Woolly thinking

dogIT’S NO secret that current wool prices are awful, but the outlook for the fibre has been terrible for many years.

For some types of wool, more has been put in storage than has sold in the last nine months, mainly due to lack of demand from China.

According to reports, current wool exports to China are 40% lower than last year. This highlights the folly of the industry relying on China alone.

As Wools of NZ chair Mark Shadbolt says, “The world is our market so as soon as you allow 60% of all of our exports to go into one country then you are exposed.” Continue reading

Sailing away

A cupTO USE the latest America’s Cup parlance, the New Zealand primary sector is ‘up on its foils’ at present.

According to the latest Rabobank survey, farmer confidence and spending intentions jumped to record levels in the second quarter of this year, buoyed by improved commodity prices. Continue reading

Front-foot it

cricketAS THE curtain comes down on another successful Fieldays, NZ’s farming sector has experienced something uncommon nowadays – a raft of positive media coverage.

Positive descriptors such as innovators, economic powerhouse, world-leading food producers, celebrating farming and emerging leaders – to name but a few – were interspersed among the myriad of media stories covering the event.

Contrast this to the regular, daily bashing farming usually takes from urban-dominated media and certain self-important, inexpert, opinionated talking heads.

As Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says, the rural story needs to be told straight from the woolsheds and dairy sheds

“It’s going to need to be from someone in a Swanndri, not a suit,” he says.

Who else can be relied on to explain that farmers have spent at least $1 billion of their own money on environmental measures onfarm?  Certainly not the myopic anti-farming crusaders and their acolytes such as SAFE, Greenpeace or Fish and Game.

Yes, those in farmers who are polluting waterways or treating animals and workers badly need to be held accountable and punished. But these are far and away a minority in the sector – not that you would believe it by the media coverage farming usually gets.

As Guys says, if we really want a message to change the public perception of farming, “it can’t just come from politicians”.

Who else can explain that farmers have fenced enough waterways to cover the distance from Auckland to Chicago and back again? Who else can show the world-leading and innovative things going on every day on New Zealand’s farms?

Events such as Fieldays and environmental award competitions are good, but they happen only annually. Plenty of other good things are happening in our industry every day and we all must take the opportunity to highlight these.

In the age of social media, farmers themselves have the ability to influence public opinion – just as the anti-farming types are doing every day.

Guy has challenged the farming sector to promote our industry to our friends and family who might not know much about it.

We should all take up that challenge – today!



Will the naysayers ever stop?

You can't negoitate with eco-terrorists

You can’t negoitate with eco-terrorists

THE RECENT release of the progress report on the last three years of the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord has sparked all the naysayers of the dairy industry into another series of spiteful attacks on farmers.

Granted, the report does highlight things that haven’t yet been achieved, but to be fair it doesn’t attempt to make excuses either. Continue reading

Country of origin labelling a cool idea

US meat label articleMANDATORY LABELLING of fruits and vegetables is back on the public agenda.

A recent joint survey, by Horticulture NZ and Consumer NZ, shows 70% of consumers want to know where their fruit and veges come from. Only 9% of those surveyed did not support mandatory country-of-origin labelling (CoOL).

Coinciding with the survey results is the drawing of a bill on mandatory labelling of fruits and vegetables, introduced to parliament by the Green Party. Continue reading

We’re all in this together

CPWL5THE DEBATE about New Zealand’s water quality has become too simplistic, with far too much finger pointing and blame in mostly farming’s direction.

It is clear that our water quality is bad enough to require action and, in some instances, it is getting worse.

Action is needed. Too often critics claim nothing is happening, everything is getting worse, no-one cares and the regulators are all in the pockets of profiteers. That’s untrue. Continue reading