Rural round-up

Badger cull beings in Somerset in attempt to tackle TB -

A badger cull is under way in England despite protests, the National Farmers’ Union has confirmed.

About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in controlled shootings over six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Supporters say the cull is necessary to tackle bovine TB, which can be spread from infected badgers, but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective.

The RSPCA said it was “saddened”, while anti-cull protesters held a vigil as the pilot began, initially in Somerset.

It is understood the cull in Gloucestershire will start later this week. . .

Non-chemical varroa control shows promise:

A bee breeding project that promises another non-chemical option for varroa control is gaining ground.

Nelson company, Rainbow Honey is continuing a programme started by Plant and Food Research to build up populations of honey bees that control the killer parasites in hives by interfering with their breeding cycle.

The bees carry a genetic trait, called the varroa sensitive hygienic or VSH trait.

Project leader Rae Butler says they’ve been building up VSH bee numbers in 80 trial hives to the stage where they’ve been able to reduce the number of chemical treatments needed to keep varroa under control. . .

Native larvae attacks grass grub:

Scientists are investigating a potential new biological control for one of New Zealand’s most voracious pasture pests, the grass grub.

Researchers from the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) made the discovery in Southbridge, Canterbury when they found grass grub pupae being eaten alive by maggots.

They identified the maggots as the larvae of a little known native carnivorous fly. . .

International Standard for Manuka Honey Already Exists Says Airborne Honey:

New Zealand’s oldest honey brand urges producers to stand together and support current international honey guidelines to save industry’s reputation

According to Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest honey brand, embracing the existing CODEX International Standard for Honey would be the most appropriate and immediately effective response to global criticism of Manuka honey and how it is labelled and tested. This call for the industry to stand together comes as New Zealand honey hits the headlines again. Problems have surfaced in the UK about Manuka honey not being true to variety and also in Hong Kong where it has been reported that a large amount of honey is mislabeled as well as being significantly heat damaged. . .

MPI initiative to boost industry partnership a success:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has welcomed two new secondees from industry to its policy branch, after an initial secondment into the standards branch has proven to be a success.

Alistair Mowat from Zespri International Limited and Mark Ward from the Riddit Institute bring industry expertise to the policy group’s strategic team which focuses on long-term decision making and future work programmes. This follows on from an initial secondment in March.

“Having worked with a range of primary sectors at different levels of development enables me to add a unique set of strategic and innovative skills to the team,” says Mr Mowat who is working on the Export Double programme. . .

Increased forecast milk price, a positive for dairy farmers and all of New Zealand: Brown:

All of New Zealand will benefit from today’s announced 30 cent increase in the Forecast Farmgate Milk said Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown.

The Fonterra Board of Directors today announced a revised Farmgate Milk Price forecast of $7.80 per kg/MS for the 2013/14 season, a 30 cent increase, keeping the advance rate at $ 5.50 and the previously estimated dividend at 32 cents per share.

Ian Brown: “This result shows the strength of demand on the international market for dairy products and the benefits will flow through New Zealand from farmers increased ability to spend on the inputs required to operate our dairy farms. . .

Entries open for 2014 Ballance Farm Awards:

Entries are now open for the 2014 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Awards, which have been running in the region for 11 years, celebrate responsible land stewardship and sustainable farm management practices.

Jocelyn Muller, the Canterbury Regional Coordinator for the Ballance Awards, said the awards continue to go from strength to strength in Canterbury.

“The Awards recognise and celebrate that best practice on-farm management is good for business and good for the environment. . .

Positive start to season for Zespri SunGold:

Zespri’s recently-commercialised gold kiwifruit variety SunGold is enjoying solid sales in 2013 and a great reception from consumers around the world.

Zespri President of Global Sales and Marketing Dan Mathieson gave growers an update from the markets on a recent visit to New Zealand and spoke about the growing level of confidence Zespri’s customers have in SunGold (also known as Gold3 in New Zealand).

“We’ve had an overall positive response to this juicy new variety and its refreshing sweet/sour taste balance in Japan, the rest of Asia, Europe and North America. With an increased volume, we’re now able to transition from Hort16A (Gold) to SunGold in more key markets and sales are going well,” says Dan. . .

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