Saturday 17th February
Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says initial results from the first round of milk testing from all producing dairy farms for Mycoplasma bovis indicate eradication of the disease remains a viable option as work to contain it ramps up. The first round of the joint industry MPI surveillance programme is near completion with no positive detections. Tests have been completed on the tanker milk from 9100 dairy farms without a positive detection. The remaining tests will be completed early next week. In addition to the milk testing, MPI is working with urgency to build a complete picture of the scale and location of the disease in New Zealand to fully inform whether eradication from the country is feasible and economically viable.
A marked drop in farmer optimism and growing concern about the ability to recruit suitable staff are stand-out features of the Federated Farmers Mid-Season Farm Confidence Survey. For the first time in two years, farmer optimism has decreased, including negative perceptions of the economy, farm profitability, farm production and farm spending. Farm debt levels have also increased and fewer farms are now debt-free. Last month’s survey found that optimism about future farm production fell for the first time since January 2016, with dairy farmers the most pessimistic.
And a stellar line-up of rural sport athletes, representing an array of disciplines, have been announced as finalists for New Zealand’s premier celebration of rural sports – the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards. Chair of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards Judging Panel, Sir Brian Lochore says the awards are about celebrating traditional sports and the people who keep events running year-in and year-out in the towns and settlements across New Zealand. This year’s finalists range from 11 to 77 years old and come from a range of rural sporting disciplines, including tree climbing, fencing, shearing, rodeo, endurance horses, wood chopping, gumboot throwing and, for the first time, egg throw and catch. The Awards Dinner is held on Friday March 9 at Awapuni Function Centre in Palmerston North, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games in Palmerston North where nominees and winners will be competing.