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Rangitaiki Farmers affected by the snowstorm ten days ago are in need of skilled labour and hay, as they battle on to repair the damage from the polar blast.   Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson  Katie Milne  says it’s been a challenging time on farms in the north-west Hawke’s Bay and Rangitaiki Plains.     Power is still out to some farms, so they’re using generators and while the situation has improved considerably , farmers and their staff have been working long hours to deal with the aftermath and are needing a break.   Katie Milne says damage to paddocks and fences will become more evident as the snow melts so they’re needing able hands with the skills and experience in relief milking and or feeding out,   to offer up some time on affected farms to allow farmers to have a break.     These farms  are also in need of large round bales of good quality hay for feed, either to buy or be donated.     If you think you can help with either feed donations or labour please get in touch with your local Provincial President and if you have hay for sale or donation go to Federated Farmers Feed Line 0800 376 844.

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Silver Fern Farms shareholders have voted again to go with the Shanghai Maling partnership deal.  80.4% of the shareholders voting Friday afternoon supported the deal, compared with 82% last October.     The special meeting was bought about by a small group of shareholders trying  to halt the partnership, so SFF  remains  NZ owned.    While their arguments gained support from NZ First’s  Winston Peters, they were unable to sway the 62% of shareholders eligible to vote.    Silver Fern Farms is confident it’ll gain Overseas Investment Office approval and complete the transaction by  January 2017 as previously announced.    Canterbury high country runholder and Englishman John Shrimpton, and Blair Gallagher, who led the group of dissident shareholders, conceded defeat after a six-month campaign.     Shrimpton, had pledged to shake the hand of SFF chairman Rob Hewett if he failed in his bid to stop the deal and did just that.

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MPI has confirmed up to 49 jobs may go and the PSA says this will decimate its compliance staff  and result  in unacceptable risk to our most important export sectors.    30 members of  its compliance team or around 15 per cent of its existing workforce will go.   Public Service Assn National Secretary Glenn Barclay says the PSA supports attempts to streamline processes, but the Ministry hasn’t explained how these cuts will do that.    He says Cuts to the compliance directorate could swamp the remaining staff with work, meaning  fewer checks are performed and biosecurity risks will increase.    Glenn Barclay says the proposed cuts will hit fisheries, animal welfare and food safety – and will damage the Ministry’s ability to investigate and respond to risks like a foot-and-mouth outbreak or a fruit fly infestation.

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The government is updating kiwifruit export regulations, and Zespri says it will move the industry forward in the first major review of the regulations since they were put in place 17 years ago.   The kiwifruit industry is flourishing, and sales are expected to more than double by 2025 to $4.5 billion.    Zespri deputy chair Bruce Cameron says  17 years ago when Zespri was incorporated, each grower in the industry received one share per production trade, since then  orchards have been sold, transferred, people have got out of the industry and unlike the Fonterra model, you’re not obliged to have Zespri shares when you purchase an orchard and when you leave the industry and sell your orchard, you’re not required to sell those shares.     Meanwhile, Zespri says it’s  still not exporting kiwifruit to China because it ‘s developing new fruit export checks.    Two containers of Zespri kiwifruit containing a fungus were found as part of a routine inspection in China, and Zespri temporarily halted exports to put new pre-export fruit checks in place which have to be approved by MPI and Chinese officials before kiwifruit is shipped to China.

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Last week  brought more settled weather across the North Island with the consistent rainfall finally coming to an end, and even the frosts welcomed as they are followed by warm, sunny days.  The Taupo and Hawke’s Bay regions’ early lambers endured a tough week with heavy rain and freezing temperatures a recipe for disaster for new born lambs, despite farmer’s best efforts.  Lamb losses range from under 100 head to upwards of 1000 lambs per farm in some parts.    This season the fact that so many early drafting lambs have succumbed to the conditions will place more pressure on supplies at the start of the new season.    In the South Island Winter has brought a few more cattle out of the woodwork, but there’s been no lift in the numbers of lambs coming out. Although parts of North Canterbury and Marlborough have received a decent volume of rain this fortnight, the lack of warmth has meant this has not translated into any significant pasture growth.   While these areas are still very short on feed they are already running much lower numbers than usual, and there is the very real chance that more stock will need to be culled from these areas should growth evade these areas into spring.

Sale prices were a little easier in several sections as a number of factors influenced the market. Quality wasn’t great, and wet paddocks have deterred buyers.  Ang/Hx R3 steers 549kg sold up to $3.13/kg while 10 Angus 564kg earned $3.07/kg.   A good   number of Angus R2 steers 423-464kg sold for $3.13-$3.19/kg and mediums 397-427kg, $3.15-$3.21/kg.   Most of the Rising 2 year old bulls were steady and sold for more than $3/kg, though numbers were only half of last week.  R2 heifers sold well, with Ang & A/Hx 415-440kg fetching $2.95  -$3.01/kg. Char x Yearling steers eased slightly, with 282kg making top price of $1020.   R1 bulls also came back, with most Friesians 273-326kg selling for $935-$1070.    Yearling heifers were the largest and probably firmest section of the day.     Forty-four Char x at 225-259kg sold for $720-$835 and were only bettered by 9 Here/Frx 280kg at $875.    Store lamb numbers almost doubled on last week and sold on a firm market. Ewe lambs at  28-34kg sold  for $81-$101 to average  $2.90- $2.94/kg, while male lines at the same weight managed $83- $103 to average   $2.98-$3.02/kg.    The heavier male lambs sold strongly with top price at $135.50 for 50 woolly ram lambs.     The estimated 36kg indicator price firmed to $3.07/kg.    There was still keen demand for scanned-in-lamb ewes and ewes with lambs-at-foot with some  very good ewes scanned singles selling  for $130, while mediums were not far behind at $120-$125.