Rural round-up

December 28, 2013

Huge solar power system to milk cows - Gerald Piddock:

Hugh and Sue Chisholm are turning to solar power to help run a more sustainable dairy business.

The Putaruru farmers are installing one of the country’s largest solar powered systems ever to be used on a dairy farm on their dairy shed near Putaruru.

The 28kW photovoltaic (PV) system has 112 solar panels on the roof of the Chisholm’s 64-bale rotary shed as well as two Fronius IG 150 V3 inverters.

Chisholm said the capital cost of the system was a smart investment, and part of an improvement plan for their farm. . .

Sharemilkers not bad people, just bad bosses - Jon Morgan:

Immigration adviser Lyn Sparks is blaming a rise in corporate-owned dairy farms for an increase in workers’ complaints about poor working conditions.

The Christchurch-based adviser says the biggest offenders are some corporate-owned farms run by sharemilkers.

However, he believes there are more good employers than bad in dairying.

“The bad ones are not bad people,” he says. “They just don’t know how to manage.”

But a contract milker says there are just as many bad employees in dairying as bad employers. . .

Sorry tale of swaps no one understood - Fiona Rotherham:

It has been a victory – of sorts – for farmers with the Commerce Commission last week saying it intended filing court action next March against the ANZ, ASB and Westpac banks for “misrepresenting” the sale of interest rate swap loans to rural customers.

I say a victory of sorts because there’s a lot of water under the bridge yet to get compensation for farmers, some of whom ended up more heavily indebted and losing their land.

Sold between 2005 and 2008, interest rate swaps were marketed to farmers as a way to beat rising interest rates. When the global financial crisis hit in 2008 farmers with swaps saw the interest they were paying rise when rates were falling rapidly elsewhere. The banks charged huge break fees for those wanting to exit the swaps. . . .

Bank claims farmer swaps compo call ‘too late’ - Rob Stock:

ANZ says the three-year limitation period has passed under the Fair Trading Act for the Commerce Commission to obtain compensation for farmers who were mis-sold interest rate swaps.

That, the bank warned, meant the commission “will now have to attempt a novel and uncharted method to obtain compensation if it takes the court route.”

The bank’s written statement comes in the wake of the news last week that the commission would launch legal action next March under the Act against ANZ, Westpac and ASB for the sale of the swaps between 2005 and 2008. It is also investigating another bank, not yet named, that also sold swaps and may be joined to the action. . .

Postie’s long run of deliveries nears an end - Lauren Hayes:

After 53 years, millions of kilometres, thousands of early mornings and an unthinkable amount of petrol, a Winton postie is calling it a day.

At 21, Ray Cosgrove used his savings to buy into a Central Southland rural delivery run, and began loading letters into a Hansa station wagon. The Hansa might be long gone and the delivery route altered but, more than half a century later, Mr Cosgrove and his wife, Debbie, are still delivering mail to rural Southlanders.

Mr Cosgrove bought the rural run in September 1960 and stepping into the role was not as easy as many people, including the urban posties, often thought, he said. . .

Year in review – March – Rebecca Harper:

The drought was really hurting rural communities and the bill started to mount for the primary sector with drought declarations coming thick and fast. The entire North Island was eventually declared as being in drought along with the West Coast of the South Island. Dairy production took a hit and the first talk about a merger between the two largest meat co-operatives, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms, started, as farmers looked for the causes of low lamb prices.

This was quickly followed by a call from the newly-formed Meat Industry Excellence Group, a group of lower South Island farmers, for meat-sector consolidation. A meeting in Gore to gauge support and discuss possible reform of the red meat industry attracted 1000 farmers and Alliance chairman Owen Poole put the cost of consolidation at $600 million. . .


Rural round-up

October 3, 2013

Taranaki study backs landfarming science – Isobel Ewing:

An independent report on landfarming in Taranaki has vindicated the science behind the process, Taranaki Regional Council boss of environmental quality Gary Bedford says.

In a report commissioned by the council, soil scientist Doug Edmeades, of AgKnowledge Ltd in Hamilton, set out to see if landfarms in Taranaki were fit for pastoral farming, in particular dairy farming.

Dr Edmeades investigated soil fertility, heavy metal and barium concentrates and petrochemical residues in the soil at three landfarming sites in the region.

The report found that landfarming made sandy, coastal farmland ten times better for dairying.

“The process of landfarming these otherwise very poor soils, together with appropriate management has increased the agronomic value of the land from about $3000-5000/ha to $30,000-40,000/ha.” . .

Hardwood project promises billions – Jon Morgan:

When arsenic was found in the aquifer beneath Marlborough’s vineyards in 2003 it sent a shiver of fear through the region. The worry was that the deadly poison would find its way into the wine and sink the then-$400 million industry.

Research found the water source was naturally occurring arsenic and not a danger to health. But it also found arsenic in the soil – from thousands of tanalised pine posts.

A search began for an alternative post. It has taken 10 years, but the group formed to undertake the research and grow the wood – the New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative – has reached a crucial stage.

Seven eucalypt species have been identified as having the ideal qualities. Seed has been collected, trials planted on farms throughout both islands and the best trees are starting to show.

At the same time, new markets far beyond the 450,000 posts a year needed for Marlborough vineyards alone have been discovered. . .

Forum Will Rebuild New Zealand’s Food Safety Image:

A Dunedin woman has accepted the challenge to help rebuild New Zealand’s food safety image.

Dr Helen Darling, a founder of a company which pioneers global food verification systems, is bringing up to 200 delegates to Otago to address the perception that New Zealand must improve its food safety standards.

The Global Food Safety Forum traditionally meets in Beijing but Dr Darling has persuaded the US based, not-for-profit organisation, to hold it in New Zealand from November 13-15.

A strong emphasis will be to consider and seek solutions to the next crisis before it occurs.

“With food safety, prevention is better than cure. We will look at emerging threats and ways to address them before they become a problem to our producers and for trade.” . .

Drought over but affects will linger:

While the drought of 2013 is now officially over, some farms, especially meat and fibre will see its aftermath linger for years to come.

“While the thankfully benign winter and spring has seen a most remarkable come back in terms of pasture, North Island sheep farmers in particular lost capital stock and quality genetics,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events Spokesperson.

“Not to mention their wool crop too. The shame being that it came at a time when wool seemed to be finding its feet

“After speaking to my colleague Jeannette MaxwellI, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson, it means we are looking at fewer lambs this year with speculation it could be upwards of three million. . .

Ready and relevant for 21st century: Lincoln University launches new land-based degree portfolio:

This week Lincoln University has marked a number of significant events. 

On Tuesday 1st October, the University launched its new portfolio of bachelor’s degrees – all of which are now focused on knowledge and expertise that creates careers in the land-based industries, globally.

The new portfolio retains flagships such as the Bachelor of Agricultural Science and Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture), and introduces new degrees such as the Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing and the Bachelor of Environment and SocietyAll the new majors have a very clear focus on the land-based sector. 

“These changes reinforce what this University exists to do, which is to help feed the world, protect the future and live well.  Our reform has seen us reduce the number of majors within our degrees from 42 to 24 (43 percent).  We have narrowed our focus and deepened our capacity to be world class where it really counts, in the land-based industries,” says Professor Sheelagh Matear , Assistant Vice-Chancellor, Academic Programmes and Student Experience. . .

Westland trumps its big brother:

New Zealand’s second largest dairy cooperative, Westland Milk Products, has managed to beat Fonterra Cooperative Group with a $6.34 per kilogram of milk solids (kg/MS) payout before retentions.

“That 2012/13 season must rank as one of the weirdest we’ve had here on the Coast,” says Richard Reynolds, Federated Farmers West Coast Dairy chairperson.

“After a promising start, we had a summer flood which washed out bridges before a drought so severe some sections of our rivers like the Taramakau actually dried up.

“Despite all of this, Westland deserves credit for managing to make a surplus of $6.34 kg/MS. That compares to Fonterra’s $6.30 kg/MS before retentions.

“The difference in the final payout is due to Fonterra retaining 14 cents kg/MS while Westland retained 30 cents kg/MS. We are comfortable with what Westland is retaining despite it leaving us with slightly less cash in the hand at $6.04 kg/MS. . .

And the latest parody from Peterson Farm Bros:


Rural round-up

September 21, 2013

Champions drive clean streams – Jon Morgan:

Ossie Latham introduces himself as a tree hugger. But he’s more than that. He’s a tree hugger who aims to get everyone in Manawatu’s Mangaone West catchment hugging trees with him.

He’s a farmer who headed to Auckland to make his fortune in business before retiring back home to a small farm.

And he’s also one of Alastair Cole’s community champions. Cole, Landcare Trust’s regional co-ordinator, looks for enthusiastic volunteers to drive environmental protection.

Three big projects are underway in the region, all with the aim of making the Manawatu River cleaner. . .

Global Beef Priorities Advanced at Five Nations Conference – says Beef + Lamb New Zealand:

International trade was front and centre of discussions at the Five Nations Beef Alliance (FNBA) conference in Cairns Australia last week.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chair-Elect, James Parsons led New Zealand’s participation in the annual conference of beef cattle producer organisations from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Chief Executive, Scott Champion and General Manager Market Access, Ben O’Brien also attended alongside three “young ranchers” Richard Morrison (of Marton), Pete Fitz-Herbert (of Hunterville) and Lauren McWilliam (of Masterton).

The key action item was the signing of a position statement on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. . .

Farmers face two-year wait for new green scheme – Johann Tasker:

Environmental schemes that reward farmers who look after the English countryside will be closed to most new applicants for two years as the government implements CAP reform, it has emerged.

In a move described by some critics as a “massive threat” to wildlife and the countryside, DEFRA has no plans to let farmers sign new agri-environment agreements during the whole of 2015 as the department develops a successor to its existing environmental stewardship scheme. . .

Minister attending Inter-American agricultural conference:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy will depart for Argentina tomorrow to attend the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) conference.

“This will be a valuable opportunity to meet with my counterparts from Latin America, the US, Canada and the Caribbean, to discuss some of the issues and opportunities facing the agricultural sector across the world.

“Some of the issues covered will include the work of the Global Research Alliance of which New Zealand is a major supporter, and the importance of water storage and management.”

Mr Guy will also visit Uruguay and Paraguay to meet with officials and his Ministerial counterparts. . .

Bumblebee talents being recognised - Richard Rennie:

The humble bumblebee is about to get a boost for its pollination skills from scientists and farm retailers this spring.

For the first time Farmlands is selling commercial box hives of bumblebees to kiwifruit and avocado growers, while scientists celebrate funding for more research into the bee.

Farmlands’ Te Puna branch in western Bay of Plenty is the first to start marketing the bees. . .

Horses sell at a brisk trot - Murray Robertson:

THE annual horse fair at Matawhero yesterday attracted about 140 head, with a top price of $3500 paid for a nine-year-old gelding — and an almost total clearance.

Thirty “broken” horses were sold and about 100 “unbroken” changed hands.

Only about six animals remained unsold at the end of the three-hour sale. . .


Rural round-up

August 24, 2013

Farming Crises “hide ministry’s good work’ – Jon Morgan:

Ministry for Primary Industries officials are back in minister Nathan Guy’s good books.

Three months ago Guy upbraided the ministry for paperwork mistakes that left hundreds of tonnes of frozen meat stranded at China’s borders.

“I’m very disappointed in my officials,” he said. “Issuing export certification is really their core business and I’m disappointed in how this issue has come to bear.”

A ministry review pinpointed an unnotified change in templates for certifying exports as the cause of the holdup, which has now been cleared, and that this was compounded by a failure to inform senior managers and ministers quickly. . .

Fonterra achieves record GDT sales in August:

Fonterra today confirmed that it has achieved record sales and revenues from its two August GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) auctions.

Fonterra achieved its highest-ever monthly revenue through GDT in August, selling 109,664 metric tonnes, worth NZD 685 million.

Fonterra Chief Executive, Theo Spierings, said, “The past two GDT events show continued confidence in our products and strong demand from many of our key markets. . .

Opportunity for cross-agricultural collaboration:

Joint teaching and research in animal science and agronomy brought together Lincoln University and China’s Henan Agricultural University on Monday 19 August to discuss further opportunities to promote academic collaboration and exchange.

Located in Zhengzhou, China, Henan Agricultural University (HAU) is a world leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university that maintains its original guiding principles of serving the needs of the agricultural sector, rural areas and farmers. 

“Lincoln University has regularly received postgraduate students from Henan Agricultural University and the similarities of both institutions provide an excellent opportunity for further engagement,” says Lincoln University Director, International, Strategy and Marketing, Julia Innocente-Jones. . .

Red Meat Profit Partnership appoints Chairman:

The Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP), a consortium of red meat sector participants completing a Primary Growth Partnership agreement with the Crown, has appointed Malcolm Bailey as its Independent Chairman.

Bailey, well known in New Zealand agribusiness, is a former National President of Federated Farmers, a former Special Agricultural Trade Envoy for the Crown and a current Director of Fonterra. He is also a Westpac NZ Ltd Director, Chairman of the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and a member of the Food & Agriculture International Trade Policy Council (IPC), based in Washington DC. . .

Bootcamp brings together economic powerhouses:

The Primary Sector CEO Bootcamp conference over the last two days has been a major success, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“Over the last two days in Wellington this conference has brought together 35 top agribusiness leaders and five Government agency Chief Executives into one room, representing 80% of all our primary sector exports,” says Mr Guy.

“The Bootcamp initiative started in 2012 and has involved CEOs working together to grow our export earnings and take advantage of major opportunities around the world.

“There is renewed determination to double our primary sector exports to $64 billion by 2025 and establish New Zealand as a premium producer of food and fibre. This is an ambitious but very achievable goal, with the right policies and leadership from both Government and industry. . .

MPI completes large compliance operation:

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Compliance Officers have just completed a far-reaching operation in the greater Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Coromandel regions.

Codenamed “Operation Nevada” officers spent two days last week undertaking a wide range of inspections targeting black market meat, black-market fish and maintaining a watch across the animal welfare sector. More than 50 MPI Compliance staff were involved in the operation which was carried out over the 14th and 15th of August.

MPI officers visited multiple sale yards across Waikato to liaise with farmers and other stakeholders and ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) requirements. A number of visits to farms were carried out for the animal welfare part of the operation reinforcing codes of welfare. . .

Ballance announces new Chief Financial Officer:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has announced Richard Hopkins as its new Chief Financial Officer, succeeding David O’Reilly who has recently retired.

Chief Executive Larry Bilodeau says Mr O’Reilly made a significant contribution to the business throughout his 24 years of service, and he has left Ballance in good hands with Mr Hopkins.

Under Mr O’Reilly’s guidance as Chief Financial Officer Ballance has evolved and grown to become one of New Zealand’s ‘Top 40’ companies.

“When David started we were a relatively small business with revenue less than $100 million, and almost two decades later he has helped our revenue grow much closer to $1 billion. I thank him for his immense contribution and dedication to the co-operative,” said Mr Bilodeau. . .


More wool woes

July 21, 2013

Canterbury Woolspinners’ proposal for 50 redundancies in Dannevirke is sad news for the staff and the town.

It is also concerning for wool producers.

Carpet isn’t the floor covering of choice in many countries and even where it is there are synthetic alternatives which are often cheaper.

There’s an opportunity to tap into the green market  going begging.

If only the strong wool industry could follow merino’s example and sell itself as the natural, renewable, flame retardant material it is.

Jon Morgan reminds those of us who grow it that we should be setting a good example by using it in our homes and clothing.

. . . I’m not throwing off my winter woollies just yet.

And they are wool. The blankets on my bed, the rugs on my floor, the clothes on my back (and front). I couldn’t look sheep farmers in the eye if they weren’t.

But a surprising number of sheep farmers are not wearing wool. Quite often their outer clothing is made from a synthetic fibre.

Which makes me wonder about their carpets . . .

If we don’t use the wonderful fibre we grow we have only ourselves to blame if other people don’t either.


Rural round-up

May 26, 2013

Award success a family affair – Gerald Piddock:

Farming, community, family, innovation and the desire to never stop learning has seen two North Otago farming families forge a successful business partnership.

The Mitchell and Webster families operate an intensive cropping operation and wholesale business producing bird and small animal feed.

Its home base is the Mitchell family’s Rosedale farm at Weston.

Their exceptional crop management and focus on long term sustainability helped them win the supreme award at this year’s Otago Farm Environment Awards.

The families entered the awards to help them learn more about their business, Mitchell Webster Group partner Jock Webster said. . .

Variable conditions a challenge – Gerald Piddock:

Variable growing conditions caused by fickle weather was the biggest challenge this season for the Lincoln University dairy farm.

It caused the dry matter produced on the 186ha farm to swing around violently throughout the season.

“It’s been more variable than most years and I would say that’s a result of those really variable growing conditions. We have seen hot and cold temperatures that have driven more variation in pasture,” DairyNZ’s Steve Lee said. . .

About face on dung beetle assessment – Richard Rennie:

One of the country’s most senior health officials has given the thumbs up to a review on the public health risk of dung beetle release.

Auckland medical officer of health Dr Denise Barnfather expressed her concerns earlier this year over the lack of risk assessment before beetle importation.

Approval for field trials on the beetle has been granted by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and these are under way in Northland. The next step is field release.

But Barnfather said this week the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) applauded the Ministry of Health (MoH) decision to assess the potential public health risk the beetles posed before release occurred. . .

Ten-year plan to beef up venison returns  – Jon Morgan:

A plan to lift venison returns by feeding deer better, improving their health and breeding, and by finding high-paying markets for the tastiest cuts, has been put to deer farmers.

The aim is to add $2 a kilogram to the value of a processed deer over the next 10 years, the deer industry conference in Wellington heard. At current prices, that would take the value of a 60kg stag from $540 to $660 at the season’s peak.

Deer Industry NZ chairman Andy Macfarlane said deer profitability was well ahead of lamb and beef on the same land.

“But are we satisfied with that? The answer is: no.”

The industry was launching “Passion to Profit” – its plan to increase returns – “to put deer farming back into the imagination of farmers”. That would be led by a renewed push in the core German market and a campaign to sell high-quality cuts under the Cervena brand to top-end European restaurants. . .

Butcher wins RWNZ award – Rosie Manins:

Almost four decades of hard slog is paying off for Lawrence butcher Jan Harper.

She is one of four category winners in this year’s Enterprising Rural Women Awards, announced at the Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) national conference in Christchurch on Thursday night.

Ms Harper (57) has worked in the meat industry since leaving school and opened Bluespur Butchery and Deli in Lawrence’s main street in 2009. . .

Sharemilkers second in national competition -

Papakaio sharemilkers Morgan and Hayley Easton have placed second in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Sharemilker-Equity Farmer of the Year competition.

The award, announced at an event in Wellington last night, was won by Southland representatives Don and Jess Moore.

The 2013 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year title went to Richard Pearse, of Ashburton, and James Warren, of Winton, was named New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Dairy farm profit down but still high - Andrea Fox:

Higher operating expenses per hectare in an otherwise-spectacular 2011-2012 dairy season resulted in farmer owner-operator profit sliding by $186 a hectare, a new DairyNZ report says.

But the 2011-2012 DairyNZ Economic Survey said operating profit which declined by 6.6 per cent to $2624 per hectare was a “still a high level”.

DairyNZ said the season was characterised by an excellent summer and autumn resulting in record milk production for all regions.

But offsetting the 9.2 per cent increase in milksolids per hectare was a matching decline in milk prices, leaving gross farm revenue per hectare almost unchanged. . . .


Rural round-up

May 10, 2013

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill introduced:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has introduced a Bill to Parliament today to update and strengthen animal welfare in New Zealand.

“The Bill will allow us to create enforceable regulations that set out how farm and domestic animals should be treated. It also gives wider powers to deal with people who breach welfare laws,” says Mr Guy.

“This comes from a comprehensive review of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 which found that while the principles are sound, the time is right to update and improve how it operates. This will make the legislation easier to enforce, and make it clearer and more transparent.

“It matters how we treat animals, both to ourselves and for our international trading reputation. This Bill will make that reputation even stronger.

“This is important to New Zealanders because around 68% of households have a pet, and we earn around $20 billion a year by exporting animal products such as meat, milk and wool. . .

Animal welfare case guilty plea welcomed:

Federated Farmers believes Milkpride admitting guilt in Rotorua today sends a strong deterrent message.

“With sentencing yet to be passed we are pretty much limited to what we can say,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Farmers like me were troubled by what we saw and the public deserve to know it is not representative of dairy farming. In this case, farming was both on trial but farming was also part of the prosecution.

“I wish to acknowledge the work of DairyNZ’s early intervention team, Federated Farmers members and the Ministry for Primary Industries itself. . .

Farm health and safety and rural suicide high on agenda at conference:

Federated Farmers health and safety spokesperson Jeanette Maxwell will discuss the work to improve quad bike safety on farms and, more importantly, the Federation’s steps towards reducing the rural suicide rate in FarmSafe’s rural safety conference in Wellington next week.

“The politicians, policy makers and influential agri-business people attending the Rural Safety – A Forward Focus conference next Wednesday will have a very good opportunity to discuss what is happening with on-farm safety and what can be done to improve it,” Mrs Maxwell says.

“I am looking forward to hearing from Coroner Brandt Shortland about the coronial inquiry into quad bike safety and then participating in the stakeholder discussion on the future of quad bike safety afterwards. . .

It’s hands-on for Smedley cadets – Jon Morgan:

Of 80 young men and women applying each year to go to Smedley Station, the agricultural training farm running sheep, cattle and deer in the Central Hawke’s Bay hills, only 11 are chosen.

Once there they come under the spell of station manger Terry Walters, his wife Judy and their team of managers.

It’s two years they will never forget, says Walters.

“They play hard and they also work bloody hard.”

One word sums up the station and its training programme: Respect.

“It’s respect for the farm, the training staff, their fellow cadets, their gear, their dogs, their horse,” he says. . .

Southland farmers urged to register for DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum, 15 May:

DairyNZ’s national series of Farmers’ Forum is coming to Invercargill on Wednesday, 15 May.

The event is free to levy-paying farmers and their staff who are urged to register this week for the informative and practical seminars to be held at Ascot Park Hotel from 9.30-2pm.

Each year the Farmers’ Forum provides a great opportunity for dairy farmers to see how their levy is invested and to learn about dairy industry research and development work. . .

Massey University agricultural programme ranked 21st:

Massey University is celebrating having its agricultural programme ranked among the top universities in the world.

In the 2013 QS University World Rankings released this week, Massey University’s agricultural programme was judged to be the 21st finest in the world.

Vice chancellor Steve Maharey said it’s good news for Massey and good news for New Zealand given the importance of agriculture to the country.

Mr Maharey said the highlight of the ranking in his opinion was the five star ranking Massey received for its research in agriculture.

He said having the strength of the university’s research recognised will reverberate around the world. . .

Shortage Lifts Wool Market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s Marketing Executive, Mr Paul Steel reports that the combination of a slightly weaker NZ dollar compared to most main trading currencies; restricted wool supply and recent dearer wool markets in other countries aided the lift for most types at this weeks’ South Island auction.

Of the 8,340 bales on offer, 83 percent sold. The weighted currency indicator was 0.46 percent down on last sale of 2nd May but started the day below this level, strengthening as the sale progressed. . .

And from Smile Project:


Rural round-up

April 17, 2013

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO smoothing the way for TPP in Mexico:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Dr Scott Champion is in Mexico to talk with Mexican sheep and beef industry interests about the opportunities that will occur when the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is agreed.

Dr Champion is meeting a range of Mexican sheep and beef farmers and representatives from their processing and retail sector to assure them that while he expects that there will be opportunities for New Zealand beef in the Mexican market, the TPP will provide expanded market access for all.

“We want to dispel any myths that New Zealand will swamp the Mexican market with beef. The amount of beef we produce is limited by the land available and production here has been more or less steady over the past 10 years. TPP will not change that,” he said. . .

Finalists Line Up In 2013 Dairy Awards:

The finalists lining up in the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are evidence of the huge opportunities and varying pathways available to progress in the dairy industry.

The 34 finalists in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions are now all known after the completion of 12 regional award programmes last week.

“The finalists have a range of backgrounds and experience in the industry, but are all working hard and achieving great results in their various positions. This is helping them to progress their career and grow their equity to take the next step in the dairy industry,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. . .

Just add water for more food - Jill Galloway:

Availability and access to water resources are the keys to increasing global food production and for New Zealand this means more irrigation is needed, says infrastructure company GHD.

It has appointed Palmerston North-based Robert Sinclair as its food and agriculture business leader, because it sees irrigation as important for promoting growth.

GHD is a global engineering consultancy company with 7000 employees working in the areas of water, energy and resources, environment, property and buildings, transportation and food and agriculture. GHD has 16 staff in its Palmerston North office. . .

Farmer’s gift to land that united family - Jon Morgan:

Tom Hartree is a vigorous 78 and has no intention of being culled for dog tucker anytime soon. But he knows what he wants to happen when his time comes.

He wants his ashes to be mixed with those of his dearly missed wife Dora and scattered in a grove of 45-metres-tall redwoods.

He and Dora planted the redwoods in 1969, in the bottom of a deep gorge carving through Te Motu, one of three farms he and son Greg and his wife Rachael farm at Dartmoor and Patoka in the hills west of Napier. . .

Ngai Tahu sees future in farming – Alan Wood:

South Island iwi Ngai Tahu is partnering with Lincoln University to help get young Maori further involved in dairy and agricultural development in Canterbury.

Today Ngai Tahu Property, Lincoln University and Te Tapuae o Rehua signed a memorandum of understanding on an initiative focused on supporting more local Maori into agriculture.

The memorandum marks the beginning of a project known as “Whenua Kura”, Ngai Tahu says.

The project follows on from dairy development work already started by the tribe. The commercial arm of the iwi, known as Ngai Tahu Holdings Corp, has a number of pilot dairy farms in Canterbury. . .

Big turnout predicted for meat industry meeting -

Farmer feedback points to a big turnout of farmers tomorrow for the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) meeting in Christchurch, says Blair Gallagher, the local organising chairman.

“We even have farmers coming down from the North Island to attend this meeting,” he says.

A committed group of Canterbury farmers has been working hard to ensure the success of this meeting, as their future relies on a nationwide mandate of farmer support so as to move forward as one united farmer group, Gallagher says.

MIE chairman Richard Young will present a five point strategy plan at the meeting, which he believes will give farmers some direction on how to move forward if a NZ wide farmer mandate is achieved. . .

Sheep, beef leaders focus on environment:

Twenty-five sheep and beef farming leaders will attend the first Beef and Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Environmental Leadership Forum in Wellington next week.

 The B+LNZ-funded forum will be delivered by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. It is based on the trust’s successful programme for dairy farming leaders run in partnership with DairyNZ.

B+LNZ chief executive officer, Dr Scott Champion says it will equip the farmers with some of the skills they need to engage with regional councils and take on leadership roles within their communities. . .


Rural round-up

February 3, 2013

Basting a chop won’t make a steak – Chalkie:

Poor old Red Meat. There she is, best frock on, hair done, smiling with her eyes and showing a bit of leg, only to find that tarty dairy cow getting all the attention.

Dairy co-op Fonterra teased investors for years before finally letting them on to third base late last year, with explosive results. Units in its Shareholders Fund quickly shot up to well over $7 after being issued at $5.50 a mere two months ago.

Meat co-op Silver Fern Farms, on the other hand, is still working the street corner.

After a reform of its capital structure in 2009, ordinary shares in Silver Fern became tradeable by any Tom, Dick and Harry on the unlisted market, but they have not been pursued with any passion. . .

NZ meats on Singapore menu -

New Zealand beef, lamb and, most likely venison, are on the menu at the Lone Star’s first overseas restaurant in a top waterfront precinct in Singapore.

The meat, branded Pure South, is being supplied by meat processor and exporter Alliance Group to the Fern & Kiwi restaurant, an offshoot of the Lone Star bar and restaurant chain.

A New Zealand-themed menu was worked out by consultant chef Mathew Metcalfe, who has cooked for the late Steve Jobs and leading Hollywood figures.

The meat range will come from farms across the country and processed at Alliance’s Group’s eight plants. . .

Carter laments stubborn attitudes – Jon Morgan:

Outgoing Minister for Primary Industries David Carter reels off a long list of what he calls “a good number” of achievements during his four years in office, but at the end of it he has to admit to a few lows as well.

The intransigent wool and meat industries have both defeated him, as they have ministers before him.

It obviously frustrates him. He puts it down to warring personalities in leading roles and the farmers’ apathy that lets this continue. . .

NZ wool floors show crowds - Tim Cronshaw:

The reaction of customers to Wools of New Zealand’s (WNZ) carpet wool at the world’s largest flooring show has reinforced to its leaders they are on the right track with capital raising a minimum of $5 million.

A share offer to commercialise WNZ into a sales and marketing company was extended to February 25 after the capital raising reached more than $4.1m last year from 500-plus strong wool farmers committing 12 million kilograms of annual wool production.

WNZ chairman Mark Shadbolt said growing interest by spinners and manufacturers in WNZ carpet ranges at the world’s largest flooring trade show, Domotex, this month had been encouraging. The trade show was attended by 40,000-plus visitors. . .

Safety shake-up call – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are going to have to make health and safety a normal part of running their business if the number of on-farm accidents is to be cut.

Some farmers struggle to give health and safety the same amount of attention as they do to stock health or pasture management, industry-good Farmsafe national manager Grant Hadfield says.

“It’s considered a bit of an ogre. It shouldn’t be because it’s pretty easy to put systems in place.” . . .

Plaudits for irrigation policy - Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to become a minority investor in irrigation schemes will ensure those projects get off the ground, say farmers with close ties to irrigation schemes in South Canterbury.

The Government announced last week that it would establish a company to act as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure development.

The yet-to-be-named company would take minority stakes in water projects with a long-term goal of getting out and leaving the projects to the private sector. . .

Submitters discuss Tarras irrigation scheme – Jessica Maddock:

There was passionate opposition to an Otago Regional Council proposal to invest in a $39 million Tarras irrigation scheme at a hearing yesterday, with submitters saying it would be using ratepayer money to benefit only a few.

The council is considering buying $3.5m of redeemable preference shares. It would also pay up to $500,000 annually for five years, toward the fixed costs.

Tarras Water is planning the scheme to benefit 40 families, by taking up to 73.6 million cubic metres a year from the Clutha River to irrigate about 6000 hectares.

Nearly 70 people lodged a submission on the investment proposal, with the majority in opposition.

Eleven submitters spoke at a hearing in Cromwell yesterday, before four council members. Eight opposed the proposal and three supported it. The first day of the two-day hearing was in Dunedin on Thursday. . .


We want clean water too

January 26, 2013

Some farmers, unfortunately, haven’t got themselves in to the 21st century and still think they can do what they want on their land regardless of the impact on neighbouring waterways.

But most of us want the water we drink, swim in, wash with and live beside to be clean.

The debate for most of us isn’t over the desirability of and necessity for healthy lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. It’s how to clean up those which need it and ensure those which are clean stay that way.

Jon Morgan writes how he changed his tune on cleaning up waterways:

I began the year as the dairy farmers’ friend, saying they were doing all they could to clean up waterways.

I reeled off a list of on-farm actions they were taking to keep waterways clean. I quoted figures from the most recent report of the Clean Streams Accord, among them that cattle were fenced off from waterways on 84 per cent of farms.

Then I found this figure was wrong. Naively, perhaps, I did not realise that the accord relies on farmers’ honesty to report their own progress toward the agreement’s targets. . .

On the North Otago downlands, water quality isn’t left up to farmers’ honesty. All shareholders in the North Otago Irrigation Company are required to have an environmental farm plan which is independently audited each year. If the plan isn’t up to scratch and in practice the farm will lose its irrigation water.

In areas blessed with more regular rainfall the threat of losing water can’t be used to encourage high standards but I’d have thought the powers regional councils have to act against anyone who doesn’t comply would be sufficient deterrent.

However, Morgan, like many others, thinks that’s not enough.

. . . I changed my tune. I said: “It seems obvious to me that we have too many cows in the most sensitive parts of the country – sandy, shingly, free-draining areas laced with streams, close to groundwater and big recreational rivers.

“And I think there’s no doubt that these cows are the main source of the excessive nutrients that are polluting rivers and lakes in these regions.

“The simple solution is to regulate a reduction in cow numbers.” . .

Simple solutions aren’t always the best.

Those with no concern for the environmental consequences of their farming could do a lot of damage with small herds, others might be able to run larger herds with good practices which don’t endanger water quality.

The problem is, there is debate about how realistic some of the standards expected for lakes, rivers, creeks and streams are; the the tools for measuring the quality of them and how much any degradation is due to farming and how much is due to other factors including birds and nitrogen leaching from gorse.

Morgan ends his column by pointing out water quality isn’t only a rural problem, some urban areas are in serious need of upgrades to their sewage plants.

That isn’t an excuse for getting away with poor practices in rural areas but it does show if we want clean water it’s an urban challenge too.


Rural round-up

November 10, 2012

Synlait Farms Takes Out South Island Farmer of the Year title for 2012

Canterbury-based dairy enterprise Synlait Farms clinched the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year competition for 2012 last night (Thursday 8 November 2012) with an entry that judges hailed as a prime example of New Zealand’s leadership role in innovative and entrepreneurial agricultural practice.

Chief Judge Bob Simpson said that all four finalists demonstrated leadership, excellence and innovation.

“Any of the finalists could have won this award tonight,” Simpson said. “But in the finish it was Synlait’s blend of family-based traditional farming practices with the very best of modern corporate innovation and management systems that saw this multi-farm company stand out. Synlait’s approach to its people, its stock and its land can be held up as an example of what can be achieved when good leadership and good people go hand-in-hand.” . . .

Landcorp ready to run Crafar farms – Andrea Fox:

State farmer Landcorp says its Chinese client Shanghai Pengxin will settle the Crafar farms purchase with receivers on November 30 and it is scheduled to start managing the dairy farming estate the next day.

Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly said that to the best of his knowledge this was the timetable that would mark the end of the tortuous three-year Crafar farms sales process.

Landcorp’s management of the 16 central North Island farms is a condition of Government consent to the controversial sale to the Chinese company, which has waited through a string of court challenges and consent processes to put its money on the table as receiver KordaMentha’s preferred bidder. . .

Wool growers asked for $10m – Gerald Piddock:

Wools of New Zealand is asking for $10 million from strong wool growers in a capital raising offer to expand its sales and marketing capabilities.

The raising would give strong wool growers the opportunity to invest in a grower-owned sales and marketing, company, chairman Mark Shadbolt said.

The company has made significant inroads into transforming Wools of New Zealand into a commercial entity, aimed at connecting customer to grower, he said. . .

Wine sector senses a whiff of recovery – Claire Rogers:

The wine industry is on the mend after a gruelling few years that prompted a string of closures and collapses, New Zealand Winegrowers says.

One recent high-profile casualty, Hawke’s Bay winery and vineyard Matariki Group was put into receivership in September owing creditors, including the Government, about $11.2 million. Receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers said the winery struck financial trouble after reduced harvests in 2011 and 2012 led to weak sales, and that was compounded by a lack of capital.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan said the 2012 harvest was down 19 per cent on 2011, and that had dealt another blow to the industry, which had been struggling since 2008 with over-supply and weak demand from the global downturn. . .

Sea air tenderises spring lamb – Jon Morgan:

Logan Brown’s head chef Shaun Clouston takes a bite, chews thoughtfully, swallows and then licks his lips.

“By crikey, that’s beautiful,” he says, shaking his head slowly, wonder in his voice.

On the plate is a lamb rump, finely sliced, with kumara, crushed peas and roasted tomatoes. It’s a simple dish. “I want the lamb to be the hero,” Clouston says.

This is not any lamb. The meat is from a young spring lamb, only 4 months old when it was sent to slaughter, and from a farm on the coast south of Whanganui. . .

Kiwi to Lead International Tree Society

A Dunedin arborist became the first-ever Australasian president of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) last week.

Mark Roberts, an experienced arborist and academic director of horticulture training firm Thoughtplanters, is the second non-American elected to lead the 88-year-old society.

More than 20,000 arborists from 18 countries are members of ISA today. . .


Rural round-up

November 3, 2012

European farmers surprisingly upbeat - Gerald Piddock:

European farmers are surprisingly upbeat about the future of their industry despite the continent being still very much in a recession, Beef+Lamb chairman Mike Petersen says.

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Petersen said he expected to see “doom and gloom” as a result of the recession.

“I have been pleasantly surprised at the mood of the farming population over here. They are very optimistic about the future and quite optimistic about the coming season.”

Petersen has been in Europe, meeting with counterparts and discussing their expectations for the coming year. He outlined his observations in a Beef+Lamb conference call. . .

Water priorities come up trumps - Jon Morgan:

The elephant in the room analogy is becoming a bit overworked, but I like it. Lately, the elephant has been really showing off. In the debate about freshwater quality the elephant is nitrogen leaching.

It was brought into the room by conservationists a few years back but attempts to prod it into life largely failed. It just sat stinking in the corner.

But a few weeks ago Judge Craig Thompson of the Environment Court climbed aboard and hit it with a big stick.

The elephant reared back on its hind legs and let out an ear-splitting roar, loud enough to be heard in every milking shed and dairy factory throughout the land. . .

NZ Commodity prices rise 1.3% in October, led by wool, cheese:

New Zealand commodity prices rose for the third straight month in October, led by gains in wool and dairy products while aluminium fell.

The ANZ Commodity Price Index rose 1.3 percent last month with 12 commodity prices gaining two declining and three unchanged.

A slightly firmer New Zealand dollar meant the gain in the ANZ NZD Commodity price Index was a slightly lower 1 1 percent. . .

Fonterra’s Trading among farmers launches but I still don’t understand it – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve blogged about TAF before here and here. We now have a bit more information on how it will play out in practice. But to be fair, I still don’t really understand it and this view has been expressed by many observers in the media and the industry. It is not fully understood and some of the reason for this is Fonterra themselves don’t know exactly how the governance will work, as they are still undertaking a review.

My thoughts;

Will farmers sell some of their shares into the fund?
I think they will, there are lots of farmers who have very high debt levels, the drop in the forecast payout is making many farm budgets drop into the red. I think many of these farmers would sell 25% of their shares into the fund and use the proceeds to pay off debt.

The dividend portion of the shares is estimated to return net 4.2%-5%, farmers will be paying 7%-8% interest on their debt, so they make a greater return by reducing their debt.  . .

New director shows youth and wisdom -
THE RISING average age of farmers creates succession problems not only for farms and orchards; it is also seen in the boardrooms of primary producer businesses.

That’s why Zespri’s newest director Nathan Flowerday is pleased an Agmardt scheme which helped him get elected to Zespri’s board will be extended to others. 

Flowerday was the successful candidate in 2011 for an associate board trustee position created by Agmardt on its own board to give young farmers or growers governance experience. He believes that experience gave Zespri voters the confidence in him to elect him in July this year to the Zespri board. 

As a result, he and Agmardt are urging other agribusiness organisations to pick up the idea of creating an associate board-membership position, or at least establish observer positions on their boards. . .

Record Early Entries in Dairy Awards

There’s been a record-breaking response to the number of entries received in the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, since entries opened just yesterday.

National Convenor Chris Keeping says 33 entries were received online at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz yesterday – the first day people could enter the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions. . .

Babich Wines Look to Expand in Marlborough

The 96 year old New Zealand wine company, Babich Wines Limited, announced today the sale of their 50% share of the Marlborough winemaking facility, Rapaura Vintners Limited to Treasury Wine Estates.

Rapaura Vintners Limited, an integrated winery, packaging and warehouse facility has been invaluable for Babich over the last 12 years as they have continued to grow production and sales of their Marlborough wines.

Babich Wines will now look to build their own state of the art facility in Marlborough – a move that will give the family owned wine company full control over their future winemaking in the region, where over 80% of the company’s production comes from. . .


Rural round-up

October 30, 2012

Tasty lambs’ tails may soon be off the barbecue menu – Jon Morgan:

FIRST, there’s the acrid smell of burning wool, closely followed by a frenzied crackling as the lanolin sizzles. But then comes the mouth-watering aroma of roasting meat.

Barbecued lambs’ tails are a delicacy savoured by many farmers at this time of year as tailing, or docking, gets under way.

It’s a time of short-lived pain for the lambs but is necessary to prevent greater pain later. The long dangling tail can become encrusted with faeces and attract blowflies. Their maggots feed on the lamb’s flesh, causing great pain and distress.

There’s an art to docking.

Many farms have modern equipment that clamps the lamb and presents it breech-forward to the man or woman wielding a hot iron. With a swift flourish, the tail is severed and the lamb is set free to run bleating to its mother.

Rubber rings can also be used. They cut off the blood supply so the tail drops off in seven to 10 days.

Enough of the tail must be left to protect the genitals and so it can still wag. That’s not so farmers will know if it is happy or not, but so the lamb can spray its faeces away from its body. . .

Tails could prove winner – Terri Russell:

A Southland sheep farmer started docking his lambs this month as part of new research that looks at the effect of docking tails at different lengths.

The three-year docking trial is the first of its kind documented worldwide and was launched by Alliance Group last month when lamb tagging started.

Tail docking is common practice in New Zealand to try to reduce dag formation and the risk of fly strike.

Alliance Group livestock general manager Murray Behrent said the research would help shed light on claims that docking tails too short was an animal welfare issue, and that longer tails improved the growth rate of lambs. . .

Pressure on meat,wool farmers to improve outputs – Tim Cronshaw:

Farmers will put their energies into improving meat and wool production as markets meet a strong headwind from the debt crisis in Europe.

The European recession and unfavourable currency exchange rates would lead to weaker sale prices for lamb and wool in the 2012-13 season, said Beef + Lamb New Zealand economic service executive director Rob Davison.

The forecast for average lamb price at $94 was down on the likely $113 for the 2011-12 season just completed. . .

Dairy chairman urges more focus on image – Neil Ratley:

Southland dairy farmers were congratulated for a job well done but also asked to continue working to improve the industry’s public image at the DairyNZ annual general meeting in Wallacetown.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the dairy industry pumped millions of dollars into the regional economy.

“The average annual revenue from milk production is more than $1.2 million per farm,” he said. “At least half of that money is being spent on farm working expenses and circulating through the local economy.”

Dairy NZ chairman John Luxton said the New Zealand and Southland dairy industry had shown considerable growth and resilience to factors impacting other industries. . .

The way you’d farm if you farmed yourself – Pasture Harmonies:

Think for a moment that you’re a Western consumer contemplating buying some animal protein for dinner that night.

Faced with an array of red and white meat choices, you have a tiny thought in the back of your mind about how the animal that produced that steak or mince or breast grew up.

(Ignoring anthropomorphism) mostly, you’re going to be aware that its life was pretty confined and squashed, and bears very little resemblance to how it would’ve existed in a ‘natural’ world.

However, you’ve got to eat, and pretty much you have Hobson’s choice when it comes to the production source of the meat. . .

New Leadership for Grape and Wine Industry

New Zealand Winegrowers, the national organisation for the country’s 1,500 grape growers and winemakers, announced today the election of Steve Green as Chair and John Clarke as Deputy Chair.

Mr Green is proprietor of Carrick, a boutique Central Otago winery; he succeeds Stuart Smith of Marlborough who has stepped down after six years in the role. Mr Green has been involved in the Central Otago grape and wine industry since 1994. He has previously served as Chair of Central Otago Winegrowers and has been on the New Zealand Winegrowers Board since 2005, serving for the last three years as Deputy Chair.

Mr Clarke is a Gisborne grapegrower with over 30 years experience in the grape and wine industry. Mr Clarke, who is a former Gisborne Mayor, has previously served for ten years as the Chair of Gisborne Winegrowers and joined the New Zealand Winegrowers Board in 2006. . .

More calculators to make the most of nitrogen:

A broader range of online calculators developed to assist farmers to gauge the possible benefits of using urea treated with a urease inhibitor are now available

Summer is just around the corner which in New Zealand typically means drier weather conditions making it difficult to assess the best time to apply nitrogen fertiliser.

Urea treated with the urease inhibitor AGROTAIN® nitrogen stabiliser addresses ammonia volatilisation and offers farmers more flexibility to apply nitrogen when it’s needed most or when it suits them better even if the weather or soil conditions are not optimal. . .

World’s first compostable fruit label for Zespri Kiwifruit:

Zespri will introduce the world’s first and only fully compostable fruit labels on all Zespri® Organic Kiwifruit next season.

Zespri’s Global Marketing Manager – Organic, Glen Arrowsmith, explains this initiative is part of Zespri’s leadership role and ongoing commitment to improving the environmental credentials of its products.

“Our international customers – retailers, wholesalers, consumers, governments – are increasingly interested in the sustainability of products arriving in their markets and we’ve invested in research and development to continue to lead the market in this area.” . . .


Rural round-up

October 3, 2012

Foreign investment in the spotlight - Kai Tanter:

The biggest headline in Australian dairy news this week has been the possibility of China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp, investing in the Van Diemen’s Land Company. The Van Diemen’s Land Company, which operates in the Australian state of Tasmania, is looking for AU$180 million in order to expand its operations. The Tasmanian government and dairy industry have both been courting Chinese investors and seem to have met with some success.

This news follows hot on the heels of recent Chinese investment in Australia’s largest cotton farm, the Queensland Cubbie Station. Meanwhile in New Zealand, the dust has only just settled after the Crafar Farms were finally sold to China’s Shanghai Pengxin. . .

Bruce Wills slams environmental activists who use the law to shut down critics while objecting to Fed Farmers’ appeal of decisions with legal errors and scientific fallacies – Bruce Wills:

According to one of our less sympathetic critics, Federated Farmers is a dinosaur.

It seems we are a legal version of Jurassic Park for having the temerity to question the Environment Court’s reversal of independent hearing’s commissioners on the Horizons One Plan.

That of course is the right of that critic because we thankfully live in a democracy. . .

Tatau tops milk payout stakes again:

The country’s smallest dairy co-operative, Tatua, has topped the milk payout stakes again.

The Waikato-based co-op has confirmed its 109 farmer suppliers will be getting a total payout for the past season of $7.50 cents a kilo of milk solids.

That’s 60 cents below the previous season’s record of $8.10 a kilo, but well above Fonterra’s $6.40 total payout for the past season. .

Farm Shop slams supermarkets for ‘overpriced and poorly sourced’ produce – Gemma Mackenzie:

Supermarkets have come under fire for being “too expensive and not providing consumers with enough good quality produce from their region” by the boss of the UK’s oldest farm shop.

Simon Hirst, partner in the family-run Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop in Netherton, West Yorkshire (established in 1974), said consumers were “missing out” by being forced to buy from supermarkets.

“The supermarkets have had a stranglehold on our food chain for so long we’ve been given little choice but to trawl the multiples’ aisles for food that is poor quality, poorly sourced and, particularly in the case of the meat products, over-priced,” said Mr Hirst, the fourth generation manager of the Yorkshire farm, which is famed for its top-quality beef, chicken and on-site butchers shop.

“The supermarkets would have us believe they are cheaper than the farm shops and farmers’ markets but, in many cases, this simply isn’t true.” . . .

How meat farmers can lift returns – Jon Morgan:

Craig Hickson tells a story to illustrate how meat processors can short-change farmers more than $20 on each lamb they send to the works. 

“I woke up the other morning with three women in my bed with an average age of 22.” 

He has the measured, deadpan delivery of a veteran comedian. 

“You’ll be thinking, ‘That’s unlikely, he’s lying – or skiting’.” 

He pauses to let the laughter die down. “One of them was my wife and the others were my granddaughters aged 2 and 4. 

“Your first thought was that they were all aged 22.” 

He pauses again. “And that’s the dangers of averaging.” 

The industry in which he has a strategic stake, with four meat plants in the North Island and now another in Wales, is guilty of this, he says. 

    He is talking to a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farming For Profit field day. The 30 farmers have just watched one of his butchers cut up a lamb carcass, been shown each cut and told its destination.

Lucerne Based Dairy Farm – More Feed, Less Irrigation, Less Nitrate Leaching - Milking on the Moove:

Richard Campion is a lecturer at Lincoln University; he presented a paper to the 18th International Farm Management Congress held in Methven last year. His paper was titled Utilising Lucerne Potential For Dairy Farming”.
 
In his paper he modelled the Lincoln University Dairy Farm using 90% lucerne and 10% winter crop. His report states that the ryegrass and white clover pastures at the Lincoln University dairy farm produce on average 17,000kg DM/ha/yr. Irrigated lucerne stands have been shown to produce 24,000kg DM/ha/yr. But the interesting point is that Lucerne has far greater water efficiency than ryegrass. For this reason irrigated lucerne can grow 25% more dry matter than pasture and it can do it with only 1/3 of the water that ryegrass needs. So if a dairy farmer changed their irrigated pasture system to a lucerne based system, they would reduce the water required for irrigation by approximately 65%. This is a massive potential saving . . .

New Zealand’s ATV Safety Programme Working

Just one recorded on-farm work related fatality to date this year clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of the Government’s approach to the safe use of ATVs (quad bikes).

The Motor Industry Association whose membership includes the major importers and distributors of off road farm bikes, including ATVs, refute the  statement by Dr Lower that the industry was adopting tobacco type tactics to block mandating of the fitment of rollover protection (ROPS) for ATVs.

“ATVs are the modern day horse and we estimate there are between 70,000 and 80,000 in use on farms here in New Zealand,” said Perry Kerr, Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Industry Association. “Naturally we are concerned by any accident and especially a fatality involving these vehicles.” . . .

New Zealand Dairy Farms Have So Few Trees. Why? - Pasure to Profit:

I want to encourage more trees on dairy farms, including perhaps Cider Apple trees.

Mixed Tree Species on farms can add to the environmental biodiversity. Imaginative shelter belts create a better work place. Trees add to the aesthetics of the farm. Effective tree shelter belts are good for animal welfare and may increase pasture growth. Could Cider Apple Trees also create another income for dairy farmers?    . . .

New Tool for Farmers to Manage Effluent Application:

Farmhelp is a recently developed mobile farming app with powerful calculators to assist farmers in determining the effluent loading they apply to the land.

There is mounting pressure internationally for farmers to effectively manage the application of farm effluent. . .

Brassica crops benefit from early planning:

Brassica crops provide high-quality forage for stock, but balancing production goals with input costs is vital to ensure planting a paddock of kale or turnip is a cost effective alternative to pasture.

New Zealand farmers grow about 300,000 hectares of brassicas a year, often as a break crop when pasture quality or performance starts to decline.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Lower North Island Technical Extension Officer Jeff Morton says that to achieve the best result with a brassica crop, nutrient deficiencies need to be resolved well ahead of sowing. . .

 Free workshops to help landowners better manage forests

Northland plantation forestry owners and contractors keen to better manage their earthworks and harvesting are being urged to attend one of five free local authority workshops being offered around the region next week.

The workshops in Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Whangarei, Dargaville and Maungaturoto are being run by the Northland Regional Council and are based on the recently released ‘Forestry Earthworks & Harvesting Guidelines for Northland’. . .


Rural round-up

September 3, 2012

Boot camp stimulates insights and understanding of consumer demand - Allan Barber:

My readers may be pleasantly surprised that I have decided to return to less contentious topics than my last piece about overseas investment. The downside is that this will be far less provocative and may not give the readers the chance to question my intellect, political leanings and status in society or to accuse me of treason for having the gall to support overseas investment in land.

The outcome of the Boot Camp which was held two weeks ago at Stanford University has not for obvious reasons been widely trumpeted. After all the objective was never to produce yet another sector strategy, long on analysis of the problem and short on achievable actions to produce a state of nirvana.

Bill Falconer, Chairman of the Meat Industry Association, was chosen as the spokesperson for the Boot Camp because he did not represent a single company, but an industry body. . .

. . .  and the elephant in the room tiptoed away – Jon Morgan:

Back in 2009, DairyNZ was a leader in setting an industry strategy. Other agriculture and horticulture groups soon followed the industry-good body. 

    But unfortunately its timing wasn’t quite right. 

    As soon as the strategy was announced – with its admirable goals of increased farm profitability, attracting talented and skilled people, being internationally competitive and partnering with the government and the wider community – the world went into recession. 

    Three years later, with Europe and America still in financial strife, it is time to take another look at the strategy – a “refresh”, as DairyNZ says. . . .

Raw milk lapped up as review awaited – Laura Basham:

Village Milk, the Golden Bay business setting a precedent in the way it is legally selling raw milk to consumers, is proving there is public demand.

However, plans to set up franchises around the country have not progressed while other farmers await the outcome of a Ministry of Primary Industries review of raw milk regulations.

The 1981 Food Act allows farmers to sell up to five litres of milk daily to buyers who consume it themselves or provide it for their families. . .

The agriculture industry goes social - Carolyn Baumgarten:

The marriage of agriculture and social media likely conjures up images of crop seeding on Farmville, but socially savvy agribusinesses are proving that the connection runs much deeper than the popular Zynga game. A 2011 study by the American Farm Bureau Federation revealed that of the 98% of farmers and ranchers ages 18 to 25 who have internet access, 76% of them use social media.

Sure, agribusiness often gets a bad rep for being “behind the times,” but that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, agribusinesses have embraced social media as a channel that is revolutionizing both B2B and B2C communications for the industry. . .

Major US retailer to stock NZ wool carpets:

Elders Rural Holdings says there’s been a significant breakthrough in efforts to boost the sale of New Zealand-made wool carpets in the United States.

CCA Global Partners which is the world’s largest carpet retailer with more than 2000 stores, is to stock the company’s Just Shorn range of carpets and rugs, in all its retail flooring businesses.

Early last year it agreed to sell the carpets in more than 80 luxury stores. . .


Rural round-up

August 11, 2012

Shanghai Pengxin finally able to get on with its dairy investment – Allan Barber:

After one of the most drawn out sagas of recent times, the Court of Appeal’s ruling at last looks as if Shanghai Pengxin can complete its takeover of the Crafar farms.

The Fay/Maori Purchase Group has announced it will not make any further appeal, but, in Sir Michael Fay’s case, it will go back to business as usual and, in the case of the two Maori trusts, continue to negotiate the acquisition of two farms. However the iwi are still considering an appeal against the latest decision, while negotiations continue.

This sale process has caused much debate and involved very costly court cases which in the end have merely served to review and confirm the original decision and it’s hard to see on what basis a further appeal could expect to succeed. . .

Wintering barns ‘good idea’ not obligatory - Shawn McAvinue:

Wintering barns are a good idea but shouldn’t be made mandatory, says a Western Southland dairy farmer. 

    Dairy farmer Philip van der Bijl said the new winter shed on his Broad Acres farm, near Mossburn, was worth the investment. 

    If Environment Southland forced farmers to build sheds that would take money out of the farming community and only make Australian banks wealthier, he said. . .

Red cattle light up Shannon farm - Jon Morgan:

The late afternoon rain clouds have fled to the Tararua Range and a watery sun casts a soft light across the rolling pastures. In this light, a mob of cattle take on an exotic hue, their velvety, chocolate-red coats radiating a warm, lustrous glow. 

    It would be wrong to say farmer Kelvin Lane is unmoved, but he’s showing off his cows and his eyes are on their straight backs, muscled bodies and calf-bearing hips. 

    It is the dark red colour that first attracted him to the cattle, which are of the uncommon red poll breed. “They’re different, aren’t they?” he says. . .

A Hereford fan for life – Sue O’Dowd:

North Taranaki beef breeder Rodney Jupp is on a mission to introduce “Hereford Prime” beef to the region’s palates. 

    Right now he’s negotiating a deal with a Taranaki butchery, and hopes the meat will be on sale in the province within the next month. 

    “I’m working really hard to get Hereford Prime launched in Taranaki,” he said. . .

Pipfruit Growers Expect Slightly Improved Profitability

Pipfruit growers are expecting a small improvement in profitability this year, due to a lift in prices.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has released an analysis of pipfruit production and profitability as part of its annual Farm Monitoring Report series. The report is based on models of a Hawke’s Bay and a Nelson orchard and an overview of the financial performance of typical orchards, based on information gathered from a sample of growers and industry stakeholders.

A cool spring delayed flowering and harvest by around two weeks this season. Hawke’s Bay also had below-average temperatures and lack of sunny weather over summer. . .

Anti-GM campaigners warn of dangers – Gerald Piddock:

Two Australian farmers are warning New Zealanders to make sure their country remains free of genetically engineered and modified organisms. 

    Allowing GM products to be produced would put at risk New Zealand’s clean green brand, they say. 

    Western Australian farmer Bob Mackley and Victorian farmer and anti-GM advocate Julie Newman are touring New Zealand to deliver their message. With them is Green Party primary industries spokesman Steffan Browning. They were in Ashburton last week. . .

Entries open for 2013 Ballance Farm Awards:

Entries are now open for the 2013 Canterbury Ballance Environment Farm Awards.

The Awards, which have been running in the region for 10 years, celebrate responsible land stewardship and sustainable farm management practices.

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

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


Rural round-up

August 7, 2012

Visit highlights ‘extraordinary opportunities’: Sally Rae:

Anna Campbell has returned from a recent trip to China buoyed by the opportunities that she saw for New Zealand’s red-meat sector.   

Dr Campbell, a consultant at AbacusBio in Dunedin, described those opportunities as “extraordinary”.   

She was in China for two weeks, firstly attending a Harvard agribusiness course in Shanghai focused around global agribusiness opportunities, which attracted 60 people from around the world, although she was one of only four women. . .

Fonterra election now wide open – Hugh Stringleman:

The shock resignation of Fonterra director Colin Armer has thrown the forthcoming election for farmer directors of the huge co-operative wide open.

Anti Trading Among Farmers group Our Co-op has confirmed it will stand a candidate in what is expected to be a crowded field. It has not yet decided who . . .

People key to success of agri-food plan – Jon Morgan:

    It would be easy to pooh-pooh the latest strategic plan for agriculture. After all, it follows at least 10 others in recent history, all of which have made little or no impact. 

    This one comes from the Riddet Institute, a bunch of university and government scientists, and is the work of a Thought Leadership Team – a name evocative of ivory towers. 

    But to accept that this plan hasn’t a chance is to give up, admit that the task of harnessing the wonderful potential of the agriculture and food sector is beyond us. . .

Call to Arms to treble agri-food turnover – Allan Barber:

The Riddet Institute, a partnership of five organisations, The University of Auckland, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Massey University, and the University of Otago, encompasses the entire New Zealand science sector.

 In its report A Call to Arms launched last week, it challenges New Zealand’s agri-foods sector to take the steps needed to realise its potential which the Government’s Economic Growth Agenda estimates should treble to about $60 billion by 2025. This demands a compound annual growth rate of 7% which, when compared to the present rate of 3%, is a daunting task, unless some truly revolutionary thinking and, more important, action occur very soon. . .

Turners & Growers lifts first-half profit 2.2% to $7.1m:

Turners & Growers said first-half net profit rose 2.2 percent to $7.1 million but didn’t provide any other details.

The fresh produce company said it will release the details of its results for the six months ended June 30 by August 17, as “required by listing rule 10.4.” . . .

2013 Ballance Awards new category energy efficient farming:

The 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards will feature a new category award that rewards energy-efficient farming.

This award is sponsored by New Zealand’s largest renewable energy generator, Meridian Energy.

The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust, which administers the annual competition, has welcomed Meridian to the sponsorship family.

NZFE chairman Jim Cotman says the Trust identified the need for an energy award some time ago. . .

Free range hen farm to expand:

A $2 million expansion at the largest free-range poultry farm  in New Zealand will house another 16,000 hens on the property at Glenpark, near Palmerston.   

The 77ha site already has 48,000 Shaver hens, Mainland Poultry general manager for sales and marketing Hamish Sutherland said.   

When the free-range poultry farm opened in 2002, expansion was promised as the free-range market grew. . .

Overseer upgrade released:

Farmers and growers are being offered an enhanced tool to help them use nutrients efficiently.

The owners of the OVERSEER® Nutrient Budgets software are releasing a major upgrade today.

Overseer is available free of charge through a partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and AgResearch.

The upgrade to Overseer Version 6 reflects user feedback on previous versions says Mark Shepherd of AgResearch, the Overseer technical team leader. . .


Rural round-up

July 29, 2012

New dairy chairman wants unity – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra chairman-elect John Wilson says ensuring there is the smoothest of board leadership transitions and uniting the farmer-owned co-operative after the rigours of the internal TAF debate are his priorities. 

    The Waikato farmer-elected director will take the reins of New Zealand’s biggest company in December from Sir Henry van der Heyden, who steps down after 10 years in the job. 

    Wilson, 47, will take his seat at the top of the table just after Fonterra is scheduled to have introduced share trading among farmers, or TAF, as it has come to be better known after more than two years of debate. . .

Biofuels and energy production dominate Europe’s landscape - Allan Barber:

After a week in England and a month touring central Europe by road, rail and river, I have gained a superficial impression of the predominant types of agricultural activity in the region. I am talking about Austria, Bavaria, Rhineland and some of the old Communist countries – East Germany, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

While these observations cannot claim to be comprehensive or even accurate in the matter of detail, they will provide a fairly accurate point of contrast with New Zealand’s agricultural landscape.

In particular they indicate a totally different set of political, economic and environmental priorities in Europe. . .

Farming bears – Bruce Wills:

In 12-months you could say we have gone from farming forward to farming bears, such was the sentiment in Federated Farmers new season Farm Confidence survey.

While agriculture will generate $21.7 billion in revenue over 2012, more than half, $11.9 billion, will go on the goods and services farmers consume.

Much of this intermediate consumption is spent locally on everything from number eight wire to builders and injects billions into the provincial economy’s heart.

Being intermediate consumption, it does not include the wage bill for 151,000 primary workers, interest or taxes either. . .

Time to break free of “No 8 wire” mentality – Jon Morgan:

Our pride in our heritage of being useful, practical people who can turn our hands to anything is holding us back, says Claire Massey. 

“That No 8 fencing wire mentality is now at a point where it’s hampering us,” the newly appointed Massey University director of agri-food business says. 

“We say ‘We can do anything’ when we can’t. We’ve got to break free of that. It was useful, but now we need to find the experts.” 

The irony is that it is not only an image we have of ourselves but that others have of us, she says. . .

Ngai Tahu Holdings CEO leaves -

Christchurch’s Ngai Tahu Holdings Corporation chief executive Greg Campbell is leaving the job to take up the reins at big fertiliser co-operative Ravensdown. 

    Ravensdown, 100 per cent owned by 30,000 farmer shareholders, announced today the appointment of Campbell as its new chief executive to replace Rodney Green when he retires on December 31, 2012. 

    Campbell has been chief executive at Ngai Tahu for three years. . .

Lincoln farm in drive to be more efficient – Gerald Piddock:

The Lincoln University Dairy farm finished the 2011-12 season well ahead of its production budget. But it will now seek ways to become even more efficient. 

    The farm produced 297,740kg milk solids at 471kg per cow, well ahead of its budget of 281,600. This was achieved with 5 per cent fewer cows. 

    “We ended up with 12.5 per cent more production per hectare than last season and 15 per cent more profit,” farm manager Peter Hancox said at a field day at Lincoln. . .

Quest for lower nitrate leaching - Gerald Piddock:

Work is underway at Lincoln University to determine ways of reducing the environmental footprint of the wintering systems on dairy farms. 

    Lysimeters are being used to simulate the nitrogen levels within trial plots of three different wintering systems. These plots are early and late sown kale crops and a fodderbeet crop planted at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm’s wintering site, Ashley Dene Farm. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 13, 2012

Threats to NZ’s meat exports – Rob O’Neill:

No-one knows exactly how much New Zealand meat and produce is smuggled into China, but a recent crackdown on the “grey channel”, as it’s called, and the seizure of a US$10 million frozen meat cargo highlight not just a trade mystery, but potential threats to our meat exports. 

 On June 12, Chinese authorities descended on an inbound ship, seizing more than 1800 metric tons of frozen goods. Five crew members were put in detention by Shenzhen Customs. 

  The 60-container cargo was described as including beef, chicken wings and pork from the United States, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. . .

Sustainability possible - Kirsty Kirsten Byrant:

Sustainability is a word that we hear bandied about on an ever-increasing basis. But what does it really mean? 

    To some people, it means all things environment. But, to me, sustainability encompasses more than just our physical surroundings. To be truly sustainable, there are four strands to be considered: the environment, economic, social and cultural factors all interact to determine sustainability. 

    Last month, I attended the grand final of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Nine farming operations from throughout New Zealand underwent a gruelling programme of judging, lined up against these four pillars of sustainability. The judging criteria covered the spectrum – from on-farm profitability and ethical staff management, through to community participation and demonstrating a commitment to ecological stewardship. . .

Europe learns the drill:

The crusade to encourage more farmers to adopt no-tillage techniques on their properties has been taken to Europe. 

    No-Tillage New Zealand was set up in 2000 to promote the direct-drill system developed in Manawatu by John Baker and is marketed by Bunnythorpe-based Baker No-Tillage. The factory is in Feilding. 

    Baker said the company held a bus tour, a “moving conference”, each year, visiting people with Cross-Slot, no-tillage equipment, and this year it was in Germany and France. . .

US drought rising food prices – Andrew Stern:

US corn and soybean crops, the world’s largest, are in the worst condition since the last major drought in America’s breadbasket in 1988, the government said on Monday, pushing up grain prices and raising the prospect of global food-price inflation. 

    Corn and soybean prices soared at the Chicago Board of Trade, based on forecasts that thirsty crops will get no relief for at least another week, although a record-shattering heatwave abated over the weekend in the eastern half of the country. 

    On Monday, the US Agriculture Department said its surveys showed only 40 percent of the corn and soybean crops were rated in good to excellent condition, the lowest rating at this stage of the season since the last severe US drought in 1988. . .

Changes in carbon levels of dariy farm soils quantified, evaluated:

There’s something going on in the dairy farming pastures of New Zealand and a team of Waikato University scientists is determined to find out exactly what. 

    They know the amount of carbon in dairy soils has reduced in recent years but they don’t know if it is still declining. They also want to find out what management practices will best restore those carbon levels. The university says the work is important because carbon supports life in the soil, and declining amounts mean declining returns for farmers. 

    On a Waharoa dairy farm near Morrinsville, 20 times a second two special machines are recording the amount of carbon dioxide going in and out of the soil. They will keep measuring it at the same rate for the next year. . .

Water clean-up a challenge - Jon Morgan:

We are about to enter a new phase in this country’s development, one that farmers will have to be involved in, whether they like it or not. 

    It is as momentous as the last big change that swept through the country in the 1980s – the removal of subsidies. 

    Farmers were hard hit by that change and they will be again by this one. It is the setting of a firm programme of how to clean up New Zealand’s soils and waterways.

    Such a programme could be laid out in a matter of months, two years at most. . .


Wyn-Harris wins Ag communicator of year

June 15, 2012

Hawke’s Bay farmer Steve Wyn-Harris has won the 2012  Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year title.

I am not sure if this is the first time the award has gone to a practicing farmer but there’s no doubt his communication is built on first-hand experience in farming.

Wyn-Harris started his farming career in 1985 when he bought 180 hectares in Central Hawke’s Bay, adding several other blocks over the years, so he and his wife now have 350ha.  The properties carry high performance breeding ewes, including a coopworth sheep stud that uses latest technology such as sire referencing, AI and gene identification.  Bull beef makes up 40% of the stock carried and 15% of the property is planted in forestry, and areas of amenity and native plantings are scattered over all the farms.  He has won a number of farming awards over the years, most recently last year when the farm took out the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award.

However, it is because of his commentaries about farming, farming industries and agricultural sciences that he took out this year’s Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year Award.   He is a broadcaster with his own local radio show and is a regular on the national Farming Show.  He is a long-standing columnist, and has been contributing weekly columns for many years, well over 660 so far, and currently appears in The NZ Farmers Weekly.

Steve was selected by an independent panel of 10 judges ahead of several other very worthy recipients to receive this prestigeous award, which was announced at an Awards Dinner in Hamilton last night.

The Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year Award is administered by the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators, and recognises excellence in communicating agricultural issues, events or information.

Regarded as the premier award for agricultural communicators, it is also the most valuable prize on offer. Landcorp provides a prize of $2,500, which is part of a funding package of $7,500 in sponsorship for the Guild. . . 

Guild President, Jon Morgan, said Steve is a worthy recipient of the award this year.  His columns, comments, presentations at conferences cover an extensive range of topics, but his style remains the same, relaxed, whimsical and often humourous.   “He is widely respected as an excellent farmer,  but has that rare gift of communications that crosses all areas of rual life.”

Morgan, who is the Dominion Posts’s farming editor was last year’s winner.

Hat tip: RivettingKateTaylor


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,161 other followers

%d bloggers like this: