Red tape threatens farm viability
The better weather means farmers should be getting their heads back above water and with some routine returning to workloads.
Now is the time to catch up on some of the things that have fallen by the wayside in the midst of wild winter weather and calving or lambing.
One of those things may have been the introduction of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme which is now compulsory.
Like it or loathe it, NAIT is not disappearing so make sure you know your obligations.
The Variation 6 water consenting process is also beginning.
The Waikato Regional Council (WRC) is holding meetings around the region to make sure everyone knows what they have to do to comply.
I think it is in the interest of every farmer to make sure they understand what is required of them.
Having gone through the protracted process of getting WRC’s Variation 6 rules around water sorted out, I have a lot of sympathy for our southern neighbours who farm in the Horizons Regional Council’s territory.
Farmers everywhere are waiting anxiously to see if the rules handed down by the Environment Court a couple of weeks ago will in fact allow primary industries to continue to operate profitably there.
The Environment Court’s decision to return many important aspects of the regional plan almost exactly to the original proposed plan, rather than the recommendations of the independent commissioners following a rigorous and detailed hearing process, was a disappointing decision for the farmers who could now find that farming in that region is uneconomic.
It is also disappointing that many of the groups who persisted in calling for the more draconian rules to be implemented are the same who rely on farmers’ goodwill, which I would say is drying up very quickly at the moment.
Realistically, who would invite, or even allow, hunters or anglers on their farm when they are part of an organisation trying to limit your ability to effectively operate your business?
The irony is, by placing rules on farmers to cap production and income, the plan is more likely to hurt the environment than help it.
A farmer with no money cannot afford to voluntarily retire land and pay to fence off waterways.
Also, unchecked gorse taking over abandoned farmland could leach more nitrogen into waterways than managed dairy herds ever did.
It will be interesting to see if this plan is taken up as a precedent in other areas of the country or if other councils will grasp the folly of regulating away the viability of primary industries.
I see there are already reports starting to hit the headlines of sheep being stolen by rustlers, and I urge all farmers to take proper security precautions to deter would-be thieves.
There has also been a spate of thefts of quad and farm bikes, scrap metal and even electric fencing in many areas.
It may seem like a bit of an outlay to install cameras, but there have been cases recently where a few hundred dollars worth of investment has proven its worth by catching criminals.
Locking gates and sheds, having a quick chat with the stranger parked incongruously on the side of the road and perhaps starting up a neighbourhood-watch-style group in your community could all be ways to help prevent theft.
It is reasonably clear that a lot of theft is to order, so also do not accept deals down the pub at too-goodto-be-true prices.
This is especially important when it comes to dodgy meat packs.
You never know if that meat is safe to eat.
Many of the animals rustled and poached each year have just been drenched or are actually being treated by vets.
These animals are strictly monitored and have a withholding period before the medicine has worked its way through their system and they are again safe for human consumption.
Eating the meat from these could make you and your family very sick, so while the price of meat at the butcher may seem a bit dear, be safe and stick to that.