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. . . 


Rural round-up

June 1, 2016

Intergenerational links forge deep connections to the land at Te Nihi Nihi – Gerald Piddock:

Six generations of family farming by the Muirs at Te Nihi Nihi in northern Waikato has led to a deep respect for the land, Gerald Piddock writes.

Farming and land stewardship is more than just about milk in the vat for Stuart Muir and Kim Jobson.

Muir is the fifth generation of his family to farm the land at Aka Aka in North Waikato. He can can trace his family back to when his Scottish ancestor Sandy settled on the land in the 1850s, droving cattle from the East Cape to the Auckland markets. . . 

New rules hit job prospects for Filipino dairy workers – Tess Brunton:

New rules introduced to protect Filipino workers from taking out huge loans to secure work in New Zealand are now being blamed for preventing those very people from landing jobs here.

Filipino Dairy Workers in New Zealand (FDWNZ) chairman Earl Magtiday said the rules, introduced by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) late last year, could cost Kiwi employers up to $10,000 to recruit a single Filipino worker.

“Employers are not keen to pay out so much money, especially now the payout is low,” Earl Magtiday said. . . 

Close watch on dairy auction – Dene Mackenzie:

The GlobalDairyTrade auction early tomorrow morning takes on more significance than usual because of Fonterra’s first indication of next season’s milk price being lower than the market consensus.

Fonterra last week indicated a milk price of $4.25 per kg of milksolids, lower than the informal market consensus of $4.60 kg/ms and the ASB expectation of $4.80 kg/ms.

“To us, the forecast is conservative as it appears to be based off recent spot dairy price with no future increases in global dairy prices built in,” ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said. . .

Consumers split on market choice – Rebecca Harper

A major change in the values driving consumer decisions means businesses have a choice about which side of the consumer fence they sit on, Massey University Business School’s Dr James Lockhart says.

Speaking at the 2016 Primary Industries Summit, Lockhart cited a Deloitte study, Capitalising on the Shifting Food Value Equation, that showed consumers are now split 50-50 into two groups – a traditional value group and an evolving value group. . . 

Stream work wins unlikely praise:

Bill Wilson smiles as he looks down on the Waikuku Stream: below him is a superb example of a restored lowland Canterbury stream.

The efforts of Wilson and his fellow farmers have recently been recognised with an environmental award from Fish & Game.

The Waikuku Water Management Group is the first recipient of North Canterbury Fish & Game’s ‘Working with Nature Award’ for outstanding efforts to improve local freshwater habitats. . .

ADF: no silver bullet solution to dairy crisis – Colin Bettles:

AUSTRALIAN Dairy Farmers CEO Ben Stapley says milk processors could help ease immediate pressure on dairy farmers by announcing next season’s prices now but has stressed there’s no silver bullet solution to the current crisis.

Mr Stapley said the support package announced by the federal government with $555 million in dairy-specific concessional loans and other measures was a “really good starting point”. . .

Indonesian live export scandal revisited – Colin Bettles:

FIVE years ago today, the ABC Four Corners program “A Bloody Business” exploded onto television screens throughout the nation, igniting a cataclysmic chain of events that catapulted Australia’s northern beef cattle industry into its deepest crisis.

The dramatic, emotion charged broadcast showed repeated images of graphic and intolerable animal cruelty, originally captured by animal rights group Animals Australia in mid-March 2011, from deliberately targeted Indonesian abattoirs.

Intertwined with vision also filmed by the ABC’s own investigation a month before, the expose zoomed-in on the gore and violence, to portray the live animal export trade as being systematically cruel and desperately needing government intervention to enact urgent reforms. . . 


Rural round-up

May 27, 2016

More charges laid in reponse to Waikato bobby calves footage Edwin Mitson:

(BusinessDesk) – The Ministry for Primary Industries has laid a second set of charges as part of an investigation into the alleged abuse of bobby calves in the Waikato.

MPI began investigating after TVNZ’s Sunday programme broadcast footage which showed the calves being thrown onto trucks and being left for dead.

Ten charges were laid against an individual in March, with a hearing due to take place on June 2. Four charges have been laid against a company and a different individual today, with a hearing due at Huntly District Court on June 21.

MPI acting director of compliance, Steve Gilbert, said the investigation is onoing and had been “careful, methodical”. . . 

Farmers applaud responsible budget and urge tax cuts for 2017:

Federated Farmers supports the Government’s prudent financial management and maintenance of surpluses announced in today’s Budget.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston said: “The Government has clearly decided to invest surplus proceeds in a series of funding initiatives for the future including science and skills.

“We strongly support the increase in funding for science and technology and also welcome new spending on skills, transport, establishment of a Freshwater Improvement Fund, regional development, and commitments to fund TB control and to contain the spread of wilding pine. . . 

Funding good start in tackling Wilding Pine but biosecurity incursion response needs more:

Federated Farmers welcomes funding for the control of Wilding Pines but warns that more money is needed for biosecurity incursion response measures.

The Wilding Pines initiative sits within MPI’s existing allocation for Biosecurity Incursion Response and Long Term Pest Management, which for 2016/17 will increase by $1 million from 2015/16 (from $34 million to $35 million).

High Country chairman Simon Williamson said: “The money allocated to Wilding Pines is the bare minimum we need to demonstrate that the long term strategy for wilding control, worked on for the past 18 months, is of both environmental and economic benefit to the country. . .

Budget 2016 boost for regional economies, infrastructure, social housing and biodiversity:

LGNZ President, Lawrence Yule, acknowledged a much needed boost for communities in four key areas LGNZ has been advocating for: stronger regional economies, infrastructure, community and social housing, and biodiversity.

“Stronger, more successful regional economies and better community wellbeing are key areas of focus for LGNZ. We are pleased to see Government focus on these priority areas for communities,” says Mr Yule.

“$44 million over four years to assist regions to develop opportunities in their economic action plans is a useful start to investing in local economic initiatives, and consistent with what LGNZ has been asking for,” says Mr Yule. . . 

 

Trickledown benefits for rural health in Budget 2016:

There might be no silver funding bullets for rural health in the Government’s latest Budget but there should be trickledown benefits across a range of health initiatives nationally, says New Zealand Rural General Practice Network chief executive Dalton Kelly.

“For example the Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley will host the start of a bowel screening programme, both of which areas have rural populations, especially the Wairarapa.

“All DHBs are to receive a total of $400 million extra funding and again this should have positive implications for rural New Zealanders across most, if not all, DHB areas. . . 

Safely.nz’ app targets better farm health and safety without the hassle:

With the launch of a new app specifically tailored for New Zealand’s farms, professional services firm Crowe Horwath is making it easier and more convenient to institute sound health and safety practices in rural workplaces. Dubbed ‘Safely.nz’, the app is the result of a partnership between Crowe Horwath’s Human Resources division, Progressive Consulting, and developer Peak Software.

Safely.nz is customised to Kiwi farms and agricultural support businesses, such as agricultural contractors, transport providers, fertiliser spreaders, vets and shearing contractors. . .

Milk price prediction means farmers will tread water for another season:

Farmers are resigned to another tight season after Fonterra confirmed its milk price at $4.25 for the coming season.

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said: “Many were hopeful of a price in the vicinity of $4.50, so optimistic farmers will be feeling disappointed.

“The reality is we have seen the opening forecast price change quickly as the market has changed. Unfortunately it has changed for the worse in the previous two seasons. Hopefully with this conservative forecast, we won’t see any further drops. Especially as there are some more positive signs out there in the markets presently. . . 

New Zealand Avocados Break Record for New Zealand Sales at $41 million:

New Zealand’s love affair with avocados has produced record-breaking domestic sales of $41 million during the 2015-16 season.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, today announced impressive end-of-season results of $134 million in industry value from export and New Zealand market sales.

Strong global demand also delivered outstanding returns from the Australian market and strong returns from the Asian export markets. . . 

Wool Celebrates Its Place In The Built Environment At One of the Biggest Architectural Events:

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2016!

For the first time ever wool is being celebrated at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016, with an installation in the New Zealand Room and a hosting event set down for September.

The Architecture Biennale kicks off on Thurs 26th with the Vernissage (an exclusive launch) and runs for six months. This Biennale, sister to the Art Biennale, attracts over 3000 media and more than a quarter of a million global visitors.

“This is a highly attentive and influential audience, and it’s great to see New Zealand companies with a strong design focus appreciate the opportunities the Biennale offers,” says Teen Hale Pennington, CE, New Zealand Institute of Architecture (NZIA). . . 

Stoned sheep invade Welsh village:

Stoned sheep have gone on a “psychotic rampage” in the small Welsh village of Rhydypandy after eating cannabis plants.

The plants, left-overs of an illegal cannabis factory, were dumped at the side of a road near the village and there are fears things could get worse.

“There is already a flock of sheep roaming the village causing a nuisance,” said County councillor Ioan Richard.

“They are getting in people’s gardens and one even entered a bungalow and left a mess in the bedroom.” . . .


Rural round-up

March 8, 2016

Embrace change Ballance CEO says – Sally Rae:

Agriculture has to ‘‘sell itself to New Zealand”.

That is the strong belief of Ballance Agri-Nutrients chief executive Mark Wynne, who cited a generation of people with no rural connections.

The sector – which was the foundation of New Zealand’s wealth – had to keep promoting its good stories, he said. . . 

$2m fertiliser plant opens near Timaru – Sally Rae:

More than $2million has been invested at Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ Washdyke site with the official opening of a specialist PhaSedN fertiliser manufacturing plant.

Timaru Mayor Damon Odey and Ballance chief executive Mark Wynne attended the opening, along with local farmers.

The plant was developed in partnership with Te Poi Manufacturing Ltd. It was expected to initially produce about 10,000 tonnes annually with capacity to build production as demand grew. . .

Landcorp to scale back Wairakei dairy conversion – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, the state-owned farmer, confirmed it will scale back the conversion of former forestry land to dairy farming on leased land at the Wairakei Estate north of Taupo following a slump in milk prices and concern about the environmental impact.

New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer “will significantly reduce dairy’s footprint from the original plans and instead include alternative uses for the 14,500 hectares of former forestry land it leases from Wairakei Pastoral,” the Wellington-based company said in a statement.

Landcorp has a 40-year lease to develop and farm the former forestry land, and since 2004 has developed 13 dairy farms with 17,000 cows over 6,400 hectares of the property. A new land-use model will see the eventual number of dairy farms and cows on the Wairakei Estate significantly reduced from the 39 originally planned, it said today. . . 

Industry group well advanced on bobby calf initiatives:

The eight organisations that formed a Bobby Calf Action Group at the end of 2015 are well advanced on a range of initiatives ensuring best practice handling and management of bobby calves.

The group is DairyNZ, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, Road Transport Forum, New Zealand Veterinary Association and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Scott Gallacher, MPI Deputy Director General Regulation and Assurance, said a number of the initiatives being worked on were new, other initiatives were already underway but were being accelerated. . . 

Seeka commits to a new HQ and major infrastructure development to handle growing kiwifruit processing demand:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries (NZX-SEK) will move into its new headquarters in Te Puke by the middle of this year and plans to make it a centre of excellence for its produce and grower-focused business, says Chief Executive Michael Franks.

“Our new HQ will reflect our focus on the crops we and our growers produce, and the harvest and post-harvest value chain,” said Mr Franks.

The move is part of this year’s planned capital expenditure of $20 million to develop new infrastructure to handle increasing kiwifruit volumes. . . 

Manawatu Dairy Awards Winners Look for New Opportunities:

The 2016 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards big winner, Stephen Shailer, is on the hunt for a new dairy farm position and hopes his win will help his progress.

Mr Shailer won the 2016 Manawatu Share Farmer of the Year title and $10,450 in prizes at the region’s awards dinner held at Awapuni Racecourse last night. The other major winners were Renae Flett, the 2016 Manawatu Dairy Manager of the Year, and Karl Wood, the 2016 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“We entered the awards for the first time this year as we are hoping to move to a 50:50 sharemilking position or lease farm, so we entered in an effort to make our CV stand out a bit more,” Mr Shailer says. “We also wanted to push ourselves to identify our own strong and weak points.” . . .


Quote of the day

January 20, 2016

Since we humans have the better brain, isn’t it our responsibility to protect our fellow creatures from, oddly enough, ourselves? Joy Adamson who was born on this day in 1910.


No tolerance for animal welfare abuse

December 5, 2015

Seven groups in the dairy, meat and other industries together to ensure ill-treatment of bobby calves won’t happen again.

The industry groups have joined with the Ministry for Primary Industries to “eradicate” bobby calves being mistreated and ensure animal welfare codes were being followed.

The groups are DairyNZ, the Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, the Road Transport Forum, the New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, the New Zealand Veterinary Association. . . 

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said there has been a lot of talk over the last few days and the dairy industry was now focused on its next steps.

“Resolving these issues will depend, not on words, but on actions. We are committed to working with everyone in the supply chain to ensure bobby calves are well cared for.” . . 

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said the meat industry and the dairy industry was undertaking a systematic review from farm to processor to identify any opportunities for improvement and this would be completed before the next bobby calf season.

New Zealand Petfood Manufacturers Association chief executive Richard Brake said strong codes were in place for the treatment of bobby calves on the farm and during transport and in processing.

“The vast majority of New Zealand’s dairy farmers, transport operators and processors uphold and, in many cases, exceed these world-class codes,” said Brake. “We want everybody to uphold them.  That’s what we will all be working on.” . . .

The law is there and it’s clear – there is no tolerance for ill-treatment of animals and everyone in the supply chain must adhere to the high standards the law requires.


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