Rural round-up

New tool to test sheep meat quality:

An international project testing the eating quality of sheep meat using DNA measurements will enter its final stage next year, with the tool developed set to be tested on commercial flocks in New Zealand.

In September last year, a sheep genotyping tool known as a SNP (snip) chip was created by an international team of scientists as part of the FarmIQ genetics project.

John McEwan, one of the project’s leaders and AgResearch principal scientist, says the chip measures hundred of thousands of DNA variances and allows a sheep’s performance to be predicted by testing its DNA, rather than extensive progeny testing being needed.

“We take an ear punch out of the sheep – just a very small piece of tissue about three millimetres in diameter – and we extract the DNA out of that from the sheep. Then we place that DNA on this slide or chip and develop it with a set of chemicals and the DNA variance appears as different colours.” . .

Farmer contracts not taxing water-take:

Contracts signed so far to take water from Hawke’s Bay’s Ruataniwha dam and irrigation project added up to only about 13 percent of the commitment needed to make the scheme commercially feasible.

But the company running the project says farmers representing more than half of the minimum water-take required have made the decision to join the scheme and have asked for contracts.

The figures are in a report that the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment company presented to the council today.

The company has until the end of March next year to decide whether the dam and irrigation project in the Tukituki River catchment will have enough backing to proceed. That includes having enough farmers signed up to take a minimum of 40 million cubic metres of water a year. . .

Ngai Tahu launches farming diploma:

Ngai Tahu has launched a new Maori Farming Diploma which it hopes will produce the country’s future leaders in agriculture.

Whenua Kura is a partnership between Te Tapuae o Rehua, Ngai Tahu Farming and Lincoln University.

The diploma course is the first of its kind where students will study in a Maori environment and learn how to apply critical Ngai Tahu values such kaitiakitanga (guardianship), manaakitanga (hospitality) and rangatiratanga (self-determination) to land use. . .

It’s always Christmas for farmers – Vincent H. Smith:

It is Christmas time once again and in my part of the world, southwestern Montana, the snow has arrived and will be with us until early March.  Most nights the temperature will fall well below 20 degrees Fahrenheit; some days the thermometer won’t rise above zero.

That’s winter time in the Northern Great Plains and the eastern Rocky Mountains, where cabin fever is a real phenomenon and ranching becomes truly hard work. In this world, cattle can be inconvenient. They need water and calories in places where they can feed and drink, and cows often calve on bitterly cold February and early March nights.

Ranching is also risky in the winter time; herds can be decimated by blizzards and what seem like mile high snow drifts. And ranchers, on the whole, are genuine risk taking entrepreneurs who, for the most part, neither seek nor receive substantial federal bailouts. Most of them also know that country of origin labelling is a bad economic idea that has reduced the prices they are paid by meatpackers and feedlots. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, for example, has recently argued that the US should “reform” and essentially terminate that program rather than appeal a recent WTO finding that the program violates US WTO commitments. . .

A new standard for labelling of export infant formula:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today issued a new standard to clarify the labelling requirements for exports of infant formula.

“The standard has been developed as part of the infant formula market assurance programme announced by the Government in June 2013,” said Scott Gallacher, MPI Deputy Director-General, Regulation and Assurance.

“It is the first of a set of technical regulatory changes that will be introduced progressively over the next six months to further strengthen our assurance system for exports of infant formula products.

“MPI consulted on the new standard during July and August. The new standard clarifies the information that must be on labels of infant formula intended for export, and information or representations that are restricted or prohibited on these products. . .

New labelling standard for infant formula:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has today welcomed a new standard under the Animal Products Act that clarifies the labelling requirements for infant formula exports.

“Currently all export dairy products are exempt from New Zealand’s food labelling standards, they instead meet labelling requirements of the importing country,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“Infant formula is a special product. For this reason, the Ministry has put in place this new standard, which applies regardless of where the infant formula is being sent. This will ensure exporters know what information must be on labels, and what information and images are prohibited.  . .

20 years of selling semen and nothing’s a problem:

Te Aroha local, born and bred, Butch Coombe celebrates 20 years working with CRV Ambreed as a field consultant.

Starting out part-time to supplement the income on his 110-acre farm, his sales patch grew and grew and enabled him to buy extra things for farm like a new four-wheeler with his ‘top up earnings.’ When his area grew to the point where it could support his family, he decided to sell the farm and join CRV Ambreed full-time.

It was a big move for Coombe and his wife Heather, who had been farming their whole married life – some 30 years – but he was pleased not to have to leave the industry or cattle completely. . .

 

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