Rural round-up

April 19, 2014

Dairy NZ says won’t be water ‘whipping boy’ any more -   Lynn Grieveson:

Dairy NZ says the dairy industry is no longer willing to be the “whipping boy” for any decreasing water quality of New Zealand’s streams and rivers, while Fish and Game has called for a public inquiry into the water quality issue.

Both groups appeared before Parliament’s Local Government and Environment Select Committee on Thursday to discuss the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on water quality, which described the problem of nitrogen leaching into waterways.

Chairman of DairyNZ John Luxton, standing in for Rick Pridmore, Dairy NZ’s Strategy and Investment Leader for Sustainability, said some of our most polluted streams and rivers were in urban areas. . . .

 

China, food and NZInc - Ketih Woodford:

The latest statistics show that New Zealand exports to China continue to surge. In the 12 months to February 2014, milk powder and beef exports each more than doubled, sheep meat sales increased by 80%, and log sales increased by 65%. Overall, exports to China increased from $7.1 billion to 10.9 billion, comprising 22% of total exports.

This overall percentage figure is not in itself a record. Both before and during the 1960s we were much more dependent than this on Britain, and in 1989 our exports to Japan reached 18% of total exports, before declining to the current figure of less than 6%. Nevertheless, the sheer speed of the increase in exports to China is causing concern both to commentators and the industries themselves.

I see no point in worrying about increasing reliance on China as a market destination. It is a simple reality that trade with China is going to increase a lot further yet. As long as the Chinese continue to pay more than other markets, then that is where the products will go. . .

 Good turn-out of forestry conference – Joanna Grigg:

Gray skies did not dampen the enthusiasm of 280 foresters and tree enthusiasts at the recent New Zealand Farm Forestry Association conference in Marlborough.

Field trips were a big part of the four-day programme, organised by the Marlborough Tree Growers Association.

An eclectic group of farmers, corporate foresters, scientists, and plant people had the chance to see radiata pine forests in the Marlborough Sounds, eucalyptus for durable post-production, amenity plantings for farms, and machinery to harvest trees safely on steep land. . .

Lorneville rendering plant commissioned:

LEADING MEAT processor and exporter Alliance Group has completed commissioning the second stage of its $25 million new rendering plant at Lorneville near Invercargill.

The plant produces high quality meat meal sought by pet food manufacturers and for animal feeds, as well as tallow for use in a range of applications from cosmetics to biofuels. The products are exported to international markets such as China, North America, Europe and Asia.

It incorporates the latest technology including a Press Dewatering System, which uses less energy and produces high quality products. The process, is virtually “zero waste”, resulting in high product yields and low wastewater output. . .

Food safety professional development:

AN INCREASINGLY sophisticated food industry stemming from the globalised nature of food production also means more complex issues around food safety and security.

With New Zealand’s heavy reliance on exporting primary produce, this demands robust knowledge and constant up-skilling in the processes and requirements of food safety and security by industry professionals.

Lincoln University, through its Centre for Food Research and Innovation, is now running a series of ongoing professional development courses for those in the food industry. . .

New DairyNZ director appointed:

A new independent director has been appointed to the board of dairy farming industry body, DairyNZ.

DairyNZ board chairman John Luxton says Peter Schuyt has been appointed to replace independent director John Spencer who has stepped down after his term on the board. “I thank John for his excellent contribution to both DairyNZ and to the New Zealand dairy industry over many years.”

John says Peter will be a valuable addition to the board.

“We have three independent directors as well as five farmer-elected members. Peter will bring some broad experience to the table as he is an independent director for a broad range of New Zealand businesses,” he says. . .

Aquaculture New Zealand welcomes Supreme Court decision:

Aquaculture New Zealand has welcomed the long awaited Supreme Court decision clearing the way for three new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds.

“It has been a long, expensive and uncertain process to get to this point,” said Aquaculture New Zealand Chairman Bruce Hearn.

“Hopefully we are now at a point where New Zealand King Salmon can proceed with their growth plans and get on with what they do best – sustainably producing the world’s best salmon. . .


Rural round-up

March 18, 2014

New staff to boost border security:

26 New Ministry for Primary Industries border staff begin training in Auckland today as part of a programme to beef up frontline resources, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Close to 125 new quarantine inspectors have joined MPI in the last 18 months and this is another big boost in resources.

“The 26 new staff will graduate around the middle of this year and will be posted around New Zealand.

“While there is increasing use of technology and intelligence to protect our border, we still need people on the frontline.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister because it is so important in protecting our economy. We know that unwanted pests and diseases can have devastating effects on our farmers and growers. . .

Clover root weevil under attack in Southland - Sally Rae:

An industry-wide effort is under way in Southland to combat the damaging clover root weevil, whose economic damage has been measured in hundreds of millions of dollars nationwide.

Clover root weevil (CRW), identified by distinctive U-shaped notches on clover leaves, was discovered in the Waikato and Auckland in 1996 and has now spread as far as Southland.

A project, involving AgResearch, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Environment Southland, which has been releasing parasitised clover root weevils on Southland farms, is being accelerated. . .

Fonterra Chairman Visits New $126m UHT Milk Processing Site:

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson visited Fonterra’s new $126 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa on the weekend.The site is in its final stages of testing before commissioning Anchor UHT milk and cream products at the end of this month.

Mr Wilson said he was impressed with how quickly it had taken the site to get to this stage with construction completed in 12 months.

“It was great to get the chance to visit and meet the team who have brought our Waitoa site to life. There is a real sense of pride from the team on the ground.  . . .

History repeats itself in Northland:

David Kidd is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old sheep and beef farm manager of Shelley Beach took first place at the Northern Regional Final at the Kaikohe Showgrounds over the weekend, Saturday 15 March.

Thirty years after Mr Kidd’s father, Richard Kidd, became a Grand Finalist David is following in his footsteps. Richard placed third (on count back) in the 1984 Timaru Grand Final representing the Northern Region. “I don’t remember it, but I was at that Grand Final and it was my first Young Farmers experience,” said Mr Kidd. . .

Meet Dr Sunday – Alice Roberts:

A doctor living in rural Queensland says it’s the patients who have kept him in town for the past decade.

Dr Sunday Adebiyi has been a general practitioner in Dysart for 10 years.

He says it’s the friendships you strike up in regional areas that make the job worthwhile.

“I have some very, very good patients and I think about them and they think about me, they are concerned about my welfare and how I’m going,” he says.

“So with such people it would be very difficult to let them down. . .

Rabobank business alumni tour successful South Island farms:

More than 80 New Zealand and Australian farmers toured South Island farms last week as part of Rabobank’s Business Management Programme alumni tour.

They visited a deer operation, an intensive indoor robotic dairy operation and a mixed cropping and birdseed business, which was currently undertaking a dairy conversion.

They also visited North Otago dairy farmer Rogan Borrie’s four properties near Oamaru.

Borrie, a fifth-generation farmer, completed Rabobank’s Farm Managers Programme in 2007.

He said it was a rewarding experience to share the developments and technology introduced on-farm.

“We showed the tour our new computerised irrigation scheme with pivot and fixed grid sprinklers that we have recently installed in order to reduce labour time and energy and improve water efficiency,” he said . .


Poll doesn’t support Green irrigation policy

March 17, 2014

An overwhelming majority of people don’t want large-scale irrigation schemes and intensive agriculture expansion unless there’s protection for downstream waterways so that they remain safe for swimming, fishing and food gathering.

The ‘Farming and the Environment Survey’ of 3134 respondents aged 18+ was commissioned by Fish & Game NZ and conducted independently by Horizon Research Limited, with a margin of error of just ±1.8%.

Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson says while the organisation’s primary interest relates to the habitat of trout and salmon and the pursuits of freshwater angling and game bird hunting which are enjoyed by many thousands of New Zealanders, this research proves that Fish & Game and the wider public are united when it comes to freshwater issues. 

“The sole focus on ramping up primary sector growth, whatever the costs, has put the economy on a collision course with the environment and public opinion,” he says.

“What this research shows is that nine out of 10 New Zealanders fundamentally link their Kiwi identity and lifestyle to their natural environment. It also exposes that a very clear risk of losing support exists for political parties which introduce policies promoting economic growth without guaranteed safeguards to protect the environment.”

A majority 67% of respondents say they are prepared to see large-scale irrigation schemes proceed to facilitate the growth of intensive dairy farming, but only if ‘scientific evidence proves that measures are in place to ensure downstream waterways will not be adversely affected’.

What this research shows is that people want clean water but don’t understand what it already being done by farmers to ensure their activities comply with regulations and don’t cause pollution.

“Presently we have a number of large-scale irrigation projects being proposed by Government and regional councils with scant regard being given to the adverse environmental consequences that invariably result from the change in land use, especially downstream water pollution including estuaries and coastal areas,” Mr Johnson points out.

That is simply not true.

Farmers have a vested interest in water quality not just for occasional recreation or food gathering but as a constant source for household use including drinking.

Mistakes have been made in the past but regional councils, farmers and dairy companies have learned from them and are applying what they learned for any new schemes.

North Otago Irrigation Company set a very good precedent for this. A condition of consent from the regional council was that all shareholders have to have an environmental farm plan which is independently audited each year. Anyone who doesn’t meet the standards doesn’t get water.

“The ‘precautionary principle’ is being conveniently ignored here and this negligence is going to leave a legacy of pollution for future generations.”

 The poll also found an overwhelming 74% of respondents do not want regional councils to allow new agricultural development and expansion ‘if it restricts public use and makes waterways unsafe for swimming, fishing and food gathering’.

The only surprise there is that it’s not more than 74%.

What the summary doesn’t say, but the full report does, is that a good number of farmers are among them:

The survey finds

  • An overwhelming 89% of adult New Zealanders link their Kiwi identity to their natural environment
  • · Some 2.34 million of the country’s 3.199m adults believe dairying has worsened water quality in the past 20 years.

However,

  • 67% will agree to large scale irrigation schemes – to grow intensive dairy farming – being allowed to proceed, but only provided scientific evidence proves that measures are in place to ensure downstream waterways are not polluted.
  • · There is strong agreement that polluters should pay, including 76.1% of farm owners and managers. . .

I’m surprised those last two numbers aren’t higher.

The last point is a strong rejection of the Green Party policy at the last election.

They wanted to tax irrigators and use the money to clean up waterways.

That would mean people who are doing what they should be would be paying for those who weren’t and that’s not what those surveyed want.

The support for polluters-paying is reinforced further on:

Responsibility for improving water quality

There is a strong agreement that those who pollute waterways should be made accountable for their restoration so they are safe for swimming, fishing and food gathering.

Some 89% support this view; only 1.6% disagree. Agreement sweeps across all occupational groups, including farm owners and managers (76%)  and supporters of all parties currently in the New Zealand Parliament. Among those who cast their party vote for the  National Party in 2011, 88% believe polluters should be held accountable for restoration of waterways.

New Zealanders also want farmers to take responsibility for reducing any impact of dairying on the environment (only 15 % agree that they should not, 72% disagree with a statement saying farmers should not be required to take responsibility).

Dairy companies’ responsibilities

There is also strong support (73%) for requiring dairy companies to take responsibility for the environmental performance of their contracted suppliers .

This support rises to 82% among farm owners and managers and to 75% among 2011 voters for the National Party.

That is happening now.

The dairy industry and farmers are already  investing millions of dollars in managing their environmental impact and taking their responsibilities seriously.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says dairy farmers, through the milksolids levy they pay to DairyNZ, have boosted their industry environmental investment by 61 percent this financial year to $11 million per annum.

Dr Mackle says it is not surprising that a public attitudes survey just released and funded by Fish and Game paints a negative picture of public attitudes to dairy farming. He doesn’t see the survey work as particularly rigorous or important. “They are playing politics in an election year and dairy farmers are the convenient football to kick around,” he says.

“I think New Zealanders understand that dairying is important to the success of the New Zealand economy and that dairy farmers are an important part of our community. They just want to see the industry acting responsibly and managing its impact,” he says.

“We don’t need another survey to tell us what we already know – that New Zealanders care what the dairy industry is doing to live up to their expectations around environmental stewardship. We’re already acting on that concern in a range of ways - and have a strategy and plan for ensuring responsible and competitive dairy farming including a new, stronger Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord. We launched all that last year,” he says.

“Farmers have certainly recognised the need to lift their game in investing in industry actions above and beyond their usual on-farm investments to show leadership. Across the industry we have signed up to a new water accord and strategy and we’ve been putting our money behind meeting our commitments in those agreements.

“We have programmes and investments in place with regional councils in every major dairying region in the country - from Northland to Southland and every place in between. We need to work harder at making sure more New Zealanders have a better understanding of all that is being done. Farmers are certainly paying their fair share,” he says.

“Most dairy farmers are doing a great job. Industry standards for dairy farmers, no matter where you farm or what dairy company you supply, have now been set and are being implemented through company supply agreements with dairy farmer support. We’re still let down by a few bad performers but that’s like any industry,” he says.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Dr Rick Pridmore, says in Southland, dairy farmers, through DairyNZ, are spending $1.1 million each year on environmental work with the council and in the Waituna catchment. In addition, the on-farm investments by Waituna Catchment dairy farmers so far sit at around $1.5 million, with another additional $2 million of work still in the pipeline.

“Where we’re part of the problem, we’re investing in solutions with councils and communities - generally at a catchment level. Just ask any regional council. And this is above and beyond what individual dairy farmers are spending to meet their regulatory requirements or paying as rates including targeted rates in some areas.”

He says dairy farmers, through DairyNZ, are partnering with councils on projects and spending big money. Last year this included work with  Horizons Regional Council ($500,000), Waikato River Authority ($1.2 million), Environment Canterbury ($1 million), Northland Regional Council ($400,000) and $100,000 with the West Coast Regional Council.

“Fonterra dairy farmers have fenced 22,000 kilometres of waterways around the country now and that is all GPS mapped. Depending on how much riparian planting and maintenance is included, we estimate farmers have spent $100-200 million to achieve this, reflecting around $5-10,000 per kilometre,” he says.   

“DairyNZ is also investing dairy farmers’ money in leading New Zealand’s largest catchment project in the Waikato River above Karapiro. This $2.1m project, co-funded by DairyNZ, Waikato River Authority and central government, is delivering environmental management plans to all 700 farmers in the catchment.

“Each Sustainable Milk Plan for those farmers will cost us $2,400 to produce, and out of that will fall a range of actions and investments that the farmer will spend on their farms. That includes installing water meters on most of these 700 farms at a cost to farmers of around $1.5 million. Other examples are Taranaki farmers who are voluntarily investing an enormous amount of money and time to ensure waterways on the Taranaki ring plain are protected with fences and vegetation. Around $80 million has been spent on plants, fencing and contractors since the project began. That’s a fantastic achievement.

“So we can point to an increasing and substantial investment by dairy farmers that shows how much they are all paying in a range of ways to manage their environmental impact. On top of that the dairy industry supports the Government’s plans for farming within environmental limits that is rolling out across the country. This will address the bigger issue of managing land use change. Already in Canterbury, there will be ‘no grow’ areas for dairying in that region as part of implementing its new land and water policies,” says Dr Pridmore.

The poll results were reported to suggest most New Zealanders were against irrigation but another poll counters that.

In January this year, Kiwis voted 71% pro-irrigation in an independent poll commissioned by IrrigationNZ. . .

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says while he agrees with some of Fish&Game’s survey results, unfortunately the organisation has chosen to focus on the negative. In reality only a minority of Kiwis hold views that reflect no development or progress for New Zealand.

“Fish&Game is reiterating the same old rhetoric around the water quality problems that we all know exist in some parts of New Zealand. It’s like a broken record. Fish&Game need to change their focus and make a constructive contribution. After the Land &Water Forum the farming community is now focused on finding solutions – not throwing stones. Kiwis in our latest research emphasised that as long as irrigation is undertaken in a sustainable and responsible fashion, the majority are comfortable with it.”

“We do however acknowledge that Kiwis need more information on irrigation practice today and how it is monitored and managed and we hope to fill that information gap next month with the launch of our new SMART irrigation website.”

In the meantime we agree with the following findings from Fish&Game;

  • Industry bodies to better understand and align with public opinion on issues relating to irrigation, water and environmental protection in order to form responsible and acceptable policies and industry standards;
  • That irrigation which aids economic development must be managed responsibly with standardised measures and monitoring in place and that
  • ‘Smarter’ practices must be sought out which both enhance production but also protect New Zealand’s resources.

“Irrigation New Zealand is working with agencies, organisations and individuals to minimise the impact of irrigation on our rivers and river flow and water quality limits are being set so that irrigators sustainably manage the water we all value,” says Mr Curtis.

A lot of what appears in the media is a result of poor practices in the past.

There’s a lot of time and money going into remedying those problems and helping farmers do all they can to protect and enhance waterways now.


Rural round-up

March 7, 2014

Why agribusiness is different - Keith Woodford:

There is a common perception within Business Schools that agribusiness should operate by the same principles as other businesses. The reality is somewhat different. Agribusiness plays by its own complex set of biophysical rules, and beats to its own drum.

There are at least six defining reasons why agribusiness is different from most other types of business. It is these differences which make agribusiness so complex, so fascinating, and at times so frustrating. It is these same differences that can also cause so-called business experts to struggle when they apply their textbook skills to agribusiness.

The six defining characteristics are long investment cycles, long production cycles, production volatility, food safety issues, the politics of food security and environmental implications. The specific ways that these characteristics play out vary from situation to situation. . .

Education for Agribusiness – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about how agribusiness was fundamentally different to other forms of business. I described the defining characteristics as long investment cycles, long production cycles, production volatility, food safety issues, the politics of food security, and environmental impacts. The one I missed was perishability.

All of the above have implications for agribusiness education. Without an understanding of biology, agribusiness managers will blunder.

Of course agribusiness managers also have to understand the principles of economics, marketing, accounting, finance, and law. And then there is the challenge of bringing all of these together within an overall bio-physical system. . .

Kiwi gene tool offers big boost – Abby Brown:

Kiwi technology developed to find desirable sheep traits and now being used on Atlantic salmon could boost agricultural profits by $300 million every year.

It has potential for use on other farm animals, pastures, pests, trees and diseases and could be used for audit and traceability purposes.

Genomic tools created by AgResearch to test a sheep’s genetic worth and predict its future productive merit and meat quality are now being transferred to Atlantic salmon in Iceland in a project that could see them used in other animals, plants and organisms.

The Infinium chip’s technology has enabled researchers to profile a diverse range of traits in a sheep’s DNA and for the first time across a variety of breeds. . .

Employers must recruit on skills - Marie Taylor:

Fencepost Jobs website staff have refused to post advertisements for dairy farmers who want to employ only Filipino staff.

Employing people had a large legal responsibility that went with it and human rights legislation made it illegal to discriminate in employment, which started with advertising roles, DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir said.

All New Zealand employers, including farmers, had to recruit on skills, Muir said.

“This should also give you the best person for the role.”

A Fencepost spokeswoman said while the site was the largest in the country for dairy workers, containing up to 500 advertisements for work wanted or offered at one time, the advertisements were not policed. . .

Advanced weaning approach boosts beef return:

IF YOU haven’t weaned your beef calves by the end of this month you could be compromising calf and overall farm performance, the experience of a leading Hawkes Bay station shows.

Rissington Station’s advanced weaning approach, honed over the past five years, is to wean calves at 150 days old instead of the traditional March or April date.

A minimum liveweight threshold of 160kg is applied but in practice calves are averaging 230kg at 150 days. . .

 

Dry message goes out:

DairyNZ is issuing summer dry messages to farmers and advising farmers to look after young stock.

DairyNZ’s Craig McBeth drove from Hamilton to Wellington last weekend and got a pretty good idea of the situation, he says.

The drought is severe in Waikato and he was amazed at how dry it was around Otaki in Horowhenua, he says. He knows it is equally dry in parts of Northland’s west. . . .


Rural round-up

March 4, 2014

India world’s largest beef exporter – Allan Barber:

For a country where the cow is sacred to adherents of the majority Hindu religion, it seems surprising that India has overtaken Brazil as the largest exporter of beef in the world. A recent article in the New Indian Express reports that a prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, recently referred to the ‘pink revolution’ as the only revolution happening in India, signifying the growing importance of the country’s meat industry.

It was intended primarily as a dig at the inactivity of India’s ruling United Progressive Alliance party which has been in power since 2004. But it underlines the point that beef exports have grown by 50% in the past five years to 1.89 million tonnes with main markets being USA, Europe, the Gulf States and South East Asia.

Poultry exports have also grown substantially, reaching 3.5 million tonnes in the latest year for which figures are available, which puts it after USA and Brazil as the world’s third largest exporter. . .

China’s meat imports surge, while live cattle trade slows – Allan Barber:

An article in Global Meat News.com highlights significant changes in China’s live animal and meat trade with the rest of the world.

China’s imports of live cattle dropped back in 2013, although there was a surge in cattle for beef breeding and finishing. According to China Customs data, China imported 102,245 cattle (cows, bulls and weaners) in 2013 which was down 26,000 on the previous year, but the figures included 9,370 Angus cattle from Australia and New Zealand destined for the beef sector. A batch of 3,000 Angus, classed as ‘beef cattle’, were imported from Australia in November alone.

A listing of major feed lots, published by China’s agricultural ministry, shows the bulk of China’s cattle feed lots are concentrated in Hebei, Liaoning and Shandong provinces. Yet cows and cattle are also being farmed in increasing numbers in the less populous northwesterly regions of Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Gansu and Xinjiang – all of which also have large Muslim populations and a traditional demand for halal-compliant beef products. . .

Bluff oysters are back - Michael Daly:

Succulent Bluff oysters are starting to appear on shop shelves after the season opened at midnight today, but the delicacies are not expected to be widely available in most supermarkets until early next week.

“There will be a little bit getting around the country today,” Bluff Oyster Management Company spokesman and Barnes Oysters manager Graeme Wright said.

Some of the 11 boats in the fleet had gone out last night to be ready to start harvesting as soon as the season opened, and the first boat had been back in port before 8am. . .

Dairy dominates rise in export volumes:

In the December 2013 quarter, seasonally adjusted dairy export values rose 27 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today. Dairy volumes, after adjusting for seasonal effects, rose 23 percent while actual prices fell 1.1 percent.

Total export volumes rose 9.7 percent in the December 2013 quarter while total export prices fell 0.5 percent. Both movements were strongly influenced by dairy, which accounted for 39 percent of the value of goods exported in the December quarter – twice as much as meat and forestry combined.

“Export volumes are at their highest level since the series began in 1990, reflecting higher dairy volumes in the December quarter, after adjusting for seasonal effects,” prices manager Chris Pike said. “Dairy export prices fell slightly, reflecting a stronger New Zealand dollar.” . . .

DairyNZ’s research head retires:

DairyNZ chief scientist Dr Eric Hillerton has announced he will leave his post at the industry body later this year, having decided to semi-retire.

Dr Hillerton says one of the most rewarding parts of being a scientist with DairyNZ is the direct involvement with dairy farmers, understanding the real problems on farms and helping develop solutions and new technologies.

“Much of the value of that science lies in taking research and knowledge directly to farmers, and testing how to apply and transfer innovative technologies and solutions,” says Dr Hillerton. . .

Two New Zealand multinationals partner for Fieldays Premier Feature:

NZ National Fieldays Society is pleased to announce Fieldays 2014 Joint Premier Feature Partners: PGG Wrightson Ltd and Xero Ltd.

Fieldays, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest Agribusiness Expo, will be held 11 to 14 June at Mystery Creek Events Centre, Hamilton. Each year the Fieldays Premier Feature theme provides a compelling showcase for what’s happening throughout New Zealand’s agricultural industry; promotes adoption of current knowledge and technologies; and offers solutions for upcoming challenges.

The Fieldays 2014 Premier Feature theme, Managing Resources for a Competitive Advantage, will highlight areas in which New Zealand’s agricultural sector can optimise, maximise and develop systems and processes to help manage resources effectively and maintain our place among the world’s best. . .


Rural round-up

February 25, 2014

Sewer discharge called a disgrace:

A leading Hawke’s Bay wine industry figure says sewerage pouring into Hawke’s Bay’s rivers is a disgrace and potentially damaging to the region’s food and beverage producers.

The group Friends of the Tukituki is threatening legal action if the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council is unable to meet new resource consents for discharging town sewerage into the Waipawa and Tukituki Rivers.

It says the brown smelly discharge currently going into the rivers is unacceptable.

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council says the discharge is within its resource consent, and is confident a new sewage plant will be operating by October which will discharge crystal clear water. . . .

Minister flags Maori land potential:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has highlighted the potential for Maori agribusiness as part of the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector exports by 2025.

The ministry now forecasts the sector will earn $36.5 billion this season – up nearly $5 billion on the last forecast six months ago.

Of the 1.5 million hectares of Maori land, only 300,000 hectares is in full production. . .

East Coast first to host Environment Awards – RivetettingKateTaylor:

The first regional dinner has been held for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The East Coast awards, covering the geographic area of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Gisborne District Council, were announced in Gisborne on Thursday.  It’s the fourth year of the awards but the first time hosted by Gisborne.

Well done to all those who entered…. and (drum roll please) the winners were Rob and Sandra Faulkner and Bruce and Jo Graham from the 600ha property, Wairakaia, which can be found on both sides of SH2 at Muriwai, south of Gisborne. . .

From the Lip – Pulse of rural NZ at field days - Jamie Mackay:

What follows are some random observations from the past fortnight and some pretty cool stuff that’s happened in rural New Zealand:

1. Tis field-day season. A couple of weeks ago it was the Southern Field Days at Waimumu. This week it’s the Northland Field Days at Dargaville and in a couple of weeks it’s off to Feilding for the Central Districts Field Days.  Between that and Horse of the Year in Hastings, the PPP Farming Conference in Queenstown, the inaugural Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards in New Plymouth and the Rolling Stones in Auckland, I think I’ll just set up camp at the airport over the next six weeks.

I shouldn’t complain though, because it’s at these field days you get the real pulse of rural New Zealand and it’s fair pumping out there at the moment.  Even though I’ve been attending the Southern Field Days for 20 years – it was the first gig I did in radio – Waimumu is still a revelation. It’s a “Mini Me” of Mystery Creek, only better.  It’s Dargaville’s turn to impress this week. . . .

 

 

Milksmart events make farmers do the maths :

MilkSmart events, where farmers are shown practical ways to reduce milking times, are doing the rounds again this year.

DairyNZ have made some changes to the topics after farmer feedback.

The topics include stockmanship, milking efficiency, cow flow, milking skills, mastitis management, smart dairy design, people management, smart water use and more.

Events were run in Morrinsville and Tokoroa last week.

Sessions were designed for one of three experience levels – those who are new to dairying, operational managers, and senior decision makers or farm owners. . . .

Fonterra Announces $32 Million Foodservice Expansion in Eltham:

Fonterra today announced a $32 million expansion of its slice-on-slice cheese capacity at its Collingwood Street site in Eltham, Taranaki.

Slice-on-slice cheese is used extensively in quick service restaurants for products such as hamburgers and sandwiches.

Work will start in early 2014 and is expected to be completed in mid-2015. When complete, the expanded plant will deliver both increased capacity and improved processes to meet growth in global demand from Fonterra’s foodservice customers.

Fonterra Director of Foodservice, René Dedoncker, said the investment demonstrated the Co-operative’s drive to grow its business in the high-value foodservice industry. . . .

BEC Feed Solutions Set to Taste New Zealand Market:

BEC Feed Solutions Australia has cemented its commitment to the New Zealand agricultural market with the opening of a New Zealand trading arm, BEC Feed Solutions NZ.

The move was prompted by New Zealand’s rapidly developing animal production market and thriving dairy industry, which has seen a 70% growth in dairy production over the past 20 years[1]. This, coupled with the dairy industry’s growing preference for supplementary feeding over a solely pasture-based system, provides a sound platform for BEC – Australia’s largest independent animal pre-mix manufacturer – to officially enter the New Zealand market. . .


Rural round-up

February 18, 2014

Dairy farms set to beat compliance deadline – Tony Benny:

DairyNZ hopes to have all dairy farmers in the Amuri Basin signed up to its Sustainable Milk Plans by the end of the year, meaning they will comply with new Environment Canterbury environmental regulations well before the 2017 deadline.

The plans are based on a voluntary scheme in the Waikato, tweaked to comply with requirements of the Hurunui Waiau River Regional Plan, which came into force in December, under the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

“The ultimate goal is this will tick all the boxes so at the moment, as I understand it, it does meet all the requirements of Schedule 2 of the Hurunui plan and Schedule 7 of the Land and Water Regional Plan which are both the farm environment plan schedules,” said DairyNZ catchment manager Canterbury Tony Fransen. . . .

For cows daughters mean more milk - Chris Cash:

The amount of milk a cow produces is affected by the sex of her fetus, a new study reports.

Cows that gave birth to a daughter produced considerably more milk than those that had sons. And back-to-back daughters led to a bonanza of milk from their mothers — over two 305-day lactation periods, nearly 1,000 pounds more milk than from cows that had given birth to sons, an increase of 3 percent.

The study, described in the journal PLoS ONE, could have implications for dairy farmers and for new discoveries about human breast milk. . .

NZ vs Aus – who wins at the farmgate? – Freshagenda:

As the current season has unfolded and payouts have heated up over the ditch, many farmers here  are asking the inevitable question – How do Australian farmgate prices compare to New Zealand’s? 
 
To address this question more fully, we really need to look beyond the current season and examine a long term comparison. Freshagenda’s analysis of payments made by Australian manufacturers compared to Fonterra’s over the past 13 years (including a forecast for 2013/14) show that Australian prices have been ahead by around A$0.19 kgMS on average. This is once adjustments have been made for protein – measured as “crude’ in New Zealand and “true” here, and converting NZ prices to Australian dollars. 
 

What the green and black bars on the chart  indicate (in US dollars this time) is that since 2009, Australian farmgate prices have been more resilient when there have been downturns in the international market, while New Zealand’s prices have responded more quickly and fully when commodity prices head upwards. . .

Increasing your slice of the economic pie:

As a commodity producer of primarily agricultural products, New Zealand is not in a favourable position to dictate what goes on in the global marketplace. However, Senior Lecturer in Supply Chain Management, Dr Mark M.J. Wilson , says by looking at the supply chain as a total system, there is the opportunity for businesses to compete through collaboration.

“New Zealand Inc tends to get buried as a supplier within the supply chain,” says Dr Wilson. “For example, our milk products get wrapped up as supply commodities to major confectionery brands that then capture the benefit of their branding to the consumers. So New Zealand gets paid as a commodity player, while the confectionery giant gets the profit from the brand ownership.

“No longer do businesses compete against businesses; rather we need to think about value chains competing against value chains.. .

Two charts about animal use in research - Thomas Lumley:

Prompted by Siouxsie Wiles’s report of talking to an anti-vivisectionist demonstrator, here are two charts from the annual report of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee. These are the people who monitor the use of animals in research, testing, and teaching in New Zealand.

The first chart shows what types of animals are used and what happens to them afterwards. . .

 

Triple investment property combines business opportunities with rural lifestyle:

A highly successful multi-purpose hospitality and commercial accommodation business being run as a “hobby” by its current owners has been placed on the market for sale.

The Dairy Flat property north of Auckland combines two business operations with a home on a 4.7 hectare lifestyle section, offering potential new owners the best of both professional and lifestyle worlds.

Located at 48 Young Access in the rural community 25 minutes north of Auckland, the property encompasses a boutique bed and breakfast business with a private residence, a purpose-built glass house function pavilion and a smaller dwelling used as commercial accommodation. . .


Rural round-up

January 18, 2014

Meat Options Paper Seeks Farmer Opinions - Allan Barber:

Federated Farmers’ Meat Options discussion paper, written by Sarah Crofoot, does an extremely good job of laying out the alternative market orientations companies can adopt. It presents three different focus options from which farmers are asked to select their set of preferences.

It should be noted up front that the discussion paper is aimed at Federated Farmers’ farmer members and its key purpose is to engage those farmers in thinking about what they want their industry to look like in 5,10 or 20 years from now. The final output will not be binding on anybody, but it will provide a more comprehensive summary of farmer opinion than the feedback from the series of Meat industry Excellence meetings.

The paper starts with a late 1980s definition of the industry’s unique characteristics quoting Anita Busby, Editor of Meat Producer at the time:

“Meat industry people don’t need to take advice or listen to new ideas. They already have the answers. They strangle new thoughts at conception. If that fails, they discredit the source. If you haven’t been in the meat industry for years, you don’t know what you are talking about. If you have, you’re washed up…”

Sarah Crofoot with the confidence of youth has nevertheless taken the bold step of producing a set of ideas which merit serious consideration. It is now 30 years since subsidies were removed, even longer since the deregulation of the meat industry, and despite many positive developments, the industry still has fundamental structural problems. . .

More than 4000 sheep perish on live export:

More than 4000 Australian sheep have died from heat exhaustion after 21 days on board a live export ship bound for Qatar from Fremantle.

Exporter Livestock Shipping Service said 4179 sheep perished in August aboard their Bader III vessel – the same ship that was loaded with animals last weekend in Perth despite searing 44-degree heat.

LSS are a Jordanian-owned company based in Perth and are already under investigation by Australian Federal Authorities for two breaches of live export regulations in Jordan and Gaza. . .

No downtime for shearing gangs – Jill Galloway:

When it has been too wet for shearing in one area, sheep have been dry enough in another so shearing has cracked on.

Shearers and contractors say they are not behind, in spite of the recent moist weather. “The boys have not had a day off,” said Feilding-based contractor Erin Bailey.

“They had a few days off over New Year, but they have been working since,” she said.

She and her husband Scott run two shearing gangs from their Feilding base, but shear a lot around Marton and Apiti, she said. . .

Taranaki Trust leads dairy research – Sue O’Dowd:

The Taranaki Agricultural Research Trust provides two platforms for cutting-edge research beneficial to the dairy industry.

The trust leases a 126ha (111ha effective) research farm across the road from Fonterra’s Whareroa site near Hawera and owns the 350 cows milked there. DairyNZ manages the Westpac Taranaki Agricultural Research Station (WTARS) under contract to the trust.

The station, established at Normanby in 1974, has done research into areas as diverse as grass grub, nitrogen and phosphate use, once-a- day-milking and feed conversion efficiency.

It had made a significant contribution to New Zealand farming over the last 40 years, said trust chairman Brendan Attrill. . .

Neil’s pinot empire expands – James Beech:

Actor Sam Neill says his winery’s fourth vineyard acquisition demonstrates ”faith and confidence” in Central Otago and its pinot noir for the global market.

Two Paddocks announced this week it had become the only Central Otago winery with a foothold in all three Central Otago wine-producing sub-regions, owning vineyards in Gibbston, the Alexandra basin and now the Cromwell basin.

Neill said a sum of money which was ”considerable, but both vendors and purchasers think it fair” had bought the established 6ha Desert Heart Vineyard, plus woolshed and house, at the end of Felton Rd, Bannockburn, last week. . .

Don’t let Fonterra’s lawyers run off with the fresh cream – Willy Leferink:

They say bad things come in threes.  We’ve had the news Fonterra is going to “vigorously defend any proceedings” taken by Danone against it for US$400 million.  In recent days, Fonterra Brands has voluntarily recalled 330ml and 500ml bottles of fresh cream sold under the Anchor and Pams brands in the upper North Island. 

As a farmer you wonder, what’s next?

First of all Fonterra is doing things by the book in voluntarily recalling affected bottles of fresh cream stamped “best before 21 January”.  Visit foodsmart.govt.nz and you’ll quickly learn that food product recalls happen irrespective of who’s in government.  In 2008, there were 19 recalls versus the 14 last year and they have involved everything from hash browns to fish fillets to soy milk powder.

While the timing of this is far from ideal given last year’s events, this voluntary recall came from Fonterra’s own testing.  It shows consumers that a company owned by thousands of Kiwi farmers puts food safety first.  When consumers take a Fonterra product off the shelf, they deserve to know someone back at Fonterra is testing it. . .


Michael Spaans joins Fonterra board

November 26, 2013

DairyNZ director Michael Spaans has been elected to the board of Fonterra.

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2013 Fonterra Board of Directors’, Directors’ Remuneration Committee and Shareholders’ Council elections.

Shareholders voted to re-elect incumbent Directors Malcolm Bailey and Ian Farrelly. They will be joined by new Director Michael Spaans.

Michael Spaans, aged 50, lives in Hamilton and farms at Te Aroha. Michael was a Shareholders’ Councillor from 2000 to 2008. Michael is currently a Director of DairyNZ and several other dairy sector companies.

Shareholders Scott Montgomery and Gerard Wolvers were elected unopposed as members of the Directors’ Remuneration Committee.

In the Shareholders’ Council elections, the following Shareholders’ Councillors were elected:

Ward 8 – Hamilton Ross Wallis
Ward 21 – Coastal Taranaki Vaughn Brophy

Both are new Shareholders’ Councillors.

In the eleven other Shareholders’ Council wards where elections were due, nominees were elected unopposed. The Councillors in those wards are:

Ward 3 – Northern Wairoa Penny Smart
Ward 6 – Hauraki Julie Pirie
Ward 9 – Morrinsville Malcolm Piggott
Ward 12 – Cambridge Kevin Monks
Ward 15 – South Waikato Ian Brown
Ward 18 – Otorohanga Duncan Coull
Ward 24 – Southern Taranaki David Werder
Ward 27 – Southern Manawatu Richard Syme
Ward 30 – Northern Central Canterbury Ange Ward
Ward 32 – Southern Canterbury John Gregan
Ward 33 – Otago Ad Bekkers and Ivan Lines

All successful candidates will take office at the close of the Annual Meeting on Wednesday, 27 November 2013.


Rural round-up

November 10, 2013

Grass-fed meat promises to revive health benefits – Gerald Piddock:

Farming and consuming grass-fed red meat might just save the planet.

This form of farming was completely sustainable, nutritional therapist Nora Gedgaudas told farmers and visitors at the World Angus Forum in Rotorua.

It is also the predominant method of farming livestock in New Zealand.

“Grass-fed meat may just be the most healthy and sustainable food source on Earth,” she said.

Much of the earth’s landmass was unsuitable for agriculture, yet it could support grazing livestock while providing nutritionally dense food, she said. . .

1105kg steer continues tradition- Tim Cronshaw:

A friesian and charolais cross steer tipped the scales at 1105 kilograms to take the heaviest steer title in the Prime Cattle Competition at Canterbury Agricultural Park.

Dunsandel farmer John McDrury added a second title to his collection at the pre-Canterbury A & P Show event this week, after winning in 2010 with a 1250kg steer. His grandson, Jack McDrury, won in 2011 with a 1000kg charolais.

The supreme champion animal was a limousin heifer, which also won the best single heifer title for Jeannette and Ralph Adams from Flaxton, near Rangiora. . .

Bloodthirsty ticks on a quest:

BLOODTHIRSTY ADULT TICKS are on a quest right now and farmers in the North Island in tick-prevalent areas should be checking cattle and talking to their veterinarian, say DairyNZ.

They should be assessing their risk in an effort to limit the spread of a new strain of the blood-borne parasite Theileria, says DairyNZ.

Cases of cattle being affected by the new Ikeda strain of Theileria orientalis, which is carried by ticks and causes anaemia, have been on the increase since late 2012, particularly in the upper half of the North Island. . .

Stock shift sees Molesworth road open earlier  - Tony Benny:

The Molesworth Station road has opened early this year, instead of the usual December 28, thanks to a change in farming practice and continuing efforts to show the historic high country property off.

“Our goal is that over their lifetime, everybody in New Zealand comes and has a look and gets a feel of what they own,” said Molesworth manager Jim Ward.

The public has previously been kept off the 59-kilometre road that links Hanmer with Marlborough’s Awatere Valley until close to New Year, because of fears that they could interfere with farming operations.

This year the road opened two months earlier, at Labour Weekend, thanks to young cattle being sent to finishing blocks in Hanmer rather than being kept on the station. . .

Bush v city: why I won’t be joining the exodus from rural Australia – Gabrielle Chan:

From wide open spaces to a genuine sense of community, country Australia, let me count the ways I love thee.

So the bush is bleeding. No one wants to live here. Just a few of us hardy souls left, it appears.

We were told this month rural Australians are falling in love with the beaches – that coastal strip that rings the country, with all its white sands, clear blue seas, temperate climate, its schools and hospitals, its shopping malls and movie theatres.

Well all I can say is: what a bunch of tossers.

Granted, as a city girl, I could not initially see the attractions that lay beyond the tall dark handsome farmer who lured me westward out of my three-metre-wide Surry Hills terrace and into the great open spaces.

Granted, I did spend a fair bit of time walking through the paddocks carrying a large branch, suffering from some agoraphobic belief that all this space without a single human had to hold some hidden monster that would emerge from the morning fog to attack me.

Ah, but like most affairs, the delights of rural life crept up slowly and now I have fallen in love with the bush. . .

#gigatownoamaru has fallen in love with the goal of being the southern hemisphere’s first gigatown.


Rural round-up

November 7, 2013

DairyNZ ramps up investment in environmental area:

DairyNZ is boosting dairy farmers’ investment in the environmental area by 61 percent in this financial year, from $6.7 million to $11 million as part of its efforts to meet its commitments under the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management.

DairyNZ Chief Executive, Tim Mackle, says the environmental portfolio is helping farmers boost profits while lowering their environmental impact, supporting farmer-led waterway improvement projects and investing in nutrient management research and resources. “It also supports our industry’s new dairy farming strategy and our objective to have proactive environmental stewardship.

“Biosecurity is also a big investment at $16 million but even this funding has environmental benefits as we are the largest non-government funder of the TBfree programme that focuses a lot on possum control with clear biodiversity benefits,” he says. . .

Landcorp focus will stay at home - Alan Williams:

Landcorp is getting approaches to develop and manage farms overseas but is busy enough in New Zealand.

The magnitude of its work in NZ and the opportunities ahead made expansion offshore unlikely, new chief executive Steven Carden said.

Three months into his posting at the State-owned farmer, he is working through a strategy review with the board, taking stock of where they are and the opportunities ahead. . .

Challenges to food industry for feeding the world:

Finding innovative ways to utilise waste, a greater focus on consumer driven research, and increased Government investment are just some of the challenges facing the food industry in New Zealand according to Lincoln University’s Professor of Food Science, Charles Brennan .

Professor Brennan was speaking as part of the Foods for Now and the Future Forum held at Lincoln University last week. The forum was arranged by the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science and the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology.

On the subject of wastage in food production and consumption he noted that some 50% of packaged salad greens and 40% of bread and cereals may be discarded in some countries around the world. However, utilising smarter production methods and taking a more innovative approach when it comes to wastage could mean up to one billion people could be fed worldwide. . .

Fonterra Strengthens Its Position in Australia:

Fonterra has today further strengthened its position in the Australian dairy industry by acquiring the assets of Tasmanian yoghurt business, Tamar Valley Dairy.

Under the agreement, Fonterra will acquire the processing equipment, the related services, and intellectual property and trademark for the Tamar Valley Dairy brand. The acquisition is effective towards the end of November (subject to completion of the sale), with the exact date to be confirmed.

“Fonterra is a long-standing partner of Tamar Valley Dairy, and has supported and worked closely with the administrators of the family-owned business during what has recently been a difficult period for the Tasmanian business and its founders,” said Judith Swales, Managing Director, Fonterra Australia. . .

Aussie cattle empire sale fails, amid land wrangle:

A second huge Australian cattle operation has had trouble selling, with the North Australian Pastoral Company being withdrawn from the market, amid tough industry conditions and a growing debate over land ownership.

North Australian Pastoral Company’s ruling Foster family has taken down the for sale sign after six months of marketing the 58,000-square kilometre (14.3m acre) property – an area nearly twice the size of Belgium and nearly as big as the US state of West Virginia – failed to attract an “acceptable proposal”.

Besides the Foster family’s 61% stake in Napco, a 34% stake held by London-listed plantations group MP Evans was also up for sale. . .

New Directors Appointed to Board of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited:

Te Ohu Kaimoana (the Maori Fisheries Trust) has appointed three new directors to the board of Aotearoa Fisheries Limited.

Mr Anthony Hannon, a merchant banker with extensive experience in tax consulting, private equity and asset management, and Ms Liz Ward (Ngāti Porou), a former Chief Executive of Deep Cove Fisheries and Wellington’s CentrePort, have been appointed for a term of three-years. Mr Alan Gourdie, an Auckland-based consultant with international management and marketing experience as a chief executive and director, has been appointed for a two-year term from 1 November. . .

Nominations in for Silver Fern Farms’ Director Elections:

Three nominations have been received for the two positions on the Silver Fern Farms’ Board of Directors.

Eoin Garden and David Shaw retire by rotation at the Company’s 2013 Annual Meeting which is to be held in Dunedin on 18 December 2013.

Eoin Garden has advised he will not be standing for re-election and will therefore retire at the Annual Meeting. David Shaw has advised that he will stand for re-election.

The candidates for election are:

Dan Jex-Blake
David Shaw
Richard Young . . .


Rural round-up

October 19, 2013

Pengxin, Synlait founders make $85.7 mln offer to take over Synlait Farms - Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Shanghai Pengxin, which bought the Crafar family farms in a controversial deal last year, and the Synlait founders are offering $85.7 million to buy South Island dairy farmer Synlait Farms.

SFL Holdings, a joint venture between Pengxin and Synlait Farms chief executive Juliet Maclean and director John Penno, is offering $2.10 a share to Synlait Farms investors in a full takeover bid for the company which operates 13 dairy farms and a total herd of almost 13,000 cows. That’s a 31 percent premium to the $1.60 price the shares last traded at on the Unlisted platform.

If the takeover is successful, SFL plans to inject a further $20 million in fresh capital to reduce debt and accelerate investment. It also plans to reinvest all surplus cash to fund further growth. Penno and Maclean will hold about 26 percent of SFL, with Pengxin owning the rest via New Zealand Standard Farm, a subsidiary of its Milk New Zealand unit. . .

Spierings blames ‘she’ll be right attitude’ for Fonterra botulism scare - Christopher Adams:

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings compared the company’s botulism debacle to Emirates Team New Zealand’s near-capsize during the America’s Cup. Photo / Greg Bowker

Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings says a “she’ll be right attitude” was one of the causes of the company’s botulism fiasco.

Business leaders have gathered in Auckland today for the annual China Business Summit.

The event’s main focus this year is the ongoing impact of Fonterra’s whey protein contamination scare, which led to a global recall of consumer products, including infant formula, but turned out to be a false alarm.

Addressing the summit, Spierings said Fonterra was world class in manufacturing and food safety but the company still needed to “lift its game”.

“That was one the key learnings [of the botulism scare] – a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude is not acceptable,” he said. . .

Primary Growth Partnership enhances world-class Mozzarella technology:

A Primary Growth Partnership programme is helping deliver world-leading patented technology for the production of quick-frozen grated mozzarella.

The Transforming the Dairy Value Chain programme is driven by Fonterra, Dairy NZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership. The technology, which is being expanded at Fonterra’s Clandeboye site in South Canterbury, enables quick-frozen, natural, shredded mozzarella to be produced in just a day—a process traditionally taking around two months.

“This is a key demonstration of the type of innovation that is being enabled by the Primary Growth Partnership,” says Justine Gilliland, Director Primary Growth Partnership, MPI. . .

Creating the ‘angus moment’ – Gerald Piddock:

Angus beef must position itself as a guilt-free indulgence for wealthy consumers around the world if it is to prosper in the modern world, a leading brand strategist says.

But to achieve this would require a new way of thinking, Brian Richards told farmers at the World Angus Forum in Rotorua.

It meant angus farmers viewing themselves not just as sellers of protein but also as producers of a food experience, Richards said in his keynote address at the forum. . .

New Zealand wine industry ‘icon’ receives 2013 trans-Tasman agribusiness leadership award:

New Zealand wine industry luminary Sir George Fistonich has been named the recipient of the 2013 Rabobank Leadership Award for his outstanding contribution to agribusiness.

A pioneer of modern-day winemaking in New Zealand, Sir George, the founder and owner of Villa Maria Estate, was presented with the prestigious trans-Tasman honour at the annual Rabobank Leadership Award Dinner in Melbourne last night.

Australian grains industry advocate Georgie Aley was named Rabobank Emerging Leader, a new award category recognising up-and-coming young leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s food, beverage and agribusiness industries.

Announcing the award winners, Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group managing director Thos Gieskes said Sir George Fistonich had spent five decades at the forefront of New Zealand’s wine industry and had been an instrumental figure in the rise of New Zealand wines on the world stage.

“In a career spanning 50 years, George Fistonich has exemplified true leadership along with an extraordinary passion for the New Zealand wine industry – successfully leading not just his own business, but helping to pioneer and drive an entire industry and inspire and mentor those around him,” Mr Gieskes said.  . .  (I posted on the award yesterday, but this is the official media release).

Waiting for Nuffield – RivettingKateTaylor:

It’s Nuffield time of year again.

Years ago, a Young Farmers friend, arable farmer Hugh Ritchie, was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship. I think I was working for radio or the HB Herald Tribune at the time and did a story on his selection.

Now I work for Nuffield NZ in a freelance journalist role and see the scholars come and go (literally – six months of overseas travel/research is an integral part of a scholarship). . .

Oaklands Milk now from A2 dairy herds:

Local dairy farmer Julian Raine, has announced that all Oakland’s milk naturally contains A2 beta casein proteins. He says “Centuries ago all cow’s milk contained this protein but as dairy herds around the world have been bred and selected for higher production the incidence of the A1 variation has increased.”

Through genetic testing Mr Raine has been able to select cows from his two Nelson dairy herds that have only the A2 gene. These cows are milked separately and it is only this pasteurised milk that is currently sold through vending machines located at Oakland’s farm gate. . .

Kiwi company takes the spotlight with its world-leading technology:

Global players in the fresh produce industry will this weekend get a first-hand look at innovative fruit sorting solutions from Kiwi company BBC Technologies, the world’s leading supplier of blueberry sorting and packing machinery.

BBC Technologies, specialists in the development and manufacturing of advanced processing technology, will be showcasing its range, for the first time, at the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention & Expo in New Orleans.

PMA’s Fresh Summit is one of the largest trade shows held in the United States, drawing more than 18,000 visitors from over 60 countries. North America is a key market for BBC, with the thriving New Zealand company recording 30 per cent year on year growth. . .


Rural round-up

October 18, 2013

Flagship dairy farm showed off - Sue O’Dowd:

Maori incorporation Parininihi ki Waitotara (PKW) showed off its flagship dairy farm near Matapu in South Taranaki to the board of directors and senior managers of DairyNZ yesterday.

The organisation, which is funded by levies on dairy farmers’ milksolids, is holding its annual general meeting in Hawera today. It’s the first time DairyNZ has held its AGM in Taranaki since it was formed in 2007.

PKW chief executive Dion Tuuta said the DairyNZ visit was an endorsement of the excellent practices the incorporation was demonstrating. . .

China meat sales boom comes with warning – Gerald Piddock:

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie has warned the country’s meat companies against becoming too reliant on the booming Chinese export market.

China is now New Zealand’s largest single market for sheepmeat by volume and value, but the industry had to try to have a balance of trade outside of China, he said.

“It’s about getting that balance right.”

He feared a repeat of New Zealand’s dependence on meat exports to Iran in the 1980s. . .

Cattle grazing stockmen take a stand – Sue O’Dowd:

Long-time grazier Ian Marshall relies on his reputation rather than contracts when he grazes heifers and weaners for Taranaki dairy farmers.

Ian and Julie Marshall have owned the 550ha Wild Stream Cattle Station near Ratapiko for 20 years and now share-farm it with son Alec and daughter-in-law Clair, who have been managing the property for four years.

The Marshalls graze 1150 friesian, cross-bred and jersey yearling heifers and weaners for 16 dairy farmers each year and run steers and sheep as well. . .

Whanganui farmer praises flood warning system:

A Whanganui farmer has praised the regional council’s river warning system which she says gave farmers plenty of time to prepare for this week’s flooding and move stock out of harm’s way.

Manawatu-Whanganui regional council installed the automated monitoring system after the disastrous 2004 floods.

And Kirsten Bryant who farms at Fordell and also has hill country farms in the upper Whanganui catchment, says it’s been invaluable. . .

Share the wealth - Willy Leferink:

While there’s been a right brouhaha over asset sales something big has slipped under the radar. I am not talking about the Trans Pacific Partnership, awesome though that will be. I am not even talking One Direction hitting New Zealand. What I am talking is the dividend which recently hit the bank accounts of fully shared up Fonterra shareholders.

Alright, dividends aren’t exactly new to Fonterra shareholders but what is, is the way many farmers are now active players on the NZX sharemarket.

Since the Fonterra Shareholders Fund kicked off some eight months ago, the unit price has surged from $5.50 to a high point of $7.30. It’s now trading at $6.92 despite a drought–affected season and that false alarm involving the whey concentrate WPC80. Danone is lining up for compensation across many markets and I suspect they won’t be alone. That the Shareholders Fund is still about 26 percent up on the listing price tells me ‘the market’ believes any compensation won’t sink the coop. . .

New traps could be key to kiwi survival:

Revolutionary new traps that can hold up to 24 dead predators at a time are being touted as the possible saviour of the kiwi.

The traps use a mixture of gas and toxic sprays to wipe out the pests and do not have to be cleared as often as the models they are replacing.

There are roughly 70,000 kiwi left but 27 die each week. . .


Rural round-up

September 19, 2013

Growers protest how Hawke’s Bay council managed drought – Adam Ray:

A convoy of hundreds of tractors rumbled through streets in Hawke’s Bay today in protest of water restrictions.

Growers say the regional council ignored their concerns when it cut water during a severe drought earlier this year.

The tractors were off the orchards and on the streets of Hawke’s Bay today – a convoy of hundreds highlighting anger from growers at the regional council. The Grower Action Group says the council’s water management is so bad they’re campaigning to drive out its current leadership.

“Change the councillors, change the CEO, chairman I don’t care,” says the Grower Action Group’s Paul Paynter. “We want to change the culture of the place.” . . .

NZ wool in world record rug bid:

A Chinese carpet company is claiming a new world record for the biggest one-piece rug ever made, using more than 3000 kg of New Zealand wool.

The giant hand-tufted rug covers more than 1000 square metres and took a team of 100 workers two months to finish.

It was made by the Beijing Jin Baohua Carpet Company for the Chinese capital’s new International Convention Centre. . .

How Lambs are helping Hector’s dolphins:

Collaboration between Wools of New Zealand, Banks Peninsula wool growers and leading international fabric company, Camira Fabrics UK, is having a positive spin off – funding and support for the critically endangered Hector’s dolphin.

Wools of New Zealand, the grower owned sales and marketing company and its grower shareholders are the suppliers of lamb’s wool which meets stringent performance and environmental standards for Camira Fabrics’ growing BlazerTM upholstery fabric range. For every metre sold, a percentage of the sale goes to the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust to benefit Banks Peninsula’s Hector’s dolphins contributed by the growers and Camira in partnership. . .

Effluent app captures value:

DairyNZ has released a new smartphone app to help farmers apply effluent more efficiently.

The Dairy Effluent Spreading Calculator app provides dairy farmers and effluent spreading contractors with guidance around nutrient application rates based on the depth and type of effluent they apply.

The easy-to-use app ensures effluent nutrients can be applied with greater precision. . .

Heilala Vanilla Launches New Ground Vanilla Powder:

New Zealand’s premium vanilla grower and producer Heilala Vanilla has launched a new ground vanilla powder.

Made from 100% pure vanilla beans, the powder is free from artificial colours, flavours, buffers, additives, sugar and is gluten free.

Jennifer Boggiss, Heilala Vanilla director, says requests from customers and health food stores for a pure vanilla powder led to the development of the product.

Have your say on a new fungicide:

The Environmental Protection Authority is inviting people to make submissions on an application to import a new fungicide for plants.

BASF New Zealand has applied to import Adexar, a fungicide with the active ingredients fluxapyroxad and epoxiconazole.

Adexar is used as a spray on wheat and barley crops to prevent or control fungal diseases. . .


Rural round-up

August 26, 2013

New irrigation system being trialled - Sally Rae:

The development of a new irrigation system, being trialled in North Otago, has been described as a potential ground-breaker for the industry.

RX Plastics, the Ashburton-based manufacturer and distributor of the K-Line irrigation pod and sprinkler system, has produced the G-Set irrigation system, which it believes meets a gap in the market for an efficient system that irrigates more challenging areas.

G-Set was an embedded system that could be installed anywhere that irrigation pipe could be run, making it more suitable for more difficult terrain, hill slopes and irregular shaped pastures, sales and marketing manager Phil Gatehouse said. . .

Sour times in the dairy industry – Sally Rae:

Queen Elizabeth famously had one in 1992. Now it is dairy giant Fonterra – New Zealand’s largest exporter – that has experienced an ”annus horribilis”, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

January 2013: Fonterra moves to persuade global customers that New Zealand dairy products are safe in the wake of the discovery of dicyandiamide residue in milk.

Chief executive Theo Spierings says the co-operative’s testing found only minute traces of DCD – a nitrification inhibitor used by the dairy industry to reduce nitrate leaching into waterways and greenhouse gas emissions – and they were about 100 times lower than acceptable levels under European food safety limits. . .

Think of rural communities – Rebecca Harper:

Earthquakes have become too much of a regular occurrence for many New Zealanders.

The earth moving can be a frightening and destructive thing.

The latest significant quake was centred in Seddon on August 16. The force was reportedly comparable to that felt in central Christchurch on February 22, 2011.

Almost every home in Seddon was damaged by the earthquake swarm, which began with a magnitude 6.6 quake at 2.31pm on Friday, August 16. About 50 aftershocks of magnitude four or more rocked the region in the 30 hours after the initial jolt. . .

Making money in the hills and on the flats:

HILL COUNTRY farmers should put their efforts and energy into increasing lambing and calving rates, rather than trying to finish stock.

Meanwhile finishers should focus on daily liveweight gain and maximum return on feeds.

That’s the message large-scale finisher Roger Dalrymple, Bulls, gave a recent BRIG (Beef Returns Improvement Group – see panel) seminar near Hunterville, Rantikei.

“The one thing that hill country farmers can influence most is their lambing percentage and if they increase this from say 110% to 130%, their returns will skyrocket,” Dalrymple says. . .

POTATO TOM, a probable world first:

ONE PLANT, two crops: it’s a bit like having your cake and eating it and for New Zealanders it could be reality this summer.

How? With an innovation Tharfield Nursery, Katikati, is marketing nationwide in what it believes is a world first commercialisation. The Western Bay of Plenty operation has grafted thousands of Gardeners Delight tomato plants onto Agria potatoes to create the POTATO TOM, a trademarked seedling it is distributing under its incredible edibles brand. “It will produce a great yield of potatoes and tomatoes,” says nursery general manager, Andrew Boylan. While the idea of grafting a tomato with a potato is not new this could be the first time anyone has successfully developed this combination at a commercial level globally, he adds. . .

Woodchip wins stand-off study:

WELL MANAGED woodchip is the best stand-off for cow care judging by the findings of a Dairy NZ research project.

Agresearch scientist Karen Schulz presented the results of the three month trial at a recent field day at Fonterra’s Jordan Valley farm, Northland.

During the trial 80 pregnant non-lactating cows were split into groups and allocated to one of four different stand-off surfaces for eighteen hours/day, and pasture for the remainder of the day.

After four days of this on-off regime, they had a week on pasture with researchers continuing to record lying times as well as signs of leg health, walking gait and dirtyness. . .


Rural round-up

August 23, 2013

United stand taken on dairy cattle cruelty:

Following yesterday’s conviction of a dairy herd manager in Ashburton, Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and the New Zealand Veterinary Association, share the same stance on animal cruelty. Breaking tails is absolutely unacceptable and has no place in the New Zealand dairy industry.

“I have no idea why someone working on a dairy farm would believe that breaking tails makes cows easier to work with,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“We’ve seen several instances of this unacceptable practice as of late and it defies logic and stockmanship.

“First, it causes the animal pain and distress meaning they are not going to be a peak performer. Secondly, cows are not clueless. They will become leery of farm staff making them much harder to handle and to work with. . .

Meat industry reforms this year  unlikely:

The chances of getting any big meat industry changes in place for the new season are looking increasingly unlikely, as meat companies continue talks on where they might head with restructuring.

The meat industry excellence group, which is pushing for reforms to create a more consolidated and profitable sector, has set up a formal body and appointed a couple of business and legal advisors.

But it’s waiting on meat companies now to see if they come up with any workable solutions from on-going talks. . .

Fonterra Endorses Border Testing Practices:

Fonterra today confirmed that it fully endorses and complies with the practice of country of origin and country of destination testing for all of its products.

Fonterra’s Group Director of Food Safety and Quality, Ian Palliser, said that testing across each point of the supply chain is best practice for Fonterra and for all global food businesses.

“Testing food products before they leave New Zealand, and again when they arrive at their port of destination, provides essential food safety assurance. It also enables rigorous testing by both New Zealand and the destination country, while the product is still fully within Fonterra’s supply chain.

“There are times when test findings differ between country of origin and country of destination. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including changes in product conditions during shipment, and different laboratories and testing methodologies. In these situations, the product is held, and the relevant companies and regulators work together to agree next steps,” Mr Palliser said. . .

Mesh cover highly effective at keeping pests off potatoes:

A team of researchers at Lincoln University say they are impressed with the results from a trial of a mesh cover that’s used to protect crops from insect pests.

The effectiveness of a mesh crop cover at protecting potatoes from the Tomato-Potato Psyllid was tested in a recent trial.

Future Farming Centre head Charles Merfield said the mesh was incredibly effective. It kept 99% of the psyllid out from under the mesh despite a plot of potatoes infested with psyllid being just a couple of metres away. . .

Farmax announces winner of inaugural Lincoln University scholarship:

Second year Lincoln University PhD student, Geoffrey Smith, has been awarded a $5,000 scholarship from Farmax to advance his research into the strategic use of the drought-tolerant species lucerne as an alternative or complementary forage to ryegrass for Canterbury dairy farms.

Farmax General Manager, Gavin McEwen, said Smith’s research stood out for the selection panel because while it was focussed on Canterbury, it had the potential to create significant benefits for all New Zealand pastoral farmers. . .

Young Rancher Selected For Five Nations:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has selected Lauren McWilliam as the “young rancher” to represent New Zealand at next month’s Five Nations Beef Alliance in Brisbane.

The Alliance is a private entity involving the national organisations that represent beef cattle producers in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United States. It develops strategies to encourage growth in global beef trading, while also addressing any mutual concerns of members.

As one of the five member organisations, B+LNZ, assisted by New Zealand Young Farmers, selects a young rancher (aged 23 to 31) to attend the Alliance’s annual meeting. Lauren will join other young ranchers in Brisbane from 8-13 September. They will include New Zealand’s representatives from the past two years, Richard Morrison and Peter Fitz-Herbert, both of Hunterville. . .


Rural round-up

August 20, 2013

Important not to let China dominate red meat sector – Allan Barber:

It’s a scary thought how quickly things have changed, but China has become one of New Zealand’s biggest markets for red meat, almost without any warning.

After years of thinking of UK/Europe as our biggest market for sheepmeat and the USA for beef with all other countries way down the chart, China has surged to reach the status of our biggest destination by volume for sheepmeat with 60,000 tonnes in the last 12 months compared with 55,000 to the UK.

The rise in beef is less dramatic, although year on year volume increased by more than 600% to 27,500 tonnes. However this volume is larger than exports to any single market other than the USA. The increases are less pronounced if measured in dollars, but the message is the same. . . .

Innovation from grassroots:

Retaining primary sector research and development to maintain competitiveness while at the same time diversifying into other key areas is important, says industry body DairyNZ.

Commenting on the launch of a new book, Get Off the Grass: Kickstarting New Zealand’s Innovation Economy, by Shaun Hendy and Paul Callaghan, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says dairying in New Zealand has not been ‘backed’ at the expense of other sectors.

“Its export value has grown by 83% in the last 10 years because our industry is innovative, resilient and highly competitive,” he says. “And I agree that diversifying our economic base is important,” says Mackle.

“Some of the research I’ve seen points to the importance of cities and regions being powerful drivers of knowledge economies. They are associated with significant productivity gains and innovation and high densities of businesses in related industries. The new Lincoln Agri Hub that DairyNZ is a part of is an agricultural response to that for Christchurch and Canterbury. There is a food one in Palmerston North and we are looking to develop a hub in the Waikato too,” he says. . .

Primary industry mobile tech forum draws the digerati - sticK:

Numbers tell a story on their own.

And the fact that over 220 attendees ponyed up at the Mobile Tech Summit 2013 in Wellington on August 7 & 8 underscores the message that our natural resources aren’t as old-hat as some would like to believe.

This new event is designed to showcase current and upcoming mobile innovations in New Zealand’s principle food and fibre sections.

In other words; the application of smartphones and mobile devices across our biological industries – which for all the movies made in New Zealand and talk of standalone digital businesses, still underpin our economy. . .

Farm compliance and water breakthroughs:

Figures obtained by the Dominion Post show a significant fall in the number of dairy farmers receiving infringement and abatement notices.  This follows hard on the heels of the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) reporting in 90 percent of monitored sites, water quality over 2000-2010, was either stable or showed improvement

“The numbers from the Dominion Post tell the full story and that is one of marked improvement,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“While the Dominion Post has singled out dairy farming over the past five seasons, we are buoyed to see the number of abatement notices almost halve while infringement notices have more than halved.  . .

Changes to farming regulations on the horizon:

Federated Farmers supports Government proposals to change the Resource Management Act (RMA) but there are some changes still to be made.

“The principles behind the changes are to give certainty to the planning process and to consenting,” said Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers’ Environment spokesperson.

“I’m sure everyone will welcome greater consistency and faster decision making. The changes should make local authorities better to deal with and more accountable.

“We are disappointed that the Government is still not addressing inconsistencies with the framework of the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water; devised to protect indigenous aquatic flora, fauna and habitat. The proposed RMA changes continue to protect introduced predator species, such as trout. You cannot have it both ways. . .

Best plants for bees - Raymond Huber:

Honey bees are the glue that holds our agricultural system together…Hannah Nordhaus

It’s Bee Week and Time magazine features The Plight of the Honeybee (hey Mr. Time Editor, it’s ‘honey bee’, two words, not one). One cause of bee decline is monocultural farming: bees are starving because of a lack of flower diversity. You can help by planting bee-friendly fruit trees, bushes, herbs and wild flowers:
  • Plant nectar-rich flowers: clovers and mimosa; rosemary, thyme and sage; koromiko and veronicas; brassicas; dandelion, sunflower, dahlias, cosmos, and zinnia
  • Bees like bluish-purple flowers such as Californian lilac, erica, and lavender . . .

Tougher stance, fewer workers

August 14, 2013

A tougher stance on employees under the influence of drugs or alcohol is shrinking the rural labour pool.

Rural sector employers say they need to take a united stand against employing those who choose to work under the influence alcohol or drugs, putting safety and the business at risk.

However, the outcome of adopting such a stance has been to shrink their already limited labour pool, they say.

Employers across all sectors are becoming more vigilant about drug and alcohol testing in the workplace, as well as pre-employment testing, because they have a duty under the Health and Safety in Employment Act to provide a safe workplace. . .

People working under the influence of drugs or alcohol aren’t just a danger to themselves they can put other people vehicles, machinery and equipment at risk too.

Landcorp Farming Ltd national recruitment and training manager Al McCone said the state-owned enterprise had had a drug and alcohol policy in place since 2007.

Landcorp Farming Ltd, one of the country’s largest farmers, strictly enforced its alcohol policy and was looking to extend its drug policy, Mr McCone said.

Pre-employment drug testing was already mandatory and at present it was consulting staff about expanding its workplace testing to include random testing, he said.

Staff were required to take on many responsibilities on farm.

This included dealing with animals and machinery – a potentially ”hazardous” mix, he said.

”We need people in full control of their faculties.” . . .

But not everyone wants to be in control of their faculties.’

Drug use seemed to be a factor making it difficult for some people to get work, he said.

”As soon as they find out we have an entry drug test they will hang up [the phone].

”It’s reducing the population we can draw our workers from.” . . .

DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir said she believed more farmers were carrying out pre-employment and on-farm drug testing. . . .

A united stand was ”the ideal”, and showed there was ”no place for drugs on farms”.

However, the shortage of labour meant it posed a ”challenge”.

Work on dairy farm involved working with other people and with a food product. Employees must be heedful of health and safety and have good skills, attitude and concentration, she said.

To attract and keep the best employees and keep drugs and alcohol out of the workplace employers had to build a reputation as an ”employer of choice”, provide ”great” working conditions and encourage staff to be involved in the business, Ms Muir said.

Contracts, systems, policies and procedures around drug-testing must be sound and adhered to by the employer, as well as the employee, she said.

”If you say you have random testing then you must carry out random testing.

”Be aware, even if someone tests positive, there is still a process that must be followed,” Ms Muir said.

Not following the process can put employers in the wrong, even when they’re right about staff trying to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The owner of a food processing business in a small town was sure one of his staff was using drugs and it was endangering him at work. He called the police who arrested and charged the worker but he was let off on a technicality.

He applied for a benefit and was told he’d have to have a stand-down period. He then took action against his former employer for wrongful dismissal, the employer lost and had to employ the man again.

The worker carried on taking drugs, endangering himself and putting the food he was processing at risk.

The employer was concerned about the bad example it set for other workers and the risks to his business and was about to sack the worker when he left.


Rural round-up

August 3, 2013

Report’s honesty on Chinese meat delays will rebuild trust:

“Refreshingly honest” is how Federated Farmers is describing the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) report into the delays, which affected New Zealand meat exports to China.

“Having read the MPI report and chronology involved, this is a refreshingly honest and critical self-examination of what went wrong in China,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“As the report comes out of the MPI, its honesty will help to rebuild trust. The recommendations are sensible in a market where we have seen phenomenal growth since 2008 when the Free Trade Agreement was signed.

“This rapid growth is no excuse so the report highlights that resources need to match growth. As an exporting country we must listen to our customers and this report tells us that this did not happen. . .

New anti-rustling online map gets the farmer tick:

Federated Farmers is applauding Stop Stock Theft, New Zealand’s first ever online map designed to report and track suspected stock theft. This joint initiative between Crimestoppers NZ, NZX-Agri and the Police will be welcomed by all farmers.

“While shoplifting costs New Zealand some $730 million each year, stock theft is reportedly costing the country a further $120 million,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson.

“These are massive sums for red meat farmers who are struggling against a backdrop of the New Zealand dollar and difficult market conditions. . .

Dairy intensification not all bad – vet leader :

WIDESPREAD CONCERN about the welfare of fully housed cows in New Zealand is not well-founded, says the chair of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Dr John Hellstrom. If such systems are good, animal health should improve, he says.

In a paper delivered at the recent NZVA annual conference in Palmerston North, Hellstrom argues that many large-herd cows kept outside all their lives suffer poor welfare at certain times of the year. 

For example, sacrifice paddocks don’t provide good animal welfare especially when calving cows are not drafted out onto dry calving places. Hellstrom notes the current DairyNZ advice on sacrifice paddocks makes no reference to animal welfare. . .

Primary jobs for Maori:

Some primary industries are hiring staff from overseas, whereas there are many young Maori ready to enter the workforce, says chairman of the Export Industry Skills Analysis Advisory Group, Peter Douglas.

They need to be found and assisted through their training, says Douglas.

The Export Industry Skills Analysis Advisory Group met for the first time recently as part of Maori Economic Development Action Plan. The plan was announced by Minister for Economic Development Stephen Joyce and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples in November 2012. . . .

A very unpopular dairy blog post – Milk Maid Marian:

I suspect I am about to make a lot of enemies because there is an elephant in the room and few are in a position to point it out.

Here are the facts:

  • the last season has been dreadful
  • dairy farmers have free access to lots of information about we can keep cows healthy during fodder shortages
  • many dairy farmers who couldn’t afford skyrocketing feed costs have sold a lot of cows at ridiculously low prices so they can feed the remainder of their cows properly
  • farmers have gone broke but kept their cows healthy
  • cows do not starve overnight and watching them weaken over weeks or months would be more than I could bear yet reports of them dying in their hundreds have hit the national news

I was stunned. Perhaps people who would normally sell their cows off long, long before they reached the point of starvation couldn’t for some reason? Maybe they were hoping for a miracle? Maybe they were in denial? . .

Breakthrough on noxious alga :

New Zealand scientists have made a breakthrough in the battle against the noxious pest sometimes known as “rock snot”.

In a world first, researchers at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson have bred the invasive alga, Didymo, in the laboratory.

The scientist say it took four years of research and will allow them to more accurately identify which conditions promote and which deter blooms of Didymo. . .


Rural round-up

July 26, 2013

Report confirms drought worst in nearly 70 years:

A comparative study on the 2013 drought released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) confirms it was one of the most extreme on record for New Zealand and the worst since 1945-46. The 2013 drought was also one of the most widespread New Zealand has experienced with only the drought of 1972-73 that affected Wairarapa, Tasman, Otago and Southland coming close to its geographical spread.

The report states that the cause of the drought was not El Niño but in fact slow-moving or ‘blocking’ high pressure systems over the Tasman Sea and New Zealand over summer.

Commissioned by MPI and undertaken by NIWA, the study looked at two sets of data records – NIWA’s gridded Virtual Climate Station Network that goes back to 1972, and longer-term station records that go back to the early 1940s. . .

Animal cruelty has no place in the dairy industry:

Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and the New Zealand Veterinary Association, takes a strong stance against animal cruelty on-farms and breaking tails is unacceptable stockmanship.

“As a farmer it saddens me to hear these animal welfare charges because it goes against the very nature of a person working with animals.

“Mr Beaumont broke 40 tails out of the 200 cattle he harmed, goes against the very nature of a person who works with animals. It is indefensible, and he has let the industry down by letting his anger get the better of him,” says Chris Lewis, Waikato Dairy chairperson. . .

Drought takes its toll on Fonterra’s forecast:

Federated Farmers is not surprised Fonterra Cooperative Group has announced a decrease in its 2013 forecast earnings before interest and taxation. This is due to the impact of the drought and pressures in its Australian operations.

“I think farmers will be relieved Fonterra has reconfirmed the forecast cash payout will remain unchanged for the 2012/13 season at $6.12. However, the reality of this announcement is that everything has a flow on effect,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy vice-chairperson.

“All those people who have looked at the increased prices on the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) platform and then decided to buy more Fonterra units on the stock exchange may not have understood how it all works. Increases in GDT prices actually mean tighter margins as the base commodities that Fonterra uses to make its own products also rise in price. . .

Livestock Improvement FY profit falls 3% as bull value gains slow - Tina Morrison:

 Livestock Improvement Corp., a farmer cooperative that sells bull semen and provides a dairy genetics database, posted a 3 percent drop in annual profit because its elite breeding bulls didn’t increase in value as much as the previous year.

Profit fell to $23.7 million in the year ended May 31, from $24.4 million a year earlier, the Hamilton-based company said in a statement. The value of its 866 elite breeding bulls rose $2.7 million compared with a $9.4 million gain on its 870 bulls the year earlier.

LIC, as the company is known, is farmer owned through cooperative control shares and investment shares that trade on the NZAX market. The company, which excludes changes in elite bull valuations when setting returns to shareholders, will pay a record dividend of 54.91 cents per investment share, and 8.4 cents per cooperative control share. . .

Stump to Pump programme receives PGP funding boost:

An innovation programme that will pave the way for generating more value from forestry waste by converting it to liquid biofuels is to receive government funding through the Primary Growth Partnership.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has approved co-funding of $6.75 million for the 14-month ‘Stump to Pump’ PGP programme.

Stump to Pump partners Norske Skog and Z Energy will match funding of $6.75 million, bringing the project’s total funding to $13.5 million.

This relatively short-term PGP programme will study the feasibility, including the cost-effectiveness, of making biofuel from forestry waste. It will determine the commercial viability of establishing a modular test plant to process New Zealand forest waste into sustainable transport fuel. . .

Precision Agriculture Association wins bid to host international conference:

The recently-formed Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ) will host the International Asian Conference on Precision Agriculture in 2017.

The bid was submitted in South Korea and New Zealand beat three other countries – Malaysia, India and Indonesia – for hosting rights. The conference is one of three large international conferences on precision agriculture (PA) held around the world each year. The 2013 conference was held in South Korea and attracted more than 150 attendees.

PAANZ Chairman Peter Barrowclough said the successful bid to host the conference was an early demonstration of the value of now having a national precision agriculture organisation up and running in New Zealand. “And, with our changing export markets and increasingly strong linkages with South East Asia, this will be an excellent vehicle for New Zealand to improve its global networks,” he said. . .


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