Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor eschewed the words “Gypsy Day”, in a press statement yesterday that addressed dairy farmers’ concerns about what would happen on June 1. He preferred “Moving Day” and said Moving Day will go ahead as planned this year, but with strict controls to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Reporting this news, Farmers Weekly explained that Moving Day is also known as Gypsy Day and occurs on June 1 each year when many dairy farming families, sharemilkers, contract milkers and employees move to new farms to start new jobs and milking contracts.
It’s shaping up as a tough season for New Zealand’s dairy farmers, who once proudly wore the label of the “backbone of the NZ economy” , earning by far the largest share of the country’s export income.
So what are the problems confronting the industry?
Uncertainty in markets, for starters. Prices at the latest Global Dairy Trade auction this week slid downward for the fifth time in six auctions.
The Chinese economy is under pressure as Trump steps up his tariff war. Brexit is a threat which could disrupt NZ’s dairy trade to both the UK and EU markets.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor didn’t win too many new friends (and may have lost some) with his decision on the review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, the 2001 legislation which set up Fonterra supposedly to become a “ national champion”.
We all know how that has turned out.
So what were the reactions to O’Connor’s latest move to improve the legislation which initially had the objective of “promoting the efficiency of NZ dairy markets”?.
Federated Farmers today says it is puzzled why our national carrier is making a song and dance about an overseas-produced plant protein burger but not the Kiwi company that supplies them with world-leading transportation fabrics – wool.
Exactly who has been making a song and dance of the vegetarian addition to the airline’s inflight cuisine, however, is arguable.
Federated Farmers issued no press release – at least, none we can find – to confirm it has withdrawn legal challenges against local authorities over the regulation of genetically modified organisms (or GMOs).
News of the decision was reported by the Sunday Star-Times: national president Katie Milne confirmed to the newspaper that the feds had pulled out of all cases they were challenging, but would “just keep assessing it” in the future.
Whether this should halt public debate of the issue – and to what extent the scientists should be constrained – is a good question.
Yes, there other more immediate issues to occupy Federated Farmers’ resources – Mycoplasma bovis and compensation for farmers whose stock is being slaughtered to halt its spread, for example.
But Fairfax science writer Bob Brockie today is calling for the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, Sir Peter Gluckman, to do for GE what he did for P and clear up the myths.