this year, but relaxing with his feet up has yet to happen.

He and partner Rachel Samuel have Crag-an-oir Orchard, which is 15ha of apple trees on the outskirts of Alexandra.

They originally grew some apricots, but they now focus solely on growing several apple varieties, using organic principles. The orchard is certified under BioGro as part of the Springvale Apple Growers Partnership. . .

TracMap gets room to expand:

TracMap founder Colin Brown addresses the crowd at the opening of the company’s new offices in Dukes Rd, Mosgiel, last week.

The company supplies precision guidance systems to the primary food production industries with the cloud-based system allowing accurate task management and placement reporting for products, people and vehicles in-field. . .

Agrifood sector is tech-savvy but not ready for major disruption:

A new agrifood sector report has found that New Zealand farmers have been quick to adopt smart farming techniques, but few are preparing for major technological disruption.

The report, funded through Microsoft’s Academic Programs initiative and prepared by researchers from the Massey Business School, examined the impact of cloud computing and other potentially disruptive technologies on the sector.

Researchers interviewed both technologists and members of the agrifood industry – and found there was a gap between how the two groups perceive the future. . . 

Red Stag Timber plans to lift production from its Waipa ‘super mill’ to meet demand – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Red Stag Timber, which developed New Zealand’s first ‘super mill’ a year ago, plans to step up production next year to meet demand in its local and overseas markets.

The Rotorua-based Waipa Mill increased its production of sawn timber to an annual 550,000 cubic metres from 450,000 cubic metres after investing over $100 million in more efficient machinery, transforming the mill, and plans to lift production further to 600,000 cubic metres from next year, general manager Tim Rigter told BusinessDesk in an interview at the Waipa State Mill Road site. . . 

Telco minnow joins giants by winning rural broadband contract:

A no-frills approach has seen Hawke’s Bay-based rural wireless broadband company AoNet Broadband successfully compete with the giants of the industry to win a slice of the Government’s latest rural broadband funding package.

Telecommunications Minister Simon Bridges today announced AoNet Broadband as the Wireless Internet Service Provider for the King Country, making it responsible for connecting homes over an area that includes remote and mountainous terrain.

The appointment is part of a $150 million funding package for telco companies to partner with the Government through Crown Fibre Holdings Limited (CFH) to bring better broadband and mobile services to an increased number of under-served rural areas, state highways, businesses, residents and tourists in New Zealand. . . 

First chilled meat shipments to China – Allan Barber:

According to a press release from SFF the company’s first sea container leaves this week for arrival early next month, claimed by the company to be the first sea freight consignment of chilled product to the Chinese market which has only recently opened up to New Zealand meat exporters. However, I have since been informed that the first shipment from Greenlea arrived on 18th August and a chilled container of AFFCO product is already on the water, arriving on Friday 1st September, with a container of chilled mutton being shipped next week.

According to SFF’s press release the company has already trialled small quantities of chilled beef cuts to food service distributors for high end restaurants and lamb cuts to a multinational supermarket chain. But the sea shipment is planned to test the port and supply chain protocols for large scale consignments of chilled product. . . 

Swiss meat is expensive in dollars, cheap in minutes – Catherine Bosley:

Swiss meat prices are pretty hard to stomach at first glance.

At $49.68, Switzerland tops the ranking for a kilogram of beef leg round. Yet that seemingly eye-watering sum – around 150 percent higher than the world average – gets more reasonable when you factor in what locals get paid: An unskilled worker needs just 3.1 hours to afford it.

The 2017 Meat Price Index is a foray into the study of relative price levels of goods and labor. According to publisher Caterwings, the cost of beef, fish, chicken, pork and lamb in each country’s biggest cities were compared to the minimum wage and then calculations were run for affordability. In those where there is no federal statutory minimum, it used the average pay for unskilled labor. . . 

Allied Farmers posts 60% lift in full-year profit as livestock division outperforms – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Rural services firm Allied Farmers reported a 60 percent lift in net profit on an improved result from its livestock division, particularly in the second half, and further cost reduction.

The Hawera-based company said net profit was $2.2 million in the year ended June 30 versus $1.4 million in the prior year. Pretax earnings were up 52 percent to $2.4 million, which was ahead of the guidance it gave in June when it forecast a 40 percent gain. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 25, 2017

Clues to cow disease spread – Hamish MacLean:

The South Canterbury farmer whose property was first identified as infected with Mycoplasma bovis now fears the disease might also be present further north.

Glenavy farmer Aad van Leeuwen’s comments come after the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced yesterday the cattle disease was present in Otago.

It had been hoped the outbreak, first detected on Mr van Leeuwen’s Bennetts Rd farm on July 22, and then on his nearby Dog Kennel Rd farm on July 31, was confined to the South Canterbury area.

MPI said blood test results from a farm in the Oamaru area – known to have had a ”direct connection” with the Bennetts Rd farm prior to its current lockdown – showed ”some animals have been infected with the disease”. . .

Flux-meter data relevant for south – Yvonne O’Hara:

Information on nutrient losses from the Foundation for Arable Research’s (Far) flux-meter data-collection project will have applications for Otago and Southland arable farmers.
Far heard earlier this month it had been given $485,168 for its

”Protecting our groundwater: measuring and managing diffuse nutrient losses from cropping systems” project from the Ministry for the Environment’s Freshwater Improvement Fund.

The $1million project has been under way for three years in partnership with HortNZ, Ravensdown, five regional councils and Plant and Food Research. The balance of funding comes from industry and regional council partners. . .

Record 2016/17 season recounted at Zespri AGM

Zespri reported to around 500 grower-shareholders today at its Annual Meeting on a record 2016/17 season, with global sales up 19 percent from last season to $2.26 billion on the back of exceptionally high yields.

Pool results
Zespri Chairman Peter McBride explains the high yields and late start to the New Zealand season meant lower per-tray returns for Zespri Green but continued strong per-hectare returns for the Green business. . . 

New initiative prepares women for calf rearing:

Canterbury dairy farm contractor Nicole Jackson is on a mission to reduce the number of injuries to female calf rearers during the physically demanding calving season.

She’s created a six-week online conditioning and strengthening initiative for women to prepare their bodies for the physically gruelling calving season, which is currently under way in many parts of the country.

“There’s a lot of information out there about things like getting meals and the kids ready for calving season but not a lot about getting your body ready,” says Nicole, a mother of two young boys.

“Women are often involved in calf rearing and it’s really hard physical work. Women are often busy juggling kids and work so it’s hard for them sometimes to stay active and find time to work on their fitness . . .

The secret to cutting nitrogen leaching – Laurel Stowell:

Napier-based farming expert Barrie Ridler has some answers for farmers struggling to curb their nitrogen leaching.

Dairy farmers, especially in the Tararua District, are waiting to see how Horizons Regional Council reacts to the Environment Court’s April declarations – but are already under pressure to reduce the nitrogen they leach.

Mr Ridler says matching stock numbers to pasture growth is the secret, and keeping the two in balance will limit greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Youth scholarships help develop Ag careers – Esther Taunton:

A former Inglewood High School student is among the first recipients of a Silver Fern Farms Pasture to Plate Youth Scholarship.

Jake Jarman, who grew up on a central Taranaki dairy farm, will receive $5000 to help further his career in farming.

The scholarships are aimed at helping young people develop their careers in the red meat, food and farming industries and SFF chief executive Dean Hamilton said the talent emerging from applications indicated a bright future for the broader red meat sector. . .

 

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I’m a farmer. I don’t stop when I’m tired, I stop when I”m done.


Rural round-up

August 24, 2017

Shortened calving proves its worth for Manawatu farmers – Gerard Hutching:

Manawatu dairy farmer Peter Bailey has discovered the merits of shortening his calving period in a trial that is believed to be a New Zealand first.

DairyNZ said farmers with an average sized herd could add about $20,000 extra income to the business through the system.

Peter and his wife Merrin, who farm at Newbury on the outskirts of Palmerston North, synchronised their herd at mating to try and get as many as possible to calve down in one day. It was an experiment he had been thinking about for a while.

“Our vets were keen to trial herd synchrony and I had been talking the talk so it was time to walk the walk.” . . 

Ingham’s posts 2.5% gain in FY earnings in NZ, cites improved trading from second half  –  Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Ingham’s Group, which is the number two poultry producer in New Zealand behind Tegel Group, reported a 2.5 percent gain in New Zealand earnings, saying trading improved in the second half after a weak first half and the trend has continued into the 2018 year.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation at the company’s New Zealand unit rose to A$36.2 million in the 53 weeks ended June 30, from A$35.3 million a year earlier, according to the Sydney-based company’s annual results. New Zealand revenue climbed to A$361 million from A$353.5 million. . . 

Bobby calves: the game changers within NZ’s supply chain – Andrew Jolly:

Executive Summary:

There is significant potential for New Zealand to increase its ability to utilise more bobby calves therefore making them a more valued product. It is important that we have a sustainable, viable, ethical and PR friendly value chain. It is also important that NZ Inc. gets this right to maintain farmers/producers’ ‘social licence’ to farm and maintain our positive worldwide perception.

While difficult to calculate, it is estimated that more than $1 billion is on offer, if we can capture the full value of underutilised bobby calves. . . 

Become a political snowflake – voting’s a big responsibility – Joyce Wyllie:

Making two small marks on a paper is simple. Freely turning up at a polling booth to place ticks in a box is a big responsibility, an enormous privilege and not something we should ever take for granted.

Low voter turn out at elections amazes me. No snow flake blames itself for an avalanche, but every one of those beautiful uniquely created flakes contributes to the resulting winter scene. Just as every one of our precious individual votes contributes to the resulting political “landscape” .

My vote is always cast seriously after carefully considering party policies and electorate issues. I detest the influence so much media exerts by focussing on drama, negativity and rehashed irrelevant issues. . . 

Dispatch from NZ. No.1 covenants and the QE II Trust – Jonathan Baker:

There is a lot to say about my time in New Zealand but, I’m not yet sure or how to say it. So to start it off here is something relatively straightforward and interesting – the work of the Queen Elizabeth the Second National Trust (QE2 Trust).

The QE2 Trust was set up in 1977 by kiwi farmer, Gordon Stephenson and other farmers who were increasingly concerned that pro-production subsidies were destroying much of the remaining natural habitat of New Zealand. They saw that as bush was cleared and wetlands drained there were few options available to kiwi farmers and landowners who wanted to hold the tide back. . .


Rural round-up

August 23, 2017

Hard work earned admiration of all:

WHEN it came to work ethic, it would be hard to look past legendary North Otago market gardener Reggie Joe.

For more than 45 years, Joe’s Vegie Stall on State Highway 1 at Alma has been a landmark. From humble beginnings as a small roadside stall with an honesty tin, the business expanded to a busy operation, attracting a loyal following of customers.

His wife Suzie acknowledged it was his garden and customers that Mr Joe put first, followed by his family for whom he did it all.

His ambition in life was simple; to create a better future for his four children. Having known hardship firsthand, he was determined they would receive a good education.

Mr Joe died peacefully, surrounded by his family, in Dunedin Hospital on June 8, aged 82. . . 

Primary industries feel under siege as prospect of Labour-led govt firms:

INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS – The divide between regional and urban politics is being thrown into ever sharpening contrast as the election campaign unfolds. Agricultural industries and rural communities feel under siege in the looming election.

As reported in Trans Tasman’s sister publication The Main Report Farming Alert, weeks ago the chances of a Labour-led government seemed unlikely, but now the chance of this happening seems possible with policies which could prove ruinous for NZ’s main export industries.

Labour will tax users of water, including farmers (but not those companies using municipal supplies). Both the Greens and Labour are committed to bringing agriculture into the emissions trading scheme and say the carbon price should be higher. They have not stated how high they want animal emissions to be taxed. . . 

Farming leaders pledge to make all rivers swimmable – Gerard Hutching:

Farming leaders representing 80 per cent of the industry have pledged to make all New Zealand rivers swimmable, although they don’t say how or by when.

Confessing that not all rivers were in the condition they wanted them to be, and that farming had not always got it right, the group said the vow was “simply the right thing to do”.

Launching the pledge by the banks of the Ngaruroro River in Hawke’s Bay, spokeswoman for the group and Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said the intent behind the commitment was clear. . . 

Swimmable means swimmable:

Agricultural leaders have, for the first time ever in New Zealand, come together to send a strong message to the public.

We are committed to New Zealand’s rivers being swimmable for our children and grandchildren.

DairyNZ chair, Michael Spaans, says “this is a clear message from New Zealand’s farming leaders that we want our rivers to be in a better state than they are now, and agriculture needs to help get them there.

“I have joined my fellow leaders to stand up and say that I want my grandchildren, and one day my great grandchildren, to be able to swim in the same rivers that I did growing up. . . 

Farmers’ river pledge welcomed:

A new pledge by farming leaders to improve the swimmability of New Zealand’s rivers has been welcomed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“This pledge from farming leaders shows the real commitment farmers have to tackling these long term issues,” says Mr Guy.

“Farmers are closer to the land to the land than nearly anyone else, and they care deeply about leaving a good legacy for their children. . . 

Hundreds expected for launch – Sally Rae:

When a book on the history of the Wilden settlement is launched this month, it will also serve as a reunion.

Wilden — The Story of a West Otago Farming Community — has been written by Dunedin man Dr David Keen.

The driving forces behind the project were retired Wilden farmer Bill Gibson, now living in Mosgiel, and Neil Robinson, from Wanaka.

In the late 1860s, the discovery of gold at Switzers, now Waikaia, further sparked West Otago’s development. . . 

Keen advocate of the tri-use sheep – Sally Rae:

Growing up on a sheep and beef farm in Invercargill, Lucy Griffiths and her siblings were not allowed to leave home without  a woollen garment.

The many benefits of wool were drummed into them from an early age, not only as a fibre to wear but also as one to walk on and use in innovative ways.

But somewhere since then, strong wool had “lost its gloss”, and Mrs Griffiths wants to play her part in re-educating consumers about those benefits.

She is one of three new appointments to the board of Wools of New Zealand, a position she felt was a “big mantle of responsibility”. . .

Dispath from NZ no. 3 conflict, collaboration and consensus – Jonathan Baker:

New Zealanders are generally though of as pretty relaxed; but having spent ten days here it’s clear that the current debate around farming is anything but. From the Beehive (NZ’s parliament) to the kitchen tables of farmers, there is a very strong sense of tension. Most I talked to present farmers on one side and ‘townie’ environmental groups on another.

The main cause of the tension is the state of New Zealand’s water quality. This issue has jumped up the public agenda over the last 10 years and is now a pretty substantial issue in the upcoming election. Environmental groups, notably Greenpeace have done much to start this debate and the impact of their ‘dirty dairy’ campaign can even be felt in the UK. . .

My great-grandfather fed 19 people, my grandfather fed 26 people, my father feeds 155 people I will feed 155 and counting . . . embracing technology a family tradition.


Automation answer to artificially high wages

August 22, 2017

NZ First wants a minimum wage of $20 an hour. The party also wants less immigration.

A higher minimum wage and fewer migrants are being promoted by other parties on the left too.

The dangers of that can be seen in the UK where British farms are preparing to work with fewer seasonal workers after Brexit:

The production of strawberries, raspberries and other berries has increased from some 60,000 tonnes a year to over 140,000 tonnes, and these are picked almost entirely by migrant workers from the EU. In 2015 about 85,000 seasonal agricultural workers came to Britain, 30,000 or so of them to pick fruit. As a recent report by Andersons Farm Business Consultants concludes, without EU labour the sector’s recent growth “would not have been possible”.

As Britain prepares to leave the EU and probably end the free movement of workers from the continent, farmers are scrambling to find farm hands. But they are also exploring more rigorously the alternatives to a bountiful supply of cheap labour, such as using more automation and increasing existing workers’ productivity. . .

There is no doubt that farmers are struggling to find workers. There are some Brexit-related reasons for this: the pound has fallen precipitately against the euro; and Britain is now often perceived to be “a xenophobic and unfriendly country”, says John Hardman, a director of one recruiting agency, HOPS Labour Solutions.

But the shortfalls also reflect structural shifts in the EU economy, in particular the rising prosperity, and higher wages, of those countries such as Poland and Romania that have historically supplied workers to Britain. . . 

Alison Capper, who chairs the horticultural board of the National Farmers Union, a lobby group, says that some British farmers are now having to make decisions “as to what to pick and what to leave”. But for now there is unlikely to be a lot of fruit left rotting in the fields. And to forestall such an eventuality, many in the industry have been heeding the government’s advice, to recruit more British workers, automate, or become more efficient—but with very mixed results.

Trying to recruit more British workers has, in the words of Mr Hardman, been a “staggering disaster”. He has managed to get only a handful of Britons out of 12,000 recruits sent to 225 farms. Money is not the main problem. Many farms pay above the minimum wage of £7.50 ($9.65) an hour, and fast pickers can earn up to £12 on piecework. But most Britons seem not to want to move to where the farms are, nor to take up jobs that only last for the season and involve getting up at 5am to work outdoors.

This is not confined to the UK. New Zealand horticulturists have the same problems, though ironically some of the migrants who will do the work here are from the UK.

Robots, on the other hand, are perfectly happy with such conditions, and are getting ever more dexterous at picking hard fruit, if not the squishier sort. Machines to pick strawberries and apples are already in use. They can pick at only about one-third the rate of a human, and farmers reckon that they miss about 15% of the crop. But they can make up for that by working 24 hours a day. They are expensive, though: one of the most popular strawberry-pickers costs about $250,000. Most farmers estimate that their large-scale deployment could still be a decade off.

As more businesses use robots and technology improves the cost will come down.

In the interim, farms have been trying to wring more productivity out of their existing operations. Many have invested in metal tabletops to grow strawberries so that workers can pick them more quickly. Farmers now grow particular strains that produce more fruit over a longer season, such as ever-bearing strawberries. Others are spending more time on training their pickers. One farmer, Harry Hall, says that he has been able to improve his workers’ picking speeds by about 15% this year. Valya, a Bulgarian university student working on his farm in Twyford, 50km west of London, says that whereas she started out picking raspberries at 9kg per hour, after training she can pluck 11kg. . . 

Increased productivity is better for workers, businesses and the wider economy.

But artificially boosting wages through an increase in the minimum wage would add costs to businesses which would be passed on to consumers.

And if immigration is cut the problem will not be how much each worker can do, but how to get the workers who are willing and able to do the work.


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