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”.
Bernadette Hunt, Southland Federated Farmers, told Dairy News that in parts of the province, pastures have been very badly damaged by recent floods. She says the pastures are just so wet it’s impossible to graze animals on the land and there is insufficient grass for stock.
“It is obviously very early in the season to be thinking of OAD milking. A lot of dairy farmers had to take their stock off pasture because the paddocks were so waterlogged and the pasture damaged,” she says.
Hunt says while they were expecting rain, a huge amount fell in a twelve hour period and that caught people in some areas by surprise. She says flooding was localised, with small creeks and culverts overflowing, cutting off stock and making roads impassable.
On some farms, effluent ponds filled up rapidly, but she says the flooding went down quickly, although there is still pasture damage.
Feed supplies in the region are said to be good, due in part to a mild winter. Ironically, Hunt says it feels like they are getting their winter weather in spring. But she says people do have surplus baleage, which will be available for farmers with damaged pastures. She says it’s now a matter of how long it takes for the sodden pastures to dry out.
“This is delaying contractors getting on to the land. Normally the first crops start going in during October with others following in November.
“We have effectively lost a fortnight. There is a shortage of contractors due to Covid and the immigration challenges, and the rain has compressed the planting season, which is going to make it tough on contracting staff,” she says.
Hunt says with farmer morale already pretty low, this is just another blow that they really don’t want and adds to the challenges they face.