Thursday, December 7, 2023

Trees replace top cattle

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As far north as sale yards get in New Zealand the Broadwood selling centre in Northland hosted one of the country’s more notable capital stock clearing sales last week.
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On behalf of Mark and Michelle Hammond of Herekino, Carrfields Livestock held the sale of a Hereford beef herd that put 50 years of top-quality genetics under the hammer, the animals’ grazing land destined for pine trees.

“It was a boomer, a pump sale with quality to burn,” Carrfields livestock agent Reubin Wright said.

It exceeded all expectations.

“It was Hereford buzz without a doubt and it drew the buyers from Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty – everywhere,” Wright said.

“The car park was full and it took just 92 minutes to sell $1 million worth of cattle.

“Interest was strong and bidding was brisk, that’s for sure.”

In-calf cows fetched an average $1445 while in-calf heifers averaged $1385. 

Rising three-year calvers averaged $1496 and rising four-year calvers $1540.

Mixed age cows sold at an average $790 and R1 steers $922.

While the sale brought top quality Northland farmed stock with 50 years of breeding off steep west coast hill country to the marketplace it was the reason for the sale that triggered concern.

“Six hundred and forty hectares will now go into pine trees.

“We understand it’s local investment but it’s all smoke and mirrors and you can’t get to the bottom of it but trees will take over,” Wright said.

The Hammonds’ property is not the only pastoral land being lost to the Government’s Billion Trees programme.

Several other productive farms in the region totalling more than 2000ha are also being converted into trees as part of the programme.

“In southern Hokianga good sheep and beef properties are being bought up for forestry all over the place.

“What does that mean? 

“It means small country settlements are going to struggle and disappear.

“For the sheep and beef industry we will really see it come to roost in a few years when livestock numbers are too low to supply NZ export demand,” Wright said.

“It’s time someone explained to the general public and the Government what this carbon farming means in terms of the real hit on rural economies, the NZ agriculture sector and wider economic climate.”

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