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31 May 2019
The Weekend of Gypsies and Queens

Tomorrow is Saturday June 1st.  For most of us this year it’s the first day of Queens Birthday – and our last opportunity to enjoy a long weekend for over four months. But for the country’s dairy farmers, 1st June is gypsy day – the day every year when any dairy herds which are shifting prior to the next milking season change locations.
Whether the herd is moving down the road on foot to a neighbouring farm, or across the Cook Strait on a truck to the other end of the country, it’s a major undertaking.
This time last year the process was made even more fraught than usual, with the threat of micoplasma bovis hanging over the entire industry – and therefore by extension all the rest of us as well.  While not the overriding threat it was last year, the disease is still an issue for many of our farmers, who are now facing growing criticism from environmental organisations as well.
At well over 30% of our total exports, farming is still by far our greatest export industry – which makes it a major contributor to our way of life.  That means even the most urbanised city-dweller is affected by the state of our farms – undoubtedly among the most efficient and productive in the world.
So if you are a ‘townie’, spare a thought for your rural kiwi brethren while you’re putting your feet up this weekend – for many of them it will still be business as usual. And if you’re a farmer with a herd on the move, all the very best for a smooth and incident-free gypsy day.

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