Farmers’ stories and silver lining

June 13, 2018

Farmers are fighting back against the anti-farmer, anti farming rhetoric.

The antis are well organised and articulate, but social media gives a voice to those like Farmer Tom:

 

I’m one of those ‘industrial farmers’ that practice ‘intensive farming’; people hate me. I’m also a conservation farmer (#glyphosateisvital) and am part of a family farm; people now love me. Confusing isn’t it? Anyway, here’s what I just wrote on another matter – it makes enlightening reading I think (/hope)…

In the past generation we’ve planted 14 football pitches of trees and woodland, we’ve sown 30 football pitches of pollen & nectar mix for butterflies and bees (a RIOT of colour from April to November), we provide 10 football pitches of mixed seed crops to help overwintering birds get through the ‘hungry gap’ at the end of winter, we’ve restored and maintained 20 ponds and we regularly see snipe across the farm, but especially on our managed wetlands. We’ve seen marked increases in brown hare, skylark, red kites, buzzards, sparrow hawk, hobby, and three species of owl make use of our specialised owl boxes. We have seen earthworm populations increase significantly, and we have managed grassland for rare orchids. Our low-input grazing system mimics the movement of wild herds and we have seen five species of deer increasing across the farm. Our crowning glory in my opinion is the reappearance of the stunning kingfisher, however the prevalence of grey partridges or lapwings or any number of redlist species divides opinion as to the title of greatest success story, and a recent visit from an insect expert revealed a rich insect fauna.

We’ve also grown food for 65 million left wing, right wing, centrists, nazis, and communists, for vegetarians, flexitarians, vegans, and omnivores, for black and white, rich and poor, for women and for those who identify as women, for man and beast, for princes and paupers, for criminals, creatives, and crazies, for townies and bumpkins, for slave and free, for erudite and for those who don’t even know what that means, for immigrants, supremacists, for asylum-seekers, for liberals, free thinkers, and for those who read the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Telegraph, and for those who can’t read. Not bad for a little patch of England eh?

Farmers; keeping you alive since history began, and stewarding our land since conservation was an elaborate way of preserving fruit for application to buttered toast.

Another Farmer, Mark Warren tells the story of going from peasant farmer to present farmer:

Mark Warren was just 24 years old, with a ticket to London and The Big OE in his pocket, when he got the call to take over the old family station in the steep hill country at Waipari in the Hawkes Bay.

“My father said, ‘Oi! The manager’s gone. All the staff are gone. You’re going to have to take over…Make it snappy.’ That was that. I went away for two weeks and came home…to face the music”. . . 

In spite of dyslexia, Mark has published his story in a book: Many a Muddy Morning: Stories From a Life Offroad and on the Land,

And Jim Hopkins sees a silver lining in the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak:

The emotional impact on farmers with animals affected by Mycoplasma bovis may have the unintended side effect of changing the public’s perception of farming.

Rural Raconteur Jim Hopkins spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay saying urban New Zealand will be viewing farmers with much more empathy and sympathy as a result of M. bovis.

Hopkins’ speech was so impassioned and succinct we thought we’d let him do the talking to end today’s show.

“This occurred to me a week or two back when I was listening to you [Mackay] talking to a cocky in South Canterbury who wept on air … I’ve seen farmers on television in the same awfully stressed situation and you feel their pain. But the thing that did occur to me was, this is the first time for two years, that I have seen the other side of farming.

For two years or more, a gullible brainwashed urban media that sort of picks up all the green garbage and feeds it into its audience … has presented farmers as heartless calf-killers and creek polluters … suddenly we see people who are genuinely grief-stricken at the loss of animals, not as economic units but as members of the family, as part of their lives, as individuals.

It occurred to me when I saw that and heard it, I thought – suddenly, an urban audience is seeing farming and farmers in a new and vulnerable and emotional and caring and compassionate light and that’s got to be, long term, a good thing.

It’s a shift in perspective and perception in my view and it’s one that … everyone involved in the sector knows … that farmers … care, but that isolated, insulated urban audience that thinks milk comes in bottles or containers -they haven’t seen that and now they have and I think that’s a fantastic thing.” 

You can hear Jim full speech by clicking on the link above.

The disease is a very high price to pay for an improved perception, and it will be cold comfort for those directly affected, but good can come from bad.

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New fund for biosecurity?

May 21, 2018

Finance Minister Grant Robertson is considering a fund like EQC to cover biosecurity breaches.

He told Mr Dann he has asked Treasury and the Ministry of Primary Industries to investigate the possibility of creating a fund that could be funded partly by the government and partly by industry.

“We can’t just sit there and wait for these things to happen. We know they’re happening more regularly and I want us to get ahead of that,” he said.

“We are in a very reactive stance when they come in. We have this with Mycoplasma bovis, and we scramble around both as a government and the industry, trying to find the money to respond to them.”

“What I’d like to see is for us to get ahead of those. . .

A Border Clearance Levy was introduced in 2016:

The introduction of the levy allows the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Customs Service to manage resourcing of border clearance activities as passenger numbers go up or down.  This will mean the right resources are in place to keep New Zealand safe from harmful pests, people and dangerous substances and maintain current levels of service.

That’s supposed to stop biosecurity risks at the border, it doesn’t cover dealing with, and compensating for, anything which gets past the border.

The EQC levy and a Fire Service levy,  are imposed on all insurance policies. That does let people without insurance away without paying but the rest of us pay.

While the Canterbury earthquakes have raised issues with EQC, most of us pay the levies without complaint in the knowledge that any of us could be victims of natural disasters or fires.

Farmers, horticulturalists and orchardists, and native species are those most at risk from a direct biosecurity incursions which are very different from earthquakes and fires.

There’s no way to levy our flora and fauna. It would be easier to levy farmers and growers of fruit and vegetables.

The problems and costs of dealing with and compensating for M. bovis show the need for change.

Keith Woodford identifies some of the problems in the way it’s been and is being handled:

As I write this on 20 May 2018, New Zealand is at a crucial point in deciding how to manage Mycoplasma bovis. There are no good options. The worst option is for the Government to try and be the boss.

So, who should try to manage Mycoplasma bovis?

At the national level, the answer is ‘no-one’.  Farmers must make their own business decisions and take responsibility for those decisions.

Elsewhere in the world, governments do not try to manage Mycoplasma bovis. It is up to farmers to do this.

The role of our Government should be to continue monitoring at the national level using sampling techniques. But trying to identify all infected animals so as to eradicate the disease, and even trying to limit stock movements, this will be counter-productive.  Government has neither the resources nor the expertise. And the mess will just get bigger and bigger. . . 

Gypsy Day is in a couple fo weeks, thousands of cows need to be moved for winter feed or to new farms.

Some commentators have been suggesting that we should manage the disease in the short term but still work towards long term eradication. However, the epidemiology of this particular disease is such that this is unlikely to happen. No other country of the world – and Mycoplasma bovis is present in all the main dairy producing countries – is attempting to do this.  Unless some new technologies come forward, this disease is always going to be with us.

In the long term, it may be possible to produce a vaccine for Mycoplasma bovis. However, I do not know of anyone currently working on this.

The hard reality is that all farmers now need to manage their own situation, supported by advice by their veterinarians and other rural professionals with whom they work.  We know the risk factors. It is simply a case of making sure that these risks continue to be communicated, and then decisions must be made for each farm in the context of its specific situation. . .

The M. Bovis outbreak has been mishandled from the start when MPI worked on forward tracing – of cattle going from the farms where it was first identified, rather than backward tracing to find out where it had originated.

MPI now accepts that Mycoplasma bacteria were present in New Zealand at the start of 2016. But among my informal networks, there is no-one who is confident that this is time zero. The debates that we have, based on various pieces of evidence, include whether time zero was around 2014, or whether time zero was even earlier than that.

With hindsight, it seems that the battle between Mycoplasma bovis and MPI was always going to be a victory for Mycoplasma bovis. For it to be otherwise, MPI Biosecurity would have either had to stop its first entry to New Zealand, or else have identified the first incursions before they had spread.

Clearly there have been major deficiencies in NAIT (the national animal tracing system) but this is not the reason that Mycoplasma is currently out of control. Much more fundamental to the issue is that Mycoplasma had a head start, probably of several years.

There will also need to be hard questions asked about MPI itself – not the individuals but the system. Within my networks, which include people working directly on the Mycoplasma project, there is frustration that field-level understandings get lost as messages flow up the chain.

I would like to see MPI staffed at the highest levels by specialists rather than by managers drawn from totally different fields of expertise. From the website, I can see a ten-member senior leadership team with military experience, social development experience, communications experience and even a love of ballet. But apart from one forester and one agricultural economist, I cannot see any signs of people with experience of how things actually happen out in the field, nor an understanding of relevant sciences which determines how different diseases must be attacked differently. If the expertise is there, it is not evident.

I have significant doubts as to whether lack of funding is a key cause of the current situation. More likely, it is about organisational culture. It also needs to be recognised that generic management taught in MBA type programs may not be the ideal training for a Biosecurity Unit.

Anyone who has been affected by the disease and the way it’s been handled would second this.

Questions now have to be asked as to whether or not we have appropriate systems in place in case of a foot and mouth disease outbreak. I cannot answer that.

Foot and mouth disease would play out very differently than Mycoplasma bovis. If Mycoplasma bovis is a stealth bomber, then foot and mouth disease would be a nuclear event.

With foot and mouth disease, there would need to be immediate 100 percent accurate tracing of animal movements of the preceding days and possibly weeks, but not long term historical movements. There would need to be immediate and total lockdown on all animal movements across the country. Emergency vaccinations may need to be part of the toolbox.  All scenarios would need to have been thought through in advance.

With Mycoplasma bovis, it is evident those scenario analyses were not in place, so perhaps they are also not in place for foot and mouth disease.

Coming back to the immediate issues of Mycoplasma bovis, the key constraint going forward may well be for Government itself to recognise that it does not have the capacity to either eradicate or manage Mycoplasma bovis. The idea that ‘we are the Government and we are here to help you’ may well be an oxymoron.   Can Government understand this?

There might be a case for a fund partly paid for by farmers and growers.

But not as a knee jerk reaction to problems caused by the mishandling of M. bovis.

Unless those are addressed the fund would look more like another way to sneak in a new tax.


Rural round-up

May 15, 2018

Farmer urges quad rollover protection – Richard Davison:

Hillend farmer Douglas Jack says a $600 quad bike rollover bar saved his life last month, and wants to see more people follow his lead by installing one.

Mr Jack was putting up a break fence adjoining a field of swedes on his 400ha sheep and beef farm near Balclutha on April 5 when disaster nearly struck.

“I was on the quad bike on a wee slope, nothing dramatic, when my rear wheel hit a large swede and boompha, I was over,” he said.

Fortunately, after seeing his uncle saved by a raised deck board on his Bedford truck during a similar incident as a boy, Mr Jack had long been a believer in rollover protection on his quad. . . 

Soil health main focus of field day – Ella Stokes:

More than 200 people gathered at the Clinton Community Centre on Tuesday in a bid to learn about farming for the future.

The ”Regenerative Farming Field Day” was hosted by Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

It began with talks from researcher Dr Christine Jones and senior researcher at AgResearch New Zealand Dr David Stevens.

They both discussed regenerative farming ideas, minimising bare soil, plant growing, diverse forages and rotational grazing.

Dr Jones has a PhD in soil biochemistry and spoke on the fundamentals of soil. . . 

The right way to protect rare plants on private land –  Jamie McFadden:

To most people, wiggy-wig is an unappealing, non-descript shrub. But to those of us that know wiggy-wig, it is a New Zealand native biodiversity gem. This plant is commonly known as Muehlenbeckia astonii or shrubby tororaro and naturally occurs on the drier east from Wellington to Banks Peninsula.

Wiggy-wig made headlines last week when Forest & Bird claimed that a Banks Peninsula farmer had cleared 1000 of these rare plants. To be fair to the farmer it is the sort of scruffy shrub that you might set alight or spray and it wasn’t that long ago the Government paid farmers to clear this shrub.

The Hurunui district is home to remnant pockets of wiggy-wig. Fifteen years ago a Hurunui farmer approached me about an unusual shrub on his farm. I identified it as a very healthy population of wiggy-wig. I asked the farmer if I could collect seed so we could grow and re-establish more of these rare plants throughout the district. . . 

How to find the best bull for your operation :

The decision you make about which bull to buy this season will still affect your business in four cow generations’ time – that’s 15 years from today. So taking the time to research your bull purchase now yields an exceptional return.

Here are B+LNZ Genetics’ five steps to find the best bull for your operation.

1) What do you want to achieve on your farm?

Where are you right now in your cattle performance and where do you want to be? Use these questions to create your breeding objective or genetic plan. For instance, you might be happy with your 95% scanning, but keen to see heavier weaners.

2) How do you choose a breeder?

Once you’ve set clear objectives for your herd, identify a bull breeder with similar objectives. Ask the breeder for genetic trend graphs. The graphs should show a positive upward trend for the traits that impact on your goals. If not, look for another breeder. . . 

Q and A Lesley Wilson –  Andrew Ashton:

Following the end of a busy fruit-picking season, Hawke’s Bay Today reporter Andrew Ashton talks to project management and event management expert and current Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association president Lesley Wilson – the woman who led the Australian Access Action Group campaign that ended with the Government taking Australia all the way to the World Trade Organisation and gaining meaningful access for New Zealand apples into Australia.

What will be the key things for horticulture and ag-based businesses to come to grips with to be successful in the future?

Doing more with less is the key to providing food for the world’s ever increasing population. The recent wholesale acknowledgement that there are limited resources (land, water and people), is driving positive change in the efficient use of natural resources and the training and retention of our people. . .

Cattle industry looks to defend ‘meat’ label from lab-grown and plant-based products –  Marty McCarthy, Matt Brann:

The peak body for Australia’s cattle industry says it is considering calling for reforms to prevent lab-grown meat from being labelled “meat”.

Experts think a commercial industry to supply meat grown from stem cells in a laboratory is achievable within the next decade and there is also rising demand for plant-based meat alternatives.

France recently banned the use of the words “meat” and “dairy” on vegan and vegetarian food labels, while farm lobby groups in the United States are calling for cell-grown and plant-based replicas to be labelled as such.

Cattle Council of Australia chief executive, Margo Andrae, said her organisation did not want to see a repeat of the dairy industry’s battle over the term “milk” and “dairy” and was considering its own defensive options.


Private property is private regardless of size

April 19, 2018

Increasing numbers of visitors are increasing problems for landowners who may restrict or refuse access.

This was one of the issue identified by Walking Access Commission Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa in the South Island High Country Access Report.

One landholder, who has a popular walkway that crosses his property, spoke of the numbers of people increasing from approximately 30,000 per year in 2013 to an expected 70-100,000 people in 2017.

While most private landholders, the Department of Conservation and local authorities all agreed that the percentage of poorly behaved visitors wasn’t getting worse, the number increases mean the impact of poor behaviour is still growing.

One noted issue was the impact of the internet making it harder to predict which walks/areas will become popular – one viral Instagram post or YouTube video can result in thousands more people coming to a place previously only known to locals.

Increased numbers and unpredictability are also making landholders warier of opening new access points. A farmer happy to have a track with 1000 people per year might be less willing to do so if they are fearful they will instead have 20,000 people per year.

With more people you get more problems with people who don’t understand outdoor etiquette – leave gates as you find them, don’t disturb stock, take only photos, leave only footprints. . .

Friends have a musterers’ hut near a walking trail. Trampers found the key, went into the hut, turned on the gas, used it and left it on, left rubbish then posted where to find the key on social media.

Many interviewees pointed out that numbersin themselves are not necessarily a bad thing, but rather it is the unpredictability and thelack of control over where people go that can cause problems. Positives of increased numbers include more money owing into regions, and more opportunities for farmers to diversify their income streams to help subsidise bad years in their core operation – such as accommodation on trails, concessions for guided tours, and more. . . 

The lack of appropriate infrastructure to go along with tracks and trails was noted repeatedly, in particular a lack of toileting facilities and the impact that has on the environment. . . 

Who pays for the infrastructure and attends to its upkeep? Landowners who get no return for access don’t want to, nor do councils with small rating bases when most of the visitors aren’t ratepayers.

The report looks at the different wants of cyclists, mountain bikers, day walkers, trampers, horse riders, hunters and fishers and then summerises:

A focus on public access, and the associated infrastructure, is necessary to ensure that locals and domestic tourists can experience and enjoy New Zealand’s great outdoors, and that tourists have a positive experience that turns them into ambassadors for our tourism industry. As well as economic development opportunities, easy and  enjoyable public access opportunities can benefit public health through increased exercise and active transport methods. 

In order to achieve the full benefits, the areas that need to be addressed are:

Numbers
Create new access opportunities through the area, with a focus on opportunities that will prove attractive to people currently using tracks and trails that are over or near capacity. Also focus on activities that are currently under catered for, such as horseriding. 

Pilot new methods of digital and other communication to help direct tourist traffic to areas that have capacity, and away from areas that are over capacity.

Find solutions to manage access, in particular on working farms and in sensitive conservation areas, to ensure negative impact is minimised.

Infrastructure
New funding streams, in particular for lowratepayer base councils, to enable central and local government agencies to build appropriate public access infrastructure such as toilets and carparks.

Clarify who is responsible for access infrastructure where private landholders have gifted secure access, and on tracks and trails that cross multiple land tenure types.

Explore funding options for ‘less sexy’ maintenance and infrastructure that volunteer groups currently find it difficult to fundraise for.

Collect better data that allows for more reliable future modelling, so infrastructure can be built ahead of or alongside increasing demand, rather than always playing catch-up.

Information
Creation of a single, trustworthy digital source of information on where people can go in the outdoors and what they can do there, regardless of land ownership.

Integration of safety information where necessary in this information source.

Behaviour
Funding to address systemic behaviour issues, such as rubbish bins, multi-lingual signage etc.

Explore resources targeted at international tourists on appropriate behaviour – perhaps in conjunction with airlines or rental car companies.

A focus on education at a school and university level to teach people about how to behave in the outdoors from a young age so it stays with them for life.

Connections
Coordination between agencies to do landscape level planning for tracks and trails, to connect existing ones to each other, to local amenities and to population centres, with the authority to work alongside the Department of Conservation, local government, iwi and community groups to coordinate planning and activities.

A role for this agency in Tenure Review and Overseas Investment Act processes, as key ways of creating new access.

That is all very reasonable but overlooks one very important fact.

Private property is private property regardless of size.

No-one would expect open access for recreation on a small private section in town but some don’t understand they aren’t entitled to do that on bigger properties in the country.

Rural landowners has the exact same right to quiet enjoyment of their properties and the exact same rights to allow, restrict or refuse access as urban property owners.

That many are becoming increasingly less open to public access isn’t helped by politically anti-farmer rants like this from Fish and Game although it is calling for curbs on tourism numbers in the high country.


Farmers want Molesworth to stay as farm

April 18, 2018

Farmers want the country’s biggest farm Molesworth Station to stay as a farm.

. . .The Department of Conservation started an online survey on the future of Molesworth Station, between Marlborough and Canterbury, in January to gauge public appetite for a radical rethink of the farm.

The survey follows up a 2013 management plan for the 180,000-hectare Molesworth, about the size of Stewart Island, which looked to move the station away from its traditional farming focus to include more recreation and conservation activities.

But Molesworth neighbour Steve Satterthwaite, of Muller Station, said getting rid of farming could create “major ramifications” for the environment.

“As far as Molesworth is concerned, I believe it should continue to be farmed and there’s plenty of reasons as to why,” he said.

Without farming, there could be pest problems and weed issues, as well as a huge fire risk, Satterthwaite said.

Weeds, pests and fires don’t observe farm boundaries.

Any weed and pest management and fire prevention measures farmers do can be nullified if their neighbours aren’t doing their best too.

It was concerning the public could weigh in on the future of the Molesworth and potentially “sway” what happened with the station, he said.

“It really concerns me that unaffected people that have no knowledge of the utilisation of Molesworth and the risk associated with not farming it can potentially have the input to sway the politicians or the decision-makers because of their numerical numbers,” he said.

“We are in the east of dry land zones, and if the fuel was allowed to be completely uncontrolled and public have unlimited access, the risk of a major fire in that environment would be one that would need to be considered seriously.” . . 

Middlehurst Station farmer Susan Macdonald said she would like to see farming at the station continue, with the possibility of providing a little more public access.

She said it was “important” for farming at the station to continue for pest and weed reasons.

“I would like to see it continue to be farmed in harmony with the environment and in harmony with people.

“There’s a lot of land there and I think it’s got a huge value in terms of agriculture.” . . 

J Bush & Sons Honey co-owner Murray Bush said the “status quo” needed to continue into the future.

“I think there is a good balance between public access and farming but not having farming would actually make the property go backwards, I believe, and then it wouldn’t have that same appeal to the public,” he said.

Bush said allowing public access to the station year-round could create a safety risk.

“If you open the road 52 weeks of the year and let people just do what they want … if it was never closed and it was open, there’s no communication up there so unless there’s millions and millions and millions of dollars going to be spent on public access safety … it’s not an environment to be taken lightly,” he said.

“Unless you’re going to employ people on the ground 52 weeks of the year just to look after the tourists, it’s a real issue and I think people underestimate that environment.” . . .

The neighbours’ concerns about changing the balance between farming and access are valid.

The road through Molesworth is closed in winter and can be closed in summer if the fire risk rises.

That is necessary for public safety and to protect the environment.

Molesworth is farmed by Landcorp which makes a very small return on capital but income from the farm offsets the costs of weed and pest control, and grazing reduces the fire danger.

The station generates an income, looks after the environment and allows some public access.

If the area farmed is reduced the income will drop, even if DoC lets commercial concessions for access,  and costs will increase.

Molesworth is the country’s biggest farm and it should continue to be farmed.


Rural round-up

April 15, 2018

Water schemes left high and dry – Annette Scott:

The canning of Crown funding for water schemes is a “kick in the guts” for rural communities, especially when six regions have been declared in drought this year, National Party agriculture spokesman Nathan Guy says.

“This Government has now raided $100 million and effectively pulled the plug on any lifeline for rural communities,” Guy said.

“These projects, such as Hunter Downs and Hurunui, are about rural communities providing for much wider regional development and what needs to be remembered is that this Crown funding is not a grant. It’s a loan and it’s all paid back. . . 

Jeff Grant becomes Kiwi meat’s Brexit rep:

OSPRI and AgResearch chairman Jeff Grant has been appointed at the meat industry’s Brexit representative to be based in London.

On behalf of Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association the former National MP will provide the red meat sector’s response to Brexit.

Grant will work closely with B+LNZ’s Europe representative, the Government and commercial interests to help strengthen the red meat sector’s ties with the United Kingdom and safeguard NZ’s exports to the key market. . . 

Ploughing with horses luck of the draw – Nicole Sharp:

Straight and steady is the aim of the game, but it is no easy task with Anna and Nugget, who have minds of their own.

The two Clydesdales are part of Sean Leslie and Casey Rae’s horse ploughing team, from Middlemarch, which will be competing at the New Zealand Ploughing Championships in Thornbury this weekend.

They are one of six horse teams competing in the event and they will attempt to plough the straightest, neatest and tidiest plot, but a lot of it was luck of the draw, Mr Leslie said.

“It does depend on soil conditions and being able to tackle it and master it.” . . 

Auckland Council rates policy fails to value private land conservation:

Auckland Council is proposing to remove rates remission for privately owned land protected by QEII covenants.

QEII National Trust CEO Mike Jebson says “we are submitting against Auckland Council’s proposed policy. This policy discourages landowners from protecting natural heritage areas on their properties and fails to support protection of biodiversity on private land in the region.”

“QEII covenants often protect the habitat of threatened indigenous species, and provide corridors linking larger areas of private and public land set aside for conservation. The work landowners do in protecting their land, like excluding stock from the protected area, is critical in encouraging regeneration of native vegetation.” . . 

NZX targets ‘natural advantage’ in primary industries with new index, dairy derivatives expansion – Paul McBeth;

(BusinessDesk) – NZX wants to capture New Zealand’s “natural advantage” in the primary sector with a new index tracking listed industry players and build on the early success of its dairy derivatives market, says chief executive Mark Peterson.

The Wellington-based company is in the process of refocusing on its core market business to revive investor interest in the capital markets. Among those initiatives is a drive to capture New Zealand’s comparative advantage in agriculture and horticulture, and Peterson told shareholders at today’s annual meeting in Christchurch a new index will be launched in the second quarter including stocks such as a2 Milk Co, Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, Comvita, New Zealand King Salmon, Scales Corp, Sanford, and Seeka. . . 

Working Lands: A Missouri farmer saves prairie and grassland birds – Joel Vance:

Tom Smith’s anthem could be “Don’t Fence Me In,” except that he has a fencing company. His customers can be bizarre; one wanted a 10-foot fence to protect his garden from starving mobs fleeing Kansas City and St. Louis, which, he was convinced, would burn to the ground within two years.

But most are more ordinary landowners to whom Smith, a 63-year-old cattleman, preaches the value of native grass. Smith raises about 90 grass-fed feeder calves on 627 leased acres of Hi Lonesome Prairie, a state-owned property near his Cole Camp, Missouri, home. “When I found a neighbor was planning to plow a patch of big bluestem,” Smith says, “I told him, ‘Oh, man, don’t plow that. What you’ve got there is native prairie.’ . . 

Z


Rural round-up

April 14, 2018

The Polsons breed the best through artificial insemination at Mangamahu – Iain Hyndman:

The sheep industry is a constantly moving feast and Donald and Liz Polson have entered a joint venture with Focus Genetics in an attempt to stay ahead of the game.

The innovative Whanganui farmers joined with the 100 percent-owned Landcorp company to carry out an AI (artificial insemination) programme to improve the performance of their elite commercial Waipuna flock.

The composite breed was created from an original base using Romney, Finn and Texel stock on the Mangamahu hill country farm. . . 

Company faces up after swede  mix up – Nicole Sharp:

Compensation will be paid to farmers who are tied up in the PGG Wrightson swede mix up.

At the end of February, after the bulbs of swedes started appearing, the company learned 556 farmers were sold HT-S57 white-fleshed swedes after paying for a new seed variety, Hawkestone yellow-fleshed Cleancrop swede.

The HT-S57 swede had been discontinued last year.

At a public meeting in Gore last week, organised by Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker with support of industry bodies Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ, PGG Wrightson seed and grain group general manager John McKenzie, PGG Wrightson Seeds New Zealand general manager David Green faced farmers. . .

Happiness comes before success – Pam Tipa:

The dairy industry has been successful, now it needs to be happy, says 2018 Dairy Woman of the Year Loshni Manikam.

And the former lawyer and human behaviour and leadership expert hopes a profile of the prestigious Dairy Womens Network national award will enable her to help get that conversation started.

The industry needs to shift from only one way of measuring success,” she told Dairy News.

“At the moment the one way of measuring success is financial success. Having that culture that measures our success purely on financial success or failure is a big contributor to the increasing rates of depression and suicide that we have. . .

Gore sheep farmers win Otago Ballance Farm Environemnt Awards:

A love of family, farming and the land has seen the successful succession of Waipahi sheep farm from Ross and Alexa Wallace to their son Logan… and also helped the family win the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Their win was announced at a dinner at the Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka, on Thursday night (April 13).

The judges said the Wallace family was a supportive, close family unit with clear vision, great goal setting and financial discipline. “They have incredible enthusiasm and a passion to learn – taking on ideas, good use of external advice and analysing data for the best outcomes. They have a strong environmental focus; land and environment plan, nutrient budgeting, wetland construction, retention of biodiversity and water quality emphasis, as well as an outstanding commitment to community and industry.” . . 

Time to stengthen up your balance sheet as farming economy looks to be cooling – Pita Alexander:

The bottom line in any farm business is that our net farm profit needs to be at least 50 per cent higher than personal drawings.

Anything less than this and over time we will end up knowing our bank manager’s cell phone number off by heart, which is a bad sign. It would be much better to curb our spending.

There are other worrying signs that should have us thinking hard of the consequences.

Personally, I don’t like the feel of the whole palm kernel issue. There is a real risk, I feel, with the amount involved in New Zealand farming and the certification process and in particular the potential impact on our border security. The problem really is that it may take several seasons to replace this feed gap with other options such as fodder beet, maize, management and working capital. It is our fault though for letting the issue develop to its present state. What is the biggest single risk for us and the government? It must be border security because we are so dependent on our exports. . .

Birds call out 1080 silent forest claim:

The use of 1080 for pest control is supported by a range of conservation and farming organisations, but opponents claim forests fall silent when the poison is dropped, saying this is evidence of harm to native bird communities.

To investigate, Roald Bomans used bioacoustics to listen to the sound of native bird species in the Aorangi Ranges in June and the Rimutakas in July.

Bomans, a Victoria University Masters student, set up recording units in the forests five weeks before and after the 1080 aerial drops.

In the Aorangi area, there was no increase in the periods the forest was silent, and in the Rimutakas there was more birdsong after the toxin drop than before. . .

Rookie title last thing on bullrider’s mind – Nicole Sharp:

Ask 23-year-old Matt Adams why he started bull riding.
”I’ve always been in to adrenaline sports,” is the reply.

But when he started bull riding last rodeo season, it was purely for the adrenaline and he never thought only two years down the track he would be crowned the 2017-18 New Zealand Rodeo Cowboy Association National Rookie Bull Riding champion.

Starting bull riding last season (2016-2017), it was a homecoming of sorts for Mr Adams, as he had wanted to compete for a few years. . .


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