Rural round-up

24/09/2021

The ETS is both a gold mine and a minefield – Keith Woodford:

The Government never foresaw the land-use forces they were unleashing with the ETS

In recent weeks I have written multiple articles on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) with a particular focus on forestry. This week I also had an extended interview with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ ‘Nine to Noon’.  However, there is still lots more that needs to be said.

The bottom line is that carbon forestry is now far more profitable than sheep and beef farming on nearly all classes of land. We are indeed on the cusp of the greatest rural land-use changes that New Zealand has seen in the last 100 years.

For many sheep and beef farmers, carbon farming can now be a gold mine. The key requirement is pastoral land that will grow an exotic forest that will not be destroyed by storm, fire or disease.  . . 

A new visa scheme offering 3 years in Australia to agricultural workers threatens to crush NZ’s primary sector – Aaron Martin:

Australians must be laughing at our immigration woes.

The Australian government has announced a new visa aimed at enticing agricultural workers by offering them three years of residency to live in rural areas. New Zealand, however, has no official pathway or plan for migrant worker residency.

Why is the Ardern government consistently the loser?

We have very proud history of sporting success against Australia. We love nothing better than to beat them at anything. We’ve had success on multiple fronts but, sadly, our government seems to come up the loser against theirs. . . 

The human cost of no response :

The Prime Minister’s ‘Be Kind’ message is obviously struggling to get past Wellington’s 50k boundary and out to Rural New Zealand.

You can tell because, if there was any response from her or her ministers to the concerns Rural NZ has, I’d know. To date, the tally is 0.

As both a farmer and National’s Agriculture spokesperson I find it deplorable.

The heavy-handed approach the Government has adopted in trying to reach unrealistic, impractical targets for water, climate change, zero carbon, emissions and land use, to name but a few, has placed enormous pressure on the farming sector. . .  

Fonterra completes reset, announces annual results and long-term growth plan out to 2030:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced a strong set of results for the 2021 financial year, reflected in a final Farmgate Milk Price of $7.54, normalised earnings per share of 34 cents and a final dividend of 15 cents, taking the total dividend for the year to 20 cents per share. The results come as Fonterra moves through its business reset and into a new phase of growing the value of its business.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the last three years have been about resetting the business. “We’ve stuck to our strategy of maximising the value of our New Zealand milk, moved to a customer-led operating model and strengthened our balance sheet.

“The results and total pay-out we’ve announced today show what we can achieve when we focus on quality execution and an aligned Co-op.

“I want to thank our farmer owners and employees for their hard work and commitment over the last few years that has got us to this position. Together, we’ve shored up foundations and done this despite the challenges of operating in a COVID-19 world.

“Although the higher milk price and tightening margins put pressure on earnings in the final quarter, this is a strong overall business performance, allowing us to deliver $11.6 billion to the New Zealand economy through the total pay-out to farmers. . . 

Hawke’s Bay A&P show cancelled over Delta risk fears – Maja Burry:

The Hawke’s Bay A&P Show, due to be held late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty and risks associated with the Covid-19 Delta outbreak.

Organisers said the executive committee of the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society met last night to review the risks and after significant consideration, made the hard decision to cancel.

The show was scheduled to run from October 20th-22nd. It’s one of the largest in the country and usually attracts 30,000 people to the Tomoana Showgrounds.

Society president Simon Collin said whilst the country was in differing levels of restrictions, and with Covid-19 cases still appearing the country, the event couldn’t go ahead. . . 

Scientists aiming to enhance the `human-ness’ of infant formula

AgResearch scientists think they have identified a unique new way to make infant formula more like breast milk and better for babies, using ingredients that could enhance brain development and overall health.

Research into this next generation infant formula could create new opportunities for New Zealand’s primary industries in a global market worth tens of billions of dollars annually.

With funding over three years recently announced from the government’s 2021 Endeavour Fund, AgResearch scientists Simon Loveday and Caroline Thum, along with collaborators from Massey and Monash Universities, are aiming to enhance the “human-ness” of infant formula produced from New Zealand ingredients.

“We’ve recently discovered a new natural source of nutritional oil that is surprisingly similar to the fat in breast milk,” Dr Thum says. . . 

Demand for NZ apples in India continues to grow – Sally Murphy:

An apple exporter says efforts to grow demand in India are proving fruitful with orders skyrocketing.

Although they only make up a small proportion of total numbers, exports of pip fruit to India have been growing.

Ministry for Primary Industries figures show last year 5.5 percent of apple and pear exports went there, but to July this year exports to India made up 8.2 per cent.

Golden Bay Fruit in Motueka has been exporting apples there for over 20 years. . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/09/2021

Think about us – Rural News:

The dairy sector has a simple message for the Government – please take our plight seriously.

Frustration is rife among farmers because the Government seems to be paying lip service to a crucial sector that has kept the company’s economy buzzing for the past 18 months.

Like most primary producers, dairy farmers have been crying out for more overseas workers. However, it’s becoming clear that the Government isn’t genuine about helping dairy farmers.

In June, the Government announced that it will grant border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, comprising 150 herd managers or assistant farm managers and 50 farm assistants for critical-need areas only. Within that announcement they specified that herd managers be paid a salary of $79,500 and assistant managers a salary of $92,000 per annum. . .

Councils weigh pest impact – Neal Wallace:

Numbers of pests and game animals are rapidly increasing in parts of the country, regional councils report.

Successive mild seasons, reduced hunter pressure and growing resistance to rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), is leading to increased numbers of deer, goats, wallabies and rabbits in many areas.

The Otago Regional Council’s (ORC) environmental implementation manager Andrea Howard says rabbit density differs across the region, but remains high in parts of Central Otago.

“Several factors influence rabbit populations, including lack of consistent control – and secondary control – by landowners, the naturally reducing impact of introduced viruses, climate change, land-use change, urban spread into historically rabbit-prone rural land and associated reduction in available control tools,” Howard said. . .

Escalating women leaders :

To be a good leader, you have to first know your ‘why’, says Ravensdown shareholder and Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme graduate Donna Cram.

“For me it is to connect people across agricultural communities using values-based communication to empower collaboration.”

Cram, a dairy farmer at Wylan Dene farm near Awatuna in South Taranaki, was one of 14 women chosen by AWDT to take part in their annual Escalator programme. It gives women in the food and fibre sector “the mindsets, skills and connections to lead, govern and inspire”.

Cram says the experience has helped her understand more about her own leadership qualities. . . 

Business grew from quest for flooring :

A business was born when some West Otago dairy farmers were floored by a problem.

White River Holstein Friesians owners Paul and Kyllee Henton struggled to find suitable flooring for their 600-cow wintering shed on their 171ha farm in Kelso.

The fruitless search motivated them to research, develop and manufacture their own flooring solution of heavy duty interlocking rubber mats.

They run their mat company Agri-Tech Imports alongside their 580-cow herd operation.

Mrs Henton, a registered veterinarian, said they had run the farm for 15 years after entering an equity partnership with her parents to buy the property. . . 

Tackling challenges of cheese foe decades – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Plucked from the lab and picked for his first production supervisor’s role in his early 20s, Richard Gray has been saying cheese for 23 years.

From test tubes to testing himself in leadership, Fonterra’s general manager of operations for the lower South Island is helping steer the dairy giant through perilous pandemic times.

Based at Edendale in Southland, Mr Gray said it had more or less been business as usual through the alert levels.

‘‘From the supply chain point of view there has been disruption with delays or longer lead time to deliver, but we’re still exporting well. But it’s the timing, having to adjust some of the production planning processes to allow for that longer lead time.’’ . .

Pocket knife fine sparks alarm – Chris McLennan:

Rural Australians have reacted with alarm over a fine dished out to a Queensland man for carrying a pocket knife.

Wayne McLennan, aged 75, was last week fined $100 for unlawful possession of a weapon because of a small pocket knife he carried in a pouch on his belt.

Many country people right around Australia wear the same, either a knife or a multi-tool, not for self-defence but for the hundreds of daily chores they may be called on to do while remote on their properties.

As one farmer said on social media last night, strapping his Leatherman to his belt in the morning was as automatic as pulling on his boots. . .


Rural round-up

22/09/2021

UK identifies case of ‘mad cow disease’ :

British officials have identified a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) said this week that the dead animal had been removed from a farm in Somerset, southwest England, adding there was “no risk to “.

“The UK’s overall risk status for BSE remains at ‘controlled’ and there is no risk to food safety or ,” said Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss.

APHA will launch a “thorough investigation of the herd, the premises, potential sources of infection and will produce a full report on the incident in due course”. . . 

Life split between town and country – Sally Rae:

From singing and shepherding to photography and physiotherapy, Hawea woman Anna Munro has a diverse lifestyle. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her career and her desire to help tell the farming story.

Anna Munro used to think she would love to end up owning a farm.

Now she’s not so sure. After all, the Hawea woman has the best of both worlds, dividing her time between working on Ardgour Station, near Tarras, and as a physiotherapist in Wanaka.

It might seem an unusual combination but, for outdoors-loving Mrs Munro, it suits her down to the proverbial tee. . . 

Mother of all protests on November 21 – Sally Rae:

They are calling it The Mother of All Protests.

Groundswell New Zealand has announced its next protest will be held on Sunday, November 21.

In July, convoys of thousands of tractors and utes took part in the rural group’s national Howl of a Protest event, protesting against what the rural sector says are unworkable government regulations.

Its Enough is Enough message, outlining the group’s concerns, was delivered at the protests, giving the Government a month to address the issues, or it said it would take further action. . . 

Carbon farming biggest change in land use – Nine to Noon:

Concerns the boom in carbon farming will dictate the future of New Zealand’s sheep, beef and production forestry, and questions over who has oversight over what one academic is calling “the biggest change in land use in New Zealand’s modern history”.  Kathryn speaks with Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University Keith Woodford, who says the implications are massive.  Also Forest Owners Association chief executive Phil Taylor, also managing director of the American owned forestry management company Port Blakely. . .

The story of our sunflowers :

The Topflite sunflowers have become something of an icon in Oamaru. Lots of visitors arrive in town asking where to find them and we’ve played host to many a photographer and film crew over the years — even moving one group on after they’d set up their tripods in the centre of the road…

Seeing as we’re gearing up to sow the next crop pretty soon, here’s some background on our little yellow heroes.

We originally grew sunflowers for oil in the 1960s but then moved to growing them for the bird clubs in 1974. People told us we were too far south for sunflowers to grow well but clearly we’ve proved them wrong! Our farms are in a dry area of North Otago and we get reasonably long and hot summers. It turns out that sunflowers grow well here.

October is when we sow the seeds. It’s pretty slow growing until December when the weather heats up. We usually get the first flower by New Year’s Day and by late January the flowers are at their most intense yellow. That’s the time of year to schedule your sunflower selfie! . . 

Agricultural robots market 2021 2021 booming across the globe by share key segments product distribution channel region:

MarketResearch.biz delivers in-depth insights on the global agricultural robots market in its upcoming report titled, “Global Agricultural Robots Market Trends, Applications, Analysis, Growth, and Forecast: 2018 to 2027”.

This report is based on synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of information gathered regarding the target market from various sources. Our analysts have analyzed the information and data and gained insights using a mix of primary and secondary research efforts with the primary objective to provide a holistic view of the market. In addition, an in-house study has been made of the global economic conditions and other economic indicators and factors to assess their respective impact on the market historically, as well as the current impact in order to make informed forecasts about the scenarios in future.

An agricultural robot is an equipment used in farming to improve productivity and reduce reliance on manual labor. These robots help automate tasks carried out by the farmers such as harvesting, weed control, seeding, sorting, and packing, thus allowing farmers to focus more on enhancing overall production yield. . . 

Winter closes quietly – stronger spring anticipated :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were -51 less farm sales (-14.3%) for the three months ended August 2021 than for the three months ended August 2020. Overall, there were 306 farm sales in the three months ended August 2021, compared to 364 farm sales for the three months ended July 2021 (-15.9%), and 357 farm sales for the three months ended August 2020.

1,680 farms were sold in the year to August 2021, 37.3% more than were sold in the year to August 2020, with 153.8% more Dairy farms, 1% more Dairy Support, 24.4% more Grazing farms, 50.8% more Finishing farms and 46.4% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to August 2021 was $27,250 compared to $25,460 recorded for three months ended August 2020 (+7%). The median price per hectare increased0.3% compared to July 2021. . .


Rural round-up

21/09/2021

Down on the Farm – Paul Gorman:

Rural life has always had its challenges, but environmental politics and the complexities of modern farming have brought new pressures. For some, the load becomes too much to carry.

When he was a kid, Sam Spencer-Bower used to help out his grandfather Marmaduke in his massive vegetable garden, just across from the farm cottage where he lived with his parents. He didn’t realise at the time that his grandad was something of a legend in Canterbury farming. His family had worked on this land ever since great-great-grandfather Marmaduke Dixon came from Claxby in Lincolnshire and in 1852 established a large farm in North Canterbury, near the gravelly north bank of the Waimakariri River.

In fact, Marmaduke Dixon was one of the first in New Zealand to irrigate his land, initiating flood irrigation from the Waimakariri before 1900. Sam’s grandfather, Marmaduke Spencer-Bower, farmed the land until he was about 95 and wrote a book about the farm and Marmaduke Dixon’s legacy. In other words, Sam Spencer-Bower — middle name Marmaduke — had a lot to live up to.

By the time his grandfather died at the age of 98, Spencer-Bower was already well on the road to taking over the fifth-generation family farm. He was studying for a degree in farm management at Lincoln University. That’s where he met his wife, Jo, who was herself from a sixth-generation farming family (her brother is former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw). At the time, Jo recalls, she liked the fact that Sam had a “sensitive side”, that he was “not a big showman”. . .

Flood fund criteria way off the mark :

Nearly four months on from the floods that devastated much of rural Canterbury, the Government has fallen short of the promises it made to local farmers, says National MP Nicola Grigg.

“Jacinda Ardern and Damien O’Connor flew into Ashburton with cameras rolling to announce a $4 million Canterbury Flood Recovery Fund – indicating that it was just a start, that they were still working to establish the full scale and cost of the damage – and that there would be more where that came from,” says Grigg who is MP for Selwyn.

She says the fund offers grants of up to 50% of eligible costs with a total limit of $250,000 and will contribute to uninsurable costs to enable productive land to return to a productive state as quickly as possible.

“Essentially, it can only be used for the clearing up of flood debris such as boulders, gravel, trees, and silt on productive land. Insurable costs, such as replacing fences, have not been targeted by the fund.” . .

Farmers weigh weather impact across islands – Neal Wallace & Colin Willscroft:

A wet spring is proving a major challenge for southern South Island farmers, causing sleepy sickness, forcing dairy farmers to milk once-a-day, feed out supplements or stand cows off paddocks.

While annual rainfall is about average, the pattern in which has fallen, with up to 85mm already falling this month, is causing sodden ground conditions, especially on the Southland coast

Otago Federated Farmers meat and wool section chair and Clinton farmer Logan Wallace says a dry autumn meant he went into winter with low pasture cover, which required his hoggets to be sent to grazing. He says much of South Otago is similarly short of feed.

He applied urea, which provided a brief respite before a recent cold snap reduced its effectiveness, and recorded more than 75mm of rain in the week to the middle of September, equivalent to that month’s average rainfall. . . 

Paddocks ablaze with colour as sales plummet for daffodils – Country Life:

Sweep into Clandon Daffodil’s driveway on the outskirts of Hamilton you’ll be treated to an unusually vibrant spectacle.

This year, because of Covid-19 restrictions tens of thousands of unpicked daffodils are dancing in the paddock, unable to be sent to Auckland’s flower market.

Clandon is one of New Zealand’s biggest daffodil growers and owner Ian Riddell says Auckland usually takes three quarters of its daffodils.

“We’re getting plenty of comments from people who come in and are saying ‘wow it’s amazing’…It certainly is a sight. It probably won’t happen again. . . 

Call for SI specific residency visa – Neal Wallace:

An immigration adviser is calling for a rethink on how long-term migrant workers are treated, saying up to 6000 in the South Island face an uncertain future.

Ashburton-based Maria Jimenez says these migrants are employed in healthcare, hospitals, construction and agriculture and have an expectation they could apply for residency after meeting work criteria.

Because of covid’s impact on the immigration office, the Government suspended Expressions of Interest (EOI) selections for the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) last year, closing a pathway to residency for many migrants.

The Government is also resetting immigration policy in a move to reduce the reliance on imported workers. . . 

Public back gene-editing tech as climate worries rise :

The public want farmers to have access to new precision breeding techniques such as gene-editing to respond better to climate change, a new survey says.

It indicates rising concern about the environment following a summer of droughts and heat waves, including the hottest temperatures recorded in Europe since records began.

The YouGov survey of over 2,000 adults, carried out on behalf of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council, shows public enthusiasm for new approaches to farming in light of these extremes.

The majority of those surveyed (81%) agreed that farmers should be able to benefit from innovations that could help them play their role in meeting the UK goal of reaching net-zero by 2050. . . 


Rural round-up

20/09/2021

Lean on a gate, chat to a mate – Toni WIlliams:

‘‘Lean on a gate and talk to a mate’’ is the call from rural health advocate Craig Wiggins.

Mr Wiggins, who farms at Dromore, near Ashburton, has put the message out as a simple mental health campaign to help farmers and others out there struggling.

‘‘I’ve been doing a fair bit of work around farmer support and helping people through some tough times, and especially through Covid,’’ he said.

‘‘We are really, really trying to bridge gaps and talk to people, but it’s just not getting through to some people, and I know that one of the things we can do is just keep checking on each other and talking to those people that you haven’t talked to for quite a while.’’ . .

Agriculture industry voice needs reviewed – Robin Bistrow:

The agricultural industry is being let down in the environmental regulation space, Rural Advocacy Network (RAN) chairman Jamie McFadden says.

Mr McFadden said while Beef+Lamb, Dairy New Zealand and Federated Farmers all operated efficiently in the research space, through on-farm management, environmental issues, floods and gave good sound employment advice, no-one was looking after the farmers at the grassroots level of coping with the avalanche of environmental regulation.

‘‘Farmers are getting cross. Farmers are trying to work with a flood of regulations, but they are having to deal with way too many unworkable regulations,’’ he said.

‘‘They are struggling with the sheer volume of regulations — impractical stuff that is coming through.’’ . . 

Business booming in ‘wop wops’  – Ashley Smyth:

Bex Hayman has made country cool again with her jewellery and accessories brand Whistle & Pop. She makes time to speak to Ashley Smyth, while juggling farm life, lockdown and running a business with three small children.

Talking to Bex Hayman over the phone during lockdown, you can’t help but be buoyed by her enthusiasm.

As we bond over the joys of working from home with three children, she takes a peppering of Nerf bullets from 3-year-old William in her stride. . . 

Young Mackenzie inventors may hold answer to common farming frustration – Keiller MacDuff:

A trio of young inventors from Mackenzie College may have solved an age-old farming problem.

Year 11 and 12 students Amy Hay, 16, Hamish Ryall, 16, and Luke Jordan, 15, invented the Flexi Mat Frostease, a device that can be inserted into water troughs to prevent them from freezing over, as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme (Yes).

The Flexi-Mat is a circular-shaped bladder constructed out of layers of outdoor grade canvas and plastic welded together.

Amy said animals can push the mat down with their nose, allowing water to come up through the milk bottle lid-sized holes. . . 

Jordan Moores from Valli wins award:

Congratulations to Jordan Moores from Valli for becoming the 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker of the Year.

He is thrilled to have taken out the title and very excited to go through to the National Final which will be held in Central Otago for the first time this year in late November. No doubt there will be a large local crowd supporting him in the build up and on the day. “I’m going to give myself the weekend off” he said “and then get back into the study and preparation. It’s really exciting to be going through.”

Congratulations also goes to Hannah Lee for coming second. Hannah is currently on maternity leave, so not only did she impress judges with her great winemaking skills and knowledge, but also her multi tasking skills as in between challenges she managed to check in with her little one who was there with her babysitter. Great work! . . 

UN calls for reform of $540bn farming subsidies to help climate – Emiko Terazono:

The UN is calling for reform of the world’s $540bn in farming subsidies to help the climate and promote better nutrition.

Livestock and food production are among the biggest emitters of carbon but also enjoy the most state support, it says in a new report. Financial support to farmers accounted for 15 per cent of agriculture’s total production value globally, with the figure expected to more than triple to $1.8tn by 2030 if subsidies continue to grow at their current pace, the UN warned.

Agriculture is a big contributor to climate change due to greenhouse gases emitted by deforestation, manure, agricultural chemicals, rice cultivation and burning crop residues. Yet farmers are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, be that extreme heat, rising sea levels, drought, floods or locust attacks. . .


Rural round-up

19/09/2021

Horticulture making a comeback in Taranaki – Robin Martin:

Horticulture is making a comeback in Taranaki.

Avocado and kiwifruit orchards are being planted in numbers not seen since 1988 – when the devastation of Cyclone Bola forced many to convert to dairy.

Dairy farmers Holly and Jarrod Murdoch’s leap into kiwifruit came via a knock at the door from a representative from industry giant Apata.

Holly said the Bay of Plenty company’s approach piqued her husband’s interest in the fruit. . . 

Breaking tech barriers – Tony Benny:

Research shows there are numerous barriers to the uptake in technology by farmers and many of these are interconnected.

Farmers’ reluctance to share data is slowing the adoption of technology that could help transform New Zealand’s food production systems to be more sustainable, resilient and consumer-focused, a study by researchers from AgResearch has found.

The study was part of the New Zealand Bioeconomy in the Digital Age (NZBIDA) project, which aims to test if digital technologies can provide new solutions to many of the issues that farmers face today. . . 

Bumper crop’ of kumera selling at low prices :

Kumara prices are sitting at low levels not seen for nearly a decade.

Warm, dry conditions led to this year’s crop being 35 percent higher than last season – about 25,000 tonnes have been harvested.

Despite a spike in sales during lockdown there is still plenty in storage which is keeping the price low for consumers at between $2.50 and $3.50 a kilo.

Delta Produce group in Dargaville is the country’s largest kumara producer, general manager Lochie Wilson said prices haven’t been this low in nine years. . .

Exploring farming alternatives – Avneesh Vincent:

A Te Tairawhiti research project exploring different land-use preferences shows that Maori landowners overwhelmingly value native forest carbon farming over other land uses.

“The research explores how native forest carbon farming could be used as a land development option for Maori land on the East Coast,” former Victoria University student Dr Leo Mercer said.

“Especially when compared with other dominating land use options, namely forestry, sheep and beef farming.”

A particular emphasis was placed on the applicability and feasibility of native forest carbon farming within Aotearoa’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). . . 

Sustainability score card shows good progress for Fonterra:

Fonterra has released its sustainability score card summarising progress towards its people and environmental targets.

Fonterra COO Fraser Whineray says “transparently reporting across a range of sustainability metrics is very important for our Co-operative. At the time of our annual results release next week we will also publish our fifth Sustainability Report. This covers in detail our activities across business, people and environment, three vital ingredients for a sustainable Co-operative. In advance of that, we are sharing a summarised scorecard covering the people and environmental aspects.”

One of the biggest ones is the 11% reduction in GHG emissions from coal in a single year, primarily through the conversion to renewable wood pellets at our Te Awamutu site. This is a great step towards delivering our 2030 target and our goal of getting out of coal by 2037. . . 

New talent and skills to underpin sector’s future:

New Zealand’s ability to provide high quality protein, fibre and produce to consumers prepared to pay a premium for it is starting to resonate more strongly throughout the primary sector.

This has been bought about in part by customers seeking products with a clearly sustainable provenance and back story that meets their desire to purchase food and fibre that treads with a lighter environmental footprint.

This country’s efforts to measure and ensure farming is sustainable, both environmentally and financially, is also helping create multiple opportunities for the next generation of people who want to stake their career within the primary sector.

The simpler, more commodity-based focus of the past has given way to production of food and fibre that require a wider variety of skills and talent to farm, process, research, and market to an increasingly diverse, sophisticated global market. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/09/2021

Group gets go-ahead to buy Catlins station for forestry – Sally Rae:

Ingka Group — one of 12 different groups of companies that own Swedish furniture and homeware giant IKEA — has got the green light to buy a 5500ha sheep and beef station in the Catlins for forestry development.

Following recent approval by the Overseas Investment Office, an area of 330ha at Wisp Hill , in the Owaka Valley, would soon be planted with radiata pine seedlings

The long-term plan was to have a total of 3000ha — more than three million seedlings — planted in the next five years and the remaining 2200ha would ‘‘naturally regenerate into native bush’’, a statement from the company said.

Ingka Group owns about 248,000ha of forestry in the United States, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. Between September 2019 and August 2020, Ingka Group planted close to seven million seedlings. . . 

The yo-yoing fortunes of the darling of the stock market – The Detail:

It used to be the darling of the share market, racing from 75 cents before sales of its infant milk powder took off, peaking at more than $21 last year.

But the a2 Milk Company’s meteoric rise is now tumbling, struck by complications by Covid.

Today on The Detail Emile Donovan talks to Sam Dickie, a senior portfolio manager at Fisher Funds, to talk about the company’s roller coaster ride, and how one of its greatest strengths – its unusual distribution channel – has become its greatest weakness.

Between 2017 and 2020, a2 Milk’s share price rose more than 900 percent. But over the past 13 months it has fallen by nearly 75 percent. . . 

Unhappy farmers are missing an important point – policy changes are what customers want to see – Craig Hickman:

It is much easier to say no to new ideas and just accept the status quo than it is to embrace change. Change can be scary.

Fonterra changed, it became more honest and transparent in its communication with farmers, and completely transformed the way it deals with the Government. It became better at articulating what it wants from suppliers.

Plenty of farmers don’t like this change, this new collaborative approach, and four years on they are still muttering that the dairy co-op is cosying up to the enemy.

Slowly but surely, with the odd hiccup along the way, farmer advocacy groups like Beef & Lamb, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers have adopted the same approach and given the same reasoning; it’s much more fruitful to work collaboratively with whoever is in power than to shout impotently from the sidelines. . . 

Young Farmer of the Year winners on the wealth of opportunities in ag :

On August 22, 1969, Gary Frazer from Swannanoa was crowned the inaugural Young Farmer of the Year, the same year that the first Fieldays event was launched at Te Rapa Racecourse.

Over 50 years later, the competition still stands as a staple event in the rural calendar and an opportunity for rural youth to come together and showcase their skills, knowledge, and stamina. The current and past Young Farmer of the Year, Jake Jarman and James Robertson, are young agri professionals trailblazing through the primary sector in their respective fields.

Jake Jarman gained the title, 53rd Young Farmer of the Year In July. A couple months later, Jake says the excitement surrounding his win has settled now, and he’s getting back to his normal routine, working as a Relationship Associate at ANZ in Ashburton.

“It was definitely a rollercoaster afterwards with lots of celebratory messages, interviews, emails, and what not, so now things have settled down I’ve got my life back a bit!” . .

OFI to build Tokoroa dairy plant for desserts, beverages, baked goods :

An overseas food ingredients company is planning to build a dairy processing plant in Tokoroa in south Waikato.

Singapore-based Olam Foods International (OFI) said the plant would create 50 to 60 full time jobs when fully operational.

OFI expected the first stage of the new investment would be completed in the Spring of 2023. This would involve the construction of a spray dryer facility, capable of producing high-value dairy ingredient products.

OFI has dairy operations in Russia, Uruguay and Malaysia and also grows and sources cocoa, coffee, nuts and spices from other countries. . . 

Commission releases final report on its review of Fonterra’s base milk price :

The Commerce Commission has today released its final report on Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price it will pay farmers in the 2020/21 dairy season.

The Commission found that Fonterra’s forecast price of $7.45 – $7.65 per kilogram of milk solids for the season is calculated in a way that is likely to be consistent with the requirements of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

The key areas of the Commission’s focus in this year’s review were two components of the cost of capital (the asset beta and specific risk premium), the appropriateness of provisions for asset stranding, and the inclusion of instantised milk powder as a reference product in the calculation of the base milk price. . . 


Rural round-up

17/09/2021

Migrant exodus felt in Mid Canterbury – Adam Burns:

The departure of migrant workers thwarted by visa frustrations offshore is adding sting to mid Canterbury’s depleted rural sector.

Growing uncertainty amid stalled immigration settings for migrant workers was forcing New Zealand resident hopefuls to keep their options open with Australia’s agricultural sector dangling the carrot.

Ashburton immigration advisor Maria Jimenez said several Filipino workers had joined the worker exodus to Australia and many more had signalled an interest.

“There’s no pathway to residency,” she said. . .

Pacific corridor brings some relief to Otago orchards – Anuja Nadkarni:

But closed borders to travellers has still cut off supply to a third of the industry’s workforce.

Central Otago cherry farms have been some of the hardest-hit by the labour shortages. 

The region, like many in horticulture and agriculture, has relied on a workforce heavily dominated by foreign workers.

While last week’s announcement that one-way quarantine-free travel corridor for vaccinated workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme would commence from October brought some relief, growers in the region were continuing to face challenges with filling up roles. . . 

ORC pleased with grazing compliance – Hamish MacLean:

The bird’s-eye views that winter grazing monitoring flights give Otago Regional Council staff have revealed no major breaches on Otago farms this year.

The farm monitoring flights, over three months this year, resulted in 140 follow-ups scheduled by compliance staff, council compliance manager Tami Sargeant said.

But the majority of the potential breaches identified were not related to current rules, but to new winter grazing standards, which had not yet taken effect, she said.

“In those cases, our aim is to help educate landowners about the upcoming rules and ensure they will be compliant when the rules come into force,” she said.

Ms Sargeant said staff were pleased with the level of compliance. . . 

We managed to toilet train cows (and they learned faster than a toddler). It could help combat climate change -Douglas Elliffe & Lindsay Matthews:

Can we toilet train cattle? Would we want to?

The answer to both of these questions is yes — and doing so could help us address issues of water contamination and climate change. Cattle urine is high in nitrogen, and this contributes to a range of environmental problems.

When cows are kept mainly outdoors, as they are in New Zealand and Australia, the nitrogen from their urine breaks down in the soil. This produces two problematic substances: nitrate and nitrous oxide.

Nitrate from urine patches leaches into lakes, rivers and aquifers (underground pools of water contained by rock) where it pollutes the water and contributes to the excessive growth of weeds and algae. . . 

Wool farmers see potential salvation in new products for builders, architects – Bonnie Flaws:

The strong wool sector is setting its hopes on the development of new products that could be used in building and manufacturing to increase income for farmers.

While the merino wool market continued to perform, the strong wool sector was in crisis due to competition from synthetic fibres, said The Campaign for Wool New Zealand chairman Tom O’Sullivan​.

The price of strong wool was about $2.50 a kilogram. The cost of shearing sheep was now higher than the value of the wool, O’Sullivan​ said.

But his hope was that the price of strong wool could eventually be on par with merino, which sold for between $15 and $20 a kilogram. At the very least farmers needed to break even, he said. . . 

Kiwifruit companies to amalgamate :

Northland kiwifruit growers will be delivered a stronger service following the proposed amalgamation of Kerikeri-based Orangewood Limited with a wholly owned subsidiary of Seeka Limited.

In a conditional agreement announced 14 September 2021, Orangewood shareholders are being offered 0.6630 new Seeka shares and $1.35 in cash for every Orangewood share.

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks says the deal will further expand Seeka’s operations in the key Northland growth region and deliver a great service to growers. . . 


Rural round-up

16/09/2021

‘I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of’ dairy farmers under siege – Joanne Wane:

Dairying has been so demonised for damaging the planet that the children of some Kiwi farmers have been beaten up at school, writes Joanna Wane. Two families who’ve been on the land for five generations talk back.

Northland dairy farmer Hal Harding describes his daughter, Anna, as “a bit of an eco warrior”. The pair work alongside each other on land south of Dargaville that his early-settler ancestors bought back in 1877. But when Anna moved back home just before Covid struck, after a few years in Europe, she was having serious doubts about whether the life she’d been born into was on the right side of history.

“In the UK, there were plant-based cafes popping up left, right and centre,” she says. “I started to think, ‘Is that what we should be doing? Is dairying bad? Is this stuff all these people are telling me true?’ There were facts for one side, and facts for the other that were just as convincing. But it felt too easy to say, ‘Just eat plants and the planet will be saved.’ When I heard about this whole regenerative farming thing, I was like ‘Thank God’. My gut feeling landed; it felt right.”

The Hardings have hand-planted thousands of native trees to reforest parts of the property and adapted their farming practices to nurture soil health by minimising the use of pesticides and commercial fertilisers. They’re also planning to move away from the traditional grazing regime. For Anna, who’s now 30, it’s about believing that a different model of farming can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, at a time when the agricultural sector is increasingly under siege. . . 

Unskilled pruning of labour force is rotten policy :

The Government’s confirmation of the availability of Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from selected countries is not enough to fix its rotten approach to labour supply, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“Prior to the Delta Covid outbreak the Government announced the availability of RSE workers from certain countries.

“While the Government’s decision to approve some RSE workers may provide some token assistance, it won’t change the fundamental flaws in a labour supply policy that’s rotten to the core.

“For example, we see 15 per cent increases in labour costs in the kiwifruit industry, and an apple industry that still has a gap in the loss of the backpacker labour supply. . . 

Low venison prices leave farmers frustrated – Maja Burry:

A deer industry leader is worried farmers will start exiting the sector if venison prices don’t improve.

Covid-19’s impact on the restaurant trade worldwide has come as a major blow, with deer farmers now facing depressed prices for the second year in a row.

The latest figures from AgriHQ show in July 2021 venison average export values fell short of the five-year average of $13.75/kg by $3.67/kg, and was $1.28/kg below July last year.

Deer Farmers Association chairperson John Somerville said the organisation recently shared the concerns of many farmers in a letter to all of New Zealand’s venison marketing company chief executives. . . 

Meat pushes food prices to fifth successive rise:

Food prices rose 0.3 percent in August 2021 compared with July 2021, mainly influenced by higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish, and restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food, Stats NZ said today.

Though modest, August’s movement is the fifth consecutive monthly rise. After adjusting for seasonality, prices rose 0.2 in August 2021.

Meat, poultry, and fish prices were up 1.3 percent in August, mainly influenced by higher prices for roasting pork (up 11 percent), sausages (up 3.5 percent), lamb chops (up 5.4 percent), and porterhouse and sirloin steak (up 2.3 percent). This was partly offset by lower prices for chicken pieces (down 3.3 percent).

Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose 0.4 percent, influenced by higher prices for some takeaway food. . .

Why would you want to own a forest? – The Detail:

The forestry industry is beset by supply chain issues, port disruptions, oversupply in China, sky-high shipping rates, the Delta disaster …. and that’s before you even look at the difficulties of cutting down the trees.

On top of that the industry gets a bad rap from the rural sector for being a ‘spray and walk away’ business that’s eating up valuable grazing land, for damage done to the landscape, and for contributing to a lack of employment.

So why would anyone invest in a forest?

Forestry is not for the faint-hearted – but for the persistent, there are good rewards. . . 

Netherlands proposes radical plans to cut livestock numbers by almost a third – Senay Boztas:

Dutch farmers could be forced to sell land and reduce the amount of animals they keep to help lower ammonia pollution.

Dutch politicians are considering plans to force hundreds of farmers to sell up and cut livestock numbers, to reduce damaging ammonia pollution.

After the highest Dutch administrative court found in 2019 that the government was breaking EU law by not doing enough to reduce excess nitrogen in vulnerable natural areas, the country has been battling what it is calling a “nitrogen crisis”.

Daytime speed limits have been reduced to 100kmph (62mph) on motorways to limit nitrogen oxide emissions, gas-guzzling construction projects were halted and a new law pledges that by 2030 half of protected nature areas must have healthy nitrogen levels. . . 

 


Rural round-up

15/09/2021

Give sheep and beef farmers a voice – James Hoban:

Trying to unite farmer advocacy groups is well intentioned but misguided, writes James Hoban. 

Recently I ran into a well known environmental activist who I had not seen for several years. He asked me what I thought the future of farming was and I disappointed myself by answering; “Dim, for sheep and beef, unless we can sort some major issues out,” without hesitating.

Grandparenting is a term we have become increasingly familiar with. Numerous examples of it have seen sheep and beef farmers disadvantaged in favour of more intensive land users. It is also the key reason why Groundswell’s call for one farming voice is flawed and why efforts by industry organisations to join forces for political lobbying are short sighted.

Despite widespread acknowledgement that grandparenting is wrong, it continues to be favoured by the Government. Grandparenting is used for triggering resource consent requirements in the recent winter grazing regulations and in the greenhouse gas emissions framework. While the Government has watched grandparenting tear rural communities apart, it continues to use it as the basis for controversial policies. . . 

A growing revolt – Chris McCullough:

Farmers across the world are jumping into their tractors and setting off in convoys to cities in order to make their voices heard. For too long now farmers have had to go along with whatever wacky decisions their governments have bestowed upon them, but that attitude has changed dramatically recently and it’s no more Mr Nice Guy.

As words fell deaf on politicians’ ears the Kiwi farmers did what their European counterparts have become used to and that meant a tractor trip to the city. French farmers are the world professionals of protesting as they ensure the French government, the European Commission and the public feel their anger. The EC insists its farm support subsidies will only be distributed if farmers comply with tougher greener environmental agriculture, provoking a revolt. . . 

Mixed reactions to road funding – Richard Rennie:

Despite the scale of the Government’s $24 billion-plus transport plan, mayors in some provincial regions are challenging the adequacy of funding for rural roading networks.

Auckland accounts for the lion’s share of the national land transport programme at $7.3b, but Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Manawatū, Canterbury and Otago are also swallowing $6.1b of the funds over the plan’s 2021-24 lifespan.

Ashburton District Council mayor Neil Brown said he was underwhelmed by the $1.2b allocated to Canterbury and just how much would be available to his council’s district as it continues to recover from  devastating floods in late May.

“When you look at general repairs and maintenance allocated, we did get more than the last three year plan, but it is only 1.6% more,” Brown said. . . 

Plea for more countries to be added to visa scheme for RSE workers :

A major horticulture group wants more countries added to the visa scheme for seasonal orchard and vineyard workers.

One-way quarantine-free travel by workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu will start from next month, under the ‘recognised seasonal employer’ or RSE scheme.

Up to 14,400 people will be allowed in for the 2021-22 harvest.

Apples and Pears chief executive Alan Pollard said the industry is ready, and wanting to bring in as many people as possible. . . 

 

Taihape teaching farm transfer: Ombudsman says Education Ministry ‘unreasonable’ – Phil Pennington:

The Chief Ombudsman has found the Education Ministry was wrong to take a small farm used for agricultural lessons off a Taihape school.

Locals have won an apology but cannot get the farm back.

Townsfolk joined forces to buy the 13-hectare block cheaply from a local farmer, put hundreds of sheep and cattle on it three decades ago, and it has since been central to the curriculum.

But the ministry first took it, then disposed of it, several years ago despite the town’s protests. . . 

How Sri Lanka’s overnight flip to total organic farming has led to an economic disaster – Samyak Pandey:

Sri Lanka has been hit by a serious economic emergency even as it struggles to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dwindling foreign exchange reserves, a sinking currency and soaring food inflation have come together to create a crisis which is unprecedented even by the record of the island nation that was torn by civil war for decades.

The surge in food prices and a real fear of hoarding of essential food items was the last straw that forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to impose the economic emergency on 31 August under the public security ordinance.

At the root of this economic catastrophe is a bizarre overnight flip by Rajapaksa’s government on 29 April to ban the import of chemical fertilisers and any other agrochemicals to make the Indian Ocean nation the first in the world to practice organic-only agriculture. . . 


Rural round-up

14/09/2021

What sounds good may not be – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 “The carbon market is based on the lack of delivery of an invisible substance to no one.”

This was investigative journalist Mark Schapiro’s description in a 2010 article in Harper’s Magazine, under the title of ‘Conning the climate’. The problem? The lack of ability to verify what was going on.

This, he explained, contrasts with traditional commodities, which must be delivered to someone in physical form. Schapiro avoided ‘the emperor has no clothes’ analogy but indicated that the people benefitting from the trading game were auditing companies who weren’t always employing appropriate people. He used the terms ‘flawed, inadequate, and overall failure to assign assessors with the proper technical skills’.

There are lessons in this for New Zealand. . . 

Industry withers in spring as strict lockdown rules bite:

The commercial flower industry is being left out in the cold in this latest lockdown. It’s an industry that can’t close its doors and get a wage subsidy to pay its staff. It’s a constant process of planting, toil and regeneration, National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“Commercial growers are unable to send their products to market despite sales channels being open to other products. One grower told me they can buy ‘donuts and alcohol, but not flowers’.

“Horticulturists have been selfless and patient in complying with lockdowns like other New Zealanders. However, they do expect a fair playing field where they can undertake contactless delivery with consumers and other essential service retailers. . .

Latest lift in auction prices is an encouraging sign for the fortunes of dairy farmers – Point of Order:

The good  news   was  running  in  favour  of  New Zealand’s  meat  producers early this week.  Today it is running in  favour  of our  dairy  farmers.

The  first  Fonterra  global  dairy  trade  auction in  three weeks  had  the  most  bidders  in  a  year and  charted  prices  on   a  rising  trend,  confirming  the  firm  tone  at the  previous  event   was  not  a  one-off.

The global dairy trade price index posted its biggest increase since early March, when it jumped 15%.

The key WMP product rose 3.3%, SMP was up 7.3% and both butter and cheese each rose almost 4%. Prices rose 4% overall in USD terms, although they were only up 1.2% in NZD terms, held back by a firming currency. . . .

Council’s waste plan puts Manawatū food production at risk – Emma Hatton:

Landowners in Manawatū are anxious their plots will be swept up in plans for the country’s largest-ever wastewater to land treatment system.

Productive land is caught up in the Palmerston North City Council’s proposal to discharge treated wastewater onto between 760 and 2000 hectares, instead of primarily into the Manawatū River.

Peter Wells’ family has been on the land since 1884. He and his wife run a farm and a wedding business on it.

“We would likely be included in the 760, certainly in the 2000. . . 

MPI expecting small number of M bovis infections this spring – Maja Burry:

More cases of the cattle disease M bovis are expected this spring, with bulk tank milk testing last month picking up 61 farms requiring further investigation.

The government has been working to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis since 2018. As part of that work, so far 172,000 cattle from 268 farms have been culled and $209.4 million has been paid in compensation to affected farmers.

Figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries show at moment there are just two farms, both in Canterbury, actively infected with M bovis.

MPI’s director of the M bovis eradication programme Stuart Anderson said it wouldn’t be surprised to see a small number of new cases this spring. . .

Orphan lamb rearing with Kerry Harmer

Kerry Harmer and her husband Paul farm Castleridge Station in the Ashburton Gorge and were concerned about the economic loss associated with lamb wastage, as well as the animal welfare implications.

Determined to address the issue, the couple have set up a lamb-rearing system – which includes automatic feeders – that minimises lamb losses and generates a profit of $50/head (including labour costs).

Kerry was a popular presenter on Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Ladies’ Virtual Muster and joins Regional Associate Briar Huggett to discuss the Harmers’ journey and tips and tricks she has for other lamb rearers. . .

CSIRO, governments and industry put $150m into farm sector research – Kath Sullivan:

Increased exports, drought mitigation and new foods are at the centre of $150 million in research spending by governments and Australia’s farming industry.

It is hoped that the CSIRO-led research will help generate an additional $20 billion of value for Australia’s farm sector by the 2030.

CSIRO has committed an initial $79 million, with governments and industry kicking in $71 million, to fund the five-year research program, which will involve three key “missions”.

“We’ve decided to really focus our efforts on three big challenges that we think are existential for farming in Australia,” CSIRO agriculture and food deputy director Michael Robertson said. . . 


Rural round-up

13/09/2021

Carbon farming will determine the future of sheep, beef and production forestry – Keith Woodford :

The carbon price is now high enough to change land-use sufficiently to blow away sheep and beef, but too low to significantly influence emission behaviours elsewhere

The concept of ‘carbon farming’ has been around for a long time. I recall carbon farming discussions with my colleagues at University of Queensland back in the early 1990s, but the industry has taken a long time to finally arrive.  Well, it is now here. And it has the potential to overwhelm not only the sheep and beef industries, but also have big impacts on the timber industry.

It is only six weeks since I wrote an article setting out that carbon farming is now considerably more attractive than sheep and beef on the hard North Island hill country. Then two weeks later I extended that analysis to the easier hill country. In a more recent article focusing on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), I mentioned that the same conclusion could be drawn for considerable parts of the South Island. All of those can be found archived at my own site https://keithwoodford.wordpress.com in the forestry category. . . 

South American curbs on beef exports bode well for NZ’s prospects – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s beef exports may suddenly be  in high demand from  overseas  markets, in   the  wake  of  the world’s largest beef exporter, Brazil, suspending its beef exports to its No. 1 customer, China, after confirming two cases of “atypical” mad cow disease in two separate domestic meat plants.

China and Hong Kong buy more than half of Brazil’s beef exports.   NZ’s  sales are relatively  modest, by comparison, but  reached  36%   of  our total  beef  exports   last  season.

The  other  big exporter  to  China,  Argentina,  in  June  decided  to   restrict  exports, with the  aim of  boosting domestic  supply.  Argentinian beef exports are to be  limited to 50% of the average monthly volume exported from July to December 2020. . .

Picking the better way to a better asparagus future:

Picking the way to a better asparagus future with robotic harvesting

A robotic asparagus harvester project led by growers and supported by the Government is set to reinvigorate the New Zealand asparagus industry, by alleviating ongoing labour challenges.

The New Zealand Asparagus Council (NZAC) and Tauranga-based Robotics Plus will work alongside New Zealand asparagus growers to develop a world-first commercial-scale autonomous robotic asparagus harvester to help address ongoing labour shortages in the industry and support growers to tap into high-value export markets.

The Government’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund is contributing $2.6 million to the $5.83 million project. . . 

September is bee awareness month:

This month is Bee Awareness Month and over the past 12 years Kiwis have celebrated our hard-working bees.

Not only do our bees produce a vital food source, as commercial pollinators they also play critical roles in our food chain, biodiversity and $5 billion Apiculture economy.

New Zealand has a healthy bee population with over 900,000 registered hives, however, we can’t get complacent about bee health. Bees all over the world face a range of threats including: biosecurity, climate change, disease, bugs and pesticides. If you want to play your part in supporting healthy bee populations, here are some simple and easy things you can do to help our bees. . . 

Scholarship gives young people boost into beekeeping career :

Young people interested in a beekeeping career are being encouraged to apply for the annual Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship, sponsored by Mossop’s Honey and Apiculture New Zealand.

The scholarship was set up three years ago as a way of giving young people the best possible start in the apiculture industry. The scholarship includes $2000 to be put towards best practice training and/or set up costs. It also includes membership of industry body Apiculture New Zealand for a year and attendance at the industry’s national conference in the year of the award.

Last year’s recipient, Bay of Plenty 18-year-old Angus Brenton-Rule, says the scholarship provided valuable support in his first year of beekeeping. As well as allowing him to buy resources to kick-start his career, Angus welcomed the opportunity to make connections with the wider industry through his membership of Apiculture New Zealand and his attendance at their June conference. “Conference was a really great opportunity to meet other beekeepers and hear about what’s happening in other parts of the country. I learnt lots.” . . 

Building community trust in agriculture – Jeannette Severs:

Call it social license, social trust or community trust – the bottom line is that consumers need a sense of connection with farmers in order to trust and rely upon their services and produce.

Personal relationships make the difference. That is the finding from a research project asking Australians how they feel about primary industries. It is also the experience of farmers engaged in paddock to plateagribusinesses. So why is there a critical belief that Australians don’t trust farmers?

Is it a beat-up of opinion circulated by commentators and mainstream media? Is it fed by the reactive responses of agri-industry organisations to criticism of Australian primary production?

The Community Trust in Rural Industries Program, funded by a number of industry research and development corporations in partnership with the National Farmers’ Federation and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries is a four-year project that analyses community perceptions of primary production – agriculture, fishery and forestry.  . .


Rural round-up

12/09/2021

DOC shouldn’t get another crack at a failed project :

The Department of Conservation should the pull the pin on a failed Mackenzie Basin project and return the unspent money to Treasury, National’s Conservation spokesperson, and MP for Waitaki, Jacqui Dean says.

“The Tū Te Rakiwhānoa Drylands project was allocated $2.3 million dollars in the 2018 Budget. $1.4 million of that has already been spent and yet the project has now gone back to the ‘design’ phase with a new business case being put together.

“It’s appalling that three years in and more than a million dollars down the drain the project scope and timeframes for completion are not known and are not expected to be known until June 2022. . . .

Rural New Zealand rejecting more regulation from Labour:

More than 13,000 New Zealanders have told the Government to stop raining regulations on our rural communities, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“National launched a petition to call on Labour to give rural New Zealand a break and to drop their latest regulatory burden in the form of the Water Services Bill, which would expose rural water schemes to unnecessary and onerous compliance,” Ms Kuriger says.

“In just a short space of time more than 13,000 people and counting have signed the petition – sending a clear message to Labour to ease the burden on our rural communities.”

“Our petition calls on Labour, and other parties, to back National’s change to the legislation, which would exempt small water suppliers like farm schemes that supply fewer than 30 endpoint users,” Mr Luxon says. . . 

The right tree in the right place – David Williams:

Pāmu wants to establish 10,000 hectares of new plantation forest by 2030, David Williams writes in this content partnership article

Away from the conflict about forestry – fears of entire farms being planted in trees, and the slow death of rural communities – state-owned farmer Pāmu is quietly making the economics of tree-planting work.

Farming is the core business for Pāmu (which means “to farm” in Māori), the trading name for Landcorp Farming. Forestry has been seen as a sideline. “But it’s bloody not,” Pāmu’s environment manager Gordon Williams says. “It’s actually a production system for the land that should not be pastorally farmed.”

That system is starting to pay off. . . 

Lockdown sees fewer farm dogs being adopted :

A charity that helps rehome retired working dogs says fewer people have been adopting due to the lockdown.

Natalie Smith set up the Retired Working Dogs charity back in 2012 when working at a vet clinic she saw a need for farm dogs to find new homes.

Some are retired as they are older but some are young dogs who did not quite make the cut to work on the farm.

Smith said it was normal for adoptions to drop off in the winter but lockdown had made things worse. . . 

Government staffer receives NZ apple and pear industry award:

For the first time in the award’s eight year history, a government official has been awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry accolade. At the recent pipfruit industry conference hosted by industry organisation NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI), the coveted award was presented to John Randall, a Plant Exports Senior Adviser at Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for his influence and collaboration with industry.

Past recipients have come from diverse areas within or supporting the pipfruit industry including research bodies, industry organisations and member companies. However, this year the honour was given to a person working in government in Wellington.

“Most, if not all previous recipients lived or worked in New Zealand’s growing regions and were familiar to everyone in the apple and pear industry. This year saw someone receive the award who may not be familiar to everyone,” said export industry Market Access Advisory Group (MAAG) member Simon Thursfield. . . 

Max Gogel, Tom Kelly share stories of shearing industry start – Julia Wythes:

SOME people are born to do a certain job, as was the case for shearers Tom Kelly and Max Gogel.

Despite picking up a handpiece for the first time decades apart, their journey to the shearing shed started exactly the same way.

Max Gogel’s time as a professional shearer has only been a few short years but the youngster from Sherlock dreamed of becoming a shearer in childhood.

His father Craig was a shearer, and Max spent his days in the sheds with him. . .


Rural round-up

11/09/2021

No sector agreement on new methane target – David Anderson:

Despite agreement among farm industry bodies that the current methane targets for the sector are excessive, not based on science and need to be changed, there is currently no plan in place to achieve this.

That’s the claim of agricultural consultant Steven Cranston, following a recent meeting of pan sector voices with Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel and Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.

Cranston says one of the main concerns raised at the meeting, organised by North Otago farmer Jane Smith and held in Wellington last month, was the lack of a coherent strategy to get the methane emissions reduction target reduced (currently 24 to 47% by 2050). . . 

Visa frustrations push Timaru dairy worker towards Australia – Chris Tobin:

Ariel Ocon has been working on South Island dairy farms for 13 years, but visa frustrations have him seriously considering heading to Australia with his family.

“To stay here legally I had to apply for a work to residence visa. They (Immigration NZ) said you will wait for 16 months from the time you applied. I applied in 2019, and I’m still waiting,” Ocon, who works on a farmer near Timaru, said.

“I just received an email from them saying in two months they would allocate a case officer to process my application. I still haven’t got a case officer.”

Ocon’s frustration comes as Australia has provided financial incentives attempting to attract New Zealand immigrant dairy workers to relocate there. Ocon knows other Filipino workers who have already opted to leave. . . 

Animal welfare crisis looms as Minister butchers opportunity :

An animal welfare crisis is looming as Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor fails to pay attention to what’s going on around him, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“Last year, during the first Covid lockdown, the Government spent $5.8 million buying 12,000 pig carcasses from overstocked farms and donating them to charity.

“If they hadn’t done this, we would have had an animal welfare problem of significant scale on our hands.

“Now the issue is looming again in this current lockdown and Minister O’Connor is missing in action.

“The Government’s stubborn refusal to allow butcher shops to open during all Covid levels is based on the reasoning that they are riskier than standing in a queue, or shopping at, supermarkets and dairies. . . 

Native trees to be planted on unusable forestry land to protect waterways – Bonnie Flaws:

One of the country’s largest forestry plantation owners, Aratu Forests, has signed a 90-year agreement with eLandNZ to plant native trees on unusable land, creating permanent buffers alongside waterways.

The partnership, brokered by law firm Anderson Lloyd, plans to stop forestry waste, such as logs, from being washed into waterways by planting native trees on otherwise unusable stretches of land across 33,000 hectares of forestry plantation, mostly in the Gisborne region, forestry law specialist Dan Williams​ said.

About 170 ha of riparian land would be planted this year, according to the eLandNZ website. . . 

Avocado exports face headwinds this year – Hugh Stringleman:

Avocado growers have been told to expect substantial falls in orchard gate returns (OGR) for their fruit harvested this spring and summer, mainly because of avocado oversupply in Australia.

The average price per 5.5kg tray across all sizes will be well down on the average OGRs for the past five years of $23 for fruit that was exported.

Last season was particularly good for growers, who received $26/tray and $42,000/ha OGR across slightly more than 4000ha in production, half of which is in Bay of Plenty.

Primor chief executive John Carroll says the new export season began on September 1, with some air freight to Asian markets and the first shipments to Australian supermarkets. Primor is a partner in the joint venture company Avoco, the majority exporter of avocados. .

No waster farm to plate – Rebecca Fox:

After his first visit to Queenstown, chef Ryan Henley said to himself  that is where he would retire to. But he has not had to wait that long, Rebecca Fox discovers.

Ryan Henley has his butcher’s knife out and is about to start cutting up a side of wagyu beef that has just arrived.

It is an unusual sight in a hotel kitchen to see a 400kg side of beef lying there.

But Henley would not have it any other way. His new job as executive chef at QT Queenstown means he can call the shots.

That means following his no-wastage, farm-to-plate ethos and dealing direct with producers, preferably as local as possible. . .

 

Farm alarm as more taxes spent launching another fake meat company – Chris McLennan:

Another big government authority has spent millions of taxpayer money to launch a fake meat company.

This time it is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which has spent $5 million to support Sydney-based startup All G Foods through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

All G Foods plans to soon have plant-based and alternative proteins on the shelves of national supermarket chain IGA including mince, sausages, chicken, bacon and animal-free dairy products.

The new company won $16 million in seed funding. . .


Rural round-up

10/09/2021

Austrian company given consent to buy 2018ha farm for forestry conversion – Rebecca Ryan:

More farmland is set to be converted into forestry in the Waitaki.

An Austrian company has been given consent to buy a 2018ha sheep and beef farm at Mount Trotter, near Palmerston.

The Overseas Investment Office approved the sale of the farm to 100% Austrian-owned company Cerberus Vermogensverwaltung GmbH, from Peter and Susan Lawson, as trustees of the Lawson Family Trust, for $8.5million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 1524ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees, and has received resource consent to do so. Planting is expected to start next year, and the trees would be harvested in 26 to 32 years. . . 

Flower farmers forced to bin or mulch harvest due to restrictions – Ella Stewart:

Under alert level 4 flower growers aren’t able to sell or distribute their goods. This means months of work and beautiful flowers are going straight into the bin.

On Saturday, Auckland-based flower grower Aila Morgan Guthrie took to her Instagram page to voice her frustration.

“I’ve just finished my harvest for the day and this is only one days’ harvest. It’s going to be the same tomorrow and the same after that and we’ve still got two more weeks of level 4 lockdown and we can’t sell them.

“Is there anyone out there in government or with contacts to government that can help us figure out how we can advocate for flower farmers in level 4. We’re one of the only businesses that have perishable goods that we can’t sell. All meat, fruit, veg – that can all be sold – but as for us, you know well, what do I do with this? This is all just going to go in the compost heap.” . . 

Hope tool can eliminate American Foulbrood –  Shawn McAvinue:

A new technology helping fight against a bee-killing disease is a “massive breakthrough”, an Otago apiarist says.

New Zealand Alpine Honey owner and Project CleanHive chairman Peter Ward, of Hawea, said he ran about 5000 hives across Otago, Southland and the West Coast.

The operation was one of the biggest in the South Island.

He had been beekeeping for nearly 45 years and the highly contagious American Foulbrood disease was a “constant concern”. . . 

Campaign for Wool reveals strategic direction:

Change is on the horizon and the future is bright.

That’s the message from The Campaign for Wool who has this week unveiled a dynamic short-term strategy that aims to help turn the tide on the struggles faced by New Zealand wool growers.

Campaign for Wool Chairman Tom O’Sullivan – himself a fourth-generation sheep farmer – says the strategy heralds a turning point for the wool industry, and growers should take heart. “I believe we’re at an important crossroads for strong wool,” he says. “Globally, consumers are starting to actively seek out natural and renewable products. We’re acting as quickly as we can, putting a short-term strategy in place that effectively triples our investment into the projects and resources required to leverage this sea change.”

The Campaign for Wool NZ Strategy 2021-2022 aims to deliver greater consumer awareness of wool fibre options through an integrated public campaign. “We know that when people are more aware of how wool benefits their lives, they’re more likely to purchase it,” says Tom. “That’s one way demand will grow, so an important focus for us is education and fostering a greater understanding of wool’s many qualities.” . . 

Farmers urged to enable staff to get vaccinations :

Farmers should do all they can to enable and encourage their staff to get their COVID vaccinations, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I know dairy farms are flat tack with calving and workforce shortages have never been worse. But there’s nothing more important than your family’s health, and that of your staff and their families.”

It would certainly help if district health boards booked a hall in some smaller towns for well-advertised-in-advance day clinics.

“If it’s possible to combine getting a jab with a trip into town for the next supermarket shop, or to pick up supplies from Farmlands or Wrightsons, try to make it happen. It’s part of being a good boss,” Chris said. . . 

Fall in dairy and forestry demand hits commodity prices :

Weakening demand for dairy and forestry exports saw commodity prices fall in August.

The ANZ Bank’s World Commodity Price Index dropped 1.6 percent last month, as dairy and wood products retreat from the extreme highs these hit earlier this year.

The dairy sub index fell 4 percent month on month, with whole milk powder, a key driver of farmer’s returns, falling 6.5 percent.

Forestry prices fell sharply, down 6.6 percent in August, as high overseas demand for logs started to ease. . . 


Rural round-up

09/09/2021

We need to step up water resilience resourcing and leadership  :

News that development work on the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme has been halted should be deeply troubling to every resident of the Wairarapa, the region’s Federated Farmers President David Hayes says.

“Water storage is critical to the future of our towns and rural hinterland, to employment, production and the health of our rivers and wider environment.”
The Wakamoekau scheme was seen as a foundation block of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy.

“It’s highly concerning we have stumbled at the first step,” David said.
“I grew up in South Australia – the driest state on the driest continent. I’ve seen how severe water shortages undercut so many aspects of life.

“The Wairarapa must not underestimate the shock that climate change-accelerated lack of water will mean to our Wairarapa communities and to the environment. It is time to act! . . 

Grape shortage to hit winegrowers in pocket – Maja Burry:

The wine industry is bracing for two consecutive years of falling export revenue due to tight grape supplies.

Latest industry figures show in the year to June export value was down 3 percent to $1.87 billion, the first fall in export value in 26 years.

New Zealand winegrowers chief executive Phillip Gregan said the sector had experienced strong growth over a number of years, but it was now being constrained by a lack of supply.

“Despite the fact that we had a record harvest in 2020, our winery simply did not have the volume of wine available to them to support market growth for the whole for the whole year. And so we saw the first decline in wine exports.” . . 

Long hours at a busy time of year – Toni Williams:

Husband and wife Vincent and Rebecca Koopmans, like their farming peers, have been putting in some long hours during Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Mr Koopmans is a dairy farmer, near Methven, and Mrs Koopmans a primary school teacher reaching out to pupils about ongoing learning under Covid restrictions.

‘‘Although it is business as usual during lockdown and we are very proud to be an essential service, it’s not life as normal and lockdown does still add pressure on farmers,’’ Mr Koopmans said.

‘‘We are lucky to be in a position to continue working, and providing work for our team as well, but like everyone else we are hoping this [Covid] outbreak is contained soon.’’ . . 

Comvita partners with celebrity brand promoter Caravan:

Mānuka honey exporter Comvita is teaming up with one of America’s most powerful sports and entertainment agencies to market a new line of products.

Comvita has announced a new partnership with the US brand development company Caravan, which is a joint venture with talent agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which represents celebrities and sports stars such as Nicole Kidman, Lady Gaga and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Caravan helps high profile individuals build companies around their personal brands. . . 

Lockdown auction achieves record sale price :

The sale of a Tatua dairy supply farm has just set a new price-per-hectare record in the Waikato.

The rural property has also set an agency record as the most expensive property sold by Bayleys via live virtual auction since lockdown restrictions were put into place more than two weeks ago.

Alert level four lockdown restrictions didn’t allow Bayleys country real estate agent Mike Fraser-Jones much time to come to grips with the technological nuances of live virtual auctions. . . 

 

Property investors buzzing as honey warehouse up for sale:

The land and building housing the regional operations for one of New Zealand’s premier honey harvesting and retail companies has been placed on the market for sale.

The substantial site in the Waikato township of Te Awamutu features a 1,885-square metre building sitting on 5,226 square metres of freehold land zoned commercial 8A. The modern warehousing and administrative premises at 249 Bruce Berquist Drive is located in the heart of Te Awamutu’s industrial precinct – a wedge of properties between Bond Road and Te Rahu Road.

Leading New Zealand native honey harvesting and retail brand Manuka Honey occupies the rear 1,125-square metre portion of the building premises. The remaining 600 square metres of high-stud warehousing and 160 square metres of office space at the front of the property are currently vacant. . . 


Rural round-up

08/09/2021

A shepherd’s warning – Wayne Langford:

Pink sky in the morning is a shepherds warning, but today I’d like to give a little warning of my own.

This time last year in New Zealand we had five deaths on farm. That’s five families that are absolutely heartbroken this year as they are forced to relive the tragic events that struck their families and wider communities last year.

I implore you to please be safe right now, everyone’s getting tired and slow. Please think about safety on the farm, on your bike – wear your helmet. It is easy to get busy and forget, but we simply have to stop and think about it. . .

Govt secretive on Groundswell correspondence:

It is really disappointing to see that Prime Minister has not fronted up and engaged with Groundswell NZ following their nationwide protests in July, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Joseph Mooney says.

“The Groundswell protests sent a clear and direct message to the Government that rural communities are fed up with its unrealistic and impractical approach to a range of important issues. An estimated 60,000 people lined the streets of 57 towns and cities across the country in one of New Zealand’s biggest ever protests and they shouldn’t be ignored.

“I was at Groundswell NZ’s protest in Gore alongside Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson, who founded the group in the Southland Electorate. I have been in regular contact since and I met them when they presented a petition seeking to amend the National Policy Statement For Freshwater Management to the Environment Select Committee in Wellington last month. . . 

Why no response Prime Minister?:

“When some 60,000 people converge on towns and cities around New Zealand, in protest at government proposals and regulations, a response from the Prime Minister is a reasonable expectation.

“Or even one from her ministers,” says National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“We are a week shy of two months since July 16’s Howl of Protest and organisers still haven’t heard from anyone running this country.

“Now the PM’s office is refusing to release any information — letters, emails, documents and/or advisories concerning Groundswell to or from her office, her deputy’s, or the ministers of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change — to a media outlet making the request under the Official Information Act.” . . 

Here’s why you should take a farmer out for lunch – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Lockdown has brought the essentials of life to the fore again – family and food. People rushed to their home base. People already at home base rushed to the supermarket. This time perishables topped the list – broccoli, bananas, milk, avocado, butter.

Food matters

Food producers, processors and distributors are essential workers, once again, with the ongoing debate about supermarket chains staying open while independent outlets are closed. For the independents, the issue is survival. Margins are slim. It is often because their products are less expensive that people go to them for purchases.

Farmers and growers are feeling the pressures of slim margins, too. Countrylife on April 20 highlighted concerns. The interviewer was pleased that dairy prices are high; the farmer pointed out that costs have increased. The data support his case. Input prices increased 4.3 per cent for the year to June for dairy farmers and 3.4 per cent for the primary sector as a whole. . . 

Research shows dairy cows can be part of the solution to nitrogen leaching:

New Lincoln University Pastoral Livestock Production Lab research, is defining how to get the maximum benefit from cows predisposed to urinate nitrogen (N), resulting in less leaching to the waterway.

PhD student Cameron Marshall, has just published two new articles in top scientific journals as part of his doctoral thesis, showing that what cows with phenotypically lower milk urea N eat, and how they eat, is important to reducing their environmental impact.

He said inefficient N use from pastoral dairy production systems has resulted in concern regarding environmental degradation.

“This is a result of excessive urinary N leaching into waterways and nitrous oxide emissions from urination patches into the atmosphere. . .

Busy time for family farming together – Alice Scott:

Last week, as the nation took a deep breath and ventured down the well-trodden path of lockdown 2.0, newborn animals were none the wiser and the work still needed to be done.

Like many around Southland and Otago, Clinton-based calf-rearer Laura Allan is right in the thick of calf feeding and with 2-year-old Otis, 6-year-old Freddy and 8-year-old Juno at foot, she concedes homeschooling is a little “looser” this time around.

Mrs Allan and her husband James rear 50 to 60 beef calves each season and graze 150 rising 2yr-old dairy cows on their 80ha farm. Mr Allan is also a topdressing pilot and at this time of year they are like “ships in the night”, as he leaves early and gets home late.

“James usually gets up early and shifts a break fence in the dark before he leaves, to ease the pressure a bit,” she said. . . 

Help a retired working dog find its forever home :

If you have a working dog that needs to be retired, Retired Working Dogs NZ (RWD) can help. RWD is a charity re-homing retired working dogs throughout New Zealand into forever homes.

The charity, set up in 2012, have re-homed more than 634 working dogs who are either at retirement age or aren’t cut out to be working on farm anymore.

“Retired working dogs make great pets for families. Many of them have been trained with basic commands and are often trusted around stock, other animals, and children,” says Natalie Smith.

The charity works with the SPCA, vet clinics, and farmers to find, advertise, and re-home dogs. . .

NZ’s first homegrown out milk company launches ‘1% fund’ supporting Kiwi farmers to grow more oats:

Otis, the first New Zealand oat milk made from homegrown oats, will now be available to buy nationwide thanks to a new supply deal inked with Countdown. The deal will see Otis cartons lining shelves around the country in Countdown, New World, Farro and Moore Wilson, and its online store.

The announcement coincides with the company’s launch of its 1% Fund today.

The 1% Fund is an initiative by Otis to help diversify farming by supporting New Zealand farmers to grow oats.

“Otis wants to help Kiwi farmers lead the way in farming for the 21st century – a way of farming that’s more diverse, more plant-based and one that works in harmony with nature, not against it,” says Otis co-founder Chris Wilkie. . . 


Rural round-up

07/09/2021

B+LNZ remains unconvinced by low-slope map :

The Government’s new proposed low-slope map for stock exclusion is better than the original, however the map still won’t practically work on the ground, says Beef+Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

The Government is consulting on a revised map after the original mis-identified thousands of hectares of steep land across New Zealand as ‘low-slope’ and therefore requiring stock exclusion or fencing.

It is also consulting on a proposed certified freshwater farm planning approach. B+LNZ has released factsheets outlining key issues and guidance for farmers on both consultations and will be making submissions incorporating farmer feedback.

It will also be making a submission on the changes to the intensive winter grazing rules announced last week. . . 

NAIT  tackles lifestyles – Annette Scott:

Lifestylers have become a key focus for Ospri as it ups the efficiency of the national animal identification tracing (NAIT) programme.

Ospri head of traceability Kevin Forward says a lot of lifestyle properties now border farms and it’s important these property owners understand their responsibility when it comes to owning animals.

Real Estate New Zealand statistics show more than 7000 lifestyle properties change hands every year.

Whether you have a dozen animals or even just one, as person in charge of animals (PICA) there is a legal obligation to register with Nait and keep your account up-to-date if managing NAIT animals. . .

Careful paddock selection first step in winter forage crop programme :

Wintering practices have changed on Robert Young’s Southland farm over the past 10 years.

A continual process of fine-tuning the management of their winter forage crops to protect their soil and water resources is paying dividends, with less mud, reduced run-off and content livestock.

Robert and his family farm a 970ha rolling to steep sheep, beef and dairy support property near Gore.

Winter forage crops, namely fodder beet and swedes, are an important part of their farm system; both as part of their pasture renewal programme and to grow a bulk of quality feed for sheep and cattle over the depths of winter. . . 

AGL’s Nelson plant rolls out covid-19 vaccines :

Alliance Group Ltd’s Nelson plant is rolling out covid-19 vaccinations to staff and immediate family members within their “bubble”.

Sixty-nine workers and 10 of their family members received their first covid-19 vaccinations at the plant on Thursday in a joint initiative between Alliance and Te Piki Oranga Ltd, a local Māori healthcare provider. Approximately 40 employees at the plant have already been vaccinated.

Te Piki Oranga staff worked with the Nelson plant’s health and safety manager Sheryl Edwards to provide the immunisations at the plant. The second of the two vaccinations required will be provided at the plant in six weeks’ time.  . . 

FarmIQ appoints respected ago-leader as its new chairman:

FarmIQ is ‘bringing it all together’ with the announcement of Warren Parker as Chairman of its Board of Directors.

Warren brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in agricultural systems, farm management, and governance while also being experienced in working effectively with government.

His vision for FarmIQ in the next five years is founded on this experience and the increased market and compliance expectations placed on farmers, “It has all the ingredients and ambition necessary to become the national leading software choice for land managers in New Zealand and will have grown its presence internationally.”

FarmIQ can only achieve this by being a good partner, respectful collaborator and admired for its practicality but he says “there is a lot to do but I’m excited by the high caliber of their people and their enthusiasm to help farmers.” The power of a platform approach is other software providers can offer their tailored solutions while farmers need to enter data only once. This is well proven in the banking and other sectors, and there is no reason it cannot be just as successful in the rural sectors. . .

Beef giant Brazil halts China exports after confirming two mad cow disease cases – Nayara Figueiredo:

Brazil, the world’s largest beef exporter, has suspended beef exports to its No. 1 customer China after confirming two cases of “atypical” mad cow disease in two separate domestic meat plants, the agriculture ministry said on Saturday.

The suspension, which is part of an animal health pact agreed between China and Brazil and is designed to allow Beijing time to take stock of the problem, begins immediately, the ministry said in a statement. China will decide when to begin importing again, it added.

The suspension is a major blow for Brazilian farmers: China and Hong Kong buy more than half of Brazil’s beef exports.

The cases were identified in meat plants in the states of Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais, the ministry said. It said they were the fourth and fifth cases of “atypical” mad cow disease that have been detected in Brazil in 23 years. . . 


Rural round-up

06/09/2021

New Zealand workers find greener pastures on Canadian farms – Kate MacNamara:

Grant Coombes doesn’t usually have trouble keeping staff. He pays well, provides decent accommodation, and his North Waikato dairy farm is within easy reach of Hamilton. But there wasn’t much he could do when his herd manager left for Canada in June.

Originally from the Philippines, the manager, Syrell, was in New Zealand on an essential skills visa, which was set to expire. Coombes says renewing the visa wasn’t the problem – he’d renewed one for another employee just months before. The difficulty was that Syrell, who earned $70,000 a year working 45 hours per week, didn’t just want a job. He wanted a future.

“It’s about a pathway to residency for these guys and there’s just no clear pathway at the moment,” Coombes says.

Which is a shame because the man’s skills are in huge demand in New Zealand. . .

Wairarapa water scheme project canned – Piers Fuller:

After 20 years in the pipeline and more than $12 million spent, a major Wairarapa dam project has been abandoned.

Wairarapa Water Ltd announced on Friday that development of the Wakamoekau Community Water Storage Scheme would stop immediately.

The scheme northwest of Masterton was designed to harvest high winter flows of the Waingawa River into a 20 million cubic metre dam for use in summer.

Wairarapa Water chairman Tim Lusk said the scheme was no longer viable to continue. . . 

 

Hawke’s Bay dry predicted to deepen as 10 days of sun loom – Doug Laing:

The spectre of another drought on the east coast of the North Island is on the horizon, rather than the rain farmers badly need.

The latest monthly rainfall figures released by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council show why there are concerns.

Almost no rain is forecast for any part of Hawke’s Bay in the next week. That may not be good news for farmers, but will be for the rest of the population wanting a little local exercise under alert level 3 restrictions.

The council’s release of the figures comes also as climate agency Niwa reveals that nationwide it’s been the driest winter on its records – beating a previous record set just last year. . . 

Wetlands could combat nitrates :

The Waimakariri Water Zone Committee in Canterbury is considering a pilot wetlands project which would aim to reduce nitrate, phosphorus, sedimentation and E. coli levels in local waterways, while improving biodiversity in the district.

This follows a recent presentation on the benefits of integrated constructed wetlands by wetland scientist Dr Michelle McKweown of science and engineering consultancy Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec (WGA).

An integrated constructed wetland is an engineered water treatment system that uses vegetation and micrbes in the soil to treat water from farms and other sources, while also integrating the wetland structure into the surrounding landscape fabric.

These wetlands, which have been used in Ireland, the USA, and the UK since around 2007, act as a biofilter to remove suspended solids, pathogens, and nutrients from waterways. . . 

Nurseries struggling to keep up with ‘extreme’ demand for native plants – Will Harvie:

The demand for native plants is “just insanity”, according to a prominent grower. Where are these all these plants and trees coming from? WILL HARVIE reports.

Eco-Action Nursery Trust​ started out a few years ago as a plan to landscape Christchurch’s new Shirley Boys’ High School​ with native vegetation.

Students would learn about biology and horticulture – seeds to seedlings – and then plant them around the school’s new grounds – a nice touch in community building. Meanwhile, the school would get almost-free plants.

​“This is a good idea,” Shirley Boys’ teacher and Eco-Action co-founder Dave Newton thought at the time. There were even some plants left over, which were donated for planting in Ōruapaeroa-Travis Wetland.​ . . 

What crop growers say about vegan food labels – Shan Goodwin:

CROPPING industry representatives have responded in mixed fashion to the debate over vegan food labels using words like beef and meat.

Submissions to the senate inquiry investigating labelling of plant-based protein have now closed and public hearings kick off next week.

GrainGrowers believes the current food labelling provisions are not adequate and do lead to confusion and unfair outcomes for all stakeholders involved.

It’s submission said food labelled with an animal product descriptor must be derived from an animal. . .


Rural round-up

05/09/2021

MIQ freeze adds to staff woes – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to freeze managed isolation (MIQ) bookings has furthered the frustration of short-staffed dairy farmers desperate for more workers, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says.

The freeze means a further delay for farmers getting migrant staff into New Zealand granted under the exemption for 200 foreign dairy workers announced earlier this year. The industry estimates it is short of at least 2000 staff.

Mackle says it was unlikely these staff would be now cleared of MIQ before the new year. Any people who are brought in to work in the dairy industry will now be targeted for next season.

“This pause, this further delay is going to push that out even further,” Mackle said. . . 

Red meat and co-products exports reach $870 million :

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $870 million during July 2021 – marking a 29% increase year-on-year, according to analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

More than 25,300 tonnes of sheepmeat and almost 50,000 tonnes of beef were exported with increases in the value of exports to all major North American and Asian markets.

This included a 1,425% increase in beef exports to Thailand compared to July 2020. Thailand was New Zealand’s tenth largest market for beef by volume during the month, at 347 tonnes.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the main reason for the growth in exports to Thailand was the removal of beef safeguards that were put in place when the NZ-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) was negotiated 15 years ago. . . 

A stirring idea – Samantha Tennent:

Keeping colostrum stirred was a challenge for a Southland calf rearer until he came with an innovative idea.

Frustrated after running around with a drill and paint stirrer trying to stop stored colostrum from separating, Rex Affleck was looking for an easier solution. He found a pricey food industry mixer in Europe, but the paddle was tiny and the revs were too quick so he started thinking about what he really needed.

“I found a supplier in China that made engine gearboxes and they agreed to sell me a sample,” Affleck explains.

“Two turned up on my doorstep but I didn’t know what to do next. So, I started thinking and mucking around with bits of cardboard and worked out how it could sit on top of a pod, but the next issue was the paddles.” . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year kicks off for season 54:

The coveted FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 contest will be kicking off with a roar on the 9th of October 2021 for season 54’s first qualifying rounds.

This year, all New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) Club members are being challenged to enter to support their region’s volunteers, have a bit of fun and show their fellow Club members what they’re made of.

16 district contests will be held across the country over October and November to select eight of the best competitors in each of NZYF’s seven regions.

Seven Regional Finals will be held early next year, where the winner from each will proceed to the Grand Final to battle it out for the 2022 FMG Young Farmer of the Year title in Whangarei, in July. . . 

Totara Estate stonework repairs underway:

At Totara Estate and Clark’s Mill in Ōamaru, Allan Ward is the man behind the stonework, who keeps the buildings in good trim. He is currently working at Totara Estate repairing and replacing cracked and damaged limestone in the old men’s quarters.

Allan began working with stone aged 15, during his apprenticeship with Dunhouse Quarry, United Kingdom in the 1960s. He worked in the Orkney Islands, Germany, Canada and Scotland before emigrating to New Zealand in 1995.  

Allan notes that with stonework very little has changed in the tools or the techniques for centuries. “A craftsman who worked on the great cathedrals in Europe could walk onto a job now and the tools would be virtually the same,” he says.

Allan has a long history of keeping Totara Estate and Clark’s Mill in good repair. He repointed all of the Totara Estate buildings with traditional lime mortar in 2012 and gives Smokey Joes a traditional whitewash regularly. This year he repaired a stone garden wall at Clark’s Mill following the January floods. . . 

Growing push for national pet food laws – Chris McLennan:

Calls have intensified for Australia’s pet food industry to be regulated.

There are claims locally produced pet food has become a dumping ground for unwanted or suspect meats.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has joined the campaign sparked by the death of more than 20 Victorian dogs who died after being fed toxic horse meat.

Australia’s vets have already teamed up with the RSPCA to push for action to regulate the industry. . . 


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