Rural round-up

28/08/2019

Stressed southern farmers get help – Neal Wallace:

Agriculture leaders are scrambling to support Southland farmers struggling to deal with the seasonal pressures accentuated by a media campaign questioning their winter grazing management and animal welfare.

Southland Rural Support Trust chairwoman Cathie Cotter says the campaign has added to the seasonal stress of calving and lambing and a wet, cold latter part of winter.

“We are very concerned for farmers.  . . 

Not Just A Southland Issue — August 2019 – dairymanNZ:

Last week the Minister of Agriculture announced the members of his taskforce that will investigate the practice of wintering cow on crop in Southland, their brief being to “do a stocktake of the multiple initiatives that are already underway to promote good winter grazing practices and identify why those are not currently working for all.”

The issue has of course been brought to a head by environmental campaigners in Southland releasing drone footage of cows up to their hocks in mud along with pictures of cows calving in similar conditions.

The reaction from farmers on twitter has been starkly divided; Southland farmers believe it is an issue for their region to tackle without interference from central government or advice from outside experts, let alone from the lone environmentalist appointed to the taskforce. They are not interested in the opinions of non-farming urbanites whose only experience with wet weather grazing was that one time they got caught in the rain during a picnic.  . . 

Eagerly grabbing their chances – Neal Wallace:

Blair and Jane Smith freely admit to having their share of good fortune as they embark on their farming careers but that doesn’t mean they are resting on their laurels. Neal Wallace reports.

It might be a cliche that business success is all about opportunities but that is the reality for North Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith.

In 2008 as they were in the process of taking over Jane’s family farm neighbours Bruce and Fay McNab invited them to look over their hill property.

Blair says they initially had no idea why they got the invitation but the farm was for sale and the McNabs viewed them as potential owners. . . 

 

Beefing up women’s voices :

Ten years ago Lindy Nelson was wondering why rural women weren’t more visible as decision-makers around the table in the boardroom or even in their own farm kitchens.

She did some research and decided to take the bull by the horns, setting up an organisation to give them a bigger voice.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust was born and now trains and supports hundreds of women – and now men too – to make change in New Zealand’s primary sector and in rural communities. . .

Battery-powered tractors still a long way off – Mark Daniel:

The likelihood of electric or hybrid powered farm tractors still appears a long way off.

The German news site Top Agrar says research by Fendt indicates that the energy density of currently available batteries would not suit high horsepower prime movers.

Fendt director of research, development and purchasing, Heribert Reiter, says tractors up to 68hp (50kW) can typically use batteries to run for one to four hours depending on the task. . . 

‘Widespread support’ for advance parties – Trevor Walton:

They sound as if they are small military detachments charged with reconnaissance, but in the case of the deer industry’s advance parties (AP) they are in fact the main body of the army.

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) Passion2Profit manager Innes Moffat said there were now 29 advance parties, involving 352 of the industry’s 1200 or so commercial deer farms and more than 30% of the industry’s deer.

”There are eight APs operating across Otago and Southland, catering for farmers in different districts and with different interests,” Mr Moffat said.

”For example there are environment APs in Central Otago and Southland; an AP catering for farmers who specialise in elk/wapiti; and a data group in Southland working on a short term project. . . 


It’s Not What You Say …

25/06/2008

Comments by Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Frank Brenmuhl on the right of  farmers to continue to produce food as an election issue might win support from other farmers but the way he says won’t win friends anywhere else.

Dairy farmers were being held responsible for greenhouse gas emissions that the could do little about without reducing food production, he said.

“This election is about … the right of farmers to continue to produce food for the world and revenue for this nation”.

It may be for the minority who are farmers, but I suspect it’s not for most other people.

He said dairy farmers were being attacked because they are:

* paid the world price for much-needed food;

* seen as privileged for owning dairy farms;

* using water and resources they own to produce food;

* not subsidising the cost of dairy products in NZ supermarkets.

But he questioned how New Zealanders expected to be able to afford to import nearly 60 percent of their food, electronic appliances, vehicles and other consumer goods, if there was no farm produce to sell.

“As a trading nation we have to sell stuff in order to buy stuff,” he said. “What part of this do they not understand?”

Townies should not expect dairy farmers to donate $15 million so that the price of dairy foods sold in NZ can be reduced.

“They want … and they want … but they do not want to pay.” he said.

“Why should farmers have to be better than, more considerate than, more accountable than the rest of New Zealanders?” Mr Brenmuhl said.

“Am I ashamed of success? Not one bit. It is what is desperately needed for New Zealanders to be better off”.

The physical resources that farmers used to produce food did not belong to the Crown, non-government organisations, or to the politicians.

“The land we own is ours for as long as we choose to own it, unless it is stolen by the state,” he said.

 This has already got a negative reaction in a comment on No Minister:

Psycho Milt said…

So for Federated Farmers, this election is about the absolute right of farmers to wreck the environment if there’s increased profit in it for them? And the rest of us don’t get a say in whether our countryside gets turned to shit or not? OK, got that. I’ll be voting Green after all, then.

Of course that isn’t what Feds or Brenmuhl is saying – but the way that he said it provides fuel for those who don’t understand farmers and farmers; and those who believe the green-wash about dirty dairying.

A recent Lincoln University survey  found farming is percieved as contributing more to water pollution than sewage or storm water run-off.

Nearly half the respondents cited farming as one of the main causes of water degradation, followed by sewage and stormwater runoff – the first time those factors had been relegated to second place.

In the previous survey, done in 2004, only about one-quarter of respondents had blamed farming for poor water quality.

Federated Farmers environment spokesman Bruce McNab said many farmers used their streams for household water supplies, so they would not knowingly pollute them.

He said cows were viewed as the enemy of the environment, but noted the increased pressure for food production. The notion that farmers did not care for the environment was not true, he said.

But unfortunately Brenmuhl’s comments only add to the perception that most farmers don’t care for the environment. That perception not only makes it difficult for farmers in New Zealand, it could seriously undermine our reputation in international markets.


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