Business Rural Summer 2021

20 | MEAT & WOOL » Kerry Irvine Public misconceptions of farming frustrating Sheep and beef farmers Kerry and Pam Irvine farm a 700ha property at Tapawera. Kerry, Meat and Wool Nelson chair for Fed farmers and a member of the Meat and Wool executive, is concerned that social media is skewing the public’s perception of farming. Sue Russell S heep and Beef farmers Kerry and Pam Irvine, own a 700ha property at Tapawera 76km south-west of Nelson. The couple first leased the farm back in 2012 and when the opportunity came to buy it, they seized it. Of the total land area, 126ha is in flat, 40ha is rolling and 180ha is steep. A further 338ha is in gorse and manuka. “Nelson is a beautiful area to farm in. We have everything at our finger-tips,” says Kerry. Both Kerry and Pam have worked on the land for many years, Kerry as a shearer and Pam milking cows. Kerry joined the meat and wool executive group in 2020. Before that he was and still is the meat and wool chair for Nelson. “This is a time when critical issues are more than ever impacting on farming viability and farmer well- being,” Kerry says. Among these he says, are managing adverse weather events, access to and compliance around fresh-water and a frustrating lack of understanding from the political and public spheres about what is actually happening on farms. “This is where Federated Farmers has a key role to play and that is why I wanted to get involved, as a way of giving back and supporting our farmers, many of who have experienced tough times in this district these past few years.” Kerry’s concerned that what is reported in public media about farming practice doesn’t accurately represent the care and commitment he sees farm- ers in his district demonstrating on a daily basis toward their land, their stock and their people. “Facebook filters out material and gives the public what they want to see, not a balanced real picture of what is happening on farms these days. I have never met a farmer who is choosing to man- age the farm in a way that is sinking their business long-term. “They understand for the long-term viability of their farm, they need to be look after their environ- ment and add value to it over time.” Kerry says he enjoys the culture within Federated Farmers and having a role on the group provides him with opportunities to meet and share experi- ences with farmers throughout the district and beyond. And while responsibilities towards nitrate man- agement and improving water quality leaving the farm are vital, Kerry says the process the Govern- ment took, significantly side-lining farmers who work daily on the land and understand their farming businesses, has led to unworkable rules. “There were a lot of issues about the winter practices and the land-slope map and the down- right practicality of farming. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Some of the numbers that have been pulled out, are they even workable?” Controlling nitrate and phosphate leaching are critical matters, however it is the time-frames im- posed that Kerry says farmers will struggle with. On his own farm, calving was scheduled to get underway late August, with lambs due to arrive from the first week of September. When winter arrives cows, used to grazing on the harder country are brought down to the winter flats, while the ewes move around the blocks. Kerry says he’s thankful his father taught him about the value of a day’s hard work and manag- ing money well. “This farm is just big enough to be flat-out every day but not big enough to justify a staff member.” And the type of farming practiced in the area is changing Kerry says with demand for hops, the flower of the hop plant, growing. “There would be upward of 3000 ha of tradi- tional farm-land converting to growing hops at this time. To grow, they need a lot of water so it is going to be interesting to see what issues come from this shift in land-use practice in this district.” “There would be upward of 3000 ha of traditional farm-land converting to growing hops at this time. To grow, they need a lot of water so it is going to be interesting to see what issues come from this shift in land-use practice in this district.” Proud to support Kerry & Pamela Irvine Suppliers of progressive Hereford and Angus genetics to the beef industry Richard & Denise Martin Wakefield, Nelson 027 230 3098 Bulls available BULK CARTAGE A.C. Palmer and Sons Limited ALL FERTILISERS & LIME TO AIRSTRIPS & FARM BINS Dolomite & Lime Seed Mixes Bark Sawdust Gravel Loadrite equipped loader for accurate loading every time ALL FERTILISE We are pleased to be able to provide bulk cartage services for Kerry & Pamela Irvine Brian : 027 297 8543 0800 777 144 Kevin : 027 479 4257