Rural round-up

15/12/2013

Couple forced off farm so it can be flooded for breeding birds, under EU rules: Miranda Prynne:

A couple have been forced off the land they have farmed for 30 years and planned to pass on to their sons so it can be flooded for breeding birds under EU laws.

Former Army officer Kenneth Hicks said he and his wife Deidre have been told they must leave the 60-acre estate by Eurocrats who put the “rights of birds above humans”.

The couple wanted to pass Harbour Farm (above), in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, on to their three sons when they took retirement.

But now they claim they are being forced to move “with a gun to their heads” so the RSPB can take over the plot to boost endangered bird populations. . .

Tensions rise as farmers wait on repairs – Tim Cronshaw:

The worst of the irrigators wrecked by the September windstorm have needed $500,000 worth of repairs, and as many as 15 Canterbury farmers are reaching desperation point waiting for expensive parts to arrive from overseas.

Irrigator crews working overtime believe they will have more than 80 per cent of the repairs off their books by Christmas, with one company having finished only 60 per cent.

Some of the worst-hit arable farmers remain without irrigator access to water their crops, and the last of the corner arm repairs may take until March to complete.

Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis said most companies were confident they would have most of the repairs finished within the next few weeks. . .

Crushed finger leads to vibrating post driver – Penny Wardle:

A Marlborough contractor has invented a safe way of driving vineyard posts into the ground.

John Weatherall said losing his right index finger when it was crushed by a hammer-driver got him thinking about safer ways of doing the job.

“I was holding the post while operating the driver when the top 300mm was crushed with my finger amongst it,” Weatherall said.

Five years and many refinements later he has a vibrating-press driver he is happy with, developed with Hamilton’s Machinery Ltd of Rapaura near Blenheim. . .

Maximum capacity – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra has reached capacity from its mix of processing facilities, resulting in the milk price being pegged and the dividend forecast slashed.

It cannot take any more advantage from soaring world milk powder prices, driven by demand from China.

Farmers’ expectations of a boomer season have been tempered and those of investors dashed.

Despite widespread anticipation of another large increase, fuelled in part by competitors that process solely with powder driers, Fonterra held its forecast milk price last week at a record $8.30 a kilogram. . .

Follow the journey of a Christmas tree – Laura Moss:

What happens to the tree before it reaches your house? Modern Christmas tree farms are often large-scale operations with thousands of employees — and one farm in Oregon even has helicopter pilots.

early 30 million Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. each year, and while they appear in our homes only briefly, growing them is a full-time, year-round task.
 
Large-scale Christmas tree farms like Oregon’s Noble Mountain Tree Farm are massive operations that employ thousands of workers.
 
They’re designed to be efficient, and they rely on both old-fashioned human labor and modern technology.
 
While trees are planted and tended by hand at Noble Mountain, the harvesting process involves helicopters flown by skilled pilots whose speed and precision recently took the Internet by storm in a viral video. . .

Half of Kerry farmers over-claim for payments – Anne Lucey and Stephen Cadogan:

Farmers are required to exclude from their annual payment application all ineligible features, such as buildings, farmyards, scrub, roadways, forests, and lakes.

The Government has this year been able to use the latest crystal-clear satellite technology to take thousands of images of farmers’ land to check how much of the land is eligible for payments.

Now it is going after farmers who have over-claimed.

According to the department, over-claims have no impact for 75% of farmers, because they declare more than enough land to cover payment entitlements.

However, 4,000 farmers in Kerry alone have received letters telling them they were applying for grants for ineligible land. . .


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