David Cotton drifts off to a peaceful sleep counting his blessings rather than sheep as his favoured slumber tonic in these difficult pandemic times.
The independent Whanganui farmer, livestock trader and industry commentator, rural real estate agent and Horizons regional councillor said it was a blessing that the sector had largely escaped the debilitating restrictions imposed on other businesses.
"Yes, it's a busy time of the year with lambing, calving, feeding out, but most farmers are down to their wintering livestock numbers and the winter farm duties go on as usual," Cotton said.
"I count my blessings that we have not had Covid in the meat plants and they have continued to kill. The same can be said for the dairy industry with milk factories still working, unlike other businesses that had to close down.
"I count my blessings that we can still sell our product, unlike the coffee shop owner, butcher, hospitality industry owners who didn't sell their product or service yesterday or today and can't make up their lost income tomorrow.
"I count my blessings that we have an abundance of fresh air and room to enjoy every day even in the rain and wind, while others are locked up in three-bedroomed houses with Mum, Dad and the kids sick of watching Netflix, 1pm Covid updates and glued to Facebook.
"I count my blessings that the farming markets all look positive, even wool has gone up 100 per cent doubling in value from $1 to $2/kg, which to be honest is still a shitty price."
He said it was also a blessing that spring had arrived, the grass was growing and the days were getting longer and warmer after a kind winter in the region.
"Particularly when I look at the areas in New Zealand that have had flooding along with the Hawke's Bay that has not had enough rain.
"The cattle markets have a bit more spring in them while the Bay is getting some much-needed rain, schedules are rising adding to the confidence, so most cattle are finding a new home.
"The prime kill price has gone up substantially over last few weeks from a low $5/kg in late May to $6.35/kg this week. Mutton remains very strong at $6.60/kg and old-season lambs, as predicted, have stalled around $9.60/kg, except for those lucky enough to have $10/kg contracts."
Cotton said new-season lambs seem to be struggling to put on weight throughout the region.
"A number of farmers have told me they expect their first drafts to be a week or three later this year. The new-season lamb schedule looks to be around $9.50/kg."
Moving livestock out of the South Island was likely to be a nightmare with two ferries out of action over the next few months, and it will be interesting to see what that does to the store markets, Cotton warned.
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"Large numbers of livestock, both sheep and cattle, have been sent north to sale yards and to supply the domestic meat market in recent years, so it will be interesting to see how reduced numbers will impact," he said.