Rural round-up


Farmers, growers face flooded fields, ruined crops after deluge – Sally Murphy :

Pastures are underwater, crops have been destroyed and culverts and valuable feed have been washed away due to heavy rainfall since Friday.

Auckland Federated Farmers president Alan Cole said farms were completely smashed because of the sheer volume of water.

“Some farms have lost all of their culverts, there’s a lot of fencing down and one dairy farm is under water so those cows had to be moved pretty quickly.

“It doesn’t matter how big your infrastructure is; nothing was prepared for that amount of water.” . . 

Auckland floods: Piles of fresh produce litter roadside, new hassle for growers, shoppers – John Weekes :

A fortune in fresh produce has been wiped out in the Auckland floods with piles of onions washed onto the roads and more food price inflation expected.

Fields with pumpkins, garlic, onions and other crops in Pukekohe were still partly flooded on Monday afternoon, nearly three days after the peak of the storm.

The community in the south of Auckland has some of the country’s best horticultural land. But roads and fields were damaged and crops washed into ditches and even residential suburbs.

Some people on Monday were scavenging onions at the side of the road. . . 

Camp reveals rising stars in dairy world – Tim Cronshaw :

A youth camp has helped young animal handlers perfect tricks of the trade. Tim Cronshaw takes a closer look.

Holly Powell is tucking away a few tricks of the trade for a major dairy event after picking them up at a skills camp in Rangiora.

The 19-year-old was among 21 young handlers to attend the World Wide Sires National All Dairy Breeds Youth Camp organised by Holstein Friesian New Zealand at the local A&P showgrounds.

“I’ve been to four camps now and every year you pick up little pieces and tricks to make the animals look as good as possible, just picking up tricks to do the the top line and the belly hair.” . . 

Food exports increase in 2022 :

Total exports saw a growth of $8.7 billion (14 percent) to $72.2 billion in the year ended December 2022 compared with 2021, Stats NZ said today.

Annual imports also rose sharply to $86.7 billion, up $16.1 billion (23 percent).

“Price inflation has been a topic of interest in 2022, and we’re seeing the results of it in these large increases,” international trade manager Alasdair Allen said.

“Many major export commodities eased in volume but saw price increases drive higher values across the year. . . 

Fonterra signs five-year contract with EROAD for 500+ tankers :

Transportation technology services company EROAD Limited (NZX/ASX: ERD) (EROAD) has today announced the acquisition of a significant enterprise customer in New Zealand.

The Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (Fonterra) has signed a five-year contract to install EROAD fleet management hardware across its fleet of 500+ milk tankers.

Mark Heine, EROAD’s Chief Executive Officer says, “we’re incredibly excited to be partnering with such an iconic and important organisation here in New Zealand. Creating safer, more sustainable roads is at the very heart of what we do at EROAD, and it’s clear that Fonterra is equally committed to these goals.”

From Cape Reinga to Bluff, and almost everywhere in between, Fonterra’s milk collection operation spans the entire country. Through its fleet of 500+ milk collection tankers and 1600+ tanker operators, Fonterra completes an average of one farm collection every 15 seconds and collects around 16.5 billion litres of milk per year. . . 

Ag-drive partners with Agriacadamy to broaden training available to the agricultural sector :

Waikato’s largest agricultural vehicle training provider, Ag Drive, has signed an agreement with Agricademy to deliver its award-winning operator training to even more of the agriculture sector.

Agricademy provides training for new employees in a more affordable and effective way, leaving classrooms behind, to quickly improve staff productivity. Their innovative training model has been developed online and on-farm for the generation that gets its information online on their smartphones and connects on social media.

Agricademy Managing Director Alister Shennan says they’re excited to be working with Ag Drive, which has a great reputation for offering practical, tailored training in the machine and vehicle operation space.

“Agricademy training offers the practical and life skills employees need to do well at work, so it was a natural synergy for us to partner with Ag Drive, who are known for their practical training,” he says. . .

Rural round-up


Southland contractors see ‘bumper season’ while parts of North Island suffer from wet season  – Sally Murphy :

Rural contractors in Southland cannot keep up with bumper grass growth, while those in parts of the North Island are having problems from the recent wet weather.

Southland has had a warm summer with consistent rain providing the perfect conditions for strong growth.

Southland Federated Farmers arable chair Sonya Dillon said farmers were happy to be out in the fields harvesting solid crops after a dry summer last year.

“We’ve been really lucky we’ve had a bumper season. It was a bit dull in November, which probably stole a bit of the yield, and now we are starting to get some dry patches, which has stolen some of the weight. . . 

Farm leaders are watching whether O’Connor keeps Agriculture as the climate lobby presses for methane action – Point of Order :

Farming leaders  are watching  closely  whether  Damien O’Connor keeps the key portfolios of Agriculture and Trade when Prime Minister Chris Hipkins  restructures his Cabinet.

O’Connor  has been one of the  few ministers during Labour’s term in office who has  won broad support for what he has done as minister, but  he  is now in his 65th year   and  the  heavy  load  he  has  carried  as minister  would have exhausted  any  but  the  fittest.

Hipkins  could be  under  pressure  from climate change lobby groups to put  a  new minister into  the Agriculture  role  to enforce tougher policies on reducing methane emissions from livestock  which make up nearly 40% of NZ’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Only this week  lobby group Greenpeace said polling showed 61% of New Zealanders  favoured regulating the dairy industry to reduce  water contamination and greenhouse gas emissions.  Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel said this is a significant increase from 48% in a similar poll only a year ago, in December 2021. . . 

Farming without a road – Joanna Grigg:

Farmers in parts of the Marlborough Sounds have been cut off from truck access for months and now rely on service by sea. Joanna Grigg reports.

Farms in the Marlborough sounds carry about 35,000 stock units, with six large farm businesses carrying a fair chunk.

Emma Hopkinson and her husband ‘Hoppy’ run 6000 stock units over three farms: the home farm at Kenepuru, a 20-year lease block at Titirangi and a smaller lease block at Waitaria Bay. She wants those making roading decisions to know these farms are productive and earn export dollars for New Zealand.

“Without truck access, our business is hugely affected,” Emma says. . . 

Biosecurity NZ launches campaign to stamp out wallaby populations

Wallaby populations continue to grow in New Zealand, something which has prompted the launch of the first national awareness campaign.

The Tipu Mātoro: Wallaby-free Aotearoa is designed to shine a light on the extensive damage wallabies can wreak on the environment, asking Kiwis to report wallaby sightings.

John Walsh, Biosecurity New Zealand’s director of response says wallabies silently prey on the futures of forests and farms.

“We are working in partnership with regional councils, local iwi, farmers and landowners through Tipu Mātoro to manage and reduce populations, but we need everyone’s help.”

Leading US scientist to clear the air on methane and livestock – Sheep Central :

LIVESTOCK producers will have the air cleared on the measurement of methane in agriculture in a special lecture in Perth next month.

‘How well is methane calculated to determine livestock emissions?’ will be the topic for discussion at a public lecture in Perth and online next month by leading United States animal scientist and air quality specialist Professor Frank Mitloehner.

The professor from the University of California at Davis will speak on new methane accounting methods for agriculture and the and the climate neutral challenge.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) and the Western Australia Livestock Research Council are hosting Professor Mitloehner, who is director of the Clarity and Leadership for Environmental Awareness and Research (CLEAR) Centre. . . 

Take your pick from Seeka’s seasonal job variety :

Over 400 jobs are up grabs as this year’s Kiwifruit season takes off in Taitokerau, and there’s something for everyone.

Horticulture employer Seeka has collaborated with Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to deliver a series of job expos for the upcoming 2023 kiwifruit season.

Expo attendees will have the opportunity to speed interview for any one of these roles next month and walk away with a job, and a kete of information to support their employment.

New Zealand’s premier produce company has positions for forklift operators, graders, packers, and supervisors for the 2023 season. . . 

Rural round-up


Feds’ request to Hipkins: slow down, prioritise :

Slow down the legislative programme, get it right and concentrate on those things that will help families and businesses prosper.

That’s the request from Federated Farmers to Chris Hipkins as he is sworn in as New Zealand’s 41 st prime minister today, and then gets to work on the policy “re-set” he has talked about.

“Farmers have many times in the last three years expressed concern about rushed, poorly-consulted-on legislation that has proved to be flawed and impractical,” Feds president Andrew Hoggard says.

“The proposed replacement legislation for the Resource Management Act has those same hallmarks. . . 

Primary sector leaders draw up Hipkins wish list – Neal Wallace :

Food and fibre sector leaders are mostly in the dark about what their industry can expect from newly elected Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

The Food and Fibre Leadership Group is seeking a meeting with the new prime minister, with most members saying they have not had dealings with him.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said Hipkins has not been part of the government ministerial group, headed by the prime minister, that regularly meets with food and fibre leaders.

He fears the change in prime minister could mean a loss of contacts within the leader’s office as staff are replaced. . . 

Te Anau station’s court victory sees SDC drop two cases – Neal Wallace,

The Southland District Council has withdrawn two pending prosecutions for the clearance of indigenous vegetation after losing a legal battle with a Te Anau station.

The council’s environmental planning manager, Marcus Roy, said following the Environment Court decision against the council and in favour of Te Anau Downs Station, two prosecutions relating to the clearance of indigenous vegetation have been dropped. 

The court decision in favour of Te Anau Downs followed a four-year legal battle in which the council sought an enforcement order to prevent any further indigenous vegetation clearance on the station, and to require significant remedial work for clearance dating back to 2001.

Late last year the court declined the council’s application for an enforcement order and required it to pay costs and compensation of $300,000. . . 

Food security at heart of our cost of living crisis – Dr Catherine Knight :

New Zealanders have been finding their supermarket shop a painful experience for some time now, but in December many reached their pain threshold as food prices increased by 10.6 percent compared with 2021. Fresh produce was a whopping 24 percent more expensive – at a time of the year when it is usually plentiful and cheap. Economists reassure us this is just a momentary blip in an otherwise smoothly running economic system – prices will ‘soften’, inflation will ‘moderate’ and ‘better times will come’. These reassurances are comforting and most of us are happy to be soothed by this narrative.

But what if empty supermarket shelves and high prices are symptomatic of something much bigger? A sign of a broken system, now starting to show the tell-tale fissures of climate disruption, ecological collapse, energy descent and increased resource scarcity.

The immediate causes of surging food prices are familiar to most of us: high shipping costs, supply chain disruption, a tight labour market, disrupted weather patterns, spiralling on-farm costs such as fertiliser and diesel.

But all these factors are more connected than we might think.  . . 

NZ’s fatally flawed climate strategy – Dame Anne Salmond :

 A recent article in the Guardian based on research into Verra, the world’s largest global carbon-offsetting scheme, reveals more than 90 percent of its tropical rainforest carbon credits are worthless, making no positive impact on climate change. 

In a subsequent article, the Guardian shows that the fossil fuel company Shell was heavily involved in setting up Verra and its rules. Like New Zealand, Shell has placed carbon offsetting at the heart of its climate change strategy, although the research indicates that many of the claims made about the efficacy of such schemes cannot be trusted.

The implications of this research for New Zealand’s carbon strategy are fundamental. At present, New Zealand relies heavily on carbon offsetting to meet its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, through the purchase of international credits and through the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

On both scores, New Zealand’s strategy is fatally flawed. While the government proposes to make up shortfalls in meeting our NDC with the large-scale purchase of international credits, given the research into Verra and its ‘phantom credits’, it is highly likely that in future this kind of offsetting will be tightly controlled or excluded under international conventions. This would leave New Zealand unable to meet its carbon targets. . . 

Fonterra looking to expand its international recipe contest – Nona Pelletier :

Fonterra sees international competition as a way to bake in global demand for New Zealand butter.

The best use of New Zealand’s bright yellow, grass-fed butter was the secret of success at the cooperative’s confectionary and bakery recipe contest which saw 60 of Japan’s leading chefs create a range of award worthy buttery treats.

Among the winning entries at the Fonterra Grand Prix included a bread named, Moon of Grass Fed Butter, and a confectionery called, Fonterra Butter Sand.

The competition was held in 2019-2020 but the winners had to wait until recently to collect their prize, which included a tour of New Zealand, as well the commercialisation of their winning entries, aimed at promoting grass-fed butter and dairy products in Japan. . . 

Inflation stubbornly high


The annual inflation rate remains stubbornly high :

The consumers price index increased 7.2 percent in the 12 months to December 2022, Stats NZ said today.

The 7.2 percent increase follows another 7.2 percent annual increase in the September 2022 quarter, and a 7.3 percent increase in the June 2022 quarter.

Housing and household utilities was the largest contributor to the December 2022 annual inflation rate. This was due to rising prices for both constructing and renting housing.

Prices for building a new house increased 14 percent in the 12 months to December 2022, following a 17 percent increase in the 12 months to September.

“Respondents reported more expensive materials and higher labour costs are driving the increase of building a new home,” consumer prices senior manager Nicola Growden said.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to reverse.

A builder told me that the price of plaster board will increase by 30% in a couple of months.

Rental prices for housing increased 4.4 percent in the 12 months to December 2022. This follows an annual increase of 4.6 percent in the September 2022 quarter.

After housing and household utilities, the next largest contributor to the annual increase was from the food group.

“Higher prices for ready-to-eat food, vegetables, and meat and poultry drove the overall increase in food prices,” Growden said.

David Farrar points out:

The cumulative effect of quarter after quarter of high inflation is significant. The cost of living is 14.1% higher than the last election and 19.8% higher than when Labour took office.

Some of the blame can be attributed to imported inflation but the non-tradable rate was 6.6%.

The reduction in the fuel tax is due to be reversed soon. That will put pressure on the price of almost all goods and services.

The Reserve Bank will make an announcement on any change to the Official Cash Rate next month. With inflation so high another increase in interest rates is expected.

The question is no longer just how do the poor people cope? With rents, mortgages, food and fuel costing so much people who used to earn too much to be poor will be struggling too.

Rural round-up


Few favourable economic signals in sight, but a glimmer of light in GDT dairy export prices – Point of Order :

Kiwis  returning  to  work after their summer  breaks  and  scanning the  economic horizon  may  find  few encouraging signals. Even  the  agricultural sector,  which proved  to be  the  mainstay at the height of the Covid pandemic, is  now having to navigate  the inflation  raging in the domestic sector.

As  well, as  Point of  Order noted at  the  beginning of  December, NZ  exports have been hit by falling world prices and a rising NZ dollar. It  was a sharp reversal from earlier in the year when ANZ Bank  was reporting its  commodity price index  had returned to its record breaking run  and stood  nearly  20%  above the level  where it had been  12 months previously.

So  there  may have been a glimmer  of  light in the  latest Fonterra GDT auction at which 31,872 tonnes of dairy product was  sold at  an average price of $US3,393  ($NZ5,280) a tonne,only 0.1% lower than at the previous  auction, when prices fell 2.8%.

The key product  of  WMP was  0.1% higher  at $US3,218 a tonne, while  cheddar also  rose, by 4% to $US4,871. . . 

Bumpy ride ahead for dairy sector in 2023! – Sudesh Kissun :

Be prepared for a bumpy ride in 2023.

That’s the message from Federated Farmers vice president and Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford.

With the first Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction of 2023 recording a drop in all seven products on offer, Langford says the milk price is facing significant pressure.

Add to this soaring interest rates, high input prices, a shortage of staff and a possible global recession, Langford says farmers are facing “challenging headwinds”. , ,


Southland-raised student revelling in studies – Sally Rae :

Emma Blom describes herself as a curious learner.

When she enrolled to study a bachelor of environment and society at Lincoln University, it was more about satisfying her curiosity than getting a job, she said.

Miss Blom (20) was recently announced as the first recipient of the Align Farms agriculture scholarship which covered a year’s tuition for a student enrolled in a food and fibre related undergraduate programme.

Canterbury-based Align Farms said it had many “amazing” applicants, but Miss Blom’s passion and active and diverse involvement in the agriculture industry made her a stand-out candidate. , , , 

Could the actual super food be … a cheese sandwich ? – Jacqueline Rowarth :

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth is an adjunct professor at Lincoln University, has a PhD in soil science (nutrient cycling) and is a director of Ravensdown, DairyNZ and Deer Industry NZ.

OPINION: Those of us of a certain age remember the idea from school and the importance of fresh fruit and vegetables in the diet.

Since then we’ve had 5+ a day and the food pyramid. But consumption continues to be lower than recommended and results from a survey by Research First released in October gives price as “often the justification”.

The confirmation from Stats NZ that we’ve hit a 32-year record, 11.3% food price inflation for the year ended December, supports the justification. . . 

Silver Fern Farms embraces TradeWindow digital trade solution :

TradeWindow (NZX: TWL), has confirmed an agreement to provide their Cube global trade platform solution to leading New Zealand meat producer Silver Fern Farms Ltd.

CEO AJ Smith says the scope of the new agreement means long standing customer Silver Fern Farms will be one of TradeWindow’s largest customers by revenue. Most of this will be generated through the new generation Cube global trade platform, rather than Prodoc, which the meat company has historically relied on.

Silver Fern Farms is a major exporter of natural grass-fed New Zealand lamb, beef and venison. It operates a network of 14 processing plants across New Zealand and generates annual revenues of around $3 billion from sales to over 60 countries and regions. Major markets include US, China, UK, Germany, Dubai, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea.

“Adoption of the Cube global trade platform by Silver Fern Farms confirms the particular strengths of this solution for primary industry exports where timeliness and quality are critical,” says Mr Smith. . .

The countdown to the World Avocado Congress NZ 2023 is on! :

In less than three months, 1000+ members of the global avocado community will descend upon Auckland, New Zealand, for the 10th World Avocado Congress, taking place from 2-5 April 2023.

Jen Scoular, CEO of New Zealand Avocado and President of the World Avocado Congress Committee says the number of attendees to date is incredible testament as to how highly regarded the congress is amongst the global avocado community.

“We can’t wait to welcome the brightest minds in avocados to our shores; international growers, researchers, marketers, retailers, tech innovators, investors and more. The congress is an incredible opportunity to showcase our avocados and raise visibility of New Zealand on the world produce stage, while also demonstrating our differentiated story to grow value and volume into developing markets,” says Ms Scoular.

“That said, the World Avocado Congress is much bigger than avocados from New Zealand. It provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to sell not just the avocado industry but the New Zealand experience. We want to ensure visitors get a real taste of New Zealand, a flavour for our integrity, our innovation, our openness. How great will Auckland feel with that many people visiting, many who have never been in NZ before, wining and dining in the city?!” . . . 

Rural round-up


Out of pocket and patience with illegal hunting – Guy Williams:

Otago and Southland already have the highest rate of unlawful hunting in the country, and now landowners, police and legitimate hunters say poaching appears to be on the rise in the region.

Public Interest Journalism Fund reporter Guy Williams looks at what could be behind the trend and what is being done to combat it. 

Pursuing a poacher on a farm near Lindis Pass last year left hunting guide Chris McCarthy with a broken ankle and thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Mr McCarthy was guiding a client on Forest Range Station on April 5 when he spotted Otis Feehan-Price through binoculars. . . 

Mates out to create buzz over alcohol brewed from honey – Annette Scott :

Two Kiwis on a mission set out to show the world that all of NZ’s native honeys – and not just mānuka – can make premium products.

New Zealand’s diverse native flora treats beekeepers across the country to a range of native Aotearoa honeys: kāmahi, pōhutukawa, rewarewa, rātā… the list goes on. 

But a singular focus on mānuka, say Wilbur Morrison and Edward Eaton, means beekeepers with rich natural native plant diversity walk away from their unprofitable hives.

And because native honeys that aren’t mānuka are being forgotten, NZ apiculture is becoming less sustainable.  . . 

Feds call for government inquiry on Tairāwhiti. damage :

Einstein’s words that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is relevant to storm damage in Tairāwhiti.

And it’s why Federated Farmers is calling on the government to promptly establish an inquiry into the factors that contributed to flooding and smashed infrastructure from ex-tropical Cyclone Hale, with the aim of not making the same mistakes again.

Feds national board member and former Gisborne-Wairoa president Toby Williams says no-one can do anything about heavy rain – “more than 300mm of it on our farm, that’s a quarter of our annual rainfall in January so far and the month isn’t over”.

But in a letter to Emergency Management, Forestry and Associate Environment Ministers, Federated Farmers said residual woody material/slash left in situ after exotic forestry harvesting was a significant contributing factor to increased damage and would need to be part of the brief provided to the inquiry team. . . 

Forestry see merit in a review of Tairāwhiti resilience :

The forestry industry is in support of an independent review of the challenges faced by the East Coast following ex-tropical Cyclone Hale, believing it will be beneficial for the region in the future.

The weather event affected a significant part of the country earlier this month. However, like Cyclone Bola in 1988, it was once again the East Coast community who felt the brunt of the weather with roads and bridges damaged, and power taken out.

Speaking for the Eastland Wood Council, Chief Executive Philip Hope noted the combination of factors that makes Tairāwhiti so vulnerable.

“We are managing an area almost twice the size of Auckland with three percent of their population, whilst sitting on some of the worst eroding country in the world. It’s a big challenge for many including the Council, but we are committed to the Tairāwhiti community.” . . 

Developer eyes turning gravel into gold – Jill Herron :

As a local council moves to corral burgeoning growth within its town boundary, a private developer is again looking to take it into the hinterland

An application for a 543-lot subdivision 10km north of Cromwell will be publicly notified within the next few weeks by the Central Otago District Council.

The developer is roading and infrastructure company Fulton Hogan, which is looking to develop a quarry site, one of 30 the company owns in the South Island.

With shops, travellers’ accommodation, business and industrial zones and a pencilled-in school site, the proposal would form a satellite town if it did not already have urban neighbours on its southern boundary. . . 

M. Bovis confirmed properties continue to decrease :

The Mycoplasma bovis Programme, led in partnership with MPI, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, continues to make good progress towards the eradication of the disease from New Zealand.

All properties in the high-risk area in Wakanui, which is under a Controlled Area Notice (CAN), have now been cleared of cattle. Testing will be underway shortly on the properties in the surrounding area. The CAN is on track to be lifted in mid-March.

The number of active confirmed properties has decreased this week with two properties now cleared of M. bovis and preparing return to farming without restrictions. There is one new farm infected with M. bovis which has well-established links to another already infected property.

“This brings the current number of Confirmed Properties to five (compared to 40 at the height of the outbreak), and we expect all of these farms to be cleared within the first half of 2023,” said M. bovis programme director Simon Andrew. . . 

How much more do you want to pay for food?


Food prices were 11.3 % higher in December last year than they were 12 months earlier. That’s the biggest annual increase in 32 years.

Some of the pressure on food prices are international – the war in Ukraine, inflation in other countries, the impact of Covid 19 . . .

But some of the increase is the direct result of government policies – its own out of control spending , the steep increase in the minimum wage, the raft of impractical regulations imposed on farmers and growers  . . .

The government’s plan to tax agricultural emissions will make matters worse.

The only way farmers can do this is to reduce stock numbers.

Imposing this tax when there’s no tools to reduce emissions is an act of economic sabotage by the government when too many New Zealanders can’t afford enough food, the world needs more high quality protein and the country needs the export income that comes from selling it.

That is a very high price to pay for a policy that will almost certainly increase global carbon emissions as producers in other countries with far less efficient farmers increase production to fill the gap left by the reduction in ours.

We’ll all be paying more for meat and milk here and earning less overseas.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts food and shelter at the base of the pyramid.

The government’s ideologically driven climate change policy ignores that.

If they were to ask people if they want to pay for food, only the very rich or very stupid would say yes. But unless they cut their own spending and stop the policies that add costs to production we’ll be facing another record increase in prices.

Rural round-up


Pure Advantage calls for urgent enquiry into management of exotic plantations :

Poor forestry management practices again lead to extensive damage in Tairāwhiti

“At this rate of loss and damage there will be no future in the Waiapu Valley and the wider East Coast for our tamariki and mokopuna. We are failing in our roles as kaitieki,” says Graeme Atkins Kaitieki Ranger Raukumara Pae Maunga Restoration Project and 2020 Loder Cup winner Dept. of Conservation.

It’s time for an urgent enquiry into the management of exotic plantations in Aotearoa New Zealand. . . 

Sheltering sheep killed by lightning strike – John Lewis :

A lightning strike near Naseby which left a dozen sheep and lambs dead has prompted a sobering reminder to stay indoors during thunderstorms.

Maniototo farmer Phil Smith said five ewes and seven lambs were sheltering under a tree on his property when it was struck by lightning on January 6, killing them instantly.

He said he had heard of it happening on other farms around New Zealand, but it was the first time he had seen it happen on his farm.

“I didn’t know it had happened for the first few days. I only got notified by my neighbour. She walked her dogs down the road and she came across them and rung me about it. . . 

Soggy soils plague East Coast fruit, veg – Hugh Stringleman :

Vegetable growers on the river flats around Gisborne have been saturated for spring and summer and are heartily sick of the problems caused, the chair of the Gisborne Growers Association, Calvin Gedye, says.

“The prolonged wet weather and lack of sunshine are taking their toll and crops are not growing as they should,” Gedye said.

“We have produced perhaps half of what we planned, being both plant failures and lack of bulk and quality.

“Even the weeds look sick in some of the crops and we haven’t been able to side-dress nitrogen.” . . 

Up the creek but not without a paddleboat – Steve Wyn-Harris :

The wonderful thing about making new year predictions is what are the chances that anyone will remember in a year and even if they do, will they trouble themselves to hold you to account?

But you can never be too sure, so it’s best to predict certainties or leave some vagueness around the forecast. It works well for economists, horoscope writers and futurists.

I can tell you that the wet areas will get drier, and the dry areas will get wetter. At a point sometime in the future.

One of the best climate forecasts I saw last year was by Rob Sharpe, the Sky News Australia Meteorologist. . . 

Returning age 63 to run the family farm and “fixing this place up so my mum would have smiled” – Lauren Jackson :

Sue McCauley, 80, lives with her husband, Pat Hammond, 65, on the farm where she grew up, nestled in the Waitahora Valley east of Dannevirke. Now the valley’s oldest resident, she left for boarding school at twelve and returned aged sixty-three to work the family farm. Sue has worked as a journalist, scriptwriter and award-winning novelist all over Aotearoa New Zealand, raising her family along the way. Her lifelong yearning to return to the land is evident in her writing, with rural themes woven throughout.

Sue is excited. After almost two decades, she is turning her attention back to writing. Her first novel in twenty years, Landed, is set to be published early next year. Sue’s writing output slowed on her return to Waitahora, busy as she was shaping a different kind of story – a very personal one. She and Pat have been reengineering the fate of Sue’s family property, turning it into the beautiful home she wishes her mother could have enjoyed.

Sue’s mother, Violet ‘Monty’ McGibbon, died giving birth to Sue, leaving behind her newborn baby, three-year-old daughter Elisabeth, and husband James ‘Jimmy’ McGibbon. Recently, Sue was walking her dog in Dannevirke when she stumbled upon the concrete foundations of a demolished building. “I found it quite spooky,” Sue recalls. On enquiry she discovered it had been the maternity home. “Where my mum died. Yet I hadn’t known.”

After the death of their mother, Sue and Elisabeth spent five years in the care of their loving aunt, who lived down the road, before moving to live with their dad on the four hundred acre sheep and beef farm. “He was a lovely bloke,” says Sue of her dad. When she was eight, Jimmy remarried. Sue recalls her stepmother was openly resentful of being saddled with children and was, Sue felt, unnecessarily harsh with both the girls. The house became her stepmother’s territory, and so Sue took refuge outdoors – roaming the paddocks on her pony, playing in the woolshed, and swimming in the river that wends its way through the land. . . 

The compromise works both ways” – the sacrifices rural couples make for work and for love –  Tessa King:

Holly Thompson, 24, lives on Mounganui Station in Moawhango, about twenty minutes from Taihape, with her partner Sam Keeling, the station’s head shepherd. She moved there after finishing her master’s degree in zoology at Otago University, leaving the South Island and her beloved New Zealand curling team behind – but she makes it work, still managing to play for them despite the distance.

I’m originally from Ranfurly in the Maniototo and Sam is from the North Island – between Piopio and Te Kuiti. We’ve been in Taihape since 2021 – he moved in July and I followed in August. I had finished studying at the University of Otago at the start of that year. Sam was living in Kurow, so we were about two and a half hours from each other at that point. It’s just over the hill really, but you’ve got to go right round. I got most of my masters fieldwork done before we went into lockdown, and then during lockdown I was doing all my analysis and writing. So I was quite lucky that I had all that stuff done before Covid really got bad, but it was still quite hard – I couldn’t see my supervisor in person or anything, and couldn’t meet up with classmates; I was left on my own a bit. It was challenging but I got it done.

I started off working at a gift store when I first got to Taihape, and now I’m at Taihape Vets as the receptionist/front-of-house person. When I was little I always wanted to be a vet but thought I couldn’t handle the blood and seeing animals unwell. In hindsight, I kind of wish I had studied it, because I’m actually fine with it. Sometimes I get called out the back to help hold animals during procedures, and I helped with a dog giving birth to her pups recently, which was pretty cool – so I’m getting to be with animals, which is what I’ve always wanted to be doing.

I found that at uni I really enjoyed the research and scientific writing – all of that side of it – and that’s a job I could work remotely in, too. Maybe as a research assistant. So I’m always on the hunt for those kinds of remote jobs. I’ve also always been into animal photography, and I’d love to one day tie it all together. It’s a bit hard at the moment because there are fewer people leaving for overseas, so fewer job vacancies. . .

Do EVs need free ride?


The government has declared its EV subsidy a success – but is it really making a difference and do electric vehicles need the free ride they’re getting?

. . . The Government is claiming victory for the popularity of low and zero-emissions cars, having heavily incentivised their uptake with policies like the clean car discount, which takes as much as $8625 off the price of a new clean vehicle – a discount paid for by levies of up to $5175 on the price of a polluting car.

The policy is so successful at driving the uptake of EVs and suppressing the uptake of petrol vehicles, the Government may have to rethink the level of discounts and fees – lowering one or raising the other. . . .

How do they know the subsidy is persuading people to switch from petrol or diesel fuelled vehicles to electric ones? How many people bought EVs because of the subsidy and how many would have bought EVs without it?

It’s difficult to get an accurate answer to those questions but a conversation with a dealer soon after the subsidy was announced proves that for at least some the subsidy was a bonus, not a requisite.

The Lexus dealer said he already had a good number of orders for EVs before the subsidy was announced from people willing and able to pay the full price but very happy to find they’d be paying several thousand less when the vehicles arrived.

Farmers, trades people and others who need utes for work for which there are no electric alternatives and who are paying the tax that partially funds the subsidy are not happy. They will be even unhappier if the government decides to increase it to subsidise more EVs.

Aside from this, there are questions over whether EVs are better for the environment, not least because some are being fuelled by electricity generated by imported coal.

Another question is how much is the ute tax fuelling inflation by increasing business costs at least some of which will be passed on in higher prices?

The bigger question is, what difference is the subsidy making to decisions to purchase EVs and how many who buy them need it, especially when they pay no road user charges as diesel-fuelled utes do?

They’re getting a free ride on the roads and a subsidy, at least some don’t need,  paid for by an illegitimate tax on legitimate work vehicles.

Rural round-up


Contrary to Govt opinion, it’s growers who know how to grow – Gerrard Eckhoff :

One of the biggest problem our country faces is the continuous supply of false prophets who have the ear of government.

They come with ideas that sound workable but in practise turn out to be well less so. Their greatest ability is to ignore the realities which contradict the theory.

This is never more the case than when the politics of the environment (see rural NZ) are dissected. Our Government overrides and/or ignores the overwhelming success of the primary sector’s capacity to produce at a level which supplies significant capital for our health, education and welfare sectors to meet much of the needs of our wider society.

This is a result of the constant rational application to change which now seems to have been set aside in favour of a more “natural” process without the use of science. . . 

Government’s response to East Cost flooding is insulting – Clive Bibby :

Normally, when a state of emergency is called, as it was on the East Coast last Wednesday when Cyclone Hale reached its peak, you expect all the local and government agencies who are charged with mobilising the relief effort to be operating in unison to help those in need. 

As one of those living at the epicentre of the destruction (we live on the Paroa Road inland from Tolaga Bay), l am able to give an accurate account at what happened immediately after and since the storm decimated a good portion of our rural community. 

I am pleased to report that the local Civil Defence effort throughout the region was as good, if not better, than l have ever seen. They no doubt saved lives with their swift response across the board. They all deserve medals. 

However, the Government’s response has so far, been non existent – throwing a few hundred thousand dollars at us and offering to send a bus load of “Taskforce Green” people who can do little more than watch from the sidelines as the heavy machinery and related contractors deal with the carnage.   . . 

Ewe-topia or bust: Sunny visions of tourism to come – Matthew Scott :

A famously animal-shaped building in rural Waikato is up for lease – just like the hopes of the tourism sector in general

It’s one of the most iconic pieces of architectural kitsch lining the highways and byways of rural New Zealand – the giant corrugated iron ewe in the small Waikato hamlet of Tirau.

The ewe and its equally quintessential companions, a dog and a ram, have greeted travellers since the 90s and become a common stopping point for tourists en route to the more in-demand sight-seeing locales of Rotorua and Taupo.

But despite its fame, the ewe is a sheep without a shepherd. For the second time in as many years, it’s been listed online in search of a new leaseholder, following the departure of woolcraft store The Merino Story in late 2021. . . 

PINZ throws the spotlight on food and fibre innovators :

The hunt is on for the latest crop of innovators who have helped move New Zealand’s reputation for producing high quality foods and fibres to even greater heights.

The fifth annual Primary Industries New Zealand Awards will be held in Wellington on July 3, a highlight of the two-day PINZ Summit.

“The hard graft and long hours that our farmers, growers and processors put in is the core reason food and fibre make up more than 80 percent of the nation’s merchandise exports,” Federated Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland says.

“But giving us that edge in highly competitive international markets, and helping us meet environmental, biosecurity and other challenges are those researchers, technologists, cross-sector collaborations and producers who find better ways of doing things. . . 

Right forest, right place :

It is time for the forest industry to have a conversation with itself about putting the right forest in the right place in the brave new world where ex-tropical cyclones are the new normal, says Dr Sean Weaver, CEO of environmental forestry company Ekos.

“The damage to Tairāwhiti property and infrastructure from Cyclone Hale is a sign of things to come if clear cut plantation forestry continues to be undertaken on erosion-prone landscapes,” Weaver said.

“We need to stop doing clear cutting on erodible lands and transition to continuous cover forestry and permanent forests in vulnerable parts of the country” Weaver said.

“If the costs to clean up the mess and compensate people for property and infrastructure damage from forestry sediment trespass were factored into forestry investment models, clear cut forestry would be far less profitable in such places and probably would not happen,” he said. . . 

Wool project aims to put money back in farmers’ pockets :

New Zealand strong wool could bring a sustainable bounce back into soft upholstery – and woolgrowers’ bank accounts – through a new project seeking an alternative to synthetic fillers.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund is committing $790,000 over three years to a project led by Wisewool aimed at increasing the market potential of woollen knops – the small, light fluffy balls used as a filler ingredient.

“This project has the potential to improve returns to our strong wool producers and provide an environmentally friendly alternative to existing products made from synthetic materials,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s Director of Investment Programmes.

“Woollen knops can be used in baby bedding and insulated clothing, as well as mattresses, so it’s a versatile product with plenty of scope. . . 

How bad will it get?


Business confidence has plummeted to its lowest ever level:

Business confidence is at rock bottom, as the Reserve Bank’s efforts to use aggressive interest rate hikes to cool inflation are successfully dampening people’s appetites to spend.

A net 73 per cent of businesses surveyed as a part of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research’s (NZIER) Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion (QSBO) saw general economic conditions deteriorating.

This was the weakest reading in the survey’s history. . . 

Coming back to the survey, builders and retailers were the most downbeat.

A net 77 per cent of firms in the building sector expected economic conditions to worsen.

“The pipeline of housing and commercial construction for the coming year continues to decline, while that for Government construction work has moderated,” the NZIER said.

“These results suggest construction activity, especially residential construction, will start to ease over the second half of 2023. . .

The NZIER noted almost half of mortgages are due for repricing over the coming year, meaning many mortgages will be rolling off historically low fixed-term rates of around 2 to 3 per cent onto significantly higher rates of 6 to 7 per cent. . .

At the depths of the ag-sag, land values had fallen so badly that we were among many who owed more than the value of what we owned, and we were paying 26% interest on seasonal finance.

The inflation rate was also in the late teens.

Will it get that bad again?

Inflation and interest rates aren’t expected to go that high. But business, land and housing values are much higher than they were 40 years ago and the impact of interest rates doubling, tripling or worse on much higher sums will be at least as bad.

Farmers were the first to feel the brunt of the ag-sag. The impact then hit their employees and the businesses that serviced and supplied them and soon spread to smaller towns. It was only when the share market crashed that the rest of the country felt the pain.

Pressures now are more widespread.

Farmers are already battling unworkable regulations, higher costs and falling prices.

Many businesses, rural and urban, are struggling with a shortage of workers, supply chain disruptions and rising costs.

Unemployment is low but the number on benefits has been climbing and the cost of living pressure is driving up demand from food banks.

How bad it will get is any one’s guess but it would be foolish to bet against it not getting worse before it gets better.

Rural round-up


Growers warn of price spike after Cyclone Hale – Kate Green :

The price of fruit and vegetables could be set to spike because of the damage done to crops by Cyclone Hale.

Severe weather has been affecting Northland, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa since Monday, as the cyclone reached New Zealand.

Farmers were advised by Civil Defence to move stock to shelter and higher ground, but crop farmers had fewer options.

Federated Farmers president for Gisborne and Wairoa, Toby Williams, said heavy rain could damage fruit trees, grapes and maize. . . 

Smart eco-solution to reduce phosphorus in waterways – Karen Kawawada:

Wastewater, whether urban or from farms, may not look or smell good. But to University of Auckland researchers, it can be the source of agricultural gold.

Engineers at the University of Auckland are designing way to clean phosphorus from waste water and turn it into fertiliser – a process with both environmental and financial benefits

Wastewater, whether urban or from farms, may not look or smell good. But to University of Auckland researchers, it can be the source of agricultural gold – well, a whitish-goldish mineral called struvite, anyway.

Phosphorus-rich struvite not only makes a great slow-release fertiliser, recovering it from wastewater helps clean up our waterways. . . 

HWEN legislation ‘unlikely before poll’ – Neal Wallace:

Speculation is mounting that the government will run out of time to pass the He Waka Eke Noa legislation before this year’s general election.

But interested parties disagree on whether any delay on HWEN laws would simply be a timing issue or if it could allow changes to the legislation.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said  the organisation’s own analysis and well-placed sources have told him the government will not have time to pass the empowering legislation before the election.

He said legislation still has to be drafted and with Parliament not resuming sitting until February 14, it will be March or April before any documents are ready to be put before Parliament. . . 


Rush of farm applications beat deadline – David Williams :

Conservation group fears a flood of applications is “a rush to develop the high country”. David Williams reports

Farmers on Crown pastoral leases flooded authorities with development applications just days before tighter protections kicked in.

The leases cover about 1.2 million hectares, or 5 percent of the country, spanning the South Island’s high country. Lessees have grazing rights and other activities need approval from the Commissioner of Crown Lands, an independent officer employed by the Crown’s land manager, Land Information New Zealand.

LINZ confirms it received 218 applications in November – more than the previous six months combined. . . 

Robots boost animal disease testing :

Could robotics be the secret to faster and improved animal disease testing?

It’s certainly a possibility, say Biosecurity New Zealand, who recently invested in a new antibody testing robot for the National Animal Health Laboratory.

The $580,000 high throughput diagnostic robot is the first of its kind in New Zealand and it is said will increase testing accuracy and consistency during future biosecurity responses.

“The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak gave us useful insights into how our laboratory could increase its capacity during a response. In particular, it highlighted the need for automation,” says Animal Health Laboratory manager Joseph O’Keefe. . . 

Government to pay more to farmers who protect and enhance the environment :

Farmers will receive increased payments for protecting and enhancing nature and delivering sustainable food production under the Government’s Environmental Land Management schemes, Defra has announced today (Thursday 5 January 2023).

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Farming Minister Mark Spencer announced more money for farmers and landowners through both the Countryside Stewardship and the Sustainable Farming Incentive schemes, which will provide more support to the industry and drive uptake at a time of rising costs for farmers as a result of global challenges. He also confirmed an expanded range of actions under the schemes, which farmers could be paid for, would be published soon.

The changes mean farmers could receive up to a further £1,000 per year for taking nature-friendly action through the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). This new Management Payment will be made for the first 50 hectares of farm (£20/ha) in an SFI agreement, to cover the administrative costs of participation and to attract smaller businesses – many of whom are tenant farmers – who are currently under-represented in the scheme. SFI is already paying farmers to improve soil and moorlands, and an expanded set of standards for 2023 will be published shortly.

In addition, farmers with a Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreement, of which there are now 30,000 across England, will see an average increase of 10% to their revenue payment rates – covering ongoing activity such as habitat management. Defra is also updating capital payment rates, which cover one-off projects such as hedgerow creation, with an average increase of 48%. . . .


Different rules for forestry?


Friends who farm inland from Gisborne have lost power and their roads are impassable.

The damage is worse than it would otherwise have been because forestry slash has been washed down rivers.

A Tairāwhiti resident says her home would not have flooded if it wasn’t for a sea of logs that blocked a nearby river during heavy rain.

The region has been battered by heavy rain as cyclone Hale passed down the country, and was put in a state of emergency on Tuesday evening.

Linda Gough, who lives inland in Tolaga Bay next to the Mangatokerau River, says she was keeping an eye on the banks on Tuesday evening as the rain was pelting down.

At about 9.30pm it was high tide, and Gough said the river banks looked high, but not like they were going to breach. She felt at ease.

But then, logs started drifting downstream.

“Within that hour, our whole property was underwater. Water was coming up the stairs, running underneath [the house], it killed off all our power, all the freezers, fridges,” Gough said.

Come Wednesday there was a sea of logs and debris where the river used to be and destruction to her entire property.

“We can’t get out our driveway, our fences are gone, the gate’s gone, there’s not a paddock left – everything is covered in silt and logs … it’s just not fair and it wouldn’t happened if it wasn’t for the logs,” she said.

The logs – called slash – are the waste products from forestry operations and are an ongoing problem for the East Coast.

There are forestry works up the valley from Gough’s home, and she was furious the debris had blocked the river and risked their safety. Especially because it’s not the first time this has happened. . . 

No other business would get away with causing this much damage at so great a cost to individuals, other businesses and councils and the environment; and doing it repeatedly.

Are there different rules for forestry or do forestry companies just ignore them?

Slash isn’t the only problem.

Government policy encouraging trees on productive farmland is the foundation for economic, environmental and social disasters.

IT looks like one rule for forestry and much tougher rules for everyone else.

Rural round-up


Pride must be restored in farmers for future generations – Sally Rae:

In Chinese astrology, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit.

Probably not an animal Kiwi farming folk particularly want to celebrate given the damage caused by the prolific producing pest.

So perhaps New Zealand should adopt its own astrology calendar and make it the Year of the Farmer, a year-long — and beyond — celebration of the country’s food-producing champions.

Cast your mind over what is being served up to families in breakfast bowls and on dinner plates around the country this summer. . .

Potatoes aren’t particularly good swimmers – Potatoes NZ CEO warns excess wet weather may cause potato shortage :

Wild weather could be taking a toll on the humble spud. The prolonged spell of wet weather has sparked concern New Zealand could be in danger of a potato shortage.

Potatoes need drier conditions when it reaches harvest time, and some Australian supermarkets have started rationing frozen potato products.

Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Chris Claridge told NewstalkZB in a live interview that “potatoes aren’t particularly good swimmers and don’t like being submerged in water for long periods.” Claridge said access to the fields to harvest the crops is also hampered in the wet weather.

Gerhard Uys reports for that record amounts of rainfall before Christmas are expected to lead to an early season potato shortage and higher prices. . . 

Kiwi sheep shearers go through hell to break long-standing world record :

Another long-standing world record in sheep-shearing has tumbled in a Central North Island woolshed.

The duo of Simon Goss and Jamie Skiffington have shorn a combined 1410 strongwool lambs in eight hours, to break the record of 1406 set 20 years ago by another New Zealand pair, Justin Bell and Sean Edmonds.

They worked from 7am until 5pm yesterday, with breaks only for a morning and afternoon smoko, and lunch.

The record attempt was held in a historic woolshed at a Mangamahu Valley property in The Shades, north of Whanganui.

Simon Goss, 26, and Jamie Skiffington, 32, have shorn 715 and 695 lambs, respectively. . . 

We appear to be on our own – Clive Bibby :

While I am becoming increasingly cynical about New Zealand Farmers’ ability to influence their own destiny given the government’s dishonest representation of this country’s responsibilities to the rest of the world populations, there is good reason to believe things are about to change.

But it will be a while before kiwis finally realise our mistake of placing the country’s future in the hands of this bunch of destructive vandals.

The country is being deceived by its own leaders – and they’re not all politicians with a secret agenda. Newspaper editors are responsible for much of the misinformation that appears on the front page of the daily rag.

Oh really!  Well let’s take a look at the evidence. . . .

Young Farmers pave the way for future of farming :

New Zealand’s top Young Farmers are out to challenge industry stereotypes, with preparations well underway for the Season 55 FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Finals.

Last year, 160 New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) members battled it out over 11 District Contests between October and December to be named as the top contenders who will soon compete in FMG’s Young Farmer of the Year Regional Finals.

There are seven Regional Finals running across Aotearoa between February and April this year. No competition will be the same, with eight contestants at each event vying for a spot in the Grand Final.

Up for grabs is around $70,000 worth of prizes, thanks to the Contest’s s . . 


New Zealand wine launches new brand essence and visual identity :

New Zealand Wine, Altogether Unique is New Zealand Winegrowers’ new global brand platform, highlighting the very best of the New Zealand wine industry.

Incorporating the latest consumer insights, New Zealand Winegrowers worked alongside creative agency Many Minds to define its brand essence and create an accompanying new visual identity.

“The combination of New Zealand’s location, people, and climate is simply magic. There is nothing else like it on earth,” says Mike O’Sullivan, Creative Director, Many Minds.

“There were key words that came back from the insights, like our people, nature, and purity, which formed the foundation pillars of the New Zealand Wine essence of purity, innovation, and care.” . . .

Rural round-up


Egg shortage isn’t because NZ’s farmers are silly and lazy – Craig Hickman:

Yesterday I went to three supermarkets and various dairies in search of eggsand, just as I was about to give up, someone suggested I try the local butcher.

I hurried there and secured the last dozen eggs on their shelf, a scene that is being repeated up and down the country as some supermarkets ration eggs to customers if they haven’t run out completely.

A common refrain I hear is that silly farmers who have had 10 years to switch from battery farming, a move that was announced in 2012, have just been too lazy to make the change.

As a farmer myself I know only too well the frustration and anxiety that goes along with the never-ending treadmill of keeping compliant with new regulations, but I also know that simply ignoring new regulations and throwing your livelihood away isn’t a path favoured by the majority. . .

Bumper nut harvest makes it all worthwhile – Shannon Thomson :

Valda Muller and her late husband Otto knew they were playing the long game when they got into the nut industry more than four decades ago.

In 1981, doing their due diligence on the best crop to venture into, the couple bought land in Pearson Rd near Cromwell to use as a testing ground for growing walnuts.

They did not realise the extent they too would be tested.

A study trip to California through Lincoln College confirmed walnuts were worth pursuing and the couple bought about 30 trees from the Ministry of Works at the Lowburn Nursery to gain experience of growing walnuts in Central Otago. . . 

Firm that makes plastic fence posts from soft plastics to build Blenheim factory – Samatha Gee :

A New Zealand company that makes fence posts out of soft plastic will soon be manufacturing its products in the South Island.

That means collection points for the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme are expected to be re-established across Nelson and Marlborough.

Future Post managing director Jerome Wenzlick said the company started making fence posts nearly five years ago in Auckland, using soft plastic waste.

“We’ve built all our own machinery and figured out how to use all the different types of waste plastic that no one else can use and get our production up so we can make a post that’s the same or better than wood, which is what we’re up against.” . . 

Renowned NZ Romney stud Wairere sells Australian operation – Emma Alsop :

NEW ZEALAND-based Romney ram breeding operation, Wairere, has signaled its intention to exit Australia by bringing its Victorian operation to the market.

Wairere has owned the 1151-hectare aggregation, also named Wairere, since 2015.

Since purchasing the properties, located near Heywood in south-west Victoria, the company has built up a flourishing Romney stud and commercial flock of 5000 ewes.

Wairere also has a cattle operation that trades up to 600 head a year. . . 

How to save Britain’s pig farms – John Lewis-Stempel:

Did you pig out on pigs in blankets this Christmas? Or perhaps you had a traditional roast pork joint with apple sauce for New Year’s Day lunch? The British pig farming industry will certainly hope so, after suffering two of its worst financial years ever. Which is saying something. I started keeping pigs 20 years ago, and exigency is the old normal.

But 2022 was a perfect (pig) shit storm. Thanks in part to the Ukraine War, the price of wheat — a main ingredient in compound pig feed — hit historic highs. Then there was the 400% hike in energy costs, and before that a post-Brexit shortage of abattoir workers causing a backlog of 200,000 pigs on farms. Some UK farmers were forced to cull their pigs: 40,000 were “euthanised” and dumped in the ground. Currently, producers face a loss of circa £30 per pig sold. Their estimated cumulative losses since autumn 2020 is £600 million, according to the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

Unsurprisingly, many pig farmers are voting with their wellies, and exiting the industry. The proof is in the contraction of the national herd. According to Defra’s June survey, the total number of pigs in England decreased by 3% to just over 4.1 million animals, a 20-year low. The figure masks a more disturbing fact: the number of breeding animals — the future of the industry — is down by 17%. . . 

Helius launches first NZ-made THC medicines :

Two new medicinal cannabis products containing THC have been verified as meeting the quality standard. New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Agency publicly advised of the verification on 21 December 2022.

This follows Helius, a week earlier, being the first New Zealand company to receive GMP certification to produce THC extracts and manufacture medicines containing THC.

“We are very pleased to bring more NZ grown, NZ made medicinal cannabis products to Kiwi patients,” says Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.

The launch of two new medicines into the New Zealand market makes a total of four new medicines from Helius in 2022. It brings Helius’ portfolio of products to six. . .

More than meat and milk


It’s Veganuary, the month when vegans try to persuade more people to give up animal products.

Their arguments miss out the fact that there’s a lot more to cattle than meat, milk and leather:

And a lot more to sheep than meat, milk, wool and leather:

Vegans often try to persuade meat eaters that going vegan would be better for the environment.

It wouldn’t necessarily be so, and they also conveniently overlook the fact that a lot of alternatives to animal products need in their manufacturing, or are made from, fossil fuels.

Animal and human welfare shouldn’t be mutually exclusive


This was predictable :

Supermarket shelves are bare of eggs while others are limiting the number of cartons customers can buy during a drop in supply. . . 

A ban on battery caged hens, announced back in 2012, comes into effect on Saturday and over the past few years the deadline has caused turmoil in the industry.

Egg Producers Federation executive director Michael Brooks said more than 75 percent of chicken farmers have had to change their farming methods or their career because of the ban.

“The supermarket’s announcement to refuse colony cage eggs, the end of the cage system, plus Covid, plus the grain cost rising because of the Ukraine war have all come together,” he said.

“It’s led to a drop of about 600,000 or 700,000 hens in the commercial flock. That’s a lot of eggs that aren’t available.”

In 2012, 84 percent of all the country’s eggs were from battery farms.

Brooks predicted egg prices would also rise as it has cost farmers millions to change their practices. . . 

Having high standards of animal welfare is essential but those standards must be based on rigorous science not the emotional rhetoric of anti-farming activists and producers must be given time to transition to new standards.

It will be sadly ironic if hens in farms that don’t yet meet the standards have to be euthanised.

It is worse than ironic that people’s welfare is already being impacted by the egg shortage caused by the higher standards for animal welfare. Inflation is putting pressure on many household budgets, lower supply and higher prices for eggs is making that worse.

If only people who make the rules could join the dots between what they’re expecting, higher costs, lower production and higher prices and then find a way to ensure that animals are treated humanely without driving production costs up and producers out of business.

Animal and human welfare shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

Plant-based meat the natural way


Wishing you . . .


Wishing you all the blessings of Christmas and my 2023 be kind to you and yours.

This post comes with a message from Irrigation New Zealand:


Rural round-up


Te Kuiti man smashes new world lamb shearing record –  Jessica Dermody :

On Tuesday, Taihape teen Reuben Alabaster broke Irish shearer Ivan Scott’s record of 744 lambs set at Opepe (near Taupō) in 2012. He did so in the dying minutes, setting a new record with a total of 746.

But just two days later, Te Kuiti’s Jack Fagan etched his own name in the record books, shearing 754.

A record that’s been held for a decade, has now been broken twice in one week.

Starting at 7am on Thursday at Puketiti Station near Pio Pio, Fagan made Alabaster’s hold on the record a short one. . .

Govt emissions will lead to production loss and leakage – DCANZ – Peter Burke :

The Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ) says it’s disappointed at the Government’s response to the He Waka Eke Noa partnership proposal.

Executive director Kimberly Crewther says the Government’s proposal is fundamentally different to what He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) put forward. She says DCANZ has raised concerns about how the changes made are pushing a system that achieves a reduction by cutting dairy production.

“In our view, [the proposal] holds a very strong risk of emission leakage, being counterproductive to the global emissions reduction outcomes that we are trying to contribute to,” she told Rural News.

Crewther says the agricultural sector had worked hard to come to a consensus, which took into account a broad range of considerations. This included taking advantage of the opportunities that exist in NZ and managing the risk of undue economic impact on rural communities – especially if that involves cuts to production in NZ. . .

The signs look ominous – Sudesh Kissun:

Prices fetched by New Zealand’s primary produce are facing clear downward pressure as economic conditions deteriorate offshore.

BNZ senior economist Doug Steel says the signs are looking more ominous.

However, he believes strong balance sheets, thanks to several years of strong commodity prices, should help farmers navigate a looming recession.

Steel points out that over the past six months global dairy prices have dropped 19%. . .

Hunting, shooting, fishing – and Covid – Neal Wallace :

Diversification has taken on a whole new meaning for Richard and Sarah Burdon of Glen Dene Station at Lake Hawea in Central Otago.

An initial investment in a guided hunting and fishing business was designed to assist with farm succession, but when the adjacent Lake Hawea Camping Ground came up for sale in 2009, they saw it as another vehicle for greater control over their affairs.

Income from those off-farm investments disappeared with the arrival of covid in 2020, and they had to look again at what diversification meant to them. It came to describe diversity of thought and the strategy and planning needed to ensure their businesses survived.

“We lost all our income from the camping ground and hunting and it took an enormous amount of working through contracts and realigning our business,” said  Richard. . .

End of an era for the Mt Ida musters – Neal Wallace :

For 125 years, access to summer grazing on Central Otago’s Hawkdun Range has been a relief valve for a group of Maniototo farmers.

That all comes to an end in 2025 when stock are excluded from the land, now part of the Oteake Conservation Park.

The syndicate’s origins lie in a horrendous snowstorm in the 1890s and the ensuing stock losses  that drove the runholders of the Eweburn and Hawkdun stations off their properties. 

“When they mustered the sunny country on the Eweburn, they didn’t have enough sheep to pay the wages, so they walked off,” said syndicate shareholder and secretary Grant Geddes. . . 

Eminent vet Lord Trees backs gene editing for healthy livestock :

Given my interests as a veterinarian, indeed the only vet in the House of Lords, my contribution to the second reading debate of the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill focused on its potential implications for animals, particularly in terms of disease resistance, the environment and animal welfare.

These are overlapping issues for which, in my opinion, there is huge potential for positive effects with the adoption of new breeding technologies such as gene editing.

I share passionately the concerns raised during the debate by a number of peers about the need to safeguard animal welfare and to prevent animal abuse and suffering. Importantly, however, these concerns are not unique to this Bill.

Legislation already exists to cover laboratory, breeding and on-farm welfare issues, which would apply to precision-bred animals, as I will discuss. . . 


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