GE has place in NZ

April 8, 2014

The audience at the annual Kim Hill Earth Hour debate decided there is a place for genetic engineering in New Zealand.

. . . Ninety minutes of pros, cons and broad views presented by panellists Tony Conner (AgResearch),  Robert Cruickshank (Lincoln University) and Richard Newcomb (Plant and Food Research) on one team and Christine Dann (Organics Aotearoa), Philip Gregan (NZ Winegrowers) and  Jon Hickford (Lincoln University) on the other, with close interrogation of them all by Kim Hill, was followed by 30 minutes of questions from the audience.  Chairwoman Sarah Walters, Deputy Mayor of Selwyn, then invited the audience to indicate by “noise” how they felt on the question.

Sarah ruled that the “ayes” were “slightly louder” signalling that genetic engineering should stay on New Zealand’s agenda “as a research opportunity” but with the provisos that it be well regulated, that consumers have a choice between GE and non-GE through strict labelling, and that the role of large overseas corporate organisations funding, and thereby influencing, research, be curbed. . .

Richard Newcomb added that the “GE debate has become completely intertwined with the anti-big business debate and with the notion of big business controlling food production and supply.” . . . .

He’s right – many of those opposed to GE are on the left of politics and also opposed to what they label big business.

Defending the environment, Christine Dann said she believed genetic engineering was “ecologically dangerous and too risky.”

“If everyone had their own little garden and grew their own vegetables the problem would be solved,” she said.  . .

If she is right, and I don’t think she is, Would she care that a whole lot of other problems would be created including job losses?

New Zealand is taking a very cautious approach to GE which is as it should be.

But the vehement opposition to it is based on emotion not science.

That a majority of the audience gave cautious support, albeit with provisos, to GE gives some hope that science might win.

 

 


Rural round-up

April 6, 2014

Dairying ‘growing the community’: farmer - Ruth Grundy:

May Murphy recalls an incident 30 years ago – she and her husband Robin were driving a friend, also involved in dairying, through Ikawai-Glenavy.

”When Robin told him: ‘In time this will all be dairying’ he thought he was joking – but it’s happened,” Mrs Murphy said.

Murphy Farms Ltd is run by Mr and Mrs Murphy together with son Bruce and daughter-in-law Lesa Murphy. Bruce and Lesa’s children, Jack (11), Harry (10) Katie (6) and Lily (3) are part of the family firm. . .

Genuine opportunities for a2 Milk - Dene Mackenzie:

Craigs Investment Partners has initiated coverage on The a2 Milk Company with a hold recommendation on the shares given the broad-based nature of growth opportunities.

The company will change its name from A2 Corporation to The a2 Milk Company on April 8. Managing director Geoffrey Babidge said the new name ”instantly and consistently” described the values and mission in a way the current trading names did not.

”It reflects our journey from early research and entrepreneurial pioneers in New Zealand to a unified global identity,” he said.

Craigs broker Chris Timms said a2 was ”a little bit frothy” but genuine and broad-based opportunities existed for the Dunedin-founded company. . .

Turn-out pleases organisers:

Planning for a sustainable future was the focus of a roadshow in Rangiora last week.

Rural Women New Zealand’s 2014 International Year of Family Farming roadshow rolled into the Rangiora Showgrounds on Friday to share ”good news stories” about the role of family farms now and in the future.

Development and marketing manager Kiera Jacobson said the focus was on family farms being sustainable, ”not just environmentally, but also financially and in our on-farm safety”. . .

Growing the country and shrinking waistlines:

A key part of Lincoln University’s remit for the future is ‘feeding the world’ – with significant emphasis on promoting food science and innovation within the national and international food sector.

In 2013, the Lincoln University Centre for Food Research and Innovation was established to promote innovation and collaboration with the food industry.

Centre Director and Professor of Food Science, Charles Brennan says food science has the potential to not only grow the economy, but also deliver national health benefits at the same time.

“Our aim is to create food that is convenient, nutritious and good value. By applying theoretical knowledge to the processing of foods, we are able to meet consumer demands for flavour and texture, as well as nutrition in terms of protein digestibility for human growth, and starch digestibility in relation to glucose levels. Food science and innovation are critical not only to the economic viability of New Zealand, but for the world economy as a whole.”. .

Lawyers to sponsor agri-tech scholarship -

Canterbury law firm Tavendale and Partners and Lincoln University have announced a postgraduate scholarship to support applied knowledge and innovation in agri-tech.

The $6500 scholarship will be awarded annually to a postgraduate student studying at Lincoln University and specialising in the invention and application of smart agricultural technology.

The first scholarship will be available for the second semester of this year and then annually after that.  . .

Princess Anne’s Countryfile comments on gassing badgers and GM food stoke highly charged debate:

The Princess Royal has injected new controversy into the highly charged debate on the badger cull, calling for the mammals to be gassed in their setts.

But her intervention, in an interview with BBC’s Countryfile programme to be screened tomorrow, was welcomed yesterday by some West Country farmers frustrated by the Government’s failure to approve a further roll out of the shooting of badgers as part of the battle against bovine TB.

The Princess said: “If we want to control badgers the most humane way of doing it is to gas them.”

Her comments were immediately condemned by Rosie Woodroffe, of the Zoological Society, who said it was difficult to achieve lethal concentrations of gas in complex badger setts, and by Mark Jones, a vet and the director of the Humane Society. . . .

TB prevalence in Great Britain and New Zealand cattle:

In New Zealand in 1990 the proportion of TB in cattle was about 7 times greater than it was in Great Britain. However in 1997 the proportions were about equal. Currently (in 2011) the proportion in New Zealand is about 40 times less than what it is in Great Britain. Since the early nineties, control of the principal wildlife vector, the possum, in New Zealand has increased whilst in Great Britain since 1986 control of the principal wildlife vector, the badger, has reduced. . .

 


Farmers angry with AgResearch

March 18, 2014

AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson said last week’s meeting with farmers in Gore was constructive over plans to move scientists from Invermay to Lincoln was constructive.

The meeting was initiated by the Southern Texel Breeders and hosted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand.
Eighty seven people attended the meeting, of which about 50 were farmers.

“It was good to be able to speak to concerned farmers directly about our plans to deliver them better science and higher returns. It was a good wide-ranging discussion, and wasn’t solely focused on our reinvestment plans for AgResearch campuses,” says Dr Richardson.

“There was also discussion on government investment in science, industry support for science and how to take research forward.

“Regards our campus reinvestment plans, we understand the concerns of Southland and Otago farmers, and it was an opportunity to reinforce the fact we are not closing Invermay – in fact we’d like to increase the numbers of staff there who are dealing with on farm and regional environment issues.”

AgResearch’s Future Footprint plan will position the organisation for the long-term to deliver better science, more effectively, to New Zealand farmers, the pastoral sector and the New Zealand economy.

The Southern Texel Breeders passed a motion requesting an independent review of the plan, which will involve the co-location of scientists into science innovation hubs, allowing for a more effective collaborative approach to tackle national science ‘big issues’.

Dr Richardson says the plan will see $100 million reinvested to create modern facilities that are functional, adaptable and fit for modern science.

“Future Footprint will see us maximising the use of our facilities and specialist infrastructure to achieve better returns for AgResearch, our clients and the pastoral sector,” says Dr Richardson.

“We remain committed to find the best solution to continue to deliver the science all New Zealand farmers rely on to stay ahead of their international counterparts.”

Farmers aren’t convinced and they’re angry.

They pay levies which provide a good part of AgResearch’s funds and they want scientists to stay based where the bulk of sheep and beef farming takes place – in Otago and Southland.

Immigration Minister and Dunedin-based MP Michael Woodhouse isn’t convinced AgResearch has yet made its case for shifting scientists from Invermay to Lincoln.

As the debate about the merits of an AgResearch hub being established at Lincoln, Mr Woodhouse confirmed to the Otago Daily Times yesterday he had visited Invermay and talked to the staff.

There had been a fear that leaving just 20 scientists at Invermay to deal with farming services and animal services was a ”death spiral” number. But Mr Woodhouse had been ”assured” by AgResearch 20 was the absolute minimum number of scientists and it was hoped to lift the number to 50 scientists at Invermay in the future.

”We need to test that plan and make sure it is the right thing to do for New Zealand Inc and New Zealand agriculture. Can we be confident moving 50 scientists out of 80 from Invermay is better than moving the 30 from Christchurch to Invermay? I am not convinced AgResearch has met the test set them by Minister [Steven] Joyce.” . . .

The plan hasn’t met the farmers’ test.

Dr Andrew West tried to merge AgResearch and Lincoln when he headed AgResearch and failed. Farmers think he’s trying to achieve the same thing by another route now he’s vice chancellor of the university.

They wonder if the plan has more to do with shoring up Lincoln than what’s best for the industry.

AgResearch gets a lot of their money and they are worried that much-needed research will suffer from the loss of institutional knowledge and distance from the main concentration of sheep and beef production.

Whether or not the move goes ahead, one option for any spare buildings no-one has mentioned is as the headquarters for the Otago Regional Council.

The ORC has been looking for a new home and had expensive plans for one in the city. That was torpedoed but they still need a bigger base.

Invermay, with or without the current AgResearch staff, could be an option.


Rural round-up

March 13, 2014

Will Lincoln survive? – Tony Chaston:

Lincoln University is awash in rumour as it undergoes a major restructure of it’s workforce in a bid to survive.

There are reports it is financially stretched.

Earthquake payments have yet to be assigned even though Canterbury University has received theirs and it was recently revealed Lincoln has lost its bid for major funding for its Centre of Research Excellence group.

Voluntary redundancies are being proposed and many long-term staff fear the next step will be forced redundancies.

Staff morale is said to be low and the discord between the academics and management is growing as the University searches for a new direction. . .

Succession a key focus of young farmers’ business management program in Year of the Family Farm:

With 2014 the International Year of the Family Farm, the pressing issue of farm succession will be a key focus of this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program.

The program – which is designed to strengthen the operational and strategic skills of tomorrow’s farm leaders – will cover succession planning for farm businesses, along with a range of topics including leadership, business planning and financial and economic management.

Applications are now open for the 2014 Farm Managers Program, which will be held in Victoria in June. . .

Pakeha farmer doing it for whanau:

A Pakeha farmer who manages two Maori-owned farms with his Maori whanau near Whakatane is encouraging other farmers to form partnerships with Maori Land Trusts.

Peter Livingston is the farm advisor for both the Putauaki Trust’s Himiona Farm and Ngati Awa Farm Limited’s Ngakauroa Farm.

The two farms are finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Awards celebrating Maori farming excellence. . .

Drones Could Revolutionize Agriculture, Farmers Say – Gosia Wozniacka:

Idaho farmer Robert Blair isn’t waiting around for federal aviation officials to work out rules for drones. He and a friend built their own, outfitting it with cameras and using it to monitor his 1,500 acres.

Under 10 pounds and 5 feet long nose to tail, the aircraft is the size of a turkey and Blair uses it to get a birds-eye view of his cows and fields of wheat, peas, barley and alfalfa.

“It’s a great tool to collect information to make better decisions, and we’re just scratching the surface of what it can do for farmers,” said Blair, who lives in Kendrick, Idaho, roughly 275 miles north of Boise.

While Americans are abuzz about Amazon’s plans to use self-guided drones to deliver packages, most future unmanned aircraft may operate far from the nation’s large population centers.

Experts point to agriculture as the most promising commercial market for drones because the technology is a perfect fit for large-scale farms and vast rural areas where privacy and safety issues are less of a concern. . . .

Investment opportunity in Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme;

Qualified Hawke’s Bay investors are being given the opportunity to express their interest in investing in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC Ltd) has released a Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) calling for expressions of interest from qualified locals interested in a potential investment in the water storage scheme.

Interested parties are not being asked for money now. They have until the end of April to indicate their interest in the proposal, and will then be given detailed information on the investment opportunity via an Information Memorandum which will include modeled cashflows and further specific information that is currently commercially sensitive. The Information Memorandum is due for release in May 2014. . . .

NZ develops world-first solution to improve ATV use:

Trial underway at Landcorp with Blue Wing Honda and Blackhawk Tracking Systems

Blue Wing Honda have engaged Blackhawk Tracking Systems to develop a world-first solution to help improve ATV safety with a focus on driver behaviour and communication.

Called Farm Angel, the Blackhawk technology is being trialled by Landcorp Farming Ltd, which is committed to improving safety on farms. Landcorp will trial the equipment on around 60 ATV and Side by Side vehicles.

“This is a unique solution which will enable rider/driver behaviour to be monitored, modified and improved” says Blue Wing Honda General Manager Alan Petrie. “The aim is to save lives before they need to be saved, but should an accident unfortunately occur, Farm Angel will also assist in the recovery of seriously injured or trapped riders.

“We have been working with Blackhawk for some time to create the right system that not only helps the ATV rider get out of trouble quickly by sending an immediate automated alert to a first response Call Centre, but also improves on-farm communication while giving peace of mind to farmers, their employees and their families.” . . .

New Zealand wine Trust funds valuable research:

The Cresswell Jackson New Zealand Wine Trust has awarded its first research grant.

Under the broad objective of enhancing the success of the New Zealand wine industry, the Trust awarded the grant to scientist Dr Wendy Parr of Lincoln University. The study is in collaboration with Adelaide-based Phil Reedman MW, the University of Burgundy in France as well as London University and Oxford University in the UK.

The overall goal of the project is to provide sound, scientifically-based information concerning specific aspects of wine tasting and wine judging.

The study aims to investigate the influence of contextual variables on qualitative and quantitative aspects of sensory evaluations by testing whether wines are perceived as tasting ‘different’ under particular conditions. . .

Rockburn Wines Shine in China’s Biggest and Most Prestigious Wine and Spirits Competition:

Rockburn Wines has just been awarded an impressive four Double Gold CWSA Best Value medals at the China Wine and Spirits Awards Best Value 2014.

Double Gold Medals were handed out to Rockburn’s 2012 Pinot Noir, 2013 Pinot Gris, 2010 Chardonnay and 2013 Devil’s Staircase Pinot Gris in the blind tasting alongside the most famous brands in the world including 4,350 wines and spirits from 35 countries. The Rockburn 2009 Riesling also received a Gold Medal.

Having won a Double Gold for their 2009 Chardonnay in last year’s competition, Rockburn are once again honoured to add these latest accolades from a competition which is “the ultimate authority for wines and spirits in Hong Kong and China.” . . .


Rural round-up

February 2, 2014

Farmers fear restraints despite cleaner lakes – Richard Rennie:

With testing revealing Lake Rotoiti’s water quality is the best in decades, farmers in the Rotorua region are questioning further tightening of nutrient rules on farms in the catchment.

Recent water quality surveys by Bay of Plenty Regional Council indicates the Ohau diversion wall and upgraded sewerage systems have delivered improved fish-spawning conditions and improved water clarity in the lake.

The Ohau diversion wall, completed in 2008, has been successful in diverting the nutrient-rich water of Lake Rotorua from Lake Rotoiti, to be flushed down Kaituna River. . .

Save the working dog – Jillaroo Jess:

I just read the most distressing news. Once again, a bureaucrat in an office somewhere has decided to make like even more difficult for farmers than it already is. It is concerning the keeping of working dogs in Victoria, Australia. I am not from Victoria, but all Australians deserve a fair go, and often other states follow suit with these sorts of things.

Basically, if you have 3 intact females on your property you are now a breeder and will have to follow strict regulations on the keeping of your dogs. Farmers generally do not neuter their animals as it can affect their working ability, and really, if you have a good dog – you’ll want another one day! . . .

Reworking our dairy systems – Keith Woodford:

Many farmers will resist it fiercely, housing our dairy herd in sheds is almost inevitable.

The New Zealand dairy industry has always prided itself as being different. Whereas most other countries developed their dairy industries based on the housing of cows for much or all of the year, the New Zealand industry has always been pasture-based. The cows harvest the grass themselves, the cost of production has been low, and the image was of “clean and green”.

Alas, we now know the image of “clean and green” was never quite true. Although a huge amount has been done to clean up the industry, with fencing of waterways, nutrient budgets and meticulous management of effluent from the milking shed, there is a fundamental problem still to be tackled. This fundamental problem is the concentration of nitrogen in the urine patches which grazing cows leave behind. . .

Debate on increased indoor dairy farming in NZ heats up:

Some farmers worry what increased indoor dairy farming in New Zealand would do to the country’s clean green image.

Tom Phillips (@OneFarmNZ) was worried that indoor farming would remove the country’s point of difference of being clean and green.

“NZ has comparative advantage with pasture based dairy not purchased feed or housing,” he tweeted.

Anne Galloway (@annegalloway) was also worried that it would create animal welfare issues.

She did not think the review of the dairy cattle welfare bill, to ensure indoor cows in NZ have regulations in place, would be enough.

She tweeted that indoor farming would create a new issue that doesn’t exist now and that the public will weigh in on – positively and negatively. . .

Recognising research excellence:

The Lincoln University Research Committee has announced the recipients of the 2013 Excellence in Early Career Research Awards.  Three academic staff members have been named: Dr William Godsoe, Dr Sharon Forbes and Dr Majeed Safa .

The awards recognise research excellence among academic staff who have less than five years of research experience since completing their PhD, with winners being selected on criteria such as the quality and originality of their research; peer recognition via publications and speaking invitations; success with external funding; and awards from other learned bodies.

As well as the formal recognition of their achievements, all recipients receive $5,000 to be applied to a project of their choosing. . .

‘Uncertainty’ over wheat use by UK ethanol plants – Agrimoney:

The UK’s stop-start bioethanol industry was rated as a “large uncertainty” for wheat demand, after officials cut their forecast for consumption of the grain by biofuel plants, amid complaints of unfair imports of US supplies. 

The UK farm ministry, Defra, cut by 307,000 tonnes to 7.50m tonnes its forecast for industrial and food use of wheat in 2013-14, despite higher ideas of the use of the grain by the important distilling industry.  The downgrade reflected in part lower use in flour production, thanks to a better quality UK harvest this year, but also to a drop in use for bioethanol production, which “continues to be a large uncertainty for demand”, the HGCA crop bureau said. . .


1080 myths dispelled

January 24, 2014

Wilderness magazine says it’s time to end the 1080 debate once and for all:

Opponents to the aerial use of 1080 should stop scaremongering and start thinking of better alternatives, say leading independent experts.

The experts, interviewed in the February issue of Wilderness magazine, have categorically dispelled many of the myths surrounding use of the poison. These myths include the idea that it kills kiwi, gets into our water supplies, threatens native bird populations and is no more effective than trapping and hunting.

Editor of Wilderness Alistair Hall believes it’s vital to stamp out rumours especially at a time when beech mast threatens many of the country’s rarest species. DOC’s preparing to launch a 1080 attack on rats, mice and stoats after predictions a bumper summer of beech flowering will lead to a huge increase of the predators later in the year.

“It’s time to get a few things straight,” said Hall. “1080 has never killed a kiwi, it has never been found in a drinking water supply and only one person has ever been killed by the poison – and that was in the 1960s.

“It’s not us who are saying this, it’s every expert we’ve spoken to. We made sure we picked people who are independent, rather than those who represent one side of the argument. The experts were unanimous in saying there’s currently no viable alternative when it comes to controlling pests on a large scale and that, without 1080, many of our native species would only exist on off-shore islands and intensively protected pockets on the mainland.”

Wilderness spoke to Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr James Ross, senior lecturer in wildlife management at Lincoln University, and Penny Fisher from Landcare Research.

Each expert was presented with 10 commonly held beliefs and asked to state whether they’re true or not based on what is currently known about the toxin.
“It’s fascinating to read what they have to say,” said Hall. “I often hear the argument that there hasn’t been enough research conducted on 1080 to determine whether it’s safe or not. In actual fact, there’s been continuous research since the 1950s.

“It’s so important to get this message across. As a tramping community we want to hear and see native birds and plants when we head into the backcountry. It’s clear to us, having spoken to those in the know, that using 1080 is the only way to ensure we can continue to do this.”

Full interviews with the experts are in the February issue of Wilderness magazine, available in shops from today and online here.

Animals targeted by 1080 endanger native flora and fauna they also carry TB which is a risk to animal and human health.

Where alternatives to 1080 can be used they are. But in many areas, including those of dense bush, there is no viable alternative to it.


Rural round-up

January 10, 2014

ANZCO opens new food laboratory – Alan Williams:

ANZCO Foods has set up a new innovation centre at Lincoln University to focus on new food developments.

Its research team was already working on new developments, with more in the pipeline, the company’s Food and Solutions business chief executive Rennie Davidson said.

The centre was opened last month by ANZCO chairman Sir Graeme Harrison, who said it was part of an $87 million project to generate more value from beef carcases.

The FoodPlus project is a joint venture between ANZCO and the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme. . .

Kiwis set to shine in New York - Alan Williams:

Promotion and sales are the focus for two top New Zealand knitting yarn marketers later this week at the Vogue Knit Live fair in New York.

Marnie Kelly and Bev Forrester will be showing their yarns in front of thousands of knitters from all over the United States and many others from round the world, in the heart of Times Square.

They sell to American and Canadian tourists in NZ and to customers online, and now they want to use the fair to attract retailers who can provide them with a bigger market. . .

Sizzling summer brings boats into play -

SIZZLING, dry conditions in Queensland mean the prospect of feed grain being brought around from South Australia to Brisbane to boat becomes ever more likely.

Once considered fanciful, analysts now suggest the economics of bringing feed grain in from southern areas is now a strong possibility.

Lloyd George, AgScientia, said with the planting window for sorghum in southern Queensland rapidly closing and largely inelastic demand, end-users were casting their net ever further afield to source stocks. . .

ACCC has concerns over Murray Goulburn’s takeover of WCB –  Tim Binsted and Jared Lynch:

The competition regulator has cast doubts over Murray Goulburn’s claim that its acquisition of Warrnambool Cheese & Butter will yield benefits to the public and re-establish Australian dairy’s global competitiveness.

Murray Goulburn is locked in a fierce $500 million-plus takeover battle for control of WCB with Canadian dairy company Saputo.

Murray Goulburn must convince the Australian Competition Tribunal that the public benefits of its acquisition of WCB outweigh anti-competitive concerns or its bid is finished.

In an issues paper made public on Tuesday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission – which is helping the tribunal – rejected Murray Goulburn’s claim that its takeover of WCB would cause no significant lessening of competition. . . .

Food campaigners target Oxford Farming Conference – Johann Tasker:

Campaigners have called on the Oxford Farming Conference to recognise the contribution of small-scale farmers and food producers.

Members of the Land Workers’ Alliance protested outside the conference venue as delegates arrived at the Oxford Examination Rooms on Tuesday (7 January).

The alliance – members of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina – is a group which campaigs for the rights of small producers and a better food system. . .

 Musterer injured after horse collapses - Murray Robertson:

A CASUAL musterer on a farm at Rere was flown to hospital yesterday morning when the horse he was riding died underneath him as they descended a steep hillside.

Emergency services were alerted at about 11am.

The 69-year-old horseman suffered neck, head and facial injuries in the mishap. He was flown to Waikato Hospital yesterday afternoon after being assessed at Gisborne Hospital’s emergency department. . .

Manning the panic station - Tim Fulton:

It was just on five minutes to six in the half light of the morning when a cry rang out.

My wife’s urgent tone was comparable to the fright of a burglar in the living room: “Tim, Tim…the sheep are in the garden.”

Our sheep – a modest tally of four ewes and five lambs – make a mockery of our attempt at fencing.

The artificial barriers between yard and garden grow ever higher but still the mini flock tests weak links in the wire. . .


Rural round-up

December 13, 2013

How we manage incidents still needs fixing:

While it is good news that the inquiry into the whey protein incident concludes there was no failure with New Zealand’s dairy regulatory system it simply confirms what we already knew, said Michael Barnett, chairman of the NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association.

“We do have world best regulations. We are world leaders in whey production. Within the terms of reference of the inquiry to look into our dairy food safety system the report is a good outcome.”

However in our view the incident was never a failure of our dairy regulations. “It was a failure to manage the situation and the reputational damage it caused New Zealand. This report will not fix that failure,” said Mr Barnett. . .

Red Meat Profit Partnership underway:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has welcomed the announcement that the Red Meat Profit Partnership is underway, acknowledging the significant opportunities it will provide farmers.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen says: “The significance of this collaboration cannot be underestimated as it draws together a big part of the red meat processing industry along with farmers and two banks, with the common goal of improving the profitability of sheep and beef farms. Profitability has been too variable and insufficient in recent years, but through this collaboration there is a significant opportunity to improve it.” . . .

Rabobank welcomes signing of Red Meat Profit Partnership:

Agricultural banking specialist Rabobank has welcomed the recent signing and successful contracting of the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

The finalisation of the $64 million dollar partnership has been announced with the Crown officially contracting its support of the initiative.

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the bank was pleased to confirm its support as a partner of the RMPP alongside the other co-investors. . . .

Week one in a revolutionary fortnight for red meat  – Jeanette Maxwell:

With red meat industry reform a big topic for farmers, Federated Farmers is welcoming the most comprehensive collaboration ever seen in the sector.  With the Federation going out to its members next week on meat industry reform options, this becomes the first week in a revolutionary fortnight for New Zealand’s number two export industry.

“It seems ironic that I am going to welcome 1.3 million fewer lambs being tailed in 2013 over 2012, but the second smallest lamb crop in nearly 60 years is a good outcome following the 2013 drought,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“To be brutally honest, that 4.7 percent decline to a 2013/14 crop of 25.5 million lambs, underscores how vital this week’s announcement of the Red Meat Profit Partnership is. . .

Government Industry Agreements to strengthen biosecurity:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed Cabinet’s approval of the GIA (Government Industry Agreement) Deed as an important tool in strengthening New Zealand’s biosecurity.

“Under the GIA, industry organisations and the Ministry for Primary Industries can sign a Deed that formally establishes the biosecurity partnership. Partners will share decision making, costs, and responsibility in preparing for and responding to biosecurity incursions.

“The GIA is important because it will give industries a direct say in managing biosecurity risk. Joint decision making and co-investment will mean that everyone is working together on the most important priorities.

“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,” says Mr Guy . . .

Biosecurity Government Industry Agreements a major boost

Winning Cabinet approval for any policy initiative is never easy so the efforts of Primary Industries Minster, the Hon Nathan Guy with Government Industry Agreements (GIA), must be acknowledged for the way it will boost biosecurity readiness and response.

“GIA’s are a positive development for biosecurity,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson.

“Cabinet approval is the roadmap forward and follows Federated Farmers leadership last year, which successfully unblocked five years of stalled talks by bringing together key industry players.

“For the general public, GIA’s are about ‘Readiness and Response,’ which are the two key planks to our biosecurity system.  . .

Forest owners welcome biosecurity deed:

Cabinet approval of the deed that will govern how the government and primary industries respond to biosecurity threats has been welcomed by forest owners.

“The biological industries need secure borders, effective monitoring for possible incursions and a rapid response if an exotic pest arrives here. It is essential that we all know who does what and who picks up the tab,” says Forest Owners Association biosecurity chair Dave Cormack.

“The forest industry, through the FOA, has partnered with government in forest biosecurity surveillance for more than 50 years and has funded its own scheme for the last 25 of those years. We look forward to formalising this relationship in a Government Industry Agreement. . . .

Warwick Roberts elected President NZ National Fieldays Society:

The Annual General Meeting for the National Fieldays Society was held last Thursday night at Mystery Creek Events Centre.

Experienced dairy farmer and local resident, Warwick Roberts, was elected President of the NZ National Fieldays Society and starts his term immediately.

Mr Roberts had held the position of Vice President of the Society since 2012 and takes over the presidency from Lloyd Downing, whose term ran 2010-2013.

In speaking about his appointment, Mr Roberts said he was very proud to be leading such a prestigious organisation. . .

Start date for farm training scheme - Annette Scott:

The farm cadet training scheme proposed for the upper South Island has a start date.

Mendip Hills Station, in North Canterbury, will host the new farm cadet training scheme aimed at the sheep, beef, and deer industries.

Scheme co-ordinator Sarah Barr signed a statement of intent agreement last week with Lincoln University, incorporating the Telford division of the tertiary institution, for the scheme to start in 2015. . .

Amendments to layer hens code of welfare:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced amendments to the Layer Hens Code of Welfare 2012, in a move to avoid a large increase in the price of eggs.

“The final date of 2022 for all layer hens to be out of battery cages remains unchanged. However, the amendment alters the transition dates by two years:
• Cages installed before 31 December 1999 must now be replaced by 31 December 2018 (previously 2016);
• Cages installed before 31 December 2001 must now be replaced by 31 December 2020 (previously 2018).

The amendments have been made after advice from the independent National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC). . . .

The long and the short of it is  . . . – Mad Bush Farm:

I got what I always wanted. I can wake up each morning, have breakfast and get a friendly greeting at the door. He got my toast,  I got my coffee and the company of an equine friend. Animals can do so much for healing a hurt, and helping us forget our troubles. And in turn we can help them get through their troubles. Most of the horses I have on the farm have had sad backgrounds. Ed too had a hard life before he came to me nearly ten years ago. His days are coming slowly to an end. Soon I’ll have to make a decision about his future. . .

New Zealand Young Farmers raises over $1400 for men’s health:

New Zealand Young Farmers was a proud participant in this year’s Movember campaign – and it was a wild and hairy 30 days.

For the month of November the Young Farmers Movember ambassadors Terry Copeland NZYF CEO, Ashley Cassin ANZ Young Farmer Contest Events Leader, and Nigel Woodhead Pendarves Young Farmers Club member, cultivated impressive moustaches all in the name of men’s health.

A charity quiz night was held on the last Friday (29th) of November at the Blue Pub in Methven as a final drive for donations. It was well attended with 13 teams and over 60 people participating. There were top prizes from Silver Fern Farms, Husqvarna and a sell-out raffle for a Vodafone Samsung Galaxy mobile phone.   . .  .


Rural round-up

December 6, 2013

Farmers keen to come clean – Bruce Wills:

Federated Farmers surprised some people by welcoming Dr Jan Wright’s report, Water quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution.  Before Dr Wright released it, she kindly gave us a briefing and that tells me we are not only trustworthy but also seen by her as a positive influencer.  This didn’t go unnoticed and the words of the Otago Daily Times’ editor deserve repeating:

  “…Farmers are making attempts to address the negative impacts of their operations and know their future livelihoods rely on looking after the land. But many mitigation efforts, such as riparian planting, are not effective at controlling nitrogen run -off, particularly in some catchment areas and soil types, and a rethink is needed – and our scientists and researchers play a vital part in that, alongside policymakers and farming industry heavy weights.  There is an increasing goodwill and acknowledgement that all parties need to work together to address issues. Federated Farmers is welcoming the report, with environment spokesman Ian Mackenzie saying the effects on water are “not a future we’d like to be a part of”, significant research is being put into finding solutions and progress is being made…”

In our ongoing discussion about water, we must not forget that New Zealand has some of the best quality water on earth. . .

Lincoln University announces LincolnSheep for education, training and research in sheep farming:

Lincoln University is converting 20 hectares of its farmland at its Te Waihora campus into a facility for teaching and researching sheep breeding and intensive lamb finishing. The land was previously used as the site for the South Island Field Days.

The new site for LincolnSheep will use 15 hectares for a partially-irrigated ‘technology farm’ as a summer-safe sheep breeding unit. The unit will be used to investigate and demonstrate current and future on-farm technologies in the management of sheep, hogget and lamb selection, health, welfare and production, with the ultimate aim of maximising productivity and profitability for sheep farming. . .

More iwi want agriculture help from Lincoln University:

Lincoln University says more and more iwi are wanting to set up agriculture partnerships with the tertiary provider.

It has agreements with tribes such as Ngai Tahu in the South Island, as well as Northland iwi, Ngapuhi and Ngati Koroki Kahukura and Ngati Haua in Waikato.

In Waikato, the university and the two Tainui tribes have outlined an agreement to create an agricultural training centre, and aim to create a new farm certificate course. . .

Push to eradicate genetic disease within four years:

Since its introduction into New Zealand in the early 1990s, the Texel sheep has grown to become one of this country’s key breeds in the national flock, both as a terminal sire and as part of a maternal flock.

“Its high meat yield muscling and hardiness has meant it is a first choice for many sheep farmers,” says Alistair McLeod, Chairman of the New Zealand Texel Breed Committee. “We are always looking at improving and advancing our breed for the commercial sheep farmer, so when we identified a genetic disorder we quickly looked at ways to test for it and eradicate it.” . . .

 

 

Researchers back Canterbury stubble burning - Tim Cronshaw:

The burn-off of stubble from harvested crops may be little used overseas, but researchers are convinced of its value for Canterbury arable farming.

Stubble burning demonstration plots were a talking point for managing crop rotations at the Foundation for Arable Research’s (Far) Arable Research in Action field day at Chertsey on Wednesday.

Research and extension director Nick Poole said the plots were set up to show why stubble burning was important in Canterbury, especially to growers of small seed crops. . .

UK wheat prices to fall, boding well for dairy:

 UK growers should prepare for a further fall in wheat prices – but not enough to put livestock producers in profit, in contrast with their dairy peers, HSBC said. 

The bank – which a year ago predicted, broadly correctly, a drop to £165 a tonne in wheat prices this year, from £227 a tonne at the time – said that values will fall further next year, to £150 a tonne.

While the UK itself reaped a relatively small harvest this year, of 12.1m tonnes, after persistent rains hampered autumn sowings, the world picture for cereals supplies has improved, HSBC said, quoting estimates from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization that stocks, compared with use, has risen to an 11-year high. . .


Rural round-up

October 29, 2013

Futuristic drones to watch your sheep – Howard Keene:

Kiwi agriculture scholarship winner sees drones having a big potential in the industry.

Natasha King went overseas on a Nuffield Scholarship recently to primarily look for energy-generating solutions to New Zealand’s effluent disposal problems, but also became fascinated by some of the new technologies she came across.

“It wasn’t my area, but I became interested in it as a basic farmer from New Zealand,” Ms King, who is Meridian Energy’s national agribusiness manager based in Christchurch, said. . .

Steaks high in trans-Tasman Trans-Tasman beef battle – Jenna Lynch &  Elton Smallman:

The Kiwi and Aussie battle is heating up again, but there’s no sport in sight. This time it’s a battle of the beef.

Australian red meat is making its way across ditch and filling a gap in our supermarkets, as Kiwi beef farmers recover from last summer’s drought.

But how does the Aussie beef compare to a good homegrown Kiwi steak?

Well there’s only one way to find out: A blind taste test. . .

Lots of changes in industry, but basic principles remain the same – Yvonne OHara:

Winning the first and second Southland regional Sharemilker of the Year competitions and coming second by half a point in the national competition was memorable and disappointing for Karen Bellew and Stephen Malone.

The former Edendale 50/50 sharemilkers, who have since separated, won the inaugural regional competition in 1990 but it was held too late for them to compete in the national final.

However, they were allowed to enter the Southland event the following year and won again. . .

Lincoln University to apply expertise to restoration project:

International mining company Rio Tinto has confirmed that it will continue funding a major ecological restoration project currently underway at Punakaiki on the South Island’s West Coast.

The Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project (PCRP) has been underway for five years and is part of a four-way partnership between Lincoln University, Rio Tinto, the Department for Conservation (DoC) and Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ). Professor of Ecology, Nicholas Dickinson , and his colleagues in the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences have been spear-heading the project for Lincoln University.

Rio Tinto has committed to another three years of funding the PCRP, which involves the restoration of a 70-hectare site that has been negatively impacted over the years through both mining and agriculture. The company originally bought the site to mine ilmenite (an oxide of titanium), but later gifted it to DoC. . . .

Tarras Water weighs options:

Tarras Water Ltd is still afloat, even if the company’s hopes for a dry shareholder have been sunk, director Peter Jolly says.

When contacted by Southern Rural Life last week, Mr Jolly said the company’s shareholders were looking at their options, including some which would not involve Tarras Water Ltd.

The company’s board was still meeting regularly and had a ”telephone link-up” about three weeks ago and an ”informal” meeting last week, he said.

However, the board had abandoned hope of a dry shareholder taking equity in the company, he said. . .

Council downsizes, reports increased event attendance  – Timothy Brown:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s Central South Island Council decided on a smaller council at its annual meeting in Cromwell last week, reducing the number of councillors from four to three.

South Canterbury farmer Andrew Fraser stepped down, and the three other councillors, Blair Smith, Ivan Geary and Robert Peacock were re-elected unopposed. . .

Council downsizes, reports increased event attendance


Rural round-up

October 25, 2013

Meat quality in restaurants constantly improving – Allan Barber:

The quality of domestic red meat supply both to the retail and catering trade has improved out of sight in the last 20 years because of stricter food regulations and the introduction of the Quality Mark. It has moved up another notch over the last five years or so, particularly since the global financial crisis.

Back in the 1980s and early 90s the term ‘export quality’ was supposed to provide a guarantee of excellence as distinct from meat destined only for the domestic market which was considered to be of inferior quality. That has all changed because today almost all meat plants are export licensed regardless of whether they mainly supply the export or domestic market. Food safety regulations are much stricter than they used to be and all meat processors must comply with stringent hygiene and health requirements, audited by vets employed by the Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

MIA gives honest assessment of industry’s challenges – Allan Barber:

The Meat Industry Association has recently published its 2013 Annual Report which contains an honest assessment of the challenges of the past year and a summary of the positive initiatives under way.

The 2012/13 year took place against a background of unsatisfactory farmer returns and heavy losses by processors during the previous season. Although the total value of exports actually increased compared to the previous year, this was mostly because of drought-induced slaughter volumes. This of course will have a depressing effect on future sheep and beef numbers.

The report acknowledges the volatility inherent in the meat industry and highlights a number of factors which influence this, including weather conditions, their impact on timing of supply and production numbers, mismatch between supply of livestock and sale of product, uncertainty of supply and market returns, competition from cheaper proteins, changing marketing environment, New Zealand’s small global scale, and the need to sell the whole carcase at a profit. . .

Dairy Women’s Network growth continues:

The growth of the Dairy Women’s Network continues with another 900 women joining the organisation between 1 June 2012 and 31 May 2013, increasing its total membership from 3100 to 4000.

At its annual general meeting tonight (Wednesday, 23 October) Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board chair Michelle Wilson said alongside its membership growth, the year had been an exceptionally busy one with several highlights including being a key partner in developing the Strategy for Sustainable Dairy Farming, securing a $180K grant from the Sustainable Farming Fund to develop Project Pathfinder – the country’s first leadership programme for dairying women, and welcoming Ballance Agri-Nutrients as a major sponsorship partner.

Like all businesses she added there were also challenges. . .

Lucerne text messaging service passes 500 subscriber milestone:

More than 500 people are now subscribed to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s lucerne text messaging service – getting free real-time updates on how to get the best from this drought-tolerant pasture.

The collaboration between B+LNZ and Lincoln University was initiated early last year. It is facilitated by plant science specialist Professor Derrick Moot.

B+LNZ chief executive, Dr Scott Champion says: “The text messaging service is a way for farmers, whether they’re new or experienced with lucerne, to get tips and tricks delivered straight to them in a way that’s easy to use.”

All public texts are also posted to Twitter, so people can go back any time and look through the library of lucerne information. . . .

Time almost up in hunt for top rural consultants:

Time is running out for rural professionals to enter the inaugural Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.

Award nominations close on November 1.

Top North and South Island rural consultants who use Farmax pastoral farm support software will be named in the awards, boasting an approximate $5000 prize pool. . .

Chinese experts judge Marisco wines best with Chinese food:

Marisco Vineyards wins two trophies at Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition

Marlborough winery Marisco Vineyards has been awarded two prestigious trophies for the wines best matched with two iconic Chinese dishes—Cantonese Dim Sum and Braised Abalone (Paua)—at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition.

The Ned Pinot Gris 2013 won the trophy for the best Cantonese Dim Sum match because it pairs equally well with steamed, deep-fried and stewed savoury items from the traditional dim sum trolley. The King’s Bastard Chardonnay 2012 won the best Braised Abalone match for its resolved tannins, complexity and concentration of flavour. . . .

Farmer Brown Gets Cracking With Colony Eggs:

Kiwis nationwide now have a greater choice of welfare-friendly, affordable eggs with the launch of Farmer Brown Colony laid eggs in supermarkets this week.

Farmer Brown is the first egg producer in New Zealand to offer Colony laid eggs to New Zealand shoppers throughout the country. At the same time, the company has also launched a Free Range option to provide consumers with access to a full range of quality eggs.

Colony is an improved caged housing system which gives hens more space and increased ability to behave naturally and do the things hens love to do – nesting, scratching, perching and stretching their wings. It has been scientifically evaluated by New Zealand’s National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), as meeting the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act along with Barn and Free Range systems. . .


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 22, 2013

Rural sector key for many of Otago’s SMEs – Dene Mackenzie:

More than half of Otago small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) receive business income from the rural sector.Kiwibank group manager business markets Mark Stephen said with New Zealand’s agricultural sector economic growth lagging in the three months ended in June, the drought had squeezed the sector.

Even those small enterprises which did not directly deal with the rural sector were found to be supplying customers who did deal directly with farmers. . .

Hunter Downs project gathering momentum – Sally Brooker:

An irrigation project taking Waitaki River water further into South Canterbury is gathering momentum.

The Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme has been awarded $640,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund. It will help pay for engineering design, an investigation into demand from landowners, and a fundraising prospectus.

”This part of South Canterbury has regular droughts,” Irrigation Acceleration Fund manager Kevin Steel said.

”The HDI Scheme is a large-scale infrastructure initiative that hopes to significantly address this problem.

”Where agriculture is New Zealand’s largest export earner, irrigation infrastructure contributes significantly to supporting the country’s ongoing economic growth.” . . .

“Logistical nightmare’ sorting out mess – Ruth Grundy:

Immigration New Zealand is to work with Canterbury-based irrigation companies to get more specialist workers into the country to fix storm- damaged irrigators.

Last week, Irrigation New Zealand said the wind storms which ravaged the region had caused ”unprecedented” damage to more than 800 irrigators.

Irrigation NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said machinery from South to North Canterbury had been damaged by high winds but the bulk of the damage was to machinery around Ashburton, Selwyn and Waimakariri.

”It’s very, very serious,” Mr Curtis said. . .

Tagging technology tackles possums:

Kiwi ingenuity combined with forensic science techniques has produced a method of identifying individual possums that has the potential to also be used in the fields of environmental and human science.

Dr James Ross  from the Centre of Wildlife Management and Conservation at Lincoln University is using a locally-developed, activity interference device (WaxTag®) baited with attractant substances to identify individual brushtail possums biting the tags.

In the absence of an efficient and cost-effective alternative to estimating the abundance of possums after control methods have been applied, the residual trap-catch index (RTCI) remains the monitoring standard at present. However, RTCI is not sensitive in locating survivors when the population is at very low densities and it is costly because traps need to be checked daily. . .

New scholarship helps students and industry alike:

Lincoln University PhD students Laura Buckthought and Travis Ryan-Salter have been awarded $10,000 each as the first recipients of the new Alexanders Agribusiness Scholarship.

The generous scholarship is exclusive to Lincoln University and awarded on behalf of Alexanders Chartered Accountants who created the scholarship with the aim of helping committed, high calibre postgraduate students undertaking research in the primary sector.

The company Directors did consider opening the scholarship up to students from other universities, but chose to make it exclusive to Lincoln on account of the University’s focus on the land-based industries relative to New Zealand’s key commercial interests. . .

Video sensation Peterson Farm Brothers at the Farm Science Review – we’re just Kansas farm kids – Susan Crowell:

LONDON, Ohio — They’re just typical farm kids.

They’d rather run the combine than the truck during wheat harvest, and they love to run their six-row Kemper chopper they call the Beast Machine. Their first chore was throwing flakes of hay bales to the cattle on their feedlot, and they remember when their dad let them drive the tractor in first gear, inching down the feedbunk while he tossed feed to the cows — “I know it was before I was even in school!”. Their idea of dressing up is something other than an old T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. They hate going out in freezing weather to break up the ice on the waterers for the cows, or cleaning up the outdoor feed bunk after it rains. They post pictures of newly cut alfalfa or eartags on Facebook. . .


Agribusiness & food degree to fill gap in industry

September 22, 2013

Lincoln University is proposing a new Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree which will target people looking for careers further along the food chain in processing, marketing and retail.

While agriculture and food have been at the core of that specialisation for more than a century, heightened awareness of global food supply and quality opportunities has led the university to refocus its agribusiness and food education and associated research programmes.

“This new degree will look at food innovation, the science around processing and technology, and production systems,” Lincoln University senior lecturer in agribusiness management Nic Lees said.

“It will also include marketing and agribusiness management, so people come out with an understanding of the technical food aspects and issues, as well as food marketing and management skills.”

While Lincoln traditionally had strengths in its three Bachelor of Agriculture Science, Commerce (Agriculture), and Food Science courses, all of which had grown rapidly in recent years, the opportunity to offer a degree specifically focused to the agri-food industry outside the specific farm roles had been realised, he said.

“These traditional courses prepare people for farm management, rural financial, and technical roles, either directly onfarm or farm facing but a big chunk of agri-food business is not covered.”

The new degree would target students looking to enter the agribusiness sector but not necessarily wanting to work on a farm or own a farm, Lees said.

“We need to make these agri-food business careers more accessible for students. We (Lincoln) are very good at the production side but we need people who also understand the business and marketing of that.” . . .

This is a very good idea.

We’re very good at primary production and processing, we’re not as good as we need to be at adding value further along the food chain and marketing.

There is a gap in the qualification market which this degree could fill to the benefit of students, the university, producers, processors and the economy.

 


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. . .


Don’t walk away from 100% pure

August 24, 2013

Lincoln University Professor of Tourism, David Simmons, has warns the tourism sector that it cannot walk away from its current brand proposition of ‘100% Pure New Zealand’:

It is, however, the tourism sector’s opportunity to ‘walk the talk’ through measuring, managing and telling the story of its particular pathways to sustainability.  Given our decreasing global standing for environmental quality (especially on a per capita basis) it is time for all sectors and all New Zealanders to work together.

“A decade ago New Zealand was a global pioneer in environmental reporting for the tourism sector,” says Professor Simmons, who went on to cite leaders such as Kaikoura District Council, Auckland Airport, as well as others from the accommodation sector, such as the Langham (Auckland) and Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park; all of whom had achieved gold status on an international tourism certification scheme. 

When asked about the broad range of enviro-labels already in the tourism sector, Professor Simmons said his personal recommendation was for the ‘EarthCheck’ system because of its scientific credentials.

He urged the sector to work with the Australian based ‘EarthCheck’ to incorporate their global learnings to support New Zealand’s platform. 

He added that, while New Zealand had made a tentative start with Qualmark green, “this standard now needed a review to lift the sector’s performance and stay ahead of our competitors.” 

While there was much comment at the conference on the agricultural sector’s woes and the consequences for the tourism sector, Professor Simmons said that little would be achieved by throwing brickbats at them.  From his position at Lincoln University he was aware of the millions of dollars being spent on such things as irrigation refinements, and nutrient and waste management in an effort to boost production in a sustainable way. 

“We are all part of the single New Zealand brand,” he said, and urged the tourism sector to work cooperatively with all sectors; noting that “there is a real opportunity for the tourism sector to take a lead position in this space.”

How many advertising slogans are meant to be taken literally?

Is anything, anywhere 100% pure?

The 100% pure slogan refers to the country’s natural beauty and has been extended to other things such as 100% pure adventure.

It’s aspirational and plays on our strengths.

It doesn’t mean we get everything right nor that we shouldn’t be working hard for improvement where it’s needed.

But it’s still a slogan that works.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4MCY1BfM868


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 1, 2013

Waikato land likely to be better used now:

Lands owned by two Waikato tribes will be better used thanks to an agreement by the iwi and Lincoln University.

Ngati Koroki Kahukura and Ngati Haua have signed a memorandum of understanding with the tertiary educator.

The document outlines an agreement to create an agricultural training centre in Waikato and to explore a new farm certificate course.

Tribal spokesperson Willie Te Aho, who affiliates to both iwi, says the programme is intended for everyone – not just tangata whenua. . .

Bee Aware Month – Love Our Kiwi Bees:

August is Bee Aware Month and the National Beekeepers Association is urging the government to take the threat to bees much more seriously.

Bees account for over 5 billion dollars of New Zealand’s economy through the pollination of crops and honey exports.

But bees are under threat. All wild bees have been wiped out by the varroa mite which is also threatening the rest of our bees.

“The varroa mite is one of the biggest threats facing our Kiwi bees. It has spread throughout the country and we desperately need to contain this dangerous pest,” says NBA CEO Daniel Paul. . .

Wilding pines cleared from shores of Lake Pukaki:

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says the battle to preserve New Zealand’s natural heritage has taken a step forward, with 150 hectares of wilding trees cleared at the iconic Lake Pukaki.

Land Information New Zealand has completed an intensive 18 month eradication programme in an area between the western shoreline of the lake and State Highway 80.  It will enable the shoreline to return to its natural state.

“Wilding trees, including conifers such as lodgepole pine (pinus contorta), pose a significant threat to the environment by competing with native flora and fauna for sunlight and water.

“The Government is committed to minimising the impact of these trees by clearing them from Crown land and contributing to community programmes in areas such as Mid Dome, Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu,” Mr Williamson says. . .

Horticulture New Zealand elects new president:

Fruit and berry grower Julian Raine has been elected president of Horticulture New Zealand.

Julian is Nelson based and has 30 years’ experience in the industry. He takes over from Andrew Fenton who has been president since HortNZ’s inception in 2005.

Julian has extensive experience both in growing and wide – ranging roles in industry organisations.

“Julian has been a director of the New Zealand Boysenberry Council and Nelson Seasonal Employers Inc, is chair of the New Zealand Nuffield Farming Scholarship Trust and a trustee of the Massey Lincoln Agricultural Industry Trust,” says immediate past president Andrew Fenton. . .

Southland and Otago Dairy Awards Regions Merge:

The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will take place in 11 regions, including a merged Southland/Otago region.

National convenor Chris Keeping says organisers made the decision to merge the Southland and Otago regions in late July as it is believed that the merged region will be stronger, creating a better competition for entrants.

“The executive committee has deliberated on the future of the regions for some time, and came to its decision on the basis that it is most important that entrants are guaranteed a competition and the opportunity to compete in the national finals,” national convenor Chris Keeping says. . . .

Taste Farmers’ Markets Award Winners celebrate the real flavours of NZ:

This growing popularity of Farmers’ Markets is something being seen worldwide and for a host of reasons. The awareness of what’s in our food and growing demand for regional, unadulterated produce, climate concerns and the investment into local communities and resources, sustainable agriculture and community hubs are just a few of the influences causing Farmers’ Markets to flourish in New Zealand.

Farmers’ Markets New Zealand (FMNZ) celebrated the real heroes and champions of regional food production at the 2013 Taste Farmers Markets Awards. Localvore Chef Judge Jonny Schwass said “The produce we tasted was fresh, crisp, alive and nourishing. The vegetables, preserves, meats and cheeses are the real produce of Aotearoa” As a Chef and now father, his cooking is about the beauty of well-chosen ingredients and simply prepared food. For Jonny food is the only thing that enlightens all senses. He believes food elevates our mood. It makes us better people. Food is more than energy, food is life. . .

And in celebration of our wine industry:

Looks good!


Rural round-up

May 22, 2013

Farmers will have to change regardless - Hugh Stringleman:

Sustainability is an economic issue, not just an environmental one, and dairy farmers are going to have to change, willingly or unwillingly.

That advice is being given Paul Gilding, veteran Australian environmentalist and former head of Greenpeace, to meetings of New Zealand dairy farmers called by Fonterra Shareholders Council.

The Grow Your Mind series was conducted throughout dairying regions last week, not without protest from dairy farmers annoyed at a Greenpeace activist being given a platform by Fonterra, council chairman Ian Brown said. . .

Lincoln develops farm output:

Lincoln University has formed a new Farms Committee to oversee the development of the 3900ha of farmland owned and operated by the university.

Assistant vice-chancellor Stefanie Rixecker says the new committee will deliver improved outcomes from the university’s portfolio of farms and farming partnerships, as well as expanding the portfolio in the future.

“The Farms Committee has been established to help Lincoln University make the most of its farms for better student experience, for more and better scientific research on productivity and the environment and, perhaps most importantly of all, for an enhanced interface between the university and New Zealand’s farmers,” says Dr Rixecker. . .

Supplier gets standing ovation:

Feeding the supply chain with 2450 lambs in the 2011-2012 season helped Rimrock Hills on the Taihape – Napier Road become Supplier of the Year for Ovation New Zealand.

Ovation’s commercial manager Patrick Maher said, “Their selection was based on them achieving a score of 88.5 per cent mark for supplying on time and to market specification (this made up 50 per cent of the total score). 

“Further marks were achieved for volume of stock supplied and length/loyalty of supply. This gave them a total score of 89.25/100 – a fantastic result,” Patrick said. . .

More Staff to Strengthen Border Biosecurity:

Twelve new frontline border staff will help ensure New Zealand’s biosecurity defences stay strong, says the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The new staff will receive their quarantine inspector warrants at a ceremony today in Christchurch.

The graduation follows the warranting of 43 new inspectors in December and a recent announcement by Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy that MPI will recruit 30 new quarantine inspectors this year.

“The new inspectors and upcoming recruitment programme will ensure that the biosecurity frontline remains fully staffed and isn’t affected by normal resignations and retirement,” says Steve Gilbert, MPI Director, Border Clearance Services. . .

Wonderful journey just the beginning – Hugh Stringleman:

The 2013 ANZ Bank Young Farmer Grand Final followed the form book, with winner Tim van de Molen, from Waikato-Bay of Plenty, and second-placed Cam Brown, from Taranaki-Manawatu, being previous grand finalists in a contest where experience and endurance mean a great deal. Hugh Stringleman puts van de Molen’s win in context.

This year’s Young Farmer Contest champion Tim van de Molen was back at work the Monday after his competitive ordeal and triumph, as an agri-manager for ANZ Bank in Waikato.

With June 1 settlement date looming for many of his dairy farming clients, he needed to be back on deck for their rural banking requirements. . .

Rockburn Wines Win Gold Medal in the World’s Biggest Global Wine Competition Decanter World Wine Awards:

Rockburn Wines has been awarded a Gold medal in the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards for their 2011 – and was the only Central Otago producer to be awarded a Gold Medal in the competition.
Rockburn Pinot Noir, a wine already noted for its trophy success at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards last year.

The Central Otago winery has a history of winning gold medals, particularly for its Pinot Noir, at such competitions as the Air New Zealand Awards, the Sydney International Wine Competition and the International Wine and Spirit Competition and was most recently awarded Champion Open Red Wine for the Rockburn Pinot Noir 2011 at the 2012 Air New Zealand Wine Awards. . .


Rural round-up

April 30, 2013

New Lincoln Hub plans unveiled:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today unveiled concept plans for a world-class agricultural research and education facility to be sited at Lincoln, near Christchurch.

The Lincoln Hub concept plans and business proposal have been developed by a partnership of Lincoln University, DairyNZ and Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, and Landcare Research.

“The Lincoln Hub has the potential to transform New Zealand’s farming productivity by providing a one-stop shop allowing information and ideas to be shared more easily,” Mr Joyce says. “Internationally, science and innovation parks that collect together public and private organisations in one place drive a lot of education, science and innovation. The Lincoln Hub can achieve this for New Zealand farming.” . .

AgResearch capitalises its strengths to boost science:

A mammoth $100 million investment in AgResearch’s core science resource will help boost its potential to support exports from the primary industries in reaching $60 billion by 2025, on current policy settings.

“It is no secret that some of AgResearch’s physical scientific infrastructure is getting a bit creaky,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“It was a genuine pleasure to be at the unveiling of an impressive roadmap that will also see the “hubbing” of primary research capabilities at and with Lincoln University. . .

Meat Industry excellence Group campaign warms up - Allan Barber:

The MIE organised farmer meeting in Feilding on Friday was attended by about 700 farmers which one speaker from the floor compared unfavourably with 2000 at the Drought Shout. However there is obviously an increasing level of support for substantial change to the meat industry’s operating method which results in volatile market returns.

Alliance and Silver Fern Farms were both represented and the respective chairmen, Owen Poole and EoinGarden, spoke in support of the group’s aims. Poole told the meeting the industry was working constructively to develop an improved model which was simpler than MIE’s plan and it was important to ensure the two plans were complementary. . .

MPI’s loss is LIC’s gain but Primary still comes out on top:

The resignation of Wayne McNee, Ministry for Primary Industries Director-General, to take up the position of Chief Executive at Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), will still see this talented person working in and for New Zealand’s primary industries.

“This role shows the versatility of Wayne who has performed to a very high standard with the public service and now departs for a high profile leadership role in a company important to New Zealand agriculture,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers.

“Wayne has put the Ministry on the right path for farmers following the merger of the old MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries. I feel disappointed in one regard because he leaves it, just when we are starting to see the fruits of his work appear in this new and dynamic Ministry. . .

Budget 2012; support for frontline conservation work:

An additional $20 million over four years has been allocated to the Department of Conservation in Budget 2013 to provide for additional frontline roles and the upgrade of recreational facilities, Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced today.

“The four year funding package complements the Government’s recently announced tourism investment. It recognises that DOC is the Government’s primary agency responsible for providing infrastructure, visitor services and nature-based experiences that support the tourism industry,” Dr Smith says. . .

Innovative Dairy Companies Form Partnership to Boost Exports:

Two of New Zealand’s most innovative dairy companies are forming a partnership to boost exports to one of the world’s fastest growing consumer markets.

Synlait Milk will next month despatch the first consignment of a2® Platinum™ infant formula destined for mothers and infants in China. a2 milk™ contains only the A2 version of the beta casein protein which is more comparable to protein that mothers naturally produce than other versions of the beta casein protein found in standard milk.

Synlait Milk will be processing a2 milk™ from 10 suppliers from August this year and will further expand production to meet the requirements of A2 Corporation when a2® Platinum™ infant formula becomes available to mothers in New Zealand and Australia later this year. . .

Brancott Estate Celebrates the End of a “Sensational” Vintage:

Vineyard beats the weather to harvest pristine, flavoursome fruit

Early predictions of an outstanding vintage have proven true for Brancott Estate, the pioneers of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, who have successfully completed harvest ahead of autumn rain, and with fruit that bears all the characteristics of the region.

“The season has been so dry until now and this has delivered a sensational vintage for Marlborough” says Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker for Brancott Estate. “While we’ve enjoyed the sunshine, it hasn’t been a particularly warm season, tracking around the long-term average in terms of Growing Degree Days. This, combined with the lack of rain, is a real positive for vineyards. The dry conditions mean pristine fruit development and allow us to make harvest decisions based on optimal flavour development, while the relatively cool temperatures ensure the aromatic expression and balance of natural acidity that has made Marlborough famous.” . .


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