Rural round-up

24/05/2021

Budget ‘missed opportunity’ for farmers :

Farming groups say while there are a few positives in Budget 2021 for the primary sector, overall it is disappointing.

The Government has allocated more than $50 million towards lowering agricultural emissions and developing a national farm planning system.

Funding included $37m towards national integrated farm planning system for farmers and growers, $24m towards agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research and development; and $900,000 to collect vital statistics on agricultural production, such as greenhouse gas emissions. . . 

Support for drought affected farmers – Ashley Smyth;

Steps are being put in place to help North Otago farmers struggling with the challenges of drought, heading into winter.

Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Purvis said winter crops had failed in places, but some parts of the district were worse than others.

A Zoom meeting was being held this week involving farmers “dotted strategically throughout Otago” to gather information for a drought monitor group, he said.

“The idea of having all these farmers together is to get a little report from them, as to what’s happening in their area.” . . .

$25,000 paid for Teviot Valley bull – Shawn McAvinue:

A Teviot Valley bull fetched the top price at a national seed stock sale last week.

Limehills Stardom brought $25,000 for vendors Limehills Herefords owners Gray and Robyn Pannett, of Millers Flat.

Mr Pannett said the sale price of the 20-month Hereford bull was because of his strong pedigree and high intramuscular fat.

Limehills Stardom was bought by North Island businesses Charwell Herefords and BeefGen. . . 

Deerstalkers’ hut given green light – Ruby Heyward;

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association North Otago branch is building for the future.

At the beginning of the year, the North Otago branch submitted an application to the Department of Conservation (Doc) to build a public hut on the Waianakarua Scenic Reserve, south of Oamaru.

After a few months of finger crossing, the members have got the go ahead.

For hut project co-ordinator Barry Wilson, it was a huge relief. . . 

Forestry worker becomes small business owner in Southland – Uma Ahmend:

Former forestry worker Cameron Moir has taken on the Fordes Petfood business near South Hillend.

Moir, broke two vertebras and his pelvis in a car crash in February 2020, and during recuperation he decided it was time for a change.​

Even though Moir does not officially start working at the processing plant until July 5, he has been regularly going to the plant to observe and has started on transitional plans.

“At the moment we have a lot of dairy cows, and we’re still going to do that, but we’re hoping to get access to more sheep meat, bovine meat.” . . 

Clarkson’s new farming series hits TV screens on 11 June:

Clarkson’s Farm, an eight part series following Jeremy Clarkson as he attempts to run his very own 1000-acre farm, will hit screens on 11 June, Amazon has confirmed.

The series will observe the highs and lows of what the former Top Gear presenter hopes will be a rural idyll, but could just as easily become a rustic nightmare.

Clarkson, a self-confessed “inept townie” with zero agricultural knowledge will, along with some help, try to set up a viable working farm in modern day rural Britain.

Beginning in autumn 2019 and filmed over the course of one farming year, Amazon has officially confirmed that the series will be aired on Friday 11 June. . . 


Rural round-up

25/02/2021

The rewards of good data – Peter Burke:

New Zealand’s primary sector is our equivalent of the USA’s Silicon Valley of excellence.

That’s the view of one of the country’s illustrious agricultural economists, Rob Davison, who recently received an award for his outstanding contribution to the primary sector.

The award goes alongside the ONZM he received in 2016 for his services to NZ’s sheep and beef sector.

This latest award is well deserved for a person who has helped build and shape one of the most respected economic institutions in the country. Davison has been with Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service for more than 40 years, much of that time as its executive director. . . 

Rural trust there for anyone having ‘tough time’ – Shawn McAvinue:

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Mike Lord, of Outram, said if anyone in Otago’s rural community needed help — or knew of anyone who needed help — they could call the trust.

People called for a “range of reasons” such as financial stress, the impact of adverse weather such as flooding, snow, or drought or any other type of “tough time”.

“I have no doubt we make a difference.”

After Covid hit, a “desperate” farmer called because he had stock and a lack of feed due to meat works taking fewer animals as it dealt with new protocols. . . 

Recommendations ‘ambitious and challenging’ – Peter Burke:

Initial reaction to the Climate Change Commission report has been generally muted, but there are some concerns in the agricultural sector.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claims the commission’s draft advice, released earlier this month, sets out an ‘achievable blueprint’ for New Zealand. She says the report demonstrates NZ has the tools to achieve our target but calls on us to accelerate our work.

“As a government we are committed to picking up the pace and focusing much more on decarbonisation and reducing emissions rather than overly relying on forestry,” Ardern says. . .  . . 

North Otago chicken farm sharpens its focus – Shawn McAvinue:

Anna Craig knew it was the right time to get cracking and launch a new brand to market the free-range eggs produced on her family’s farm in North Otago.

The Lincoln University agribusiness and food marketing student said she was “torn” about how to spend her summer break.

She could spend it working on her family’s 450ha farm in Herbert, about 20km south of Oamaru, or seek work elsewhere, which might look better on her CV.

She returned to the farm and set herself a goal of launching a new brand to sell some of the eggs laid by about 30,000 free range shaver chickens there. . . 

Strengthen your farming system by leveraging your #1 asset – people:

“Over the years of working with people in many different sized teams, we discovered that it mattered how we were behaving and acting with our team,” says Rebecca Miller of MilkIQ.

Dairy Women’s Network knows that putting people first drives a healthy business and will be running a series of workshops focused on this. They want to ensure that farmers attract and retain talent, and continue to grow the people in the industry.

The free workshops are funded by New Zealand dairy farmers through the DairyNZ levy and align with Commitment #5 of the Dairy Tomorrow Strategy: Building great workplaces for New Zealand’s most talented workforce.

It does not always require big changes to build a great workplace, but small changes that make a difference. The workshops will provide an overview of how to be a good employee or employer and the steps each can take. . . 

 

Handheld breath test device for pregnant cattle to move to industry trials – Joshua Becker:

A device that could change the way farmers preg test cattle is a step closer to commercialisation.

The federal government has offered $600,000 to help a company adapt advances in medicine for use in the grazing industry.

The prototype works by simply putting a device over the cow’s nose while it is in the crush and testing its breath.

Bronwyn Darlington, a farmer at Carwoola in southern NSW and the founder and CEO of Agscent, said the device worked by applying nanotechnologies to what was called breathomics. . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/12/2020

Trust advises care as drought threatens – Sally Rae:

Farmers in the Waimate and North Otago districts are being urged to keep an eye on each other as the area becomes “critically dry”.

Affected areas included Waimate, Waihaorunga and through the Hakataramea Valley and coastal North Otago, Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Purvis said.

Stock seemed to be in good order, which was often the case when drought started, and some farmers were weaning lambs at 8 weeks old, Mr Purvis said.

There seemed to be a market from Dunedin south for store lambs, although the store beef market had “virtually collapsed”. . . 

Red meat industry’s problems researched – John Gibb:

A change of direction is needed urgently if the future of New Zealand’s red meat industry is to be salvaged, a researcher warns.

“When I dug into this I could see that most of it is not fantastic,’’ University of Otago researcher James Wilkes said.

On Saturday, Mr Wilkes, of Christchurch, became the first New Zealand-based former student to graduate with the new Otago doctor of business administration (DBA) degree.

Four other people were also in the first cohort to gain the degree, including two Chinese students whose graduation was celebrated at a Zoom event. . . 

Migrant worker visas extended to address labour uncertainties :

The government is extending the visas of many migrant workers to ease labour shortfalls.

As part of a package announced tonight, working holiday and employer-assisted work visas will be pushed forward six months.

A 12-month stand-down period for low-paid Essential Skills visa holders working in New Zealand for three years will also be put on hold until January 2022. . . 

How wine and cheese can boost your brain :

Got a soft spot for cheese and a drop of red wine? Your brain might just thank you for it.

New research from Iowa State University shows consumption of cheese and red wine can boost the brain.

The study’s lead author, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition Auriel Willette, said the findings about the beneficial effects of cheese were unexpected.

“To my total surprise… the strongest predictor of people having good food intelligence is cheese. . . 

New system a big boost for dam safety – David Williams:

A two-and-a-half-year upgrade completes a 30-year journey for a big tech company, David Williams writes in this content partnership article

What’s striking about dams, like people, is how different they are, Dam Safety Intelligence’s general manager Dan Forster says. 

“Dams have all got their own unique personalities and characteristic traits. And the big thing is that on the surface a dam can seem to be in good condition and performing well but what really matters is how it’s performing underneath the surface.”

If it were human, a well-monitored dam might look like a patient in hospital, with a pin-cushion of sensors and instruments poking into and out of them. In the case of a big dam, experts are checking for things like the reservoir level, seepage flow, and “piezometric” pressures on various parts of the engineered structure, such as where the dam meets other surfaces, called abutments. . . 

 

Grants for farmers wanting to grow Christmas trees :

Financial support is being offered to Cheshire farmers interested in growing a Christmas tree crop on their land.

Grants covering up to 70% of the planting and establishment costs of a conifer crop has been made available by United Utilities.

Alongside this, expert advice and training on all aspects of Christmas tree growing will be given to farmers.

The water firm’s catchment advisor, Vee Moore said growing Christmas trees can be a profitable use of land. . . 


Rural round-up

15/05/2019

Tip Top sale half of debt target – Hugh Stringleman:

The sale of Tip Top to a joint-venture northern hemisphere company, Froneri, for $380 million has achieved almost half of Fonterra’s debt reduction target.

When its Beingmate shareholding is divested and a half share of DFE Pharma is sold, Fonterra should reach its $800m reduction target by July 31.

The Beingmate stake has a market value of about $280m and the DFE share about $200m, based on annual sales figures.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell has therefore made a good start on promised financial reforms of substantial debt reduction, cuts in capital and operational expenditure and 7%-plus return on capital invested by farmer-shareholders and unit holders. . . 

Gisborne woman takes out SI Sheep Dog trials event:

Gisborne’s Jo Waugh has won the zig zag hunt at the South Island sheep dog trial championships, the first time a woman has won the event in more than 100 years.

And not only did the 30-year-old and her huntaway dog, Guy, get on the podium, but two other women also joined her in the top seven, clocking up another achievement in the usually male-dominated event.

The South Island Sheep Dog trials were held in Hanmer Springs this week but farmers and shepherds have been competing since the sport first landed in New Zealand in the 1800s. . . 

MIE man changed priorities fast – Neal Wallace:

Richard Young was elected to the Silver Fern Farms board on a platform of industry restructuring and agitating for a merger with Alliance. Six years later the Otago farmer is the co-operative’s boss. He talks to Neal Wallace.

Richard Young vividly remembers the induction for new directors the evening before his first meeting as an elected member of the Silver Fern Farms board.

It was 2013 and the newly elected directors were taken through the co-operative’s accounts ahead of the annual meeting the next day.

It was not pretty. . . 

Tiny farm run on ethical principles– Sally Brooker:

An Alma family is proud to have set up the district’s smallest dairy farm.

Bethan and Bryan Moore have a herd of just 13 Ayrshire cows with calves on 6ha alongside State Highway 1. They will soon be selling milk in glass bottles.

The Moores bought the land about 18 months ago, after four years of sharemilking in Tasmania. Mrs Moore grew up near Cardiff, Wales and met Mr Moore, a farmer from the North Island, on her travels to New Zealand. . . 

Seeka cuts earnings forecast on smaller crop – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Kiwifruit grower and marketer Seeka has cut its full-year earnings guidance by $4 million due to reduced harvests in both New Zealand and Australia.

Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation are likely to range from $32.5 million to $33.5 million in the 2019 calendar year, down from the $36.5-$37.5 million range the Te Puke-based company signalled a month ago.

Seeka, the biggest kiwifruit producer in New Zealand and Australia, said unseasonably hot, dry weather in both countries has reduced fruit size and crop volumes. . .

Meeting of Otago Drought Group – Sally Rae:

The work of the Otago Drought Group is a great example of farmers and their organisations collaborating to manage climate challenges locally, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor says.

The group met again this week to update its discussions on the dry conditions in the Clutha district, how farmers were faring and what actions might be needed.

The group, which included Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, representatives from Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, the Otago Rural Support Trust and the Ministry for Primary Industries, convened early in any adverse weather event. . . 

Flying Pig cafe going to market:

One of the Waitaki district’s most recognisable restaurants is on the market.

The Flying Pig Cafe, with its distinctive porcine pink exterior, has long been a landmark in Duntroon.

It has been closed since illness befell its owners in early 2017, and is now for sale.

An Auckland couple bought the cafe in 2007 after discovering it during a holiday driving around the South Island. Business began to soar after the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail opened in 2014. . . 

Hi-tech boosts growers’ bottom lines:

“Incredibly clever” technology that elevates cool rooms into a state-of-the-art controlled atmosphere chambers is helping Hawke’s Bay’s growers make the very best of their crops.

It is not just about chilling fruit, it is about controlling the air conditions inside the cooler to hold it in the best possible state until market conditions are optimal; which could be any time over the 12 months after the crop has been picked.

Next week, growers have the opportunity to learn more about that technology from the Europeans who make it. . . 


Rural round-up

26/07/2018

Virgin Australia hunting for New Zealand’s best meat – Sally Rae:

Virgin Australia has taken a not-so-subtle dig at rival airline Air New Zealand by launching a campaign to find New Zealand’s “finest meat supplier”.

Earlier this month, Air New Zealand announced it would be serving the plant-based Impossible Burger as part of its business premier menu on its Los Angeles to Auckland flight.

That attracted ire from many in the rural sector, who believed the airline should be pushing the country’s premium products. . .

Young Vinnies show farmers their support – Sally Rae:

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Gavan Herlihy was “blown away” to receive handmade cards from school pupils to be distributed to farmers affected by Mycoplasma bovis.

Members of the Young Vinnies at St John’s School in Ranfurly were to be congratulated for the caring gesture, Mr Herlihy said.

It was a very stressful time for those affected and he expected receipt of the cards – which he was distributing on the pupils’ behalf – would be both treasured and appreciated. . .

Dairy herds may change from black and white to brown and brindle – Keith Woodford:

In coming years, we are likely to see the colour of New Zealand dairy cows change from predominant black and white to a mix containing more brown and brindle.  It will be a response to changes in the relative price of protein and fat.

Black and white Friesian cows produce about 1.2 kg of fat for every kg of protein.  In contrast, the brown Jerseys produce about 1.4 kg of fat for each kg of protein. Jersey milk is also richer with less water.  Jersey milk is about 5.7 percent fat whereas Friesian milk is about 4.5 percent.

For many years, protein has been worth a lot more than fat, but in the last two years that has changed. Milk protein prices are the lowest they have been for many years whereas fat prices are at record highs. This is the reason why butter is now so expensive in our supermarkets. . .

Third world water restrictions may be introduced if Waimea Dam canned – Cherie Sivignon:

Water tankers may be needed on the streets of Brightwater during severe droughts if the Waimea dam project is shelved.

“We’ll be slipping into Third World provisions [in a severe drought],” said Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne. “I think, the community doesn’t realise that’s what we have ahead of us without the dam.”

Kempthorne said he expected to be accused of scaremongering but the rules for tougher rationing in dry spells were in place under the no-dam provisions in the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP). The rationing and related restrictions would affect rural and urban water users in the Richmond, Hope, Mapua, Brightwater and Redwood Valley areas including businesses and industry. . .

Govt to appeal landmark negligence finding in Psa case – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – The Crown will appeal last month’s High Court’s decision that the government was negligent in allowing Psa, the virus which devastated the kiwifruit industry, into the country.

Psa infected 80 percent of kiwifruit orchards nationwide and is estimated to have cost the industry up to $1 billion in lost exports. The growers’ group, called Kiwifruit Claim, sought more than $376 million in compensation. The group of 212 growers, led by Strathboss Kiwifruit and Seeka, claimed the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry – which was merged into the Ministry for Primary Industries in 2012 – was negligent under the Biosecurity Act. . .

Horticulture holds reduced levy

Horticulture growers voted to keep the levy at its current rate, at the Horticulture New Zealand Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Christchurch today.

“Last year, we proposed reducing the levy by 0.01% to 0.14% (14c per $100 of sales) and this year, we recommended maintaining that rate,” Horticulture New Zealand Board Chairman Julian Raine says. . .

Young Farmer event wins national award:

An event bringing the country to Wellington has won a national award

A ground-breaking event which brought the country to the nation’s capital has received a sought-after award.

Wellington hosted the Taranaki/Manawatū Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

The contest was organised by Wellington Young Farmers and has been named the country’s best regional final in 2018. . .


Rural round-up

22/02/2016

‘Dryland specialists — not victims’ – Sally  Rae:

Coping with dry conditions on Otago farms and the ongoing implications is about taking action, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Soul-destroying. That is how Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Pat Macaulay describes living through drought.

Mrs Macaulay, of North Taieri, knows first-hand exactly what it feels like, having farmed in the Strath Taieri where drought was a regular occurrence. . .

Bank on bright side but farmers sombre – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers are facing another tough year but a ‘‘generally strong year” is being picked by Rabobank for most other sectors.

Solid demand in key offshore markets, recent progress in export development and generally tight global supply was likely to bring another good year for producers of beef, wool and horticultural products, food and agribusiness research general manager Tim Hunt said.

While beef prices had lost some ground in recent months, they remained well above multi-year average levels and were expected to receive support from a generally tight global market. .  .

Farmers look for exit as prices crunch – Gerald Piddock & Aaron Leaman:

More dairy farmers are looking to shut the family farm gate, some after generations on the land, as the milk price slump pushes rural households to breaking point.

A DairyNZ and AgFirst report on farm ownership pathways out in April is expected to show farm ownership stretching further out of reach of many  as growing numbers look for a managed exit from an increasingly unprofitable and stressful industry.

The looming dairy exodus has prompted a warning that some of the country’s best and brightest will be lost to a sector once considered the backbone of the New Zealand economy.  . . 

Lamb prices better than expected – Sally Rae:

Prices at last week’s Omarama lamb sale were stronger than anticipated, considering schedule pricing, agents say.

More than 70 buyers from throughout the South Island registered for the sale, which comprised a total yarding of just over 12,000 lambs.

The average price for PGG Wrightson’s offering of 7000 lambs was $54, up $8 or $9 on last year’s sale.

Tara Hills achieved the top price for merino wethers at $68, while prices ranged from $66-$31.50. Tara Hills also topped the merino ewe lambs, at $58.50, with prices ranging from $52-$24. . . 

Taranaki avocado shortage blamed on freak weather – Christopher Reive:

Freak storms caused by climate change are being blamed for a poor avocado harvest causing shortages around the country.

Taranaki avocado grower Steve Wright has an orchard of 230 avocado trees near Urenui, north of New Plymouth, and said while the fruit generally ran in a cycle of good crop-bad crop, this season had been particularly bad.

“It’s not just a mild wind that comes through, they come through and they just hammer your place and what happens is, because the avos hang on a stem, they just twist around and break,” Wright said. . . 

First Grand Finalist Confirmed In FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Jake Thomson is the first Grand Finalist to be named in the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

The 27 year old from Whangarei who manages a Dairy Farm took first place at the Northern Regional Final in Pukekohe on Saturday 20 February.

Mr Thomson went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from FMG, Massey University, Ravensdown, Median Energy, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, STIHL and Vodafone. He also won the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge, Meridian Energy Agri-Knowledge Challenge and the Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge . . .

Farm Takeover!  The dirt on raising GMO corn: The Land – Uptown Farms:

“Tell your story!”  Anyone in the agriculture industry has been hearing it!  It is important and I’m the first to boast how much I love to tell my story.
 
But, if I am honest, I’m usually telling my husband’s story. He’s the farmer.
 
Well not this year!  Matt is sliding over into the buddy seat and turning me loose on my very own 60 acres!  And I’m taking you along for the ride by detailing the entire process of raising corn right here, all season long!

When it comes to land, farmers generally talk in acres.  One acre is 43,560 square feet – roughly the size of a football field. 
 
The first step for any crop farmer is the most obvious (and most expensive) one – find some land. . .


Rural round-up

15/07/2014

Medium scale adverse event declared in Northland:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has declared a medium-scale adverse event for the primary sector in storm-hit Northland.

“This will provide the overarching framework for any Government support as assessments continue to be made.

“The first stage of this is to provide funding for Northland Rural Support Trust (NRST) to deliver help, support, and management advice to farmers and growers. The Trust have been working closely with MPI and local authorities to determine what’s required in the clean-up phase after severe flooding and wind damage.

“The storm has impacted around 80% of the primary sector in Northland with very high winds and heavy rainfall over a solid four day period. I’ve seen for myself the damage today at an avocado orchard severely damaged by wind and dairy farms near Whangarei under water. . .

Grower quits after $100,000 avo thefts – Kristin Edge:

Northland avocado growers are being warned to be on high alert for fruit thieves with one Whangarei grower estimating $100,000 worth of fruit has been stolen over the past five years.

The Whangarei grower, who did not want to be identified because she feared for her safety, said her orchard had been continually targeted by thieves and she was selling up due to the financial losses and emotional stress.

The latest theft comes only days after an industry-wide warning was issued to growers to be extra vigilant to protect the new season’s crop. . .

Farmers focus on debt – Jeremy Tauri:

We spend a lot of time worrying about the residential property market, if prices are out of control and how young people will get their first homes.

But although we have focused on the price of a house and section in the suburbs, many people have ignored what’s been happening out of town.

The rural sector is the biggest driver of this country’s economy and in the regions we feel the impact of farmers’ fortunes even more acutely. But although we’ve been bemoaning that, nationwide, house prices have increased two-and-a-half times since 2000, rural land prices have trebled. Real Estate Institute statistics show the median price a hectare for farms sold in the three months to May 2014 was $25,017. . . .

Shepherd makes tracks to France – Sally Rae:

Come September it will be ”au revoir Waihaorunga” and ”bonjour France” for young South Canterbury shepherd Alex Reekers.

Mr Reekers (23), a member of the Glenavy Young Farmers Club, and Mitchel Hoare (19), of Te Kuiti Young Farmers Club, will represent New Zealand at the final of the World Young Shepherds Challenge in Auvergne, France, in September.

The pair earned the top scores in the preliminary round of the challenge, held alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest grand final at Lincoln. . . .

Trust works more at top of the cliff – Sally Rae:

The Otago Rural Support Trust’s emphasis is changing.

Traditionally, the work of the trust had been ”the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”, mostly during adverse weather events like floods, snow storms and droughts.

But increasingly, the trust was ”doing more work at the top of the cliff”, assisting rural families who were under stress, chairman Gavan Herlihy, of Wanaka, said. . . .

New agri-chemicals safety campaign:

A new rural safety campaign is underway, and this one aims to encourage farmers and growers to wear the right safety gear when using agricultural chemicals.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has teamed up with agri-chemical industry body Agcarm and WorkSafe New Zealand for the campaign. Rural retailers are also participating by displaying posters and other information in more than 260 stores.

EPA chief executive Rob Forlong said the main point was to eliminate the “she’ll be right” attitude towards farm chemical and safety gear. . .


Helping hands

26/06/2013

It’s cold, difficult work, but the response to calls to help high country farmers rescue snow-bound stock has been heartwarming:

Otago Rural Support Trust Coordinator David Mellish is hailing the amount of support snow stricken farmers in central and north Otago have received as a result of a recent call to arms.

“The amount of work to be done on many farms is tremendous,” says David Mellish, Otago Rural Support Trust Coordinator.

“But I want to pay tribute to the amount of support local farmers have received from both rural communities, Federated Farmers and further afield including the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Hopefully that has lessened the workload for some of these farmers.

“Whether it is the hundreds of people who have offered to give up their time and energy to snow rake, the agricultural sector businesses who have contacted us to offer assistance, the neighbour or the local communities teaming up with the Rural Women network to feed hungry workers, I don’t think you could get a better example of the spirit of rural communities.

“It is well past the point where the amount of volunteers exceeds the number of farmers who are asking us for assistance.

“We simply cannot thank all of the people who have stepped forward to offer help individually so I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to you all, on behalf of the farmers affected.

“These people are spending the majority of the day wading through snow up to and over their waists, concerned about the health of their stock. The feedback I’ve had is that the knowledge there are so many people willing to step forward to help, has been a boost in itself.

“I’ve lost count of the number of ex-farmers who have called and asked what they can do. They know this isn’t an everyday situation and they know how hard it can be to keep those feet moving forward in these conditions, both literally and figuratively.

“With that in mind we still want to hear from any farmer who needs a hand, so if you need a bit of assistance personally or think there’s a neighbour who needs a hand, give us a call on 0800 376 844.

“A number of the callers offering assistance are saying they have been in a similar position and know what it means to have someone offering to help out. That’s how it works in rural New Zealand,” David Mellish concluded.

Sally Rae  puts a human face to the rescue work:

By 5.30pm yesterday, there was just one word to describe how 82-year-old Naseby farmer Rex George was feeling.

He had worked till he was ”buggered”, but still managed to raise a grin after his day battling in snow to feed and save stock.

He also acknowledged the past few days had been ”terrible”.

”You don’t know whether to bloody well cry or laugh.”

Mr George’s farm, close to Naseby township, received a massive dump of snow, causing major problems. . .

Weather forecasters warned that snow was coming and farmers did their best to ensure stock were sheltered and had enough feed. But this much snow defies the best preparations and help from volunteers will have made a significant contribution to safeguarding stock welfare and minimising losses.

The Rural Support Trust’s website is here.


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