North Otago farmers happy with the rain

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Rain over the Christmas-New Year period has been welcomed by farmers and has come as a boost for pasture growth.

North Otago Federated Farmers president Richard Strowger said the rain also provided a holiday for irrigators over the holiday period.

“There’s an abundance of feed at this stage,” he said.

Statistics from the NZ MetService show a total of 120mm of rain fell in Oamaru in the month from December 8 up until Tuesday with the heaviest falls occurring on December 16 (22.2mm) and December 18 (17.2mm).

Inland at Dansey’s Pass, 24.5mm was recorded for the week up until Tuesday and 36.5mm at the Ahuriri south weather station. A total of 10mm was recorded during the same period at the Kakanui River’s Clifton Falls Bridge.

The MetService is forecasting more rain or showers on most days for the next week.

Mr Strowger said the extra feed that was available would allow farmers to push for extra weights for lambs maximising their rate of return.

The beef sector was static while arable prices were “pretty strong”. The grain harvest begins at the end of the month and early February.

Mr Strowger said a couple of farms in the region converted to dairying in the past year and as the sector expanded, more would be expected, especially with irrigation extension lines going in.

However, wool still remained problematic.

“We need wool to come back,” Mr Strowger said.

In its latest rural confidence survey, Rabobank said farmer confidence had risen with more than half the country’s farmers expecting 2014 would be a good year for the industry.

Mr Strowger said he thought commodity prices were reasonable.

Rabobank said confidence among dairy producers held steady, while beef and sheep farmer’ outlook was at similar levels to the previous survey.

Overall, only five per cent of New Zealand farmers had a negative outlook on the year ahead.

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said commodity prices were identified as the primary driver of confidence by farmers in the survey.

However, he added that while overall confidence in the rural economy had climbed, farmers’ expectations for the performance of their own individual businesses had softened.

A total of 55 per cent of farmers still expected improved business performance in the next 12 months. This was lower than the 57 per cent in the previous survey.

By CHRIS TOBIN