Don’t waste it

January 24, 2020

The Taxpayers’ Union has submitted a design proposal for a 3.5-metre artwork in the Beehive entrance.

 

The Union will save taxpayers money by refusing the $15,000 commission fee should its submission be chosen.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Perfectly placed to greet MPs and Ministers arriving for work, Don’t Waste It serves as a warning to would-be money-wasters in the heart of government.”

“For those New Zealanders not lucky enough to earn a politician’s salary, a five dollar note represents a meal, or the bus fare for a job interview. That small sheet of polypropylene can be the difference between hunger and happiness, poverty and opportunity.”

“Taxpayers understand the value of money, because they work for it. But too often, politicians take money from us only to fritter it away on pet projects, political fads, and minor extravagances. The taxpaying public can never be too firm in its opposition to government waste. It is in this spirit that we submit our proposal.”

Former MP Eric Roy used to have a shearing hand piece in his office in parliament to remind him where he came from.

It would be good for everyone who works in parliament – MPs and staff – and everyone who visits, especially those who come to lobby for funding to have this reminder that no money should be wasted.

 


Rural round-up

November 17, 2018

’Cutest sheep in the world’ turns heads in Christchurch

A new breed of sheep debuting at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch is proving very popular with the crowds.

The Swiss Valais Blacknose, which are considered to be the “the cutest sheep in the world,” have a black head and black knees, and a fluffy white fleece.

Wairarapa farmer Christine Reed, along with several business partners formed Valais Blacknose NZ and imported the breed as embryos from the UK about a year and a half ago. . .

Biosecurity experience bears fruit :

When kiwifruit bacteria Psa-V appeared in New Zealand in 2010, it reshaped the industry’s biosecurity practices. Inside Dairy spoke to one grower about how dairy farmers facing Mycoplasma bovis can learn from his experience.

Kiwifruit growers Robbie Ellison and his wife Karen run Makaira Orchards in Te Puke, south east of Tauranga. When the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced in November 2010 that Psa-V had been discovered in a neighbouring orchard, the airborne disease was found on the Ellisons’ crops.

“We were right in the thick of it,” says Robbie. “I never want to go through another summer like that again. DairyNZ and dairy farmers were very supportive of kiwifruit growers during our crisis, so I’d like to return the favour now they’re dealing with Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).” . . 

Money saving tips shared – Ken Muir:

 Dairying can be a tough life for many farmers but it’s especially difficult if you’re a woman on your own with a family to raise.

However, Northland farmer Lyn Webster, who spoke to the Dairy Women’s Network in Gore last week, has turned a need to make best use of her resources into a publishing and online enterprise, sharing her money-saving practices with anyone who cares to listen.

She’s sold out the first edition of the story of her frugal lifestyle Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce and a new edition with a new title Save, Make, Do will be published by Random House next year.

Ms Webster was born and bred in Otago and went to Taieri College followed by university after a period of working. . . 

Nature’s power pack meat & veges :

 What is Nature’s Power Pack when it comes to eating? Is it meat? Is it vege? Is it superfoods? Is it a certain type of dietary regime? It’s probably no surprise for those omnivores that enjoy including meat in their diet, but to get a big bang for nutrition buck don’t look past a moderate portion of protein such as lean red meat with a good portion of veggies. Yep it’s that simple.

So here’s two reasons why animal protein should not be overlooked as a smart dietary choice.  . . 

Veganism was behind the ‘meat tax’ hype – so what happened to critical thinking? – Joanna Blythman:

Much media reporting of food and health is fatuous and lazy, but coverage of the proposed ‘meat tax’ hit a new low of ignorance, or if you’re less charitable, intellectual dishonesty.

Was it too much to ask that journalists who reported as unimpeachable scientific ‘fact’ the recommendations from the University of Oxford’s Oxford Martin School – which describes itself as ‘a world-leading centre of pioneering research that addresses global challenges’ – tempered their headlines with the fact that the lead researcher, Dr Marco Springmann, is a loud-and-proud vegan?

It’s naive to think that his beliefs didn’t influence the design of this number-crunching research. Mathematical modelling (the type used here) is about as weak and unreliable as research gets. It is based on highly debatable assumptions and doesn’t take full account of ‘confounding factors’, such as smoking, exercise, alcohol and class. . .

The enduring legacy of merino – Katrina Kufer:

Dubai Opera’s Sky Garden exclusively hosts the Loro Piana, in partnership with Tashkeel, Merino wool cloud installation that showcases the World Record Bale alongside a special commission by Calligraffiti artist eL Seed.

Under the royal patronage and support of H.H. Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, founder and director of Tashkeel, Italian luxury textiles brand Loro Piana’s The Gift of Kings and The Record Bale, The Noblest of Woolsinstallation comes to Dubai after premiering at Art Basel Hong Kong. Featured alongside a special commission by French-Tunisian street artist eL Seed — known for large-scale ‘Calligraffiti’ works — the immersive installation is created from the world record holding Merino wool in its raw form. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 3, 2018

Fonterra fails test –  Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra achieved a positive result in only one of its nine key performance indicators in the 2018 financial year, its Shareholders’ Council says.

That one positive was the milk price of $6.69/kg MS up 9% from the season before.

Negative achievements against targets were recorded for the total amount available for payout, earnings per share, consumer and food service volume, the gearing ratio, working capital days, return on capital, milk volume collected and employee injuries. . .

Law change could target farmers with poor environmental record – Maja Burry:

Farmers and other stakeholders are being asked to have their say on legislation governing the nearly $17 billion diary industry. 

In May, the government began a review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) 2001, which regulates Fonterra as the dominant player in the market to protect farmers, consumers and the wider economy.

The review will look at how the price of raw milk is set for farmers, how competitive the milk market is – as well as incentives for farmers to move into more sustainable production methods. . .

Fonterra acknowledges release of DIRA options paper:

Fonterra acknowledges the release today of the Government’s options paper on the review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The Act is a complex piece of legislation and it’s important to New Zealand that the review is thorough.

We recognise the significant work that the Ministry for Primary Industries and Minister O’Connor have put into the document and we appreciate their high degree of engagement with industry so far. . . 

Not meeting honey rules cost Auckland businessman $26,000:

An Auckland businessman has been fined more than $26,000 for offences related to making false therapeutic claims about honey and failing to ensure he was a registered exporter.

Jonathan Paul Towers, 43, has been sentenced in the Auckland District Court and fined $26,300 after earlier pleading guilty to one charge under the Food Act and one charge under the Animal Products Act. . .

WIL locks in $11.5 M toward revised Dam cost:

To secure a 100-year water supply for Tasman and Nelson through the Waimea Community Dam, a group of local businesses has committed to invest $11 million in Waimea Irrigators Limited. Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) is issuing a Replacement Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to shareholders today detailing its additional investment of $11.5 million in the $102 million Dam project.

In August it was announced that the cost of the project increased by $26 million. Subsequently, Tasman District Council (TDC) approved a revised funding proposal that included a greater WIL contribution. Through an investor vehicle and additional in loan funding from Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL), WIL can meet its commitment to the project. . . 

Bird Mask’ now available to buy

Off the back of some seriously positive chirping, Air New Zealand and material innovation brand Allbirds have made their collaboratively designed eye mask, dubbed the ‘Bird Mask’, available to purchase online and at selected Nordstrom stores in the United States. . .

From today, fans of the Bird Mask can purchase their very own mask through the Allbirds online store, the Air New Zealand Airpoints™ Storeand Air New Zealand merchandise store, and at Nordstrom stores in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. . .


Rural round-up

October 13, 2018

Grabbing life by the horns:

October 8th- 14th marks Mental Health Awareness Week. Co-op farmer Wayne Langford knows what it’s like to suffer from mental illness. He’s the man behind the YOLO (You Only Live Once) farmer blog. He shares his story about owning up to his illness and how the YOLO project helped him cope with depression.

I was pretty down in the dumps – I referred to it as a rough patch, my wife called it what it really was – depression. We were lying in bed one morning and she said, “well, what are we going to do? Because we can’t go on like this.”

Most people who knew Wayne Langford knew this about him. He was 34, married to his wife Tyler and the father of three boys. He was a 6th generation dairy farmer who owned and ran his Golden Bay farm. He was a proud Fonterra supplier and was the Federated Farmers Dairy Vice Chairman. . .

Farm produce holds up trade deal:

New Zealand trade negotiators are trying to get their European counterparts to recognise Kiwi agricultural exports are small-fry in comparison to the regional bloc’s farming sector.

The second round of free-trade negotiations between NZ and the European Union is under way in Wellington with 31 European officials in the capital to discuss a deal politicians say they’re keen to fast-track. . . 

Kaitiakitanga and technology benefiting farmers, environment:

An innovative approach to monitoring farm effluent runoff is reaping financial rewards for farmers with bonuses for farming excellence.

Miraka, a Taupo-based milk processor with more than 100 suppliers, is offering bonuses to farmers who meet the five criteria set out in its Te Ara Miraka Farming Excellence programme – people, the environment, animal welfare, milk quality and prosperity
. . .

Farmers build rapport amid Mycoplasma bovis heartache – Tracy Neal:

Despite the fact they are not out of the woods yet, cattle farmers are starting to consider life after Mycoplasma bovis.

Finding that pathway will be helped by a special Beyond Bovis seminar in Hamilton later this month – held in conjunction with the Waikato A&P Show.

The government is working to eradicate M bovis and so far more than 43,000 cows have been culled. . .

High country station to host agricultural workshops – Yvonne O’Hara:

There is a shortage of young people wishing to work in the agriculture sectors, and industry consultant John Bates, of Alexandra, is developing a programme to help address the problem.

Lincoln University owns Mt Grand, a 2127ha high country station near Lake Hawea.

Profits from the farm help fund postgraduate and graduate scholarships.

It is also a teaching facility for university students studying environmental and ecological degrees. . . 

 

PGG Wrightson expects FY19 operating earnings to match prior year’s record – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson expects full-year operating earnings to be on par with last year’s record, including earnings from the seed and grain business that it is selling to Danish cooperative DLF Seeds.

The company said it expects its operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to June 30, will be approximately $70 million. In August, it said its operating ebitda was a record $70.2 million in the year ended June. . . 

Virgin beefing up for transtasman battle

Weeks out from its breakup with Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia says it ready to roll out its “full armoury” in what is shaping up as a three-way battle over the Tasman.

The Australian airline is also trying to establish more of a market presence here after being quiet for much of the alliance with Air New Zealand that stretched more than six years but will end on October 28 after the Kiwi carrier opted to quit the partnership.

Virgin has since upped its marketing and following a search for a New Zealand beef supplier the airline today announced Hinterland Foods from Moawhango in the Rangitikei District had won the “Got Beef” campaign and would supply its meat to the airline for in-flight meals. . . 


A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies

July 17, 2018

A beauty, a brainwave, a brilliance?

I couldn’t find a collective noun for books, but any and all of those three would be an appropriate one for A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies by Kate Hursthouse.

The seed for the book was planted during a conversation about zebras in which she was told the collective noun for the animals is a dazzle.

The seed grew and blossomed into a book of collective nouns for animals, beautifully and creatively illustrated with pictures which reflect the words.

Each time I open the book I see something more.

It is described as a children’s book but will interest and delight adults too.

You can buy the book from the artist’s website.

There’s more about the artist and the book at: Renaissance artist – the Aucklander helping keep alive age-old art of calligraphy.


Rural round-up

June 14, 2018

Fieldays 2018: NZ farming ‘boxes above its weight’

Nearly 25,000 people attended day one of the 50th New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek.

Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation opened this year’s event on Wednesday speaking of the changes the agricultural industry has seen over the last 50 years and introduced this year’s theme of the future of farming.

“New Zealand and our agricultural industry is vastly different to what it was in 1969 largely driven by our hunger and desire to be leaders in our special industry,” he said. . .

Time for strugglers to sell?

Heavily indebted farmers may be under pressure from their banks to sell up on the rising farm market to get out of their debt.

“Reading between the lines, it might be a case of the banks suggesting to the perennial strugglers that it is time to sell up,” said Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard.

Banks may have been waiting “until things are looking rosy” on farm prices before encouraging customers to look at their options.

Hoggard was commenting on the May 2018 Federated Farmers’ Banking Survey, which showed that more farmers are feeling under financial pressure, and are less satisfied with their banks. . . 

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis threatens to put a dampener on children’s calf day – Gerard Hutching:

Girls at Hiwinui School in Manawatu have already started choosing names for the calves they are eagerly anticipating arriving in a few weeks’ time.

But this year the bogey of Mycoplasma bovis might be the party pooper that diminishes the fun for thousands of children who enjoy the traditional lamb and calf day at their local schools.

Each spring children attending rural schools bring in the animals they have raised since birth to show their classmates, and Hiwinui with a roll of 143 is no exception. . .

Farmers deserve answers – Steve Cranston:

Most farmers would be surprised to learn there is no evidence that New Zealand agriculture is warming the planet.

All that farmers have heard from scientists, the Government and at times their own companies is that agriculture is a major contributor to NZ’s emissions.

However, what everyone forgot to tell the farmers is that no direct correlation exists between methane emissions and global warming. The problem is that the accounting method used fails to acknowledge the fact methane is constantly degrading back to CO2, and it is only when emissions exceed degradation that warming will occur. . .

Bachelors and bachelorettes go head-to-head for Rural Catch of the Year – Ruby Nyika:

There’s no rose ceremony, but the love-catch competition might just be fiercer than ever. 

The Rural Bachelor – a 13-year-running Fieldays favourite – has been revamped to the Rural Catch of the Year. 

For the first time rural women join the men vying to be crowned the most eligible rural singleton.  . .

Waikato’s Te Poi farm changes hands after 103 years with Bell family – Kelly Tantau:

A farm in rural Waikato has history seeping into its soil.

For 103 years, one bloodline resided on the 56 hectare plot in Te Poi, living through two World Wars, economic changes, births and deaths.

The family was the Bells; pioneers of their trade and strong-willed labourers well-known in the small town 9km from Matamata.

Allan Bell, the grandson of the farm’s first owners John and Minnie Bell, said the family broke new ground. . .

 60 years of milk – Co-op farmer celebrates diamond supply anniversary:

When 88-year-old Raglan farmer Jim Bardsley first started supplying Fonterra, he remembers separating his own milk.

Always  the inventor, Jim’s flying fox was one of many memories shared by friends and family at his retirement lunch. Shareholders’ Councillor Ross Wallis and Raglan Area Manager Brendan Arnet were also on hand to congratulate Jim on six decades of supply. . . 


Rural round-up

June 10, 2018

Lots of challenges for chief executive :

Terry Copeland says he is looking forward to his new challenge.

The New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) chief executive is set to take over as Federated Farmers’ new boss next month and admits dealing with the ongoing impact of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak will be a ”baptism of fire”.

”I’ve got a real passion for wellness and mental health and I plan to bring that to my new role.

”Through the fallout from Mycoplasma bovis there will be a lot of communities in severe crisis, so making sure communities are supported will be hugely important . .

Waitotara Valley farmer Roger Pearce aims for more diversity – Laurel Stowell:

A farmer way up the Waitōtara Valley plans to get carbon credits from his poplars and is planting mānuka and using cattle to open up the ground for regenerating native bush.

Diversifying appeals to Roger Pearce, who has been farming in Makakaho Rd for four years. His land is becoming a patchwork of bush, closely planted poplars, mānuka, pasture and green feed crops.

“I like the idea, and the overall picture, where it’s going for the long term – not just intensively farming livestock,” he said . .

Hawkes Bay farmers warned of impact of synthetic meat

Farmers are being warned the meat industry they could go the same way as the wool industry if they ignore the threat of synthetic proteins.

The warning comes in the Hawke’s Bay Farming Benchmarking Review by accounting and advisory firm Crowe Horwath which saids repeated failure of the wool industry to respond to the threat of synthetic fibres was a “clear and serious warning” of potential problems in the red-meat sector. . .

Spierings’ Fonterra has created two new food categories :

Fonterra’s performance since formation in 2001, especially since listing in late 2012, has been the subject of much discussion around farm house kitchen tables, in supplier meetings in country halls, among Wellington regulators and in the media.

More than 10,000 supplying shareholders and several hundred investors in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (FSF) have views on the giant’s performance ranging from laudatory to sceptical to dismissive.

Farmers Weekly has printed a range of views in a series called Fonterra’s Scorecard preparatory to the Government’s review of the dairy industry by the Ministry for Primary Industries this year.

Some conclusions are summarised here under subject headings and the report card is mixed. . .

 

Dreaded drought descends on paradise – Mal Peters:

The drought has its claws into the Peters farm after a run of good seasons but that does not make it any easier to manage while keeping yourself on top in the head department. In the last few years we had started on some long overdue capital improvements that now will have to be put on hold but the shock has been the rapid onset and time of year that has made the impact so severe.

My farm includes part of Wallangra Station that has some 120 years of rainfall records so it is interesting to look back on that admittedly short history to see what has happened. When looking at the November to April rainfall there are five standout crook times: 1902, 1919, 1965, 2007 and now this year. . . 

Drought is part of Australia’s DNA – John Carter:

Eastern Australia is in another major drought and the cattle industry is in big trouble. Mal Peters’ outstanding May column was a poignant description of what most cattlemen are enduring – very expensive or no feed, declining or no water and big price falls.

The stress is exacerbated by Indian and American inroads into our export markets and chicken into our domestic market. Drought is part of Australia’s DNA. No-one can predict when it will come to an area or when it will break. Talk of more money for weather forecasters to tell farmers when to plant their crops is Disneyland stuff-the next fortnight is all they can predict with any accuracy. . .

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Rural round-up

June 2, 2018

The farm action group that ‘crunches into life’ – Tony Benny:

A group of North Otago farmers are working together to find ways to increase profitability, taking advantage of the support offered by the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s Action Network initiative. Tony Benny reports. 

Ross and Jo Hay and their friends Gareth and Sarah Isbister got a taste for working with experts and getting access to the latest research and information when they joined  the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s pilot farm programme. They were part of RMPP partner Silver Fern Farms’ red meat eating quality project, looking for ways to consistently produce the most succulent, best tasting, and most valuable lamb.

For about a year they talked about how valuable it would be to form a farmers’ group that “really crunched into life”, that drilled down into financials and objectively analysed their respective businesses. When they went to an RMPP workshop in Christchurch, they found what they were looking for.

“We heard Richmond Beetham from Baker Ag talking about the business groups they have running in the Wairarapa and we were like, ‘That’s what we want to do’,” recalls Jo Hay. . . 

Winners inspired by industry solidarity – Pam Tipa:

The winners of the 2018 NZ Dairy Industry Awards, Dan and Gina Duncan, are overwhelmingly positive about the industry.

The former registered valuers won the ultimate award – 2018 NZ Share Farmers of the Year.

They say the way dairy farmers interact with each other is fantastic. 

“Look at the discussion groups and how willing people are to share what they are doing,” Dan told Dairy News. . . 

Synlait, Westland spruik higher milk payments for farmers in upcoming season – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – South Island dairy processors Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products have raised their forecast milk payment levels to their farmer suppliers for the upcoming season, following a similar move last month by larger rival Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Rakaia-based Synlait raised its forecast milk price for the 2017/18 season which officially ended yesterday to $6.65 per kilogram of milk solids, and said the average premium payment of 13 cents would lift the total payout to $6.78/kgMS. It announced an opening price forecast for 2018/19 of $7/kgMS, based on milk fat prices remaining firm throughout the season.

Dairy Manager of the Year great with people :

The 2018 Dairy Manager of the Year winner Gerard Boerjan aims for excellence in everything he does.

“He has great experience as a manger of people and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” dairy manager head judge Mary Craw says.

“He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm and has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps. . .

Food technology and money speeding up change: Protein Conference

An upcoming conference in Auckland on alternative proteins offering consumers new food choices will include a debate on whether new plant-based proteins will disrupt traditional meat producers’ markets or simply bring more cheaper food choices to the masses.

Last week in Britain, ahead of expectations, Tesco and Dutch-based plant food company Vivera jointly announced the immediate stocking of 100% plant-based steaks on supermarket shelves there. . .

Agriculture opens doors for youth :

Kalu, in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, is home to 28-year-old Yimam Ali.

However, many young people from this region of Ethiopia move to the Middle East looking for work and a better life. The amount of job opportunities in the country has not matched its growth. 71 percent of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 30 and many of them lack opportunities to make a decent living.

Yimam decided to go to Saudi Arabia where his sister was living.

His journey, to what was meant to be a better life, was not an easy one: . .

Pioneering New Zealand avocado orchard placed up for sale by its international owner:

One of the first large-scale commercial avocado orchards to be planted in New Zealand – as part of a multi-national growing consortium – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 29 hectare property at Awanui just north of Kaitaia was originally established by Californian-based owners in 1990. It was planted with Hass on Zutano and Duke 7 avocado varieties grown on some 20 hectares of plantation land. . .

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Mobile fibre art

March 25, 2018

 

KnitHacker


Our Wahine – 125 extraordinary women

March 8, 2018

The 125th anniversary of women¡s suffrage takes place this year and today is International Women’s Day.

To celebrate that artist Kate Hursthouse has launched Our Wahine an illustrated history of 125 extraordinary women.

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of Women’s suffrage in New Zealand, Kate will be illustrating 125 women from New Zealand’s history between March and September 2018. The text is being researched and written by Kate’s mother Karen Brook. This mother/daughter passion project aims to create a visually exciting and accessible overview of the role of New Zealand women throughout history.

You can follow it on Facebook and Instagram.


Rural round-up

November 9, 2017

Kuriger ‘elated’ with biosecurity and rural communities roles – Christina Perisico:

Barbara Kuriger heads an electorate with no parking meters and one traffic light – but it gives her expertise for her new role in National’s opposition government.

The MP for Taranaki-King Country said she is elated with her new role as biosecurity and rural communities spokesperson.

Her whole electorate is made up of rural communities, she said. . . 

Butter – I can’t believe it’s not . . .cheaper – Joe Bennett:

 Have you seen the price of butter? We live in a land where dairy cows have multiplied like flies in summer, so as compensation for the ruined rivers you’d think we might at least get bargain butter. But no. The price of the stuff has doubled of late. It’s become a luxury.

One has to feel sorry for pensioners. Brought up to see butter as a staple, they can now barely afford it. It seems unfair. And it seems especially unfair when you know why the price has risen. But let’s begin at the beginning.

Butter is simple. At Hassocks County Primary School half a century ago Miss Turner handed out bottles of cream and told us to shake them till our arms ached. When we opened our bottles we found a blob of something pale and yellow. . . 

MPI considering Canterbury rabbit virus application – Alexa Cook:

Canterbury Regional Council has applied for a new strain of rabbit virus to be approved in New Zealand.

Farmers had been expecting the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus Disease strain known as K5 to be released earlier this year.

It would mean they would not have to rely on expensive poisons and control measures against rabbit pests.

But in March, Canterbury Regional Council said the introduction would be delayed by a year because it had to do more work to have the virus approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The ministry received the council’s application this week. It is open for consultation until 14 December. . . 

Blessed are the flexible because they shall not be bent out of shape:

Fluctuating milk prices over the past 10 years have led dairy farmers to revise operating structures and consider options outside traditional pathways.

DairyNZ economist Angie Fisher says roles in the dairy sector are more diverse than they once were which is helping farmers adapt to increasing volatility.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests there has been an increase in variations to the standard clauses in sharemilking agreements around the sharing of milk income. This is evidence of the market adapting to milk price volatility,” she says. . . 

Pre-schoolers pitch in for planting project:

Teaching the next generation about their natural environment is a big part of the philosophy of Kids Barn Childcare Centre in the Taranaki town of Hawera.

So when the opportunity to help local farmers, Adam and Josie Werder with a planting project came up the kids and staff at the preschool were delighted.

Kitted out with their gumboots, sunhats and a willingness to get their hands dirty, 25 four-year-olds from Kids Barn visited the farm to learn about, and help with, the planting of native flaxes. . . 

It’s time – new focus on safely managing hazardous substances:

On 1 December the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017 will come into force. The aim is to reduce both the immediate harm to people and longer-term illness caused by hazardous substances in the workplace.

It’s no small matter. A hazardous substance is any product or chemical that has explosive, flammable, oxidising, toxic or corrosive properties – and they’re everywhere. Around one in three New Zealand workplaces use, manufacture, handle or store them. This includes factories, farmers and growers, as well as printers, collision repairers, hairdressers and retailers. They are in commonly used products such as fuels and LPG, solvents, cleaning solutions and agrichemicals. . .

Fonterra continues to build UHT capacity:

Fonterra has today announced it is further expanding its Waitoa UHT site as the Co-operative works to keep ahead of growing demand for its products.

Five years ago the site was an empty paddock, now it produces more than 80,000 cartons of UHT milk and cream every hour for global markets – and it’s about to get even busier.

A new line will be up and running by the end of the year. This is the third new line to be installed in the last 12 months. . . 

 


Steampunk capital

August 2, 2017

Steampunk is tomorrow as it used to be – a mixture of science fiction, art, and imagination with a sense of the absurd.

Oamaru is New Zealand’s steampunk capital:

You can find out more at Steampunk NZ and Steampunk HQ.


Rural round-up

May 3, 2017

Skilled staff sought to help out on earthquake and flood damaged farms –  Pippa Brown:

An Agstaff and Federated Farmers skilled worker and volunteer initiative is on the lookout for more rural-trained workers in the Kaikoura region.

What started out as a project to help earthquake damaged farms took a step backwards after recent weather events when two cyclonic systems passed through.

Agstaff Supervisor for the Blenheim/Clarence area, Vaughan Beazer, said progress had been going well until the recent weather, which made existing damage worse and caused landslides and flooding. More skilled workers are now required to assist with the recovery work. . .

Higher prices forecast for sheep, beef – Sally Rae:

Higher lamb prices and plenty of grass have bumped up the forecast profit for sheep and beef farmers.

Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s mid-season update showed a before tax profit forecast of $75,200 for all classes of sheep and beef farms, compared with $67,000 six months ago.

In Otago-Southland, gross farm revenue was forecast to drop 1.9% to $387,200 per farm for 2016-17, driven by lower revenue from wool. . .

Holistic grazing regime at Mangarara follows Zimbabwe example – Kate Taylor:

The grazing regime on Mangarara Station is based on a holistic system originating from Zimbabwe with cattle grazed on a long rotation.

Owner Greg Hart said their animals have eaten, trampled and left dung and urine before moving on.

“We mimic that by using electric fences instead of lions and controlling the grazing so they get shifted every day. We’re not afraid of letting our grass get really long and tall in the summer time… . .

A ‘very late’ season for grapes – Sally Brooker:

This year’s harvest is ripening slowly in Waitaki Valley’s vineyards.
The season will be remembered as a difficult one thanks to the weather, Waitaki Valley Wine Growers Association chairman Andrew Ballantyne said.

The valley was traditionally the last region in New Zealand to pick its grapes. Its long growing season combined with its limestone and alluvial greywacke bases meant it was an exciting place to be a wine producer, but it also had risks such as being exposed to more weather events, he said. . . 

Hemp seeds to feed farm returns – Annette Scott:

Cropping farmers are poised to capture their share of a fast-growing global market as 2017 shapes up to be a massive year for hemp seed.

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide approved the recommendation by Food Standards Australia and NZ (FSANZ) to allow the sale of low THC hemp seed food products for human consumption.

THC was one of the main psychoactive ingredients in cannabis, to which hemp was closely related. . .

Cow art has dairy farmers over the moon :

A stunning cow mural has become a popular stop along the well-travelled Rai Valley roads in the Marlborough Sounds, and the story behind the artwork is equally as heart-warming as the spectacular mural.

What do you get when you combine a road-side cow shed, a family holiday, and a relief milker with an artistic hand and big heart?

For dairy farm owners John and Lynne Small, the answer was an appropriately themed mural (or should we say moo-ral) turning an ordinary shed wall into a vehicle-stopping work of art. . .


Million $ madness

September 8, 2016

Friends took us to an open home on Waiheke Island.

When they told us the price it was expected to sell for my farmer said,”How many stock units could you run on it?”

At the time we were buying a few hundred acres on our farm boundary for less than that house on a quarter acre section.

That was a few years ago. It seemed mad then and it’s got worse.

The average Auckland house now costs $1 million the price of the average house in Queenstown isn’t far behind and the rush to buy is spreading.

I walked past a real estate agent in Oamaru on Tuesday. Three quarters of the posters had  sold stickers across them. Of those still on the market, one house was had an asking price of $200 and something thousand, a couple were selling for $300 and something thousand and the rest were $400,000 plus.

Houses aren’t assets for most people. Unlike productive land they usually cost more than the owners can make from them.

Even if the value of properties is increasing, the owner only realises the gain when they sell and if they are able to buy somewhere else to live which costs less.

So why do we have this million dollar madness?

Demand has outpaced supply.

Solving that requires reducing demand and/or increasing supply.

Capital Gains Taxes haven’t stopped steep price rises elsewhere and Eric Crampton cautions that it’s too early to tell if Vancouver’s tax on foreign buyers has worked and anyone telling you otherwise is trying to sell you something.

If buying a house for eye-popping sums, is silly, what about the $1.35m paid for Colin McCahon’s painting The Canoe Tainui?

The artwork was owned by the late Tim and Sherrah Francis, and was on the market for the first time in 50 years as part of a sale of their extensive private collection last night.

They bought the painting in 1969 for $500 and took it with them on their diplomatic postings around the world. . . 

Paying so much for it now might look like million dollar madness.

But only time will tell if it’s a good investment and that might not be what motivated the buyer anyway. Not everyone who can afford fine art is looking to make money from it, sometimes the beauty of the buy is enough in the eye of the purchaser.

 

 

 

 


366 days of gratitude

May 7, 2016

We don’t do birthday gifts any more but she said she wanted to give me one of her paintings.

She explained her reasons and it would have been ungracious to demure.

She said there was one she thought I’d like but there were several others and it was  to be my choice.

As soon as I saw one I knew it was the one for me and it was the one she’d picked.

My farmer and I got out a measuring tape, picture hook, nails, hammer and a level this morning and the painting is now hanging on my office wall.

Every time I look up for inspiration I’ll see it and be grateful – for her friendship, her talent and her gift to me.


Quote of the day

April 20, 2016

I try to apply colours like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music. –  Joan Miró who was born on this day in 1893.


Quote of the day

November 12, 2015

The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation. – Auguste Rodin who was born on this day in 1840.


Quote of the day

October 16, 2015

No better way is there to learn to love Nature than to understand Art. It dignifies every flower of the field. And, the boy who sees the thing of beauty which a bird on the wing becomes when transferred to wood or canvas will probably not throw the customary stone.Oscar Wilde who was born on this day in 1854.


Rural round-up

January 6, 2015

Pink is in vogue as the ‘girls’ forge ahead with family farm – Sally Rae:

An inspirational North Otago mother-and-daughter duo who run a busy pig-farming operation are proof that women can do anything.   Sally Rae reports. 

“Pink definitely belongs on the farm,” Sam Fox reckons.

Sam (24) can be found most days in hot-pink overalls, working alongside her mother, Debbie, at their North Otago piggery.

”She says that’s the boss’ colour,” her mother says, while Sam quips she needs a badge to identify that she is ”chief executive” of Rayburn Farm Ltd.

The pair’s obviously strong relationship goes deeper than the usual mother-daughter bond because they are also business partners, together running an intensive farming operation. . .

Century of family’s effort celebrated with fine fruit –  Leith Huffadine:

The Webb family recently celebrated 100 years of horticulture on the same property, a part of an iconic Central Otago industry which evokes memories of hot summer days and ripe fruit. Leith Huffadine discussed family history, technology changes, and growing fruit with fourth-generation orchardist Simon Webb.

From father to son for four generations, the Webb family has been supplying people with fruit from their orchard, located just outside Cromwell, which has been in the family since 1914.

Established by John Robert Webb, in early summer that year, about 8ha of the 32ha section he purchased was planted in fruit trees.

Going by the numbers, Stonehurst Orchard is now just over 100 years old and has about 25ha planted in trees which produce about 550 or 600 tonnes of fruit a year. . .

Journalist writing new life on the farm Hamish McLean:

Gumboots are more part of Nigel Stirling’s wardrobe than suits these days but the former journalist has not gone “cold turkey” on his news
background, despite the demands of farming life. He tells Hamish McLean about his return to the family farm in South Otago.

One would forgive former colleagues for doing a double take, but Nigel Stirling has no trouble recalling how he was introduced to audiences in his four years at Radio New Zealand.

”They’d read out an intro that I’d written and then they’d say, `Economics correspondent Nigel Stirling has been covering the story – and he joins us now.’ ”And I’d say, ‘Good morning, Jeff’ or `Good morning, Sean’ or I’d just launch straight into it.

”They’d finish it by saying, `Thanks, Nigel.

”That was our economics correspondent Nigel Stirling.” . . .

More than just a cottage industry – Sally Rae,

An enterprising Central Otago farming family has diversified to successfully add tourism to its busy business operation, as Sally Rae reports.

Life is just busy enough at Penvose Farms.

Ask Stu and Lorraine Duncan how they balance a wide-ranging farming operation in the Maniototo with a successful tourism venture, family life and even civic duties, and the answer comes quick.

”Bloody hard at times,” says Mrs Duncan, a calm and capable woman who appears the perfect foil for her dry-witted and ever-thinking husband.

Stu Duncan is a fourth-generation farmer on the block at Wedderburn that was taken up by his forebears in 1894.

Additional land has since been bought and the enterprise now encompasses 2000ha, running sheep, deer and beef cattle, including an Angus stud. . .

Lack of sheep shearers threatens future events:

Falling sheep numbers are threatening the future of rural New Zealand shearing competitions due to a shortage of local shearers. 

The sheep population is at its lowest since World War II which has led to a lack of shearers. 

According to Statistics New Zealand the number of sheep declined by 1.2 million between 2013 and 2014 and now sits at 29.6 million.

Doug Laing of Shearing Sport New Zealand said the reduced flock is threatening the future of the events, which have dropped from around 100 nationally to 60 events a year.

Laing said the problem was a lack of shearers. “It’s a question of how long we can keep running these shows.” . . .

Planning for FMD outbreak – Simone Norrie:

THE Department of Primary Industries (DPI) estimates an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Australia could cost the economy up to $52 billion over a decade.

Exercise Odysseus brought together representatives from key industry bodies and government agencies to step out the action that could be taken if an outbreak occurred.

DPI hosted one of 40 simulation exercises across Australia at Wagga Wagga in December, with discussions centred on the ripple effect of an umbrella 72-hour livestock standstill if an outbreak did occur.

Independent consultant Ron Glanville, Biosecurity Advisory Service, Melbourne, Victoria, had run 10 exercises across Australia, and said the workshops discussed existing plans and highlighted the gaps. . . .

Artistic take on Molong’s scrap – Rebecca Sharpe:

FOR motorists heading through Molong along the Mitchell Highway, Caldwell Molong may only look like a scrap metal business.

But looking closer, gems of fine art sculptures are hidden.

A dinosaur proudly stands above the scrap while sunflowers poke their bright yellow heads into the sky.

Panel beater Mark Oates and mechanic Ben Caldwell are an unlikely artistic duo but they are the masterminds behind the beautiful recycled sculptures. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 3, 2014

Manuka honey labelling guide a positive step for NZ:

The Interim Labelling Guide for Manuka Honey released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is a positive step for the New Zealand industry, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“The Guide provides clarification on what constitutes manuka-type honey, and aims to ensure that New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey that is labelled correctly and meets the expectations of overseas regulators, along with consumers here and overseas,” Ms Kaye says.

“This MPI-led initiative has seen the Ministry working with scientists, industry and overseas regulators – and looking at 11,000 samples of honey – to ensure truth in labelling in New Zealand.

“Though I have been briefed on the outcome, the work is operational and decisions have been made by MPI. . .

From the outside looking in – Craig Littin:

If you are a dairy farmer, things will be flat out on the farm at the moment, and for those driving by some paddocks may be looking a little barren.  Between the wet months of July and October, dairy farmers are in calving season and cows have been dried off, having not produced milk for at least the last six weeks. To keep cows in top condition during this time, ready to have their calves and produce milk for the coming season, it involves techniques such as, break feeding, splitting herds and supplement feeding.

In these wet months pasture is sparse, and to keep cows in good condition whilst they are dried off and begin calving, they are fed between 8 to 10 kilograms of feed, some of which is made up of supplements like maize silage, palm Kernel, hay or silage. By feeding this level of feed per animal it allows the cows to gain condition and also rations the pasture reserves on-farm to ensure that the farm has enough for when they are in calf when their feed requirements rise to between 18 to 20 kilograms per animal a day. All of this happens at the time of year when pasture growth does not normally grow as much as the cows need, hence the muddy paddocks and the need for supplements and break feeding. . .

Northland dairy farms selling out en-masse to cash-rich ‘out-of-towners’:

The dynamics of dairy farming in Northland are undergoing the biggest shake-up the sector has seen in more than 50 years – with a wave of ‘out-of-towners’ coming into the region to take advantage of the comparatively cheap land on offer.

In the past 18 months, $20 million dollars of Northland dairy farms have been sold to Waikato, King Country, Taranaki, Canterbury, and Westland farmers moving into the province. The sales were brokered by real estate agency Bayleys – which is now looking to accelerate the trend this year.

Among the Northland dairy farming units which changed hands to ‘out-of-towners’ in the past year were: . . .

Fonterra Director Retires:

Long-serving Fonterra director, Jim van der Poel, has announced that he will retire from the Co-operative’s Board in November, after 12 years of service.

Chairman John Wilson said Mr van der Poel had been a conscientious and hard-working director with a deep knowledge of the business.

“Jim has served as a great ambassador for Fonterra and our farmers both here in New Zealand and our markets around the world.

“Jim is a successful commercial farmer with farming interests in Waikato, Canterbury and the United States. He was a New Zealand Dairy Group director for several years before Fonterra’s formation, and was elected to the Fonterra Board in 2002. . . .

Blue Wing Honda celebrates four decades of Kiwi success with launch of new facility:

As a nation dependent on primary industry, with more than half of our land used for farming, having the right means to navigate varying terrain can be a challenging task.

Blue Wing Honda met that challenge in 1972 when it entered the market as New Zealand’s importer and distributor of Honda motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

That wealth of experience has helped put the company at number one in the New Zealand ATV market. . . .

Sheep’s wool makes woolly sheep – Mary Alexander:

DRAB winter colours in Hamilton have given way to a vibrant collection of artwork as the city gears up for its annual celebration of wool.

Bright life-size sheep have formed a flock at the art gallery, parking meters and trees lining the main street have been yarn-bombed and shop displays depict the characters in the children’s book Where is the Green Sheep?

“It looks amazing,” artist Jacinta Wareham said yesterday. “I’ve got a whole lot of happy people here saying that Hamilton looks so vibrant and colourful.”

The community arts project is part of the inaugural Woolly Wool Fest being held in the lead-up to Sheepvention from August 3 to 5. . .

Introducing the new, naturally produced Mission Estate Pinot Gris: lighter in alcohol, lower in calories (and full of flavour)

Mission Estate has enjoyed a reputation for winemaking innovation spanning an extraordinary 163 years. Pinot Gris, meanwhile, is a relative newcomer to New Zealand but, as nzwine.com observes, “has enjoyed a dramatic rise to fame and is now the third most popular white variety”.

Combine these two forces with the growing trend for lifestyle wines, and the result is the new organically grown, naturally crafted, lighter in alcohol Mission Estate Pinot Gris. . .


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