Agricultural Statistics Show Lack Of Intensity

NEW ZEALAND - Federated Farmers of New Zealand believes the latest Agricultural Production Statistics for the year to June 2010, as well as agriculture’s revised emissions profile, shows that agriculture is not ‘intensive’.
calendar icon 12 May 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

“The word ‘intensive’ is used negatively in discussions about agriculture but the reality is that livestock numbers are now relatively consistent,” says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

“We need to be aware that these statistics do not reflect the 2010-11 spring/summer drought or the catastrophic snow storm, which struck Otago and Southland last September.

“It shows that the national dairy herd, often where these claims are made, is stable. While the milking herd increased by two percent, numerically, the number of dairy cattle only increased by 50,000 over 2009.

“This numerical increase was actually similar to the increase in New Zealand’s human population for the same period.

“There was good news for sheep in these numbers, with the national flock up around half a percent to 32.6 million animals. We’ve definitely come off the bottom given this is the second consecutive year of increase.

“Beef+Lamb’s economic service recently said that in April 2010, the average lamb price was $76 per head. This April, prices averaged $116 per head so it’s getting closer to Federated Farmers T150 target price of $150 by 2013.

“After years of depressed returns for lamb, these numbers are helping arrest the conversion from sheep to dairy. We can also see this from the dairy numbers above. While wool is being affected by the high Kiwi dollar, we’re seeing returns not seen for a very long time.

“While sheep’s decline seems to have been arrested beef has declined, most noticeably in dual dairying areas like Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury and Southland.

“This may reflect a change in stock choice to dairy in areas and on farms where it is suitable. This ‘horses for courses’ approach can be seen in the three-percent increase of beef numbers in the Horizons Regional Council area.

“In the arable sector, the wheat harvest was up ten percent but there was a corresponding fall in barley and maize, much of that destined for animal feed.

“Given the survey period corresponded with the 2009/10 season, this was a period where dairy farmers were focused on controlling costs. One way was to grow feed but arable farmers also had to contend with large volumes of imported feed.

“The point of this is to underscore that stock numbers have not exploded and it’s not only from the Agricultural Production Statistics we can draw that conclusion.

“Of all sources, it is also in the revised emissions profile for agriculture released last month. Agriculture’s contribution to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emission profile was revised downwards by four percent over 2010 due to fewer production animals,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

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