Too much weather

December 3, 2014

Southern contractors are struggling in wet and cold weather:

The dreadfully wet season being experienced in the southern part of the country is leaving many rural contractors and farmers under huge pressure and stress, claims Rural Contractors NZ.

 RCNZ vice president and Southland-based contractor David Kean says there are reports of contractors not being able to get work done, struggling with their finances and some having to lay staff off.

“Many contractors are really feeling it and the stress is starting to tell on both them and their businesses. Our advice is simple: ask for help and talk to the appropriate agencies before things get out of hand,” he explains.

Meanwhile, there’s the opposite problem in Canterbury – which has had lots of strong, cold Norwest winds and very little rain over the past couple of months – meaning there is very little work to do now after a busy start to the season. 

Mr Kean says if rural contractors are struggling to pay bills and/or staff they should be in contact with both Work and Income NZ and the IRD for assistance and advice.

“It is far better for people to be proactive; admit they have issues to deal with and seek the appropriate help – rather than just bottling it up or letting any problems get out of hand.

“Both IRD and WINZ are there to provide help in these kinds of situations and they have the people and expertise to offer advice and assistance.”

Mr Kean says Rural Contractors NZ is also there to help members and to act as support network for contractors who are feeling under pressure.

“However, we are not experts in financial matters or if people are coming under mental duress,” he adds.

“We are telling people they should be talking with their accountants and financial advisors about their business and with their families and medical professionals if they are under pressure themselves.”

The chair of the Rural Health Alliance Aoteoroa NZ (RHAANZ) Dr Jo Scott-Jones agrees.

“We know rural people tend to delay seeking help until they can no longer work, but it is true that a ‘stitch in time saves nine’”, Dr Scott-Jones says.  “Talking to a GP or practice nurse about stress seems to cause people difficulty. But anyone in this situation should know it is never as hard as you think and the benefits that flow from sharing some of the burden and talking through the way you feel can be enormous.”  

 Mr Kean adds that talking with professionals, as well as family and friends is an important step in getting the proper advice and help – when and where it is needed.

“Farmers also need to be aware of the pressure contractors are under and have to be realistic about getting work done,” he adds. “The last couple of months have been so wet that even if the weather cleared today it is going to take a long time to clear the back log of work and get everyone caught up again.”

Further north it was too wet in winter and now it’s too dry:

Weeks of persistent wind with little rain are putting farmers on edge in eastern areas of the country, from Gisborne to Canterbury.

Federated Farmers Gisborne Wairoa president Sandra Faulkner said soil moisture levels in that region were well down on normal for the time of year. . .

We didn’t really have a summer last year then had a very wet start to winter but we’ve had little significant rain since July and there’s all the signs of a looming drought.

That doesn’t mean we’re having good weather, it’s still cold which is slowing pasture growth and potato crops.

In contrast, a wet winter, less sunlight and cooler temperatures are being blamed for hampering potato crops and creating a shortage of the vegetable.

Potatoes New Zealand said there was more demand than growers could supply and that was having a flow on effect on companies such as potato chip processors.

Chief executive Champak Mehta said none of the previous season’s crops were left in storage and the new season’s potatoes were taking longer to hit the shelves. . .

North Otago is justly famed for its new potatoes but picking started only a week or so ago.

We didn’t plant ours in the garden until after labour weekend and they’re still a good couple of weeks ago from giving us anything to pick.

But I bought a box of Rare Earth  Jersey Bennes at the Oamaru Farmers’ Market on Sunday – they were delicious.


Rural round-up

June 30, 2014

Rustling needs to be a specific offence:

Federated Farmers is asking political parties to develop policies to tackle the scourge of stock theft better known as rustling.

“We know stock theft or rustling has been estimated to cost the farming community some $120 million each year,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson.

“In recent weeks we’ve seen a lifestyler raided for breeding ewes in Waikato and over 200 sheep despicably shot in Otago.

“We’ve got to ask if the penalties imposed are serious enough to be a deterrent for either rustling or poaching. Based on our experience to date they are not. . .

Behaviour is the root cause of meat industry’s problems – Allan Barber:

I am not completely sure why we spend so much time and effort complaining about the meat industry or which problems we are trying to solve. However in the interests of encouraging progress and stimulating debate, I will try to define the problem: this appears to be that the meat processing and export sector is not profitable enough, whether in absolute terms or in comparison to dairy. Both may be true.

It is worth stating the unique challenges of the red meat sector up front. First, there is a market at both ends of the chain, procurement and sale of the products; second, New Zealand exports a higher percentage of its production than any other country which must travel further to reach its markets, not all of them equally buoyant; third, sheep and beef must be disassembled into multiple cuts of meat as well as many co-products, all of which are sold into a wide range of markets for variable returns; fourth the climate dictates when the grass will grow and livestock will be ready for slaughter; and last, but not least, the producer can choose when and where to send the livestock for slaughter except in a drought. . .

The recipe for future success:

Blue Sky Meats and its suppliers will be relieved the company is back in black after two challenging years.

The return to profitability – a $1.946 million after-tax profit for the year to March – came on the back of the only two losses in the Southland-based company’s 28-year history.

It has been a much better year for meat companies. Along with Blue Sky – and Lean Meats – the two big co-operatives, Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms, who both report late in the year, have signalled profitable years. . .

Dairy recovery anticipated – by Christmas – Sally Rae:

Dairy commodity prices are predicted to stay in a trough period for another three to six months.

Speaking at the recent South Island Dairy Event in Invercargill, Rabobank’s director of dairy research for New Zealand and Asia, Hayley Moynihan, said it could be Christmas before there was a more sustained recovery in commodity prices.

It would be a ”reasonably prolonged” trough, as inventories were worked through and an additional seven billion litres of milk available on the world market in the first half of 2014 took time to ”find a home”. . .

Focus on consumers behind Pasture to Plate success – Sally Rae:

King Country farmer William Oliver’s belief in the consumer stemmed from his time studying at the University of Otago.

Mr Oliver and his wife Karen were the overall winners of the Silver Fern Farms’ Pasture to Plate Award.

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett said the couple impressed the judges with their focus on the consumer. . . .

Simpler pesticide rules on the way:

The Environmental Protection Authority is aiming to simplify the rules covering pesticides and other hazardous substances.

The authority is marking its third anniversary as the country’s environmental regulator after being created from three agencies – the Environmental Risk Management Authority, the Ministry for the Environment and the Economic Development Ministry.

EPA chief executive Rob Forlong said one of its big achievements has been a wide ranging review of organophosphate chemicals, which resulted in controls on some pesticides being tightened and others phased out. . .

Final countdown for Ultimate Rural Challenge:

The showcase event of the rural calendar is only three days away!

The 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final begins this Thursday 3 July, 4.30pm with the Official Opening at Lincoln University Library. Here, the top seven contestants will be introduced to the public and compete in their first head-to-head challenge.

The competition over the following two days is a testament to the sophistication of modern farming and level of skill and knowledge required to be successful in the field. The top seven young farmers have made it through to the Grand Final by competing in their local district competition and taking first place in their Regional Finals.  . .

Successful annual conference for Rural Contractors NZ:

More than 100 agricultural contractors from all over the country met in New Plymouth, last week, for Rural Contractors New Zealand’s (RCNZ) annual conference.

Rural Contractors New Zealand is the only national association for rural contractors in New Zealand.

Last week’s conference saw Wellsford-based Steve Levet re-elected as president of RCNZ, with Southland’s David Kean re-elected vice-president. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 1, 2013

All of market’s wants required – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s red meat industry needs to have the ”whole package” when it comes to market presence, robust systems, strong relationships and corporate respect.

That was one of the findings of Five Forks couple Blair and Jane Smith, the supreme winners of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, after a 16-day study tour of specific primary industry markets in Korea, Taiwan and China. . . .

Agriculture begging for graduates – Kashka Tunstall:

It ranks as New Zealand’s most productive, innovative sector.

Entry level positions get an annual pay packet of $55,000, roughly 40 per cent more than the average arts graduate entering the workforce will earn.

Progression is a given and, with shortages in the field internationally, graduates end up having a global career.

The problem is, no one wants to study it.

Agriculture, which John Key has called the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, is an industry with massive growth potential. . .

Couple top Kiwi green farmers – Gerald Piddock:

Craige and Roz Mackenzie have been recognised as the country’s top environmental farmers after being named national winners of the 2013 Farm Environment Awards.

They received the Gordon Stephenson Trophy in front of 400 guests at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on Saturday night.

The winner is recognised as an ambassador for the promotion of sustainable and profitable farming in New Zealand.

The event celebrated the contribution agriculture made to the New Zealand economy and highlighted the efforts farmers had made to find better ways to manage their farming systems.

The trophy is presented annually and is named after the Waikato farmer who started the farm environment awards. . .

Family mill does more than lumber along – Sally Rae:

Sawmilling has always been a passion for Roger Stuart.

Unsurprisingly, it was all he wanted to do when he left school, given the family connection with the timber industry.

Stuart Timber, at Tapanui, which he now manages, was established in 1980 by the Stuart family and remains a real family business.

”Sawmilling is definitely in the veins of the Stuart crew, no doubt about that,” he mused recently. . .

New president for Rural Contractors NZ:

Wellsford-based agricultural contractor Steve Levet is the new head of the Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ).

Rural Contractors New Zealand is the only national association for rural contractors in New Zealand.

Mr Levet was elected president of the association at its annual conference, held in Cromwell in late June, taking over from John Hughes who stood down after four years in the role. Southland’s David Kean was elected vice-president. . .

 

UK’s top end supermarket keen on HB red wine:

Hawke’s Bay’s “exciting” wines and the “clean living” image of this region fits the “aspirational ideals” of the customers of Waitrose, UK’s leading top end supermarket, according to its New Zealand wine buyer Matt Smith, who was here on a scouting mission to find new wines to stock the shelves.

It was Mr Smith’s second visit to the region and he was excited by the opportunity he saw for Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet blends. He described the wines he tasted as being “impressive” food focused wines that had benefited from more sun and warmth than competing wines from around the world. . . .


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