Rural roundup

September 17, 2018

2018-19 lamb and beef exports forecast to both break $3 billion for the second time:

As the 2018-19 meat export season begins, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) New Season Outlook 2018-19 report forecasts beef, lamb, and mutton prices to remain firm at historically high levels, helped by an expected weakening New Zealand dollar and strong export demand.

“We forecast slight increases in farm-gate prices for lamb and mutton in 2018-19, as prices are expected to remain relatively steady in New Zealand’s main export markets and benefit from an expected easing of the New Zealand dollar,” says B+LNZ Chief Economist Andrew Burtt. . .

NZ sheep & beef farm profits forecast to slip as expenses rise – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand sheep and beef farm profits are expected to decline in the coming year as higher spending outweighs a lift in revenue from the products they sell.

The average farm is expected to earn a pre-tax profit of $129,700 in the June 2019 year, down 2.8 percent from a pre-tax profit of $133,500 in the 2017/18 year, according to industry group Beef+Lamb New Zealand. . .

China is the key market for New Zealand sheep meat – Keith Woodford:

Some weeks back I wrote how the New Zealand sheep industry is in a sweet spot, with record prices. I also wrote that China is now easily our largest sheep meat market by volume. Here I share the story of some of the things that have been happening in that market, and how demand for New Zealand sheep meats has potential to further increase.

The starting point is to recognise that China’s own sheep industry is much bigger than New Zealand’s.  Whereas New Zealand has about 27 million sheep, China has about 150 million. However, most of these are farmed on arid lands in the west and far north of China, often at high altitude. Much of the product is consumed by the local people and does not reach the big cities. . .

Dry in south but wet up north – Annette Scott:

A mild, dry winter and a good start to spring has set Canterbury farmers up well but there’s concern of a big dry setting in.

Opuha Water chief executive Andrew Mockford said farmers have revelled in the great winter farming conditions but they have not put snow on the hills or water in the lakes and rivers.

While there was rain and just the third snowfall of the season early this month, there has not been enough to maintain the level of South Canterbury’s Lake Opuha. . .

Fonterra announces manager Fonterra Brands NZ :

Fonterra is pleased to welcome Brett Henshaw to the Co-operative as Managing Director, Fonterra Brands, New Zealand (FBNZ).

Brett is currently Managing Director of The Griffin’s Food Company and he will take up his role with Fonterra in the first week of December.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer, Global Consumer & Foodservice, Lukas Paravicini, says “we are excited about Brett joining the team. He has an extensive 30-year career in FMCG and we are pleased he is coming on board.  . .

MPI to get tough on stink bug ships:

Biosecurity officials are promising to take tough action against cargo vessels believed to be infested with brown marmorated stink bug during the upcoming risk season.

“Each arriving vessel will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. However, if our officers ultimately determine a ship is infested with stink bug, it will be prevented from discharging its cargo and directed to leave New Zealand,” says Steve Gilbert, Director Border Clearance Services, Biosecurity New Zealand

“We have also introduced a very low threshold for determining contamination. If we find a single bug, we will thoroughly investigate whether the entire vessel is contaminated. . .


What was the health and safety plan?

August 9, 2018

The cow and calf which were involved in an attack on a jogger and her rescuer in an Auckland park have been culled.

. . .The council said it was natural instinct for a mother cow to protect its calf and advised anyone on council property with stock to be “extra careful” during calving season.

But it had the cow and calf culled in response to the incident, saying the cow had acted in an overly protective way against the walkers which came near it. . . 

Anyone familiar with cattle knows the danger of getting between cows and their offspring.

However, the cattle in question weren’t on a farm where people would be expected to know to be wary. They were in an urban park, open to the public, and advice from the council after the attack to be extra careful seems more than a little inadequate for health and safety requirements.

Any farmers conscious of their responsibilities would not usually allow visitors in the same paddock as cows with calves.

Unrestricted access to a paddock with stock poses animal health and welfare, biosecurity and human safety risks at any time. The risks to stock and people increase when cows have calves.

This is one of the reasons farmers are so adamantly opposed to giving up property rights and allowing any right to roam.

Where, and what, was the council’s health and safety plan and how, in this often over-protective age, has the council got away with not separating the cattle from the jogging and biking track with at least a hot wire?


Rural round-up

June 15, 2018

Government ministers try to build bridges with the rural community, some by ‘friendship’, some by bullying. Also, why are there three national farm databases? -Guy Trafford:

The government certainly seems to be trying to build bridges with the farming sector based upon Damien O’Connor involvement.

Wearing his hat as Minister of Rural Communities he spoke to farmers and others at the Mystery Creek Field Days today. He was announcing the Rural Proofing Policy.

The focus of the policy is to make sure rural communities unique challenges are reflected in government policy. He said, “The bottom line is that rural Kiwis should have equitable access to social and economic opportunities, to reach their full potential,” . .

 NZ biosecurity top-scores in KPMG agribusiness survey :

Biosecurity has remained the highest-ranked priority for the New Zealand primary sector for the eighth year in a row, KPMG said in its latest issue of AgriBusiness Agenda.

KPMG, in releasing its survey results at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek, said biosecurity incursions, environmental challenges, water quality, labour availability, trade wars and rural infrastructure all featured prominently among respondents, who were industry leaders across the primary sector. . .

Waikato farmers need an environmental plan :

Without a vision or a farm environment plan, it won’t happen, reckons Waikato sheep and beef farmer Bill Garland.

And he should know. Bill and his wife Sue have been retiring land — steep land and gullies prone to erosion, severely degraded forest fragments, waterways and other sensitive areas — since the 1980s.

He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to farming and conservation in 2004. . .

Nesting river birds at risk from ground and air predators – Tony Benny:

A trapping programme in Canterbury’s upper Rakaia River has revealed hedgehogs to be a major threat to the rare and endangered native birds that nest there. Tony Benny reports.

Canterbury’s ever-changing braided rivers are almost unique in the world. Fed by torrential alpine rains, they are constantly bringing down from the mountains gravel and sediment that over millennia have formed the Canterbury Plains.

Before Europeans arrived, the wide, gravelly riverbeds were largely free of plants, thanks to periodic floods. A variety of bird species evolved, specifically adapted to breed in this often-inhospitable environment where they were free of animal predators. . . 

Bia and Kai – the same only different – Brendan O’Connell:

In the next 4 months, as New Zealand enters its winter and Ireland leaves its summer, 2 events will bring together the productive drivers of each country, their farmers. National Field Days, the largest agricultural show in the Southern Hemisphere and National Ploughing Championships, the largest agricultural exhibition in Ireland, will both showcase all that is great about the agricultural capabilities of each country.

Following 6 weeks in my home country of Ireland the likeness of these islands has rarely been more acute to me as I now return to my adopted home of New Zealand, just in time for Fieldays. Like any good relationship, what you find similar kicks off the attraction but what you find different is the real basis for a long-lasting relationship. I’ve often described New Zealand as similar enough to be comfortable and different enough to be exciting.

In these global times of growing populations and shifting wealth profiles there is a lot to gain in exploring the role of these 2 producing nations and the differences that could add up to something. There are rich lessons in differences that encompass include food narratives, market access, farming practices, seasonal supply and technology applications. . .

How Lego and the farm came together to inspire a new generation about agriculture – Laura Chung:

For many young people deciding what career to pursue can be overwhelming.

Aimee Snowden, from the small town of Tocumwal in the New South Wales Riverina district, aims to make it easier for young people to consider a career in agriculture through her project, Little Brick Pastoral.

Little Brick Pastoral is an education tool for students, teachers and adults to learn more about the agricultural industry and careers in Australia through Lego. . .


Rural round-up

June 9, 2018

Clear-cut forestry might make a profit, but local communities pay the price – David Hall:

It’s one thing to plant a billion trees; it’s quite another do it well.

Recent floods in Tasman, and now the East Cape, signal what’s at stake. Witness the logs piled up against Mangatokerau Bridge in Tolaga Bay. Or the hillsides scoured with slips in Golden Bay, left vulnerable to erosion by clear-felled forest lands. With extreme weather events expected to increase due to climate change, it is critical that we don’t plant one billion of the wrong trees in the wrong place with the wrong management system.

Our future forests need to be financially viable, environmentally sustainable, and resilient. Crucially, we also need forests that people want to live with, to be nurtured and protected in future decades. . .

Source unclear but charges likely:

It is becoming increasingly evident pinpointing an exact path for the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis into New Zealand might never happen though charges for Biosecurity Act breaches are pending.

The Primary Industries Ministry has not said how it thinks the organism entered the country.

While speculation is rife that European-sourced semen is the most likely suspect, Biosecurity NZ head Roger Smith said investigations do not support that.

The M bovis strain has been confirmed as of European descent but is also occasionally found in America. . . 

FROM THE RIDGE: Showing resolve and compassion– Steve Wyn-Harris:

As we all know, the Government has made the big call to have a go at eradicating Mycoplasma bovis from the country.

It is supported by our own industry bodies.

They were damned if they tried and damned if they didn’t but have shown faith in the scientists and experts and believe there is a reasonable chance of achieving the goal.

Leadership can be a difficult place at times like this and I respect the resolve, compassion and decision-making Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor have shown over this very difficult matter.

I’ve had several conversations with farmers from South Canterbury who have been dealing with the consequences of this disease. . . 

A smorgasbord of agricultural issues – Keith Woodford:

[For the last three years I have been writing fortnightly columns for NZFarmer, which is delivered free to all New Zealand farmers. However the agricultural press in New Zealand is undergoing major change. One part of that change is that Stuff (formerly Fairfax) is now moving towards a digital focus and will cease to publish the weekly NZFarmer. This was my farewell column  to NZFarmer.]

With the impending demise of NZ Farmer, this will be my last article published here. So, I had to give a lot of thought as to what I wanted to say.

Right now, we are surrounded by forces for change. There are so many topics that could be covered. So, I have decided to provide a smorgasbord of key issues.

Mycoplasma bovis
It would be impossible to walk away without saying something about Mycoplasma bovis.  This disease, and the way we have chosen to respond to it, will change many aspects of dairying going forward. My personal perspective is that we might struggle to eradicate the disease, but if we do fail, we will still succeed in managing the disease. There are many worse diseases. . . 

Significantly more Māori farms are grassland, stats show :

Four times as much Māori-owned farmland is grassland, compared to the rest of New Zealand farms, statistics show. 

By June last year, an average of 590 hectares of Māori farmland was grassland, compared to an average 147ha of other farms. 

The Statistics New Zealand figures showed more than eight times more Māori-owned land was covered in plantation crops. . . 

Sanford appoints Fonterra executive Katherine Turner as new CFO – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Sanford has appointed Katherine Turner as the new chief financial officer of New Zealand’s largest listed seafood company.

Turner has worked for 25 years in various finance roles, almost 12 years of which were with the country’s largest company, Fonterra Cooperative Group, where she was most recently commercial director for Fonterra Brands, New Zealand’s biggest fast-moving consumer goods business responsible for brands such as Anchor, Mainland, Fresh’n Fruity and Tip Top. Prior to Fonterra, Turner had nine years in finance roles with French dairy company Danone in New Zealand and France. . . 

Fit for calving – Farmstrong:

Canterbury dairy farm contractor Nicole Jackson is on a mission to reduce the number of injuries to female calf rearers during the physically demanding calving season.

She’s created a six-week online conditioning and strengthening initiative for women to prepare their bodies for the physically gruelling calving season, which is currently under way in many parts of the country.

“There’s a lot of information out there about things like getting meals and the kids ready for calving season but not a lot about getting your body ready,” says Nicole, a mother of two young boys. . . 

New Zealand scientists are breeding sheep to fart and burp less – Jon Daly:

New Zealand researchers are curbing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions one sheep fart at a time.

Scientists at Invermay Agricultural Centre in Mosgiel, about 360km south-west of Christchurch, have bred climate-friendly sheep that produce 10 per cent less methane than their gassy counterparts.

Livestock emissions are the biggest contributor to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions and make up about 10 per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse emissions. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 7, 2018

We can’t have any beef with the MfE on the matter of meatless days – can we? – Point of Order:

It might not be the facile question of the day but it deserves a place as a front-runner for the title.

It came from RNZ’s Guyon Espiner when interviewing Sam McIvor,chief executive of Beef and Lamb NZ.

The interview  (HERE, duration 4′ :37″0) was a reasonable followup to an idea which won headlines and air time for James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change.

New Zealanders should eat one less meat meal a week, he suggested. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand welcomes launch of Good Farming Practice Action Plan

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed today’s launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan as providing a whole of sector approach that builds on the good work already being done by individual industries.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO Sam McIvor says that the launch of the Good Farming Practice Action plan is an exciting opportunity for New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

“This is the first time that farming and horticulture leaders, regional councils, and central government have come together and agreed to a set of good practice principles, and actions to implement those across the country”, Mr McIvor said. . .

Horticulture supports action plan for water quality:

With the communication tools available today, consumers are able to access information about the origin of their food and make buying decisions based on how food producers show responsible and sustainable farming practices, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“It is important for our fruit and vegetable growers to show they are using best practice when managing their properties and that they are offering healthy food,” Chapman says.

“So we support today’s launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan for Water Quality, on World Environment Day. . . 

More dairy farmers feeling financial pressure:

More farmers are feeling under financial pressure, and satisfaction with their banks has slipped, the May 2018 Federated Farmers’ Banking Survey shows.

The biannual survey drew 1,004 responses, more than double that of the last survey in November.  While results indicate the vast majority of farmers are still satisfied with their banks, those saying they were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ fell from 81% to 79% since November.

The fall was particularly pronounced for sharemilkers (68.5% satisfaction, down from 77%) although for them the drop was mainly driven by more of them having a neutral perception rather than being dissatisfied. . . 

Shearers moot 25% pay rise – Neal Wallace:

Shearers and woolhandlers look set to receive pay and entitlement increases of up to 25% this season as the industry tries to retain and recruit skilled labour.

The recommendation from the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association is part of a three-year strategic plan focused on improving the association’s profile, lifting recruitment and retention rates, improving training opportunities and improving health and safety.

The industry has struggled to retain and recruit young people.

Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said the pay rise would also address the gap with Australia and help retain NZ wool harvesters. . . 

NZ orchards audited after biosecurity concerns :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is seizing plant material from five apple and stone fruit nurseries across the country, as a precautionary measure against biosecurity risks.

The seizures some after an audit found incorrect record keeping at a US facility which is responsible for screening apple and stone fruit plant cuttings before they are imported.

MPI response manager John Brightwell said following the March audit, it put an immediate stop to imports and began tracing plants imported from Clean Plant Centre Northwest – Fruit Trees.

Mr Brightwell said about 55,000 plants had been traced and five affected nurseries and a small number of growers were told plant material will be seized from their properties. . . 

MPI’s seizure of fruit trees unlawful:

The New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated, which represents commercial plant producers, is challenging the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI)’s intention to use section 116 of the Biosecurity Act to seize fruit trees that have been caught up in the US quarantine issue.

MPI announced today that it would be seizing approximately 55,000 fruit trees from 4 nurseries around New Zealand. It follows an MPI audit in March which uncovered incomplete and incorrect record keeping at a US facility, which is responsible for screening apple and stone fruit plant cuttings before they are imported. . . 


Rural round-up

May 10, 2018

Farmers’ guilt ‘a crying shame’, with 30 jobs created by every farm – Jill Galloway:

Wairarapa farmer Matt Wyeth reckons if New Zealanders knew how many people were employed upstream from farms they would be more appreciative of farming.

Wyeth, from Spring Valley Enterprises near Masterton, said 30 people had jobs as a direct result of a farm.

“Each farm is responsible for the income for 30 households,” said Wyeth at the AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North attended by about 180 people. “Our identity in the community is largely not known. You hear about people going to a barbecue and they are almost ashamed to say they are in the farming industry.”

He said truck drivers, stock agents, and meat workers were just some of the people earning employment from farming, as well as agricultural scientists and soil scientists. . . 

Government water plans ‘almost economic suicide’:

Jane Smith did not mince words when discussing David Parker’s new water plan, calling the Environment Minister “an angry little man on a power trip in Wellington”.

Smith, a former winner of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay saying Parker’s reasoning was “barely fit for consumption.”

“You know I just sort of wonder if he’s running a democracy or a dictatorship.”

Parker’s reformed National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management could bring a halt to intensive dairy farming intensification; a move that Smith says has a lack of metrics, rationale and facts. . . 

(If you click the link above you’ll get to the audio for The Country’s Panel with Jane and environmental consultant Megan Hands which is well wroth listening to).

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In 1920 each farmer fed 19 mouths. In 1970 each farmer fed 26 mouths. In 2013 each farmer feeds 155 mouths and counting  . . .  No Farms, No Food, No Future.

Alliance backs origin meat brand – Neal Wallace:

The country’s largest sheep meat exporter has lent its support to the Beef + Lamb NZ red meat story brand, saying it provides a valuable insight to the needs of consumers.

Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said the Taste Pure Nature origin brand is also an example of how meat companies and the wider industry are working together for the common good, having earlier successfully co-operated on the chilled meat trial to China.

Developing the origin brand provided a valuable understanding of what is important to consumers and he agrees with the B+LNZ initiated pilot marketing programmes in China and the United States. . . 

Tuapeka farm in family 150 years – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Cummings family, of Tuapeka Flat, will celebrate more than 150 years of farming on the same property at the New Zealand Century Farm and Station awards dinner in Lawrence on May 26.

Peter Cummings said the family’s history could be traced to Patrick Cummings, who left Ireland and sailed to the Victoria goldfields in 1857, before arriving in New Zealand in 1861.

Patrick eventually leased 28 acres near Lawrence, which is now part of the family farm. . .

Confidence drives deer farmers – Annette Scott:

Confidence is driving the rebuild of New Zealand’s deer herd as the industry records one of its best-ever seasons and looks to stay ahead of the game at its upcoming conference.

Existing deer blocks are being expanded and subdivided to run more stock, feeding systems are being upgraded and more weaners are being kept for breeding – all on the back of soaring venison prices that traditionally peak in spring for the European chilled game market but this season reached records highs pre-Christmas and continue to hold up well above average.

The South Island schedule for venison is $11 a kilogram while the North Island is about $10/kg. . . .

Worm farm impresses councilors – Yvonne O’Hara:

Using worms to turn dairy shed waste into worm castings, which can ultimately be used to grow feed and food, was the focus of a field day at Robbie Dick’s Central Wormworx field day in Cromwell on April 27.

Mr Dick hosted a group of Otago Regional Council and Environment Southland councillors and talked to them about possibly establishing more worm farms in Otago and Southland to deal with dairy waste.

He runs the 1ha worm farm, which has about 100 million stock units. . .

New biosecurity safety advertisement applauded:

Federated Farmers applauds the Australian Government’s intention to take border security more seriously by launching a new compulsory biosecurity safety video aimed at all incoming aircraft and cruise line passengers.

The safety video depicts people trying to use everyday excuses to get past Australian border officials with fish, wooden objects, plants and other material hidden in their luggage.

“This video is an example of what is needed at every New Zealand point of entry,” Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says. . . 


Rural round-up

February 21, 2018

Farmers face hefty riparian planting bills – Robin Martin:

Taranaki farmers could face hefty bills as the regional council toughens enforcement of its riparian planting programme to clean up waterways.

The council has begun auditing more than 1700 dairy farms and now says their plans for planting along riverbanks and streams must be completed by 2020.

Taranaki’s riparian planting programme – the largest in the country – has received international recognition and is has been credited with improving water quality. . . 

NAIT problems stymie M. bovis response – Nigel Malthus:

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says farmers’ problems in complying with NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) have slowed the response to Mycoplasma bovis.

NAIT could be a lot easier to use, she says.

While it works well for recording animals arriving at a processing works, there are apparent breakdowns in compliance when farmers are transferring stock among themselves. . .

Robotics opportunities in forestry being explored

Forest safety, improving productivity and getting workers off the felling site has been a major push for forestry managers, forest owners, logging contractors and equipment suppliers to modify their wood harvesting operations over the last few years. Another major driver to increased mechanisation has been the skilled machine operator shortages that many forestry companies are now currently facing. The ultimate goal of the industry is to have “no worker on the slope, or no hand on the chainsaw”.

Technology development and the pace of change over the last couple of years, in keeping with other industries, has been rapid and exciting for the forestry industry. Recent research is suggesting that by 2019, 35% of leading organizations will be exploring the use of robots to automate operations. Forestry isn’t any different. In fact, the switch is already underway. . .

Fonterra And the A2 Milk Company Form Comprehensive Strategic Relationship:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (Fonterra) and The a2 Milk Company (a2MC) have today entered into a comprehensive strategic relationship that links Fonterra’s global milk pool and supply chain, manufacturing capability and in-market sales and distribution capacity with a2MC’s brand strength and capabilities.

As part of the partnership, Fonterra will now begin conversations with its farmers to source an A2 milk pool for a2MC products in New Zealand, which is intended to significantly expand over time to help meet the growing demand for a2MC products. A similar milk pool in Australia will also be developed. . . 

MPI targets vehicles and machinery from Japan:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has introduced new measures to reduce the risk of brown marmorated stink bugs arriving in vehicles and machinery from Japan.

The changes will require all used vehicles (cars and trucks) to undergo inspection and cleaning at an MPI-approved facility in Japan prior to export.

In addition, any used machinery or other types of used vehicles from Japan will require certification proving it has undergone cleaning by an appropriate provider, says Paul Hallett, MPI Biosecurity and Environment Manager.  . .

Feedback sought for upgrade of fertiliser-spreader standard:

The (NZGFA) is calling on fertiliser spreaders up and down the country to have their say ahead of a review of the industry’s Spreadmark programme.

Dean Brooks, the NZGFA’s president, says the programme – which was first developed in 1994 to raise the standard of fertiliser spreading performance and to provide a benchmark for best practice – will soon be reviewed by the Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC). . .

Funding request to federal Health Minister met with ‘positive response‘ – Sally Cripps:

We were swamped.” That was how psychologist, Dervla Loughnane, described the overwhelming response to the news that a texting counselling service had been launched for rural people in need.

Announced by the Queensland Country Life at the start of February, it was hoped the Virtual Psychologist service, supported by Aussie Helpers, would save lives and that’s what has happened, according to Dervla.

“It was so overwhelming that in the first 24 hours we had to double our staff on the lines,” she said. . .

 


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