Invermay, water quality big issues at conference

Southland Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Andrew Morrison stepped down at the Southland annual meeting earlier this month and Gary Coker was appointed to take over the role.

Meat and fibre sector farmers again brought up the ongoing issue of the Southern agriculture sector about transferring resources away from Invermay.

As a result, Mr Morrison would be taking the issue presented to the National Conference that Southland meat and fibre would try to do everything possible to keep the sheep and deer genomics research at Invermay, which would be his last act as chairman.

About 200 farmers and group associates gathered for the 82nd annual meeting, held at Southland Sports Stadium earlier this month, where the issue of Southland water quality was the main topic for all present.

Southland Federated Farmers provincial president Russell MacPherson gave his annual report and talked about farmers working with Environment Southland to improve the region's water quality.

Mr MacPherson was also re-elected as president for the next term.

This had been a big year for Southland Federated Farmers as it was the first time they had worked with Environment Southland.

Mr MacPherson was happy with how the year had gone and was looking forward to the relationship between the two organisations growing.

''We, as organisations, will still have disagreements, but we are all keen to see Southland do well and it is nice to be able to sit around the table and discuss the issues in this forum''. The following year and beyond would have some challenges for farmers, including the ongoing pressures of the national fresh water objectives.

''We have time here in Southland with water quality to ensure we have the right science, the right rules, the right attitudes to ensure that the family farms of Southland can prosper and continue to provide wealth and jobs for Southland and Southlanders,'' Mr MacPherson said.

Guest speakers included Clint Rissman, from Environment Southland, who detailed the importance of water quality and spoke of the council's Water and Land 2020 and beyond package.

This year Prime Minister John Key also spoke at the meeting going over the recently-released budget and what was in store for the future for the agriculture sector.

Over the years there had been many advances in agriculture and he believed that when it came to future benefits, science would be key.

Federated Farmers board member Katie Milne had travelled to the meeting speaking of ongoing issues New Zealand farmers have highlighted, such as the disposal of calves.

- by Nicole Sharp