Rural round-up


Storm reminiscent of 2010 mega-storm that killed hundreds of thousands of lambs, say Fed Farmers – Bonnie Flaws & Rachael Kelly:

Farmers in the Otago and Southland regions of the South Island say any lambs born overnight on Monday could not have survived.

Federated Farmers Southland vice-president Bernadette Hunt said it was beginning to look a lot like 2010, when a nasty storm followed by days of rain left an estimated 250,000 to one million lambs dead.

“Before this event started, the province was already wet, now there’s this ongoing event with snow and wind, and there’s a wet forecast to follow.

“Farmers were well-prepared, but as this drags on, the sheltered areas are turning to mud, making conditions awful for lambs and ewes. Coupled with the windchill, this is tough even on lambs that are several days old, and on ewes whose milk production will be affected,” she said. . . 

Think rural mental health while drafting policies – Sudesh Kissun:

The effects of government policies on rural communities and farmer wellbeing must be considered when drafting them, says Federated Farmers dairy section chair Wayne Langford.

“As we move from a quantity to quality form of agriculture, having a clear mind is key and will result in amazing increases in productivity, profitability and passion for farming,” he told Dairy News.

Langford made the comments to mark the Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand last week. He joined other sector leaders in urging rural mental health to be a priority.

Langford, who farms in Golden Bay, says mental health support for farmers and others working in agriculture has improved immensely over the last ten years. However, he says there is an opportunity to increase training through inter-personal skills and personality profiling. . . 

Tough times called for tough decisions – Sudesh Kissun:

Retiring Fonterra chairman John Monaghan steps down from the cooperative’s board, satisfied at leaving behind a business in good stead.

Monaghan took over as chairman in July 2018, right in the middle of Fonterra’s financial struggles and just months before the departure of then-chief executive Theo Spierings.

After two years of financial losses, Fonterra this month announced a $659 million annual profit, turning around a $605m loss the previous year.

Regarded as a safe pair of hands, Monaghan –backed by a management team led by chief executive Miles Hurrell – steered the co-op back to profitability.

Complex family legacy – and name – continued on farm – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Scottish lairds and ladies, ancient deeds, unimaginable wealth, the slave trade.

The Glassford family history reads like an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, the British genealogy documentary series on the BBC.

Central Otago farmer Antony William Gordon Glassford chuckles at the suggestion that his descent from a Scottish tobacco lord could make him “Tony the Toff”. No silk frockcoats for this fifth-generation New Zealander, who farms near Omakau.

Tony Glassford’s family have farmed Dougalston, the name taken from his ancestors’ long vanished Scottish estate, at Drybread for 156 years. They have been recognised twice in the Century Farm Awards, which is given to properties in continuous ownership for 100 years, or in their case for more than 150 years. . . 

FarmIQ appoints chief executive officer:

FarmIQ is pleased to announce the appointment of Will Noble in the role of Chief Executive Officer, starting in late September 2020.

Mr Noble is an experienced strategic and operational leader. He is a strong all-rounder with a background in a range of areas such as digital, software-as-a-service, niche market, management consulting, advisory, and project management. His most recent role was as the Client Services Director at Fujitsu New Zealand.

FarmIQ’s Chairman John Quirk says, “Mr Noble is a customer-orientated New Zealand business leader with an entrepreneurial spirit and solutions-focused approach. Will has demonstrated he can transform organisations to achieve growth in complex environments through a focus on innovation, customers and his team. . . 

Farmers warned to check fuel tanks after driver seriously injured:

Farmers are being warned that poorly maintained tripod tanks are a serious health and safety risk to fuel users.

The safety alert from the Fuel Distributors Industry Safety Committee and WorkSafe New Zealand follows a recent incident where a fuel tanker driver was seriously injured on a farm where a tripod overhead tank collapsed while he was filling it.

The root cause of the collapse was significant rust corrosion on one of the tank legs. Farm implements close to the tank also contributed to the driver’s injuries.

“No farmer wants to be responsible for an incident like this happening on their farm,” says Al McCone, WorkSafe Agriculture Lead. . .

One Plan biggest threat to farming


A report on the economic impact of Horizon Council’s One Plan says it is the biggest threat facing farming.

. . . The 44-page report, just released, is the last in a series on key economic sectors commissioned by Palmerston North City and Manawatu District councils to highlight their importance to the local region.

The report, prepared by Massey University economics student Carla Muller, highlights the importance of agriculture to the rural community and to Palmerston North. It says in 2011 agriculture directly contributed $268 million to the region and indirectly $80 million. The report estimates agriculture accounts for 25% of Manawatu district’s GDP and 1.5% of Palmerston North’s GDP. On average, every dairy herd in the region has a return (before tax) of $139,519; sheep and beef farms return, before tax, $213,841.

But the report singles out One Plan as the biggest threat to farming in the region, saying it will have a potentially large impact on “farming practices and the farming landscape”. It goes on to say that it’s hard to quantify the exact impact until the court issues are resolved.

Palmerston North mayor Jono Naylor (pictured)  told Rural News his greatest concern about One Plan is the lack of resolution of the issues involved. With agriculture such a big part of the region’s economy it’s important concerns over viability and productivity are quickly resolved, he says.

“I think agriculture is taken for granted by a lot of New Zealanders. I don’t think a lot of people realise that the lifestyle we live today in the cities is on the back of the work done on farms. It’s a huge part of our economy and the rest of us re-circulate the money [farmers] generate.”

Naylor says the multiplier effect in Manawatu region from agriculture is big. “There is the direct impact from the farmers and the money they spend, which then generates jobs in the industries servicing the agricultural sector – education in agriculture, research institutions, and a lot of our manufacturing.” . . .

The challenge to councils and farmers is to come up with a plan and farming practices which ensure water quality is at an acceptable standard without compromising the viability of businesses which make such an important economic contribution to the region, and the country.

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