Pride regained telling people we are farmers

Wanganui President Mike Cranstone has written his President’s Report for the province’s AGM on May 12 – we thought his messages were so good, we’d spread them wider…

It is great to be a farmer; it certainly has not been an easy autumn, but we are lucky to be still in charge of our businesses. And a farm is a perfect backyard for kids to be in throughout lockdown. Our consideration must go to those people with uncertain job prospects, and the many local small business owners who provide an invaluable service to the farming sector. I encourage farmers to think of what work, whether servicing or projects that we can bring forward to help these businesses get back on their feet.

This season was always shaping up to be memorable. In December it was shaping up to be one of the best, with good feed levels matched with an $8 floor to the lamb schedule, mid $7 and $6 for dairy and beef, respectively.

If we were feeling comfortable, the impact of Covid-19 and a lingering widespread drought put pay to that. For farmers, the drought is having a more immediate financial impact. There is plenty of uncertainty looking forward, with how the looming global recession will impact demand and prices for meat and dairy.

The drought has put significant pressure on farmers, with stock water being a real issue and now with low feed covers going into late autumn. Getting killing space for all stock classes has been difficult since December, with prime cattle being terribly slow. Farmers’ loyalty to their meat company has generally been well rewarded, but I am interested where that often-discussed meat industry overcapacity is hiding. It could be a long tough winter with low feed covers, please keep an eye on our fellow farmers’ welfare along with that of our animals.

On a positive, through the turmoil, the public regard for farmers has improved. No longer are we the whipping boys of politicians, media and the climate change warriors.

The primary sector will do the heavy lifting to support NZ’s economy through the COVID 19 aftermath.

While we have a society that is currently positive towards us, or at least receptive to a future based around agriculture, we need to sort out some of our issues.

 We should:

  • Regain the pride of telling people we are farmers
  • Make the primary industries a career of choice for school leavers.
  • Make it trendy to be seen sticking up for farmers so that the chef Al Brown is not a lone voice on social media.
  • Progress water and environmental reforms while we have the support of urban voters; society generally likes to see people treated fairly.
  • Ensure whacky politics does not see the further loss of quality productive land to carbon farming.
  • Break the bubbles around other Government policies that have not had a robust economic impact analysis performed.


2019 saw multiple legislations proposed and some enacted that have the potential to severely impact agriculture. The essential freshwater policy exposed the government’s desire to impose tough rules without consultation or any economic impact analysis. Federated Farmers has a very experienced policy team that does invaluable work preparing detailed submissions that are respected as being robust and relevant.

The Freshwater policy, the Zero Carbon Act, He Waka Eke Noa Climate Change Commitment and Biodiversity have all required significant resources to make submissions on behalf of farmers. This is alongside 31 other national policy areas ranging from animal welfare to dam safety regulations and then submitting on all the district and regional council plans.

The Federated Farmers policy team saves every farmer many thousands of dollars annually and helps protect our profitability. The organisation is cash-starved and we can be confident that how every dollar is spent is sweated on. The organisation has revised the membership categories, launching a $200 subscription targeting lifestyle block owners, and a reduced sub for small farmers and sharemilkers.

With more members, Feds could achieve many more successes. I encourage you all to put pressure on non-members to front up and do their bit to protect our ability to farm or our rural lifestyle.

I thank the great team that we have on the executive. The workload has been shared out which has taken the pressure off individuals. Thank you to Chris Davison for his great work as Dairy Section chair over the last two years, as he steps backs to focus on the farm and family.

Let us look forward to some normality returning, burst bubbles, a duck shooting season, a mild winter and politicians being ‘kind’ to farmers.