Rural round-up

Farming editor wins premier award

Dominion Post farming editor Jon Morgan is this year’s Landcorp Agricultural Communicator of the Year.

He was selected ahead of five other nominees from throughout the agriculture sector and was presented with the award at a dinner in Hamilton last night.

Morgan has worked as a reporter or sub-editor for 45 years on newspapers in New Zealand and Australia. He joined The Dominion in 1988 as a news editor and has been farming editor of The Dominion and then the Dominion Post for the past 10 years.

This is a well desered win for a journalist whose writing does a lot to bridge the rural-urban divide.

Winners accentuate the positive – Jon Morgan:

When Gisborne sheep and beef farmers’ son Richard Greaves met Manawatu dairy farmers’ daughter Joanna Olsen at university, they agreed on two goals in life. They wanted to own a farm and they wanted four children.

Twelve years later, they can tick off one of them: three girls and a boy aged under six race around their home.

The second aim is in sight too. They expect to have $3 million of equity within seven years, enough to buy an 800-cow farm.

Amazingly, the couple, who sharemilk at Sherwood in Central Hawke’s Bay, have been in dairying just four years.

5 -year project roaring success – Sally rae:

When Shane and Leona Trimble bought a Hampden sheep and beef farm five years ago, they could see the potential for a deer conversion.

Shifting to North Otago was a big move for the couple and their children,who previously lived at Haldon Station – a vast, isolated property in the Mackenzie Basin . . .

Pick me! Pick me! :

Central Otago apple growers are vying for their produce to be eaten by the Australian Prime Minister if New Zealand Prime Minster John Key wins a bet he made earlier this week on the Rugby World Cup.

Mr Key became the first New Zealand leader to address the Australian Federal Parliament in Australia on Monday and afterwards propositioned Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard with a bet which could see the loser eating an apple produced in the winning country . . .

Contest involves a lot of prep

Winton sheep stud farm stock manager HAYDEN PETER talks about the countdown to the final of the Young Farmer Contest, just over a week away.

The days appear to be flashing past much faster now. After the regional final it seemed like the final was ages away but, in a week, I’ll be in Masterton. And that’s when the really pressure comes on.

The challenge isn’t just to turn up on the day, having done some study and hoping for the best for the final. And there’s not just the study and preparation, I’ve also had to submit work in advance . . .

Applause, another record falls

It is seldom that the public claps a sale of store sheep but that is what happened at Stortford Lodge last week when a capital stock line of 384 2-tooth ewes, SIL163%, were knocked down at $310.
The same vendors (story and picture on P11) received $225 twice for their 5-year lines and some mixed age fetched $222, PGG Wrightson livestock manager Vern Wiggins said. . .

Overseas buy-up of South Island farms

If New Zealand was to stop foreign investment into its farm land then the agricultural sector would have to up its performance to attract on shore capital or be prepared for poor returns and the major sector of the economy underperforming.

Before making a decision on whether foreign investment in New Zealand agricultural land was good, consideration should be given as to whether it was needed, head of agribusiness BNZ Partners Richard Bowman cautioned.

In recent months foreign investment had been relatively rampant with German investment funds spending a further $14 million buying two Southland farms with another $4 million tagged for on-farm capital investment.

Growers toil to yield the good oil – Peter Watson:

Ed Scott is in manic mode.

Plastic crates of freshly picked olives are stacking up outside his press and require his attention. He jumps off his tractor and hurries in to check how processing is going, emerging a few minutes later with his moustache stained from the virgin oil he has just sampled.

He was up until 1am feeding the latest lot of fruit through, and faces another long day as the mechanical harvester shakes off tonnes more from his 4500-tree grove near Neudorf. With an expected crop of 40 to 50 tonnes – almost double last year’s total – he will be flat out processing the harvest until the end of this week . . .

Little asparagus crop to spare – Jill Galloway:

Asparagus plantings in New Zealand almost need to double to meet the demand, says George Turney, a grower at Mangaweka in Rangitikei.

Chairman of the Asparagus Council, he grows 160 hectares of the crop in the Kawhatau Valley and is a keen supporter of the vegetable.

“There’s a crisis in the industry. There is not enough product for export, local market and processing.”

The asparagus crop was 600 hectares at present, but needed to grow to about 1000 hectares to meet demand, he said. . .

If we could talk to the animals :

 It is 250 years since veterinary education began in Lyon, France. JILL GALLOWAY talks to the head of Massey University’s vet school about 2011, the Year of Veterinary Science.

Animal science and human medicine will link more closely in future, predicts Massey University’s head of the Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Frazer Allan.

When veterinary science began in 1761, “it was originally set up to look at diseases of livestock, such as rinderpest, a cattle plague, and a lot has happened since then.” . . .

Crafar’s strike deal with receivers – Andrea Fox:

Crafar farms patriarch Allan Crafar says his family has reached an agreement with receivers that “clears the air” and allows family members to stay in their Reporoa homes for now.

Crafar said the deal would allow the family to start “organising the  finance … to redeem the debt.” 

He declined to discuss the details.

The family’s nearly 8000ha dairy farming estate across the Central North Island was put into receivership by banks and financiers nearly two years ago, owing around $200 million.

Crafar said redeeming the debt did not mean buying back the farms, but paying off the debt. . .

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