Young farmers encouraged

Federated Farmers Marlborough has re-elected Gary Barnett as its chairman for another 12 months.

Members voted for Mr Barnett to take the reins for another year at the organisation's 66th annual meeting at the Giesen Sports and Events Centre in Renwick on Thursday last week.

In his president's report, Mr Barnett urged more young farmers to attend meetings.

"Federated Farmers is a highly professional organisation led by dynamic young people," he said. "Provincial Federated Farmers is more of a sounding board involving slightly more senior persons, replacing the dynamic with wisdom of experience. The top can't work without the bottom. Get involved, talk to leaders, maybe come to meetings and take a turn at being that link between farmers and Federated Farmers."

Beekeepers' representative Will Trollope, who was elected vice-president, said it had been a difficult and frustrating season.

"We had possibly one of the strongest flowerings of gorse and broom that I have seen, which resulted in serious swarming problems," he said. "This was compounded by the weather becoming very patchy, with the bees stuck in their hives for days on end and plotting anarchy. The large number of swarms leaving hives this year may come back to haunt us in early spring, as they die out from varroa and re-infect our treated, managed hives with high numbers of mites."

Rural Women New Zealand Marlborough president Diane Payton said the year had provided many successes at a national level for Marlborough. Members had won various writing competitions and others had recipes feature in cookbooks sold nationally, she said.

Chris Bowron presented the TB-free committee report, saying bovine tuberculosis was well contained in Marlborough. Two areas to be declared TB free in the next year were Northbank and Seddon/Ward/Cape Campbell, he said.

"The maintenance programme for Marlborough for the 2012-13 year has 10 ground-based operations, Upper Wairau, Wairau South, Hillersden, Avon West, Avon, Omaka, Awatere Extension, Grey Medway, Ure Medway West, Upper Awatere. A small part of the Upper Awatere block will be done by air."

Greg Harris, of the meat and fibre committee, said New Zealand was increasingly attractive to foreign investors.

"We continue to only scratch the surface of our potential," he said.

He hoped that as profitability continued to increase, investment would grow as efficiency improved and new technologies were used.

Wool was a natural fibre far superior to any synthetic fibre, he said.

"Yet we call it a commodity and send the vast majority offshore, deriving very little of its true, real potential. Do we really need another ice age for people to realise wool is the natural healthy fibre of choice for future apparel?"

Federated Farmers Marlborough dairy chairperson Sharon Parkes said the majority of dairy farmers were up in production compared to last year after a great spring with rain at the right times. Some maize crops had been hard to harvest with lack of sunshine to ripen cobs, she said.

The Marlborough Express