After recent southerly blasts, winter is here and with it the often monotonous seasonal tasks of feeding out and shifting breaks.
At least we are going into this winter with plenty of feed on-hand which is huge relief.
While the drought has broken, many of us are still dealing will the fall-out of November’s earthquake and this, like the drought will take years to recover from.
The Minister for Primary Industries has announced a $5m land recovery package, so TeamAg – made up of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers and the Rural Support Trust – are working together to ensure the best use is made of this money to support affected farmers.
In reality, we are old news, so it is important we stay engaged with our local and national politicians to ensure the earthquake recovery stays on track and we can get on with rebuilding our homes and businesses as quickly as possible.
Similarly, the on-going effects of the drought will continue to take their toll on a number of farmers in our region. Financially it is tough going trying to rebuild stock numbers on what is a grass market. There is plenty of help out there and I know Rural Support Trust is continuing to do a great job within our region. Returns for sheep meat look likely to strengthen next season, so I am hoping that 2017/18 will be the Year of the Sheep.
Recently I was lucky enough to attend the Ahuwhenua Trophy, Excellence in Maori Farming Awards evening in Whangarei.
This country’s oldest and most prestigious farming competition, the Ahuwhenua Trophy began in 1933 when visionary Maori leader Sir Apirana Ngata and Governor General Lord Bledisloe introduced the award to encourage skill and proficiency in Maori farming.
This year the category was sheep and beef – it alternates with dairy – and it really was impressive to gain insight into the workings of large and small scale Maori corporations-with their unique governance structures- as well as family farming operations.
The Award evenings are a fantastic celebration of farming and the strong ties Maori have with their land.
It has been an interesting few weeks at Beef + Lamb New Zealand as we undergo a strategy refresh-taking a look at what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. I will be sharing the outcomes of this with you in the weeks and months ahead, but throughout this process we have tried to focus on the needs of farmers in this fast-changing regulatory and political environment.
Phil Smith is the B+LNZ farmer director for the Northern South Island.