Southland farmer Blair Drysdale takes a break on the West Coast for Agfest.

Well, it’s finally behind us and will never be repeated folks, yes we have kicked 2020 into touch and the final whistle has been blown, thankfully!

It was a tumultuous year for every single one of us as no one escaped the impacts of Covid-19 regardless of where you lived or what you did for a living.

But it’s time now for a positive year ahead with two new vaccines giving hope of global air travel allowing us to see distant family and friends once again, restaurants hopefully opening up again with dinners ordering our wonderful beef and lamb, and David Parker is going to get rid of those bloody ridiculous wintering rules that he hastily put in place… the glass really is half full here.

Jody and I managed to get off the farm and over to Greymouth for Agfest in mid-November which is an agricultural field day event owned and run by friends of ours and held over two days at the Greymouth aerodrome.

It is normally held in late March or early April, but as they had to delay it in March due to Covid-19 lockdown they took advantage of the Canterbury A&P show being cancelled and took that slot which made it a roaring success. Greymouth really turned on the good weather with four days of warmth and sun, uninterrupted by as much as a drop of rain.

Coasters are great people, welcoming, friendly and much like us Southlanders they love a good yarn with a few ales to keep the whistle wet. But after four solid days of it I almost ran out words and my liver really needed a break.

One of those Coasters I did catch up with again for a good robust and constructive discussion was our Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor. And therefore, the glass is half full on this topic.

During our chat he openly admitted he had stuffed up by allowing the legislation to go through in its current form, stopping just short of using a very descriptive word, saying that without doubt there will be change to what really are nonsensical arbitrary rules and dates, without science to back any of it up.

Now we can either choose to take this with a grain of salt, brush it off as spin or take a positive outlook on it with change ahead, but remember 2021 is going to be a good, positive year okay!

Of the six paddocks we had brassicas in here for wintering on, none were planted back out before October 1 and two were not sown back out in grass until November 11, showing just how senseless Parker’s attempts of trying to regulate the weather via legislation and arbitrary dates really is.

There is actually an element of excitement among some farmers about heading to local police stations on October 1 this year in bus loads to hand ourselves in for breaking the law, can you just imagine the confusion of police with such scenes. They’d be just as baffled as us I suspect.

Here in Balfour the season just kept on giving through until mid-December (as I’m writing this at the eleventh hour once again) with plenty of rain, far too much wind and just enough sun giving us an abundance of grass which will set us up well for the summer and autumn ahead.

The autumn-sown barley looks good and has pretty much finished grain fill, the oil seed rape has nice full pods now and the autumn-sown wheat is just looking absolutely stunning requiring one more good rain event to set up some really good yields.

This is actually the first year for a while that I haven’t had a cereal paddock that isn’t an absolute disaster at this point, sigh of relief I tell you!

We are looking forward to and excited about the year ahead here with a new drill purchased, a new shed going up in February with two fertiliser, drying and workshop bays and hoping to take our Hopefield Hemp business to another level.

Covid-19 did food producers a favour in highlighting and reminding everyone just how crucial we are to our nation as an export industry, rebuilding some of that connection between producer and consumer and hopefully rebuilt some confidence in what we all do.

I hope you all get a well deserved summer break and that 2021 is a better year for us all, for every single one of us. And stand up and be bloody proud of what you do as a food producer, you should be because largely we are very good at it.