Rural round-up

18/04/2020

Northland drought: No feed, no water and coronavirus increases farmers’ stress – Denise Piper:

“Extreme” drought conditions in Northland are being called the worst for decades and have left farms with no stock food and with their water sources drying up.

In Northland, where little rain has fallen, more farmers are asking for help, said Julie Jonker, co-ordinator of Northland Rural Support Trust. 

“There is quite a lot of stress out there,” she said.

Many Northland farmers have already used all of their winter supplementary feed and alternatives, like palm kernel, are expensive and hard to source. . . 

Dairy farmers dry cows off early as tough winter nears :

Tight feed supplies and ongoing drought are forcing some dairy farmers across the country to dry off earlier than usual.

Fonterra Farm Source director Richard Allen estimates that about 13 percent of farmers have dried off by mid-April compared to 8 percent at the same time last season.

Last month, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor declared a large-scale adverse event in the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chathams. The worst-hit region, Northland is still holding out for decent rainfall. . . 

Freshwater 2020 – working towards improved outcomes balancing the environment with community and economic needs:

IrrigationNZ commends the work that has gone into the Freshwater 2020 report released today, and recognises this data helps towards providing certainty of where we need to head.

IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal says, “Freshwater and related ecosystems are very complex, and as the report says, data gaps do remain. However, it is helpful for farmers to see where their improvements are working, and where further work is required.”

IrrigationNZ notes some positive trends emerging from the report for example: . . 

Puketoro Station — village in a bubble – Leigh McNeil:

Puketoro Station, inland from Tokomaru Bay, has been in lockdown for three weeks now under the Covid-19 rules, and it’s the same as every other farm in New Zealand — business as usual.

But what makes Puketoro slightly different from most farms is that there are 19 people in the station “bubble”.

So the McNeil Farming operation is a tiny village on its own, and in typical village fashion, the residents range in age from four months to Goldcard-holders.

The bulk of the shepherds are under 25 years old, so it’s been somewhat of a tough call for them to stay put for four weekends in a row. . . 

 

California farmer ploughs under lettuce after coronavirus shutters restaurant market – Mike Blake and Christopher Walljasper:

HOLTVILLE, Calif. (Reuters) – There should be tractors rumbling across Jack Vessey’s ranch, pulling wagons full of fresh-cut romaine lettuce to be packed and shipped to restaurants and grocery stores across the United States.

Instead, as the coronavirus outbreak upends the nation’s food distribution network, a tractor and plow destroyed rows and rows of green produce on Wednesday.

“You put your blood, sweat and tears into a crop,” said Vessey, president of Holtville, California-based Vessey and Company, Inc. “To just disc it into the ground: It’s painful.” . .

Digital initiative keeps Northland farmers connected during lockdown:

Northland farmers are embracing the digital age as they respond to the dual challenge of the Covid-19 lockdown and the region’s severe drought conditions.

Extension 350 (E350), Northland Inc’s award-winning farmer-led and farmer-focused programme, is driving a digital initiative, which includes pilot video interviews with farmers, called “What’s on your mind?”, accessible via the programme’s YouTube channel.

The interview format encourages the farmers to share their thoughts on issues impacting their businesses, what specifically prompted these thoughts, and the process they expect to follow in developing and implementing responses to protect or enhance their businesses. . .


Rural round-up

30/12/2019

Everyone wants clean water, it’s time for David Parker to tell us how much it will cost – Todd Muller:

New Zealanders have a natural affinity with our water.

Whether that be swimming at the beach in the beautiful Bay of Plenty, kayaking on a West Coast river, or pulling in a snapper on the Hauraki Gulf to take home for the family dinner.

There is no argument that Kiwis want clean and healthy waterways where we can swim, surf and fish.

Nobody wants to see plastic in our oceans, polluted rivers or septic beaches that are unable to be used. . . 

Rising demand for avocados could threaten water levels in Aupōuri, Northland – Denise Piper:

An insatiable appetite for avocados could threaten both water quality and land stability in New Zealand’s Far North, according to locals.

Residents of Aupōuri Peninsula fear water levels in the unique aquifer under their land could drop so much that salt water runs in, wetlands run dry or the ground above the aquifer subsides, due to requests to take massive amounts of water needed to feed orchards.

But orchardists say they have to trust the science of specialised hydrologists, who calculate the water being taken as just a fraction of what flows into the aquifer each year. . .

‘Getting naked to show bravery’: Reporoa community calendar with a twist – Caroline Fleming:

After a spate of suicides in the rural Bay of Plenty community of Reporoa, young farmers have stood up and stripped off to say ‘enough is enough’.

Over the years, the small community has been rattled by a number of youth suicides. Just a couple of months ago, another young farmer is believed to have taken their life.

“Everyone was hit really hard,” said Reporoa Young Farmers events coordinator Laura Pulman.

At the time, lots of the community relied on the Rural Support Trust, a national support service for farmers, to talk through the pain. . . .

Fonterra’s year by the numbers:”

It’s that time of year when we take a look back at the highlights that helped make 2019 what it was before turning the page to 2020.

Just like Santa, Fonterra has been keeping a list. Instead of who’s been naughty or nice, we’ve published a list of some of the things in 2019 we’ve been up to as the year (and decade) wraps up.

A massive thanks to our farmers, employees and communities for helping make this happen. . .

$100k annual cost for dairy farmers:

Dairy facial eczema (FE) can cost farmers at least $100,000 each year in lost milk production, a recent study has found.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund is supporting the Facial Eczema Action Group – made up of veterinarians, dairy farmers and rural professionals – to explore ways of raising awareness of FE so that more farmers take preventative action.

Many cows don’t show clinical signs of FE. As a result, farmers often don’t know why milk loss is happening and end up drying off their cows early. . .

NFU urges MPs to support British farming as Brexit looms:

The NFU has met with MPs and urged them to support British farming as the UK looks likely to leave the EU by the end of January.

The union held one of its first receptions for politicians since the general election last week.

MPs were told to recognise the importance of Britain’s farming standards and ensure they are not sacrificed by the UK’s future trade policy. . .


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