Calving mostly over; labour issue worrying

Calving has finished for most farmers who used artificial insemination, Federated Farmers North Otago dairy and sharefarmer chairwoman Myfanwy Alexander says.

‘‘There are still a few stragglers,’’ she said this week.

The rain that deluged the district in the past two months had affected a few farmers, but it occurred just before calving started for a lot of the dairy sector, Miss Alexander said.

‘‘Now, we’re turning on the irrigation.

‘‘That’s what happens when you have a few days of nor-westers.

‘‘We’re front-footing that.

‘‘We’ve been really lucky with the weather.’’

Farmers had enjoyed having sunshine in which the calves could flourish and which produced sugars in the grass, she said.

‘‘Most people are happy.’’

Cow condition was ‘‘not bad’’ once they had got out of the rain.

The labour shortage was a concern for dairy farmers, who were frustrated by the time it was taking for overseas people to arrive, Miss Alexander said.

On her farm near Duntroon, she was waiting on a man from the Philippines who had worked there previously.

‘‘We’ve been lucky to get casuals from New Zealand.’’

Some Kiwis were using the demand for farm staff as an opportunity to take a year away from their usual work and travel around to plug gaps in rural areas, she said.

She identified the other main worries for dairy farmers as Three Waters, He Waka Eke Noa and winter grazing.

But despite the increasing compliance being imposed on farmers, it was ‘‘the best career out there’’, Miss Alexander said.

‘‘With all the new regulations there are a lot of challenges. But we can look at the opportunities.

‘‘There will be big changes in the next 10 years in what we are producing.’’

It was possible to meet and excel expectations with good industry support, she said.

Dairy farmers were displaying ‘‘quite good motivatedness’’. That was especially the case in the Federated Farmers dairy section, which was ‘‘a very motivated group’’ regardless of the work pressures it was experiencing.

Farmers were proud of producing so much quality food for New Zealand and the rest of the world, Miss Alexander said. Her relatives in the United Kingdom had said their nation had only three days’ worth of food at its disposal if links to outside suppliers were cut off.