Rural round-up

‘We’d better off if we had it’ – Sally Rae:

Southland farmer John Young reckons he would be in a better position if his cattle had Mycoplasma bovis.

With a contract for 1000 calves cancelled by Ngai Tahu Farming, he described himself as a ”by-product” of the disease saying there was no recognition for those in similar situations.

Left short of feed and likely to take a massive financial hit, he was perplexed by the iwi’s motivation as he felt he had done everything to mitigate any concerns.

”We’d be better off if we had it. We would know where we’re at [and could] set a plan and work around it. It would be acknowledged we had it, we’d be compensated. The way we are at the moment, we don’t know where we stand,” he said. . . 

Farmer provides positive advice on coping – Sally Rae:

Argentinian-born Leo Bensegues came to New Zealand with only $700 and the desire for a good life.

Fast forward 16 and a-half years and he has a wife, Maite, and a family and his own business, sharemilking at Morven in the Waimate district.

Last August, that good life was interrupted by confirmation there was Mycoplasma bovis in the couple’s herd.

Their 950 cows and 222 young stock were one of the first herds to be culled, although they had 200 heifers which had not been affected by the disease.

Yesterday, Mr Bensegues declined to talk about how he felt seeing those animals dispatched to slaughter, saying that was ”in the past” and they had to focus on the future.

They were starting over again and he had a message for other farmers affected by this week’s announcement of a massive cull of animals in a bid to eradicate the disease.

They had to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries, rather than against it, and they had to stay positive. . . 

‘Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on  milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . .

 Business case for cattle disease plan kept secret from public – Andrea Fox:

The cost-benefit analysis behind the $886 million government-agriculture sector decision to try to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is being kept secret from taxpayers picking up most of the bill.

A Herald request to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for a copy of the cost-benefit analysis is being treated by MPI as an Official Information Act request, which normally means waiting nearly a month for a response, with no guarantee of full disclosure.

When the Herald tried to clarify that the cost-benefit analysis was not being made public, and if so, who had access to it, the response from an MPI spokesman was: “This has been part of the decision-making process so the decision makers have had access to this information.” . .

Live deer capture: ‘a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive’, says pioneer– Heather Chalmers:

Recalling the pioneering live deer capture days, veterans like Bryan Bassett-Smith get a gleam in their eyes.

In the 1970s the emphasis changed from killing deer as a feral pest to wanting to capture and keep deer alive for a fledging farming industry. Deer farming made live recovery more profitable than hunting; there were fortunes to be made and adventures to have.

These were the days before clipboards, hi-vis vests and health and safety regulations.

Bassett-Smith didn’t fly helicopters himself. “I was a guy that jumped out and used the tranquilliser gun.

READ MORE: Deer farmer recalls days of live capture derring-do

“It was a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive” he says, referring to the casualties and fatalities from helicopter crashes. “Sadly, there were a few too many funerals,” he told deer industry conference delegates during a visit to Mesopotamia Station in the South Canterbury high country, a property actively involved in live deer recovery. . . 

Distribution deal for Mastatest– Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based veterinary diagnostics company Mastaplex has secured a national distribution partnership with AgriHealth for its bovine mastitis diagnostic products.

Company founder and inventor Olaf Bork said Mastatest  was an on-farm or veterinary clinic-based bovine mastitis test which generated results within 24 hours, enabling dairy farmers to select specific antibiotic treatments recommended by their veterinarian once target bacteria had been identified.

The early  growth-stage company, which is based at the University of Otago’s Centre for Innovation, was also negotiating with a European distributor and  seeking an alliance in the United States, he said. . . 

Rural health must be integral in health services review:

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network today welcomed an announcement of a comprehensive review of health services in New Zealand.

The NZRGPN is the national network representing the staff of rural medical practices across New Zealand.

“A comprehensive review of the delivery of health and disability services is timely,” said NZRGPN Chief Executive Dalton Kelly. “This review must be comprehensive and wide-ranging, taking into account the full range of communities and health service providers across New Zealand. . .

Tough year hits Anzco profits – Alan Williams:

A difficult year in beef procurement and processing caused a big fall in profit for Anzco Foods.

Intense competition for stock and uneven livestock flows increased costs while consumer market prices were just steady, chief executive Peter Conley said.

Anzco’s pre-tax profit fell to just $1.8 million in the year ended December 31, from $17m a year earlier. Because the group’s international trade offices are required to pay tax in the countries they’re based in, overall group tax took up $1.7m of the earnings, leaving an after-tax operating profit of $100,000, down from $12m previously. . . 

How a routine day on the farm turned into a pig’s dinner – Joyce Wyllie:

Sometimes routine jobs on a routine day take a less routine turn.

With Jock away at dog trials, I walked to the kennels one evening to run and feed the remainder of his team left at home.

It’s a familiar routine of letting energetic dogs off for enthusiastic exercise, feeding pellets to pigs and shutting the team up with their tea.

It was drizzling as I opened the doors and let animated animals race off for time out and toilet. Pushing the feed shed door open to get pig tucker revealed a four-legged super surprise. . . 

Hounding the horehound weed:

Two moths may be imported to combat the horehound weed, which a recent survey estimates to cost New Zealand dryland farmers almost $7 million per year.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering an application from a collective of affected farmers – the Horehound Biocontrol Group – to introduce the horehound plume moth and horehound clearwing moth to attack this invasive weed, and is calling for public submissions. The application is supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ sustainable farming fund. . .

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