Rural round-up

April 21, 2018

Rescue chopper services face axe – Neal Wallace:

About 1200 people marched through Taupo last week to protest against a threat to end their air ambulance service.

Taupo Mayor David Trewavas said the march attracted many people who owe their lives to the speed and efficient response of their local service.

“People are fired up and are pretty passionate just because of our geographic nature, being in the middle of the North Island.”

A Ministry of Health, ACC and National Ambulance Sector Office review says some air ambulance services should be cut. . . 

Rural health put on hold :

A rural mental health project run by the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa will continue until June 30 before being wound up as the parent organisation is put in hibernation after failing to secure $600,000 in Government funding.

Alliance chief executive Michelle Thompson said it has run the rural mental health contract for the Ministry of Health for four years and she fears no one else will pick up the work. . .

North Canterbury sheep and beef farmers roll with the seasons – Heather Chalmers:

A North Canterbury farming couple are finding new opportunities after drought, writes Heather Chalmers.

North Canterbury hill country farmers Mark and Jane Schwass like to keep their options open when it comes to their sheep and beef farming operation.

The vagaries of the weather and market mean they are not fixed to any livestock class or sale plan.

The couple run a sheep and beef breeding and finishing operation as well as dairy support, grazing young dairy stock. . . 

SFF’s focus on directors – Sally Rae:

A review of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Ltd’s constitution will include looking at the tenure of directors on the board, the board size and the ratio of elected to independent directors.
Speaking at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Dunedin yesterday, chairman Rob Hewett said the review was under way.

There would be roadshows for shareholders in June, ahead of a July-August vote. Any changes would require a vote of 75% in favour. . . 

Waikato sharemilker Laura Campbell will contest Melbourne Cup’s Fashion in the Field

Milking nearly 300 cows before going to the office, it’s all in a days work for a Waikato girl who just loves fashion.

Walking the pit of the 32-aside herringbone dairy shed is far removed from the lights and boardwalk Laura Campbell will experience at the Melbourne Cup Carnival this year.

The 22-year-old woman will be competing at the Myer’s Fashion in the Field across the ditch in earlier November. . . 

French MPs force vegetarian food producers to mince their words

French MPs have voted to ban producers of vegetarian meat substitutes from using words such as steak, bacon or sausage to describe their products if they are are not partly or wholly composed of meat.

The measure, approved on Thursday, was proposed by MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who argued that products such as soya steaks, vegan sausages and other vegetarian alternatives were “misleading” for consumers. Moreau based his argument on a 2017 judgment by the European court of justice, that ruled that soya and tofu products could not be marketed as milk or butter.

“It is important to combat false claims. Our products must be designated correctly: the terms of #cheese or #steak will be reserved for products of animal origin,” tweeted Moreau, a farmer and member of president Emmanuel Macron’s political movement La République En Marche. . . 


Too much weather

December 3, 2014

Southern contractors are struggling in wet and cold weather:

The dreadfully wet season being experienced in the southern part of the country is leaving many rural contractors and farmers under huge pressure and stress, claims Rural Contractors NZ.

 RCNZ vice president and Southland-based contractor David Kean says there are reports of contractors not being able to get work done, struggling with their finances and some having to lay staff off.

“Many contractors are really feeling it and the stress is starting to tell on both them and their businesses. Our advice is simple: ask for help and talk to the appropriate agencies before things get out of hand,” he explains.

Meanwhile, there’s the opposite problem in Canterbury – which has had lots of strong, cold Norwest winds and very little rain over the past couple of months – meaning there is very little work to do now after a busy start to the season. 

Mr Kean says if rural contractors are struggling to pay bills and/or staff they should be in contact with both Work and Income NZ and the IRD for assistance and advice.

“It is far better for people to be proactive; admit they have issues to deal with and seek the appropriate help – rather than just bottling it up or letting any problems get out of hand.

“Both IRD and WINZ are there to provide help in these kinds of situations and they have the people and expertise to offer advice and assistance.”

Mr Kean says Rural Contractors NZ is also there to help members and to act as support network for contractors who are feeling under pressure.

“However, we are not experts in financial matters or if people are coming under mental duress,” he adds.

“We are telling people they should be talking with their accountants and financial advisors about their business and with their families and medical professionals if they are under pressure themselves.”

The chair of the Rural Health Alliance Aoteoroa NZ (RHAANZ) Dr Jo Scott-Jones agrees.

“We know rural people tend to delay seeking help until they can no longer work, but it is true that a ‘stitch in time saves nine’”, Dr Scott-Jones says.  “Talking to a GP or practice nurse about stress seems to cause people difficulty. But anyone in this situation should know it is never as hard as you think and the benefits that flow from sharing some of the burden and talking through the way you feel can be enormous.”  

 Mr Kean adds that talking with professionals, as well as family and friends is an important step in getting the proper advice and help – when and where it is needed.

“Farmers also need to be aware of the pressure contractors are under and have to be realistic about getting work done,” he adds. “The last couple of months have been so wet that even if the weather cleared today it is going to take a long time to clear the back log of work and get everyone caught up again.”

Further north it was too wet in winter and now it’s too dry:

Weeks of persistent wind with little rain are putting farmers on edge in eastern areas of the country, from Gisborne to Canterbury.

Federated Farmers Gisborne Wairoa president Sandra Faulkner said soil moisture levels in that region were well down on normal for the time of year. . .

We didn’t really have a summer last year then had a very wet start to winter but we’ve had little significant rain since July and there’s all the signs of a looming drought.

That doesn’t mean we’re having good weather, it’s still cold which is slowing pasture growth and potato crops.

In contrast, a wet winter, less sunlight and cooler temperatures are being blamed for hampering potato crops and creating a shortage of the vegetable.

Potatoes New Zealand said there was more demand than growers could supply and that was having a flow on effect on companies such as potato chip processors.

Chief executive Champak Mehta said none of the previous season’s crops were left in storage and the new season’s potatoes were taking longer to hit the shelves. . .

North Otago is justly famed for its new potatoes but picking started only a week or so ago.

We didn’t plant ours in the garden until after labour weekend and they’re still a good couple of weeks ago from giving us anything to pick.

But I bought a box of Rare Earth  Jersey Bennes at the Oamaru Farmers’ Market on Sunday – they were delicious.


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