Rural round-up

May 6, 2015

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill passes final reading:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the unanimous support for the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill during its third and final reading in Parliament today.

“This bill will strengthen the protection of animals in New Zealand by improving the enforceability, clarity, and transparency of the Animal Welfare Act 1999,” says Mr Guy.

“New Zealanders care deeply about how animals are treated. Sixty eight per cent of New Zealand households have at least one pet, and we earn around $25 billion a year by exporting animal products such as meat, milk and wool.

“How we treat animals matters not just to animals, but to ourselves and overseas markets.” . .

Leading light lost – Sandra Taylor:

This country’s beef industry lost one of its leading lights with the sudden death of Lindsay Haugh last month. The North Canterbury farmer’s enthusiasm for cattle breeding was reflected in the measurable progress he made in the commercial Angus beef breeding herd he ran on The Sisters, the Haugh family’s farm at Parnassus.

He bought the first of his Angus breeding cows in 1990 and this ignited his passion for breeding and genetics.

A great proponent of estimated breeding values (EBVs) Haugh showed how well they could work in a commercial breeding herd by incrementally increasing the efficiency and productivity of his cows. Haugh’s focus was on producing steers with superior-quality carcase characteristics for the Five Star Beef feedlot from cows that were able to survive and reproduce off marginal hill country. . .

‘Farming is a fantastic way to bring up a family’  – Kate Taylor:

The best fertiliser for any property is the farmer’s footprints say Sam and Gemma Hain, who own the 1050ha Waikura Station at Pehiri, west of Gisborne, and 135ha block Turiwai at Te Karaka.

The Hains were finalists in this year’s East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

“I’m home for morning tea and lunch most days. Farming is a great lifestyle and financially very rewarding as well. It gives us a lot of pleasure and enjoyment to do it well,” says Sam.

Waikura has large tracts of native bush – about 150ha in total. Sam says their value is in the “health of the land… the wildlife… you can get up in the morning and hear a cacophony of bird sound. This is our slice of paradise,” he says. . .

New quad bike rules ‘heavy-handed’:

Farmers are increasingly frustrated and fearful over upcoming changes to health and safety legislation around quad bikes, a farming industry leader says.

Later this year, changes to the Health and Safety Act will result in tougher penalties for non-compliance, including higher fines for people riding quad bikes with passengers.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parsons said farmers in the meat and wool industry were concerned.

Farms were workplaces as well as homes, and new harsher penalties for having passengers on quad bikes would change things dramatically for families; what was needed was a code of compliance for for quad bikes rather than “draconian” new rules, he said. . .

Kiwi Sheep And Beef Farmers And French Counterparts Share Common Ground:

New Zealand and French livestock farmers face many similar challenges, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand, following a visit here by French livestock sector leaders.

“Farmers in France have a lot in common with Kiwi farmers – they are dealing with many of the same sorts of issues that sheep and beef farmers come up against here. The more we share perspectives on those issues, the better that we’re able to understand each other,” said B+LNZ chief executive Dr Scott Champion.

Supporting the sheep and beef sector’s market opportunities is a major priority for B+LNZ – including in high-value markets like France, where New Zealand has a stable and long-established trading relationship. New Zealand exported around $135 million of sheepmeat to France in 2014, more than half of which was chilled product. . .

 Wool scouring merger a win for New Zealand:

Christchurch-based wool processor and trader New Zealand Wool Services has welcomed the Commerce Commission’s preliminary endorsement of its merger with Cavalier Wool Holding’s wool scouring operations in New Zealand.

Cavalier’s scouring services will be merged with the scouring assets of New Zealand Wool Services International, owned by Australian-based wool processor and merchant Lempriere, pending final Commerce Commission approval.

Lempriere managing director William Lempriere said the purchase was a positive and overdue result for the New Zealand wool industry. . .

 

Berries and from China refuels Country of Origin labelling debate – Stephanie Melbourne:

New phone scanning technologies could add a new angle to Country of Origin labelling, which traditionally in New Zealand has been a voluntary practice for the food industry to use as a marketing tool, even though it is required in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia.

A recent labelling issue in Australia regarding frozen berries imported from China has further fuelled the ongoing debate surrounding Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) highlighting its relevancy and the value of knowing exactly where the food we eat comes from.

The Australian CoOL standard which commenced in 2006 requires mandatory country of origin labelling on all packaged foods, fish, pork and fresh whole or cut fruit and vegetables. They also have guidelines for the use of the terms “Product of Australia” and “Made in Australia”. Since then, there has been a raft of public reviews, and legislative and regulatory attempts to clarify the laws relating to CoOL in Australia. . . .


Bureaucracy trumps science & animal welfare

April 28, 2015

This is the triumph of bureaucracy over science and animal welfare:

British organic farmers are being forced to treat their livestock with homeopathic remedies under new European Commission rules branded ‘scientifically illiterate’ by vets.

Although homeopathy has been branded as ‘rubbish’ by the government’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, organic farmers have been told they must try it first under a new EU directive which came into force in January.

The regulation means that animals could be left diseased or in pain for far longer than necessary and organic meat could end up containing higher levels of bacteria, vets have warned.

John Blackwell, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: “We should always use medicines which have a strong science base and homeopathic remedies are not underpinned by any strong science.

“Disease is painful and farmers have an obligation to reduce that pain and not allow their animals to suffer so this regulation is troubling. It may lead to serious animal health and welfare detriment.

“If animals are not treated promptly it could lead to an underlying level of pathogen which could mean that the animal was no longer fit for human consumption.” . . .

The directive states that: “it is a general requirement…for production of all organic livestock that (herbal) and homeopathic products… shall be used in preference to chemically-synthesised allopathic veterinary treatment or antibiotics.”  . .

The Department for Food and Rural Affairs admitted that organic farmers were bound by the new regulations but said they could resort to other means, such as antibiotics, without losing their ‘organic’ status if homeopathic remedies proved to be ineffective.  . .

But what about the suffering of the animals while they wait for treatment that will work?

Vets in Norway have also called on their country’s Food Standards Agency to delay fully implementing the directive in protest at the “ridiculous” guidelines.

“We think it’s totally unacceptable from a scientific point of view because there’s no scientific basis for using homeopathy,” Ellef Blakstad, scientific director of the Norwegian Veterinary Association, adding that the move was “scientifically illiterate”.

“If you start using homeopathy, you prolong the time when the animals are not getting adequate treatment and that’s a threat to animal welfare.” . .

Antibiotics should not be used indiscriminately but no good farmer or vet should let animals suffer for bureaucracy when there’s a scientifically proven way to treat the problem.

A friend who was overseeing an organic farm received a call from the manager telling him sheep were dying in large numbers.

The overseer took one look at the stock and told the manager to drench them.

The farm lost its organic status but the stock survived and thrived.

Hat tip: Tim Worstall


Rural round-up

March 23, 2015

Food Safety Arrangement signed with Viet Nam:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed an arrangement between New Zealand and Viet Nam to strengthen food safety cooperation.

The Food Safety Cooperation Arrangement between the Ministry for Primary Industries and Viet Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development aims to promote recognition and consistency between the regulatory systems of the two countries.

“This arrangement comes as we mark the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations between New Zealand and Viet Nam,” Mrs Goodhew says. “It is an important step towards boosting trade to Viet Nam and further developing the strong ties between our two countries.”

The arrangement was signed in the presence of Prime Minister John Key and Viet Nam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who is currently visiting New Zealand to discuss strengthening these bilateral ties. . .

Federated Farmers condemn breaches of animal welfare:

Federated Farmers is emphatic farmers and trucking operators must follow the animal welfare rules when they take stock to processing works, especially as drought conditions reduce animal feed in some parts of the country.

A picture of Jersey cows being transported across Cook Straight for slaughter recently, led to thousands of shares on Facebook, attacks on farming practices and a complaint to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Federated Farmers Animal Welfare spokesperson, Andrew Hoggard, says the rules on stock welfare and stock transport are clearly laid out in Ministry for Primary Industries’ Codes of Welfare Practice.

“For transport, the trucker has to follow rules, such as keeping the animals fed and watered for long distance transport, but both the trucker and farmer are legally responsible for making sure that stock are suitable for transport at loading.” . .

 

Farmers care about cow welfare, says DairyNZ:

Industry body DairyNZ is reminding farmers of the requirements for transporting cattle following recent news and social media comments on a case now being investigated by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

DairyNZ’s veterinary technical policy advisor, Dr Nita Harding, says the requirements for transporting cattle are the same whether the animals are going to slaughter or some other destination – all animals must be fit for the journey.

“It is not acceptable to load and transport very thin animals and most farmers understand that and take great care of their animals. The industry, and that includes farmers, see the importance of everyone adhering to the same standards of care and they place a high priority on ensuring that happens. The law and our industry take animal welfare very seriously and there are strict rules relating to animal transport.” . .

2015 Dairy Community Leadership Awards announced:

Two women deemed to be dedicated and inspiring influences in their dairy communities have won the Dairy Community Leadership Award at the annual Dairy Women’s Network Conference in Invercargill tonight.

The Dairy Community Leadership Award is open to all Dairy Women’s Network members and recognises dairying women who make significant contributions in their local community, through leadership and support.

The 2015 recipients of the award are Western Southland farmer Jo Sanford and Northern Southland mum Rachael Nicholson. . .

 Sustainable Farm Systems Win Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Awards:

The 2015 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Matt and Tracey Honeysett, aim to farm sustainably taking into consideration the environment and staff.

The couple were the major winners at last night’s Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards held at the Masterton War Memorial Stadium, winning $11,200 in prizes.

The other big winners were Rowan McGilvary, the region’s 2015 Farm Manager of the Year, and Grace Stephenson, the Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“Our future farming goal is to run a sustainable system taking into consideration the environment, human resources and producing efficient product,” the Honeysett’s said. . .

Big wins for Whitestone – Rebecca Ryan:

Artisan Oamaru cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese won big at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards this week, winning the Champion Sheep Cheese category for its Monte Cristo sheep milk cheese.

Whitestone’s other accolades included four gold awards, five silver awards and 19 bronze awards.

The winners were announced in Auckland after a panel of 31 dairy connoisseurs, including top international critics, had judged more than 470 specialty cheeses, yoghurts and butter entries in the 2015 awards. . .

 

"To celebrate our 29 medal win at the New Zealand Cheese Awards, we are giving away 6 x Gold Medal Cheese Packs! (one for every gold medal) Contains one each of the gold medal cheeses. To enter just comment below which cheese is your favorite winner...(can deliver to NZ address only)"

Hawke’s Bay economy gets major blast from new food facility:

Pictured is a Post harvest technician at the Rockit food packing facility in Havelock North

The global success of Rockit™ apples has led to a $17 million investment into land development and a state-of-the-art food packaging facility in Havelock North.

Minister for Economic Development, Hon. Steven Joyce officially opened the multi-million dollar food facility today (Wednesday).

Havelock North Fruit Company managing director Phil Alison said world-wide consumer demand, which is up 700 percent from 2013, has proved a fruit such as an apple can be marketed as “a premium snack food and compete against sugar-coated confectionary.” . .

 

Farm Prices Steady but Sales Volumes Falling

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 70 fewer farm sales (-13.1%) for the three months ended February 2015 than for the three months ended February 2014. Overall, there were 464 farm sales in the three months to end of February 2015, compared to 455 farm sales for the three months ended January 2015 (+2.0%) and 534 farm sales for the three months to the end of February 2014. 1,809 farms were sold in the year to February 2015, 1.0% fewer than were sold in the year to February 2014.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2015 was $28,009 compared to $22,644 recorded for three months ended February 2014 (+23.7%). The median price per hectare rose less than 1% compared to January.  . .

Association records another surplus:

The Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association have released their Annual Report announcing results for the financial year ending 31 December 2014. Despite some poor weather on the Wednesday and Thursday of the 2014 Canterbury A&P Show, attendance increased with approximately 103,000 visitors, slightly up on 2013.

The 152nd Canterbury A&P Show, hosted by the Canterbury A&P Association, attracted 6682 livestock, equestrian and feature competition entries. The Trade Exhibitor section experienced its most successful year in the history. .

 

 


Still too much capacity?

January 21, 2015

Meat plants in the South Island and parts of the North Island are running at full stretch to cope with stock coming off farms which are running short of feed.

This  is inconvenient for those wanting to restructure the meat industry who argue that there is over capacity in killing space.

What would happen to the stock that farmers are selling now if there was less capacity?

Holding stock would put its health at risk unless farmers could buy supplementary feed and that could be too expensive for many.

How much killing space is enough?

There are strong arguments on the grounds of animal welfare to ensure that meat works can cope with surges of stock during prolonged dry spells which means there will be surplus capacity when the weather puts less pressure on feed.

 


NZ tops animal protection index

December 1, 2014

New Zealand has another first place to celebrate:

The Animal Protection Index, which ranks 50 countries across the world on their animal welfare standards, places New Zealand (along with the United Kingdom, Austria and Switzerland)in first place.

The Index is a breakthrough project by global charity, World Animal Protection, with the aim of improving the welfare of animals through policy and attitudinal change; and ultimately through enhanced legal protection.

Bridget Vercoe, Country Director at World Animal Protection in New Zealand, says:

“It is extremely pleasing to see New Zealand ranked up there with the highest index score. This is something we can all be very proud of.”

“Whilst this is great news for New Zealand, there are still improvements to be made in animal welfare. The Animal Welfare Act, which is currently under review, is a good example of how New Zealand is continuing to make positive change for animals. To stay at number one, it is vital we keep progressing in matters of animal welfare.”

“World Animal Protection looks forward to working with the Government to ensure New Zealand maintains its leadership position.”

For The Animal Protection Index countries were ranked according to a number of indicators.These indicators include:

The recognition of animal sentience (animals can feel pain and suffer); the presence of effective governance structures; implementation of animal protection policy; legislation and standards; provision of humane education and promotion of effective communication and awareness. Animals used in farming; animals in captivity; companion animals (pets); animals used for draught or recreational purposes; animals used in scientific research and wild animals are each considered separately.

The ranking is to be celebrated but should not be seen as cause for complacency.

Animal welfare is important everywhere on moral grounds. In New Zealand it is also economically important because of our dependence on exports of primary production especially produce from the sheep, beef, dairy, deer and fishing sectors.

The full report is here.

 


Rural round-up

November 28, 2014

Martinborough winemaker receives conservation award:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has presented Clive Paton of Martinborough with the 2014 Loder Cup at a ceremony today, for his significant contribution to habitat restoration in New Zealand.

“Clive Paton is a remarkable individual and very deserving of being this year’s Loder Cup recipient. He is an inspirational example of somebody with drive, energy and a vision, who has woven conservation into his life,” says Ms Barry.

The Loder Cup is awarded and presented by the Minister of Conservation annually for outstanding achievements in flora conservation work.

Clive Paton ONZM is a respected conservationist and winemaker. Founder and co-owner of the Ata Rangi vineyard in Martinborough, he is a long-time supporter of “Project Crimson”, which restores New Zealand’s rata and pohutukawa trees. . .

 

Funding success will boost dairy environmental actions

A proven method of working with farmers to improve their environmental performance will be expanded and two new projects will start thanks to funding partnerships between dairy farmers and the Waikato River Authority.

Around $1.3 million of funding from the Waikato River Authority is being matched with $1.3 million from dairy farmers, funded through the levy they pay their industry body DairyNZ, to get the three environmental projects underway. . .

China’s crackdown on polluting tanneries, Russia sanctions drive record slump in lambskin prices – Tina Morrison:

Global lambskin prices have collapsed from the first quarter’s record highs, as a Chinese crackdown on polluting tanneries and Russian trade sanctions sapped demand.

The price for third-grade lambskins, a benchmark for leather garments, has fallen below US$50 per dozen from a record high of US$95/dozen in the first quarter of this year, according to Invercargill-based Alliance Group, the world’s largest processor and exporter of sheepmeat. The skins are currently fetching about US$45-$50/dozen with the price expected to decline to US$40-$45/dozen, the farmer cooperative said. Prices generally fluctuate between US$50-$70/dozen. . .

 

The Meat Workers Union has today urged the Select Committee hearing submissions on the Health & Safety Reform bill to strengthen provisions that protect the rights of workers to be involved and speak out, saying that it’s becoming increasingly unsafe to raise health and safety concerns in some companies.

In its submission to the committee, the union said the industry is one of New Zealand’s most dangerous, with a history of high injury rates and disease.

“In just the past few months, we’ve seen a worker with a hook through his scalp, another with a serious cut to his arm being left for three hours trying to find someone to take him to hospital and another group of workers exposed to fumigation chemicals” says Graham Cooke, National Secretary. . .

 

The Ministry for Primary Industries did not have sufficient evidence to lay charges following two animal welfare investigations into incidents at piggeries earlier this year.

The investigations involved incidents at piggeries in Christchurch and Kumeu. Both involved video footage gathered by a third party.

MPI Director Compliance Dean Baigent said in both cases there was insufficient evidence to prove offences. . .

Third time’s a charm for Young Auctioneer:

PGG Wrightson auctioneer, Cam Bray proved that persistence pays off when he won the Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition held during the Canterbury A&P Show recently.

Eight auctioneers from throughout the country competed in the third year of the Competition, and Cam was pleased to take out the win after competing in all three years.

“It meant a lot to me to win the competition. Auctioneering is a big passion of mine and I hope the win leads to more opportunities.” . .

Selaks Celebrates 80 Year Heritage:

New ‘halo tier’ range of Founders wines launched

Respect for the brand’s creators and a celebration of its heritage are at the heart of the re-launch this month of a limited release range of Selaks Founders wines.

Re-introduced to commemorate the celebrated brand’s 80th anniversary, Selaks Founders Wines are a rare treat only previously produced in recognition of Mate Selak’s passing in 1991. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

September 7, 2014

Possum purge dents TB rate – Tim Cronshaw:

Possum control operations are making inroads into the most inhospitable bush and swamps in the challenging upper South Island area to protect cattle and deer herds from bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Of the 68 herds infected with TB nationally, 44 are in the West Coast, Tasman, Marlborough and Canterbury north of the Rangitata River. Southland, Otago and Canterbury south of the Rangitata have 15 infected herds and nine remain in the North Island.

They have been reduced from 1700 several decades ago as a result of work by TBfree New Zealand. . .

Gourmet fungi could boost farmers’ incomes – Tim Cronshaw:

Farmers with tree plots, and other foresters, could add a side business to their main income after research in high-value edible crops has come out with promising results.

Plant & Food Research’s Alexis Guerin and Associate Professor Wang Yun have been investigating the delicacies of saffron milk cap mushrooms and bianchetto truffle on farm sites in Lincoln.

The scientists believe there is room to commercialise the crops on forest blocks, although much research remains in its infancy.

Truffles sell for about $3000 a kilogram, while the saffron milk cap mushroom usually sells for $30 to $50/kg and double that in upmarket European stores. . .

US now top market for NZ chilled venison – Tim Cronshaw:

The United States has toppled Germany as the go-to market for New Zealand chilled-venison exports.

Deer farmers should be in good spirits, as venison prices are slightly ahead of last year’s and until lately exports to the US were sluggish as the global financial crisis continued to dent sales.

Deer Industry New Zealand venison marketing services manager Innes Moffat said a strong economic recovery in the US had encouraged more chilled venison sales.

“There has been a big increase in chilled venison cuts to the US in the last year compared to the year before. The US is now New Zealand’s largest market for chilled venison and over the last year it has overtaken Germany.” . . .

NZ urged to boost value of dairy goodse of dairy goods – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand can no longer wait for world dairy markets to wash over it and now is the time to be aggressive to create new profitability opportunities and focus on lifting productivity, the NZ Institute of Economic Research says.

While dismaying to dairy farmers who had enjoyed record high global commodity prices, the steep fall in global dairy prices this year was a sign of world markets getting in balance, NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said.

“For a whole bunch of reasons all of a sudden the markets have gone from finely balanced in favour of dairy producers to very much out of favour. 

“We went through a really sweet spot, where the global production side was trying to catch up with a demand that somehow caught us by surprise. . .

Farming ‘breakthrough’ overlooked – Neil Lyon:

THE low adoption of Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) practices throughout Australian broadacre farming areas has soil scientists baffled as to why more farmers haven’t tapped into its many advantages.

By confining weight-bearing machinery wheels to permanent tracks across a paddock, CTF effectively limits soil compaction to about 15 per cent of the paddock and leaves the remaining soil to regenerate and lift crop yield potential.

Despite the system being heralded as a breakthrough for farming nearly two decades ago, a recent survey of eastern Australian grain farmers found that only 13pc were using three-metre CTF, 21pc were using a combination of two-metre and three-metre CTF, and 66pc were using none at all. . . .

Shear adventure – Mark Griggs:

THE adventures of our forebears often intrigues and that is certainly the case for Stuart Town woolgrower, Laurie Pope.

Laurie has long been fascintated by the stories surrounding the journeys made by his grandfather, Michael John Pope, or Mick to family and friends, by bike while he was shearing in western NSW and Queensland during the late 1800s.

The dust is well settled and much now covered by bitumen, but Laurie has always held the desire to retrace his grandfather’s bicycle tracks, so last February, accompanied by neighbour Cliff Hyde, he set out by vehicle to cover the 2077 kilometre round journey from the family property, “Weemala”, Stuart Town, to Eulo, Qld, but was interrupted by rain halfway through at Thurloo Downs Station, Wanaaring. . .

 

Farmers urged to consult their vets as Theileria cases rise:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is encouraging farmers to consult their vet about suspected cases of Theileria on their farms, and how to best manage Theileria, as the latest data from the Ministry of Primary Industries shows an increase this season in the number of cattle infected with the disease. Naïve cattle that have been moved into affected areas are particularly at risk.

Theileria, which causes anaemia in cows and is spread by ticks, affects cattle and is not a human or food safety issue. Signs of Theileria include lethargy, low appetite and reduced milk production.

Dr Jenny Weston, President of the NZVA Society of Dairy Cattle Veterinarians, says that vets play a key role in working collaboratively with farmers to provide advice, taking both a preventive and proactive approach to minimise the disease. . . .

 


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