Farmer Focus: New Zealand farmers selling, says Bill Davey

A farm should look at its best in the spring, but I’m amazed just how many are on the market right now, when their earning potential is probably as good as it has ever been.

Most of these are dairy farms and I have a feeling some may be carrying rather more debt than their banks currently feel comfortable with in the global financial crisis. Banks say their lending criteria for the rural banking sector remains unchanged – but we’ve heard it all before, haven’t we?

With milk powder prices down by 25 to 30% in NZ dollar terms, there is a sense of nervousness. Grain prices, too, seem to have peaked, with merchants reluctant to buy forward, presumably awaiting the outcome of the Australian harvest, which, by all accounts, is unlikely to be good. Large areas of northern Victoria are so dry, we hear that cereal crops are too thin to even cut for hay, let alone grain.

Taking everything in to account, I’m quite happy we contracted all of our gristing wheat at £187/t, but wished we’d done the same with feed wheat, currently about £155/t if you can find a buyer.

My recent enquiry into the whereabouts of our two new lateral irrigators informed me the containers were now in Singapore. What they didn’t tell me was whether they were sitting on the quayside or a ship. As dry conditions continue, this was not what I wanted to hear.

Staffing issues here remain unchanged and we are sad to be losing Andrew Furzeland after harvest as he makes the difficult decision to return to the UK to further his career. It is understandable that single young men are unlikely to remain in one place for very long, and we wish him well. An advert will be placed in Farmers Weekly soon to seek a replacement.

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