Farmers want Molesworth to stay as farm

April 18, 2018

Farmers want the country’s biggest farm Molesworth Station to stay as a farm.

. . .The Department of Conservation started an online survey on the future of Molesworth Station, between Marlborough and Canterbury, in January to gauge public appetite for a radical rethink of the farm.

The survey follows up a 2013 management plan for the 180,000-hectare Molesworth, about the size of Stewart Island, which looked to move the station away from its traditional farming focus to include more recreation and conservation activities.

But Molesworth neighbour Steve Satterthwaite, of Muller Station, said getting rid of farming could create “major ramifications” for the environment.

“As far as Molesworth is concerned, I believe it should continue to be farmed and there’s plenty of reasons as to why,” he said.

Without farming, there could be pest problems and weed issues, as well as a huge fire risk, Satterthwaite said.

Weeds, pests and fires don’t observe farm boundaries.

Any weed and pest management and fire prevention measures farmers do can be nullified if their neighbours aren’t doing their best too.

It was concerning the public could weigh in on the future of the Molesworth and potentially “sway” what happened with the station, he said.

“It really concerns me that unaffected people that have no knowledge of the utilisation of Molesworth and the risk associated with not farming it can potentially have the input to sway the politicians or the decision-makers because of their numerical numbers,” he said.

“We are in the east of dry land zones, and if the fuel was allowed to be completely uncontrolled and public have unlimited access, the risk of a major fire in that environment would be one that would need to be considered seriously.” . . 

Middlehurst Station farmer Susan Macdonald said she would like to see farming at the station continue, with the possibility of providing a little more public access.

She said it was “important” for farming at the station to continue for pest and weed reasons.

“I would like to see it continue to be farmed in harmony with the environment and in harmony with people.

“There’s a lot of land there and I think it’s got a huge value in terms of agriculture.” . . 

J Bush & Sons Honey co-owner Murray Bush said the “status quo” needed to continue into the future.

“I think there is a good balance between public access and farming but not having farming would actually make the property go backwards, I believe, and then it wouldn’t have that same appeal to the public,” he said.

Bush said allowing public access to the station year-round could create a safety risk.

“If you open the road 52 weeks of the year and let people just do what they want … if it was never closed and it was open, there’s no communication up there so unless there’s millions and millions and millions of dollars going to be spent on public access safety … it’s not an environment to be taken lightly,” he said.

“Unless you’re going to employ people on the ground 52 weeks of the year just to look after the tourists, it’s a real issue and I think people underestimate that environment.” . . .

The neighbours’ concerns about changing the balance between farming and access are valid.

The road through Molesworth is closed in winter and can be closed in summer if the fire risk rises.

That is necessary for public safety and to protect the environment.

Molesworth is farmed by Landcorp which makes a very small return on capital but income from the farm offsets the costs of weed and pest control, and grazing reduces the fire danger.

The station generates an income, looks after the environment and allows some public access.

If the area farmed is reduced the income will drop, even if DoC lets commercial concessions for access,  and costs will increase.

Molesworth is the country’s biggest farm and it should continue to be farmed.


Rural round-up

August 22, 2016

 

Employment breaches ‘wake-up call’ for Marlborough wine industry – Oliver Lewis:

Widespread employment breaches have been unearthed by an investigation into labour contractors servicing the Marlborough wine industry.

Several labour contractors, who supply wine companies with workers, were found to have breached employment standards by failing to pay their workers minimum wage, holiday pay, or keep proper employment records.

The joint investigation, carried out by the Labour Inspectorate, Immigration New Zealand and Inland Revenue, involved random visits to 10 independent labour contractors around the region. . . 

Old school thinking stunts export gains – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand is stuck in the past figuring how to produce even more low-cost export commodities while the marketing of fine products it already has is “woeful”, says New Zealand Merino boss John Brakenridge.

“We sell commodities at an export value of around $37 billion that reach consumers globally at a value of over $200 billion,” says the chief executive credited with driving merino’s monumental shift from a nearly 100 per cent commodity sold at auction to 70 per cent grown under lucrative contracts to elite wool product makers.

Brakenridge’s call for New Zealand to dramatically lift its marketing and branding game follows another gathering at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, of New Zealand’s primary sector “bootcamp”, the Te Hono Movement.  Te Hono, founded in 2012 by Brakenridge, says it has so far united 178 chief executives and leaders representing 80 per cent of the primary sector, in a goal to collaborate to transform New Zealand’s approach to doing business globally. It was Te Hono’s fifth workshop at Stanford, where participants work with professors at the world-leading research and new technology university and Silicon Valley business innovators.  . . 

Cashflow boost for Fonterra farmers – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra farmers have received a cashflow boost with confirmation of a further 10c per share payment of the co-operative’s 2015-16 40c forecast dividend.

The co-operative had already brought forward an earlier dividend payment during the last financial year.

Its intention was always to declare a further dividend in August, subject to financial performance supporting the forecast earnings per share range of 45c to 55c, chairman John Wilson said in a statement. . . 

North Otago surprised by early, strong arrivals :

Calves have arrived “early and strong” on North Otago dairy farms, Lyndon Strang says.

The Federated Farmers North Otago dairy section chairman said most farmers had started calving about five days ahead of schedule.

“That’s pretty much across the board.”

He could not determine the cause, but said it was going well and there was “plenty of feed available”. . . 

Proud Marlborough beekeeping firm faces challenges as century celebrated – Mike Watson:

Beekeepers are like any other farmers except they don’t have fences for keeping the stock in, says a Marlborough beekeeper celebrating 100 years of commercial honey making.

“At the end of the day, like any farmer, we need healthy stock to control pests and diseases,” said J Bush and Sons managing director Murray Bush.

“We do selective breeding programmes like the sheep and beef guys and we have similar concerns as they do. . .

Ethanol: bad for cars, bad for consumers, bad for the economy and really, really bad for the environment – Mark J, Perry:

An excerpt appears below from my op-ed in yesterday’s US News and World Report “Unwind the Ethanol Mandate” about one of the biggest political boondoggles in history – ethanol and the ethanol mandate. Back in 2007 when political cheerleaders like Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa (the “king of ethanol hype”) were promoting ethanol with fantastic claims like “Everything about ethanol is good, good, good,” Rolling Stone magazine responded with the best sentence on ethanol I’ve ever read: “This is not just hype — it’s dangerous, delusional bullshit.” And what’s notgood at all about demon ethanol (Paul Krugman’s phrase) are the serious negative effects it’s having on the environment: . . 


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