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Regional intervention groups are being formed throughout the country as needed to address winter grazing practices following issues raised last year.
Federated Farmers Southland vice-president Bernadette Hunt said if someone raised a concern with winter grazing through the online form on the Federated Farmers website (fedfarm.org.nz — search ‘‘winter grazing’’), or on 0800 327 646, the group would discuss the situation and ask the most appropriate person to contact the farmer, talk through the issues and, where necessary, identify strategies to mitigate problems.
The Otago/Southland intervention group had met regularly and included two DairyNZ representatives, one from Beef + Lamb New Zealand and two from Otago and Southland Federated Farmers branches and included a co-ordinator from the Federated Farmers head office.
‘‘There have been a couple of cases that have come in already,’’ Mrs Hunt said.
They had come from people who had been concerned about winter grazing issues last year and wanted to make sure they were not repeated this year.
‘‘In both cases someone was nominated to make contact with the farmers and to work with them to make any improvements.
‘‘Most farmers want to do the right thing and they respond really positively.
She said often education or fresh ideas were all that was required.
‘‘Most farmers do a good job and don’t want their reputation tarnished by people not willing to do the right thing.
‘‘If the farmer is not willing to accept industry support or take action, environmental concerns will be passed on to the local regional council and animal welfare concerns to the Ministry for Primary Industries.
‘‘The industry is taking a proactive lead to address those issues and also prevent problems arising.’’
In some cases, when things appear to go badly on the farm, sometimes those issues could be the first signs things are not going right in other areas.
‘‘We have had very challenging season throughout the country,’’ she said.
‘‘In Southland we had a difficult spring and the crops were late getting planted.
‘‘That was followed by the flood, and then Covid-19 and people were under a bit of pressure.’’