Rural round-up

September 17, 2014

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Outlines Priorities Ahead of General Election:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has outlined what it sees as the policy priorities for the incoming government.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons says the policy manifesto covers a range of issues that will support a confident and profitable sheep and beef sector.

“The red meat sector is hugely important to the New Zealand economy – worth $8.5 billion a year, so it’s critical that the incoming government is aware of the issues that affect our sheep and beef farmers,” Parsons said.

“Our first priority is securing investment in research and development that will increase farm productivity and continue adding value to our sheepmeat and beef products. . . .

 

It all depends on China – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand agribusiness, led by dairy, has hit a rough spot. Some will see this as confirmation that dependence on China involves big risks. More important, is the need to recognise that China is also the solution.

Chinese demand for dairy products in particular has grown so rapidly that it was inevitable there would be speed wobbles. With hindsight, we can see that it was the New Zealand drought of autumn 2013, combined with increasing Chinese demand, that led to shortages of milk products in Chinese supermarkets during late 2013. The Chinese importers then over-reacted, and purchased heavily during our summer months. Increased autumn production in the current year has then coincided with Chinese inventories already fully replenished. . .

Water quality rules ‘work in progress’:

The national water industry body says rules on water quality are not set in concrete and will develop further.

New national fresh water standards which, for the first time, set minimum quality requirements for rivers, lakes and aquifers were announced earlier in the year.

Water New Zealand is holding its annual conference in Hamilton from today. Chief executive Murray Gibb said the rules are a work in progress and would be reviewed in 2016.

“There’s been debate as to whether or not it’s sufficiently tight and there’s been a lot of debate over whether or not the corner-stone policy that it imposes a requirement on councils to maintain and improve overall water quality within their regions might lead to declining water quality in some water bodies. . . .

Make a fuss of scheme:

    The prime minister was in Ashburton last Thursday. He then visited Timaru to wander up and down the main street, talking to voters.

A slight detour between those two destinations would have taken him to the seven massive ponds that are the Rangitata South Irrigation Scheme, at the very time they were being filled to capacity for the first time.

It would have been a great photo op for the prime minister, and a fitting tribute to the scheme’s backers, to have the PM officially “open” the out-of-river storage project.

Maybe such a function is planned but chances are it’s not. And that’s not a snub to the prime minister, but a reflection more of the personality of the man behind the scheme, Gary Rooney.

He’s a doer, not a talker. He doesn’t go looking for pats on the back.

Where the Herald had plenty of coverage of the Opuha Dam as it was being built in the 1990s, with this project it has been like drawing teeth to get updates.

It’s not that Rooney and his workers were being obstructive, they just did not see the need to speak to the media. They were too busy building the thing.

But if he’s not going to blow his trumpet on the project, we will. . .

Generations of shearing in Brett’s family blood – Sally Rae:

Brett Roberts was destined to a shearer.

Not only does his grandfather, Cliff Waihape, have a shearing contracting business based in Mataura, but four of his uncles, Chad, Chop, Cliff jun and Cody, are also shearers.

”Our family, it’s in our blood,” he said.

Mr Roberts (20) started shearing at a young age, while still at school in Menzies College, Wyndham, with his family members showing him the ropes. . .

 

Southland swede group underway:

A cross-sector industry-led working group is coming together to co-ordinate research and advice to farmers following an issue with swedes affecting dairy cattle this season.

Across Southland, there has been a number of cases of cows becoming ill, and in some cases dying, while (or shortly after) grazing on swede crops.

A joint working group with representatives from a range of sector groups will be chaired by industry body DairyNZ and meet for the first time on Wednesday September 17. The group includes representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. It will also bring in specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science.
DairyNZ has already sent an email survey to more than 2,600 Southland and South Otago farmers seeking information on whether they have been affected by the issue. It has also been advising farmers to be vigilant if their cows are feeding on swede. . .

 

New appointments at Dairy Women’s Network:

As Dairy Women’s Network grows from strength to strength, so too does its number of professionals grow.

The organisation has most recently acquired an events manager in Kym Gibson of Hamilton and a third regional convenor coordinator in Megan Edmeades of Manawaru (near Te Aroha).

Creating environments and experiences that resonate is a passion for Gibson, and something she is looking forward to fulfilling at the organisation’s 30-plus annual events.

Learning more about the “diverse and dynamic” organisation that is DWN is Gibson’s first challenge in the role, which she started in earlier this month. . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

September 10, 2014

Freshwater Fund for Wetlands?

Federated Farmers have been working with DairyNZ to analyse the $100m freshwater fund policy, recently announced by the National Party. The outcome was very positive with both parties agreeing the fund could deliver improved water quality around New Zealand.

Federated Farmers believe NZ Landcare Trust and Queen Elizabeth II National Trust could both play a key role in delivering the new fund.

“The Fund to retire farmland would be perhaps better interpreted as a policy to create on-farm wetlands. Instead of looking at this as a linear purchase of land, or trying to recreate MAF’s old farm advisory division, think more along the lines of NIWA’s guidelines for constructed wetlands,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson and Member of NZ Landcare Trust Board of Trustees.

It is estimated a fund of $10 million a year could purchase at least 286 hectares. Using NIWA guidelines and if turned into strategically located wetlands, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers believe it could remove 60-70 percent of Nitrogen from around 9,500 hectares of farmland. . .

Thorny question of wool levy benefits - Allan Barber:

Sheep farmers have the chance to vote for or against a compulsory levy under the Commodity Levies Act (CLA) in October. The Wool Levy Group’s proposal indicates a levy of 3 cents a kilo which would raise $4.7 million to be spent on a combination of education, communication, advocacy, R&D and administration. This is either too much, far too little or a worthwhile beginning which depends on your point of view.

 In this week’s Farmers Weekly Ruth Richardson argues very strongly against wasting any more farmer money on a compulsory levy, citing quite justifiably the enormous waste of funds both by the Wool Board and on its subsequent disestablishment. On the opposite side of the fence sit the Wool Levy Group and its supporters. . .

Referendum on wool levy seen as hope for industry -

A referendum seeking to reintroduce a wool levy gives some hope for a remedy in a stagnant, dysfunctional industry, Lindis Pass farmer Russell Emmerson believes.

A referendum is being held in October, when farmers will be asked to approve a levy of between 2c and 5c for each kilogram of greasy or slipe wool at the first point of sale.

That equated to $4.6 million at 3c a kg for 154,000 tonnes of wool annually, if the 17,000 farmers eligible to vote agreed. . . .

Record avocado crop a challenge:

The new avocado export season is underway and the industry is bracing itself for the challenges of selling a record crop.

The harvest this season is forecast to top seven million trays, of which almost five million are expected to be exported.

New Zealand’s previous biggest avocado crop was 6.2 million trays in 2011-12. Last season, about three million trays were exported from a medium sized harvest.

The country’s largest grower group, AVOCO, is responsible for 65 percent of production and said a record crop would test the industry and its ability to manage the fruit. . .

Nominations for Hayward Medal:

NOMINATIONS ARE open for the kiwifruit industry’s Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal.

The award last year went to ex-chair of the New Zealand Kiwifruit Marketing Board, John Palmer, for his efforts to bring the kiwifruit industry through the fiscal crisis in the early 1990s.

The judging panel awarded Plant & Food Research plant breeder, Russell Lowe the inaugural award in 2012 for developing and helping commercialise the Gold kiwifruit variety Hort16A, adding over $3 billion to the industry and New Zealand. . . .

Barker’s Success Spreads with Four More Award Nominations:

Barker’s of Geraldine has been chosen as a finalist for four of its products across three categories in the 2014 New Zealand Food Awards.

The maker of New Zealand’s favourite preserves has been nominated in the “beverage” category for its special edition Mountain Moonshine. It also has been named twice in the “dry” category for Anathoth Farm’s jams & curds (for its Lemon Curd and Quince Conserve) and Anathoth Farm’s chutneys & relishes (for its Sweet Chilli Relish and Garden Chow Chow). Anathoth Farm joined the Barker’s family in 2007.

It has also been nominated in the “novel ingredients” category for BreadshotsTM an innovative flavour mix for bread bakers. . .


Rural round-up

September 8, 2014

Ballance Farm Environment Awards Show Farmers Care:

Bay of Plenty dairy farmer Trevor Hamilton entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards because he had a point to prove.

Trevor and his wife Harriet run a large-scale family business that spans ten farms – five in Canterbury, four in Bay of Plenty and one in Hawke’s Bay. The operation is on track to produce three million kilograms of Milksolids this season, with four million targeted for 2015/16.

Starting from scratch as a sharemilker in 1980, Trevor says his aim is to create an intergenerational dairy farming business. But he is acutely aware that the scale of the operation opens it up to claims that its growth has come at the expense of the environment.

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards gave him the opportunity to prove this wasn’t the case. . . .

NZ possum hits fashion catwalk –  Sally Rae:

With apologies to Dame Edna, it’s Goodbye Possums.

New Zealand’s possum fur industry is estimated to be worth $130 million annually to the country’s economy.

Perino, a blend of possum fur and cashmere or merino yarn, recently featured on the catwalk in garments from the latest collections from Zambesi and The Noble Savage. . .

Lavender: The sweet smell of success - Sally Rae:

Two novice lavender growers from Central Otago nearly stole the show at this year’s New Zealand Lavender Growers Association awards.

In the oil competition, Joth Hankinson and Tony Culshaw, from Central Otago Produce, won two of the three trophies on offer – the Eoin Johnson Memorial Trophy for best lavandin oil, and the Ken Wilson Memorial Trophy, for best grosso.

Two particular types of lavender were grown commercially for oil – angustifolia or English lavender, and intermedia lavender – also called lavandin – a hybrid cross between an angustifolia and a latafolia, which grows in the wild at higher altitudes in the Mediterranean. . .

Drone big success on and off the farm - Rob Tipa:

A Southland family pioneering the use of drones on New Zealand farms believes there is a massive gap between the science, research and technology available today and its application on farms.

Neil Gardyne and his 14-yearold son Mark made television and news headlines internationally last year when they started flying drones over their 466ha hillcountry farms in the Otama Valley in Eastern Southland.

Instead of climbing on a quad bike twice a day to check on hogget lambing, the Gardynes programmed a drone to cover the same ground from the air. What took them two hours on a bike opening and closing 120 farm gates, took 20 minutes flight time for the drone. . .

No growth benefits shown with docking - Sally Brooker:

Docking lambs’ tails has no long-term beneficial or detrimental effect on lamb growth rates from docking to slaughter, a new study has found.

Alliance Group Ltd, one of New Zealand’s largest meat processing companies, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund commissioned the research after farmers wondered if leaving tails intact improved lamb growth rates from docking to slaughter and British retailers had started asking about tail length.

AbacusBio consultant Jo Kerslake presented the results at a Beef and Lamb field day in South Canterbury last week. . . .

 Rustling must be stopped – but how?  – Jon Morgan:

    I suppose running sheep in a park in central Auckland is asking for trouble. The temptation of a week’s meals there for the taking is too much to expect the big city’s criminal element to ignore.

In the latest of a string of incidents, rustlers using dogs and traps targeted the 600-ewe flock in Cornwall Park.

Members of the public disturbed three men and three large dogs capturing new-born lambs. And last month rustlers stole at least six sheep – including two pregnant ewes and a large ram – from the park’s farm.

A heavily pregnant ewe was caught in a leg-hold trap but spotted by a member of the public before it could be taken.

Another ewe that was due to give birth to triplets disappeared two days earlier and three more ewes and a 110kg ram were taken a few months earlier. . .


Rural round-up

September 2, 2014

Farming app in running for award – Phillipa Webb:

A Manawatu-developed smartphone app could see dairy farmers spending more time on smartphones and less time in paddocks.

The Grass2Milk app developed by the OneFarm Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management – a joint venture by Massey and Lincoln universities – was shortlisted in the environmental category of the 2014 World Summit Award mobile competition.

Massey University agri-business student Hamish Hammond helped to test the app, which allowed farmers to see whether herds were fed enough to reach daily milk and body condition targets to plan feed allocations for the day.

“Most farmers would be really intuitive when it comes to feeding, but they could use [the app] as a gauge.” . . .

China deal factor in Fonterra’s lower credit rating – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s credit rating has taken a hit following the announcement of its proposed partnership with a Chinese infant food manufacturer.

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s has lowered the dairy co-operative’s long-term rating from A+ to A and affirmed its short-term rating of A-1.

Last week, Fonterra said it was forming a global partnership with Beingmate to help meet China’s growing demand for infant formula.

Fonterra’s proposed sizable shareholding in a commercial company operating in China indicated a financial risk appetite that was ”more aggressive” than Standard and Poor’s had factored into the previous rating, credit analyst Brenda Wardlaw said in a statement. . . .

Teasing out the beta-casein evidence – Keith Woodford:

In last week’s column I advocated that the mainstream dairy industry should convert New Zealand herds away from the production of A1 beta-casein. To not do so creates unnecessary long term risk to the industry. However, the mainstream industry remains locked into a defensive position.

In this article I will therefore briefly review some of the major strands of health evidence. I cannot cover it all – it took me a whole book to do so back in 2007. Since then, there has been a lot more evidence forthcoming.

In assessing the evidence, it is helpful to recognise that A1 beta-casein is the consequence of a historical mutation. Goats, sheep camels, buffalo, Asian cattle and humans produce beta-casein that is totally of the A2 type. It is only cows of European ancestry which produce A1 beta-casein. . .

Allied Farmers back in black as livestock unit grows – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Allied Farmers, which is rebuilding from a disastrous takeover of the Hanover and United Finance loan books, returned to profit as its core livestock unit lifted income with gains in Taranaki and Waikato.

The Hawera-based company reported a profit of $1.03 million, or 1.03 cents per share, in the 12 months ended June 30, turning around a loss of $1.12 million, or 2.94 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. Revenue in the slimmed down entity shrank 38 percent to $16.9 million.

“The focus for the coming year will be to continue to grow the livestock business and to leverage off the client relationships and trust that exists with those clients to provide value for money services,” chairman Garry Bluett said. “The effect of the reduced dairy payout is likely to have some uncertain impact on dairy livestock sales going forward and the continuing high dollar is already having some impact on meat exports at the early stage of this season.” . . .

 New Zealand firm creates health focused flavoured milk; export potential:

Christchurch-based New Zealand Dairy Brands believes it is a world leader in its sector in the production of health products with the launch of its highly innovative Go Milk flavoured milks.

The range has no added sugar, a low GI (glycaemic loading) and is low fat, making it suitable for diabetics and excellent in the fight against obesity. The product was a recent finalist in the NZIFST awards in the product innovation category.

Just released on New World and Pak n Save supermarket shelves in New Zealand, a trial export shipment of Go Milk has already been sent to China and the product is destined for the Australian market also. . . .

 Compass points new crop direction – Gregor Heard:

RESEARCHERS are excited about the prospects of a new barley variety set to be commercialised next year.

Speaking at a trial walk at last week’s Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) grower update in Horsham, Birchip Cropping Group research agronomist Simon Craig said the Compass variety, developed by the University of Adelaide research team and commercialised by Seednet, showed outstanding promise.

“It looks to have a very good fit right across a range of low to medium rainfall zones.” . . .


Rural round-up

August 25, 2014

Key skill is the attitude – Bryan Gibson:

I had the chance last week to spend an afternoon at the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre in Masterton during a visit by Prime Minister John Key.

He spent more than an hour talking to staff and students and saw them at work milking, measuring pasture, washing down quad bikes and fencing. . .

Stint as ocean-going shepherd an eye-opener – Sally Rae:

When Fred Ellis boarded a ship at Port Chalmers in 1957 in charge of a consignment of stud sheep bound for Brazil, he was ”dead scared”.

His only previous sea experience was crossing Cook Strait on the Wellington-Lyttelton ferry in his school holidays.

Now in his 80s and retired in Inglewood, Taranaki, Mr Ellis contacted the Otago Daily Times after watching a recent Country Calendar episode which featured Central Otago.

It reminded him of his own exploits 57 years ago and he wondered where the sheep came from and how many subsequent exports of sheep to South America there had been. . . .

They don’t come here for fun – Alan Williams:

New Zealanders need to respect the reasons for migrant workers coming to this country to work, Waimate resource centre manager Steve Napper says.

Most of those he speaks to haven’t come just for the Kiwi way of life.

“They come from areas of the world with much greater deprivation than we experience and so come to earn a decent wage so they can support their families back home,” he said.

“That they come here to support their families instead of living large is to be admired.” . . .

Couple thrilled with move north - Sally Rae:

Dairying is likely be a regular topic of discussion in the Duffy household.

Husband and wife Mark and Sue Duffy work for artificial breeding company CRV Ambreed, which has a core business of dairy semen production and sales.

Mr Duffy is sales and services manager for the South Island, managing about 20 full-time staff, while Mrs Duffy is the regional sales and services manager, covering the area from Rakaia to Invercargill. . .

Alpaca breeders forming owners’ group - Sally Rae:

Interested in alpacas?

Southern alpaca breeders Brenda and Stewart McLean, of Windermere Alpacas, and Gordon Baird, of Waiwera Alpacas, have formed an Otago-Southland alpaca owners’ group.

The aim of the new group was to share information and help new and interested alpaca owners, following an increasing number of inquiries to breeders about basic alpaca care, from health and welfare through to feeding and shearing.

Mr Baird, from Waiwera South, in South Otago, first became interested in alpacas in the mid-1990s. . .

Winegrowers see growth through value:

Future wine industry growth will largely come from increased value, rather than from planting more vineyards, New Zealand Winegrowers chair Steve Green says.

The industry exports more than $1 billion worth of product and has set a target of nearly doubling that within two years.

It has confirmed a record grape harvest this year of 445,000 tonnes, up about 60,000 tonnes on last year. . .


Rural round-up

August 19, 2014

Global grain prices in free-fall – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote how the OECD and FAO secretariats expect many agricultural prices to drop in real terms over the next ten years as supply ramps up across the world. This is particularly the case for staple crops such as wheat, corn and soybeans. However, in the last ten days it has become increasingly apparent that major price decreases are playing out right now in front of us. With the early Northern Hemisphere harvest reports for wheat now coming through, with increasingly positive pre-harvest reports for both corn and soybean, and with existing high global stocks, the prices have all been tumbling.

The first place to look when considering international grain prices is the USA. The USA is by far the most technologically advanced cereal growing country in the world, and has huge global influence. . .

Insights from Canada water trip – Sally Rae:

When Waitaki Irrigators Collective policy manager Elizabeth Soal headed to Canada recently, she wanted to learn more about how water issues were managed, given that nation’s similarities with New Zealand.

There were similar legal systems, similar amounts of water per capita and challenges similar to those in New Zealand, including rising pressure around intensification and urbanisation putting pressure on the resource.

While she did not return with all the answers she was looking for, which she acknowledged was to be expected – ”water issues are complex and hard to solve, nowhere in the world has solved it perfectly” – she described it as an ”incredible experience”. . .

Growsafe looking to rise to the challenge - Yvonne O’Hara:

If relevant regulations and improved training requirements are introduced for agrichemical users as a result of the new Health and Safety at Work Act, it is likely Growsafe will rise to the challenge.

Growsafe provides basic and advanced training in the use of agrichemicals and is run by the New Zealand Agrichemical Trust.

Growsafe chairman Graeme Peters said the Government, as part of the new health and safety requirements, might consider removing the approved handler regime and replacing it with an Australian model that tailored training to suit the need, rather than the present ”one size fits all” regime. . .

Changing guard at ‘Lake Cowal’ – Peter Austin:

WHEN Leppington Pastoral Company took possession of the “Lake Cowal” property adjoining its Billabong Station at Marsden earlier this month, history to some degree repeated itself.

It was precisely 80 years ago that an earlier resident of Billabong Station had crossed the Bland Creek that forms the boundary between the two properties to make a new home on “Lake Cowal”.

That earlier 1934 migrant was Herbert (“Bert”) Dent, who had managed “Billabong” since 1924 for the Ricketson and (later) Sanderson families before taking the plunge and setting up on his own. . . .

Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award entries open:

Entries are now open for the Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award 2014, which will be presented at the NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists annual awards dinner in Wellington on 17 October.

The Rural Women NZ award encourages journalists to report on the achievements of women living and working in rural communities.

It’s a strategy that’s paid off, says Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan.

“Last year the Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award was one of the most popular categories.” . . .

Entries open for 2014 Air New Zealand Wine Awards:

Entries are open for the 2014 Air New Zealand Wine Awards.
Now in its 39th year, the Awards are a celebration of excellence in New Zealand winemaking and is widely considered to be the country’s most prestigious wine competition.

“Our industry is known for its commitment to quality, innovation and exceptional wines. The Air New Zealand Wine Awards is a fitting showcase for this,” says New Zealand Winegrowers’ Global Marketing Director, Chris Yorke. . .


Rural round-up

August 11, 2014

Aim to raise sheep, beef farming profit – Sally Rae:

Graham Alder wants to help improve the profitability of sheep and beef farming.

Mr Alder was appointed general manager of Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics earlier this year, after a successful vote at Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s annual meeting to combine the organisation’s genetics investments.

The new entity draws together Sheep Improvement Ltd, the Beef and Lamb New Zealand central progeny test and Ovita, with added investment in beef genetics, and was created with the aid of government funds. . .

South to the fore at awards – Sally Rae,

AbacusBio managing director Neville Jopson has been acknowledged for his contribution to New Zealand’s sheep industry.

Dr Jopson received the sheep industry science award at the recent Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in Napier.

His ability to provide sound advice from both a scientific and commercial perspective was the critical reason for his receiving the award, a citation said.

His involvement and leadership in animal production had been instrumental in many of the sector’s recent technological developments. . .

New modelling steers towards better N responses:

PASTURE RESPONSE to nitrogen fertiliser will this spring be predictable more accurately by a new computer model unveiled by Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

The model is the first product of Ballance’s $19.5 million, seven-year Clearview Innovations Primary Growth Partnership project jointly funded by MPI.

Dubbed N-Guru, the decision support software was designed in partnership with AgResearch to improve the efficiency of nitrogen use on pastoral farms. . .

Victorian community yarn bombs its towns in a display of wool pride  – Danielle Grindlay:

When Southern Grampians Shire Council (SGSC) announced it was going to re-brand and ditch its ‘wool capital of the world’ slogan, the community revolted.

The slogan was representative of a region ‘built on the sheep’s back’ and a campaign was launched to save it.

Thousands of stickers sporting the wool capital catchcry were printed and plastered on cars, shop windows and town poles.

However $75,000 was spent promoting the new ‘Hamilton – One Place, Many possibilities’ slogan, which pointed to the business, education, service and employment prospects in SGSC. . .

False ‘NZ made’ claims for merino, alpaca:

THE HIGH Court has rejected an appeal by four companies and four individuals who were convicted and fined $601,900 for selling visiting Asian tourists imported alpaca goods as “Made in New Zealand”, and making claims that duvets were 100% alpaca or merino wool when they were not.

In September 2013 the four companies and four directors pleaded guilty in the District Court at Rotorua and were convicted and fined a total of $601,900 for breaches of the Fair Trading Act. . .

Heard the yarn all about a building made from wool? – Matt Oliver:

SOME might see this as a wooly-brained idea for closure-threatened Temple Cowley Pools.

But Oxford Brookes University architecture student Will Field has won a top award for his plan to replace the pools with a building made out of wool.

Areas of knitting can be dipped in resin and set into a chosen shape by placing them over a frame.

After being left to set, the 19-year-old said it could then be removed from the frame and left at the city site for all to enjoy. . .

"The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty."


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