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

March 24, 2017

Rabbit virus setback ‘bureaucratic nonsense’ – Alexa Cook:

Canterbury’s regional council knew three weeks ago it could not release a much-anticipated rabbit virus this autumn.

It was not until yesterday Environment Canterbury (ECan) set a new release date of March 2018, saying “more work was needed to get the necessary approvals”.

Federated Farmers said it was disappointed by the setback. Farmers would have to rely on poisons yet again.

Its Otago president, Phill Hunt, said he spent about $15,000 a year controlling rabbits on his sheep and byeef farm near Queenstown. . .

British farmers want lamb deal with kiwis  – Colin Ley:

The idea of Britain and New Zealand working together to promote a complementary fresh lamb offer, with seasonality being used to stimulate demand, was discussed during a recent meeting between English and Welsh farming leaders and delegates from the kiwi meat industry.

A similar plea for closer co-operation between NZ and United Kingdom lamb producers, including on pricing levels, was also voiced to Farmers Weekly by north of England sheep sector leader, Richard Findlay. . . 

Quake hit farmers face winter in damaged homes – Maja Burry:

Quake-hit farmers with damaged homes urgently need suitable accommodation before winter, a group supporting them says.

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust spokesperson Sarah Barr said about 20 farming families were applying to buy temporary housing units from the government.

The units, which were no longer needed in Christchurch, could be bought for $25,000 excluding relocation costs of about $30,000. . .

Ag trainers to get more help – Neal Wallace:

The beleaguered training and education sector has received some welcomed news with PrimaryITO adopting a greater and more diverse training role.

The changes followed a difficult two years for primary sector training providers in which a number closed but that came with the realisation training was essential to meet the Government’s goal of doubling the value of primary sectors exports by 2025, chief executive Dr Linda Sissons said. . .

The Green Issue: Awatere Valley high country station farmers among environment award finalists – Mike Watson:

High country farmers Steve and Mary Satterthwaite have shown how to farm sustainably on difficult land through dedication, innovation and efficiency.

Steve has farmed Muller Station, in the upper Awatere Valley, for the past 37 years.

The 38,000-hectare high country station carries about 14,500 merino sheep, and 2000 angus cattle, and is self-sufficient with well-stocked gardens and freezers.

When he first arrived on the farm it was overrun by rabbits and scabweed, he said.

Fonterra Announces 2017 Interim Results

Results Highlights

• Forecast Farmgate Milk Price $6.00 per kgMS

• Forecast cash payout $6.40 after retentions*

• Interim dividend of 20 cents per share – to be paid in April

• Revenue $9.2 billion, up 5%

• Normalised EBIT $607 million, down 9% . . .

Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware –  Jason Koebler:

A dive into the thriving black market of John Deere tractor hacking.

To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers throughout America’s heartland have started hacking their equipment with firmware that’s cracked in Eastern Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums.

Tractor hacking is growing increasingly popular because John Deere and other manufacturers have made it impossible to perform “unauthorized” repair on farm equipment, which farmers see as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time.

“When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don’t have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it,” Danny Kluthe, a hog farmer in Nebraska, told his state legislature earlier this month. “Most all the new equipment [requires] a download [to fix].” . . .


%d bloggers like this: