Rural round-up

August 28, 2015

New lecturer pursuing genetic gains – Sally Rae:

Phillip Wilcox credits time spent culling deer for the New Zealand Forest Service for his pragmatic perspective and love of the outdoors.

He now found that passion complementary to his primary sector relationships and technology transfer work.

Dr Wilcox has been appointed by Beef and Lamb New Zealand Genetics (BLNZG) as its inaugural senior lecturer in quantitative genetics at the University of Otago. . . 

Kiwi dairy farmers rethinking careers – Dave Gooselink:

Dairy farmers are being forced to reduce stock and slash costs to try to stay afloat, following the big drop in milk price payouts.

Some farmers are losing staff and taking on more of the work themselves, forcing some sharemilkers to rethink their careers. . . 

World-class soil programme ‘misused’:

A soil scientist who was involved in the initial development of the controversial nutrient management system, Overseer, agrees with critics who say it is being misused.

The computer software programme was designed to help in the assessment of nitrogen and other nutrient losses from farms.

Regional councils are now using Overseer as well to set nutrient discharge levels in their land and water plans.

Independent soil scientist and fertiliser consultant Doug Edmeades was a National Science Leader with AgResearch in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Overseer concept was born.

He said the Overseer programme is world class – no other country has such a tool.

But Dr Edmeades said it was not being used in the role it was designed for and that it had never been intended to be used as a regulatory tool. . . 

Heartland potato chips a family affair – Audrey Malone:

Raymond Bowan fell in love with potato farming at the age of 17. Wife Adrienne laughs that it’s not potato farming her husband fell in love with, but potatoes in all their forms – mashed, baked, roasted, boiled baby potatoes (without butter so not to interfere with the taste) and of course as chips.

Raymond Bowan’s passion for potatoes and chips has seen Heartland Potato Chips take on the big boys at their own game. With its fifth birthday looming, changes are afoot at the helm but the recipe for success remains the same.

The company, which the Bowans describe as something of a David and Goliath story, has always been a family oriented business. It was started to sustain a family business and it remains central to family, with daughter Charlotte stepping into the role of general manager. . . 

Fonterra: Foreign investment in trees:

The German man felt it was time he checked on his tree.

He brought up his browser on his laptop, went to the Trees For Travellers website, entered his tree identification number and got the co-ordinates for his tree. Then, using Google Earth, he zoomed in on the Kaikoura track which was home to his sapling.

There it was, still protected by its combi-guard (funded by the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund) sheltering the young tree from the elements. He zoomed closer to locate the area and a message appeared telling him his tree was doing well.

If this all sounds a bit unusual, it is the quintessential symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit. Trees For Travellers offers New Zealand native trees for planting around Kaikoura – like many parts of this country a place where native trees have often given way to imported and pest varieties. . .

Italian farm family video wins the first global web video competition:

Sabrina Caldararo, Carmine Caldararo and Gerardo Graziano from Italy won the first prize with their video submission “A modern family farm”. More than 40 videos from 20 countries were submitted for the first YouFarm International video competition, which was initiated by Bayer CropScience in 2015.

“We are grateful our video won out of such a wide range of international videos. Our aim was to give insights into modern Italian farming and the value of regionally and traditionally produced products. It’s great that the online community as well as the jury appreciated our concept,” said Gerardo Graziano. Having been awarded the first prize, Gerardo and his brother in law will now start the “Farmers around the Continent Tour” through Asia. They will meet farmers, visit farms as well as a variety of agricultural sites and parks from tea plantations in Malaysia to vertical farms in Japan. . . 


Rural round-up

August 27, 2015

Farmers not off the hook on health and safety:

It’s a complete fallacy that the farming community doesn’t have to worry about health and safety as a result of proposed changes to the Health and Safety Reform Bill, according to an expert in the field.

Crowe Horwath agri health and safety expert Melissa Vining says the recent hype around proposed changes have monopolised the headlines in recent days with many accusing the government of letting farmers off the hook.

However she is quick to dispel the myth that farmers have been given a mandate to ignore health and safety. . . 

Landcorp posts 2014/15 annual results:

Landcorp has recorded a net operating profit of $4.9 million on revenue of $224.3 million for the year ended 30 June 2015.

The $4.9 million net operating profit is down from the $30 million result the previous year. The sharp decline in the price of milk solids, combined with lower lamb prices, saw income from farm products drop 11.7 per cent on the previous year, to $213.5 million.

Landcorp chief executive Steven Carden said record-low dairy prices and tough growing conditions had driven overall financial performance down. However, a constructive response to challenging conditions had helped buffer Landcorp from major impact. . .

New Zealand in unique position for ‘water development’:

New Zealand has many advantages over the rest of the world when it comes to ‘water development’ but we need to get better at leveraging water use – for our future well-being and to protect us from the effects of climate change, says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

This week is World Water Week 2015 with a theme of ‘Water for Development’. More than 3000 people, including world leaders, water experts and international aid organisations, have gathered in Stockholm, Sweden to debate solutions for water crisis around the globe at an annual symposium run by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) (www.worldwaterweek.org.nz).

Mr Curtis says New Zealanders are blissfully unaware of the relative advantage New Zealand has with plentiful rivers, lakes and groundwater supply across the country. . . 

Huge potential in Chathams – farmer:

The Chatham Islands has a huge, untapped potential for farming but a better understanding of soils is needed, one of the islands’ farmers says.

The islands are part of New Zealand and lie 750km east of the South Island.

Federated Farmers Chatham Islands chair Tony Anderson said there were 15 large farming operations there but many farmers worked a second job in the fishing industry. . . 

‘Power Play’ Innovation in Dairy Awards:

Entrants in the 2016 Dairy Manager of the Year contest will play to their strengths with a ‘power play’ initiative among the new judging criteria.

The change is one of many to the 2016 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards programme, aimed at enabling more people to enter the awards competitions and at ensuring people with similar age, skills, maturity and investment in the industry compete against each other.

National convenor Chris Keeping says other changes include new competition names, entry and judging criteria – like the power play. . . 

OMG Dairy NZ Confessions Stories Advice's photo.


Quote of the day

August 27, 2015

If you sit in a room with people with diametrically opposed views, you’ll ultimately find you have 80 per cent in common. Do you want a better environment, a world your kids can live in, to leave your farm a better place when you leave? We found in the GM debate that when you isolate the fundamentalists, they are never going to change their view. It’s about taking people with you; not ‘I’m right and you are wrong.’ By giving a bit, we’ve gained a lot in the last five years. . . Dr William Rolleston.


Rural round-up

August 26, 2015

Potential for more dairy exports to South East Asia:

A new government-commissioned report highlights the potential for the New Zealand dairy industry to increase its exports of consumer products into South East Asia.

New Zealand is already the largest supplier of milk powder to countries in the region and also has a strong share of the trade in most other dairy products.

But the report said growing demand offered plenty of opportunity for consumer-ready dairy products as well. . . 

More changes for Alliance leadership – Neal Wallace:

There is further change at the head of Alliance Group with two of the longest serving directors announcing their retirement.

Less than a year after chief executive Grant Cuff retired, directors Murray Donald and Doug Brown have announced they are also to retire, effective from December’s annual meeting.

That leaves chairman Murray Taggart as the only supplier representative with more than four years’ experience. . . 

Ravensdown caps fertiliser price:

Ravensdown – the fertiliser farmer co-operative – has capped the price of its superphosphate product to give farmers a firm number to budget with. 

Chief executive Greg Campbell said the product’s price will be fixed at $320 a tonne until the end of November.

Superphosphate is a fertiliser used on dairy, livestock and cropping farms.

Mr Campbell said the company’s balance sheet was in good health, which allowed it to delay any possible price rises.

He said this was a first for the company. . . 

Halfway mark in 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Referendum:

One in five registered voters have cast their vote at the halfway mark in the 2015 Sheepmeat and Beef Levy Referendum.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman James Parsons said the turnout was pleasing and he was encouraging farmers to vote before the voting closes on September 10.

“It is important for farmers to have their say and ensure that the organisation has a strong mandate to continue its activities on behalf of farmers.”

By the end of this week farmers throughout the country will have had the opportunity to attend one of the 53 referendum information meetings being hosted by Beef + Lamb New Zealand Directors, the local farmers of the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Council and members of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s senior management team. . . 

More crop insurance more problems? – Brad Wassink:

Helen Fessenden at the Richmond Fed recently published an informative article in Econ Focus on the history and development of the federal crop insurance program — and on why many are criticizing it.

Under the new farm bill, crop insurance is estimated to be nearly 20% more expensive than under the previous 2008 bill. It is expected to cost $41 billion over five years.

Some contend that the program should be viewed as a success. For one, its reach is nearly universal: 90% of farmland is covered. They claim that the substantial benefits provided by the program negate the need for one-off disaster relief packages — for damages caused by a natural disaster such as a hurricane or severe drought — that are often expensive and inefficient. The new crop insurance programs cover even more crops.

But as Fessenden notes, economists, taxpayer groups, and the GAO all point to the program’s core problem: . . 

South Canterbury Rural Support Trust's photo.

Submissions sought on carbaryl, chlorpyrifos and diazinon reassessment:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) welcomes submissions on its reassessment of some organophosphates and carbamates (OPCs). The reassessment will cover substances containing carbaryl, chlorpyrifos and diazinon used as active ingredients in veterinary medicines or in substances used as non-plant protection insecticides (in and around buildings, on hard surfaces, and in industrial situations).

This reassessment follows the EPA’s previous OPC reassessment in June 2013, which considered only OPCs that were used as insecticides for plant protection.

This reassessment application has been prepared by the staff of the EPA on behalf of the Chief Executive. It is being undertaken because of concerns about the safety and well-being of people and the environment resulting from the use of carbaryl, chlorpyrifos and diazinon. . . 

And with a hat tip to : Kiwiblog:

 


Rural round-up

August 25, 2015

Five Otago entries for farmer of year award – Sally Rae:

Five Otago farming businesses are among those entered for the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year award.

Twelve entries have been received from throughout the South Island, including a West Coast farm for the first time in the history of the competition.

Operations range from sheep and beef farms to a marine mussel farm, saffron grower and fruit producer. . . 

Pipes full, water coming soon – Alan Williams:

The pipes are full and ready to start irrigating stage one of the Central Plains Water (CPW) scheme in Canterbury.

Once the control system was fully tested over the next few weeks the valves could be turned on, chief executive Derek Crombie said.

The official target date was September 1 but the practical timing for water to flow to most of the 120 farms involved would be late September or early October, depending on rainfall levels and ground temperatures. . . 

Science close to unlocking velvet’s secret:

New Zealand and South Korean scientists may soon be able to identify the compounds that give deer antler velvet its immune-boosting properties.

If successful, it would allow velvet extracts to be sold with a precise measure of the active ingredients they contain. Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) says this will be an important step in getting such products registered for sale as healthy functional foods. . . 

Conservation planting crowdfunded:

Crowdfunding might be better known for assisting fledgling businesses but it is also helping restore New Zealand waterways.

The Million Metres Streams Project, set up by the Sustainable Business Network in collaboration with Enspiral, is New Zealand’s first conservation crowdfunding initiative.  

Launched in October last year, the project gave people the opportunity to contribute to the restoration of waterways. It has already funded almost 5km of riparian restoration work. . . 

Deadly rattle detected in Cuban maracas:

Biosecurity staff detected a deadly rattle in a set of souvenir maracas carried by two air passengers arriving in New Zealand from Cuba.

The couple declared the Cuban percussion instruments to Ministry for Primary Industries biosecurity staff at Auckland airport earlier this month.

X-ray screening revealed the maracas used red seeds for their rattle. MPI later identified the seed asAbrus precatorius, commonly known as crab’s eye and rosary pea.

The seeds contain abrin, which is more toxic than ricin – a deadly poison associated with spies and biological weaponry. . . 

Feed field days address fluctuations:

Tips and information to help manage the ups and downs of fluctuating milk price will be provided at a series of DairyNZ events in September and October.

The Feed Tactics field days will focus on helping farmers get the best returns from all feeds used on farm.

The nationwide events follow on from one-on-one feed review visits which provided more than 750 farms with an assessment of feed allocation and grazing management in early spring. . . 

Commission reconvenes conference on wool scouring authorisation:

The Commerce Commission is to reconvene its conference on Cavalier Wool Holding Limited’s application for authorisation to acquire New Zealand Wool Services International’s wool scouring business.

The conference will be held on Tuesday 1 September to consider specific issues relating to property valuations, which form part of Cavalier’s application. . . 

GMO ‘Right to Know’ movement takes food off of plates of hungry in Africa, Asia – Michael Dzakovich:

One of the most contentious and polarizing issues today is the use of biotechnology in farming. While many farmers in industrialized countries have been safely and successfully using genetically engineered crops for almost two decades, adoption in the developing world has been significantly slower, only recently eclipsing the U.S. in terms of total acreage.

Many of these crops have been developed to produce naturally occurring nutritional compounds, resist aggressive diseases and tolerate extreme environmental conditions. The benefits of GE crops are not equitably spread throughout the developing world, as those in most critical need often cannot benefit from existing solutions created by public scientists. . . 

Dayton community harvests late farmer’s final crop – Taylor Viydo:

A community came together this week to help a family harvest the final crop of a local farmer who passed away from cancer.

Jim Hanger was still running a 5,000-acre family farm in Dayton when he passed away last week. He lost his battle to cancer at age 66.

“He was always on the tractor, the combines — if it was seeding, he was seeding. If it was harvest, he was harvesting,” said daughter Tracy Hanger. . .

Racheal Trail's photo.


Farm gate milk prices here and there

August 24, 2015

It would be interesting to see a comparison of average costs of production too.


Rural round-up

August 24, 2015

Increased focus on rural depression:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today announced increased training for rural health professionals and community leaders to tackle depression in rural communities.

The commitment is the second part of the one-off $500,000 funding boost for mental health initiatives targeted at rural communities announced at Fieldays.

“Raising awareness of mental health issues in rural communities is important, but you also need the professional support with the right skills to help those who are at risk,” says Dr Coleman. . . 

TPP deal to free up world dairy trade would reduce volatility:

DairyNZ chairman John Luxton writes that major TPP players are holding their dairy consumers to ransom

The news that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal has not been agreed because of differences over autos, dairy and intellectual property is no surprise to anyone.

Some of the major players have sought to maintain trade protection rather than to reduce it.

It seems incredible that the US dairy industry has so far convinced the US negotiators that they need to be protected from any increase in New Zealand dairy imports into the US. . . 

Back to basics – Annette Scott:

Dwindling demand from dairy has forced cropping farmers to readjust their businesses in a return to traditional practices and markets.

Dairy industry destocking would result in reduced demand for off-farm feed supplies and that would mean greater demand for store lambs, Federated Farmers arable industry chairman Guy Wigley said.

With tongue in cheek he suggested now could be a good time to buy sheep. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand pleased with health and safety changes:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says sheep and beef farmers will be pleased to hear that most farms are not going to be classed as high risk work places and won’t have to have a health and safety representative, following changes to the proposed Health and Safety Reform Bill.

Responding to suggestions that farmers are getting getting off lightly, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman James Parsons said sheep and beef farms average fewer than two full time employees per farm.

“Can you imagine the farm manager and the shepherd standing on a hill and electing the health and safety representative? Not classifying farms as high risk doesn’t exempt farm businesses from any liability under the Health and Safety Reform Bill. But the amendment does recognise some basic practicalities of implementing the legislation on farms.” . . 

A2 Milk eyes infant formula for sales growth after ASX listing costs result in loss – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co sees more upside for infant formula, which underpinned full-year sales growth for the specialty milk marketing company, although costs for a secondary listing on the ASX resulted in an annual loss. The shares dropped 9.1 percent.

The Auckland-based company reported a net loss of $2.09 million in the year ended June 30, compared to a profit of $10,000 a year earlier. That included a $1.68 million charge relating to its ASX listing. Revenue jumped 40 percent to $155 million and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and one-time costs rose 35 percent to $4.18 million, reflecting a record performance in Australia.

The shares sank 7 cents to 70 cents, the lowest level in a month. . .

Rural Infrastructure needs to be a priority:

The government appears to be on the same page as Federated Farmers, with their announcement of their 30 Year Infrastructure Plan today.

Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Infrastructure Spokesperson says “Rural infrastructure will need to be a priority in looking at addressing the inefficiencies in infrastructure investment and planning.”

Federated Farmers supports the intent to better understand where the critical demands are and to make better decisions from that knowledge, but remain wary of what that strategy means for rural communities. . .

Water New Zealand welcomes Government’s 30 year infrastructure plan:

Water New Zealand welcomes the Government’s initiatives for better developing and maintaining New Zealand’s 3 waters infrastructure announced today as part of the 30 Year Infrastructure Plan 2015.

Water New Zealand is a strategic partner of the Treasury’s National Infrastructure Unit which produced the report*.

“New Zealand’s urban centres are rapidly growing and it is very encouraging to see that Central Government is facing the infrastructure challenges head on with an increased focus on developing a better understanding of water related infrastructure assets,” said John Pfahlert, CEO of Water New Zealand. . .

Science turns to sheep for answers on human health –  Sarah Stewart:

If you’ve ever tried to lose a few kilos you probably know all about fat and carbs.

But did you know you can learn a lesson or two from sheep?

A group of Kiwi scientists are finding they have much more to tell us about our health than we might think.

The saying ‘ you are what you eat’ has been around for years.

But there may in fact be a chance your health is actually determined by what your parents or even grandparents ate.

There is also a chance what you eat could affect what illnesses your kids get. . . 

Collaboration Key for Canterbury Dry Land Farmers:

In the last couple of months over 250 farmers and their advisors have attended a range of workshops, field events and presentations across four sub-catchments in the Hurunui Waiau Zone – which fits within the area of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

The workshops included initial work around developing, designing and forming a ‘Collective’ for dry land farmers, linked to the Beef+Lamb NZ Farm Environment Plan and broader environmental programmes. Under the Hurunui Waiau River Regional plan, ‘for farmers to continue to farm without a consent from 1 January 2017,’ they will be required to be a member of a Collective or Irrigation Scheme. In addition, the Collective will need to develop an approved Environmental Management Strategy. . . 


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