Rural round-up

March 22, 2019

Staff shortages impacting on rural health – Peter Burke:

The health of rural business people – including farmers, orchardists and health facilities — is being affected because they cannot get sufficient good staff and must work longer hours to compensate.

So says rural health professional Professor Jane Mills, pro vice-chancellor of the College of Health at Massey University. She was raised on a farm in Australia and has extensively researched rural health issues.

She told Rural News that the staff shortage in rural areas is forcing many people to work extra hours beyond what is reasonable and that their work/life balance is out of sync, resulting in physical or mental health issues. . . 

Inhibitor can solve methane issue – Neal Wallace:

News the world’s first methane inhibitor for livestock will be released in New Zealand later this year has been greeted by scientists as evidence technology can solve our greenhouse gas problem.

Dutch company DSM has developed 3-NOP, a feed additive that inhibits a methane producing micro-organism in the rumen, reducing emissions by about 30% while also being safe for animals and consumers.

However, the effet stops within a few hours of feeding so it must be ingested regularly. . . 

Brexit: Should I stay or should I go now? – Stephanie Honey:

Just over a week before the Brexit deadline, the UK faces the prospect of a lengthy delay – but equally, the possibility of a “no-deal” Brexit looms larger than ever.  It is hard to predict which of these two extremes we may see next Friday.   In anticipation of no-deal, however, the UK has released a new temporary post-Brexit tariff schedule.  While most imports would be duty-free, sensitive agriculture products, including New Zealand exports of lamb, beef and dairy, would still face barriers.

If anything, the roadmap to Brexit is less clear than it was even at the start of this week.  (See our last blog here.)  The Parliamentary process has descended into chaos after “meaningful vote 3” was disallowed, under which PM May’s Withdrawal Agreement would have come back again to the House to attempt to clear the path for an orderly Brexit.   All eyes are now on Brussels.  The European Council meets on Thursday and will consider an extension – although this would need to have a clear purpose to satisfy EU member states. . . 

School and Trust boost farming – Neal Wallace:

Students at Wairarapa College are to get more farm training and career opportunities following an initiative with a Masterton community trust.

The Masterton Trust Lands Trust has provided 14ha next to the college for agricultural training for 64 years but is taking it a step further by establishing an advisory panel of local industry leaders to provide advice and expertise for the course.

More than 330 years nine to 13 students, a third of the roll, are studying agriculture this year and trust chairman Karl Taucher says the advisory panel will ensure teaching and skills developed on the farm are in line with what the industry needs. . . 

Cows are turning desert back into grassland by acting like bison – Sara Burrows:

The Savory Institute is transforming 40 million acres of desert back into grassland by “rewilding” cows and other domesticated grazing animals

Two thirds of the land on Earth is now desert or in the process of becoming desert, according to world-renowned ecologist and environmentalist Allan Savory.

If you know anything about deserts, you know that’s not good news, as neither humans nor many other species can survive very well in them.

Responsible for the collapse of many civilizations and now threatening us globally, Savory says humanity has never understood the causes of desertification. But the fact that it began around 10,000 years ago and has accelerated dramatically in the last 200 gives us a clue, he says. . . 

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate Frank M. Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences. . . 


Rural round-up

March 21, 2019

Shareholders say sale was inevitable – Brendon McMahon:

The possible sale of Westland Milk Products to China is a ”sad day” for the West Coast but necessary to save the business, a sample of farmer-shareholders said yesterday.

The Hokitika dairy co-operative, praised for years for retaining its independence in the face of Fonterra amalgamations, is poised to be sold to the Chinese dairy giant Yili.

Harihari dairy farmer and former board member Jon Sullivan greeted the news yesterday morning with ”she’s gone”.

Farmers had been left with ”no choice” but to sell, he said. . . 

Fonterra Announces 2019 Interim Results And Updates on Its Portfolio And Strategic Reviews:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced its 2019 Interim Results which show the Co-op has returned to profitability with a Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) of $80 million, but normalised Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) are down 29% on the same period last year to $323 million.

• Key numbers in Interim Results
o Sales volumes 10.7 billion liquid milk equivalents (LME), up 2%
o Revenue $9.7 billion, down 1%
o Normalised EBIT: $323 million, down 29%
o NPAT: $80 million, up 123%
o Total normalised gross margin: $1.5 billion
Ingredients Gross Margin: $791 million, down 9%
Consumer and Foodservice Gross Margin: $766 million, down 7%
o Full year forecast earnings: 15-25 cents per share
o Forecast Farmgate Milk Price: $6.30-$6.60 per kgMS
• Sales process started for Fonterra’s 50% share of DFE Pharma
• Completed the sale of Corporacion Inlaca to Mirona
• Update on full strategy review . . 

Fonterra to hit debt reduction target from asset sales – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group expects to slice $800 million from its debt ledger through the sale of assets already signalled for the block.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter is strengthening its balance sheet as part of its wider strategic review. That’s included the divestment of a range of assets no longer deemed central to the cooperative’s future, the latest of which was a 50 percent stake in DFE Pharma – a joint venture with FrieslandCampina which supplies bulking agents, or excipients, in medicines including tablets and inhalers.

Fonterra has already announced plans to sell ice-cream maker Tip Top, with investment bank First NZ Capital receiving final bids earlier this month. It’s also considering its options for its 18.8 percent stake in Beingmate Baby & Child Food. . . 

Comforting news for dairy farmers as companies report results and the world price rises again – Point of Order:

Encouraging signs emerged this week that key elements in the structure of NZ’s largest export industry are whipping themselves back into the shape they should be.

The giant  co-op  Fonterra  has  gone back  into the  black  with a net profit of $80 million in the  first half,  after previously recording  a  net  loss of  $186m.

Meanwhile Westland Milk Products, NZ’s second biggest dairy co-op, is in line to be  sold  to China’s biggest  dairy company,  Yili,  in  a $588m  transaction that would inject nearly half a million  dollars into the operations of  each  of its  suppliers. . . 

Fonterra’s culture change– Craig Hickman:

Is it just me or is Fonterra undergoing a remarkably rapid culture shift in a very short space of time?

Last year I attended the Ashburton leg of the Fonterra Financial Results Roadshow: quite apart from the delicious lunch and sneak preview of the new Whittaker’s ice cream, it was a chance to hear then interim-CEO Miles Hurrell  and new board chair John Monaghan deal with the unpleasant reality of Fonterra’s first ever financial loss.

Miles especially came across as humble, honest and realistic, and those are attributes in direct contrast to the brash and overly optimistic Fonterra leadership we are used to seeing.  . . 

Interim Results support the need for fundamental change :

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council supports today’s acknowledgement that fundamental change is needed to improve the performance of the Co-operative.

“Fonterra’s farmer shareholders will agree that the results announced today are not where they should be,” says Council Chairman Duncan Coull. “The Shareholders’ Council backs the Board and Management’s initiative to thoroughly review strategy. A well defined and executed strategy focused on our farmers’ milk is critical to maintaining sustainable returns and an enduring co-operative for generations to come.” . . 

Significant investment in major growth projects for Synlait:

– NPAT half year profit of $37.3 million
– Re-confirmed guidance for canned infant formula volumes of 41,000 – 45,000 MT
– Manufacturing efficiencies have supported improved production and sales volumes
– Key growth projects including Synlait Pokeno and our Advanced Liquid Dairy Packaging Facility remain on track
– New growth opportunities in liquid milk, Talbot Forest Cheese and lactoferrin expansion
– New purpose ‘Doing Milk Differently for a Healthier World’ established. . . 

Hyslop elected to Beef + Lamb directorship – Sally Rae:

Irrigation New Zealand chairwoman Nicky Hyslop has ousted sitting Beef + Lamb New Zealand director Bill Wright.

She beat Mr Wright, a Cave farmer, by a margin of 1808 votes in the recent Central South Island director election.

Mrs Hyslop and her husband Jonty farm Levels Estate, an intensive sheep, beef and arable property on the outskirts of Timaru.

Mr Wright was elected in 2016, having previously been chairman of the B+LNZ Central South Island Farmer Council for six years. . . 

Urban-fringe kiwifruit orchard with growth potential placed on the market for sale:

One of closest commercial kiwifruit orchards to Auckland’s urban boundary – with potential to treble its production capacity – been placed on the market for sale.

Known as MacLachlan Orchard, the 12.2-hectare property at 90 Mullins Road in Ardmore is planted on flat land, and is forecast to produce some 42,000 trays of fruit in the current season.

The orchard’s 3.3 canopy hectares of productive land comprises some 2.29-canopy hectares of the Hayward green kiwifruit variety and 1.07 canopy hectares of the G3 gold kiwifruit strain picked off vines which were grafted some six years ago. . . 


Stuff stuffed the headline

March 21, 2019

Federated Farmers was approached by a Stuff reporter asking questions about firearms.

The story was initially headlined Federated Farmers say AK-47 and AR-15 guns are needed to control pests on farms.

There is nothing in the story that says that. The headline was a complete misquote of what Feds spokesman Miles Anderson did say.

Feds were alerted to the headline but an email to members from chief executive Terry Copeland says the story stayed on the website for three hours and that it took intense pressure from the Feds comms team to get it altered.

The story is now headlined Federated Farmers says semi-automatic firearms have a place on farms.

The email says a phone call and an explanation from a Stuff Editor-in-Chief. Stuff has added its ‘regret’ about the misreporting at the bottom of the story.

That the mistake was made in the first place was at best careless, that it took three hours and intense pressure to get it corrected is appalling.

It is particularly disappointing when emotions are heightened in the wake of the mass murders in Christchurch and the need for quiet reason and facts on the issue of gun control are essential.

The email from Feds gives the questions and answers emailed from and to the reporter:

What do most farmers use guns for?

Mainly pest control (rabbits, possums, Canada geese and feral pigs) and humanely euthanizing livestock. Also recreational hunting and target shooting.

On average how many guns would one farmer own? Most farmers own a 0.22 for shooting rabbits and possums, a shotgun for ducks and geese and rabbit control, and a centrefire rifle for deer and pigs, and euthanizing large animals such as cattle.

Generally, what types of guns do farmers use? As above. Farmers use the right firearm for the right job. Quite a lot of the firearms farmers use for pest control are semiautomatic, such as 0.22 rifles and shotguns. These are used to target small fast moving pest species such as rabbits, hares, wallabies and Canada geese. For these species there are often only very limited opportunities to shoot at them and they are commonly found in groups. For Canada geese, for example, hunters may sit in a crop paddock all day for only a few opportunities to shoot at a mob of geese, which may arrive in a mob of up to 100 birds. Four geese eat as much as one sheep and shooting is the only way to control them.

Does the farming community support gun reform? Should the government make it harder for individuals to get gun licences?

Federated Farmers will participate in any process that reviews the law.

What is Fed Farmers’ opinion on military style semi-automatic guns for farming. How common are they? How necessary are they?

Military style semi-automatic rifles are not in common use by farmers. There is no need for general public sales of detachable, high-capacity semi-automatic rifle magazines.

For the record:

My farmer bought an air rifle (for which no licence is needed if you are aged over 18) a couple of years ago when rabbits started invading the lawn and garden. Neither of us owns any other firearm.

Some of our staff own rifles and shotguns which they use for controlling rabbits, possums, ducks, geese, deer and pigs, for recreational hunting and for the mercifully rare occasions when it’s necessary to euthanise cattle.

None own military style arms nor would they have any need to.


Rural round-up

March 20, 2019

Trees pose big risk to farmland – Richard Rennie:

While a canopy of brick and tile subdivisions threatens farmland in flatter areas near the country’s major cities it is a canopy of trees that represents a greater threat to the sheep and beef industry’s capacity over coming years.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1

The Government’s bold 50,000ha a year tree-planting policy for a low-carbon economy is the second part of the pincer that has pastoral New Zealand squeezed between urban land demand on the flats and forestry expectations on the hill country.

While farmers and growers on flatter country might face the challenge of urban sprawl, Beef + Lamb NZ policy-makers are more preoccupied with the impact millions of hectares of extra forest planting could have on the sector’s capacity, its insight manager Jeremy Baker says.

B+LNZ has welcomed Forestry Minister Shane Jones’ billion trees initiative, if done the right way with the right trees.  . . 

Migrant workers the backbone of the dairy industry, doing the work Kiwis won’t – Pat Deavoll:

Navdeep Singh has worked on dairy farms in New Zealand since 2007. Originally from India, he came to New Zealand in 2006 to study tourism at Lincoln University but gave away the course to go dairying.

“I started at the bottom and worked my way up to become a contract milker,” he says.

“I don’t want to go back to India where you can work, but you won’t get anywhere.” . . 

Another milestone looms for Roland Smith

Shearing giant Rowland Smith moved to the brink of a 150th open final win when he claimed the Waimarino Shears title for an 8th time in nine years on Saturday.

It was win number 149 for the 32-year-old Hawke’s Bay shearer who is in his 13th season of open-class shearing and who, after a successful breeze through the lowers grades, had his first open victory in January 2008 at Kaikohe.

He has had 14 wins in a row since starting the new year with a win at Wairoa on January 19, including gaining a place in this year’s World Championships by winning a 6th Golden Shears open title. . .

Action group think is paying dividends:

Like-minded farmers working together to improve their businesses’ productivity and profitability is paying dividends, Southland sheep farmer Pete Thomson, who’s part of a Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Group, says.

He is one of nine Southland farm businesses that have got together under the RMPP Action Network, a proven model for supporting small groups of farmers to turn ideas into on-farm action.

“It can get lonely out there as a farmer and this opportunity is exciting. . .

The Nelson family business that’s turning feijoas into a year-round treat – Amy Ridout:

When feijoa season begins, and trees buckle under the weight of the green fruit, the country grabs a spoon and feasts. And then, the feijoas are gone, and we’re left waiting for the next season.

Unless you can track down a packet of Little Beauties, that is. With his two sons, Ian Wastney’s Moutere operation dries and packages feijoa, kiwifruit and boysenberries, so we can enjoy the fruit year round.

The small factory is set in the heart of a 10 hectare feijoa orchard in Tasman, the largest in the South Island, Wastney says.  . . 

Ag’s $100b goal will work, but it needs more than farmers – Andrew Marshall:

Despite the odds, farmers can easily achieve Australia’s lofty ambition of reaching a $100 billion agricultural production goal by 2030.

However, big changes are needed within their regional communities to make it really happen.

Modern farms can’t survive, let alone flourish, without supportive, well serviced, well populated and digitally connected rural towns backing them up, last week’s Outlook 2019 conference was told – repeatedly. . . 


People with guns kill people

March 20, 2019

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

That’s what the pro-gun lobby says but people with guns kill people and some people with some guns can kill more people.

Tht is why the government has announced it will be toughening gun laws.

That is a good move.

I can think of no good reason why anyone but those in the military would need military-style weapons.

A law change should outlaw not just automatics but the accessories which can turn less dangerous fire arms into automatics.

The case against semi-automatics that can fire five or seven bullets at a time isn’t so clear cut.

They are used in pest destruction, not because those who use them are poor shots, but because they are the best way to get clean kills efficiently.

However, it ought to be possible to design a law that allows those who work in pest destruction to get the fire arms they need while prohibiting their possession or use for anyone else.

 


Rural round-up

March 19, 2019

Waikato plans for more land loss – Richard Rennie:

After losing 4000ha of productive land from 1996 to 2012 Waikato District Council has recognised continued losses of some of the country’s most productive pastoral land will hit the region hard economically.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The council has lost the second largest area of rural land in New Zealand in that time, coming after Auckland lost 4200ha. 

That is on top of recorded land losses from 1991-2001 of 3200ha and the total puts Waikato region’s  productive land loss close to Auckland’s over a 20-year period.

The region accounts for the highest number of dairy cows and the second highest number of beef cattle after Manawatu-Wanganui. It also contains 7000ha of high-value horticultural production land, similar to Auckland. . . 

Beltex-cross lambs in demand – Sally Rae:

A sale of Beltex-cross ram lambs in Southland last week “went through the roof”, PGG Wrightson livestock genetics representative Callum McDonald said.

The Robinson family, from Glenham, near Wyndham, held their first ram lamb sale at Gore showgrounds, offering Beltex-Texel, Beltex-Suffolk and Beltex-South Suffolk ram lambs.

The sale, across the board, averaged about $1776. Top price of $8000 was paid by Guy Martin, and Grant Black from Canterbury, for a Beltex-Suffolk-cross lamb. . . 

FARMSTRONG: Kiwi adventurers raising money:

Three young Kiwis have entered a demanding 3500 kilometre rickshaw race across India to raise money for Farmstrong. 

Crammed inside a seven-horsepower, motorised tuk-tuk with a top speed of 50kmh, going downhill, Nikki Brown, Natalie Lindsay and Gina McKenzie will battle 80 other teams as well 40C heat, dust and the free-for-all of Indian traffic for two weeks. 

The women are one of only three all-female teams.

The race is not for the fainthearted.  . . 

Dairy industry introduced to efficiency system – Ken Muir:

When you use the word ”lean” in the farming area, it’s usually applied in the context of meat and fat content, but a Lean system developed for dairy farmers is something else entirely.

The Lean management process being introduced for dairy farms has its roots with car company, Toyota. The objective being that, as with the production of cars, producing milk would benefit from smoother, more efficient processes and little waste in the system.

The FarmTune system, developed by DairyNZ for dairy farmers, is built on the principles of Lean, and helps dairy farmers sharpen their operations and increase efficiency and environmental performances. . . 

Ewe beauty! Making lamb even better:

In a boost for health-conscious red meat fans, James Cook University scientists have found that lambs fed canola oil or flaxseed oil have improved growth rates and contain more of a beneficial fatty acid that protects against disease – all with no loss in their wool quality.

JCU’s Associate Professor of Animal Nutrition and Genetics, Aduli Malau-Aduli, is the lead author of the new study. He said increased incidences of central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers in modern times have been associated with high consumption of red meat.

“This is due to the high levels of saturated fatty acids and low levels of the beneficial long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated (n-3 PUFA) fatty acids in typical red meat meals,” he said. . . 

Adama-STK distribution agreement brings fungicides to Colombia:

Crop protection company Adama and STK bio-ag technologies have signed an exclusive agreement for the distribution of Timorex Gold botanical-based bio-fungicide and STK Regev ‘Hybrid’ fungicide throughout Colombia.

In Colombia, Timorex Gold is approved for the following crops: Bananas, Rice, Ornamentals, Tomatoes, Avocados, Onions, Coffee, Corn, Tobacco, Potatoes, Passion fruit and pitahaya. Colombia has also approved STK Regev on rice, with expected label extension on bananas, ornamentals, coffee and tomatoes. . .


Rural round-up

March 18, 2019

Dairy industry riding to rescue as property boom economy falters – Liam Dann:

It looks like New Zealand’s dairy sector is riding to the economic rescue – again.

Given the aspirations we have to transform and diversify the economy, that’s almost a bit disappointing.

But right now I’ll take it – and so should the Government. . . 

Shania effect swallows farmland:

It is called the Shania effect, named after the Canadian singer-songwriter who in 2004 with her then husband Mutt Lange, paid $21.5 million for Motatapu and Mt Soho Stations in Otago’s lakes district.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The marriage subsequently split and Lange kept ownership of the properties before adding Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations, taking his holding to more than 53,000ha of pastoral land from Glendhu Bay near Wanaka to Coronet Peak near Queenstown.

He later invested heavily in environmentally sympathetic development that removed reliance on livestock farming.

That included spending $1.6 million over three years controlling wilding pines, weeds and pests, planting river margins and fencing waterways and sensitive shrublands. .

Rabobank head strongly linked with land, South – Sally Rae:

Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris has always had a connection with farming – and the South.

While not choosing to pursue a career in hands-on farming, the way it worked out meant he had that “absolute connection” and focus on agriculture, he said during a visit to Dunedin last week.

He might not get back to the South that often but when he did get the opportunity to drive through his old haunts, it was a reminder of what it was “all about”, he said.

Born in Tapanui, where his father was a stock agent, Mr Charteris grew up in West Otago, South Otago and Southland. . . 

Raukumara Conservation Park, the dying forest – Michael Neilson:

A bare forest floor, erosion, slips and no birdsong explain the state of the once-flourishing Raukumara Conservation Park. And experts say there might be less than 10 years to save it. Michael Neilson reports.

Standing in the middle of the Raukumara Conservation Park should be one of those picture perfect, 100% Pure New Zealand moments.

The birdsong should be deafening, rich with raucous kākā, chirping tūī and kōkako.

The forest floor should be lush, with new trees rising up and filling the gaps in the canopy. . . 

We’re doing it wrong – Alan Williams:

Exporters are sitting on a gold mine but failing to sell their provenance story overseas, British grocery expert Rob Ward says.

They need to cash in on sensory perception and the Love Triangle.

“New Zealand is incredibly good at what it does but not enough people know about it,” Ward, a United Kingdom grocery data and analytics expert has been told people at Agri-food Week in Palmerston North.

Lamb is a prime example of how the NZ message can be improved. . . 

Rise of women in agriculture an encouraging sign – Robbie Sefton:

Of all the various ways that humanity has devised for splitting itself into tribes, gender tribes are surely the most pointless. 

Men and women are undoubtedly capable of widely differing viewpoints, and are perfectly capable of exasperating each other, but we are literally nothing without each other.

That’s why it’s been wonderfully encouraging to watch the rise of women in agriculture over the past few decades. 

What was once an industry wholly associated with blokes (at least on the surface) is rapidly becoming one that, in terms of participation, is pretty gender-equal. . . 


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