Rural round-up

22/03/2021

Major strawberry grower Perrys Berrys calls it quits amid labour shortage – Kate MacNamara:

Francie Perry, a stalwart of New Zealand horticulture and an outspoken critic of the Government’s inflexible Covid-19 border policy for foreign workers, is throwing in the towel after 40 years of strawberry growing.

Perrys Berrys is among the largest berry growers in the country and appears to be the first major operator to fall victim to a harvest season hampered by a shortage of thousands of workers.

Contacted by The Herald, Perry, aged 71, declined to comment. In recent months she has told both customers and suppliers that Perrys Berrys, the strawberry growing company she founded and owns jointly with daughter Katie Perich, will not plant another crop. . .

National answers horticulture sector’s call for help:

Allowing seasonal workers from COVID-free countries to enter New Zealand without quarantine needs to happen fast to plug the yawning gap in our horticulture sector’s workforce, National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett says.

National Leader Judith Collins today called for the Government to expand its safe zone travel arrangements to include quarantine-free travel into New Zealand for Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

Doing so would allow for greater numbers to enter via the Recognised Seasonal Workers (RSE) scheme, which would help address the horticulture sector’s labour-force shortfall, which the Agriculture Minister says is up to 13,500 workers, Mr Bennett says.

“New Zealand’s $6 billion horticulture sector is crying out for staff and our Pacific neighbours want the opportunity to come here. . . 

Farmers and government working together — March 2021 – Elbow Deep:

I had a sheep farming friend in Otauau, Southland, who once took me on a tour of his property. It was immaculate, a mixture of flats and gently rolling hills with the steeper areas planted in native bush. As we drove around the farm John outlined his plans for converting the flats to dairy, the value of his land had been swept along with the tide of conversions around him and the banks were very keen to lend him as much as he needed.

John knew exactly where the shed would go, how the paddocks would be subdivided and which areas would remain in sheep to keep his son interested in the farm. When the tour was finished and we were relaxing with a cold beverage, I asked when the conversion was going ahead so I could schedule my move to manage the conversion.

“You know Craig”, he said, “the plan makes perfect financial sense but I’m never going to do it, I just hate mud too much.” . .

Hemp harvest: Waimarama whānau turning over a new leaf – Louise Gould:

Waimarama could become a new hub for hemp after the first successful harvest in the area on Friday.

Innika Broadman from the Waimarama Māori Hemp Collective said the initiative has been set up to get whānau back on their land, sewing their seeds and reaping the benefits.

The collective is working in partnership with Otane-based Kanapu Hempery with the plan to produce hemp seed hearts, hemp oil and eventually hemp milk. . .

 

Rural market consolidates:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 129 more farm sales (+39.2%) for the three months ended February 2021 than for the three months ended February 2020. Overall, there were 458 farm sales in the three months ended February 2021, compared to 517 farm sales for the three months ended January 2021 (-11.4%), and 329 farm sales for the three months ended February 2020.

1,542 farms were sold in the year to February 2021, 23.1% more than were sold in the year to February 2020, with 51.3% more Dairy farms, 3.1% more Grazing farms, 42.9% more Finishing farms and 30.1% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2021 was $25,665 compared to $20,569 recorded for three months ended February 2020 (+24.8%). The median price per hectare decreased 0.8% compared to January 2021. . . .

Ability not gender is everything when it comes to farming – Will Evans:

A few days after our fourth daughter was born, and still with that uniquely joyous spring in my step that comes from having a new baby in a family, I walked into a treatment room to have some work done on my bad back.

“Has it arrived yet?”, the physio asked expectantly. “Yes”, I replied with a beaming smile. “I always said I wanted beautiful girls in my life, and now I have five of them – Branwen was born on Thursday, happy and healthy”.

I don’t know what reply I was expecting, but it wasn’t a look of devout sympathy and “Oh, what a shame for you and your farm”.

I was taken aback at the time, and didn’t know how to respond. But in the five years since then, both my wife and I have received numerous similar comments, usually something along the lines of “You’ll keep going for a boy for the farm, will you?”. It’s something that I encountered again recently. . .

 


Rural round-up

15/10/2020

Three years after the Morrinsville protest, farmers reveal if views have changed – Andrew McRae:

Five days before the 2017 election, 500 people took part in a protest in the Waikato town of Morrinsville complaining about how farmers were being treated. So, have feelings changed?

The 2017 protest was advertised as not being political, but the number of National and New Zealand First signs, and a lack of red and green made that an empty claim.

Morrinsville was selected as it was the home town of Labour’s then-new leader, Jacinda Ardern.

On the day, Lloyd Downing, one of the organisers, did not dispute who was the target, saying the politics of a Labour-Greens alliance was going to be “extremely difficult” for farming. . . 

Grower warns fruit will ‘rot on the ground’ as border remains shut to pickers :

A South Auckland grower says hundreds of tonnes of produce will “rot on the ground” and prices will be driven up at the checkout if borders remain closed to fruit pickers from overseas..

Immigration New Zealand has granted border exceptions to some offshore musicians to participate in a winery tour this summer. Measures have also been made to accomodate the Australian rugby team, the English netball team, the West Indies and Pakistan cricket teams, and the America’s Cup teams.

But for experienced seasonal fruit pickers, even from Covid-19-free Samoa, New Zealand’s border remains shut.

Founder of South Auckland-based strawberry grower Perrys Berrys, Francine Perry, told TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning the move was putting at risk hundreds of tonnes of fresh fruit and hundreds of jobs for Kiwis. . .

Fonterra farmers taking another step towards New Zealand’s low emissions food production:

They’re hot off the press and intended to help take the heat out of climate change.

Fonterra farmers are already among the world’s most sustainable producers of milk and now have an additional tool in their sustainability toolbox.

Over the last few days, Fonterra farmers have been receiving unique Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions profiles for their farms – the first time such a tool has been introduced in New Zealand at scale. The profiles form part of a Farm Environmental Report – which combines a GHG Report and Nitrogen Risk Scorecard.

Fonterra Director On-Farm Excellence, Charlotte Rutherford, says the reports are designed to provide useful insights for farmers to help identify opportunities for improvements on farm – providing indicators such as the estimated level of biological methane and nitrous oxide emissions per hectare, and the amount of emissions per kilogram of milk solids. . . 

Avocado exports drop amid air freight capacity woes :

Avocado exports appear to be the latest Covid-casualty due to shrinking air freight capacity.

Figures from Auckland Airport for August, the traditional start of the avocado export season, show an almost 60 percent drop in avocados sent by air to overseas markets compared to the same month in 2019.

Auckland Airport Aeronautical Commercial manager Scott Tasker said air exports to Korea and Thailand were particularly hard hit.

“That’s really reflecting a crunch in air freight capacity into those markets.” . . 

Colin McGillivray, 86, is still shearing sheep in regional Victoria after 70 years

At the ripe old age of 86, shearer Colin McGillivray from Gunbower, west of Echuca, has no plans to hang up the clippers.

He started shearing sheep in the late 1940s and — seven decades later — his love for the job is stronger than ever.

“It was dry as hell back then; there was no feed,” Mr McGillivray said, as he reminisced about his early days on sheep stations.

He recalls that on his first day on the job, he found himself shearing sheep alongside one of the world’s best, Kevin Sarre, who went on to become a five-time national champion, winner of the world’s premier shearing honour, the Golden Shears, and held the world shearing record in 1965 after taking the wool off 346 merinos. . .

Forest, frogs and film stars, renowned southern nature resort goes up for sale:

A South Island resort on a world-renowned scenic highway, whose guests include TV stars and international film crews, has been put up for sale.

The Whistling Frog restaurant and accommodation complex lies in the heart of one of New Zealand’s top nature-tourism destinations, the 56,000-hectare Catlins Conservation Park.

Famous guests have included British comedian Bill Bailey, Neil Oliver from the BBC Coast Series and Oscar-winner Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords. . . 


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