Rural round-up

17/03/2021

Ministry accused of stealing Taihape farm – Phil Pennington:

Government officials are being accused of stealing a farm bought by a central North Island town for their schoolchildren to learn agriculture.

Taihape people established the teaching farm on 12 hectares next to Taihape College 30 years ago but the Ministry of Education has taken it and put it in the landbank for Treaty settlements, and the school can now only lease it.

The Ombudsman is looking at whether to investigate.

“It’s very unfortunate. I think you could effectively say that the community asset has been stolen by the Education Ministry,” Rangitīkei National MP Ian McKelvie said. . .

New tax rules are flawed – Neal Wallace;

New taxation rules will create uncertainty and compliance costs to virtually every farm sales, warns Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).

The association’s NZ tax leader John Cuthbertson says the new legislation coming into force on July 1, is designed to reduce government revenue loss by forcing parties to sale and purchase agreements to agree on the allocation of sale proceeds to particular types of assets for tax purposes.

Cuthbertson says this is known as purchase price allocation.

“If they had just stopped there that would have been acceptable, but they have gone further, impacting the relative negotiating positions of the parties and adding uncertainty and compliance costs,” he said. . . 

A change for the better – Ross Nolly:

A Taranaki farmer has turned his entire farming operation 180 degrees and is loving the change.

When farmers change their farm system, it’s often just a case of making minor changes to streamline the operation. However, when Taranaki farmers Adam and Taryn Pearce decided to make changes they didn’t do things by halves.

The Pearces operate a 60-hectare, 180-cow farm at Lepperton. When they decided to change their farming system, it was not going to be just a small tweak for them to achieve that goal. . .

Few takers for safety subsidy – Country Life:

Of the 35,000 farmers and businesses eligible to access a subsidy for crush protection devices for quad bikes, only 270 have taken it up.

ACC injury prevention manager Virginia Burton-Konia says agriculture is a high risk area and quad bikes create significant costs to the scheme and therefore significant injuries for farm workers.

She says it’s not just farmers, but sometimes farm workers, whānau or manuhiri who are on farms.

“Last year ended up with $80 million worth of cost to the scheme focusing on injuries in quad bikes, you know we ended up with 566 I think injuries in 2020.” . .

A side hustle in saffron – Country LIfe:

Haley Heathwaite was looking for something “a bit different and a challenge” when deciding on a crop of her own to grow.

The former outdoor instructor is production manager with a Gisborne seed company and for the past four years she has also had a side gig growing saffron on eight hectares in Tolaga Bay.

The precious spice comes from the stigma of the crocus sativus – a pretty purple flower which blooms for just a few weeks in the autumn – and Haley says it sells for $57,000 a kilo at the moment. The painstaking autumn harvest is, however, counted in grams.

Haley says there are many challenges extracting the brightly coloured stigma during harvest including keeping bees away and dealing with morning dew. . . 

Location not size fuel reduction burns most effective within 1km of houses – Jamieson Murphy:

LOCATION is far more important that size when it comes to fuel reduction burns, a new study by the Bushfire Recovery Project has found.

The expert review of 72 peer-reviewed scientific papers about bushfires and infrastructure loss found fuel reduction burning was most effective at reducing housing loss when done within one kilometre of the property.

The Bushfire Recovery Project is a joint initiative between Griffith University and the Australian National University to inform the public about what the peer-reviewed science says about bushfires. . .

 


Rural round-up

16/03/2021

Forestry issues still need much debate – Keith Woodford:

Land-use decisions between farm and forest need unbiased information from within New Zealand, without Government screwing the scrum towards foreign investors

In my last article on forestry, a little over two months ago, I ended by saying that “there is a need for an informed and wide-ranging debate as we search for the path that will lead to the right trees in the right place, planted and owned by the right people”. Here I take up that issue again.

In the interim, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) has published its draft report on how New Zealand might meet its Paris obligations through to 2050. A key message in the report is that forestry must not be used as the ‘get out of jail card’ (my term) that avoids facing hard decisions elsewhere in the economy.

The CCC estimate is that under current policy settings and with carbon priced at $35 per tonne, then new forests will increase by 1.1 million hectares by 2050. If the carbon price rises to $50 then the CCC thinks new plantings will increase to 1.3 million hectares. . . .

Small steps boost farm’s biodiversity:

Farmers discovered that there are many ways to protect and enhance mahinga kai and biodiversity values while visiting Waimak Farm in Eyreton recently.

The 612-hectare farm includes the largest remaining kanuka stand in North Canterbury. Due to its important biodiversity values this area is being protected by farm managers Richard and Susan Pearse.

Richard Pearse says the kanuka stand provides an important seed source and seedlings have been taken from the area to try and recreate a similar ecosystem in other dryland areas. He is aiming to plant approximately 1000 native trees per year throughout the entire farm.

“It’s important for us to protect this area as there are hardly any of these dryland areas left. It is easier to protect what you already have on farm than starting from scratch.”

Arts approach to rural mental health in Tairāwhiti – Alice Angeloni:

A mental health service that uses mahi toi (the arts) to create culturally safe spaces will reach into rural Tairāwhiti.

The primary mental health service will support west rural and East Coast communities and is expected to start between April and June.

A report before Hauora Tairāwhiti’s district health board last month said $900,000 left over from another Ministry of Health contract would fund the service over two years.

But as it was a “finite resource” to 2022, with no guarantees of funding being extended, building leadership capability within the community would be key to making the service sustainable, the report said. . . 

Nature school demand grows post lockdown – Emma Hatton:

The demand for one-day nature or forest schools is on the rise, with advocates saying if schools do not provide more outdoor-based learning, the demand will continue to grow.

At Battle Hill farm in Pāuatahanui in Wellington, about a dozen children aged between four and 12, gather every Wednesday for nature school.

They start the morning with a hui to decide what the day will look like, possibly geo-caching, tree climbing or making damper to eat over the fire they will build. They also check the weather and debrief on any safety issues. . .

2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winner is excited to be part of the New Zealand dairy industry, producing dairy products with the lowest carbon footprint in the world and is a major contributor to the New Zealand economy. 

Women achieved a clean sweep, winning all three categories in Auckland/Hauraki. Rachael Foy was named the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Thames Civic Centre on Thursday night and won $10,300 in prizes and four merit awards. The other major winners were the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Stephanie Walker, and the 2021 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Emma Udell.

Rachael was named the Auckland/Hauraki Dairy farm manager of the year in 2017 and placed third at the National Finals.

“The benefits of entering the Awards are numerous, including networking, benchmarking my business, the prizes, raising my profile and the National finals week,” she says. . . 

Carbon bank – Uptown Girl:

Everyone is all paper straws, and bicycles, and reusable grocery bags and water bottles, and then we’re over here like, “Here’s our dirt.”

Actually, we call it soil. And we have to make that clarification or our college soil professor will drive down here and make it for us.

But seriously. Did you know our soil, when managed right, is a massive carbon bank? That’s right – we are storing carbon right here, right below our feet!

What you’re looking at is a crop field where we grow grains to harvest every year. You’re seeing green cover crop, that was planted in the fall before harvest of our corn to make sure our soil was never bare. . .

 


Rural round-up

15/03/2021

Office staff asked to help out in apple packhouses due to labour shortages  –

The corporate fruit and vegetable firm T&G Global is asking its office based staff to help out in apple packhouses.

This year all apple growing regions are facing severe labour shortages for both picking and packing the crop.

As a result T&G Global, originally known as Turners and Growers, is asking Hawke’s Bay staff to swap computer terminals for apple trays.

Its operations director Craig Betty said the firm was under real pressure to meet export schedules and needs 70 more people right now, so salaried staff and family members were being asked to help out. . . 

Covid-19 exposes global biosecurity systems as ‘fractured’ – expert – Riley Kennedy:

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a fractured global biosecurity system and a new approach is needed, a biosecurity expert says.

The paper by distinguished professor Philip Hulme from the government funded Bio-Protection Research Centre has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BioScience.

Hulme said Covid-19 had shown there needed to be an approach to biosecurity that integrated threats to human, animal, plant and environmental health, recognising that disease or invasions in one sector often spilled over into the others.

He said the Covid Tracer app and the National Animal Indenification and Tracing (NAIT) system, were two examples of where lessons can be learnt and shared among different industries. . . 

Duck shooting season in doubt for many this year:

Many hunters and farmers will miss out on this year’s duck shooting season because the Police are failing to address a backlog of firearms licence applications, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“There are 10,000 applications waiting to be processed with 3000 of those just licence renewals.

“With opening weekend for duck shooting season fast approaching the Police should be adding more resources to help clear the backlog.

“Hunters missed out last year due to the Covid-19 restrictions. They’re understandably itching to get back out on the pond, but they may miss out again this year because of an administrative backlog. . . 

FarmIQ links to Lead with Pride :

For Darfield dairy farmer Dan Schat, the decision to supply Synlait and participate in the company’s Lead with Pride initiative has proven to be a good one three years into farm ownership.

The Schats enjoy the double premium of supplying A2 milk and being on the Lead with Pride initiative, both making the company payments worth the extra effort the initiative involves.

Lead with Pride encompasses the four pillars of supply to Synlait, recognising and rewarding best practice in environment, animal health-welfare, social responsibility and milk quality. . . 

Produce industry launches UN initiative in New Zealand to address hunger and increase wellbeing:

Aotearoa’s $6 billion fresh produce industry today rolls out a localised UN initiative, as it celebrates the launch of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).

The 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables to highlight the nutritional benefits of fresh produce.

The official launch this evening at Parliament will be hosted by the Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, in partnership with United Fresh, New Zealand’s pan produce industry organisation, Horticulture New Zealand and Plant & Food Research.

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables will showcase the government-funded Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative which addresses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an exemplary programme with a case study presented by the international group AIAM5 in August last year. . . 

This California start up has a meat test it says can help prevent the next pandemic – Chloe Sorvino:

Food ID, a San Mateo, California-based startup, has raised $12 million in a Series B round that it says will help improve the safety and transparency of the U.S. meat supply.

The funding comes from S2G Ventures and will be used to commercialize the company’s rapid-result tests that can detect antibiotics in animals and a range of other adulterants, like heavy metals in seafood. Food ID says it has been working inside some industrial slaughterhouses for more than a year and that its tests are finding many of the meats being sold as “antibiotic-free” are not.

“There’s a feeling that consumers understand what they are buying and there’s authenticity,” says Food ID cofounder Bill Niman, the legendary grass-fed beef rancher in Northern California. “We know that’s not totally true, and when that becomes clear to the suppliers and to the brands that depend on antibiotics costing a premium to consumers, we’re gonna be very busy.”

Niman says he is offering the meat industry its first comprehensive testing platform and can provide more accuracy and transparency for consumers, who are increasingly looking for antibiotic-free meat, and paying on average $1 more per pound for it. . . 


Rural round-up

14/03/2021

Setback for China’s producers may boost NZ meat exports – Maja Burry

A second wave of a serious pig disease in China is expected to slow the country’s efforts to rebuild its national herd and help sustain demand for New Zealand red meat.

China is the world’s top pork producer and consumer, but in 2019 [https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/the-detail/story/2018694109/why-we-re-about-to-see-a-global-pork-shortage

a large outbreak of the pig disease African Swine Fever] (ASF) resulted in the culling of about half of the country’s herd.

That outbreak led to scarcity of the meat and big price hikes, which in turn prompted a lift in imports of other proteins into China – including sheepmeat and beef from New Zealand. . .

Live exports ban effects on farmers ‘significant’ – exporter – Maja Burry:

A live cattle exporter is hitting back at calls for the trade to be banned, warning the impact on the farming sector would be significant.

The government launched a review of the trade nearly two years ago and last week told RNZ it was close to making a decision on its future, with options ranging from improving systems to a total ban.

Figures from StatsNZ show more than 100,000 breeding cattle were shipped to China last year, to the value of $255.89 million.

Some animal welfare advocates, including a former head of animal welfare for the Ministry for Primary Industries, want an end to the trade – saying the cattle ended up in poorer conditions than they would have experienced had they remained in New Zealand. . . 

Scenic Hotel Group announces closure of  four West Coast properties including premium Eco Luxe property:

New Zealand’s largest independently owned hotel group, Scenic Hotel Group, has made the tough but strategic decision to place its four West Coast properties into extended hibernation.

Consideration and consultation are currently underway with staff and General Managers of affected properties with the Group undertaking its best endeavours to redeploy staff where they can. In addition to this, Scenic Hotel Group will retain an essential crew of staff to maintain the properties during this period. Scenic Hotel Group Managing Director, Brendan Taylor saying, “Despite strenuous investment by ourselves in the region and a reimagined price point and proposition for flagship property, Te Waonui Forest Retreat, the volume and appetite are simply not there from the Kiwi market.” Taylor believes that over the past year, the Group has exhausted all avenues to stimulate domestic tourism to the region in an effort to make up for the loss of international tourism and ongoing uncertainty around an Australian travel bubble.

In the wake of what he describes as a “Decimated tourism market,” there is now a significant oversupply of accommodation and tourism product in the region. “Whilst unpalatable and at an estimated cost to the Group of around NZ$2m a year, we have made a decision that will hopefully be for the betterment of the region. This will allow smaller operators who do not have the strength of a National Group to take up what tourism dollars are left.” Taylor also expresses a commitment to the Group continuing to promote the region where they can through redirecting online searches directly to other operators. . . 

Turning animal fat into futuristic fuel for cleaner cars – Ben Fahy:

Ben Fahy learns how biodiesel is made and its role in a lower carbon future. 

In the boardroom at Te Kora Hou, Z’s biodiesel plant in south Auckland, the whiteboard is full of chemical equations, an almost-finished packet of chocolate chip biscuits sits on the table, and Glen Carpenter and Wayne Reid – men with good, solid industrial names; good, solid industrial demeanours; and good, solid industrial outfits – are the happiest they’ve been in a long time. 

After a detailed safety briefing, I put on my glasses and hi-viz and head out on a tour of the plant. Carpenter checks to see if his personal gas detector is working and Reid talks about how the fire systems are able to detect invisible flame (methanol, one of the ingredients used in the process, burns clear). 

“We’re in a state of chronic unease,” says Reid, which is a very good attitude to have when you’re surrounded by fuel. . . 

2021 Northland Dairy Industry Award winners announced:

The 2021 Northland Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year is a former police officer who would like to change the opinion of people who criticise the dairy industry without looking at the facts.

Katrina Pearson was named winner of the 2021 Northland Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at Semenoff Stadium in Whangarei on Tuesday night and won $7250 in prizes plus seven merit awards. The other major winners were the 2021 Northland Dairy Manager of the Year Ravindra Maddage Don, and the 2021 Northland Dairy Trainee of the Year Bella Wati.

First-time entrants achieved a clean sweep of first, second and third places across all three categories in Northland.

Katrina entered the Awards programme to grow her knowledge about her own business. “I wanted to improve my skills around managing the business and financial side of the job, rather than just focusing on the practical parts.” . . 

Feed your animals not hungry pests :

Unusually high insect pressure saw spring-sown crops take a real hiding in some regions this season.

Now farmers about to drill new pasture seed are urged to plan for similar challenges or risk losing valuable feed.

Between them, Argentine stem weevil, black beetle, black field crickets, porina, grass grub and springtails can make a meal of new grass and clover before you realise there’s a problem.

Sowing perennial ryegrass seed with novel endophyte doesn’t give strong protection of the plant from insects until later in life, so even these cultivars can be heavily predated as seedlings. . . 


Rural round-up

13/03/2021

More scientific proof needed – David Anderson:

A new report has joined the chorus within the agricultural sector calling for proper scientific testing of the claims being made by regenerative agriculture practitioners and proponents.

Some of the claims made by regenerative agriculture advocates currently include that it can improve waterways, reduce topsoil losses, offer drought resilience, add value to primary exports and improve the ‘well-being crisis’ among rural farming communities.

However, a new white paper on regenerative agriculture, recently released by Our Land and Water, says there is an urgent need for clarity about what regenerative agriculture is in New Zealand and for accurate scientific testing of its claimed benefits.

The research was funded by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, the NEXT Foundation and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. . . 

Pork industry demands law change for imported products to be labelled– Riley Kennedy:

The pork industry has slammed the government for refusing to make labelling country of origin mandatory on all imported pork.

Laws designed to give people clarity on where their food comes from were passed in 2018. However, last year the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said there would be a 12-month delay in the new rules coming into effect due to Covid-19.

As part of this, imported pork will need to be labelled with its country of origin, however, the pork industry says a loophole has been left unadvised.

This means pork that is imported and then further processed in New Zealand, including bacon and ham, will not be required to have such labelling. . . 

MPI lost touch – Peter Burke:

MPI boss Ray Smith says with the advent of the climate change proposals and the new essential fresh water regulations, MPI is gearing itself up to help farmers deal with these matters by getting more staff out into the field.

He believes that climate change is the biggest challenge of this generation.

“When I first started it was obvious to me that MPI had lost its outreach and in a sense it had lost some key relationships,” Smith told Rural News. “So we have built an agricultural investment service that has started to put that back and we have more people now based regionally. They have tended to deal with adverse events and things like that, which is good. But I am keen to build that service even further so we can stand alongside farmers and be an independent voice.”

He says the aim is get back some of what was lost many years ago with the demise of the Farm Advisory officers. . .

Automation a mixed blessing for fruit sector – Richard Rennie:

Burgeoning crop volumes have prompted the horticultural sector to lift pay rates as it competes on a tight labour market. The shortage and the cost increases put automation and robotics under the spotlight to help ease labour pressures. Richard Rennie looks at whether robots will replace humans on orchards sooner than later.

Last week’s announcement the kiwifruit sector would be paying a living wage of $22.10 an hour for packhouse work has the sector hoping higher wages will help fill a yawning labour shortage this year.

Filling that gap has only grown more challenging with the exponential growth in kiwifruit volumes over the past five years. The 23,000 workers estimated to be needed by 2027 are needed this year, and the 190 million trays expected to be achieved by then is now likely next season.

Further south the apple sector is grappling with similar issues, requiring at least 10,000 pickers and packhouse staff this season, drawing off locals, a national shared pool of 7000 Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) staff and any remaining backpackers. . . 

Feijoa harvest in full tilt a month early in Gisborne – Hugo Cameron:

Feijoas are expected to hit the shelves this week as good growing conditions have seen harvesting of this season’s crop kick off a month earlier than usual.

Kaiaponi Farms has been growing feijoas in Gisborne for the past 20 years and sells the fruit through its Joa brand for both the local and export markets.

Spokesperson David Hansen said the first fruit would normally be picked at the start March but the harvest got under way last month and was now in full swing, with decent volumes coming through.

The farm had seen sunny conditions which was great for the crops, along with a decent dose of water, Hansen said. . . 

 

Now is the time to talk to consumers – Charlie Beaty:

There has never been a bigger gap between the people producing food and the people consuming it.

Most people knew a farmer or were even related to one 70 years ago. Today, there are children who have never seen a real sheep.

They have no idea that bread is made from a wheat crop that grows in the fields. It’s a threat to our industry, there’s no doubt.

But it’s also an opportunity to step in, share the “what”, the “why” and the “how” of our industry. So let’s seize it. . . 


Rural round-up

12/03/2021

Taking stock: Govt should pump more into science to lift farm production as animal numbers are reduced – Point of Order:

Here’s  a  conundrum for  New  Zealand: pastoral farming last year produced more  than 40% of  the country’s export income, but  the Climate Change Commission is calling   for  a  15%  fall in the  national headcount of    sheep and  dairy and beef cattle by 2030  and  another 5% by 2035.

Even if the  productivity  of  the animals  can  be  improved, the  commission appears to be  saying that  NZ  will have to adjust  to a  flattening out  of  its export income  from farming, and  therefore to a  slower  rate of  what already is a slow rise in living standards.

So  what is  going to fill  the gap  when the  headcount of dairy  cows  falls?

Or  (a better question, surely) is  there  a  better  way of  meeting  NZ’s  emission reduction  targets  than the  methods  the  commission  recommends?. . 

Hawke’s Bay apple growers face picking crisis :

Severe labour shortages on Hawke’s Bay apple orchards are forcing some smaller growers to only pick their fruit once a week during peak season.

Orchard owners have been fearing labour shortages for months as the peak picking season approaches.

Mr Yummy apples grower and owner Paul Paynter said he was leaving fruit on large trees that were difficult to pick and some trees would only get picked once rather than two or three times.

Paynter said it was even worse for owner-operator orchards. . .

Taking time to thrive :

Southland dairy farmer Loshni Manikam is on a mission to help farming women get more out of life. Her new free ebook 12 Tips to Help You Thrive shares practical advice on how women can take time for their own needs, while juggling multiple responsibilities.

In 2018, a Farmstrong survey of nearly 800 women in farming found 90% felt negatively impacted by fatigue, workload, lack of sleep and stress. A third wanted more time off the farm and a quarter wanted more time to themselves.

Manikam says the study also highlighted another issue. 

“It’s very hard to get women who are caring and nurturing and prioritising everyone else’s needs above their own – the household, the kids, the farm, the farming team, the stock – to suddenly put themselves at the top of the list,” she said. . . 

 

Homes sought for 200 Kaimanawa horses to avoid mass cull :

Nearly 200 Kaimanawa horses could be culled this year and people capable of helping these animals transition from the wild into their care are being sought.

Those interested in taking one of the horses are being urged to act swiftly, in the hopes of averting a mass cull.

Last year’s muster to remove the wild horses from the Kaimanawa ranges was cancelled last year due to Covid restrictions, leaving the herd well over the allowed level. There are currently 500.

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society’s Marilyn Jenks told Morning Report they were seeking those experienced with horses, able to be sensitive to their trauma as they begin adapting to life away from their close family environments on the ranges. . . 

Forestry futures strengthened through training and jobs:

The forestry sector continues to provide career opportunities for New Zealanders, with Te Uru Rākau delivering $1.5 million into training and employment projects to help the sector meet labour and skills gaps.

Acting deputy director general Henry Weston says the Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Action Plan, developed in partnership with the sector, identified up to 5,000 more forestry and wood processing workers would be required by 2025.

“The food and fibre sectors are a key driver for the New Zealand economy and it’s a priority for the Ministry of Primary Industries to invest in projects that attract people to the sector.

“As New Zealand continues to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19, we need people taking up careers in this important sector. The forestry and wood processing sectors already bring in between $6 and $7 billion each year, employ 35,000 people, and we want to keep helping New Zealanders find exciting and rewarding training and career opportunities. . . 

Keep dogs on leads to save ground-nesting birds farmers say  – Philip Case:

Dog walkers are being asked to keep their pets on leads at all times in the countryside to help protect young animals and ground-nesting birds.

Farmers and land managers are working hard to try to reverse a decline in ground-nesting bird species through practical measures in agri-environment schemes, such as fallow plots, grass margins and supplementary winter feeding.

Spring and early summer are critical times for breeding birds, and theirs nests need to be undisturbed so they can lay plenty of eggs and raise as many chicks as possible.

However, farmers believe their good work could be undone if roaming dogs are allowed to disturb wildlife during the nesting season. This is in addition to ongoing problems of livestock attacks caused by loose dogs, especially during the lambing and calving season. . .

 


Control freakery rules

12/03/2021

Cabinet met yesterday to make a decision on whether Auckland should be freed back to level 1 but the announcement won’t be made until late this morning.

It’s been 12 days since there was a case of community transmission.

Is the risk of one being found between yesterday’s meeting and late this morning really greater than the very real cost to businesses and people of delaying the announcement?

Day by day the government’s actions are beginning to look less and less like prudence and more and more like control freakery.


Rural round-up

11/03/2021

Importance of sequestration highlighted :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says the Ministry for the Environment’s report “Net Emissions and Removals from Vegetation and Soils on Sheep and Beef Farmland” is valuable.

It recognised there was significant sequestration happening on sheep and beef farmland in New Zealand and was part of an ongoing process to build understanding of the issue.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says B+LNZ stands by the AUT research it commissioned that arrived at different figures, but the numbers are not the focus.

“We absolutely stand by Dr Case’s independently reviewed robust and credible research. While there are differences in some of the methodologies MfE used in their report – particularly their netting-off of all harvested forest that doesn’t take into account the replanting and additional new planting we know is happening – it reinforces the importance of on-farm sequestration. . . 

Working together on common goals – Colin Williscroft:

Beef + Lamb NZ’s new independent director Bayden Barber brings a mix of business acumen, governance experience and a Maori voice to the boardroom table. Colin Williscroft reports.

Bayden Barbour’s first meeting with his fellow B+LNZ directors was a workshop that also brought together board members from DairyNZ and Federated Farmers to look at a range of issues they have a shared interest in.

He says working together on mutual challenges makes sense, not only because it’s a more effective use of resources, but also because of the opportunities it provides to gain an appreciation of other views and approaches.

That includes complying with rules and regulations coming out of central government that increasingly require engagement with iwi and hapu right through legislation. . . 

Opportunities to reduce lamb losses – Dr Ken Geenty:

Lost production and income from lamb deaths at lambing can range from moderate to horrendous. This wastage can be minimised by sound animal health, good feeding management, and genetic selection. Ram purchases each year should focus on genetics, with high lamb survival. Ewes need to be fed to maintain ewe body condition score (BCS) of 3, with lamb birth weights between 4.2 and 7.4kg for multiples and singles respectively. With veterinary advice a sound animal health plan should be developed.

In planning to minimise lamb losses next lambing it is strongly recommended to revisit results from previous years. These may include causes of lamb deaths, most commonly starvation-exposure for light multiples and dystocia for heavier multiples and singles. Management to minimise these losses will include separation of pregnant ewes with multiples given preferential feeding in mid-late pregnancy, and those with singles fed less generously. The aim being to achieve the range of lamb birth weights shown in Figure 1.

Advance planning for pregnancy and lambing can include choosing and preparation of your best lambing paddocks for multiple lambing ewes. Preferences will be for easy contour, good shelter, and a feed bank at lambing of at least 1400kg DM/ha. . . 

Bee health still priority despite vote outcome –  Yvonne O’Hara:

Apiculture New Zealand will continue to focus on bee health and education as part of its strategies for the good of the sector, despite the majority of commercial beekeepers’ voting ”no” to the introduction of a commodity levy last week.

ApiNZ held a meeting on Monday, the first since the vote result.

Apiarist and board member Russell Marsh, of Ettrick, said while the outcome was disappointing, the commodity levy was just part of ApiNZ’s various strategies going forward.

He said bee health, sustainability and industry education were the key priorities. . . 

Kiwi skills sought after in Ireland – Anne Lee:

A Kiwi couple who moved to Ireland to further their dairying and science careers may have had the brakes put on their travel due to Covid, but it’s not stopping them from learning on the job. Jacob Sievwright and Katie Starsmore hope the knowledge they’re gaining will have a direct benefit to New Zealand. Anne Lee reports.

As the song says, ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’, but for a young Kiwi couple the move to Ireland has been an ideal way to build on their dairying and science careers and get to see a whole new chunk of the world – Covid-19 aside.

Jacob Sievwright and Katie Starsmore have been in Ireland since June 2019, and although the global pandemic has put the handbrake on their wider travels over the past year and they’ve been in the strictest lockdown level over recent weeks, their jobs mean they’re both classed as essential workers.

Katie works at Teagasc Moorepark on research that could arguably be deemed essential not only to Ireland but also to the planet – investigating ways to reduce methane emissions from cows and help limit the effects of climate change. . . 

Walgett’s Stone’s Throw Cafe enjoys influx of travellers due to COVID-19 pandemic – Billy Jupp,:

YOU would expect that opening a small business in the height of one of the worst droughts on record would be tough going.

Those seasonal conditions coupled with a global pandemic, which caused the entire world to isolate, seemed like a recipe for disaster.

However, the challenges have not just helped Waglett’s Stone’s Throw Cafe survive, but thrive.

Travellers who traded their international or interstate holidays for something more regional have provided a welcome boost to the Fox Street eatery and others like it across country NSW. . . 


No food no people

11/03/2021

Food security is being highlighted at the launch of the Year of Fruit and Vegetables at parliament last night.

The importance of food security and people having access to fresh and healthy fruit and vegetables is being highlighted at the launch of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables at Parliament tonight (10 March).

“Access to fresh fruit and vegetable growers is essential for healthy people.  What often gets forgotten is the vital role that the people who grow fruit and vegetables play in ensuring fresh fruit and vegetables are on the table,” says Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

“Covid has shown us that we cannot rely on imports and has highlighted how lucky we are in New Zealand that we can grow most of our own food.  We need to make sure that we protect this ability. 

“But at the same time, fruit and vegetable growers are being asked to meet increasingly strict objectives for climate change and compliance in general, without the important role of feeding people being factored in.

“If New Zealand is to meet its climate change and economic goals, growers and farmers need to be empowered to adapt and reduce emissions.

“The Paris Accord clearly states that producing food while adapting to climate change is vital.  No food, no people.  As a country, we need to grow fruit and vegetables to feed ourselves and to export, to earn essential overseas revenue. 

“Give our growers the tools, incentives and time, and we could lead the world in climate change adaption and global food production.  This will require significant research and development to find the tools and techniques needed to make a difference.”

Those of the darkest green persuasion may well rejoice in a world without people.

The more sensible among us understand the importance of food security and be worried about the risks – both natural and political – that food producers face.


Rural round-up

10/03/2021

Ongoing disruptions hit processors – Neal Wallace:

Disrupted shipping schedules, labour shortages and dry conditions in parts of the country are starting to hamper meat processing capacity as the season reaches its peak.

The shortage of labour and a squeeze on cold storage space is limiting the ability of companies to work overtime and also forcing further reduced processing of cuts.

“We have adjusted our cut mix in some plants to speed up product flow, but conversely this means we lose the higher-value small cuts, which will ultimately be reflected in the pricing schedule,” Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer told shareholders in a newsletter.

AgriHQ analyst Nicola Dennis says a shortage of skilled workers means processors have had to stop producing premium-earning boneless, tubed shoulders for Japan, instead selling bone-in shoulders to China at lower prices. . .

Dealing with disappointment – Nigel Beckford:

The cancellation of iconic events like Golden Shears and the Southland A&P Show due to Covid alert level changes highlights the need for rural communities to stick together and have a plan B.

The 61st Golden Shears, which were scheduled to be held in Masterton this week, have been cancelled for the first time in their history. A huge disappointment, not just for the 300 plus competitors, but also for the many rural families who look forward to the event each year.

“It was a huge thing,” says Mark Barrowcliffe, President of the NZ Shearing Contractors Association. He was a judge at last year’s competition and intended to compete at this one.

Our shearing community was only just getting used to being able to catch up again with each other after so many shearing sports events were cancelled last year. So it was a huge disappointment to have the goalposts pulled up again.” . .

Awareness about ovarian cancer is much needed:

A greater awareness of ovarian cancer amongst women and health professionals is much needed says Rural Women New Zealand.

“Ovarian cancer kills more women per year in New Zealand than the road toll, with one woman dying every 48 hours from it, and its not talked about, we need to change this,” says National President Gill Naylor.

“Women present to health services, on average, four or five times before diagnosis is made and 85% of those diagnosed, are diagnosed in the later stage of the disease when options for care are minimal and survival is unlikely – this is not good enough.

“Early detection is possible the signs and symptoms are known and can be as simple as a blood test and in our view, it is vital to build awareness of symptoms through education campaigns for both the general public and health professionals.

“A cervical smear does not detect ovarian cancer and there is a need for a screening programme, timely access to testing for women with symptoms, improved access to approved therapies and clinical trials, and dedicated funding for research. . . 

NZ grown grain project paying off – Annette Scott:

An industry drive to increase the use of New Zealand-grown grain is taking off.

In a project started in 2017, the arable industry has been working towards increasing the use of NZ-grown grain through heightening consumer and end-user awareness of the benefits in using locally grown grain.

Wheat is the specific target.

Wheat production has bumped up by 40,000 tonne over the past three harvests and with this season’s milling wheat harvest showing promising signs, the project is on track. . . 

Kiwifruit growers join foodbank drive :

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI), the industry body which advocates for 2,800 growers, is encouraging its members to pitch in and donate to the most vulnerable through The Foodbank Project.

The Foodbank Project is a joint partnership between Countdown, the Salvation Army, and Lucid.

The drive recognises that Covid-19 continues to have an economic impact upon New Zealand with many kiwis struggling financially. . .

First Step – Mike Bland:

Farm ownership has always been a goal for Jared Baines. Now he is on track to achieving that goal much sooner than expected.

Jared, 30, grew up on two King Country sheep and beef farms owned by his parents Chris and Lynda, but after finishing school he left home to work on other farms.

He says his parents, who own Waikaka Station near Matiere, had always encouraged their children to make their own way in the world. They instilled their offspring with a strong work ethic and taught them the importance of saving money.

Like his siblings, Jared reared calves on Waikaka and used the proceeds from this and other work to buy a rental property that could later be used as a deposit on a home or farm. . . 

Farmers to get paid for planting trees in new biodiversity pilot – Jamieson Murphy:

FARMERS in six regions across the nation will have the opportunity to get paid to plant mixed-species trees on their property, under a new government trial program.

Farmers can already participate in carbon markets under the Emissions Reduction Fund, but the new Carbon+Biodiversity pilot will try a new approach that will also see the government pay farmers for the biodiversity benefits they deliver.

Participates will get paid for the first three years of the trial and will earn carbon credits for at least 25 years, which they can sell to the government or to private buyers. . . 


Rural round-up

09/03/2021

IrrigationNZ seeks protection for small rural drinking water users :

IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning says that the Government’s Water Services Bill will collectively cost rural drinking water users upwards of $16 million.

IrrigationNZ has submitted feedback on the Water Services Bill this week to seek protection of small drinking water users in rural areas.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the intent of the three waters reform, and absolutely want to ensure rural communities have access to clean drinking water and not have another Hastings issue happen again, but there are a number of small individual farm owners and water users, which are being unintentionally captured by the Bill” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning.

She says the submission explains, through case studies, how an alternative pathway can be sought for farmers and water users that still delivers on the intent of the Government’s bill.” . . .

Tourist spot water stoush – farmers cop unfair blame at Bridal Veil Falls – Lawrence Gullery:

Farmers are being blamed for contaminating a popular Waikato waterfall even though a test suggests the water is safe to swim in.

Signs at Wairēinga Bridal Veil Falls blame farmland run-off for “cloudy” water at the falls, despite a Whaingaroa Harbour Care project that appears to have dramatically improved water quality in the last decade.

But, as thousands of tourists troop past the sign at the popular summer spot, the Department of Conservation said the signs would remain until its own review and water quality tests were completed.

Federated Farmers said the department needs to “get off its high horse” and acknowledge it’s taken too long to review the water quality issues at the falls . . 

Lifting leadership skills of co-op leaders – Sudesh Kissun:

Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ) has expanded its governance training offering this year.

It says this is in response to the need for ensuring New Zealand’s cooperative shareholder governors (who often sit across multiple boards) have the right skill sets to be effective.

There are two courses specifically tailored to the co-operative model for aspiring / future directors:

A one-day introduction programme hosted by Westlake Governance. .

Better butter set to boom – Tom Bailey:

Beset by food fads and bad science, butter’s reputation is enjoying a sustained resurgence. Southern Pasture’s new senior vice president and general manager of post farmgate operations Tom Bailey explains why boutique butter is set to boom.

There’s no doubt butter is back. Since 2014, global demand for butter has increased at around 7% per annum.

Prices have hit multiple new highs and dairy farmers in key markets are turning to Jersey cows for their higher fat milk. It marks the reversal of a trend long driven by poor health advice and cheap convenience.

Butter’s boom to bust to boom. . . 

Q&A: Sandra Matthews on attending B+LNZ’s Annual Meeting & Showcase :

We talk to Sandra Matthews, a sheep and beef farmer from Gisborne about her takeaways from attending previous B+LNZ Annual Meetings ahead of the 2021 Annual Meeting & Showcase in Invercargill on 21 March.

Sandra, who sits on Beef + lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Eastern North Island Farmer Council, has attended B+LNZ’s Annual Meetings & Showcases since 2018 in the Gisborne region and then virtually ever since.

Sandra, why do you think it’s important to attend B+LNZ’s Annual Meeting & Showcases?

“It’s a great way to be kept up to date on what B+LNZ’s doing and what they’re working on in the future. . . 

Grass-fed Welsh lamb packed with protein:

Initial findings from recent analysis of PGI Welsh Lamb has revealed that meat from lambs reared on grass contain higher levels of protein-based amino acids and other nutritional benefits.

As part of the second year of testing on a major research project looking at the eating quality of Welsh Lamb, the most recent scientific analysis highlighted the presence of high amounts of amino acids which make up proteins, beneficial fats and minerals.

The Welsh Lamb Meat Quality Project looks at factors that affect variation in meat quality, as part of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) five-year, three-project, Red Meat Development Programme that seeks to help Welsh farming prepare for an increasingly competitive global marketplace. . . 


Rural round-up

08/03/2021

Experienced operators scarce as maize harvest ramps up– Gerald Piddock:

Agricultural contractors remain short of experienced operators as a bumper maize harvest gets underway across the North Island.

Contractors have been hard at work in Northland since early February, while further south in Waikato, harvest started a few weeks later.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) vice-president Helen Slattery says the New Zealanders that had been retrained and were employed by contractors were fitting in well in their new vocation.

“In saying that, we do still need those experienced harvest operators. You don’t learn how to operate a harvester in your first year,” Slattery said. . . .

Red meat sector exports reach $743.3 million in January 2021 :

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $738.3 million in January 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Although this represented a 14% drop compared with January 2020, there was exceptionally strong demand for beef in China a year ago ahead of the Covid-19 lockdown and African Swine Fever was decimating Chinese pig herds, resulting in a surge in demand for other protein.

“Red meat exports hit record levels of $9.2 billion during 2020,” says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. . . 

 

Genetics gain facilitates lower cow numbers – Hugh Stringleman:

The national dairy herd already contains the calibre of cows that will be required in the future to allow farmers to reduce cow numbers without losing total farm productivity or profitability.

“We already have cows with the desired levels of productivity, we just need more of them,” LIC’s general manager of New Zealand Markets Malcolm Ellis said.

LIC says genetics are a big part of the dairy industry’s response to the Climate Change Commission’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction in agriculture.

NZ is already a low-emissions dairy producer, but the commission is signalling a 15% reduction in stock numbers in nine years. . .

Are the days of industrial fertiliser numbered? – Mark Daniel:

We’ve been encouraged to grow our own for many years, now researchers at two Sydney universities have found a way of making ‘green’ ammonia and say their discovery could provide a major boost to farmers and speed up a global push to renewable hydrogen fuel.

Chemical engineers at the University of New South Wales and University of Sydney say their method of making ammonia (NH3) from air, water and renewable electricity removes the need for high temperatures, high pressure and large infrastructure, currently needed to commercially produce the gas.

The new production system, demonstrated in laboratory trials, could potentially provide a solution to the problem of storing and transporting hydrogen energy.

So, is the day of reckoning coming for the world’s fertiliser manufacturers? . . 

Why we should be using wool carpets – Jacqueline Rowarth:

New Zealand had banned single use plastic bags, so why can’t we get rid of synthetic carpets? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

New Zealand banned single use plastic bags in 2019 from July 1.

Over 9000 people had their say in the consultation process, and the Ministry for the Environment took action. The aim was to reduce waste and protect the environment.

New Zealanders adapted so quickly that it is difficult to imagine how we could have been so profligate with plastic in the past. . . 

School leavers swap lazy days for hard yakka fruit picking on farmers’ Chinchilla melon farm – Vicki Thompson:

Brisbane school-leaver Rhys Burke never imagined he would end up picking watermelons under the blazing sun on a Chinchilla farm.

Four months ago, the city-based teenager answered the call from farmer Murray Sturgess, who was desperate for pickers to get his watermelon crop to market.

Rhys and school friend Aidan Stuart packed up and headed west, straight out of school into the hot paddocks of the Western Downs.

It is hard work after 13 years in the classroom, but, as Rees explains, “if you can survive the first three days, you’re sweet”. . . 


Rural round-up

07/03/2021

We need to remember the ‘silent majority’ who don’t want faux food – Andy Walker:

Being a Kiwi, I don’t want to argue with any Aussies reading this, but pavlova is, in fact, a Kiwi invention.

However, if it’s made from grass, like this one, you can have it. Will this trend towards plant-based food alternatives end? Probably not.

In the EU 3.2 per cent of people are vegans, and 30.9 per cent are either vegetarians, pescatarians and flexitarians.

In New Zealand, the number of people eating “meat-free” has doubled from 7 per cent tp 15 per cent in four years. Australia, which ranks in the top five meat eating nations, now ranks second in the world for vegans. . .

Vaccine timeline for truck drivers necessary – Road Transport Forum :

To ensure continuity in the supply chain, the road freight industry needs to know when truck drivers will receive the Covid-19 vaccine, says Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Nick Leggett.

Leggett says he wrote to Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins in January to enquire about vaccine prioritisation used by the Government to determine workers in essential industries.

“The trucking industry is keen to understand when its frontline workers, mainly drivers, might be in line for a vaccination and whether they will be given priority over the general population, given their importance in keeping the supply chain running,” says Leggett.

He says there is increasing urgency in getting truck drivers vaccinated because of the current Auckland lockdown. . . 

Grape harvest gets under way – Jared Morgan:

Central Otago’s wine harvest is under way as sparkling varieties are being picked and pressed.

Winemaker Rudi Bauer, of Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate, said lessons learned from last year’s harvest, conducted during lockdown, had proved useful as the harvest began.

At the 30ha vineyard in Bendigo, pinot noir grapes were being harvested yesterday, with chardonnay soon to follow.

The challenges of getting this year’s crop off the vines were still there in terms of labour, but Central Otago had learned a lot from 2020’s lockdown harvest, Mr Bauer said. . . 

Projects closer to home ‘excite’ – David Hill:

Cam Henderson is excited about some new projects “closer to home”.

The Oxford farmer has already announced his intention to step down as Federated Farmers North Canterbury president at May’s annual meeting and has already filled the void.

Mr Henderson was recently appointed as one of two new associate directors on DairyNZ’s board of directors and has recently been made a trustee of the newly renamed Waimak Landcare Group.

He also planned to step down from his role as Waimakariri Zone Committee deputy chairman, Mr Henderson said. . . 

Largest ever kiwifruit harvest begins:

  • First of 2021’s kiwifruit crop picked in Gisborne
  • 2021 expected to overtake last year’s record of 157 million trays
  • Kiwis encouraged to get involved in kiwifruit harvest

New Zealand’s 2021 kiwifruit harvest has kicked off with the first commercial crop being picked this morning in Gisborne and more kiwifruit to be picked across New Zealand over the coming days.

The 2021 season is forecast to be another record-breaking year with more kiwifruit produced than ever before, overtaking last year’s record of 157 million trays of export Green and Gold. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit.

The Gold variety is usually picked first, followed by Green kiwifruit in late March. Harvest peaks in mid-April and runs through until June. . . 

Aussies expected to dominate world sheepmeat export supply – Kristen Frost:

The gap between Australia and New Zealand’s export sheepmeat industry has narrowed, with industry experts anticipating Australia will continue to dominate world sheepmeat export supply for the remainder of the decade.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO), in 2019 Australia and New Zealand sheep meat exports was 71 per cent of the total sheep meat export volumes.

And recently Australia has eclipsed NZ to become the worlds largest exporter of sheep meat product with 36pc of global trade in 2020, compared to 30pc for NZ. . . 


Rural round-up

06/03/2021

Fonterra milk price forecasts give a fillip to farmers and the regions – the co-op has become an NZX favourite, too – Point of Order:

Fonterra has  confirmed  what  most analysts  had  been predicting and lifted its 2020/21 forecast farmgate milk price range to  $7.30 – $7.90 kg/MS, up from  $6.90 – $7.50. This should  send a  further surge of  confidence  across  NZ’s  rural regions, hopefully in  a  wave  strong enough to encourage  farmers  to plan to  increase production  next  season.

As  a  result  of  the  higher  payout, the co-op  will be  pumping $11.5bn  into the  rural economy, well ahead of the $10bn predicted  last year. Although  farmer-suppliers  to Fonterra  are paid off   the mid-point  $7.60  of the new range, most analysts  believe the final payout will reach $7.90.

That  should  ensure a  handsome  return  for most  suppliers,  whose  cost  of  production averages  around $5.80-$6 kg/MS—and for the  highly  efficient, at below $4, an even   better one. . . 

Lessons from M. Bovis outbreak – Peter Burke:

The chair of a new committee set up to review the handling of Mycoplasma bovis outbreak says it isn’t a witch-hunt.

Massey University academic Nicola Shadbolt says the review is about learning from the past and helping us to be stronger for the future. She says it’s about finding out what happened and seeing what might need to be put in place if there a biosecurity outbreak of this nature in the future.

Shadbolt, a professor of farm and agribusiness, served as a Fonterra director for nine years and is currently chair of Plant and Food Research. . .

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier at risk of losing key community members – locals – Tess Brunton:

Franz Josef and Fox Glacier communities have been told that the government can’t save every business that’s struggling during the pandemic.

A week ago the two communities sent Tourism Minister Stuart Nash a $35 million wishlist of what they need to survive.

Yesterday he visited Franz Josef with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor but didn’t make any promises.

Across Country Quad Bikes used to run four fully booked tours a day, closing for a few months over winter after a hectic summer. . .

Bees get a fighting chance – Neal Wallace:

University of Otago Researchers have made a discovery that may just give honeybees a fighting chance against the varroa mite. Neal Wallace reports.

Scientists have identified naturally occurring compounds which induces a cleaning response among some worker bees, killing juvenile varroa mites.

The University of Otago researchers are now looking at how to replicate the six relevant compounds they have discovered, and a way to deliver them to hives from which beekeepers can selectively breed bees that have this trait.

Emeritus Professor Alison Mercer of the university’s Department of Zoology says varroa mites reproduce in brood cells, but researchers have identified some worker bees can sense where the mites are using these compounds, then open those cells and pull out the contents, including the mite, killing it. . . 

Why aren’t farmers using more agritech on farm? – Phil Edmonds:

While internet connectivity may be viewed as a barrier to farmers adopting more agritech solutions, Phil Edmonds discovers there are many reasons for New Zealand’s low adoption rate, including technology not being developed with their needs in mind.

A fresh look is under way into understanding why agritech adoption in New Zealand has not escalated to the same extent that our primary sector exports have. A cursory glance at the unflattering data on uptake suggests farmers are content using tried and tested methods despite the increasing availability of ‘go faster’ solutions. However, ‘tried and tested’ will inevitably start to hold the industry back. The initial thinking on where to get the ball rolling faster is for agritech developers to focus on time-saving rather than insight solutions, and stop assuming farmers are inherent technophobes.

An analysis of the impact of agritech on the New Zealand economy published last year suggested that New Zealand is underperforming relative to its global peers. While food and fibre exports have grown substantially, the same can’t be said for agritech, which has netted a consistent (rather than accelerating) $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion over the past five years. . . 

Exclusion fence gives options for diversity at Bollon – Sally Gall:

A decision in the summer of 2017 to fully enclose their 36,420ha of country in the Bollon district has rewarded Scott and Alison Todd many times over.

The couple came to Brigalow Downs 90km south of Bollon in 2014, walking into one of the biggest droughts on record.

At that stage they were an all-cattle operation with rangeland goats running freely on the property, and with a good reserve of mulga and cattle selling very cheaply in the Barcaldine and Blackall districts, they began building cattle numbers.

As the drought went on, their mulga didn’t regenerate as well as expected, and with cattle agistment bills mounting, they decided to diversify. . .


Dairy delivers again

05/03/2021

Good news from Fonterra:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today lifted its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range to NZD $7.30 – $7.90 per kgMS, up from NZD $6.90 – $7.50 per kgMS.

The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, has increased to NZD $7.60 per kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the lift in the 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range is a result of consistent strong demand for New Zealand dairy.

“We’ve seen Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices continuing to increase since February when we last updated on our forecast Farmgate Milk Price and then this week there was the 15% increase in GDT prices.

“It’s very much a China demand led story but there is also good demand for New Zealand dairy across South East Asia and the Middle East.

“China’s strong economic recovery, following the initial impact of COVID-19, is flowing through to strong demand for dairy and we’ve seen this through sales during the Chinese New Year.

“China’s local milk supply is being used in fresh dairy products and they are looking to us to provide longer-life dairy products – in particular, whole milk powder which has a big influence on the forecast Farmgate Milk Price.

“Customers know we are continuing to get products to market, despite the challenges in the global supply chain and they are looking to us for this reliability. We’re also seeing customers want to buy more of our products than usual to help mitigate the risk of global supply chain delays.”

Hurrell says today’s lift in the Co-op’s forecast Farmgate Milk Price is good news for New Zealand farmers and the wellbeing of rural communities. It would see the Co-op contribute more than $11.5 billion to the New Zealand economy through milk price payments this year.

But before we get too excited:

Fonterra has decided to maintain its plus or minus 30 cent range on its forecast Farmgate Milk Price, reflecting the continued uncertainties in the global dairy market.

Hurrell says it is important that farmers recognise there are a number of downside risks to the mid-point of the range. For example, the EU and US are heading into their season and their milk supply will start increasing, the impacts of COVID-19 on key markets and market volatility.

“A $7.60 per kgMS forecast Farmgate Milk Price also increases our input costs putting further pressure on our earnings in the second half of the 2020/21 financial year. More details on our earnings will provided at our half year results on 17 March.”

 


Rural round-up

05/03/2021

Dairy price lift will give fillip to regional economies and fortify Fonterra’s confidence in pressing on with capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Our  dairy provinces  are  reverberating to  the  news that prices  soared  at the  latest Fonterra GDT auction. The prosperity  this  brings  to the regions  will  provide a  significant counterbalance  to the loss  of earning power  in the tourism sector because of the pandemic.

The average price at the auction climbed 15% to $US4,231 a tonne but,  more  importantly, the price for wholemilk  powder, which is  the  key to the payout  to farmers,rose an astonishing 21% to $US4,364 a tonne. Butter  was  up  sharply to $US5,826 a tonne, or 13.7%.

Overall, the increase compares with a 3% rise at the previous auction two weeks ago. . . 

Reducing cow numbers no silver bullet for emissions – Sudesh Kissun:

Reducing cow numbers isn’t the ‘silver bullet’ to lowering greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, says Northland farmer and entrepreneur Tom Pow.

With the Government facing calls to slash cow numbers as part of its climate change action plan, Pow, the founder of HerdHomes, says a knee-jerk reaction to reduce cow numbers would be naïve.

He suggests looking at other options including reducing the number of hours cows spend in paddocks. “Balanced feed can lead to less greenhouse gasses (GHG) or effectively a smaller herd mis-managed could produce even more GHG,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Exciting board role for up and coming farmer – Peter Burke:

A 50/50 sharemilker at an award-winning Maori farming enterprise has been selected as one of two associate directors at DairyNZ for the coming year.

Carlos Delos Santo works for the Onuku Maori Lands Trust which runs a number of dairy farms near Rotorua as well as a sheep milking operation and other businesses. The other new associate director is Cameron Henderson who farms in Canterbury with his partner Sarah.

Delos Santo says he’s really excited to be selected for this role, as it allows him the chance to gain knowledge on what occurs at DairyNZ board meetings and contribute to important sector discussions. . .

Following his calling, not many downsides to farming – Toni Williams:

Mike Carr has had a calling to be a farmer since he was 8 years old; old enough to drive a tractor and help out on farm.

By the age of 25 he’d travelled overseas and had a mechanic’s qualification under his belt before returning to the family farm to work alongside his parents, Ian and Sue.

Then he took over.

He loves farming — and being outdoors.

“You’re your own boss. It’s great — you don’t answer to anyone else,” he said. . .

Shed consent application process could be improved – Shawn McAvinue:

A frustrated West Taieri farmer is calling for the Otago Regional Council to do better so he can achieve his dream of building a shed to keep his cattle warm and dry.

The council says it will seek ways to improve its service.

Fred Doherty, of Outram, said he had expected the process to get the consents required to build a wintering shed in the middle of his 90ha sheep and beef farm to be “simple and basic” but it had been “frustrating” and made considerably more expensive by red tape.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be able to put my stock inside for winter and to know that whatever nature throws at them, they are safe, warm and dry and your farm is getting looked after.” . . 

Could the next Emirates Team New Zealand boat be made entirely of hemp?:

With The America’s Cup due to start in a few days’ time, innovators from a very different sphere have been wondering how long it could be before New Zealand could be competing in a boat entirely built from hemp, with the crew eating high-energy, nutritious hemp-infused foods and wearing high-performance hemp kit?

Industrial hemp (iHemp) is from the same family as cannabis, but from different cultivars and without the psychoactive effects. Having historically fallen out of favour, it’s rapidly finding its place in the world again, due primarily to its environmental and health benefits.

Hemp has a wide range of uses driven by its unique characteristics. Hemp textiles are naturally anti-fungerial, antic static, antibacterial and antimicrobial and can stop 95% of the UV light. Used in construction materials, it is fire resistant, breathable and strong; one sixth of the weight of concrete and continues to sequester carbon throughout its life. .  .


Rural round-up

04/03/2021

Inexperienced farm machine operators ‘cause havoc’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Harvest is in full swing across the country, and while rural contractors have managed to get workers in the tractor driving seat, in many cases the work hasn’t been up to the necessary standard, industry commentators say.

Rural Contractors president David Kean said the organisation had done everything Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor had asked to fill the worker shortage left by border closures, but reports of inexperienced workers causing havoc were common.

“If you can imagine that you’ve got a guy on the tractor that doesn’t know how to work that tractor to its full potential, so he leaves it in the wrong gear and he over-revs it, which overheats the machine.

“There was an incident that cost a contractor $60,000 because something went through the bailer. There’s been quite a few issues like from what I’ve heard but contractors don’t want to speak out and run down the workers.” . . 

‘Pretty extraordinary’ – Fonterra on GDT results – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra’s reliable supply chain and strong demand from China and South East Asia are helping drive dairy prices up, says co-op chief executive Miles Hurrell.

In an email to farmer suppliers, Hurrell described the overnight Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction results as “pretty extraordinary”.

The GDT price index jumped 15% compared to the previous auction, its eight consecutive price rise. Whole milk powder prices, used by Fonterra to set its milk payout, rose a whopping 21% to US$4364/MT, a seven-year high. Hurrell says farmers would be keen to know what the latest result means for Fonterra’s farmgate milk price. . .

AgMatch grows wool range – Neal Wallace:

It’s niche and has strict specifications to be met, but a farmer collective buying and selling group is proving that consumers still love crossbred wool.

AgMatch is using member’s wool to make jerseys, socks, carpet and carpet underlay, which is then sold via the members and the AgMatch website, earning growers up to $40/kg net for the wool used.

The group’s newest venture is floor coverings, with suppliers recently taking delivery of 900 lineal metres of carpet manufactured in Australia, enough for more than 40 homes.

Most has already been sold for $300 a lineal metre. . .

Doing the unimaginable – Gerald Piddock:

Despite never having farmed, a Waikato couple who had successful careers in Australia, returned home to milk sheep on the family farm and have had to learn everything from scratch.

Imagine quitting your career to embark on a new profession that is the least likely and most unexpected thing one envisions themselves doing.

That’s exactly what Matthew and Katherine Spataro did when they ditched the city grind by shifting from Melbourne to the outskirts of Te Awamutu to milk sheep. . . 

Thousands enjoy terrier-ific day at show

From highland dancers to livestock competitions, the North Otago A&P Show in Oamaru had it all.

However, the most exciting event was the terrier race on Saturday when 20 or so specimens, of widely varying shapes and sizes, raced to catch a dead rabbit tethered to a four-wheeler.

Taking the win was Thomas, a speedy dog who won for the second year in a row.

His owner, Tomlyn Morrissey, of Southland, was happy to see his name on the cup again. Mrs Morrissey’s pooch was so fast the race had been restarted because he caught the rabbit before getting halfway to the finish. . .

Call goes out for kiwifruit pickers and packers:

The first kiwifruit will be picked off the vines this week and growers across the country anticipate needing around 23,000 workers for the harvest. The harvest runs through till June and is expected to produce even more than last year’s record of 157 million trays of Green and Gold.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says ongoing COVID-19 overseas travel restrictions mean growers will be looking to offer job opportunities to even more New Zealanders to provide most of the workforce – meeting the shortfall of people on the RSE scheme from the Pacific islands and working holiday visa-holders.

As in previous years, NZKGI has been working for several months to prepare for the season opening and the significant labour requirements. . . 

Farmers apply to Defra to grow genome-edited wheat:

Researchers are preparing an application to the government to run a field trial of a new genome edited wheat, the first such trial to be carried out in Europe.

Scientists from Rothamsted Research have used genome editing to reduce a cancer-causing compound commonly found in toast.

Acrylamide forms during bread baking and is further increased when bread is toasted: the darker the toast, the more of this carcinogenic compound it contains.

Now the team have used genome editing to develop a type of wheat that is less likely to produce acrylamide when baked. . . 


Rural round-up

03/03/2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Golden Shears cancelled for first time in 61-year history :

The 61st Golden Shears, which were scheduled to be held in Masterton this week, have been cancelled.

The decision was made at an emergency executive meeting this morning, following the overnight announcement of a return to Covid-19 alert level 2 across most of the country and the escalation to level 3 in Auckland.

Confirming the decision, Golden Shears said entry fees and tickets would be refunded.

Tickets purchased online through Eventfinda will be refunded, competitor entries done online will be refunded online through PayPal, and those having entered non-website are being asked to email competitor name and bank account details to office@goldenshears.co.nz. . . 

A woolly great idea – Sally Rae:

Phenomenal” is how South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie describes watching the processing of Bales4Blair wool at a Timaru scour — and seeing the piles of donations from around the country.

Bales4Blair was launched in memory of Winton man Blair Vining, whose petition to create a national cancer agency was signed by more than 140,000 New Zealanders.

The wool was given by farmers to be made into insulation for the new Southland Charity Hospital.

The initiative was started by Mrs Blaikie, who pitched the idea to a couple of friends, Eastern Southland farmers Brooke Cameron and Sarah Dooley. . . 

’Stormy fruit’ provides ray of sunshine from Motueka hailstorm – Tim Newman:

A Nelson apple company is hoping its new product will bring a ray of light out of the gloom brought on by the Boxing Day Hailstorm.

Over the weekend Golden Bay Fruit launched its new “Stormy Fruit” brand, comprised of apples which suffered cosmetic damage in the hailstorm but were otherwise unaffected.

Golden Bay Fruit chief executive Heath Wilkins said while the company had been mulling over the concept for several years – the hailstorm had significantly increased the amount of fruit that would fall into the new product line.

He said a significant portion of the fruit was severely damaged by the hail and had to be immediately picked and discarded, but there was another portion of fruit that just received small indentations on the surface. . .

Want to earn at least $22 an hour? Kiwifruit packhouses up rates – Carmen Hall:

Kiwifruit packhouses are offering workers more money and flexible shifts in a desperate effort to avoid a labour crisis as another record-breaking harvest looms.

The harvest is expected to kick off within the week with 23,000 seasonal workers needed nationally – including about 20,000 in the Bay of Plenty.

Packhouses spoken to by NZME are offering major incentives – including flexibility across shifts alongside roles that could lead to fulltime employment.

Starting rates will be $22.10 an hour compared with last year’s average hourly packhouse rates of $19 to $20. . . 

Avocados from Oaonui on your toast – Catherine Groenestein:

A tiny coastal Taranaki community known for dairy farms and a natural gas production station could one day become known for its avocados.

Oaonui, 8 kilometres north of Opunake, was identified in last year’s Taranaki Land and Climate Assessment as an area suitable for growing the fruit.

The report was part of the two-year Branching Out collaboration between economic development agency Venture Taranaki and the food and fibre sector to investigate new commercial opportunities for the region.

Next month, representatives from the avocado industry will be in New Plymouth for a seminar on growing the fruit commercially. . .

Beef demand volatile but there are green shoots – Shan Goodwin:

WITH many of Australian beef’s largest destinations still well in the grip of COVID, and tightening supply of cattle at home putting a hefty price tag on product, the demand outlook could not be described as anything other than volatile.

However, there are some solid fundamentals in place that suggest the outlook is not all doom and gloom.

Global beef consumption is still forecast to grow, Australia enjoys a reputation for safe, high quality, consistent beef and a key lesson from last year was that stable, well-established markets shine through in times of turbulence. . . .

 


GDT price index up 15%

03/03/2021

Dairy farmers – and indeed the country – woke to good news this morning: a 15% increase in the GlobalDairyTrade price index.

 

It’s late in the season and only one sale, but the trend gives confidence that Fonterra’s milk payout will be near the top end of the forecast.

 


Rural round-up

02/03/2021

MPI opposed nitrogen bottom line over economic concerns – Anusha Bradley:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) opposed introducing a tough bottom line for nitrogen levels in rivers over concerns the economic impact would outweigh the environmental benefit, documents show.

MPI repeatedly clashed with the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), even though scientific experts said a Dissolved Organic Nitrogen (DIN) level of 1 mg/L was the best way to protect rivers.

Emails obtained under the Official Information Act show MPI staff wanted the economic cost of introducing a bottom line pushed more prominently in a cabinet paper about nitrogen level options put to ministers in May 2020.

It’s the first time MPI’s influence on the issue has been revealed. . . 

Food security in decline – Samantha Tennent:

Rising temperatures and global warming are having a direct impact on the agricultural sector and food system, as shown in the ninth annual Global Food Security Index (GFSI) released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), sponsored by Corteva Agriscience.

Agricultural production has become more vulnerable in 49 countries compared to the previous index period. The index measures the underlying drivers of food security in 113 countries, based on the factors of affordability, availability, quality and safety, and natural resources and resilience.

“With food security declining again, we all must heed the urgent call to renew our collective commitment to innovation and collaboration,” Corteva Agriscience chief executive James Collins Jr. says.  . . 

Venison marketers planning chilled season contracts:

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) is expecting improved market conditions for venison in the coming year, with better prices assured for venison animals processed for supply in the European game season. 

“In the next few weeks some venison companies will be offering minimum price supply contracts for the game season, for shipment of chilled venison during September and October,” Deer Industry NZ chair Ian Walker says.

“Contracts offered in 2020 were $7 – $7.20 a kilogram, when Europe was gripped by Covid-19. This year we are seeing restaurants starting to reopen in North America. Also prices for all meats in major world markets have begun what economists expect will be a steady long-run climb.

“Despite all the disruption caused by Covid, the 2020 European game season went well, both at food service to restaurants and at retail.  Importers were understandably cautious with their orders, but they sold everything and could have sold more, if not for airfreight disruptions. . .

T&G Global’s full-year profit surges:

Vegetable and fruit grower T&G Global’s profit has more than doubled as strong demand for its apples drove an increase in revenue.

Net profit for the year ended December rose to $16.6 million from $6.6m the previous year, with revenue up 16 percent to $1.4 billion.

It said rising demand for its apples drove earnings, which rose more than half on the year before. . .

NZ’s First farm sustainability linked loan to deliver water and biodiversity benefits:

In a New Zealand first, ethical dairy investor Southern Pastures has entered into a three-year $50 million sustainability-linked farm loan with BNZ and its syndicate.

Southern Pastures, owner of Lewis Road Creamery, will receive financial incentives for meeting new water quality and biodiversity targets and for achieving further reductions in its already low on-farm carbon emissions. Achievement of the targets will be directly linked to lower loan costs.

“This deal recognizes that farming to mitigate climate change and environmental impacts is in our common interest,” says Southern Pastures Executive Chairman Prem Maan. “In my view, farming in New Zealand should be driven by the ambition to become carbon neutral.” . .

 

Ag mega trends report warns of big trade, production changes ahead – Andrew Marshall:

Australian farmers have been warned to prepare for much wealthier, more demanding overseas customers; more volatile trade environments dominated by multiple economic superpowers, and technology which may add $20 billion a year to farm sector productivity.

As the population of high income countries triples to 3 billion in 30 years, our fruit and vegetable and protein-rich meat, dairy product and nut exports will be in hot demand – doubling in some Asian markets.

However, sales growth will be more modest for wheat, coarse grains and rice as developing nations shift away from starchy staples.

Farm production will also be under intensified pressure to use more efficient energy, water, labour and land use strategies, while climate volatility will make agricultural productivity more challenging, and add more gyrations to commodity markets. . .


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