Kiwi farmers facing the heat: Beef + Lamb NZ Chair praises resilience amidst challenges

Kiwi farmers facing the heat: Beef + Lamb NZ Chair praises resilience amidst challenges

Kiwis are known as a resilient bunch, a trait that Beef & Lamb NZ Chair Kate Acland praises farmers for upholding despite the challenges of a hot and dry summer this year alongside recent economic pressures in agriculture.

Acland discusses the dry conditions in Mid Canterbury with REX host Dom George, explaining how the sporadic rainfall has barely quenched the parched earth. Despite the foothills of her farm receiving some rain, she acknowledges the overall need for a substantial downpour: 

"We've been catching, you know, a bit of rain from the southeast, so we're still green, but the last few weeks have been really hot and really dry, so things have slowed right back," Acland says. 

She emphasises the farm's proactive approach to these conditions, having prepared early based on weather forecasts, which has left them "comfortable" but still desiring more rain. 

On the economic front, Acland is frank about the tough financial situation facing farmers, brought on by low land and cold ewe prices. 

"It really hurts actually selling them for sort of $50 or $60 a head," she says, highlighting the stark reality of making difficult decisions in the face of economic adversity. 

Yet, Acland holds onto a cautious optimism for a potential uplift in the lamb market coinciding with the Chinese New Year. She and George also delve into the political landscape, discussing the impact of the new coalition government on the farming industry. Acland is hopeful, seeing it as an opportunity for the agricultural sector to influence policy, particularly in the environmental arena. 

"It's about finding that balance and I guess as a whole of ag sector, being really tight and really cohesive," she states, stressing the importance of working alongside the government to ensure both environmental progress and a profitable agricultural sector. 

Furthermore, Acland touches on the importance of unity in the farming community, especially after divisive times, advocating for a collective approach to tackle shared challenges. 

"We just need to agree to disagree on some things and figure out what we do agree on and then move forward with that."

Lastly, the conversation steers towards global issues, like the shipping challenges caused by unrest in the Red Sea region, underscoring the complex interdependencies of New Zealand's agricultural exports.

Acland concludes by discussing the NZ Farm Assurance Program and its role in verifying sustainable practices to meet consumer demands, especially in international markets.

Listen to the full chat between Kate Acland and Dominic George above.

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