A Vision for Southland


  • G. Catto




Keywords: animal welfare, dairy farming, deer farming, environment, genetic engineering, horticulture, organic farming, sheep farming I farm two properties with my wife and parents, one at Heddon Bush and the other a run block at Mossburn. Many people in the late 1980s were either exiting farming or expanding while land prices were low. We chose to expand as our area of 137 ha at Heddon Bush of good land was no longer an economic sheep unit, so we purchased 61 ha of hill country at Mossburn. Southland farming has been dominated by sheep farming in the past, and will be in the future. However, with the present decline in sheep and cropping incomes, and the rise in profitability of dairy farming, forestry, deer farming and the expansion in horticulture, we saw a progressive change in land use during the l990s. For example, in 1989 when travelling between farms, we would pass only one dairy farm, now we pass nine, many are on less-than-prime dairy land and they are relatively large. There is still only one cropping farm, but one deer farm has now got three fellows. However, there are still no ostrich farms. I believe this sort of dramatic change is likely to continue, providing a wider and more stable economic base to the Southland economy, and a less volatile income stream to the rural towns, contractor and service industries. Dairy farming's profitability means it will still continue to be the winner in the land grab. The eventual demise of the Dairy Board monopoly will allow for greater foreign investment in the industry so the growth of dairying in Southland will continue, although it will be based more on returns from marketing and distribution. An added bonus is that dairy farming brings young families to the rural communities - good for our schools, clubs and communities. The dairy industry will become a comfortable, second largest industry in the future.