Tighten companion animal rules?
Ithink we can safely say, pastoral livestock farmers in our area of interest are very happy with the relatively mild spring being experienced to date. Milk flows in our district are ahead season to date, and stock sales have been very buoyant due to good feed levels in the North Island. As to farm gate prices, dairy export product sales using the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) as the real-time guide to the marketplace, are in some products being quoted 54 per cent ahead of this time last year. That can only mean, in my opinion, that world dairy food inventories are low, and buyers are purchasing product on a just-in-time basis. Nearly all dairy companies in New Zealand have actually posted a confident prediction 2012/2013 milk solid price target range around the $8 kg so early in the season to their respective supplier base. Early days as to lambing per centages and red meat sales but our drystock farming families should also experience some realistic returns on their efforts. Biological (bio) security is still an important issue for myself and my fellow Federated Farmers’ elected colleagues to keep a constant brief on, we make no apologies as agent provocateur in preventing incursions of undesirable nasties getting through our borders, we are ever watchful of MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries) attention to that issue. Right now, our livestock farming peers in Australia have got a huge internal bio security problem with wild canine predation; not dingoes but dogs. Significant concern is being raised right now over there; with huge numbers of newborn livestock being easy prey to these marauding dogs. One quote is that their sheep industry will be no more within 20 years , if action is not taken now. I see the new Australian prime minister has appointed his various portfolio office holders, but with no ministerial title I see. I observe with interest how this predation issue will be addressed. It was common knowledge that Sydney had a huge freeroaming cat problem. I suggest to say that both the cat and dog predation is poor stewardship by domestic pet owners. Perhaps we may have to be more mindful here, do we consider to introduce some sort of legal obligation other than the welfare code to own a companion animal in New Zealand? As you can see, never a dull moment in agriculture.
Andrew McGiven, Chair of Te Aroha Federated Farmers, on the Hauraki Gulf Spatial Plan.
Just recently I was notified about the existence of the Hauraki Gulf Spatial Plan, and what effect this may have on all landowners in the Waihou, Waitoa and Piako River catchments. Upon reading the objectives of this plan, about preserving the Hauraki Gulf, improving the harbour’s water quality, shellfish and wildlife; it all sounds well and good and things that we all as farmers would readily support. But when I dig down into the detail, what becomes glaringly obvious is that on the board of the Hauraki Gulf forum is not one representative from the agricultural sector.
I would have thought that if a plan was being composed that encompassed not only the Hauraki Gulf, but also our entire river catchments, that key stakeholders such as the agricultural sector would be represented not only on the stakeholders’ forum but on the actual decision-making body itself, the Hauraki Gulf Forum. At present it appears that this is top heavy with representatives from local government (especially Auckland) and iwi. Can we as farmers afford to be dictated to by bureaucrats from Auckland about water quality issues?
I believe the only way to get farmers and other primary producers on board is to work with us, not set some impossible standard and expect it to be achieved overnight. We farmers are probably the most effective and efficient environmentalists.
However to completely shut out any agricultural representation from the forum board, when agriculture in the Hauraki Gulf contributes more than $1 billion annually, I believe is a mistake. It is very easy to be green when the community is affluent and can afford to implement these initiatives and as farmers we have always been easy targets for these green zealots but now I believe it is time we stand up for ourselves, get ourselves appointed onto these committees and make our views known.