Lambing is off to a great start in the central South Island high country.

''It's beautiful weather for it,'' Federated Farmers High Country Industry Group chairman and North Otago president Simon Williamson, who farms between Omarama and Twizel, said.

The recent storm hit at the start of lambing, so he hoped it would not have had much effect.

It was too soon to know how percentages would turn out, but Mr Williamson said he expected plenty of lambs would be born this season.


The grass was growing well, although the rain that fell at the end of last week was definitely needed.

Morale among farmers was ''optimistically cautious''.

''They're not complaining. Prices are as good as they've ever been.''

However, farmers were worried about longer-term matters such as possible new taxes and changes to the regulatory regime that was put in place during the past 10 years.

''The right to farm'' was now a major concern under the new government, involving issues including developing land and water quality.

Regional councils were also feeling the pressure, Mr Williamson said.

He was pleased with new initiatives using crossbred wool - the commodity which had seen prices lag behind others in recent years.

He believed an upturn would happen, but it would need a return to levy funding to strengthen research and development and marketing.


An industry-good body was the way forward - something different from the old Wool Board, he said.

Sheep farmers voted against the continuation of a wool levy in 2009.

The most recent referendum on whether to reinstate it was in 2014. Wool growers voted 57.19% to 42.81% against the levy, and the weighted vote from larger enterprises was against the levy by 59.88% to 40.12%.

Participation in the referendum was a record 47.22% of the 12,201 sheep farmers sent voting packs.

Then-Federated Farmers national president William Rolleston said at the time there was ''quite a bit of surprise at the outcome''.