Tuesday, 20 October 2020 06:55

Parker refuses to bend

Written by  Peter Burke
Hundreds of farmers, business people and others from the wider Southland community gathered in Gore and Invercargill earlier this month to express concerns about the impacts of the new freshwater regulations. Hundreds of farmers, business people and others from the wider Southland community gathered in Gore and Invercargill earlier this month to express concerns about the impacts of the new freshwater regulations.

Southland Federated Farmers vice president Bernadette Hunt says she finds it “interesting” that Environment Minister David Parker continues to downplay the feedback on the Government’s freshwater regulations.

Hunt says Parker accused a local retailer in Southland, who spoke out against the regulations, of “catastrophising” the situation. But she says, in Southland, opposition to the new laws is not just coming from farmers but from the whole business community, who can see the economic disaster that is coming their ways with Parker’s new laws.

“For Parker to say that any opposition is ‘catastrophising’ the situation, shows that he was not connected very well to what goes on in Southland,” Hunt told Rural News

“Retailers and businesspeople in Southland have time and time again seen what happens to the local economy when there is a dairy downturn. They know how it affects them and they take steps whenever they see one coming to protect themselves against it. 

“This is just not a dairy downturn. This is every aspect of farming plus a huge hit on ratepayers as well that has yet to come.”

Hunt says nobody is questioning the need to improve water quality. However, she says this needs to be done over a sensible period of time so that the costs of changes don’t decimate the local economy in the process.

Her comments follow farmer and community protests in Gore and Invercargill against the new freshwater laws. In Gore, 100 tractors paraded through the streets of the town to a rally at the local A&P showgrounds where farmers were joined by the local mayor and other businesspeople to hear about the implications of the laws. Hunt says local people came out with placards supporting the farmers.

She says mayor Tracy Hicks told the rally that farmers were justified in their protest. Hunt says the regulations are not only a cost to farmers but to the whole community and Gore people recognise this.

“It almost had the feel of Christmas parade with all those in town supporting the convoy of tractors rather than being frustrated by it. The rally made a huge statement and there was not even a hint of any ‘redneck’ behaviour. I was proud of the way farmers conducted themselves,” Hunt says.

In Invercargill the next day, the turnout was larger with 500 people and 150 tractors crowded into the Queens Park area to hear a variety of speakers voice their concerns about the new regulations. Hunt says there was mix of farmers and high profile local businesspeople including the local chamber of commerce taking part.

Hunt says there was great camaraderie among all those at the protest. 

“We set up a stage on a truck and there was panel discussion, which included a banker, a farmer, a real estate agent and a retailer. They gave their views on how these freshwater regulations will impact the broader economy of Southland – so we didn’t go into any of the specifics about the rules. 

“It was much higher level and about the impact of the regulations on the various sectors in the community. After that, three representatives of catchment groups in Southland showcased some of the great things that farmers and community groups have already done to improve freshwater quality.”

Mental health concerns

Bernadette Hunt says after the main speakers the rally passed three resolutions that are to be passed on to government. 

These were:

• The best solutions to Southland’s challenges will be developed in Southland 

• Cultivating and planting will happen when conditions are appropriate 

• Southland must balance a healthy economy and health freshwater

Hunt says there were two prongs to the protest. The first was to raise the profile of the problem of the regulations and to inform people about what these will mean for them. She says the other issue was a focus on mental health in the region. 

“We had Laura Douglas from the Fairlight Foundation speak about this issue,” Hunt says. “She spoke about her story of resilience through change and uncertainty, and gave farmers and all those there, some positive messages to take home.” 

Hunt says the mental health issues are not just confined to farmers, but to the whole community who are affected by pressure and uncertainty of the new regulations.

More like this

Nice speech, but...

OPINION: Publisher Stuff and lobby group Federated Farmers both like to preach about their respective high-minded virtues – Stuff, about “funding journalism”, Feds about “supporting our farming communities”.

A dangerous precedent

A proposal by the Timaru District Council (TDC) to extend setbacks in rural areas is raising eyebrows.

The next three years — Editorial

OPINION: The dust from the 2020 general election has settled and Labour has been given the mandate to govern New Zealand for the next three years.

Praise for associate director scheme

Federated Farmers dairy vice chairman Richard McIntyre says the associate director scheme run by DairyNZ is awesome and he would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.



Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

Horizon is also able to connect and combine data from non-Lely sources into a complete solution for the farmer removing the need to enter the same data twice, while scrutinising individual data streams in different applications will no longer be necessary. Currently, connections with farming applications such as Dairy Comp, Uniform-Agri, CRV and Herde already enable farmers to synchronise information about calving and inseminations between applications. Lely’s ambition is to connect with more partners over time, to hand the farmer more smart data.

To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

Goat farming on the rise

Dairy goat milk processors, looking to increase their supplier numbers, are helping to drive interest among farmers in New Zealand’s growing goat milk industry.

TB fight goes on

The total number of TB-infected herds in Hawke’s Bay has risen to 20, following the recent reclassification of a new herd in the Waitara Valley.

Milking cows behind the barbed wire

A recent field day at the Waikeria Prison Farm near Te Awamutu offered farmers the chance to see what goes on “behind the wire”, alongside introducing the idea of farmers employing offenders near the end or after the term of their sentences.


Dispelling wool's myths

Paul Alston believes that when comparing wool and synthetic carpets, wool wins every time.

Not all GHGs are the same

The New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (NZRSB) is calling for a new, more accurate, method for calculating methane emissions.

Machinery & Products

Weeds in for a shock

WIith an increasing focus on reducing chemical herbicides, largely because of crop resistance and a potential build-up of residues, new…

V8 - a baler with a grunt

Following three years of testing with clients worldwide, Ireland-based manufacturer McHale has added a bigger model to its range of…

Virtual CV valuable tool

With a 12-year history of recruiting specialised operators from overseas to service the agricultural contracting industry, Hanzon Jobs typically brings…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Tough gig!

OPINION: This old mutt has a fair amount of sympathy for Ag Minister Damien O’Connor with the two associate ministers…

Cow killer

OPINION: The Hound was not surprised to hear well-known end-of-the-world doom-merchant ‘Dr’ Mike Joy is still as joyless as ever…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter