28 Mar 2010

Farms open gates to public for the day

8:00 pm on 28 March 2010

Federated Farmers says its annual Farm Day will help urban dwellers realise farmers are not the environmental vandals some green groups make them out to be.

Twenty three working farms throughout New Zealand opened their gates to townies on Sunday.

They showcased farm practices in the hope it will teach people, particularly children, their food does not originate in the supermarket.

Properties in the Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Christchurch areas attracted the most visitors with attendance estimated at between 400 to 500 people per property.

Federated Farmers president Don Nicholson says the event is also important to show what is being done to ensure farming is green.

"There's been some serious investment inside farm gates, and you'd think there had been none, listening to the rhetoric of some NGOs," he says.

Drought farm open

In drought-afflicted Northland, dairy farmer Bruce Paton explained to visitors how his property, 20 kilometres from Whangerei, is responding to the added pressure that dry conditions bring.

"Our production of grass has been so drastically reduced that's put a lot of emphasis on supplements, and having to buy in a lot of extra supplements," he says.

Mr Paton says that has increased costs and suppressed production.

Further south, Lincoln University's 650-cow dairy farm was also open for the day. Executive director Ron Pellow says the animals are used to people walking in the paddock or being in the milking shed.

An event co-ordinator Jo Turnbull, spent the day at the North Otago Farm Day which was held at the Totara Estate in Oamaru.

She says most of the questions from the public were about the environmental impact of farming and how on-farm practices have evolved in recent years.