Rural round-up


Differing water quality rules still an issue – Sally Rae:

Simon Williamson has been re-elected president of North Otago Federated Farmers.

Speaking at the branch’s annual meeting in Oamaru, Mr Williamson, who farms between Omarama and Twizel, said it had been a busy year ”on many fronts”.

It was apparent the two regional councils – Environment Canterbury and the Otago Regional Council – were still taking a very different approach to water quality. . .

Cows make a comeback – Neal Wallace and Mel Croad:

Buyers are chasing breeding cows and heifers in what could be the first sign of a revival in breeding cow numbers.

In-calf heifer and breeding cow fairs across the country in recent weeks have drawn large galleries of buyers paying prices akin to those paid in Australia where the herd was being rebuilt.

Prices for in-calf Angus heifers at Temuka exceeded $2400 a head in early May when a lack of numbers saw two fairs rolled into one. But prices were helped by farmers rebuilding breeding herds. . .

Decision ‘simple arithmetic – Maureen Bisop and John Keast:

They may have suspected it was coming, but the announcement of the proposed closure of Silver Fern Farm’s Fairton plant in Ashburton was still devastating for many of the 370 workers set to lose their jobs.

The proposal to close the 125-year-old plant was put to staff at a meeting in Ashburton last Wednesday. A two-week consultation period was to follow, although if there was significant feedback that this was too short or too long, that would be considered. It was hoped to have a final decision on May 31.

Most workers already knew the future of the plant was uncertain. The seasons were shorter and there was an ever dwindling supply of lambs. . .

NZ Binxi builds 20% stake in Blue Sky Meats, may revisit takeover after getting OIO sign-off – Rebecca Howard:

China’s Heilongjiang Binxi Cattle Industry Co won’t rule out revisiting its takeover of Invercargill meat processor Blue Sky Meats now that the deal has Overseas Investment Office approval, having abandoned the bid in March when the OIO process missed a deadline.

“We don’t have any fixed position on what our next steps will be,” Richard Thorp, chief operating officer of Binxi Cattle’s local unit NZ Binxi (Oamaru) Foods, told BusinessDesk after the OIO gave the deal a greenlight this week. . .

Principals fear visa change – John Lewis:

Proposed changes to New Zealand’s essential skills visa could result in some small rural Otago schools closing, principals say.
Many parents working in the region’s dairy industry are migrants, and their children make up a significant percentage of rural school rolls.

The proposed changes will limit essential skills visas to one year, and after a maximum of three years, immigrants would have to leave New Zealand for at least 12 months before applying for another work visa. . .

Honoured for advocacy role – Nicole Sharp:

Doug Fraser is a name well-known in the farming circle.
Dedicated to the sector and the people who work in it, for a long time Mr Fraser has been a strong voice in Federated Farmers.

His behind-the-scenes work and advocating for farmers was recognised recently at the Southland Federated Farmers AGM, when Mr Fraser was awarded life membership.

Former Federated Farmers president Don Nicholson presented Mr Fraser with the award, speaking of his time working with Mr Fraser. . .

Health hub has 25 exhibitors – Annette Scott:

Getting like-minded health organisations together to change how rural people think about health has been the driver for the inaugural Fieldays Health Hub.

Health issues affecting rural communities would be the focus as a whole host of relevant health professionals and organisations delivered interactive health care of the future messages, Mobile Health chief executive Mark Eager said. . .


Fed Farmers gets rates relief for Invercargill cockies


Who do you call when your rates double without warning?

Invercargill cockies called Federated Farmers and they’ve negotiated a change in the city council policy

Federated Farmers is praising Invercargill City Council for listening to farmers in order to crack a rates impasse that had soured relations between farmers and the City Council.  The changes will mean an average saving of around $3,000 per farm from 2010 compared to 2009.

“Both Doug Fraser, Federated Farmers Southland local government spokesperson, and I worked with 70 farmers and Federated Farmers staff to lobby Council to realign its rating policy,” says David Rose, Federated Farmers associate spokesperson for local government.

“The rating burden on Invercargill farmers just doubled in 2009 without any warning and I suspect this took even the City Council by surprise.

“Thanks to the hard work and facts-based lobbying of Federated Farmers, we’re able to celebrate Council officially announcing that it will take farm rates back to a more historic level.  This means the rates that farmers paid last year will roughly halve and this is great news.

“I believed that this rights last year’s wrong.  I am full of praise that the Council is honourably admitting that last year’s rating levels were wrong and it’s a big positive that we can build the relationship between the Council and Federated Farmers.

“It demonstrates the constructive role that Federated Farmers plays for New Zealand’s farmers and proves that honest dialogue achieves results.

“Federated Farmers is now working with the Invercargill City Council to review funding policy, which Council has committed to do and this prospect is exciting.  We are looking to align the rates that farmers pay with the services that they receive. 

“However, for now, we’re celebrating this success and genuinely thank Invercargill City Council for listening and understanding our concerns,” Mr Rose concluded.  

Federated Farmers’ role as an advocate for farmers and the wider rural community is an even more important one now that New Zealand is increasingly urbanised.

I hope the farmers who benefit from this decision, and others elsewhere who might need the organisation’s help one day, recognise that and support the organisation which supports us.

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