Tuesday, 09 April 2024 12:55

A light at the end of the tunnel?

Written by  Peter Burke
John Roche says while things have improved, the primary sector is by no means out of the woods yet with farmers and growers still doing it tough. John Roche says while things have improved, the primary sector is by no means out of the woods yet with farmers and growers still doing it tough.

The country's farmers appear to be a little more upbeat than they were several months ago.

That’s the view of John Roche, the head of MPI’s On Farm Support – a team of people within the Ministry for Primary Industries whose role is to provide on-the-ground help for farmers and growers. The relatively small team has staff based in key locations around the country and its role is to help farmers and growers to navigate information, investigate opportunities, and access advice.

The team facilitates and encourages collaboration, building on the resources that already exist and filling in gaps where necessary. It is similar in some ways to the Irish equivalent, Teagasc, but much smaller in size and is an initiative by MPI to establish closer links with rural communities.

Roche says while things have improved, the primary sector is by no means out of the woods yet and farmers and growers are still doing it tough.

MPI’s reading of the situation in the rural community mirrors that of banks and other commentators who have identified factors including the new government with its promise of cutting red tape and unpalatable regulations as reasons for improved farmer confidence.

Roche says there are also other factors.

“I think it is probably a mixture of everything. Certainly, the season has come through biologically a lot better than we anticipated,” he told Rural News.

“Five months ago, the majority of experts were saying we were in for the largest El Nino in 40 years building in the Pacific and there was the possibility of catastrophic drought.”

But Roche says some good rains have come though the regions, resulting in good grass growth, and there has been a slight upward movement in schedule prices. But he adds that these are still very low – not helped by Australian lamb flooding onto the international market and driving down prices to our farmers.

He says it appears with the better grass growth, more stock – both sheep and dairy cattle – are being held on farm, which could result in lower prices and strain on processing plants to deal with a potential bottleneck of stock in the future.

Roche’s other concerns are the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East which could impact financially on farmers and growers.

“Then there is China where we have seen the rebuilding of pig herds, which means that demand for other meats has softened, meaning lower prices for our exports.”

John Roche says MPI is closely monitoring the international situation and also looking at population growth and changing consumer habits. He says in terms of China, there appear to be no big trends, and while growth there for the coming year is expected to be a relatively modest 5%, this isn’t all that bad news for the world’s second largest economy.

“In the words of one of my farming mentors – panic slowly,” he says.

More like this

Home detention for animal neglect

A Taranaki dairy farmer received four-month home detention and was disqualified from overseeing of animals for 18 months over a lack of feed and welfare which led to some animals being euthanised.

MPI cuts 391 jobs

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has informed staff it will cut 391 jobs following a consultation period.

Cut with care

OPINION: The new government has clearly signalled big cuts across the public service.

Biosecurity award for M. bovis work

A small company which mobilised veterinarians around the country to deal with Mycoplasma bovis was one of the winners in this year's Biosecurity Awards, held at Parliament.

Featured

National

UAE FTA welcome news

The dairy and red meat sectors have welcomed news that New Zealand will begin formal negotiations for a free trade…

Flock House and its secrets

Plans are in place to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the legendary Flock House opening its doors for the first…

$160 billion cargo shipment deal

New Zealand’s major primary industry exporters have secured shipping capability to export $160 billion worth of products over the next…

Machinery & Products

More horsepower for Puma

Case IH's introduction of AFS Connect, an option for its high horsepower tractor ranges, has now been rolled out across…

EU tractor sales hit the brakes

According to numbers sourced from national authorities, 151,800 tractors were registered across Europe in 2023, of which 26,200 tractors (17%)…

GPS in control

In a move that will make harvesting operations easier, particularly in odd-shaped paddocks, Kuhn has announced that GPS section control…

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

True colours

OPINION: The watermelon party (AKA the Greens) try to portray themselves as an upright, self-righteous, caring bunch of woke, bicycle-riding…

Peace at last?

OPINION: Good news for hunters as Forest & Bird have "paused" legal action against the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation and agreed…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter