Rural round-up

28/06/2021

Govt’s response on farm workforce crisis underwhelming – Jason Herrick:

The Government needs to do more to help farmers cope with staff shortages, Southland Federated Farmers sharemilker chairman Jason Herrick writes.

Farm staff shortages in Southland and around the country are getting worse.

While the government finally bowed to dairy industry pleas and announced border exemptions for 150 management and 50 farm assistant positions, the sector was already under severe workforce gap pressure.

The super-busy calving season begins mid-July, and it’s unlikely many of the 200 extra migrant staff will be out of managed isolation by then. . . 

Farmers, tractors, and tradies expected at ‘ute’ protests around the country – Rachael Kelly:

Farmers are being encouraged to take their tractors and dogs to town next month in a show of protest against Government regulations – and tradies are also being encouraged to show their support.

Farmer action group Groundswell NZ is organising ‘A Howl of a Protest’ in town centres from Gore to Kerikeri on July 16, for “farmers, growers and ute owners who are fed up with increasing Government interference in your life and business, unworkable regulations and unjustified costs”.

Groundswell NZ spokesperson Bryce McKenzie said farmers were growing increasingly frustrated with new Government regulations, but he hoped tradies would also join the protests as they were being penalised if they wanted to upgrade their utes.

Last week the Government announced its new rebate scheme, which will make lower-carbon-emitting cars more affordable for New Zealanders and will see a fee placed on higher-emission vehicles, including utes. . . 

Going without in salute to mate :

When Luke Knowles got the call that a good mate had taken his life, it was mind-numbing, heart-breaking and “just totally confusing”.

Mr Knowles said his mate, an intelligent, outgoing and fun-loving young man, was not someone he would ever have guessed was not happy on the inside.

“He was just one of the boys; we always had a good time together. But when he passed away, it did come to light that he had been battling with a few things, but he kept it all pretty close to his chest.”

As a salute to his late friend, Mr Knowles will be participating in Dry July, a campaign in which participants go without alcohol for the month of July. Typically, the campaign is to raise money for cancer research, but he will instead give his fundraising efforts to the Will To Live Charitable Trust which focuses on initiatives specifically designed to help young rural people suffering from mental health issues. . . 

Worldwide commodities boom drives fertiliser prices to 10-year highs – Jamie Gray:

The world-wide commodities boom has driven world fertiliser prices to 10-year highs.

Global food prices have recorded their biggest annual rise in a decade, driven in part by China’s soaring appetite for grain and soyabeans and a severe drought in Brazil, which has put fertiliser in hot demand.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said global food prices rose last month at their fastest monthly rate in more than a decade, even as world cereal production was on course to reach a new record high. .  .

Tiny rural school has students of more than a dozen different nationalities – Lee Kenny:

It’s one of the most culturally diverse schools in the country, but it’s not in the inner city – it’s in rural Canterbury.

Hororata Primary School has 85 students from more than a dozen nationalities – including Serbia, Syria and Sri Lanka – and about a quarter of youngsters speak a language other than English at home.

The village of Hororata lies an hour west of Christchurch, just before the snow-capped Southern Alps rise up on the horizon.

The local economy is heavily reliant on the dairy industry, with workers from around the world employed on the farms and in the cattle sheds. . . 

North-east Victorian dairy farmers identify projects to help manage climate change:

Dairy farmers in north-east Victoria are leading an industry response to climate change.

A group of farmers has identified changing rainfall patterns, increased temperatures, availability of water, weather extremes and access to health services as challenges and/or opportunities for the next decade.

The North East Dairy Climate Futures Project invited dairy farmers to have a say about their own businesses in response to data released by the CSIRO in 2020 that supported predicted climate change impacts across the valleys of north-east Victoria.

At a series of workshops across the region earlier this year, dairy farmers embraced the opportunity to identify what should be the focus for their industry. . . 


Rural round-up

02/06/2021

‘You’ve just gotta tough it out’: Heavy rain, flooding challenges high country farmers – Lee Kenny:

Parts of Mid-Canterbury remain completely cut off, but the job of managing huge rural stations continues. LEE KENNY reports.

Graham Jones has worked at Arrowsmith Station for 11 years and says he’s never seen conditions as bad as this.

“I’ve seen big snows, a lot of water up here. It’s very hard farming up here, but you’ve just gotta tough it out.”

“This wet weather’s just made it harder.” . . 

Crop farmer counts high cost of rain – Matthew Littlewood:

Timaru farmer Graham Talbot fears many of his recently sown crops have been “drowned out” by the recent heavy rain.

“There’s just so much rain in the system that the farm is completely waterlogged,” Talbot said.

The Claremont farmer, estimated about 30 hectares of his 600ha farm would have been “completely submerged”.

“That’s probably going to cost us a good $70,000 for that alone when it comes to resowing and repair costs. . . 

Flood-affected farmers urged to seek support:

DairyNZ is encouraging Canterbury farmers to look out for each other and access support agencies for assistance amid flooding in the region.

“We have seen farmers working well together and supporting their neighbours through this weather event – it’s always encouraging to see farmers and rural communities working together in times of need,” said DairyNZ head of the South Island, Tony Finch.

“Good advance warning did enable many farmers to be prepared but we are working closely to monitor the situation and encourage farmers to keep farm teams and neighbours safe.”

With Moving Day currently also underway, many Canterbury farmers are attempting to shift properties and livestock.

Funding boost for flood-stricken farmers and growers :

A state of emergency has been declared for the flood-stricken Canterbury region, as farmers begin the clean-up after devastating heavy rain.

From Friday to Monday morning, a massive 545mm of rain was recorded at Mt Somers in the Canterbury high country, MetService said, while the main centres of Christchurch (110mm), Ashburton (155mm), and Timaru (105mm) – were inundated over the same period.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today declared an adverse event for the Canterbury region, unlocking government support for farmers and growers.

“My decision to classify this as a medium-scale adverse event ensures funding of $500,000 for flood recovery measures,” Mr O’Connor said during his visit to Canterbury with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers today. . .

Whatever it takes – Tony Benny:

An immigrant from Argentina never expected dairy farming would be a mind-blowing yet rewarding career.

Sitting at home in Argentina, Maria Alvarez hit the refresh button on her computer several times before she reached the most important screen of all – payment. At that moment she knew had made it through the process, and would soon be winging her way across the ocean to New Zealand.

Maria grew up on a beef farm in Argentina and graduated from university with a Bachelor of Agricultural Engineering. She worked for a large crop farming company before coming to NZ on a working holiday, having been lucky to secure one of the 1000 working holiday visas granted to Argentinians each year.

“At 7am NZ time on a certain date, they open the visa application and everybody’s sitting at home in front of their computer. You have to refresh and refresh because the system sort of collapses with so many people trying and then if you make it through to the payment, you make it,” Maria says. . .

Zespri lifts profit to $290.5m after selling $3.5bn of kiwifruit but is running into headwinds – Point of Order:

Like  the  dairy  industry’s  Fonterra, the  kiwifruit  industry’s  giant  Zespri  has  had  a  golden  year.  It  has  reported  record returns  for 2020-21, with  a  net  profit  of  $290.5m (up $90m  from the  previous  year)   after  achieving total fruit  sales revenue  of  $3.5bn  (up 14%).

It  further highlights the strength of NZ’s rural  economy during  a  period  when the  Covid-19 pandemic  underlined the  fragility of  global  trade.

Zespri’s  global sale volumes were up 10% on last season to 181.5m trays.

The company said increased sales, the ongoing expansion of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit production and great quality fruit lay behind the strong returns. . . 

Stud properties a valuable part of farm landscape:

The business of cattle breeding in New Zealand is one rich with history and talent, and while remaining highly competitive, the stud breeding sector is also playing a vital role in helping New Zealand beef also remain competitive and sustainable on a world stage.

Collectively the breed societies that stud breeders belong to have also done much to recognise advances in science, taking the process of selecting animals to a deeper level than simply past dam performance and “gut feel.”

Advances in science mean breeders can now call on genomics to identify some of the preferred traits that determine productivity before sire stock even reach maturity.

The passion and commitment breeders bring to their respective animal breeds has meant New Zealand farmers have been blessed with genetics that often reflect the farming environment of a particular region, or even district. . . 


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