Rural round-up

04/10/2022

Massive stockpiles as mānuka buzz fades – Richard Rennie:

Massive stockpiles of both mānuka and non-mānuka honey are the downside of a decade’s worth of double-digit growth as producers face the reality of disposing tonnes of product at severe discounts just to stay afloat.

Jane Lorimer, Waikato beekeeper and president of New Zealand Beekeeping Inc, said she expects to witness a lot of pain before any real gains come out of the industry’s current situation. 

The country’s total stock of honey in storage is estimated to exceed one year’s entire production.

“There will be pain before we see any real gain, most definitely. There are people who came into the industry thinking they would make money relatively easily out of mānuka, only to find they now have to exit.” . . 

 Mayor contenders agree on water storage and ‘broken’ council funding model – Simon Edwards:

They differed on priorities and approach but mayoral candidates for the Wairarapa’s three councils found some common ground on issues impacting farmers and the wider community.

At a 28 September election event in Carterton organised by Federated Farmers Wairarapa and Business Wairarapa, not one of the 11 would-be mayors had any quibble with an audience member who said more water storage in the region was vital.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said he was “laser-focused” on the five key focus areas of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy:  “First is land use, and vital to that is water.  The only way to unlock our future is to unleash the delivery of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy,” Lang said.

There also appeared to be a high degree of agreement that amalgamation of Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils – probably as a unitary council (i.e. with both territorial and regional council responsibilities) – is on the cards. . . 

 

English hands to the plough – Shawn McAvinue:

English farm machinery operators are travelling to the South to bridge a “dire” staff shortage, agricultural contractors say.

Hunt Agriculture co-owner Alistair Hunt, of Chatton, north of Gore, said it was hard to find staff.

“It is slim pickings.”

Agricultural contractors would be busy up to Christmas, he said. . .

Winners announced in the  inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand awards  :

The winners in the inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Napier War Memorial Centre last night.

It was a celebration of the people, innovation, technologies and management systems that make New Zealand’s grass-based red meat industry world leading.

Andrew Morrison, Chairman of B+LNZ reflected on the achievements of the sector over the last couple of years and its resilience in maintaining strong exports in light of COVID-19. 

“Environmentally, our sheep and beef production systems are amongst the most sustainable in the world with around 24 percent of New Zealand’s native vegetation flourishing on our sheep and beef farms, and one of the world’s lowest carbon footprints.”  . . 

Highly regulated industry better than complete ban supported by research :

Live Animal Export New Zealand (LENZ) says that the passing of the Act banning live animal exports will damage the New Zealand economy and is out of step with the views of the New Zealand public.

According to an independent research report by science insights company Voconiq, over half of New Zealanders surveyed have confidence that regulation can hold the industry accountable.

Research respondents believe with better regulation the Government can hold the live export industry accountable (55% agree) and that rather than banning live export, New Zealand should raise the standards required of the industry (59% agree).

Eighty-five percent of New Zealanders either agree (54%) or are neutral (31%) that the live export industry is an important part of the agricultural sector in New Zealand. . . 

Industry partnership to launch meat-based vending machine meals in China :

Consumers will soon be able to buy ready-to-eat meals, made with New Zealand beef and lamb, from vending machines in Shanghai.

Major red meat exporters Beef + Lamb NZ, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms are piloting beef and lamb vending machines with meals ready for time-poor consumers.

Beef and Lamb spokesperson Michael Wan said the two Pure Box vending machines will be located in Shanghai’s busy business districts, offering another food option for busy workers.

Wan said buyers would be able to choose from six meals that had been co-designed by Shanghai chef Jamie Pea. They fuse traditional Chinese ingredients and flavours with Western food trends to highlight the taste of New Zealand-produced beef and lamb. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/08/2022

‘Wet Coast’ cow cockies say ‘get off the grass’ to new rules – Lois Williams:

When stock wintering rules designed to protect waterways were imposed on a century-old South Island dairying property, the owners bet their nest egg on building an enormous barn

It wasn’t the mother of all floods in 2013 that convinced West Coast dairy farmers Matt and Carmel O’Regan to move their cows indoors.

Nor was it the latest summer deluge in February, when the old flood gauge at Inangahua Landing vanished from sight under muddy waters, along with thousands of hectares of farmland.

After three generations at Coal Creek, the family is used to floods. . . 

Time for Kiwi arable farmers to shine – Jacqueline Rowarth:

New Zealand arable farmers are using science and technology to produce good food for the least impact, it’s time this was recognised, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

Three-quarters of the bread sold in New Zealand is made from grain grown overseas.

This might be a surprise to some people, but, like the 60 per cent of pork products (85 per cent of ham and bacon) consumed in New Zealand but not produced here, overseas countries can sometimes operate more cheaply than we can in New Zealand.

Sometimes that is because of environmental conditions enabling greater yields, and sometimes it is standards in regulations around environment, welfare and employment that make the difference. Sometimes it is everything. Labelling doesn’t always make origin clear. . . 

Wetland rules threaten access to Defence Force, electricity infrastructure – Emma Hatton:

The Defence Force and electricity lines companies have become unintended allies as they both grapple with wetland rules that make it harder for them to access their own infrastructure

Rules brought in two years ago via the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and National Environmental Standards for Freshwater focused on protecting and restoring natural wetlands.

But groups including property developers, mining and quarrying companies and those with existing infrastructure in and around wetland areas argued they were too prohibitive.

The Ministry for the Environment consulted late last year and recently proposed changes that make concessions to some of the concerns, including creating consenting pathways for mining, quarrying and landfills. . . 

Leading the charge for wool – Sally Rae:

Last month, Greg Smith marked his first year as chief executive of carpet company Bremworth. He talks to business editor Sally Rae about his desire to help reinvigorate New Zealand’s strong wool industry. 

Growing up, a young Greg Smith never imagined he would end up running a carpet company.

Mind you, he also never contemplated jewellery as a career — “or woolly undies either”.

What he did want to do was the “right thing” and that was reinforced when he neared a key life stage — he turns 50 this year — and he contemplated what his children would say their father did. . .

Awards a morale boost for the arable industry says title winner :

The freshly-crowned Arable Farmer of the Year says winning the award was a surprise, but it is a confidence-booster.

David Birkett, who farms at Leeston, Canterbury, took out the title at last night’s New Zealand Arable Awards in Christchurch.

He said he was not expecting to win.

“The other finalists were exceptional people as well and it was a really tough competition,” he said. “I was surprised.” . . .

Government and Ngāi Tahu work together on regenative farming project – Sally Murphy:

Ngāi Tahu and the government have joined forces on a new project to validate the science of regenerative farming.

The seven year research programme will compare side-by-side dairy farms to assess the environmental impacts of their practices.

One 286-hectare farm will use regenerative farming practices while the adjacent 330-hectare farm will use conventional methods.

Both farms will have a stocking rate of 3.2 cows per hectare. . .

Dying to Feed You: Grace suffered multiple broken bones – Johann Tasker:

Grace Addyman suffered multiple broken bones when she was hit by falling bales at her family farm.

She tells us what happened on that day, the difficult surgery that followed and how she considers herself the “luckiest unlucky person ever”.

It had been a wet summer and it was near the end of July. We’d cut the hay and it had been baled that day.

We were enjoying the weather, watching the baler go around the field and then bringing the hay in. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

13/06/2022

It’s not the red meat that’s bad for the planet, it’s us – Joe Bennett:

I used the article to light the log-burner, but I remember the first sentence: “We all know that red meat is bad for the planet.”

Well now, let’s start at the start. We don’t all know this. We may have been told it, and told it repeatedly, but that is not the same as knowing it and neither does it make it true. As a boy I was told many things, including that if you played with it, it fell off, and that god was in heaven. These two in particular seemed antithetical. Luckily neither proved true.

Now, it is possible to take a moral stance against red meat, to argue that it is wrong to end the lives of other creatures to sustain our own. To do so, however, is to condemn every living thing. From bacteria to whales, life on earth consists of things eating each other. The pretty little swallows that nest in my garage murder insects by the million.

But the author doesn’t seem to be taking this moral stance. He or she asserts only that red meat is “bad for the planet”, and presents this notion as if it were scientific fact. But red meat isn’t bad for the planet. The planet is a durable beastie that will continue to orbit the sun regardless of how many pork chops you and I may eat. . . 

Primary Industries on track for $52.2 billion in exports :

The latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries (SOPI) report shows New Zealand’s food and fibre sector export revenue is expected to reach a record $52.2 billion in the year to 30 June 2022.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the report showed an increase of close to 10% on the previous year. “This is a tremendous result for the sector as farmers, growers and others in the supply chains who play such a critical role in our economy.

They have continued to deliver quality products for Kiwis and overseas consumers while navigating global disruption and uncertainty,” he says.

O’Connor says New Zealand’s overseas markets demand high quality products made with care and the SOPI report indicates exporters are responding to that. . . 

Feds: Biodiversity budget support falls woefully short :

While the latest draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB) is a significant improvement its success is undermined by woeful funding in Budget 2022 to assist private landowners, Federated Farmers says. Only $20 million of the $150m needed over the next four years was allocated.

Keys to Federated Farmers’ support of the new biodiversity policies will be sound criteria on what are truly ‘significant’ natural areas, and protection of existing land use rights where they are not degrading native biodiversity.

“Implementation of the new rules also needs to be accompanied by a comprehensive and well-resourced financial support package,” said Chris Allen, the Feds national board member who was part of the cross-sector Biodiversity Collaborative Group (BCG) that made recommendations to the government.

An exposure draft of the long-delayed NSP-IB has just been released, another step in the long journey of this policy. . . 

Cutting cattle stress delivers payoffs in beef quality, farmer says :

A Hawke’s Bay farmer says reducing stress levels among cattle is resulting in higher quality Angus beef.

Matangi Farm’s beef cattle is raised just behind Havelock North’s Te Mata Peak.

Farm manager Jamie Gaddum said they try to reduce stressors on the cattle as much as possible.

“We’ve tried to keep trucking to a minimum. We’ve got two farms, but they’re only on a truck once in the lifetime,” he said. . . 

Changing pig care regulations may leave farmers and consumers out of pocket – report

Proposed changes to how pigs are cared for could come with a hefty price tag, a new economic report warns.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee has proposed a raft of changes to the code for pigs, including banning or reducing the use of farrowing crates, weaning piglets no earlier than 28 days old and increasing the amount of space where young pigs live.

But a new report by consultancy group Sapere warns if the proposed changes are adopted, farmers could be out of pocket by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And it could drive the cost of New Zealand pork up by 18.8 percent for consumers, as farmers try to cover the costs. . . 

New research harvests better outcomes for tree planters :

Newly published research by Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service into tree planting will provide some welcome solutions to problems foresters and planters are all too familiar with.

“The research has enabled us to come up with strategies to successfully plant trees outside of the normal planting season, and also have a better understanding of how to safely hold back trees in nurseries without impacting the quality,” says Emily Telfer, Programme Delivery Manager, Forest Science at Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service.

Tree planting is normally carried out in the middle of the year, with significant work required in nurseries leading up to winter to prepare a crop of trees and by landowners to prepare sites for planting.

“The yearly forestry planting cycle follows a sequential series of steps and is driven by biology, so the research set out to look at what mitigations can be utilised when the sequence is disrupted.”. . . 


Rural round-up

07/06/2022

Why this is not the time for government to be heaping regulatory costs on farmers and requiring a culling of the dairy herd – Point of Order:

On-farm inflation is at its highest level in almost 40 years, according to Beef + Lamb NZ’s Economic Service, and costs are expected to increase.  Meanwhile Federated  Farmers  says farmers’ satisfaction with their banks is relatively stable but more are feeling under pressure and the costs of finance are rising.

“Inflation is putting many New Zealanders and businesses under pressure, and our food producers are no different,” Feds President and economic spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

While Consumer Price Index (CPI) data has the annual inflation rate at 6.9%, the latest on-farm inflation rate has hit 10.2%  – the highest it’s been since 1985-86 (13.2%).

B+LNZ is concerned increasing regulatory requirements from the Government, such as freshwater and biodiversity rules, will stretch farmers even further. . . 

Another solid season looms – Rural News:

 Given what’s happening around the world, New Zealand dairy farmers are on to a pretty good thing with its internationally envied farming system.

A record milk price this season and another solid opening forecast for the new season bodes well for farmers’ income.

Dairy demand is still quite strong and supply remains constrained globally, especially in the US and Europe.

However, there are some short-term challenges: Covid, China’s most recent lockdowns and the unrest in Sri Lanka – a key market for Fonterra milk powder. . .

Tough conditions produce good stock – Shawn McAvinue:

Extreme weather conditions on a high-country station in the Maniototo allow for the best breeding of Charolais cattle in the country, Glen Ayr Station manager Drew Dundass says.

“The cream rises to the top.”

More than 80 people attended the 28th annual Taiaroa & Cotswold Charolais Bull Sale on Glen Ayr Station in Paerau Valley last week.

Of the 28 bulls on offer, 26 sold for an average of $6392, and the top price was $11,500. . . 

Queen’s Birthday honours unofficial mayor of Tarata gets official – Ilona Hanne:

He’s the unofficial mayor of Tarata, and now Bryan Hocken is officially a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM).

Bryan was made an MNZM in the Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours List 2022, for services to agriculture and the rural community.

Announced on Monday, June 6, it’s an honour he describes as having left him “blown away”.

“I wasn’t expecting it. When I saw the email telling me, I just couldn’t believe it.” . . 

Tea Estate back on the boil – Sudesh Kissun:

New Zealand’s only tea farm is back on the boil.

The 48ha Zealong Tea Estate, near Hamilton, is preparing to welcome back local and international visitors after a two-year hiatus.

Home to 1.2 million tea plants, Zealong is the world’s largest internationally certified organic tea estate. It has a philosophy of enhancing the soil quality using carefully managed organic farm practices.

General manager Sen Kong says the company is excited to start welcoming visitors back after a challenging two years. . . 

RSPCA state New Zealand is judged to have higher welfare than UK – John Sleigh:

Flying largely in the face of what is perceived in the UK, New Zealand is the one country globally that can be judged to have better farm animal welfare standards than the UK – that’s according to animal protection body, the RSCPA.

Animal welfare has been put in the spotlight as the UK and New Zealand thrash out a potential Free Trade Agreement, where it is proposed traded food products must be produced to similar standards. UK opponents have been using the welfare issue as a potential block, citing better standards in the UK.

However, when giving evidence to Westminster’s International Agreements Committee, the RSCPA stated: “New Zealand is the only country with whom the UK is negotiating a Free Trade Agreement where there is broad equivalence on animal welfare standards. In some areas, New Zealand’s farm standards are above the UK’s.”

The RSPCA lists non-stun slaughter, increased lameness in sheep, legal live exports and poorer access to the outdoors for dairy cattle as areas where the UK lags behind on welfare. Whilst in other areas, the charity stated that the UK was ahead of New Zealand with our ban on sow stalls, more free range hens and henhouse cleanliness rules. . . 

 


Possum pest no joke

16/11/2021

It’s written as it if it’s funny:

Dunedin police have detained and released a fury pest they’ve dubbed the ‘Blacks Road ripper’ after it terrorised a resident. . .

The occupant of a Blacks Road address contacted police “in distress, stating a possum was holding her hostage”, Senior Sergeant Craig Dinnissen said.

“When she would exit her house and attempt to reach her car, the possum would charge at her, and she would flee inside.

“Upon attendance, police discovered that as they approached the front door, a juvenile possum came out of the dark and climbed the officer’s leg. Suspect it was either an escaped pet or had recently been separated from it’s mother.”

Instead of taking the furry fiend to the big house, officers delivered the possum further up Signal Hill and released it into the wild – “to prevent further citizen harassment”.

“No harm to possum or the officer who was happy to assist with the Blacks Road ripper,” Dinnissen said.

On the face of it, it is a funny story but the danger possums pose to flora and fauna and the the risk of them spreading TB is no joke.

Police shouldn’t have released the pest. If they couldn’t kill it humanely themselves they should have taken to someone who could rather than setting it free to eat eggs and young birds, trees and possibly spread disease.


Rural round-up

26/09/2021

Covid-19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Shearer shortage looming – Hamish Clark:

A shortage of shearers has cost farmers this coming summer, with kiwi and Aussie shearers stuck on the other side of the Tasman due to closed borders.

It’s not just shearers but also shed hands and wool handlers that could be in short supply.

That could lead to longer working hours in the woolshed and potentially more injures due to a bigger workload.

There are many New Zealand shearers that live in Australia who would normally travel backwards and forwards between the two countries during the shearing season. . . 

Labour ignores 15,000 rural New Zealanders:

By refusing to back a practical change that would lessen the regulatory load on farmers, Labour have shown they remain completely out of touch with rural New Zealand, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“Labour had the opportunity to support National’s sensible amendment to the Water Services Bill which would have exempted water suppliers with 30 or fewer endpoint users,” Mr Luxon says.

“This would have prevented rural water schemes from being exposed to massive, burdensome compliance and costs.

“Instead, Labour’s bill will now require at least 70,000 small farm supply arrangements to meet onerous, disproportionate duties like producing drinking water safety plans and establishing consumer complaints processes. On top of that, Taumata Arowai will need to track down these tens of thousands of schemes and register them. . . 

Anaesthetic requirements put Northland vets at forefront of farm operations – Donna Russell:

Farmers are adapting well to new animal health regulations, according to Kamo vet Luke (Lurch) Goodin.

He said in most cases his clients had been early adopters of the broad-ranging changes, so it was business as usual at a busy time of year on farms – apart from the not-so-small matter of working through a Covid-19 level 4 lockdown.

Key among the latest changes, introduced in May this year, are new rules around surgical procedures on animals.

The Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018 cover a large range of topics and types of animals, including farm husbandry, companion animals, stock transport and surgical procedures. . . 

Sheep milk research could be a game-changer – Colin Williscroft:

New Zealand’s expanding sheep milk sector may soon be able to benefit from former Massey University student Jolin Morel’s PhD research, which looked at developing a new way of freezing ovine milk. Colin Williscroft reports.

The patent process is in motion and work is under way to build prototype on-farm units for freezing ovine milk that could take the NZ dairy sheep industry to the next level.

Jolin Morel graduated with a PhD from Massey earlier this year, his research focused on finding a better way to freeze sheep milk, something that will benefit the smaller players in NZ’s dairy sheep industry and open the way for more farmers to get involved in a sector that has been identified as one with a smaller environmental footprint than traditional dairy farms.

Morel says the genesis of his project involved a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) programme called Food Industry Enabling Technologies, which aims to create new technologies within the NZ food industry. . . 

Labour’s inaction putting animal welfare at risk :

The shortage of veterinarians in New Zealand is reaching critical heights and is now compromising animal welfare, National’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Tim van de Molen says.

“Three months ago the Government attempted to show it was taking the issue seriously by granting a token 50 border exemptions for vets to enter the country. But it never provided the MIQ allocation grant to go alongside it and without going through MIQ vets can’t come to New Zealand.

“So while theoretically a small number of vets are now able to come to New Zealand to help fill our critical shortage, the Government’s inability to act practically has meant they are sitting in the MIQ virtual lobby trying their best to get a spot alongside tens of thousands of other people desperate to enter New Zealand.

“New Zealand is short several hundred vets and it’s putting the welfare of animals at risk. We’re now entering spring which is a particularly busy time for vets in rural areas but practises for domestic pets are also feeling the pinch. . . 

Veggie growers call on government to allow on-farm quarantine – Bryce Eishold:

A Victorian vegetable grower who was forced to destroy $150,000 worth of celery this year due to a lack of labour to harvest it has issued an impassioned plea for the government to allow on-farm quarantine.

Lindenow grower Kane Busch was set to receive 22 workers from Vanuatu later this year to help with his crop harvest, but says a lack of Tasmanian quarantine facilities meant the workers would not arrive in Victoria until at least February.

Mr Busch, along with industry body AUSVEG, said the extension to the international worker program which allows overseas workers to fly to Australia to quarantine before they started their seasonal work was “flawed”.

“There is no quarantine facility available so despite the announcement for an extra 1500 workers, we have no chance of getting those workers until February next year so it’s just useless,” he said. . . 

 


Who’s standing up for farmers?

30/07/2021

This is funny:

. . . after 20 years of nuking our taste buds with bread that’s mostly sugar, Ronald McDonald’s special sauce, chicken vindaloo, deep-fried chicken and crisps made from artificially flavoured carpet underlay, most of us could not tell a beautiful piece of prime beef from a Walnut Whip.

This is not:

. . . Right. So one day you’re in the supermarket and in front of you are two legs of lamb. One is from the UK and costs £20 and one is from New Zealand and costs £15. So that’s an easy choice. You buy the one from down under. Lovely.

But it isn’t lovely, because animals farmed in New Zealand and America and China and Brazil and Canada and Australia — with which Boris has just done a much-trumpeted trade deal — do not have anything like the happy lives enjoyed by the animals farmed here. . . 

Both come from the pen of Jeremy Clarkson writing in The Times on why the UK should be proud of its animal welfare.

He might be right about that but he’s wrong that New Zealand standards for animal welfare aren’t at least as high as those in the UK.

Ironically that is partly due to the need to meet standards imposed to give access to the UK market when it entered the EU.

But more than anything it is because we’re very good farmers and very good farmers know that animal welfare is paramount.

The Listener has caught up with Clarkson’s criticism and in its editorial (not online) asks: who would we rather have tell the world about New Zealand produce – Jeremy Clarkson of our own government?

Britain’s RSPCA welcomed the trade negotiations, stressing New Zealand alone among the UK’s potential free trade partners has animal welfare standards as good as, and in some cases, better than Britain’s.

But did our Government speak up in our farmers’ defence on animal welfare? Did it point out that this country is also head-and-shoulders the most sustainable producer of dairy and meat – even counting air miles after export to the northern hemisphere? Not a word.

Nor has it ever thanked agriculture for agreeing to arguably disproportionate methane-reduction goals because of the lack of progress on – mostly urban-generated – carbon emissions.

It’s this sense of abandonment and blame that sent farmers with placards to more than 50 towns and cities last week as much as the undeniable burden of new restrictions and compliance obligations they face.

Yes. This government, at least as much as its predecessor in the mid to late 1980s, doesn’t understand farming nor does it champion it. The policies of the 80s were necessary, based on sound economics, and have led to better outcomes. Much current policy is unnecessary, based on political ideology not economics or science and will lead to perverse outcomes.

The government has been damagingly remiss in declining to champion the global competitiveness of this country’s meant and dairy sector. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has had unprecedented global attention, not least for climate advocacy, yet rarely, if ever, has she talked overseas of this economy’s most outstanding sustainability story. As we approach new trade negotiations with the European Union, the United States and Britain, that environmental prowess has never been more relevant. Yet how can we sell our products to other countries’ populations if even our own citizens are under the misapprehension we willfully produce every emissions? . . 

 Farmers here have been doing a lot to improve environmental practices and doing it for some time. But government policies and dictates give no indication they understand or appreciate that.

Urban New Zealander should be encouraged to take pride in the progress the majority of the farm sector is making. Townies are not subject to a fraction of the individual accountability required from farmers for landfill, emissions and water use. . . 

The generally positive response to the Groundswell protests indicates that many urban people do understand and respect what farmers are doing.

It’s a pity the government doesn’t show it has nearly such a positive view and that it is failing to champion farming on the world stage.

 


Rural round-up

18/07/2021

Rural living: the good, the bad and the glorious – Nicky Berger:

I never wanted to be a farmer. Growing up on a small sheep and beef farm north of Auckland, I spent many sunny afternoons in the “Pooh Bear Forest” below our house, and others learning how to handle wool from eternally patient shearers.

But I never believed it was my destiny to grow food. Instead, I spent my teenage years imagining myself working in one of the skyscrapers we would see on occasional trips into the city. When I was old enough, off to the city I went.

However, the unexpected death of my dad one sunny evening in 2004 changed everything.

Sitting at the kitchen table in my family home the following morning, I stared in wonder at ute after ute coming down our driveway, past our house, and heading over to the woolshed. . .

Images of distressed animals misleading council says :

Recent publicity surrounding intensive winter grazing in Southland has been unhelpful, the regional council says.

Images of distressed animals deep in mud have circulated on social media in recent weeks.

But Southland Regional Council chief executive Rob Phillips said some of them were not from this winter and many appeared to be taken outside of Southland.

“We want to follow up and address any poor practice, but when those circulating the images aren’t prepared to tell us where the properties are, it lets everyone down and certainly doesn’t help to improve the situation, he said. . . 

Farmers a cut above DOC in caring for Crown land – Jacqui Dean:

There’s some people who are firm in the belief that Crown land can only be properly looked after if it’s under Department of Conservation (DOC) control. In my opinion, that view is misguided and fails to recognise the state of vast tracts of land across the South Island.

I’ve spent the first half of this year visiting Crown pastoral leaseholders in the South Island to better understand the implications of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill that’s making its way through Parliament.

This piece of legislation is touted by its proponents as a way to improve environmental outcomes. It puts an end to tenure review and places heavy-handed restrictions on the most basic of farming activities on crown lease land.

During my visits to these rugged and remote areas I’ve been able to compare high country land being farmed under a pastoral lease with nearby land under DOC administration. . . 

Farmers sent a clear message, Labour should listen:

The immense turnout to yesterday’s nationwide protests by the rural sector sent a clear message to the Government, they are fed up with Labour penalising them at every turn, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“Yesterday farmers up and down New Zealand told the Government they wouldn’t be sitting down and taking the hits Labour is dishing out. All National MPs were with them, showing our support and how much we value the work our farmers do.

“Farmers helped New Zealand get through Covid-19, and Labour is repaying them through unworkable freshwater regulations, failing to deal with serious workforce shortages and now it’s hitting them in the wallet with a Ute Tax.

“The rural sector has rightly had enough. They’re not alone though, almost every other New Zealander is being hit in the back pocket through new taxes, rent increases and costs on businesses. . . 

 

Malaysian firm to convert Southland farm into forestry block – Shawn McAvinue:

A Malaysian company has been given consent to buy a nearly 460ha sheep and beef farm in Western Southland.

The Overseas Investment Office gave the consent to the 100% Malaysian-owned company Pine Plantations Private Ltd to buy the farm – near Tuatapere – from vendors Ayson and Karen Gill for $4 million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 330ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees.

Planting was intended to start in 2021-22, for the trees to be harvested in up to 30 years. . . 

City kids go bush – Sally Blundell:

It’s called real world learning: pine nut pesto, bush tea and home kill. Bush Farm Education is taking kids out of the classroom and into nature.

The classroom is a place of puddles and hay bales, trailers and tractors. Today’s lessons – fire safety, edible mushrooms and the reality of home kill.

“Just imagine if every kid in Ōtautahi Christchurch, or even New Zealand, could have a day a week out on the farm, in nature, learning about it,” says Katie Earle, founder of Bush Farm Education on Lyttelton Harbour. “It would just be incredible.”

Incredible but unlikely. A Sport New Zealand survey in 2019 found that only 7 percent of children and young people aged five–17 met the Ministry of Health guidelines of at least one hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day. Recent research by Ara Institute of Canterbury into education outside the classroom found a third of schools struggle to get students outside, citing time constraints, added paperwork, education regulations and health and safety rules. . . 

Increased demand for softwood lumber in the US and Asia will change the global trade flows of wood in the coming decade:

Softwood lumber has been in high demand in the US and Europe throughout 2021. The limited supply resulted in temporary price surges to record high levels during the spring, followed by substantial declines in early summer. The outlook for lumber demand is likely to be strong worldwide in the coming decade in most world regions, including North America and Asia. Both these regions are consistently dependent on imported wood.

Few countries in the world can significantly expand lumber exports, and Europe will play an increasingly important role as a wood supplier in the future. Tighter lumber markets will impact not just the sawmilling industry but also forest owners, pulp companies, wood panel manufacturers, and pellet producers.

The latest Focus Report: Global Lumber Markets – The Growing Role of European Lumber from Wood Resources International (WRI) and O’Kelly Acumen examines the forces driving the tightness of global lumber markets, including the demand outlook in the US and China and the supply potential from Europe, Russia, and other regions. It also analyses the possible implications of near-term changes in the lumber markets for all players in the value chain. . . 


Team work to rescue horse

18/07/2021

It takes a team to rescue a horse:

A teen powerlifting star, a newly-retired police boat skipper, a photographer, a longtime Takapu Valley resident and a man with a digger came together to save the life of a drowning horse named Heathcliffe.

Photographer Rob Suisted was driving to check stock in Takapu Valley, near Wellington, during Saturday’s wild weather when he spotted two people in the flooded Takapu Stream. . . 


Rural round-up

23/06/2021

Big break for Hawke’s Bay as Big Save buys farms, ups the ante in wool industry – Doug Laing:

Hawke’s Bay is set to play a major role in the revival of the New Zealand wool industry kick-started by wool-buying moves taken by Napier-based furnishing manufacturer and retailer Big Save Furniture.

Moving away from synthetics as much as possible, the company is paying farmers $4.50kg for strong wool in which Hawke’s Bay is the biggest regional producer in the World – more than double recent market lows which have seen farmers paying more for the shearing than they’re getting for the wool.

The property arm of the McMinn family operation has also bought four farms in Southern Hawke’s Bay in the last 12 months, about 3000 hectares of sheep and beef farming, under the Big Rural brand.

The crisis is highlighted by Campaign for Wool NZ Trust chairman Tom O’Sullivan, from Havelock North, the fourth generation of a Central Hawke’s Bay sheep-farming family, one of several people from Hawke’s Bay at the centre of moves to get the industry, and who says that at the height of the industry in the 1950s the farm could have been bought from “the one wool-cheque”. . . 

Stretching, balance helps improve health, wellbeing – Shawn McAvinue:

Physical therapist Hennie Pienaar opens his injury prevention workshops by asking meat industry staff if they want to live longer or die earlier.

Mr Pienaar began working for Alliance Group as its musculoskeletal injury prevention manager based in Invercargill about 15 months ago.

Alliance wanted to improve the ‘‘complete wellness’’ of its staff, improving their physical, mental and nutritional health, so they enjoyed their work, went home happy and maintained a healthy lifestyle, he said.

The meat processing industry had a ‘‘big struggle’’ to find staff so it was working to retain them. . . 

Southlanders pioneer real paneer making in New Zealand – Uma Ahmed:

Southlanders who found a niche in producing authentic paneer from raw milk are starting to expand their business.

Paneer is a type of acid-set cheese originating from the Indian subcontinent.

Southland couple Julie and Roger Guise, after chatting with Thiagarajan Rajoo at church, found out authentic paneer was not being made in New Zealand.

The bulk of paneer in New Zealand is made from powder or standardised milk, as opposed to being made with raw milk. . . 

Bremworth signs up to NZFAP:

Bremworth has signed up to the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP), signalling its support for and adoption of a national wool standard.

The NZFAP provides assurance to consumers about the integrity, traceability, biosecurity, environmental sustainability and animal health and welfare of NZ’s primary sector products.

Bremworth joins 20 other wool industry members to transition towards sourcing their wool from 6800 accredited sheep farms across NZ that meet the standards set by the NZFAP.

By signing up to NZFAP, Bremworth can prove its wool has met traceability, authentic origin and animal welfare standards. . . 

Farmer uses regenerative techniques to combat high nitrate levels – Conan Young:

A farmer in an area known as ground zero for high nitrate levels, is making fundamental changes to the way he farms in order to lessen his impact on water quality.

Levels in private drinking water bores in Mid-Canterbury were on average five to seven times higher than most towns and cities, and in some places exceeded the amount deemed safe by the World Health Organisation.

But a number of farmers were determined to do something about it.

David Birkett grows crops including wheat and vege seeds on 200 hectares near Leeston. . . 

Promising early results for Facial Eczema lab test:

Initial results from a pilot study investigating the potential for a laboratory test to determine Facial Eczema tolerance are positive, paving the way for more detailed investigation.

Dan Brier, B+LNZ’s General Manager Farming Excellence, says the ultimate aim of the study, which is being funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and conducted by AgResearch, is to produce a fully validated high through-put commercial test, which is readily available for breeders and commercial farmers.

“Initial results look promising with the establishment of a cell culture method, using sheep and cattle blood, to demonstrate sporidesmin (the toxin that causes Facial Eczema [FE]) toxicity. This indicates that animals could be tested for tolerance without needing to be exposed to the toxin.” . .


Intrusive, impractical and inhumane

23/06/2021

A University of Otago study shows MPI’s treatment of farmers whose herds were infected with Mycoplasma bovis was intrusive, impractical and inhumane:

A poorly managed government response to the 2017 Mycoplasma bovis outbreak inflicted significant and lasting trauma on farmers whose stock was culled, a University of Otago study has found.

Extensive interviews with affected farmers in Southland and Otago revealed the enduring emotional cost of a “badly planned and poorly executed process”, leaving farming families feeling isolated, bewildered, and powerless. Others in the rural community, such as local veterinarians, were left feeling their expertise was undervalued and their potential to positively contribute to the management of the outbreak disregarded.

Rural New Zealand is home to about 700,000 people, making it New Zealand’s second largest city, with farming contributing significantly to the economic wellbeing of rural communities and regions, and to the national economy. Nationally, an estimated 180,000 animals were culled on more than 250 farms, which were locked down under strict conditions, in a bid to eradicate the disease. Farmers were paid compensation for lost stock but this was often perceived as inadequate and onerous to secure.

The rational for compensation is that it encourages farmers to report suspected infections. Without compensation, or with poor management of it, the temptation to hide or kill infected animals would be too great for many. MPI’s guiding principle for this is that farmers should be left no better and no worse than they were before the disease struck, which is fair if that’s what happens in practice.

Measuring the human cost of this process was the focus of the Otago study, which was carried out by Dr Fiona Doolan-Noble, Dr Geoff Noller and Associate Professor Chrys Jaye, of the University of Otago’s Department of General Practice and Rural Health.

Study lead, Dr Doolan-Noble says that for her and Dr Noller it was heart wrenching listening to the accounts told by farmers in particular, but also the veterinarians and front-line workers. . . 

A dominant theme of the research was the intrusive, impractical and inhumane nature of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) eradication programme in which local knowledge, expertise and pragmatism were ignored in favour of inefficient bureaucratic processes which made no sense to farmers.

Intrusive, impractical and inhumane – that’s very strong criticism.

“Looking back, I can see I went through a series of emotional phases … The initial one was shock. Second phase I think was probably a panic … Third one was trying to think, ‘Jesus, this is very overwhelming.’ And then I got to [the] phase, ‘Okay, we’re stuck in this, how are we going to get out’?” one farmer told the research team.

Farmers described the damage to their sense of identity and the forced separation from typical farming practices and seasonal rhythms as they transitioned into an incursion management process overseen by an ill-prepared government agency.

An ill-prepared government agency sounds unfortunately familiar.

Once a Notice of Direction (NoD) was issued for a property, farming families effectively lost control of the running of their farm while remaining responsible for the welfare of their remaining stock.

“It says in the notice, in the NoD [biosecurity notice] that we are responsible for everything on the property. So, we’re responsible for the health and wellbeing of all the animals on the property, even though there’s people making decisions for us,” one farmer said.

This situation was compounded by poor communication, lack of clarity about animal testing regimes, delays in providing results, indecision regarding stock management, authoritarian and at times brutal decision-making concerning herd culls, and the ignoring of practical solutions to on-farm problems.

“Farming’s like a great big wheel … and they [MPI] cut a chunk of that wheel out and it collapses. Then it takes years to get that wheel back to that size again… It just breaks farmers down, losing control like that,” a farmer said.

One dairy farmer described how a slaughter team arrived early and started killing cows while he was still in the milking shed.

“So [MPI] decided to start killing them on the farm. And I said, ‘Look, that’s a bit rough’. But they said, ‘No, that’s what’s going to happen’. So, this truck arrives, from this pet food outfit…this guy pulls up and just shoots 10 of them, in the yard. Cuts their throats …I come [out] there, there was hysterics, there were staff crying. I just said to the guy, ‘You can’t do this. This is just heartless’.”

A family of beef farmers who experienced a total cull were impacted by slow MPI decision making, resulting in their farm over-wintering too many cattle during a very wet season: “…the animal welfare of the animals was not good at all…Because they were on very small pads in mud up to their haunches… we had two or three pass away on our pad because the conditions were so rough.”

Another farmer recounted how MPI officials insisted on following the mandated process of decontaminating a shed at a cost of $150,000 when he could have had it rebuilt for $70,000. On another farm a cleaning team was paid to sit at a table dipping individual screws into disinfectant and scrubbing them clean with a wire brush when the cost of brand new screws was negligible.

What on earth rationale was behind such stupidity?

One farmer said he had quit the land because of the impact of the elimination programme and further said he could not remember the birth of a child because of the stress at the time.

The study participants noted that farming was a 24/7 business but MPI officials were unavailable at weekends or over holiday periods. However, they didn’t necessarily blame MPI staff.

“In MPI, there’s a lot of people really, really trying. And they’re just getting caught up by red tape,” one farmer noted.

The researchers were guided by a stakeholder panel with farmer, veterinarian, local business, (human) health professional, rural organisation, agribusiness and MPI representation, and oversight was provided by a governance group comprising a Māori representative, a public health expert, an ethicist, a retired veterinarian and a farming consultant.

They noted another disease incursion was inevitable and that solutions need to be sought from within rural communities and then integrated into the relevant bureaucratic processes.

They propose:

  • The development of a regional interprofessional body to develop pragmatic approaches to future incursions
  • Genuine local engagement to seek solutions from the ground up
  • The formation of a nationwide ‘standing army’ of rural-based experts who can be called on to help shape the response to the next incursion

“One of MPI’s key principles in terms of biosecurity is fair restoration – ‘no better or worse’. We believe this should not just apply to the financial impact on farmers but should be applied to both the mental health of all involved, and also the social wellbeing of rural communities.”

Sally Rae reports on the heartless and devastating intrusion::

In the wake of a University of Otago study on the impact of the Mycoplasma bovisoutbreak on Southern families  – with a dominant theme of  the “intrusive, impractical and inhumane” nature of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ eradication programme – business and rural editor Sally Rae tells the story of a North Otago family caught up in it.

Rob Borst will never forget the scene that greeted him when he turned up at his North Otago dairy shed 15 minutes too late.
With Mycoplasma bovis declared on Mr Borst’s large-scale dairy farming operation in 2018, he had cows with mastitis – one of the symptoms of the disease – that the Ministry for Primary Industries ruled could not be sent to the meat works.

The cows were not unsound and Mr Borst felt they could still be killed at the works, but MPI decided they should be killed on-farm, despite his concerns.

Many of his staff had been with him a long time and had personal connections with the herd. Concerned about the effect on them, Mr Borst intended ensuring they were away when it happened.

He was supposed to meet a representative from a pet food business at the shed, but he turned up 15 minutes early and Mr Borst was out on the farm. He arrived to find 10 cows had been shot, their throats cut and his staff crying.

“I just said to the guy, ‘You can’t do this. This is just heartless’.

“There was hysteria. The rest of the cows got upset. The staff were beside themselves. And then we had to deal with the repercussions of the blocked up effluent systems because all the blood coagulated.

Farmers and their staff milk their cows twice a day.  Many are the results of years of careful breeding and they get to know them well. Having to cull them would be bad enough. Shooting them beside the rest of the herd while the staff watched was cruel and insensitive to the people and animals.

“I rang MPI and said, ‘Look no more, that’s got to stop’. He was told MPI had the option of bringing police in to enforce it.

“So I basically said, ‘… if you’re going to go down that track, there’ll be cameras there to show what’s going on here.’ And I finally got them to back off.”

That, Mr Borst, acknowledges was probably the lowest point in his dealings with the disease and MPI. It was also when he phoned then response head Geoff Gwyn and told him they would not continue with the cull.

He and his wife Sylvia then started to “finally get a bit of understanding”.

“He [Gwyn] brought down three other quite senior people in MPI. And it was my opportunity to … lay it out to them.

“They probably didn’t realise what it’s really like, down on the face. The coal face of dealing with this. These are guys that sit in Wellington, quite high up in MPI, and I made it as real as I could.”

One MPI staffer he felt was “quite arrogant about the situation” when sitting in their home.

“He didn’t even think he should be down here, talking or listening to a farmer.

If a few more people from Wellington got down on the farm they might understand the impact their policies and procedures have on real people and stock.

“I pointed out we were fighting for our whole livelihood, because farming is a career. I wanted to be a farmer when I was in primary school. I never faltered and I’ll be a farmer for the rest of my life.”

“The other thing [is] it’s our home. We live on the farm. It’s not like we turn off at five o’clock and jump in the car and head home. We live it, 24 hours a day and I don’t think they understood that. So we were fighting for our home as well.”

After that conversation, Mr Borst said the process got “a lot better and a lot clearer” and he felt there was much improved understanding and respect, from both sides, about finding a way forward. . . 

The Borsts found out their stock had the disease at the busiest time of the year.

“This was in the middle of calving, the busiest time of year, [I was ] probably overworked, quite stressed, then having to deal with that, it took a lot to take in for starters,” he said.

He went through various phases; initially shock, then panic – wondering how their business would survive – then trying to get an understanding of what was going on, because things were happening beyond his control, and finally, putting a date on when they would get to the end point and get back operating where they needed to be.

“Once I got to that phase, I think I probably became more pragmatic about things. I was more accepting of what needed to happen and then probably focused on trying to make things happen to get us to that point. But it was a difficult period to go through all those phases.”

They got their vet, Kevin Kearney, from Oamaru’s Veterinary Centre, on board. He attended many of the 30-odd meetings the Borsts had on farm with MPI. He was a “god-saver” and helped them to challenge MPI at times “because MPI were making some very poor decisions at that stage”.

During those early meetings, some of the people MPI had fronting them were “probably out of their depth” and he did not think there was clear enough direction from “higher up” about the process.

“I think they [MPI] were terribly poor at the beginning, shockingly poor actually to be fair … they were disorganised, they were ill-prepared and they were terrible at working with farmers.”

But Mr Borst acknowledged the ministry got much better very quickly. . . 

That fast improvement gives some reassurance that MPI learned from its mistakes.

“I look at it as something’s happened in my farming life and I hope I never have that experience again … I just look at it as just an experience and it was tough, but we got through it. We’re out the other side and we’re looking forward.”

As for MPI, he believed the ministry was a lot better for it – “not that you ever want to go through it again but, if we had another something terrible to go through, I think they are certainly much better prepared for it, going down the track.”

MPI plans to add to lessons learned from this experience:

The Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme has been through significant reviews and, with what has been learnt along the way, substantial improvements have been made, programme director Stuart Anderson says.

The aim was to lessen the impact on affected farmers “as much as we can, while we work to eradicate this disease”. . . 

“We know that the M. bovis eradication effort has been challenging for the farmers involved, and even when the process goes as intended and by the book, it is tough for those affected by movement restrictions and directions to cull their animals.

“We and our partners, Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb NZ, are continuing to work hard to support the wellbeing and recovery of those impacted by M. bovis, including getting through the process and compensation claims paid as quickly as possible,” he said.

The eradication of the disease had been one of the most significant biosecurity challenges faced in New Zealand. Allowing it to spread would have resulted in an estimated $1.3 billion in lost productivity in the country’s “vital” cattle sectors in the first 10 years alone.

“It would have left farmers trying to manage the disease at significant cost and with major changes to the way we farm cattle in New Zealand required to manage the risk.

“This is why Government and industry are investing $870 million over 10 years to achieve eradication,” he said.

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis had never been attempted before and building the programme from scratch had not been without substantial challenges.

The effect on farmers, their families and workers could not be underestimated – “it’s been tough, particularly so in the early years”.

A review being carried out now sought to assess what could be learnt from what was New Zealand’s largest biosecurity response to date, Mr Anderson said.

Three years on from the joint decision by the Government and the farming industry to attempt to eradicate the disease from New Zealand, the response was “well on track”.

Of the 267 properties confirmed with Mycoplasma bovis, as at June 17, 2021, there were only six active confirmed (currently infected) properties, many of which would be cleaned and cleared, on their way to back to farming as usual over the coming weeks.

“While eradicating M. bovis from New Zealand has been a massive challenge, we are tracking well to success and we are confident that working in partnership with industry and farmers on the ground, will see New Zealand farmers able to farm free from this disease in the future.”

The programme was run with a philosophy of continuous improvement and learning. . . 

MPI deserves credit for the eradication programme being well on the way to success and for learning from mistakes.

The risk of other diseases coming in is real and being better prepared for the next one is essential.

In an interview with Jamie Mackay on The Country yesterday, Sally Rae made the point that not being prepared for M. bovis was bad enough, being ill-prepared for something even more serious, like Foot and Mouth disease would be disastrous, not just for farmers and their stock but the whole economy.


Petition launched to get more vets into NZ

21/01/2021

A critical shortage of vets has prompted a petition to let more into the country:

Right now, New Zealand is facing a dire veterinarian shortage. We urgently need vets from overseas, but the closure of our borders to safeguard New Zealand from COVID-19 – while of course necessary – has meant they haven’t been able to arrive.

As we enter the busy summer season, without enough vets: 

  • Animal welfare will suffer; 

  • The wellbeing of our extremely busy, stressed and burnt-out vets will only continue to be hit, at a time they should be able to enjoy some rest with loved ones; and

  • Our production animal sectors could face economic harm if animals can’t be treated.

The Government has made some promising noises, but far more still needs to be done.

So far, of the 30 border exceptions the Government promised back in September, only 19 or so vets have been allowed into the country – despite many more (who meet the Government’s stated criteria) requesting exceptions to enter and being declined. 

The Government’s latest decision only reconfirms its existing and public-stated policy: that only vets earning over $106,080 pa will be eligible for border exceptions.

We desperately need vets of all skill levels, salary levels, experience levels and disciplines, and we only need a small number. Only a few vets would be entering NZ at any one time – because it takes a while to find them jobs and get them registered to practise as a veterinarian here in New Zealand.  

They’ll arrive in a safe and controlled manner, and not all at once like the Netflix actors or Russian fishermen. They’ll arrive a few at a time and won’t clog up MIQ facilities.

Designating vets as critical workers would reflect our crucial need for them as skilled professionals to care for our animals – in the same way that we recognise our human doctors who care for you and me.

Please sign and share this petition to urge the Government to reclassify vets as critical workers. Thank you.

You can sign the petition here.

You can read a media release here.


Rural round-up

13/10/2020

Vegetation grown on farms offsets agricultural emissions

Farmers are welcoming an independent study which has found New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms are already close to being carbon neutral.

The study, led by Dr Bradley Case at the Auckland University of Technology, estimated the woody vegetation on farms was offsetting between 63% and 118% of their on-farm agricultural emissions.

If the mid-point in the report’s range was used, on average the woody vegetation on sheep and beef farms was absorbing about 90% of these emissions.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor said absolute greenhouse gas emissions from New Zealand sheep and beef production have reduced by 30% since 1990.

“This research shows that of the remaining emissions, the vast majority are being offset by the trees on our farms and New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are well on the way to being carbon neutral by 2050. . . .

Oxford University researchers are pushing for a new method of measuring greenhouse gas emissions and their warming impact

Myles Allen, Ph.D., a professor of Geosystem Science and head of the Climate Dynamics Group at Oxford Martin, University of Oxford, has a beef with how the impact of methane emissions on global warming is wrongly calculated — and then misconstrued to blame livestock for climate change.

He and his Oxford Martin colleagues have proposed a new metric called GWP* (global warming potential – star), which focuses on the warming effects of the different gases, rather than their rate of emissions. The current mischaracterization of methane’s impact on warming, Allen told The Daily Churn, ignores the “white elephant” in the room — fossil fuel-based carbon dioxide emissions. This in turn could lead to misguided policies that inaccurately target animal agriculture.

“If we all turn vegetarian, but we don’t do anything about fossil fuel emissions, in five years we’ll be in exactly the same position we were before,” Allen says of rising global temperatures. But “we’re vegetarians.” . . .

Southland farmer makes finals – Sally Rae:

Helping people is a big part of what makes Bernadette Hunt “tick”.

Mrs Hunt, a Chatton farmer and vice-president of Southland Federated Farmers, is a finalist in the primary industry leadership award in this year’s Primary Industries New Zealand awards which will be announced at a function in Wellington on November 23.

Balancing farming, family — she and her husband Alistair have two primary school-aged daughters — and rural advocacy was a “real juggle” and there were certainly times when the balance was not right.

However, she was a firm believer in volunteering — “that’s what makes communities tick” — and also role modelling that to her own children. . . .

Title ton: shearer celebrates milestone :

A South Canterbury farmer has become the first person in the world to win 100 blade-shearing finals. 

Tony Dobbs won the open blades title at the Waimate Shears Spring Championships last night, a competition he first competed at in 1979.

Dobbs won the title by shearing four sheep in 14 minutes and 48 seconds.

He beat the reigning individual world champion Allan Oldfield, who is also from South Canterbury. . . 

Feet first :

Draining abscesses on cows hoofs may be a mucky job but Johan Buys loves it.

“When I get rid of that I can get rid of the pain,” he says.

Johan is known as ‘The Hoofman’ and spends his days tending cows’ hoofs, curing lameness.

He says it’s hugely satisfying watching a cow that limped in for treatment, leave for the paddock pain-free. . . 

Wairarapa sweeps 2020 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, 2020 best year yet:

Wairarapa Olive Oil makers have swept the annual NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, winning four of the five major awards for Olive Oil Excellence, with the region’s growers also taking home 58 medals.

Beginning in 2020, the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards recognise excellence in NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oils (NZ EVOO). This year’s winners were announced tonight at the Olives NZ 2020 Award Ceremony.

Four Wairarapa Olive Growers received top awards: . . 


Rural round-up

09/06/2020

Book puts farming at centre of NZ’s story :

Brian Easton says his new book could not ignore farming’s contribution to the history of NZ.

William Soltau Davidson is not usually considered one of New Zealand’s great 19th century heroes. He came to New Zealand in 1865 as a 19-year-old farm cadet at the Levels in South Canterbury. By the age of 32 he was general manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, which held some 3,000,000 acres in the South Island, in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, some of which Davidson sold off to small holders.

In 1882 he supervised the loading of the first exports of frozen meat at Port Chalmers and welcomed the Dunedin when it reached London. That Davidson does not appear more prominently in our general histories reflects their neglect of the central role of farming.

It is a strange omission, probably the result of the urban base of the writers, the tendency to imitate foreign histories with their focus on industrialisation and their lack of interest in the economy. . . 

Farmer is game for a challenge – Colin Williscroft:

Two-time women’s Rugby World Cup winner Bex Mahoney is these days putting her energy into running a Tararua farming business with her husband Luke but she’s also breaking new ground on the rugby field. There are synergies between the two, as Colin Williscroft reports.

Bex Mahoney likes to challenge herself to have a go at different things because that gives her an edge.

Is a simple philosophy but one that has paid off for the Pahiatua farmer. 

Only the fourth New Zealander to have played 50 first class games of rugby and gone on to referee 50 first class games, both men’s and women’s, the mother of two young girls spends much of her time getting her hands dirty on-farm while also exploring new farming opportunities online and on the phone.  . . 

Farmstrong hits 5th birthday:

Rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong is celebrating its fifth birthday.

More than 18,000 Kiwi farmers and growers have engaged in the last year alone. 

Farmstrong helps farmers and their families cope with the ups and downs of farming by sharing things farmers can do to look after themselves and the people in their business.

It offers practical tools and resources through its website, workshops and community events, inviting farmers to find out what works for them and lock it in. Farmers using good techniques to stay mentally and physically fit and healthy are regularly featured in stories in Farmers Weekly.  . . 

Queens Birthday honours: cattle breeder Bruce McKenzie:

Bruce McKenzie is proud of his Queen’s Birthday Honour, even though rumour has it, he thought it was a joke at first.

The Wairarapa beef breeder was awarded Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to the cattle industry.

“It’s a great honour to receive this. I think agriculture is going to be a part of the future in New Zealand and I feel very proud to have this honour” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . .

Research finds sheep eyes are the window to their stressed out souls :

Kiwi researchers have found the temperature of a sheep’s eye is linked to the animal’s level of stress.

Thermal imaging technology is being used by AgResearch scientists to gain greater insights into how livestock experience stress, and how that knowledge can help enhance animal welfare.

Research in which the technology is focused on sheep has been published today in the PLOS ONE scientific journal, entitled “Evaluation of infrared thermography as a non-invasive method of measuring the autonomic nervous response in sheep“. . . 

Partners in agritech innovation – Niall Casey:

While it may sound like a cliché to say that Ireland and New Zealand both punch above their weights, it’s clear from the figures that it’s true.

Ireland, a country of less than 5 million people produces enough food to feed over 50 million people, while NZ’s agri-food is known across the world for its food – with its dairy farming passing $15b in export earnings annually.

Both countries are united by their shared commitment to quality, traceability and the highest standards in production and safety.


Safe better than essential

01/04/2020

The government is deciding what is an essential business or service, Act says it would be better to determine what is safe:

 . .. If the objective is to stop the spread of COVID-19, then the test should be whether something can be done safely, not whether it is essential. Moving to a test of safety rather than necessity would be a much better way of fighting the virus while salvaging businesses.

‘Essential’ Compromises ‘Safety’

The Government rightly says it is essential to have food available. Once food is available in an area, no other activity is permissible. But making people travel further to visit a smaller number of bigger and busier stores undermines our goal of reducing the spread of the virus. Supermarkets have remained open because they are essential but they have only undertaken safety mechanisms more recently. Under a safety approach, only food stores with safe processes would be allowed to open, but all stores with such processes would equally be able to open. . .

It would be just as safe for butchers and greengrocers to be open, following best practice of allowing one customer in, one out and keeping everyone two metres apart, as it is for supermarkets, perhaps even safer if it meant fewer people in supermarkets.

Couplands announced yesterday it will close its South Island plant because it mostly supplies its own shops in the south and these aren’t deemed essential.

The bakery supplies about a third of the South’s bread. The plant closure will cause shortages and panic buying. Again, providing the stores have practices which keep their staff and customers safe, they should be able to stay open and lower the pressure on supermarkets.

Instead of the objective test ‘can this be done in a way that is safe’ we are facing a subjective test ‘does the Government think you need this.’ This level of government power is not sustainable.

Breakdown Of The Rule of Law

Subjectivity leads to absurdities and a breakdown of the rule of law. The Government has decided that eating halal meat is a goal important enough to justify opening some butcheries. Driving to the beach for a walk or a picnic is not. Which one is safer? . . .

Halal meat can be bought from supermarkets and a halal butchery isn’t any more or less safe than any other butcheries. It’s the safety practices they follow to protect staff and customers safe that matter, not religious practices.

If the decision to close butcheries isn’t reversed millions of dollars of meat will have to be dumped. That would be an unconscionable waste.

The closure of butchers is also risking animal welfare:

The Government’s decision to exclude independent butchers from the essential business list during the COVID-19 lockdown will cause an animal welfare crisis in the New Zealand pork sector, says an industry group.

All independent butchers across the country have been classified as non-essential businesses and been forced to close as part of the Alert Level 4 lock-down for COVID-19.

However NZ Pork said the decision would likely result in the sector having no place to house up to 5,000 surplus pigs on farms every week.

“By not being able to sell fresh carcass pigs to the independent butchers and other segments, we will be faced with a significant animal welfare issue,” said chief executive of NZ Pork David Baines . . 

Back to Act:

Trust The People

Underpinning the ‘essential’ approach is a belief that people can’t be trusted to judge what is safe. (Can I do this without coming within two metres of others?, without touching things other may have touched?).

Safety Approach: Essential For The Recovery

We are going to have to recover as an economy. Free Press is approached daily by businesspeople in a state of despair. Their working capital may or may not last the first four weeks, it certainly won’t last further. Being able to operate under a safety approach is, to borrow a term, essential. Essential to what? Essential to people protecting their livelihoods in the coming months. . . 

The more businesses that continue operating, the more people who are able to keep working, the less the economic and social damage the lockdown will inflict and the faster the recovery will be.

What Would A Safety Approach Look Like?

A safety approach would involve a basic set of rules that people must follow. A two metre rule (Free Press regrets this would exclude televised dance competitions). Can you do this whilst remaining two metres from others? Yes or no? A ‘touched object’ rule. Can you do this without touching objects others outside your household have touched? Yes or no? A regular testing approach. Can we guarantee regular testing and contact tracing is possible? Yes or no? Obviously there is more to do, but we need to start developing a safety approach rather than an essential approach, pronto.

The only justification for the lockdown is to keep us all safe.

Whether or not a business can operate safely should be the only criteria for allowing it to do so through the lockdown.

That won’t compromise personal health and will help economic and social health.


Rural round-up

25/02/2020

The only way forward for farming is to do it together as a country – Daniel Eb:

Dad and I had an argument recently.

We’re fencing off a stream on the farm soon and I want to include a patch of bush in the job. 

We traded reasons for and against. “It’s good for biodiversity, there’s no feed in there anyway”.

“The stock need the shelter, we’re already losing grazing around the stream.” . .

 

Elle Perriam and Harriet Bremner join forces to empower Canterbury farmers :

Two young rural women who have a friendship with a difference will make their first public appearance together in a bid to change the way those in the rural sector think.

Elle Perriam, founder of Will To Live, and Harriet Bremner, children’s author and safety campaigner have both lived through tremendous grief, suffering the loss of both of their partners.

With a bond shared through their deep grief, love of dogs, horses, farming and passion for people – the duo are pairing up for the first time to tell their stories, hosting an event at the Rolleston School Auditorium on March 2. . . 

How China became NZ’s number one trading partner – Jamie Gray:

China’s coronavirus outbreak has delivered a fast, sharp shock to the New Zealand economy.

From tourism to the meat trade, the disease has highlighted just how reliant New Zealand has become on China.

In less than a decade, the People’s Republic has come to dominate nearly all New Zealand’s major merchandise exports.

Already, some economists are saying the virus – officially named Covid-19 – and a local drought could tip New Zealand into recession this year. . . 

Bovis eradication still realistic – Annette Scott:

Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is proving realistic, M Bovis Programme communications manager Joe Stockman says.

But it is highly unlikely how it got here will ever be known.

Addressing a large gathering of farmers, rural professionals and community leaders in Oamaru on Wednesday Stockman said there’s confidence in a successful eradication.

M bovis is not right across New Zealand, making eradication feasible.

“The current spread is very limited to the movement of infected animals. . . 

New face for meat body :

Meat Industry Association trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva is the organisation’s new chief executive.

She succeeds Tim Ritchie, who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Before joining the association in 2015 Karapeeva held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles at the Ministries for Primary Industries, of Business, Innovation, and Employment and Economic Development. 

She said the red meat sector is operating in an increasingly complex environment and faces a number of challenges domestically and internationally. . . 

NZ’s ‘largest one-day show’ is coming:

The Mackenzie A&P Highland Show will be held on Easter Monday.

Described by organisers as the largest one-day show in New Zealand, the event at Mackenzie A&P Showgrounds is expected to draw up to 15,000 people.

Organising secretary, Jodi Payne is promising visitors there will be “plenty to see”. . . 

Northern NSW beef producers show faith in future wool industry – Lucy Kinbacher:

A growing number of cattle producers looking for a quick turnover and restocking option after recent rain are entering the wool game and building their own Merino flock.

The new players to the Merino game are doing battle with established wool growers who are also ditching their sideline cattle herds to reestablish their traditional sheep carrying capacity.

Narrabri-based couple Jon and Claire Welsh may be fifth generation cattle producers but their newly acquired the 930 hectare (2300 acre) Guyra property, Oban View, is being stocked with a Merino flock. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/01/2020

Land values slide – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy land values will slide over the next five years as farming is put under increased economic and environmental pressure, Rabobank says.

Tighter credit, reduced foreign capital and pending environmental change will all lead to softer dairy land prices in the short to medium term,  Rabobank’s Afloat But Drifting Backwards – A Look at Dairy Land Values Over the Next Five Years report says.

And an erosion of farmgate milk prices could put more stress on dairy land prices, author and dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

The bank forecasts an average farmgate milk price of $6.25/kg milksolids for the five years – above the 10-year average but below recent prices. . . 

Federated Farmers backs call to slice agricultural subsidies:

Cutting agricultural subsidies that distort trade and production is a vital step in tackling world hunger and climate change challenges, Federated Farmers says.

“We’re right behind the messages on further reform of WTO rules on subsidies that the Cairns Group of major exporting countries put to world leaders in Davos this week,” Feds President Katie Milne said 

“New Zealand farmers are positive proof that reducing domestic subsidies drives innovation and food production efficiency, and ultimately delivers for the consumer in terms of quality, choice and prices, as well as for the environment.  Our meat and milk have one of the lowest carbon footprints per kilogram of product in the world.” . . 

Renewed call for easier trade in agriculture welcomed in NZ – Eric Frykberg:

A veteran trade lobby group emerged from hibernation in Switzerland last week to renew the call for easier trade in agriculture.

The 19-nation Cairns Group made its plea after ministers met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

The 33-year-old Cairns Group helped establish the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the 1990s.

But it went off the radar, after a later effort, the so-called Doha Round of trade talks, faltered. . . 

Total ban on livestock exports could threaten NZ’s trad – Fed Farmers – MAja Burry:

Federated Farmers is warning a ban on live exports would cut off an income stream to thousands of New Zealand farmers.

The government launched a review into the practice of exporting livestock in June last year, after New Zealand and Australian cattle died when being shipped to Sri Lanka last year.

The review is focused on cattle, deer, goat and sheep exports. A consolation document prepared by the Ministry for Primary Industries puts forward four options, which range from improving current systems to a total ban on the practice.

Public consultation on the review closed this week, with more than 3500 submissions being lodged with the ministry. . . 

Obstacles remain to a free trade deal with the EU – Sam Sachdeva :

Bold talk of an FTA between New Zealand and the European Union by the end of 2019 proved misplaced – and wrapping up talks in 2020 may also be a stretch unless major hurdles are overcome

By the end of 2019, Jacinda Ardern’s so-called “year of delivery” was as much about what her Government had failed to deliver as what it had, and near the top of the ‘not achieved’ list was a free trade deal with the European Union.

In fairness, Ardern was not alone in hoping a deal with the EU could be wrapped up swiftly. . . 

Maranoa Kangaroo Co-op offers graziers payment for roos- Sally Cripps:

A bold move in the kangaroo harvesting industry has been unveiled by the Maranoa Kangaroo Harvesters and Growers Cooperative.

The group based at Mitchell has resolved to introduce a 10c/kg payment to graziers for kangaroos harvested on their property from February 1, subject to conditions.

Among them are that both the grazier and the harvester must be members of the cooperative, a one-off $50 fee, and that the grazier must not apply for or use a Damage Mitigation Permit. . . 

 


We don’t need another pest

13/01/2020

A petition calling for  calling for koala bears to be introduced to New Zealand eucalyptus plantations has gathered more than 4000 signatures.

. . .The Koala Relocation Society started the petition a week ago saying “koalas are functionally extinct in Australia, and could thrive in New Zealand, as many other Australasian species do”.

It’s estimated hundreds of thousands, even millions of animals have perished in the fires ravaging parts of Australia.

“New Zealand has 28,575 hectares planted in eucalypts, most is located in the Central North Island, and are similar to much older forests from Australia, as they grow fast here,” the petition read. . . 

Which other species that functionally thrive in New Zealand would the petitioners be talking about?

The  possums that carry TB and threaten trees and birds? The wallabies that eat native trees and farm pasture?

The toll the bushfires have taken on Australian wildlife is devastating but there are much better ways for New Zealand to help than trying to establish populations of koalas here.

We don’t need another pest.


Meat with integrity

25/08/2019

Meat with Integrity aims to raise public awareness of the Scottish red meat industry’s animal welfare and sustainability credentials.

. . The campaign will also highlight the industry’s world-renowned quality assurance schemes which cover the entire production process, including farms, hauliers, feed companies, auction markets and processors.

Farmers Hazel McNee from Tealing, Joyce Campbell from Sutherland, Fraser Shaw from Lockerbie and Bruce McConachie who farms in the Cairngorms, were recently announced as the four farming “faces” of the campaign. . .


Global pig fever alert

26/07/2019

African Swine Fever has been declared a global pandemic by the World Organisation for Animal Health:

That is an international major event putting New Zealand’s $750 million commercial pork industry at risk, NZ Pork general manager David Baines said.

“It’s concerning. It isn’t going away. In fact, it’s got bigger,” Baines said.

NZ Pork, the Ministry for Primary Industries and AsureQuality have embarked on a nationwide education campaign to warn people keeping domestic pigs or coming into contact with feral pigs of the risks of the disease.

“The industry is taking the threat of the disease extremely seriously.

“Watching the disease spread through Europe and Asia demonstrates how devastating it could be if it reached NZ,” Baines said.

Though the disease has no effect on human health the only response is to cull infected herds. . .

While there have been no detections of the it in NZ, about 60% of pork consumed in NZ is imported from more than 25 countries including China, Poland and Belgium that are identified as having the fever.

The virus is exceptionally hardy and can survive almost indefinitely in frozen meat. 

It can also be carried on clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles. . .

It’s estimated pigs are kept on at least 5500 properties outside the commercial industry with an unknown number of animals.

“One of the things we’re really emphasising is the importance of not feeding untreated meat scraps to pigs,” Baines said.

“The major risk to our industry is that African swine fever gets into the lifestyle or para-commercial pig population through the feeding of untreated food scraps and from there into our commercial herd.”

In NZ it is illegal to feed meat to pigs unless it has been cooked at 100 degrees, essentially boiled, for one hour.

“This is a key biosecurity measure as African swine fever is a very hardy virus and can survive in pork products that might not have been cooked thoroughly as well as various types of processed pork products. 

“It can infect the pigs that eat them.” . . 

The pork industry has been calling for an end to imports of pork for years.

Until now that’s looked like a non-tariff barrier to protect the local industry from overseas competitors.

The risk of ASF provides a much stronger case for restricting imports on biosecurity grounds.


%d bloggers like this: