Federated Farmers is happy with the budget and supports the  Government’s restrained financial management and maintenance of surpluses.  Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston says the Government has clearly decided to invest in funding initiatives for the future including science and skills and also new spending on skills, transport, establishment of a Freshwater Improvement Fund, regional development, and commitments to fund TB control and to contain the spread of wilding pine.   Federated Farmers supports the Government’s  priorities for fiscal policy.   Reducing net debt to around 20 percent of GDP in 2020….If economic and fiscal conditions allow, beginning to reduce income taxes and using any further fiscal headroom to reduce debt.   William Rolleston says Government spending needs to be contained to  below 30 percent of GDP and  focused on things to improve productivity and competitiveness.

And the Feds are also pleased that funding for the control of Wilding Pines has been increased but warns that more money is needed for biosecurity incursion responses. The Wilding Pines initiative sits within MPI’s existing allocation for Biosecurity Incursion Response and Long Term Pest Management.     High Country chairman Simon Williamson says the $4 million is the bare minimum needed  to demonstrate that the long term strategy for wilding control,  is of both environmental and economic benefit to the country.  But Federated Farmers Vice-President and forestry spokesperson Anders Crofoot says biosecurity continues to be a huge concern for farmers especially in the wake of  velvetleaf, pea weevil,  blackgrass, giant willow aphid, and eucalyptus beetle.    Mr Crofoot says velvetleaf has been  an horrendous cost and it continues to mount. He says ongoing investment is needed to ensure we have the tools to protect New Zealand’s environment and economy.

The Green Party in Australia is calling for regulation of the milk market to protect struggling dairy farmers.   Speaking at a regional leaders debate, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the practice of major supermarkets Coles and Woolworths of selling milk for $A1 a litre has been a disaster for farmers.   Supermarkets are using milk to lure in customers, but Australia can’t continue to have a sustainable dairy industry while Coles and Woolies are ripping off off dairy farmers.   The Australian government  yesterday announced a $550 million relief package including an extension of a low-interest loan scheme, but Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the government would not re-regulate the industry.

A new app specifically tailored for New Zealand’s farms has been launched.   Professional services firm Crowe Horwath is making it easier to prepare sound health and safety practices in rural workplaces with the  ‘Safely.nz’, app.     Safely.nz is customised to Kiwi farms and agricultural support businesses, such as agricultural contractors, transport providers, fertiliser spreaders, vets and shearing contractors.   Neil McAra, Head of Agribusiness at Crowe Horwath says Compliance can be a challenge given the complexity of the new Act so the App delivers convenience and clarity for compliance which doesn’t have to hamper operations.     It offers a range of features to automate and accelerate record keeping, calculate risks, manage documents and produce reports as required. Safely.nz is available in a number of packages for  small,  medium  and large farms and ranges from $50 for a small farm  to $250 per month for a farm with 200 staff.  You can check  it out at  ‘safely.nz.
Grazing is a new business enterprise  in the livestock area  for PGG Wrightson… Of course Grazing has been around since Fred Dagg was in nappies but PGG Wrightson Grazing  aims to make life easier for dairy farmers particularly by allowing them to focus on their dairying  while their young heifers are being managed elsewhere.

Wool prices were generally steady, but short second shears eased slightly at this week’s Napier wool sale but New Zealand Wool Services International’s CEO, John Dawson says that changes were minimal compared to the last North Island sale a fortnight ago. Comparisons with the South Island sale last week are difficult because the range of wool types offered was more limited than the varied range offer in the South. 88% of the 8,600 bales offered were cleared at the auction. Prices for fine crossbred longer shears were 1 to 2 percent dearer with the shorter types firm to 2 percent easier. Coarse crossbred fleece were firm to 2.5 percent dearer. Longer coarse shears were firm to 2 percent firmer with the high volumes of short shears on offer 1 to 2 percent easier. Fine first lambs were firm to 3 percent dearer with coarse lambs 3 to 4 percent cheaper. Oddments were firm to 5 percent easier. There was good competition among the bidders this week with buyers for Australasia, Western Europe and United Kingdom leading, supported by bidders for clients in the Middle East, India and China.

While prime heifer and steer numbers were limited, numbers were made up for from the dairy farms. A good response from the  buying bench saw the dairy cows sell on a steady to firm market, with better types, 602-630kg, making $1.51-$1.59/kg, while  medium types were mainly earning $1.39-$1.48/kg. Prime beef heifer numbers were low, with $2.72-$2.82/kg for the high yielding  types, while dairy cross lines made $2.14-$2.25/kg, with off types making varying cpk prices. The best of the steers made $2.74-  $2.88/kg, while bulls, 480-625kg, sold for $2.44-$2.56/kg.    Store numbers were very low with no lines over 10 head. Quality was mixed, but highlights included Ang/Hx weaner steers, 249-  251kg, which made $740-$760 at $2.97-$3.00/kg, while 4 R2 Hereford bulls made $1280 at $2.68/kg.  Numbers in the yards jumped after last weeks’ small offering with nearly five times as many store lambs available. This did little to dent prices however, as the market generally traded at the same level as the week prior. The quality was decent throughout the sale with virtually all store lambs trading in the narrow band of $70- 78/hd. Interest in prime lambs shot up and few sold below $80/hd. The bulk of the buying was fairly evenly spread between $90-120/hd. Prime ewe’s were not met with the same fanfare, however. Better lines were able to make $70/hd plus, but medium types were mostly in the $55-70/hd range, while anything lighter fetched around $45-55/hd.