Rural round-up

April 19, 2019

Mentoring takes farmers further – Hugh Stringleman:

Nearly halfway through a big, pioneering, five-year farmer extension project in Northland its benefits are becoming apparent to target farmers, their associates and the region.

Extension 350 (E350) has considerably widened the time-honoured farm discussion group approach of farmers helping farmers.

Private farm consultants are group facilitators and counsellors as well as delivering their one-on-one advice and skills. . .

Is Adrian Orr, Mr Congeniality, ready for a war with farmers? – Hamish Rutherford:

Since Adrian Orr became Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand he has built a reputation of being someone who likes to be liked.

Charming and jocular, but possibly sensitive to criticism.

But Orr is now in a battle with the bulk of New Zealand’s banking sector in a way which could see him demonised, probably with the focus on lending to farmers.

He knows it. Recent days have seen Orr on a campaign to explain itself. . .

Farmers face hefty penalties for flouting Nait rules – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers will face a maximum penalty of $100,000 and corporates $200,000 for not complying with the animal tracing system Nait.

Wairarapa dairy farmer John Stevenson said while the fines were hefty, decisive action was needed to protect the future of the dairy industry.

“We need to ensure animal movement are recorded because we can’t afford to have another example like Mycoplasma bovis. It will be important to see how they implement the new rules.” . . .

Kempthorne family marks 143 years on Spylaw Valley – Richard Davison:

Here’s to the next 143 years.

Not just farming, but farming a particular patch of rural paradise is a way of life for one West Otago family.

The Kempthornes, of Spylaw Valley, near Heriot, have been farming sheep and beef on the same 530ha of hill country and river flat since 1876, and will be among 40 rural New Zealand families marking their toil, perseverance and successes at next month’s Century Farm awards in Lawrence.

The annual awards – which this year take place over the weekend of May 24-26 – honour farms that have remained in the same family for 100 years or more. . . 

Limousin breed has plenty to offer – Yvonne O’Hara:

Easy-going with softer muscularity, good intramuscular fat, feed conversion efficiency and polling; these are key attributes of the Limousin cattle, which stud breeders Clark Scott and Judy Miller, of the Loch Head Limousin stud, breed for.

They have a 320ha, 4000-stock unit commercial sheep and beef farm near Heriot.

”We also have 35 Limousin cows and heifers to the bull and carry 12 to 15 yearling bulls through to sale, along with 30-odd calves,” Mr Scott said. . . 

Breeding the best – Brittney Pickett:

A Southland couple take a great deal of pride in producing top bulls for breeding programmes. Brittney Pickett reports.

The first time Robert and Annemarie Bruin saw their bulls in the LIC sire-proving scheme it felt like their hard work had paid off.

“It’s like breeding a winning race horse, it gives you a kick,” Robert says. . . 


Rural round-up

April 18, 2019

Leading is itself a challenge – Annette Scott:

South Canterbury farmer and newly elected Beef + Lamb director Nicky Hyslop is committed to sheep and beef farming, admitting her real affinity with the land and rural people is what gets her out of bed in the morning. She talked to Annette Scott

NICKY Hyslop grew up on a high country station and she’s passionate about contributing to the life and industry she’s always known.

Last month she was elected as the central South Island director on the Beef + Lamb board.

“I have a real affinity with the land and rural people because it’s been woven into my life. . .

New effort to attract youngsters – Luke Chivers:

A programme to promote primary industry careers has been launched by Rabobank, Young Farmers and Lincoln University.

The programme, Rabobank FoodX, is a series of events to expose young people to animals, food production and marketing, agribusiness and science.

Rabobank NZ general manager Hayley Gourley said the programme addresses the shortage of young people in the primary sector. . .

Bacteria turns crusty pond into fert – whatever! – Sudesh Kissun:

Tokoroa farmer Marcel Korsten operates a closed farm system: what doesn’t get out the front gate as milk has to go back onto the farm.

On his 260ha farm, Korsten hasn’t used nitrogen to fertilise paddocks for seven years; instead the whole farm is fertilised with effluent.

Milking about 670 Friesian cows and having a feedpad means a lot of nutrients are added to their diet. About 45% of feed is imported — mostly soyabean, tapioca, straw, maize sileage and some PKE. . . 

Guy Trafford looks at how the meat processing industry structures affect what producers receive and what consumers pay – Guy Trafford:

recent article by John Maudlin prompted me to look at some of the background data he quoted regarding competition within agriculture in the USA where 85% of the steer kill resides with four companies.

While there are over 60 companies existing in the US they are decreasing at a reasonably rapid rate as the big buy up the small. The latest being Harris Ranch Beef being acquired by Central Valley Holding Co. making it seventh in size of US beef packers.

While some may say these amalgamations into larger and larger companies creates more processing efficiencies and are a natural part of competition within a capitalist system there is a growing risk that both producers and consumers miss out as competition moves into monopolies. Despite this, the evidence is that there has not been an obvious reduction in cattle farmer profits and while not hugely profitable farmers have been making reasonable livings. That said, the last two seasons have trended downwards. . . 

Where to for Chiwi agrifood – Keith Woodford:

The current plan for Chinese Yili to buy Westland Co-operative Dairy has brought renewed discussion about the role of China within New Zealand agrifood industries. Of course, the Westland issue is just one part of a much greater issue about the trading and political relationships linking our two countries.

There is a need for ongoing debate because the issues are profound. There is also a need for the debate to be informed.  I hope that what follows here will contribute to an informed debate.

The starting point is to recognise that China is easily New Zealand’s biggest agrifood destination. And every year it continues to grow. . . 

Ensuring the safety of pesticides within New Zealand – Mark Ross

A culture of trepidation about consuming foods which have been exposed to pesticides is misleading and has sparked much confusion of late.

To abate the concerns, a breakdown of the process for getting products to market can reassure consumers that our most nutritious foods of fruits, vegetables and grains are safe to eat. This is reflected in the decade-long process which includes 11 years of research and hundreds of millions of dollars.

At the start of the process, chemicals are tested for their effects on people and the environment. . .


Rural round-up

April 17, 2019

Thriving in a demanding environment :

Andrew and Lynnore Templeton, who own and operate The Rocks Station, near Middlemarch, won the regional supreme title at the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Dunedin.

The awards are run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and the supreme regional winners from each of the 11 districts will be profiled at the awards’ National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on June 6.

The Templetons also won the Massey University Innovation Award, which recognises the farmer or grower that demonstrated Kiwi ingenuity for solving a problem or pursuing a new opportunity. . . 

Mid-Canterbury dominates M. bovis cases – Heather Chalmers:

Mid-Canterbury has taken the biggest hit from cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, with the district accounting for 41 per cent of all cases. 

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) figures show that 67 of 161 properties confirmed positive with the disease were in the region.

Of these, 23 properties remain contaminated and 44 have been cleared. 

The ministry’s M. bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn told farmers in Ashburton that the region was “carrying a disproportionate share of the burden” in its efforts to eradicate the disease.  . . 

 

Court orders Chinese owner of Wairarapa farm to settle access row before he sells – Andrea Vance:

The Chinese owner of a Wairarapa sheep station wants to sell it to a Kiwi buyer – but that won’t stop an extraordinary dispute over public access, which has now reached the courts.

For more than two years, officials and the Chinese owner of the sprawling $3.3 million Kawakawa Station, at Cape Palliser, have been deadlocked over access to a forest hut and tramping route.

Mediation to resolve the dispute failed late last year and triggered legal action.

Hong-Kong based Eric Chun Yu Wong has decided to sell the station back to an un-named Kiwi buyer. . . 

Kaumatua urges community restraint in Kawakawa dispute:

Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa kaumatua, Sir Kim Workman, has asked the Wairarapa community to withhold its judgement around the Kawakawa Station dispute, following yesterday’s Stuff article by Andrea Vance, ‘Court orders Chinese owner of Wairarapa farm to settle access row before he sells

‘In June 2018, the Walkways Access Commission publicised this issue while the dispute negotiation was still in progress. The impact of WAC’s conduct on Mr Wong and his family was incendiary. Xenophobia emerged in full flight. Mr Wong became a foreign demon who was interfering with the rights of good old Kiwis. It adversely affected their walking tour business, and the then managers were openly referred to as ‘chink-lovers’. They resigned, and the backlash contributed to Mr Wong’s decision to sell the farm.’

This latest publicity has the potential to unleash yet another round of racism and hatred. When that happens, it disrupts the peace of our community, and sets neighbour against neighbour. We must avoid that at all costs. . . 

Demand for cage-free eggs contributes to national egg shortage – Karoline Tuckey:

While a national egg shortage could mean higher prices, it’s unlikely the hot breakfast staple will disappear from supermarket shelves.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said supply problems were causing the shortages nationally.

The number of laying hens nationally has dropped from 4.2 million at the end of last year, to 3.6 million.

“We’re just going to see a lesser amount of eggs, and that will probably translate to some extent to price increases, just because of a shortage of supply,” said Michael Brooks. . . 

People’s role recognised in sustainable journeys:

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards have long been a respected, exciting highlight in the rural calendar, with each year’s award winners doing much to showcase the best this country has to offer in farming talent that recognises and respects the environment they depend upon.

This year the awards have a welcome addition with national realtor Bayleys sponsoring a “People in the Primary Sector” award.

Bayleys national country manager Duncan Ross said the company’s move to sponsor the people category in the awards is a timely one, given the focus within the agri-sector on recruiting, keeping and advancing young talent. . . 

Garlic production property for sale:

The land and buildings housing a trio of commercial businesses – including the processing and distribution plant of New Zealand’s largest garlic grower – have been placed on the market for sale.

The site at Grovetown near Blenheim in Marlborough consists of 1.4350 hectares of freehold triangular-shaped rural zoned land at 377 Vickerman Street.

The site is occupied by three tenancies – Marlborough Garlic Ltd, Kiwi Seed Co (Marlborough) Ltd and Ironside Engineering Ltd. Combined, the three businesses generate an annual rental return of $138,347 +GST. . . 


Rural round-up

April 16, 2019

‘M. bovis’ effects force family off farm – Sally Rae:

Graham Hay is preparing to walk off the land his family has farmed for nearly a century.

The Hakataramea Valley property has been in the family since his grandfather took over in 1921 and Mr Hay has lived there all his life.

It is gut-wrenching to hear his voice choking, as he explains how he and his wife Sonja have had no choice but to sell their farm.

Already under financial pressure coming out of an irrigation development phase, he believed they could have farmed through that. . . 

Lessons learned: MPI holds public meeting with farmers – Sally Rae:

Painful lessons have been learned during the Mycoplasma bovis response and hopefully all lessons will be “locked in” and used in the event of another disease incursion, programme director Geoff Gwyn says.

Mr Gwyn was speaking at a public meeting in Oamaru last week, as part of a series of farmer and public meetings throughout the country.

Those meetings came in the wake of the launch of the 2019 Mycoplasma bovis National Plan, released by the Ministry for Primary Industries, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand last week. . . 

Yili bid for Westland Milk raises questions about dairy co-operatives – and Fonterra’s ownership – Point of Order:

On  the face  of  it, it’s  a  no-brainer.  Weighed  down  with  debt,  Westland  Milk,  based in   Hokitika  is financially  on  its  knees.  Riding  to  its  rescue,  Chinese  dairy  giant  Yili  has come in with a  $588m buyout deal   which  will yield  $3.41  a share   to the co-op’s  farmer shareholders,  and, as well,   absorb  Westland’s debt and liabilities.

According to  Westland, the  nominal value of its shares  has ranged  from  70c  to $1.50  per share. For the  average-sized  Westland farm, the  share offer translates to  about half a  million dollars cash.

The offer  looks even  more attractive since  Westland had to  cut its  milk payout  forecast, while other  companies’ forecasts  are rising.  Westland, which has  grown out of  the West  Coast’s  150-year  dairy heritage, hasn’t paid  a  competitive milk price   for  several years. . . 

Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade may force expectant mothers to travel further

Mothers may be forced to travel further to give birth after a Southland birthing centre was downgraded.

The Southern District Health Board announced the Lumsden Maternity Centre downgrade last August, triggering community outcry, a protest march, petition and appeals to the government.

The centre has become a maternal and child hub where babies are only delivered in an emergency.

The company that ran the centre said mothers travelled from as far away as Queenstown and Te Anau to use the birthing services. . . 

Farmhand’s common sense solution for vegan activism – Andrea Davy:

A YOUNG farmhand has offered up a commonsense approach for stopping the spread of misinformation around Australian farming.

Coming off the back this week’s vegan protests, which rolled out across the nation on Monday, Zoe Carter posted a Facebook live where she called on the industry to “step up” and increase education in schools.

Zoe has more than 140,000 followers online, an audience she has grown through sharing videos and photos from her life working in ag.

In the post, she said the current education system was leaving a huge knowledge gap on how food was produced. And, unfortunately, this space was being filled up with “lies” peddled on social media. . . 

Large-scale highly fertile stock finishing farm for sale:

A highly-productive farm whose grazing stock once produced prized wool used by one of New Zealand’s foremost carpet manufacturers has been placed on the market for sale.

Puketotara, near Huntly in the Waikato, was previously owned by Douglas Bremner – the businessman who founded the legendary Bremworth Carpet brand in 1959. Wool from the Drysdale sheep farmed at Bremner’s Puketotara farm was used in the production of quality carpet manufactured at the company’s mill in South Auckland.

The Bremner family sold the property in 1989, and soon after it was converted into an intensive breeding and finishing farm – stocking beef and sheep and producing cash crops.. . 


Rural round-up

April 15, 2019

Diversity makes a sound business – Neal Wallace:

Glen Eden farm is a busy place. Mark and Susannah Guscott, the owners of the South Wairarapa property, have fingers in multiple pies and for good measure are about to open tourist accommodation. Neal Wallace spoke to Mark Guscott.

Discussion groups visiting the Guscott family’s Glen Eden farm near Carterton comment on the complexity of the business.

But Mark and Susannah don’t see it that way. 

Certainly, there is plenty happening but Mark says once you get your head around the various elements it is not daunting. . .

Win a huge surprise – Yvonne O’Hara:

Cameron and Nicola van Dorsten, of Outram, have had an excellent couple of weeks.

Not only were they stunned to hear their name announced as the winners of the Share Farmer of the Year (SFOTY) competition in the 2019 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards, they also spent a couple of weeks in Bali shortly after.

The awards dinner was held in Invercargill on March 27, and they won nearly $12,000 in prizes and four merit awards.

Mrs van Dorsten said they were stunned and thrilled with their success, especially as it was the first time they had entered. . .

From the shed to the kitchen – Yvonne O’Hara:

Jude Gamble’s day starts at 3.30am and often finishes about 7.00pm.

Her shopping list includes 10 trays of eggs a week and she uses two and a-half dozen every morning. She uses 2kg of bacon, 10 loaves of bread and 8 litres of milk a day.

She buys in 12 litres of cream a week, as well as 10kg lots of scone and muffin mixes, and the odd trailerload of potatoes. . .

Farmers ready for peas’ return – Annette Scott:

One more year under a pea-growing moratorium will ensure New Zealand can deliver a powerful message to overseas customers, Federated Farmers arable industry chairwoman Karen Williams says.

Pea growers were forced out of business in August 2016 when action kicked in to eradicate a pea weevil pest threatening the $150 million pea industry, including both the export pea seed markets and the processed green pea industry. . .

Eric Rush inspires Extension 350 farmers with rags to riches :

From the humble beginnings of hand-milking eight cows as a young Kaeo lad, to meeting the Queen of England, Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela – Former All Black Eric Rush had his audience captivated with his message that “success breeds success” when he spoke to 200 people involved in Northland’s Extension 350 project this week.

Rush was the keynote speaker at two events aimed at recognising the hard work of the target farmers, mentor farmer, consultants and partners of the Extension 350 farmer-to-farmer learning project in Northland. . . 

A tech revolution in agriculture is leaving some farmers without broadband behind – Tim Johnson:

Hundreds of thousands of American farmers wrestle with balky — or nonexistent — internet connections, the exasperating modern-day equivalent of the stubborn mule that wouldn’t pull a plow.

Farmers who lack rural connectivity increasingly lag in a tech revolution that offers robots, drones, sensors and self-driving tractors to farms lucky enough to have robust broadband. It is a rural digital divide on America’s farms that threatens to grow wider. . .


Averaging punishes good, insulates bad

April 15, 2019

The threat of an emissions tax on farmers is growing:

Livestock farmers could face an initial greenhouse gas emissions tax of $50 million a year rising to $1 billion, Interim Climate Change Committee David Prentice says. . .

The $50m is subsidised by the Government allocating units equivalent to 95% of emissions to the primary sector to help it transition and is calculated on a carbon price of $25 a tonne.

However, the tax might rise to $1b at an indeterminate time in the future.

The figures are in a discussion document delivered to the Agricultural Climate Change Conference in Palmerston North by Prentice. . . 

The document, on the committee’s website, reveals the committee’s thinking on charges farmers will face as the Government moves the economy to be carbon neutral by 2020.

Adding insult to the financial injury is the government’s blanket refusal to allow genetic engineering which could provide at least part of the answer to reduced emissions.

It says an emission tax levied at farm level could be implemented from 2025. In the interim it could be collected by processors from next year. 

That will give certainty to the primary sector, respond to calls for agriculture to meet its emissions’ obligations and raise awareness with farmers who will see the deduction on kill sheets and milk receipts.

This would average the cost.

That would reduce the incentive to take action, punishe farmers who have lower emissions and insulate those with higher ones from the consequences of their actions, or inaction.

Money raised will be used to introduction the policy but also to help rural communities cope with the likely loss of jobs and services such as schools as farming families leave areas when farmland is planted in trees to offset emissions.

The committee is investigating the impact on rural communities. . . 

The committee only needs to look at what happened to rural communities during and after the ag-sag of the 1980s.

Jobs were lost, people moved in search of work, businesses which serviced and supplied farmers failed, adult children left for education or jobs and didn’t return . . .

Add costs to production with an emissions tax, replace stock with trees and there will be a similar impact.

It will have a detrimental economic and social impact, increase the cost of food and won’t do anything for the environment because loss of production here will be replaced by an increase in other countries whose methods are far less efficient than hours.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

April 14, 2019

Owner of M. Bovis-infected farm who had to shoot newborn calves: ‘you just learn to grit your teeth and do it’ – Gerald Piddock:

Henk Smit could handle the bullet in the mail and the death threats.

It was when the dairy farmer had to shoot his newborn calves that the impact of Mycoplasma bovis finally hit him.

Looking back, he now believes it is something no dairy farmer should ever have to put themselves through.

“I think was a really bad call,” he says at his quiet Maungatautari property. “On the other farm, we had a contract milker and that sent him over the edge, killing the calves, and he tried to commit suicide in spring. . .

Changing the face of farming – Stephen Bell:

Alternative proteins and genomics could change the face of New Zealand agriculture, a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment report suggests.

But they come up against the brick wall of the country’s attitude to genetic engineering and editing.

Advances in genomics offer potential to speed up the development of crops and livestock with desirable and valuable traits that meet productivity, quality and environmental goals. . .

Waikato Mycoplasma bovis free after properties cleared to return to farming – Gerald Piddock:

Waikato is Mycoplasma bovis free – for now.

The country’s largest dairying region has no properties infected with the cattle disease after the Ministry for Primary Industries lifted the active property classifications on five Waikato farms in the past month.

But that status may change with six farms under a notice of direction (NOD) status and seven under surveillance.  NOD properties are those which have a high risk of being infected, but have yet to return a positive test. . .

Mega mast another reason to continue GE research:

Turning our backs on promising tools for predator control is a massive disservice to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna, Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“The ‘mega mast’ in New Zealand’s forests this autumn presents a huge challenge to our pest control agencies and countless volunteers.

“The frequency of these exceptionally heavy tree seeding events is likely to increase with climate change, yet this coalition Government has called a halt on research on genetic engineering technologies.” . .

Veterinarians gear up to help farmers comply with new animal welfare regulations:

Veterinarians are gearing up to help farmers comply with new legal requirements to use local anesthetic during the removal of any horn tissue from cattle that will come into force from October 1 this year.

NZVA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Helen Beattie says the NZVA has been educating members so they are ready to help farmers comply with changes to the Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations. . . 

This snap-on sensory could tell farmers exactly how much to water their crops – Nathan Hurst:

In 2010, scientists at California’s Pacific Institute, a global water think tank, defined a condition Earth could face called “peak water.” Loosely, it’s analogous to peak oil, but it’s not just that we’ll run out of water. Fresh water won’t vanish, but it will become still more unevenly distributed, increasingly expensive, and harder to access. Many parts of the world are facing water stress, and 80 percent of the fresh water that gets used around the world gets used for irrigating crops, according to the Pacific Institute’s president emeritus Peter Gleick.

Over the past 40 years or so, total water use in the United States began to level off. Part of that is due to greatly improved irrigation, and part of that is due to remote sensing technologies—satellites, radar and drones—that assess water stress in fields based on temperature or how much light the canopy reflected in different wavelengths. . . 


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