Rural round-up

March 16, 2017

Dear PETA where are you now?

Dear PETA,

Where are you now? In the past week, wildfires have riddled, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Cattle, horses, and numerous other animals are dead or badly burned, not to mention the human lives that were taken trying to save them.

So, I ask you again. Where are you now? You’re always there to tell us how wrong our industry is for raising animals to feed the world. I’ve seen you brand yourselves with hot irons to martyr yourselves for cattle.You are always at the truck stops harassing cattle-pots and at rodeos with your video cameras condemning the industry for its alleged mistreatment of livestock.

Mistreatment? What a joke, just like your organization. People died this week, PETA, right alongside their livestock because they were trying to save them! . . . 

Listen: Jim Hopkins – ‘Every attack on farming is an attack on our standard of living’:

The recent passing of Murray Ball has prompted Jim Hopkins to reminisce about the way New Zealanders used to feel about farming.

Ball’s creations Wal and Dog were indicative of a time when the public regarded farmers in an affectionate manner says Hopkins.

Now times have changed and the perception of farming is at a worryingly low level. . .

Years of work to repair flood damaged farms – Sarah Robson:

Farmers near Auckland say it will take them years to recover from the damage caused by last week’s heavy rain and flooding.

The hill country around Kawakawa Bay near Clevedon has been scarred by slips.

A week on from the first big deluge, there was still debris lodged in fences and riverbanks were scoured where streams had turned into raging torrents.

Auckland deputy mayor Bill Cashmore, who has farmed in the area for decades, said the clean-up was going to take a long time. . . 

Consumer info gives growers power  – Richard Ronnie:

Grower groups must quickly get more knowledge on their consumers’ preferences and buying behaviour before retailers do it for them.

Steven Martina, the chief executive of large Dutch produce supplier The Greenery, gave delegates at this year’s Zespri Momentum conference an insight to latest trends in one of the kiwifruit growers largest export markets.

The Greenery is Zespri’s Dutch distribution partner. It handles 350 produce types globally to all trade levels in 60 countries. . . .

Video competition to highlight environment:

Agrecovery Rural Recycling is offering rural kids the chance to show off their creative skills in a new video competition focussed on the environment.

Individuals or school groups under 18 years of age are challenged to create a 2-5 minute video that demonstrates what they and their families are doing on-property to improve their rural environment.

Examples could include protecting natural areas, improving water quality or animal welfare, waste reduction or recycling; anything that brings environmental benefits. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

December 23, 2016

Probe of shot-calf incident  – Shannon Gillies:

Police are investigating the brutal death of a bobby calf near Waimate at the weekend.

The calf was found at the side of a road on Sunday morning, apparently shot five times and struck by a vehicle.

Dan Studholme, on whose property near Waimate the calf had been grazing, said it was apparent the calf did not die instantly from its wounds.

Mr Studholme was called by a forestry worker who discovered the calf. Then a vet and the police were called.

Rifle round casings were found lying near the dead animal, which had been shot in the leg, stomach and jaw. . .

New tools needed to ensure pollination – Maureen Bishop:

Breeding flies to act as pollinators, fitting queen bumblebees with radio transmitters, and preloading honeybees with pollen. These are all methods being trialled to increase the range of crop pollinators.
New Zealand crop industries need a box of new tools to ensure sufficient pollination into the future, a pollination scientist told the audience at the Foundation for Arable Research’s field day at Chertsey on December 7.

Dr David Pattemore, of Plant & Food Research, said scientists were seeking new methods of crop pollination for industries such as avocado, kiwifruit and other agricultural crops. . . 

Kakanui River finds new support group :

North Otago’s Kakanui River, the subject of a three-year community programme that finished in October, has a new champion.

The North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group (NOSLaM) has taken over from the Kakanui Community Catchment Project to improve water quality, reduce soil erosion and increase biodiversity. The project was funded by the Ministry for the Environment’s  and the New Zealand Landcare Trust, with support from the North Otago Irrigation Company, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and Ravensdown.

NOSLaM chairman Peter Mitchell said the group had held meetings and made funding applications so it could continue the progress already made. . . 

Support for Gisborne conservation work:

Four ambitious conservation projects in Gisborne have received $78,000 in support from the DOC Community Fund, Conservation Ministers Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner have announced.

The projects range from weed eradication on Gisborne’s Titirangi Maunga to protecting wild kiwi in Maungataniwha and represent the best of community conservation, the Ministers say.

“Each of the groups is helping wage the War on Weeds and protect native species from introduced predators and invasive plants,” Ms Barry says. . . 

Kaikōura Cheese keeps going after quake – Max Towle:

Immediately after the Canterbury earthquakes, Daniel and Sarah Jenkins decided to pack up everything they own and move from Christchurch to Kaikōura.

A year later they fulfilled their dream and were cheese making, and eventually opened a shop, Kaikōura Cheese, on the main street.

Last month, when the shaking started again, they were hit with a severe case of deja vu and are only now starting to get their business rolling again. . . 

Fridge stoush over, copyright claim continues: Lewis Road claims partial victory over Fonterra – Ellen Read:

Boutique dairy producer Lewis Road Creamery is claiming a partial victory in its battle with dairy giant Fonterra and is praising social media for the outcome.

The two have been at odds for several weeks over the similarity of labelling on Fonterra’s new Kapiti premium milk range to Lewis Road bottles, as well as who has access to what shelf space in Foodstuffs’ New World and Pak ‘n Save supermarket fridges.

Co-founder Peter Cullinane said on Thursday that his lawyers received a letter from Fonterra lawyers late on Wednesday that showed Fonterra had updated plans it had been making to take up to 97.5 per cent of the supermarket shelf space meaning it was “business as usual” for all suppliers now. . . 

Will the Prime Minister accept Sir David’s challenge?

The challenges for a new Prime Minister are many and varied.

Over the last two weeks Bill English has negotiated a successful leadership campaign to succeed former Prime Minister John Key and a cabinet reshuffle, but now he faces a challenge of a unique kind.

Speaking with Jamie Mackay on NZME’s The Country radio farming show yesterday, Sir David Fagan, the world’s most decorated shearer and a member of the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships’ Organising Committee, laid an invitation at the new Prime Minister’s feet.

“Our new Prime Minister, I know he can shear. I’ve seen him shear at Lumsden many, many years ago at the Full wool Champs. Now there is a challenge for you Jamie, to get our new Prime Minister to shear a sheep down there.” Sir David said. But he didn’t stop there. . . 

Soils, climate, proximity key to new Marlborough vineyard development as sheep farm sold – Mike Watson:

A long-established Marlborough sheep farm has become the latest pastoral property in the region to be sold for vineyard development.

Vendor Mostyn Wadsworth has been a mainstay on the Northbank of the Wairau Valley for the past 33 years.

The Wadsworth family has farmed in the area for nearly a century. . . 


Rural round-up

November 24, 2016

SPCA the voice of reason in farm animal welfare debate – Jon Morgan:

To many North Island farmers it must seem like yesterday that they were watching their animals struggle to deal with facial eczema. But now the warnings are here again.

With NIWA’s seasonal weather outlook signalling warm, wet conditions across the island, farmers will be doubly cautious. So far, there’s been an increase in demand – and prices – for rams that have been bred to be FE tolerant.

No farmer likes to see their stock suffer and no farmer likes to lose money, which is what facial eczema means. . . 

Avocado crops thrive under different systems – Anne Boswell:

The phrase ‘chalk and cheese’ has been bandied about when referring to Katikati avocado orchardists Barry Mathis and Bruce Polley.

It is true that the neighbours have a fair amount of differences in both their personalities and the way they grow their fruit, but it must be said that there is also a number of similarities at play. . .

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . .

Great white butterfly eradication success:

The invasive pest great white butterfly has been eradicated from New Zealand in a world-first achievement, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say.

“This is the first eradication of an unwanted butterfly population in the world and is another impressive example of New Zealand’s innovation and skill in removing pests,” Ms Barry says.

Great white butterflies posed a major threat to native plant species and primary sector economy.

“They were first seen in Nelson in 2010 and the DOC-led joint agency eradication effort ran for three and a half years. It’s now been two years since any have been seen, and we’re confident we can declare them eradicated,” Mr Guy says.

Biosecurity 2025 direction statement launched :

The newly launched Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement will shape the long-term future of biosecurity in New Zealand, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The long term plan was launched today at the 2016 Biosecurity Forum in Auckland and follows widespread public consultation earlier this year.

“Biosecurity 2025 will guide New Zealand’s biosecurity system over the next decade. It provides a shared direction to ensure we can cope with increased challenges such as increasing trade, more complex markets and supply chains, and rising tourist numbers. . . 

Masterclass had lessons for all sectors:

Despite being the only winegrower in the Rabobank Master Class this year, New Zealander Duncan McFarlane says there’s been plenty to learn from the other sectors.
McFarlane, of the Indevin Group in Marlborough, says one issue that everyone is focused on is sustainability.

“We are very fortunate in the wine industry in New Zealand that the economy of the industry is in a strong phase with good growth prospects,” McFarlane told Rural News at the Rabobank Farm2Fork summit at Cockatoo Island in Sydney yesterday. . . 

Showing the boys how it’s done:

Helen Slattery is the rural contracting sector’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

A Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) board member and partner in the Matamata firm Slattery Contracting, Slattery has penetrated the ‘glass ceiling’ to be the industry’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

The qualification covers core management skills including scheduling infrastructure works project resources, health safety and environment, monitoring project quality assurance and documenting infrastructure works projects. . . .

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

 


Rural round-up

October 26, 2016

Dairy farmers ‘treat those calves like their babies’ – Alexa Cook:

Farmers have hit back at claims of widespread mistreatment of bobby calves, after a video emerged of calves being thrown onto the back of trucks.

The hidden-camera footage, obtained by activist group Farmwatch, also showed calves being dragged along the ground.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has condemned the treatment, and started a full investigation.

But many farmers and farm workers say what was shown on the video did not reflect the reality of the industry. . .

Cruel practices condemned by DairyNZ chief:

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

“The vast majority of farmers care about their animals and we are committed to farming to very high standards.

“DairyNZ works closely with the wider industry in the management of bobby calves, including the transport sector, meat processors and dairy companies, as well as Federated Farmers and MPI.” . . 

Merino to make stars of growers – Sally Rae:

“You are going to be the rock stars for the future consumers,” New Zealand Merino chief executive John Brakenridge told about 100 merino growers in Omarama yesterday.

Speaking before the company’s annual meeting in the township, Mr Brakenridge said new brands were emerging where consumers could get to know the producer.

He had just returned from the United States, where he met former All White Tim Brown, the co-founder of shoe company Allbirds which has produced a shoe made from New Zealand merino. . . 

Loie and Tony Penwarden are ending their Trewithen Farms sharemilking contract – Sue O’Dowd:

An award-winning Taranaki dairy farm will enter a new era next season as family beckons for its long-serving sharemilkers.

The couple, who have been herd-owning sharemilkers on Faull Farms’ Trewithen Farm at Tikorangi since 2004, are retiring at the end of the 2016-17 season. 

The partnership between Faull Farms and the Penwardens won the inaugural Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards (TBFEA) in 2014. . . 

Tokanui shepherd perfect woman – Tim Miller:

After two days of fierce competition, which included cooking a steak and flying a helicopter, the perfect woman for 2016 has been found.

The Perfect Woman competition returned to Wanaka at the weekend, after a year off in 2015, and 16 contestants took part.

Shepherd Rachel Rule (22), from Tokanui, took the title and  $1000 in prize money.

Miss Rule did not expect to win. She said the best part of the weekend was meeting the other competitors.

“It was a fantastic weekend with just a great bunch of girls and the things we got to do, like flying a helicopter, were really amazing.” . . 

Lives given purpose by the ‘legends’ who helped – Marc Gascoigne:

It’s been a stressful spring for farmers in the Waikato with constant rain causing all sorts of problems, but those stresses were put into perspective in a big way for me last week when I attended two funerals.

When people say life is short they’re usually talking about living until you’re in your eighties, so when you are at a two-year-old child’s memorial service, it’s just not right on any level.

Mason was just two when he came to stay at our farm a few weeks ago with his mum and dad and five-year-old brother Weslley. . . 

Rubbish boosts tasty delicacy – Alan Williams:

Saffron growers and wine-makers are among the businesses swearing by the benefits of organic compost made from Christchurch city’s green waste.  

Te Anau saffron growers Steve and Jo Daley were even prepared to pay up to $2500 a load to get compost trucked the 650km from the Living Earth processing plant at Bromley.  

The Living Earth market was 95% rural based, included pastoral and cropping farmers and the rural sales were 85% repeat business, the company’s rural and urban sales manager Graeme Wright said.  

The Daleys were determined to be organic growers and the cost was worth it for them, with the consistency of the compost and its ability to hold its properties through a hot, dry summer. . . 

Plant-based alternative milk consumption growing in Australia as dairy industry holds firm – Marty McCarthy:

Dairy milk has been flying off the supermarket shelves as consumers continue to sympathise with Australia’s dairy farmers, following the Murray Goulburn crisis.

But so-called “alternative milks” are rising in popularity, and new research shows consumers are increasingly lapping them up.

Supermarkets now stock a range of plant-based milks, including soy, almond, coconut, hazelnut, rice, oat and more recently, macadamia milk.

“While the incidences of lactose intolerance have been increasing there have also been food trends that recommend avoiding cow’s milk,” IBISWorld analyst Lauren Magner said. . . 

Rabobank Global Wine Quarterly Q4 2016: Red Dawn? Behind the Rise in Australian Wine Grape Prices:

Australia takes the pulse of wine grape markets, while the Northern Hemisphere harvest appears set to fall on the short side, and China headlines developments in global wine trade, according to Rabobank’s Global Wine Quarterly for Q4 2016.

The Australian wine grape industry has experienced a ‘red dawn’, with prices rising from their 2011 lows, particularly for red wine grape varieties sourced from more premium growing regions. Rabobank senior analyst Marc Soccio says: “Life has returned to Australian wine grape prices, with China driving much of the recovery in market conditions.”

Highlighting the key role of the China/Hong Kong market in Australia’s wine grape price recovery, the performance of the Chinese market remains a key barometer of future red wine grape market condition. The premiumisation trend in other major markets is also a factor, namely in Australia’s domestic market, as well as in the US and Canada. . . 

Nominations Have Closed for the 2016 Fonterra Elections:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Independent Nomination Process candidates and the Shareholders’ Council, Directors’ Remuneration Committee, and Fonterra Farmer Custodian Trustee elections closed at 12 noon today.

The candidates successfully nominated following the Independent Nomination Process will be announced on Friday 4 November, 2016. The full list of candidates, including Self-Nominated candidates for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election will be announced by Wednesday, 16 November 2016. . . 

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Do not cross this pasture unless you can do it in 9 seconds, because the bull can do it in 10.

 


Abuse should be reported immediately

October 26, 2016

Farmwatch has released footage from hidden cameras which shows abuse of bobby calves:

It has been almost a year since the group went public with its last major exposé, which showed similar treatment as well as calves being killed through blunt force, and kicked and beaten, resulting in a public outcry and new industry guidelines.

Back then, many in the industry blamed the mistreatment on a few bad apples.

However, Farmwatch says its latest investigation shows this is untrue – and that the abuse of calves is a common practice in one of New Zealand’s biggest industries. . . 

Animal abuse is not common practice. Farmwatch’s statement is a slur on the thousands of farmers and farm workers who treat stock humanely.

Farmwatch has completed another investigation, this time involving about 10 farms in Taranaki and Waikato from August this year. The latest video, released to Checkpoint with John Campbell, showed calves being thrown forcefully onto trucks and dropped onto the ground.

“What you can see here is the workers just throwing them, hurling them, into the back of the truck,” Farmwatch spokesman John Darroch said. “He just chucks it by the neck backwards.”. . 

The dairy industry had, in the past, pinned the abuse on a few bad workers, he said.

“This is representative of the handling of calves, and when we place hidden cameras we get this kind of footage … If it were only a few people doing this, it would be impossible for us to get this footage.” . . 

That’s a nonsensical statement. It takes only one person to do this to obtain footage. Ten is 10 too many but it is not representative of the industry.

Apart from the obvious and overriding importance of animal welfare, bruising of calves reduces the value of their meat.

Almost everyone in dairying will be as angry and upset by this maltreatment as the animal rights people.

Furthermore, almost everyone else, with animal welfare at heart rather than a political agenda,  would have reported the abuse to MPI or the SPCA immediately to ensure the abuse stopped immediately and not waited two months as Farmwatch did.


How did it get so bad before someone acted?

August 29, 2016

A farmer faces a possible prison sentence and ban from farming after admitting his inaction caused the death of hundreds of sheep and widespread suffering.

The story says the Ministry of Primary Industries was alerted by an anonymous tip-off which means someone noticed something and did the right thing even if it was far too late for too many animals.

There’s no mention of family or neighbours and it’s possible there was no-one close.

But neglect like this doesn’t happen overnight.

Even though it’s not like it used to be in the country where everyone knew their neighbours well, farmers still usually have an idea of  what’s going on over other people’s fences.

How could the situation get so bad without someone seeing something amiss and doing something sooner?


Rural round-up

August 1, 2016

Farmers check out challenges in Zambia – Sally Rae:

When Nelson Hancox returned home from a trip to Zambia and had to write a brief statement on what he had learnt, it was not a difficult task.

“I wrote, ‘New Zealand’s a great place to do business’,” the Tapanui sheep and beef farmer said.

Mr Hancox recently attended a Rabobank Global Farmers Master Class in Zambia, which attracted 20 farmers from throughout the world and from a diverse range of farming operations.

The week-long programme brought farmers from nine key food and agriculture-producing countries to observe the potential of the Zambian agricultural sector and to discuss the challenges facing local producers. . . 

New regulations on live animal export rules announced:

New rules that will give the Ministry for Primary Industries greater visibility of the welfare of animals being exported from New Zealand will come into force on 25 August 2016, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced today.

“New Zealanders care deeply about the welfare of animals, and this was reflected during the consultation process” says MPI’s Director Biosecurity and Animal Welfare Julie Collins.

“The changes that are being introduced in August will further strengthen New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible exporter of animals and animal products.

They will give early effect to amendments made last year to the Animal Welfare Act 1999 that would have otherwise commenced in May 2020. . . 

Farming initiative the first of its kind for Northland and NZ:

A brand new farming initiative – Extension 350 – is an innovative programme, the first of its kind for New Zealand. Designed to lift on farm performance through improving farm systems and profitability through shared knowledge.

The programme aims to have 350 Northland farms involved in four years and is modelled on having clusters of five farms working together with business advice and direction provided to a Target Farmer by an expert consultant, with that relationship encouraged by a Mentor Farmer. The expectation is that the Target Farmer similarly influences a group of Associated Farmers.

The pilot scheme which ran at Candy Farm in Okaihau from 2011 to 2014 saw local farmers Alister and Lyn Candy make management changes which have resulted in greater resilience and an increase in profits of around $180,000 per annum. . . 

Farmers cooperating to lift performance:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed an innovative programme lifting the performance of 350 Northland farmers through shared knowledge.

“The first year of the Extension 350 programme will see the start of two dairy clusters and one sheep and beef cluster. Each cluster consists of five top performing ‘mentor farmers’ extending their knowledge, advice and direction to a group of five target farmers,” says Mr Guy. 

“These target farmers then interact and influence a surrounding group of five associated farmers, extending the benefits of top performing farm practice from the original target farmer. The farm clusters are supported with farm consultants and other service providers. . . 

War on predators: capture collective wisdom, Trust says

Plant pests must also be a focus

Hawke’s Bay-based conservation group Forest Lifeforce Restoration (FLR) Trust has welcomed the Predator-Free by 2050 initiative announced by the government earlier this week. It says the target is achievable but that success will rely on collaboration and information-sharing on a scale not yet seen in New Zealand conservation circles and that few have dared dream was possible.

“Conservation in New Zealand can no longer be purely the preserve of government agencies,” said Trust Chairman Simon Hall. “The job’s too big, the battle’s too fierce. Landowners and the private sector all have a role to play.

“It’s crucial for the success of this initiative, though, that Predator Free New Zealand Limited is able to harness not just the collective will, but also the expertise developed from decades of trial and error that exists in pockets right across the country.” . . 

Predator Free community fund to boost local conservation efforts:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has today welcomed the efforts of a young Taranaki conservationist which will contribute to making New Zealand predator free by 2050.

Ms Barry met with 8 year-old Monte Woodward while visiting New Plymouth on Saturday.

“Monte is to be congratulated. He has worked hard to raise money by running sausage sizzles and washing cars to purchase two traps which will help protect some of our most vulnerable native wildlife from rats, stoats and possums.” Ms Barry says. . . 

Briefing Paper: Mt Pisa, Doc & the Hunting Issue
A tragedy waiting to happen:

Earlier this year, historic Mt Pisa Station closed public access gates that run through its property to the adjacent DOC-managed conservation estate.

It was an action taken by the principals of Mt Pisa – Murray, Jacky and Shane MacMillan – for the purpose of safeguarding unsuspecting recreational users from potential danger and death.

The adjacent Pisa Conservation Area is managed by the Department of Conservation and allows uncontrolled access onto its estate for recreational trampers, trail-bikers … and hunters.

At no stage does it warn recreational trampers, hikers and bikers that armed hunters may be sharing their space. . . 

$30 million cash injection from Ballance rebate:

Results at a glance
Total distribution to shareholders of $30 million ($76 million last year)
Rebate payment of $25 per tonne ($55.83 last year)
Total revenue of $837 million ($893 million last year)
Gross trading result of $35 million ($81 million last year)
Total sales volumes of 1.62 million tonnes (1.75 million last year)
Equity ratio of 81% (80.4% last year)

Farm nutrient co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients is distributing a total of $30 million to farmers this week, returning 87 percent of its 2015/16 $35 million gross trading result to shareholders. . . 

Sustainable Farming Fund open for applications:

The 2017/18 funding round for MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) opens today.

“We welcome any groups keen to tackle a shared problem or develop a new opportunity related to the primary industries to apply for the fund,” says Investment Programmes Director Justine Gilliland.

“SFF supports farmers and researchers involved at grass-roots level and each year we receive a very high calibre of project applications.” . . 

Fonterra & LIC Investigating Tech Solution to Improve Farm Performance:

Fonterra and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) are teaming up to develop a new online technology solution designed to provide farmers with a view of their operation in one place.

The two farmer-owned Co-operatives are combining resources, knowledge and expertise to look at the best way to bring together a farmer’s milk production and quality data, herd data, pasture data, local weather forecasts and more into one easy-to-use online portal.

Farmers will be able to see their private individual farm information in one place, allowing them to make faster and easier decisions about their farming operation. . . 


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