Rural round-up

03/10/2020

Green bureaucrats pushing our farmers to the brink – Nick Cater:

While it would be foolish to judge a movie by its trailer, the Australian-made feature film Rams is looking like a parable for our times. It is a battle between bureaucrats and two honest, hardworking farmers played by Sam Neill and Michael Caton, heavily disguised behind beards.

When inspectors discover a single sick ram they respond by seizing every sheep in the valley. Neill and Caton resist by hiding their breeding stock in their homes, covering their tracks with copious quantities of air freshener.

Let’s hope it ends happily, unlike in real life, when a farmer caught in the sights of the farming police is generally on a hiding to nothing.

Late last year the National Farmers Federation set the laudable goal of increasing the value of farm production from about $60bn a year to $100bn a year by 2030. Good luck. The regulators and their enforcers have other ideas. Their intention is to limit the expansion of farming and, if possible, force it into retreat, turning farmers from food producers into unpaid stewards of native trees and grasses. . . 

Big costs for freshwater compliance – Neal Wallace:

Meeting new freshwater regulations will cost landowners $900 million and another $140m a year in annual compliance costs and loss of profits.

Farmers Weekly has collated forecast costs from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) in the Action for Healthy Waterways policy, which variously came into force from September 3.

Fencing 32,000km of waterways to meet new stock exclusion, regulations will cost farmers $773m, while the loss of production on the 19,000ha lost from the three-metre riparian setback is estimated at a further $17m.

The MfE calculates fencing costs at $5/m for dairy, $14/m for sheep and beef and $20/m for deer. . . 

Crown land limits harm NZ branding – Philip Todhunter:

“Our primary sector is such a huge part of our economy and our brand.”

So said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on July 7, announcing the launch of a plan to help farmers “to fetch more value, create more jobs and bolster our green reputation”.

Sixteen days later, her Land Information Minister introduced a Bill that threatens the economic future of a collection of farms that embody Brand New Zealand; compromises the ability of those farms to provide the raw materials that underpin some truly global labels; and puts at risk the long-term environmental wellbeing of the land it is supposed to protect.

A week, as they say, is a long time in politics.

Currently, 1.2million hectares of the South Island comes under the Crown Pastoral Lease regime. These are not the type of leases that cover a house or commercial building: while they have 33-year terms, they are perpetually renewable, meaning the leaseholder enjoys exclusive possession of the land indefinitely. . . 

Proud to reach 30 year milestone – Mary-Jo Tohill:

On Christmas Eve 1989, two Earnscleugh orchardists walked into an Alexandra lawyer’s office — and walked out with an irrigation scheme.

There were two key players in ‘Team Tony’; Tony Banks, the 2016 recipient of the Ron Cocks Memorial award for outstanding leadership in the irrigation industry, and Earnscleugh Irrigation Company managing director Tony Lepper.

These were the days when landowners were promised a new, fully piped irrigation scheme, through the Clutha Development (Clyde Dam) Empowering Act 1982, and when the Government was divesting itself of irrigation schemes.

“By 1986, $21million was touted for an Earnscleugh upgrade, but the settlers [the landowners] said they couldn’t afford $677 per hectare,” Mr Lepper said. . . 

Spring surprise – Neal Wallace:

A rapid thaw has eased the worst effects of this week’s storm, which blanketed much of Otago and Southland in snow and caused lamb losses described by some farmers as the worst ever.

Actual losses will not be known until tailing, but Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young expects the storm will reduce his lambing percentage by 5%.

His Cattle Fat Station property is in the area hit by the heaviest snow, which encompasses Waikaka, Waikaia and West Otago hill country areas, where lambing was under way.

Coastal South Otago and the southeast corner of Southland were also hit hard. . . 

Gutsy fight: Livestock agent Mike Wilson shares his story of survival to help save others in the bush – Lucy Kinbacher:

Most people know Mike Wilson as the bloke at the bull sale with a pen in his hand and notepad in his back pocket.

He takes a seat on the bottom row of the grandstand, a strategic position where the auctioneer can see his subtle, yet impactful bids.

There’s a couple of buyers cards wedged inside his catalogue and he wears a vest, even when the weather is a little warm.

On the outside you’d hardly think there was anything different with the 70-year-old livestock agent. . . 


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