Rural round-up

February 16, 2017

Farming leader warns of Post Factual Science:

Our free trade prospects have been a victim of Brexit and the US Presidential election. New Zealand must be careful not to be caught in the crossfire of any ensuing trade war, Dr William Rolleston says.

Rolleston, the President of Federated Farmers, told its National Council in Wellington today that there were opportunities in disruption but our officials would need to play their cards with skill and tact.

“If there is any area of government which needs investment priority right now, it is our trade division,” he said. . . 

Special stock auction raises hope for young cerebral palsy sufferer – Dave Gooselink:

Stock prices were higher than normal today at a special sheep and cattle sale near Oamaru, bringing a big smile to the face of a four-year-old girl suffering from cerebral palsy.

Charlee McLachlan is used to being around farm animals but the special stock sale raised money to help her undergo lifechanging surgery in the United States, which will go some way towards alleviating her cerebral palsy.

“They go into her spine, they take a bit of her vertebrae out to pull out the spinal cord, and then put electrodes on her legs,” her mother, Anna McLachlan, told Newshub. . . 

The search for new agri-food markets – Keith Woodford:

The proposed 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is now well and truly dead.  The question is where do we go from here?

We are hearing talk from various sources about possibilities for a ‘TPP minus Mr Trump’s USA’. But that too is highly unlikely to happen. Getting Japan, in particular, to agree to something without the USA being involved is wishful thinking. And simply waiting for another four years and hoping the USA might came back into negotiations is also likely to prove wishful.  Both major American political parties know that supporting a new version of the TPP is a sure way to lose the next presidential election in 2020. . . 

Lamb price higher than expected – Sally Rae:

The 2016-17 season average lamb price is shaping up to be a bit over $5 per kg, economists predict.

While that was not quite as low as previously thought, it was still below its five-year average, BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap said.

Lamb prices have lifted some 15% in the UK over the past six months but the plunge in the British pound following the Brexit vote had “offset all of that and then some”, creating very challenging conditions for New Zealand exporters.

Chinese demand indicators have been positive and fewer New Zealand and Australian lambs had added some support to prices.

BNZ economist Doug Steel said the bank’s best guess was that this season’s lamb numbers were similar to, although probably marginally lower than initial industry estimates, perhaps about 23.5million. . . 

Sharemilking payment model has merit but awaiting review says Federated Farmers:

Federated Farmers has been concerned for some time at the reduction in herd owning sharemilking opportunities and possible impact on the industry’s future sustainability.
We encourage and support the development of new business concepts that will potentially make sharemilking more attractive and resilient as an industry.
The development of the variable rate payment option for herd owning sharemilkers has some merit, with Federated Farmers party to discussions relating to this option over the past year. . . 

This all-natural native corn is bejeweled with brilliantly colored kernels – Lacy Cooke:

Oklahoma farmer Carl Barnes decided to reconnect with his Native American heritage, so he began a hunt for old, native varieties of corn. He uncovered a brilliant strain of corn now called Glass Gem Cornthat looks almost too good to eat. These all-natural corn ears are riots of color, and are also a testament to the beauty we stand to lose as biodiversity vanishes.

Through his quest to reconnect to his roots, Barnes isolated several traditional strains of seeds that fell to the wayside when his ancestors traveled to what’s now Oklahoma in the 1800s. Through years of selective growing, Barnes grew corn that looks bejeweled, creating a colorful celebration of native heirloom varieties of corn. . . 

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Rural round-up

February 15, 2017

Nominees announced for inaugural Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards:

National and world champions in traditional sports like shearing, wood chopping, fencing, tree climbing and gumboot throwing feature among the nominees for the inaugural Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards taking place next month in Palmerston North.

Organisers announced the full list of finalists in four separate categories today ahead of the awards dinner at Awapuni Racecourse on Friday 10th March, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games where several of the nominees will be competing. . . 

A spectacular event:

Puns aside, last week’s World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill were sheer brilliance.

It has been widely lauded as the best event in the championship’s 40-year history, with ILT Stadium Southland – dubbed the $40million shearing shed – a most spectacular venue.

Hats off to the organisers for making the big call to bring it south for the first time and to the Southland community for embracing it wholeheartedly.

Christchurch was originally to be the venue but, when it became evident that guaranteeing the required supply of sheep at the right time could be a problem, Invercargill was mooted. . . 

Emotional shearing win – Nicole Sharp:

”This one’s for Joanne Kumeroa,” an emotional Joel Henare said winning the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships woolhandling title in Invercargill on Saturday night.

Dedicating the win to his mentor and friend who passed away in 2015, the Dunedin-based woolhandler, originally from Gisborne, had a tear in his eye as he accepted the winning trophy.

The now two-time world woolhandling champion proved he is the best in the world, beating fellow New Zealand team mate Mary-Anne Baty, Cook Islands representative Tina Elers, of Mataura, and Sophie Huff, of Australia, by 50 points to fulfil his life long dream – again.

”This is a life long dream, to become the world champion.” . . 

Mongolian shearer’s challenge – Sally Rae:

When Enkhnasan Chuluunbaatar began learning how to shear a sheep, it was a two-fold challenge.

Not only did he have to come to grips with using a shearing machine but he was also learning to speak English at the same time.

Fast forward a few years and Mr Chuluunbaatar represented Mongolia at the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Invercargill last week, in a one-man team which was managed by his Kiwi wife Zoe Leetch.

It was the first time Mongolia had had a team in the championships and it was a proud moment for the pair, who were accompanied by their children Tushinbayar (4) and Temulen (2). . . 

Remarkable success story to go on – Sam McIvor:

There’s been a bit of talk lately about the decline of the sheep industry. In particular, that the sheep flock is half what it was in 1990.

But there’s a story hidden in the numbers and it’s not a bad one.

In fact, it’s a most remarkable story about the transformation of an industry from behind the farmgate and into the market.

The rise and rise of New Zealand sheep numbers was caused by a number of things dating back to the early 1930s.

Our dramatic expansion of farm exports started as post-war demand was strong from the home country, Britain, for meat and wool. . .

New report shows benefits of investing in stock water systems:

A new study released today on the use of reticulated stock water systems shows major environmental and economic gains for farmers, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“This is the first study that has ever been done to quantify the benefits of installing an on-farm stock water system on hill country, and it shows excellent results,” says Mr Guy.

The study involved investment analysis of 11 hill country sheep and beef farms across New Zealand who had invested in stock water systems on their properties. . . 

LIC Innovation Farm to host Farming2020 during Techweek17:

Drones, robotic technologies, and automated on-farm sensors – they’re all on display near Hamilton, as LIC’s Innovation Farm plays host to the agricultural showcase ‘Farming2020’.

Farming 2020 is among the signature events included as part of an inaugural three-day event, Techweek17, which takes place from Tuesday 9 May.

Wayne McNee, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) chief executive, said the company was delighted to host Farming2020 at its unique Innovation Farm in Rukuhia.

The LIC Innovation Farm included sensor technology that provided instant information on milk content being produced by its cows (commercially farmed on-site). The farm also included automated in-shed technology, including leading-edge Protrack™ herd management systems and in-line milk meters. . . 

Leadership change at Young Farmers:

A farmer is at the helm of Taranaki’s rapidly-growing Young Farmers clubs for the first time in four years.

Kaponga contract milker Matthew Herbert was elected district chairperson of Young Farmers at an AGM on Saturday.

“There’s a great vibe within our clubs currently, and I’m keen to build on that,” said Mr Herbert.

The 26-year- old was handed the reins by former insurance advisor Warwick Fleming, who held the post for a year.

Mr Fleming’s predecessor, Paul Duynhoven, is an accountant. .  

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Rural round-up

February 8, 2017

‘Moment of truth’ for NZ agriculture in 2017 – industry report:

New Zealand agriculture faces a “moment of truth” in 2017, according to a report by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank.

In its recently-released New Zealand Agricultural Outlook 2017 report, Rabobank says as an industry traditionally characterised by a liberal operating environment, and a key beneficiary of several decades of global shift to freer trade, agriculture faces a period of heightened regulatory uncertainty and change on both fronts.

Releasing the report, Rabobank Country Banking general manager Hayley Moynihan said 2017 was ushering in a period of considerable change and uncertainty for New Zealand agriculture with developments throughout the year likely to have a significant impact on the sector’s prospects this year and in the years to come.

‘They’ve signed off on everything we’ve done’

A Canterbury dairy farmer is defending the use of public land 50 metres from the Rakaia River, saying the regional council has let him farm it since 1990.

A report by the Canterbury Regional Council has detailed agricultural encroachment on nearly 12,000 hectares of land beside Canterbury’s braided rivers, between 1990 and 2012.

Forest and Bird said the areas taken over for farming have effectively been stolen, and their environmental values were, in effect, gone for good. . . . 

Council to use ‘rule book’ for river side development:

Canterbury’s regional council says it now has the enforcement tools needed to deal with farmers enchroaching public land and it won’t hesistate to use them.

An Environment Canterbury report has revealed almost 12,000 hectares of land beside Canterbury’s braided rivers was been converted for intensive agriculture between 1990 and 2012.

One-quarter of the land developed for farming was in public reserve. . .

Paddock to plate: chefs taste-test Omega lamb – Sally Rae:

It might still be early days for the Omega Lamb Project but feedback has been “overwhelming”, general manager Mike Tate says.

The project involves bringing healthy fat back on to the menu by producing lambs with naturally higher polyunsaturated fatty acids, intramuscular fat and omega-3.

Promoted as being the world’s tastiest and healthiest lamb, the project is a collaboration between Alliance Group, Headwaters Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Last week, a gathering was held in the South, bringing chefs from throughout the country together with farmers in the Omega Lamb pilot group. . .

RSE employers hiring more kiwis:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse welcomes a report showing the vast majority of employers who take on seasonal workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are also employing more New Zealanders.

The eighth annual survey of RSE employers found that 79 per cent of the 92 respondents had employed more permanent New Zealand workers in addition to their RSE workers.

“The fact that more RSE employers are now taking on more Kiwis as well is great news and shows once again the huge benefits of the RSE scheme,” Mr Woodhouse says. . .

Lamb flap prices match record high, on limited supply, strong demand – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Strong demand from China combined with limited supply has seen the price for the humble lamb flap rise to match its previous record high.

The price for lamb flaps advanced to US$5.50 per kilogram in January, from US$5.40/kg in December, matching the previous record set in January 2014, according to AgriHQ’s monthly sheep & beef report.

Poor lamb growth rates through spring and early summer combined with improved grass growth has crimped the number of lambs being sent for slaughter in New Zealand, pushing up the price of all lamb cuts tracked by AgriHQ compared with their year-earlier levels. Lamb export volumes in December fell 25 percent from the year earlier to 20,580 tonnes, the lowest level for the month since 2011, according to the latest data.  . . 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2017

Sellers withdraw from wool auction as prices plummet – Sally Rae:

Unprecedented levels of wool withdrawn or passed from the market resulted in the smallest offering South Island wool brokers have presented.

Of the original 13,900 bales put up for auction last week, 2100 were withdrawn on the day as sellers chose to hold, as prices were now well below long-term sustainable levels for wool growers, New Zealand Wool Services International chief executive John Dawson said.

The balance of the offering of 11,819 bales had 64% sold, and the remainder was passed in, Mr Dawson said.

Even the grower resistance could not halt further price slippage for crossbred wool, with lamb’s wool and poorer style fleece again being the most affected, PGG Wrightson Wool’s South Island sales team. . . 

Farmers say plan to regulate privately owned bush is heavy handed – David Burroughs:

Farmers have accused the New Plymouth District Council of “confiscating their land rights” with a plan to regulate areas of privately owned native bush.

Nearly 200 farmers from North Taranaki and further afield filled the Urenui Community Hall on Thursday night to listen to the council’s proposal on Significant Natural Areas (SNAs), with many of them speaking out against the proposal.

Under the plan, around 361 areas would become legally protected, with farmers needing a resource consent to make changes to them, such as building a track or making a hut. 

But many of the farmers said they already took care of the land without the need for regulation and bringing in the new rules was heavy handed of the council. . . 

Marlborough shearer ‘sorted’ for international competition – Mike Watson:

Crutching 1000 lambs could prove the ideal warm up for Marlborough shearer Sarah Higgins as she heads to the All Nations shearing championships in Invercargill.

Higgins is the sole Marlborough shearer competing at the All Nations event which has drawn 400 entries.

“It’s part of my practise run towards the championships,” she said. . . 

Water restrictions affect irrigators too:

They’re as much a part of the traditional kiwi summer as burnt sausages and backyard cricket and despite their late arrival, water restrictions are now in place in most regions. While most of us can accept that our carefully-tended lawn will soon become a pocket square of brown dirt, we tend to get a little bit upset when just down the road we see irrigators operating.

“It’s natural for people to question it” said IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis. “But what they often don’t understand is that irrigators operate under the same regulatory regime that town water supplies do, and that town water supplies actually have a priority – irrigators always get restricted from taking water from a river or aquifer long before towns do.”

However, in urban areas, household restrictions are driven by the infrastructure’s capacity to supply; no town water supply system is built to cope with peak demand,  which is everyone watering their garden at the same time in the height of summer. . . 

Pupils take on farm study:

St Hilda’s Collegiate Schoolpupils have been getting their heads around lamb weights.

The Dunedin school was among 26 nationwide to trial a red meat profit partnership programme last year, aimed at engaging primary and secondary school pupils in farming.

The resources, including assessments within the programme, have received the New Zealand Qualification Authority quality-assured assessment materials trademark, and the programme could be used to gain NCEA credits. It will be rolled out to further schools this year.

St Hilda’s head of maths, John Bradfield, said the school had coincidentally been looking for dairy farming data at the time the RMPP programme “popped across the radar”. . . 

It’s a dog’s life as trial season begins – Sally Rae:

Dog trial season is under way, with a big week ahead in May for the Otago centre.

The South Island championships will be held at Warepa, in South Otago, starting on May 1.

The centre’s first trial for the season was held recently at Lowburn and entries were well up on last year.

It was a particularly good couple of days for members of the Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club, who featured among the prizewinners.

Duncan Campbell, from Earnscleugh Station, won the long head with Zip, while his father, Alistair, was third in the straight hunt with Ra. . .

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Rural round-up

January 30, 2017

Farmers speak up for industry during a hostile year – Gerald Piddock:

Being named as one of Waikato’s top environmental farmers has given a platform for John Hayward and Susan O’Regan to show that agriculture is not the villain it is made out to be.

Nearly a year after being named supreme winners of the Waikato Farm Environment Awards, the couple’s farm has hosted countless individuals and groups, ranging from the former United States ambassador Mark Gilbert to cabinet ministers, MPs and school children.

O’Regan said they had tried to do their best to improve people’s understanding and perspective of dairying in what had been a pretty hostile year. . . 

Dairy strategy about more than just producing extra milk – Andrew Hoggard:

All manner of self-appointed experts have recently been making claims around the dairy industry’s strategy, and how we associate with others.

About the only thing they got right is that we actually do have a strategy. Its official title is The Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming. Its purpose is firstly to inform DairyNZ’s funding priorities, but also to co-ordinate industry action on the various strategy objectives.

The strategy is focused primarily around on-farm, but also covers domestic issues that will take into account the processors. So it’s not about telling the various processors which markets to operate in, and what products to sell. . . 

Shearing champs labour of love falling into place – Sally Rae:

“Imagine the biggest roller coaster in the world and being on it.”

That is how World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships organising committee chairman Tom Wilson describes preparing for the event in Invercargill next week.‘‘Some things have happened easily and the next minute you’ve got to really dig in with something a bit more challenging. ‘‘It is a bit of a labour of love but you work through it. Everything’s falling into place,’’ he said.

Mr Wilson, shearing great Sir David Fagan and Gavin Rowland, from Shearing Sports New Zealand, made the bid at the previous world championships in 2014 to hold the 2017 event in New Zealand. The bid was successful and planning began in earnest for the championships which will be held at the ILT Stadium Southland on February 8-11. The championships have a 40-year history, dating back to when they were first held at Bath and West in England in 1977.Mr Wilson’s involvement stretches nearly as far, contesting his first world championships in Masterton in 1980. . . 

Finalist looks forward to tough competition – Sally Rae:

Alan Harvey is looking forward to next month’s Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

He is one of eight regional finalists who will compete in the event in Roxburgh on February 18. The winner will go on to the grand final in the Manawatu in July.

Organisers have touted it as shaping up to be the toughest competition of the seven regional finals nationwide. Mr Harvey (25) was fourth in the Tasman regional final last year. Brought up on a sheep and beef farm in North Otago, he joined the Five Forks Young Farmers Club when he was 15 and was involved in setting up a club at Waitaki Boys’ High School.

Summer heats up for Hawkes Bay farmers – Alexa Cook:

Farmers in Hawke’s Bay are selling stock because they don’t have enough food or water for them, livestock agent John Kingston says.

Mr Kingston, who works for Carrfields, said although the region had had a good spring, weeks of wind had dried out the land.

“We normally have a dry season here but it’s getting beyond a joke now.

“Stock water is the biggest issue. Some people have had to buy water for houses. The feed is absolutely swept around most of Hawkes Bay.”

Dry weather spells trouble for Northland farmers – Sarah Robson:

Extra blankets and raincoats haven’t been far from reach in many parts of the country this summer, but farmers in Northland are worried they’re in for another prolonged dry spell.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said while there was a welcome burst of rain last week, strong winds have whisked most of the moisture away from the soil.

Dairy farmers were trying to source extra feed and looking at culling their herds. A lot of sheep and beef farmers had already de-stocked, while a wet October meant many crops had failed. . .

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Rural round-up

January 27, 2017

Trade is the life blood of the New Zealand sheep and beef sector:

While disappointed by the US decision to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the New Zealand sheep and beef sector remains strongly supportive of the Agreement and its aims, its representative organisations, the New Zealand Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) say.

Multilateral trade liberalisation creates a stable and level playing field on which to compete and it’s hugely important to the growth and future prosperity of the sheep and beef sector and New Zealand as a whole, the two organisations say.

“We estimated that a 12 nation TPP would have delivered around $72 million in tariff savings a year for the red meat sector alone – not to mention that volume growth in high-value markets that would flow from tariff reduction. The US withdrawing from the TPP is a real setback to our capitalising on these opportunities – and it’s a loss for consumers in the TPP nations,” MIA Chief Executive Tim Ritchie said. . . 

Three astronauts land in Manawatu – Mark Daniel,

Brian and Margaret Schnell bought their Bunnythorpe, Manawatu dairy farm in 1984, and were joined by their daughter Amy and husband Greg Gemmell, who became sharemilkers in 2003.

Fast forward to 2016, when they decided to replace a tired 24-aside herringbone set-up with three Lely Astronaut robots, meaning labour requirements dropped from 1.5 to 0.5 units, and a change from being milkers to supervisors.

The Schnell and Gemmell Partnership farms 240 Friesians, split 75:25 between spring and autumn calvers, now producing about 390kgMS/cow on an all grass system, and expected to rise to 450- 500kgMS/cow within three years. . . 

Champion schooled in some hard sheds – Sally Rae:

As a youngster growing up in Gisborne, champion woolhandler Joel Henare struggled with mainstream schooling.

He left school when he was about 11 and continued his studies through correspondence. 

Sometimes he accompanied his mother, who worked as a shedhand, and would “help out a bit and play around” in the woolsheds. . . 

Bee keepers say honey season ‘worst in 20 years’ :

Some frustrated beekeepers have now declared our dismal summer the worst in two decades for honey-making – but it’s still too early to say whether consumers will also feel a sting.
Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said the consistent message from beekeepers across the country was this had been a particularly bad season for yields, as poor weather kept bees from collecting nectar.

“We’ve had unseasonable weather conditions, and less predictable and shorter flowering seasons, and that is absolutely affecting honey production this year.”

No Increase in Bid for Blue Sky Meats:

NZ Binxi has received a good volume of acceptances for its offer for Blue Sky Meats (BSM) to date but would need to see acceptances continuing to flow if the offer is to succeed. All acceptances must be received by BSM shareholders by 18 February 2017.

The directors of NZ Binxi consider the cash offer of $2.20 per BSM share correct and full value for the BSM company, as it is at the top end of the value scale and is supported by the Target Company Statement. We have fully considered all aspects of the business, the competitive environment, historical and current financial results, overseas market conditions and future capital required to operate the improved business performance. . . 

The public is finally coming round to GM crops – Tom Bawden:

The public has become much more welcoming towards genetically-modified crops in the past few years, preparing the ground for them to be introduced to the UK, a leading expert has predicted.

Professor Christine Raines is in charge of a major GM project that could herald the beginning of a new era in an area that detractors say has seen disappointing progress in the past three decades.

The project, which the government will decide whether to approve next March, would involve trialling a new type of GM wheat – the first time a crop has been engineered to produce a higher yield.


Rural round-up

January 26, 2017

Katikati’s growth meets stubborn Remuera farmers – Scott K. MacLeod:

It’s a classic clash between urban growth and farmers.

Katikati’s population has grown from 3000 to 4500 in just 15 years, and one of the best places for new development is northeast towards the coast.

Water pipes are in place, the land is mostly flat, and the area is sandwiched by Park and Beach Rds radiating from the town’s centre.

The problem is, 50ha of that land is owned by Remuera farmers who simply don’t want to sell – even for big bucks. One estimate put the land’s value at $60 million if subdivided. . . 

Wool a way forward in filter technology – Sally Rae:

Not-so woolly thinking has gone into developing technology touted as having the ability to improve global health.

Auckland-based Texus Fibre recently signed an investment and distribution agreement with another Auckland company, Healthy Breath Ltd, which would have the wool-based Helix Filter from Texus used in a new generation of urban masks marketed to Asian consumers.

Specifically-bred sheep, developed by Wanaka man Andy Ramsden, would be used to provide the wool.

Rural community still stressed after Kaikōura earthquake – Alexa Cook:

It is more important than ever to check on neighbours and friends, says Doug Avery, a leader for mental health and resiliance in farming.

Mr Avery is a sheep and beef farmer in the Marlborough region, between Ward and Seddon, an area badly damaged by the 14 November’s Kaikoura earthquake.

He said while most farms were back on track, it was evident people were still having a tough time.

Case for regional trade deals like TPP remains strong:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) says the case for regional (and other) trade deals remains very strong, regardless of the recent decision by the US to withdraw from the TPP agreement. DCANZ emphasises the importance of New Zealand continuing to prioritise regional and global agreements within an ambitious agenda for trade liberalisation.

“The link between trade and the prosperity of nations is well established and strong” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. “By expanding market opportunities, trade creates jobs, promotes resource use efficiency, and better positions economies to invest in infrastructure, education and social services. Agricultural trade supports food security and geopolitical stability”. . . 

Fonterra moves to reassure shareholders after Beingmate slashes guidance – Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group has sought to reassure shareholders after its Chinese partner Beingmate Baby and Child Food Co slashed its full-year guidance.

Shenzen-listed Beingmate now expects to report a full-year net loss of 750 million yuan to 800 million yuan, double its prior forecast loss, according to Reuters. In the prior year, the company reported a net profit of 103.6 million yuan.

“We are confident in our overall China strategy, of which our Beingmate partnership continues to be an important part,” said Fonterra’s chief financial officer Lukas Paravicini in an emailed statement after Beingmate’s announcement. Fonterra bought an 18.8 percent stake in Beingmate in 2015 as it sought to ensure greater access to the Chinese market.

Speed shearing at Middlemarch – David Loughrey:

A small Strath Taieri community with a reasonably recently formed young farmers club is set to run its second speed shearing event.

 The second Strath Taieri Young Farmers speed shear competition is scheduled for Saturday week.

The event will include competitions for farmers and novices, former shearers, and intermediate, senior and open grade shearers.


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