Rural round-up

May 5, 2016

Cheese-maker happy with the blues – Shannon Gillies:

Pursuing her goal of becoming a businesswoman in the highly competitive world of cheese-making has led Frenchwoman Pauline Treillard to Oamaru.

Originally trained as a sommelier, Ms Treillard (25) left that job to pursue her interest in cheese and became a cheese-maker in her home province of Bordeaux.

After years of trying to get further in the male-dominated industry, she decided to take a chance on the southern hemisphere and left France in 2013.

She arrived in Oamaru in March 2016, after her visa application to stay in Australia with her partner was declined. . . 

China Links paying dividends – Hugh Stringleman:

A week-long trip to China with Prime Minister John Key’s recent government and business delegation enabled Fonterra chairman John Wilson to view first-hand his co-operative’s engagement with its biggest and most-important market. Hugh Stringleman got a debriefing.

Vertical integration of Fonterra’s activities in China position it well for dynamic markets, regulatory changes and government approval, Fonterra chairman John Wilson says.

President Xi Jinping commented on Fonterra’s $1 billion-plus investment in China and the creation of 1600 jobs, Prime Minister John Key had reported. . .

Hard times swell Gypsy Day moves – Hugh Stringleman:

Sharemilkers and other dairy farm staff will be moving in greater numbers this Gypsy Day because of tough times in the industry.

Federated Farmers sharemilkers’ section leaders said more of the annual end-of-season moves would be from necessity and were not improvements in jobs.

“Higher-order sharemilkers will be moving for financial and structural reasons while the lower-orders and contract milkers may be taking a step backwards, unfortunately,” section chairman Neil Filer of Dannevirke said. . . 

Genetics could help combat FE – Sudesh Kissun:

An outbreak of facial eczema (FE) on the West Coast is driving home the need for FE-tolerant genetics, according to a farmer.

Andrew Bruning and Tracey Herrick are first year dairy farming in Karamea, where the whole district has been hit hard with FE — unusual for the area, Bruning says.

They milk 180 cows, mainly Friesian with some crossbred; a quarter of the herd have clinical symptoms of FE. Bruning believes the rest of the herd is suffering with sub-clinical symptoms. . . 

 ‘Gutless’ thieves butcher cow in field – Liz Wylie:

Kaitoke farmer Tony Skews said thieves who shot and butchered his prize cow on Monday night are “gutless pieces of junk”.

Mr Skews, who keeps just 15 cows on his property near Lake Wiritoa, said the animal had been shot with a .22 rifle and badly butchered by “amateurs”.

“They have taken the back steak and four legs and just left the rest,” he said.

“She was the fattest cattle beast on the property and this loss has cost me about $1500.” . . 

 

John Key's photo.

I back our farmers, our manufacturers, our ICT companies and in fact all our export industries to succeed.

If we can get an equal crack at world markets, we’re up there with the best in the world. John Key.

John Key's photo.

This deal matters to individual businesses and workers ine very region of the country.

The orchardist in Hawkes Bay, the windegrower in Marlborough, the dairy farmer in Waikto, and the IT provider in Auckland all stand to benefit. – John Key.


Dairy industry left with costs for 1080 blackmail threat

March 24, 2016

The man found guilty of threatening to add 1080 to infant milk formula has been jailed for eight and a half years.

. . .Jeremy Hamish Kerr (60) previously admitted two counts of blackmail and the High Court at Auckland this morning heard the cost of the crime to the country was more than $37 million. . . 

By March 2015, police had 36 full-time staff on the case, resulting in a $5 million bill for the taxpayer. . .

Fonterra managing director of people, culture and safety Maury Leyland said the company lost more than $20m because of the threats and subsequent response. . .

And the Ministry of Primary Industries’ deputy director-general regulation and assurance Scott Gallacher discussed the “significant impact” on the country’s entire economy.

The ministry’s bill came to $4.2m as a result of Kerr’s actions.

“It was one of the most challenging responses MPI . . . had ever staged,” Mr Gallacher said.  

“Complex interactions and negotiations were required on international and domestic fronts.”

Had those negotiations not been successful, it could have seen a $7.5 billion reduction in GDP in the 2015 calendar year, he said. . .

LOSS TO THE COUNTRY

Fonterra – $20m+
Other dairy companies – $47,000 – $1.9m
Federated Farmers – $100,000+
Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises – $1.7m
MPI – $4.2m
Police – $5m
TOTAL = $37m+

Most of those costs have been and gone.

The cost of added safety checks and on-going security at all milk processing plants is continuing.

The only good thing about this whole saga is that New Zealand’s reputation for producing safe food has been strengthened.

 

 


BPS targets

March 15, 2016

The Public Service is working hard to meet the targets the government set for better public services:

Student achievement is ahead of target, welfare dependence continues to fall, immunisation rates are growing and child abuse rates are stabilising, Ministers Bill English and Paula Bennett say.

The Government has released the latest update of the Better Public Services (BPS) Results, outlining their progress against the ten challenging targets set by the Prime Minister in 2012.

The BPS targets include reducing long-term welfare dependence, supporting vulnerable children, boosting skills and employment, reducing crime, and improving public and business interaction with government.

Provisional 2015 NCEA Level 2 achievement results show the proportion of 18-year olds who achieve a NCEA Level 2 qualification has increased to 84.4 per cent, from 74.3 per cent in 2011.

“This means the target of 85 per cent by 2017 has almost been meet, two years ahead of schedule,” Mr English says.

The number of benefit recipients has decreased by 7,245 in a year, largely driven by decreases in Sole Parent Support and Job Seeker support numbers.

“This is good news on two levels because sole parents are getting into the workforce and becoming independent.

“In the last year we’ve reduced the long term cost of benefit dependence by $2.4 billion dollars through welfare reform and better support for beneficiaries to get back to work.”

The reduction of cost isn’t the only benefit. Social indicators such as health, education and crime are better for people in work and their children than for those on benefits.

The most recent results show that since the targets were introduced:

  • the proportion of immunised 8-month olds has increased from 82 per cent to  93.7 per cent
  • there has been a 45 per cent decrease in people being hospitalised for the first time with rheumatic fever, a disease of poverty
  • the trend in the number of children and young people experiencing substantiated physical abuse has flattened, after previously being on an upward trajectory
  • total crime, violent crime and youth crime have dropped 17 per cent, 10 per cent and 39 per cent respectively
  • 52.9 per cent of government service transactions with citizens are now completed digitally, up from 29.9 per cent in 2012

“This has always been an aspirational Government, which is why we set challenging targets in areas that matter to New Zealanders, like ensuring our schools deliver outstanding education, healthcare is reaching those who most need it, and our communities are safe,” State Services Minister Paula Bennett says.

“Without doubt, we wouldn’t be seeing these kinds of results without the hard work and dedication from hundreds of thousands of public servants across New Zealand.

“We’re committed to backing them to do their jobs, which is why we’re spending more on frontline services and changing our structures so agencies can work together more effectively.”

The latest Better Public Service Results update can be found here

New Zealand National Party's photo.


Which century is this?

February 2, 2016

It’s hard to believe this is happening in the 21st century:

The group Return of Kings – which believes women should be controlled by men – is instructing members to meet in centres around the world including New Zealand.

“Tribal meetings” are being held in 44 international locations on February 6, and Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin are on the list.

American group leader Daryush “Roosh” Valizadeh, reportedly believes rape should be legalised on private property. . . 

On Return of Kings’ website, a list of beliefs includes a woman’s value depends on her fertility and beauty, and their emancipation has destroyed the family unit. . . 

Fortunately:

Prime Minister John Key doesn’t think Mr Valizadeh would even be allowed into New Zealand.

“My view is we have a good character test and he wouldn’t meet that good character test.”

If these people believe women should be controlled by men, how will they cope if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency?.


Baad driver feeling sheepish

January 22, 2016

Road spikes are often used to stop fleeing drivers, but today a car being chased by police found its way barred (baaad?) by sheep:

A Queenstown police officer’s flock of sheep joined the line of duty on Friday morning.

The sheep were being moved along Littles Rd when they became the road block finishing a 90 minute police car chase through Central Otago and Queenstown.

Senior Sergeant Paula Enoka, of Queenstown, said the mob belonged to a local officer and happened to be in the right place at the right time.

They were being moved by a farm worker, who appeared unfazed by the scene unfolding behind him and carried on with the job. 

None of the sheep, or working dogs, were injured as the car came to a halt before attempting to drive through the flock. . . .

The baaad driver and passengers are no doubt feeling sheepish.

Ewe’d have to see it to believe it.

 


Rural round-up

January 20, 2016

Farmers cop blame – Richard Rennie:

Farming and tourism, the country’s two biggest industries, are set to lock horns over future water quality standards.  

A water campaign with the horsepower of the $12 billion tourism sector behind it will have farming further under the spotlight and under pressure to play a bigger role in lifting national water standards.  

It is gathering signatures for a petition to raise water standards and wants a parliamentary select committee hearing on the issue.

A group of campaigners this month launched a road trip under the Choose Clean Water campaign banner. It is seeking stories from New Zealanders about the quality of waterways in their districts.. . 

Irrigating farmers experience “mixed bag” with El Nino:

While drought conditions persist in many parts of the country, some irrigating farmers are coping well with the dry conditions aided by water supply from alpine-fed irrigation schemes, says IrrigationNZ.

Farmers taking water from rivers and lakes topped up by West Coast rain have benefited from El Nino’s erratic weather pattern this summer, says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“While we support the Minister’s move to extend the official drought in the South Island, it is interesting to note that farmers connected to the big alpine-fed rivers and lakes haven’t struggled this season, despite low rainfall on the East Coast and an early start to the irrigation season with high temperatures in spring,” says Mr Curtis. . . 

Drought in South Island enters second year:

Widespread drought conditions in the South Island mean the medium-scale event classification will be extended until the end of June, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $150,000 will go to local Rural Support Trusts with $40,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Trust,” says Mr Guy.

Speaking with farmers at a sheep and beef farm in Weka Pass, Hurunui, Mr Guy acknowledged this is the third time the classification has been extended.

“Marlborough, Canterbury and parts of Otago were originally classified as a medium-scale event on 12 February 2015 and have had very little rainfall for more than a year now. . . 

Nominations open for Ron Cocks Memorial Award:

Nominations have opened for IrrigationNZ’s Ron Cocks Memorial Award which recognises outstanding leadership within the irrigation industry. The deadline for nominations is 9th February.

The Ron Cocks Memorial Award is presented every two years at the organisation’s biennial conference to acknowledge a person who has made a significant contribution to irrigation in New Zealand.

Two years ago, IrrigationNZ presented the award for the first time ever to two individuals. . . 

Farmers: South Island rain not a drought-breaker -Emma Cropper:

As the wet summer continues to frustrate holiday-goers, torrential rain has kept fire crews busy as it caused minor flooding to low-lying parts of Timaru.

But the heavy downpour has been welcomed by drought-stricken farmers in Hawarden, though they say the challenge isn’t over yet as they find out tomorrow if much-needed support is heading their way.

For the first time in 18 months, it’s pouring on Iain Wright’s farm. Running water and puddles have appeared after three days of gentle, on-and-off rain.

“Things have really turned around now,” he says. “We’ve got moisture in the ground. The paddocks have greened up. There’s hope.” . . .

Ruataniwha Dam’s future still uncertain – Peter Fowler:

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Investment Company has still not secured an institutional investor for the controversial Ruataniwha Dam despite saying earlier it was confident it would be able to do so by the end of 2015.

HBRIC has been looking for institutional investors to put money into the dam since Trustpower and Ngai Tahu pulled out in early 2014, saying the risks surrounding the dam were too high and the returns too low.

In the middle of last December, HBRIC said it was confident it would be able to confirm a preferred investor mix for the project before the end of the year.

It said intensive work was being done with three potential investors but it would not make its decision public until very early in 2016. . . 

Theft of calves in Waimate pormpts warning:

The theft of 25 calves in the Waimate district has prompted fresh warnings for farmers to increase security and keep an eye on their stock numbers.

A farmer on Sodwall Road in Otaio has reported the theft of five heifer and 20 bull calves, thought to have be stolen between November and 5 January.

Waimate Sergeant s said the farmer was unaware the stock were missing until he counted heads in his yards.

“The calves weren’t reported as stolen until the farmer had accounted for all his cattle – got them in and did a head count. . . 

ANZ extends dry weather assistance package for South Island farmers:

ANZ is extending its assistance package to South Island farmers affected by extreme dry conditions.

The bank will commit an additional $20 million to the assistance package, but will extend that if demand for help from farmers is high. ANZ launched the assistance package last January.

The announcement follows the Government today extending its South Island drought declaration, which covers much of the South Island’s east coast, until 30 June 2016.

“While farmers in some areas have welcomed rainfall recently, others are still grappling with extreme dry conditions that will impact the productivity of their farms for some time to come,” said Troy Sutherland, ANZ’s General Manager Southern Commercial & Agri. . . 

Waikato Woman Wins Poultry Trainee of the Year Award:

Waikato woman Dahook Azzam regards her job at an Inghams Enterprises meat chicken breeder farm as an ideal opportunity to combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience. And her enthusiasm for her new career in a new country has played a key role in her recent win of the Poultry Trainee of the Year Award for 2015.

The award is given each year to the top-performing trainee in all of the training courses run by the poultry industry in cooperation with the Primary Industry Training Organisation (PrimaryITO).

Dahook is currently an Assistant Farm Manager whose role includes daily feeding, watering and environmental checks of the birds as well as farm and staff management and data entry. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 14, 2015

Shareholders seek board changes for leaner, fitter Fonterra:

Two Fonterra shareholders and former Fonterra board members are calling on Fonterra shareholders to reduce the number of directors in a move to improve the company’s performance.

The two, Greg Gent and Colin Armer, have put forward a notice of proposal to the company’s annual meeting in late November seeking shareholder support for a reduction of board members from 13 to nine.

“We all want our cooperative to be more globally competitive and successful with a clear strategy to achieve that. Our farming businesses and livelihoods depend on that,” says Greg Gent who was formerly deputy chairman of the company. . . 

Forest & Bird congratulates New Zealand police on 1080 arrest:

Forest & Bird congratulates the New Zealand police for making an arrest as part of their investigation into a 1080 threat to infant formula late last year.

“This threat wasn’t just a challenge for our dairy industry and exports, it also had the potential to damage our ability to control introduced predators that are killing our native wildlife” explained Kevin Hackwell, Group Manager of Campaigns and Advocacy at Forest & Bird.

“We absolutely support the continued use of 1080 in New Zealand’s forests. It’s the most sensible, cost-effective way to reduce pest numbers and allow native forests and wildlife to thrive” said Mr Hackwell. . .

Alliance Group to offer farmers loyalty payments – Gerard Hutching:

Alliance Group will offer loyalty payments this season to farmer shareholders in what some observers are saying are the first shots in a procurement war.

The offer comes with the caveat that farmers have to supply 100 per cent of all their livestock or 100 per cent of one species.

The reward for farmers supplying 100 per cent of their lambs is an additional 10c per kilogram per animal.

Chief executive David Surveyor said the co-operative was forecasting $100 for an 18kg lamb for the 2015-2016 season. . . 

Farmers and growers hope to avoid another drought – Gerard Hutching:

Some South Canterbury farmers and growers are shying away from being dependent on Lake Opuha water and are putting in their own bores.

Jo and Steve Malone, who own Redwood Cherries and Berries on the Pleasant Point Highway, lost thousands of dollars during this year’s disastrous drought.

“We are going to drill for water because we don’t want to be reliant on the lake. We are waiting for the council to give us consent,” Jo Malone said.

They were not as big users of water as dairy farms. Their cherries had not received irrigated water for the last five years, but it was vital for the strawberries. . . 

Grain payments spell risky business – Alisha Fogden:

MAKING seven-day payment terms standard was a contentious topic in the managing market risk session at the recent Australian Grain Industry Conference in Melbourne.

Grain Trade Australia chief executive officer Geoff Honey, who was guest speaker, said that could potentially reduce competition.

“There are organisations that buy grain from you that sell it to an end-user that is on a 30-day end-of-week delivery,” he said.

“If it became seven-days EOW standard across everybody, you could be removing a layer of competition. . . 

A cure for vitamin B6 deficiency :

In many tropical countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, cassava is one of the most important staple foods. People eat the starchy storage roots but also the leaves as a vegetable. Both have to be cooked first to remove the toxic cyanide compounds that cassava produces.

But the roots have a disadvantage: although rich in calories, in general they contain only few vitamins. Vitamin B6 in particular is present in only small amounts, and a person for whom cassava is a staple food would have to eat about 1.3 kg of it every day for a sufficient amount of this vital vitamin.

Serious deficiency in Africa

Vitamin B6 deficiency is prevalent in several African regions where cassava is often the only staple food people’s diet. Diseases of the cardiovascular and nervous systems as well as are associated with vitamin B6 deficiency.

Plant scientists at ETH Zurich and the University of Geneva have therefore set out to find a way to increase vitamin B6 production in the roots and leaves of the cassava plant. This could prevent vitamin B6 deficiency among people who consume mostly cassava. . . 


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