Farmers in the wet Whanganui region will be waiting anxiously as the waters start to recede, after heavy rain and high river levels caused widespread flooding.
The Whanganui river is still running high, after breaking its banks on Wednesday afternoon, while other rivers, such as the Whangaehu and Rangitikei are receding.
Many roads in the Whanganui and southern King Country remain closed, while there are several mud slips and fallen trees in the area.
Federated Farmers’ Adverse Events spokesperson Katie Milne says most farmers escaped serious or widespread damage from the initial event, thanks to an early warning system and good lines of communication.
"It's not too bad, there have been several individuals who've been affected pretty badly, but as a region, it's not too bad.
"Up until this event it was looking like a pretty dry Spring"
Ms Milne says there will be an anxious few days in prospect as the waters recede, and farmers get a better picture of the clean up ahead of them.
"That's when you will see how much there is to do, there will be plenty of damage assessment in the next few days as people see how their fences have been affected and so on.
"It's always a bit of a hassle, but once again, it's not catastrophic."
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Spring storms are putting farmers’ patience to the test, with reports of more damaged irrigators after Monday’s storm.
Gale force winds moved up the country, knocking out power, causing disruption to transport networks and felling trees from Canterbury to the bottom of the North Island.
The West Coast was hit with severe winds and flooding, and Canterbury farmers were still cleaning up from last month’s storm which damaged an estimated 800 irrigators, when they were hit again.
Board member for Irrigation New Zealand, Mark Slee, says his neighbour’s rotor-rainer irrigator was blown over again, and there are other reports of damaged irrigators which had just been repaired after September’s gales.
Mr Slee says farmers with broken irrigators have not been too put out, because they’ve had 40 millimetres of rain since the last event, but this will only exacerbate the situation and push repairs even further back.
Mr Slee told Country TV that depending on how many foreign irrigation specialists could be brought in, farmers could be looking at waiting until well into summer before their irrigators were back in action.
Areas like Methven and the foothills near Ashburton seem to have copped the worst of it, with old and large trees that had withstood last month’s storm, being blown over.
Farming representatives engaged in trade talks at the World Trade Organisation summit are bullish about chances of a Trans Pacific Partnership agreement getting signed off.
The Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, or APEC meeting is currently taking place in Bali, with trade representatives from 21 economies in and around the Pacific Rim.
Prime Minister John Key is chairing a discussion group involving those countries who would be part of the TPP agreement, with US President Barack Obama a notable absentee.
Federated Farmers’ President, Bruce Wills, who’s just returned from the WTO summit, says there is growing optimism around the TPP deal, despite President Obama’s no-show.
Mr Wills says the impression he got from the WTO talks was it was of a lower priority, and further away from consensus than the TPP.
“I can definitely sense a trend toward greater free trade, even from US representatives.
“There will always be push back from countries, such as in Japan where farmers are fighting tooth and nail to prevent the scaling back of Government support, but I can say with reasonable confidence that the international environment will be more free trade friendly in future.”
The drought earlier this year has had many economists scratching their heads over the total cost to the country’s bottom line.
Given the widespread nature of the dry spell, the impact has been estimated by some to be around the one billion dollar mark – but some are now saying it could stretch to even twice that figure.
Federated Farmers board member and adverse events spokesperson, Katie Milne, says while there has been a significant recovery through a mild winter for most areas, in some cases the losses will be irreversible.
"The impact going forward does linger on, especially for sheep and beef farmers.
"For sheep farmers, the drought hit when the ewes were going to the ram, so the lamb crop is estimated to be lower by about three million - they are all animals that will need to be replaced."
Katie Milne says some farmers may take as long as 5 years to properly recover from the impact, and it has increased calls for reliable water storage in drought prone areas.
"Basically if we had a lot more water storage in those places where we have the capacity and land type to do it, we could insulate the economy by up to 80 or 90 percent.
"It's a massive bit of insulation to the eceonomy if we can get appropriate water storage, in appropriate places, and more irrigation."
Apple shipments bound for China have been put on hold, after the discovery of a fungus in one consignment at the Chinese border.
It’s understood the fungus, called neofabraea alba, is not a food safety threat, but was flagged by Chinese officials as a quarantine pest.
The Ministry for Primary Industries has issued a statement saying the fungus has been in New Zealand for more than 100 years, and has traced the shipment to the orchard of origin.
Chinese authorities requested that exports be suspended from some packhouses in the Hawke’s Bay, while growers here went one step further and voluntarily stopped all shipments from leaving our shores.
The MPI’s plant export manager, Stephen Butcher, says the industry was quick to take action, given that the export season is virtually over.
"It affected a very small proportion of the apples that are actually going into China ... and it's been good because we've got an opportunity to look at the management plans for next season."
Associate Minister for Primary Industries, Jo Goodhew, is reported as saying that Chinese confidence in New Zealand products has been reinforced, and not damaged, by the issue – as our industry reacted quickly and efficiently.
Ms Goodhew says the Chinese biosecurity agency, AQSIQ, is satisfied by the country’s response, and it won’t have lasting negative implications.
Candidates vying for a place on Fonterra’s Board of Directors face a nervous wait now, as nominations have officially closed.
Two of the seats on the co-operative’s board, those currently held by Malcolm Bailey and Ian Farrelly, are up for re-election at the end of their 3 year terms, while another seat is now vacant, following Sir Henry van der Heyden’s retirement earlier this year.The candidates will be named officially on October the 1st, after a vetting process by an assessment panel.
Several positions on Fonterra’s shareholders’ council are also up for grabs, after nominations closed last week.
The government is seeking submissions on a proposed new certification system for the forestry sector, after proposed rules were drafted last month.
The new voluntary standard would offer international markets a guarantee that their product is ethically and legally sourced, and produced sustainably.
The international programme for the endorsement of forestry certification has indicated that New Zealand will need a better method of reassuring our markets.
The IPEFC says it can bolster our reputation and assure us of a premium price for our wood exports.
Foresters or interested parties have until the 22nd of October to submit their ideas to the Government.
Submissions on the new rules can be made through the Standards NZ website, found here.
The government is increasing independent testing on our dairy products, in an attempt to reassure trading partners.
Four separate investigations will be held into Fonterra’s botulism contamination scare.
The Hobbit films are something most farmers pay little attention to, but for one farmer...well, although the films are set on his farm, he doesn't pay them much mind either.
John Watson went to meet him.
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