Home' Hastings Mail : June 21st 2011 Contents 12 HASTINGS MAIL, JUNE 22, 2011
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Keeping a lid on bad smells
The lids are on and Hastings new $27 million
wastewater plant now has three months to prove
it will not emit any more offensive odours.
A pre-hearing meeting between Hastings Dis-
trict Council and residents living near the dis-
trict s smelly wastewater plant at Clive ended last
Tuesday night with both sides agreeing to see how
the plant operates with new lids put in place this
The plant which uses a bio-trickle filter system
in two 11m-high tanks, has led to more than 150
complaints about bad odours since it opened in
July 2009, with many residents referring to it as
Poo Castle .
When odours are too offensive the filter system
must be shut down, with wastewater treated in an
old milliscreen. Early last year Hawke s Bay
Regional Council issued an abatement notice
requiring the district council to design lids to cover
the tanks by the end of this month.
In the meantime, the district council applied for
resource consent to discharge contaminants to air
from the plant. The application outlined plans to
cover the tanks and to dose the wastewater with
sodium nitrate and hydrogen peroxide, but
acknowledged odours could still leave the plant
once the work was done.
The district council proposed that a way of
treating the air leaving the tanks should be con-
sidered only if it was shown to be necessary, but
objectors disagreed, arguing that no odours should
be allowed to leave the plant s boundary.
Tuesday s meeting concluded that if the lids
were seen to make a difference after three months,
the submitters would have the choice to allow the
council a further three-month trial, go to a pre-
hearing meeting or go directly to a hearing.
Farmers go to town on lamb sales
The pen is mightier than the sward: Sheep are selling for exceptional prices in Hastings.
If you re driving through the hill country
this week, keep an eye out for gumbooted
fools deliriously cavorting about.
They are sheep farmers enjoying a sud-
den upturn in incomes not experienced for
half a century. No-one can remember see-
ing sheep selling for such high prices. At
livestock sales around the country, records
are being smashed.
A line of top-quality lambs sold at $216 in
Hastings recently. Ewes have been
fetching up to $232 each at Temuka,
and prime lambs more than $200.
Just a year ago, $100 was being
hailed as nirvana and the year
before that, farmers were lucky to
get $80 for their top lambs.
It is just reward for farmers who
for the past decade have battled
killer spring storms, repeated
summer-autumn droughts, unkind
exchange rates and erratic markets.
The booming stock sale prices are
being reflected in the slaughter
prices being offered by meat compan-
ies -- $7.55 a kilogram, which is
almost double the best price seen in
Unfortunately for shoppers, supermarket
lamb prices have matched these heights.
Leg steaks, mini-roasts and racks are all
selling for $30 a kilogram. Even mince is at
The reason for this can be found in the
old story of supply and demand. Because of
the droughts and storms, lamb is in short
supply on world markets. Shipments to
Britain are down 21 per cent on last year.
New Zealand is the biggest exporter to
Britain and Europe, the most lucrative
markets, and is building useful sales in
other parts of the world. Australia is a big
rival, particularly in the United States, but
it has also suffered from droughts and
exports are down.
Prices for lamb are testing shoppers
limits in British and European super-
markets, but some New Zealand exporters
are confident enough to offer contracts at
$8 a kilogram carcassweight for lambs due
in August-September. And many farmers
are matching this confidence by refusing to
take up the contracts -- obviously expecting
prices to be even higher.
Others may be wary of locking them-
selves into a contract because of their
experience last year. A contract to supply
this year s Easter trade at $5.75 a kilogram
was offered by one company last November.
Back then, the money looked good. But
when the time came to send the lambs in,
the market price was $6.40 and many
refused to honour the contract.
Also adding pressure on livestock and
slaughter prices is a shortage of breeding
stock. Farmers are keeping ewe lambs and
hoggets they would normally reject so they
can rebuild their flocks.
To many, this is a bittersweet decision.
The high prices are tempting, but they have
to think of the future. Mild weather and
luxuriant grass growth is helping to make
up their minds.
As the national flock rebuilds, economists
are expecting prices to remain high for at
least another year. Adding weight to this
view is news of drought affecting farm pro-
duction in parts of Britain and northern
However, signs of resistance to the high
prices are emerging. Sales of lamb in Brit-
ain over Easter plunged 37 per cent, which
the Meat Trades Journal says is due to
shoppers looking for cheaper food.
The journal had earlier noted that cater-
ing butchers were dropping lamb from food
service menus because of high prices. At
the same time, Welsh farmers were adding
to the problem by exporting more lamb to
The biggest fear, the journal says, is that
consumers will leave lamb, never to return.
It quotes a Scottish meat marketer: If
lamb gets too far out of tune with other
meats, then it could disappear off the shelf
altogether, and then we re all stymied.
At the moment, sheep farmers aren t
worrying about shoppers preferences on
the other side of the world -- or at home, for
that matter. They are revelling in the once-
in-a-decade delight of seeing their incomes
matching those of their dairying neigh-
Or close to it. For although the milksolids
payout is also at the magical $8-a-kilogram
figure, it is paid for a whole year s supply
and it is not subject to seasonal fluctuation.
A guide to how much of this bounty will
flow through into the wider economy will be
seen this week.
Many sheep farmers are likely to have
been among the crowds at the National
Fieldays in Hamilton last week, sniffing out
bargains for new bikes, utes and tractors.
But, equally, pressure will be on them
and their dairying colleagues to reduce debt
first. Investment in farm equipment will be
a sign of future confidence.
Otherwise, it won t be the locally owned
rural traders who gain, but the foreign-
owned banks as the export earnings head
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