Rural round-up

January 16, 2019

SIT plans takeover of Telford – Giordano Stolley:

The Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) will submit a proposal to Education Minister Chris Hipkins to take over operations of the troubled Telford agricultural training campus in Balclutha.

A statement from the Clutha District Council yesterday afternoon quoted SIT chairman Peter Heenan as saying that he was “encouraged by the support from all parties at the meeting for SIT to pull together a proposal for the minister’s consideration”.

Mr Heenan made the comments at a meeting at the district council offices.

While the statement provided no details of the the proposal, Clutha Southland National Party MP Hamish Walker, said: “They [SIT] are looking to take over operations at Telford.” . . 

Funding call for Telford training farm campus staff:

The Clutha community is trying to raise funds for staff at a financially troubled rural training campus, mayor Bryan Cadogan says.

Dozens of staff at Telford agricultural training campus near Balclutha are stuck without pay while their employer’s future is decided.

The Telford training farm in South Otago is part of the Taratahi Institute of Agriculture, which was placed in interim liquidation late last year.

More than 30 tutors and support staff at Telford had their wages suspended on Friday. . .

Synlait plant registration renewed – Sally Rae:

Synlait has successfully renewed the registration of its Dunsandel plant, allowing it to continue exporting canned infant formula to China.

The registration was issued by the General Administration of Customers of the Peoples’ Republic of China (GACC).

Synlait chief executive Leon Clement said GACC had strict criteria that overseas manufacturers must meet to maintain registration.

New pasture legume hard to fault – Jill Griffiths:

THE PERENNIAL forage legume tedera is on track for commercial release in 2019. Dr Daniel Real, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), said difficult seasonal conditions in Western Australia this year had provided the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the potential value of tedera.

“Rain at the end of February created a false break,” Daniel said. “All the annuals germinated but then died, and the dry autumn left nothing in the paddocks. The annuals were non-existent but the tedera was looking good.”

Tedera (Bituminaria bituminosa var. albomarginata) is native to the Canary Islands and was brought to Australia in 2006 through research conducted under the auspices of the Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre. . . . 

Deliberate food contamination needs harsher penalties:

A recent member’s bill which seeks to introduce harsher penalties and offences is good to see, but any action from it will have to be funded and resourced adequately to have any real impact, says Federated Farmers.

The bill is from National’s Nathan Guy and it comes in the wake of last year’s Australian strawberry needle scare which triggered copycat offences here and back over the ditch, says Feds Food Safety spokesperson Andrew Hoggard.

Thousands of strawberries had to be destroyed as needles started showing up in the fruit across stores. The needle scares crushed spirits and trust. . .

How one innovative company is using bees to protect crops from disease – Nicole Rasul:

Billed as an “elegant solution to a complex problem,” Bee Vectoring Technology, or BVT, is a Toronto-based startup that is using commercially reared bees to provide a targeted, natural disease management tool to a range of agricultural crops.

The bumblebee, one of nature’s hardest workers, is the star of the BVT method. Hives that contain trays of powdered Clonostachys rosea CR-7, which the company describes as “an organic strain of a natural occurring endophytic fungus… commonly found in a large diversity of plants and soils all around the world,” are placed near a fledgling field. . .

Cheaper to get your 5+ a day at the end of 2018:

Avocados and lettuces were much cheaper than the previous summer, but egg prices hit a record high in December 2018, Stats NZ said today.

“Overall, getting your five-plus (5+) a day servings of fruit and vegetables was cheaper in 2018,” consumer prices manager Geraldine Duoba said. Fruit prices were 3.8 percent lower in December 2018 than in December 2017, while vegetable prices were 7.5 percent lower.

“Bad weather in 2017 reduced the supply of many vegetables, pushing up their prices,” Ms Duoba said. “Growing conditions were mostly more favourable during 2018, boosting supply and lowering prices.” . .


Rural round-up

September 13, 2016

Producing more and more milk not New Zealand’s future: Landcorp head:

The chief executive of Landcorp, Steven Carden, on TV One’s Q+A programme says the business is reviewing all land conversions and looking for alternate uses for land that are economically more viable, and environmentally more suitable, than dairy farming.

“I think if you look at Landcorp – and we farm throughout the country – we are looking at all of our land portfolio and thinking, “What is the right land use for it?” And I think what we’ve found is that we can’t really find dairying as the justified new additional land-use conversion option,” he told Corin Dann.

“So we are looking at alternatives. I think New Zealand can sustain a few more cows, so long as there are the farm systems set up to do that. So people are looking at herd homes and other farm infrastructure which would require us to farm quite differently but allow us to produce more milk. Having said that, that’s not our future, I don’t think, as a primary-sector country, to just produce more of a commodity product like milk, necessarily.” . . 

Rustlers slit pet cow’s throat, take legs for meat – Phillipa Yalden:

The grisly slaughter of a pet dairy cow that was dismembered for meat has left a South Waikato farming couple fearful.

Thieves armed with a gun and knives broke into Bev and Trevor Bayly’s 172-hectare farm early one morning and slit the throat of their “friendly” Jersey.

When attempts to shoot the cow dead went wrong, the rustlers took to the animal with knives, cutting off the legs before leaving the carcass behind at the property between Wharepapa South and Arohena, near Putaruru. . . 

Shanghai Maling bid to buy Silver Fern Farms stake under consideration by Upston, Bennett – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office has sent its recommendation on a proposal for China’s Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire a half stake in Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s largest meat processor, to the relevant government ministers for a decision.

Land Information Minister Louise Upston and Associate Finance Minister Paula Bennett received the documentation from the Overseas Investment Office last week, and are now considering the application, spokesman Harley Thorpe said. The Ministers are aware of the Sept. 30 deadline Shanghai Maling and Silver Fern Farms had set for the deal and have that in mind, he said. . . 

Boom time for ag robotics:

Robots and drones have already started to quietly transform many aspects of agriculture. And now a new report is predicting the agricultural robotics industry, now serving a $3 billion market, will grow to $10 billion by 2022.

The report, by IDTechEx Research in Britain, is called Agricultural Robots and Drones 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, and Players. It analyses how robotic market and technology developments will change agriculture, enabling ultra-precision farming and helping address key global challenges.

It describes how robotic technology will enter into different aspects of agriculture, how it will change the way farming is done and transform its value chain, how it becomes the future of agrochemicals business and modifies the way we design agricultural machinery. . . 

Helicopter’s beacon leads to farm rescue :

The pilot of a weed-spraying helicopter used his emergency locating beacon to raise the alarm about a seriously injured farm worker in the central North Island.

The pilot was about to start his spraying job on a farm near Ohura, west of Taumarunui, on Monday when he noticed a man on the property had apparently fallen from his horse. . . 

Lake snot the ‘new didymo’ :

Lake snot will have to be treated like a new didymo, says the Otago Regional Council, which has begun a two-year study into the spread of the algal slime.

The slime – also known as lake snow – was first found in Lake Wanaka in 2004, and has since been found in Lake Coleridge and Lake Wakatipu.

The lake snot has clogged up fishing lines, boat intakes and Wanaka’s laundromats, and has led the Queenstown Lakes District Council to install a filter on the Wanaka town water supply. . . 

Lamb day-care proves a hit:

A primary school north of Auckland has seen its roll surge in recent weeks with the opening of an unusual daycare.

Waitoki School near Kaukapakapa has built a daycare pen for lambs and is encouraging its 90 pupils to fill it with their own woolly companions.

“We have about seven to nine lambs on site at the moment. The kids bring them along and it’s their job to raise them, look after them and feed them,” said the school’s principal Chris Neison.

The lamb daycare was built in mid-August by a team of teachers, parents and grandparents. . .

Native Tree Plan Shows Positive Face of Scion’s Research:

The commercial propagation of indigenous trees in Ngati Whare’s new nursery in Minginui is an exciting development for all New Zealand and shows the benefits of ethical research that does not require release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms into the environment. [1]

Scion has been helping with the project by developing vegetative cuttings using leading edge technology that reflects community values. Ngati Whare and Scion are to be congratulated. This shows the acceptable face of Scion’s work and does not involve transgenic organisms or genetic engineering. Scion had earlier success with the propagation of seeds from the rare taonga plant Ngutukākā (white kaka beak), which have been planted on the ancestral lands of Ngāti Kohatu and Ngāti Hinehika. [2] . . 

Minister Goodhew on food safety visit to China:

Food Safety and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew will travel to China today for bi-lateral meetings and to open a new Fonterra dairy facility in the Shanxi Province.

“The relationship between New Zealand and China has never been stronger, and it is crucial for our economy that we maintain that strong relationship in food safety,” says Mrs Goodhew.

While in Beijing, Mrs Goodhew will meet with Vice Minister Teng Jiacai of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) for the third Joint Food Safety Commission meeting, to build upon the shared goal for increased communication and cooperation between the two countries. . . 

Events to help make the most of ‘money months’:

DairyNZ’s Tactics for Spring events kicked off in the Waikato last week, aimed at helping farmers manage their pasture during the most productive time of the year on-farm.

The nationwide events are taking place in September and October, the beginning of the ‘money months’ when more pasture will be grown and more milk produced than any other time of the year.

With uncertainty around where milk prices will go DairyNZ research and development general manager Dr David McCall is urging farmers to focus on what they can control. . . 

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The most memorable days end with the dirtiest clothes.

(that’s not a job that usually dirties clothes and I’m not sure why he’s using a ladder).

New winery future-proofs Rockburn Wines in Central Otago:

After leasing premises at the industrial McNulty Road site for 10 years, the team at Rockburn Wines recently completed their first vintage at their new winery in Ripponvale Road, Cromwell.

The award-winning producer acquired the existing winery site in September last year to meet increasing demand and future-proof its operation.

“Due to rapid growth and remarkable popularity of our wines, we were forced to outsource some processes in previous years due to capacity shortfalls. We’re very pleased to bring everything back under one roof from this vintage onwards. The old McNulty Road winery was getting near breaking point and we’re thrilled to have found a site at Ripponvale Road that sets us up for further growth,” says Paul Donaghy, General Manager of Rockburn Wines. . . 


Negative TB test doesn’t mean no TB

June 7, 2016

The headline says: Otago dairy herd to be slaughtered after one cow tests positive to tuberculosis.

It sounds like the farmer has no choice and that Ministry for Primary Industries is being unfair.

But he does have choices and the MPI is doing what the law requires and empowers it to do – keeping food safe and people healthy.

Only one cow has tested positive for TB but that doesn’t mean the rest of the herd is clear.

We had some cows test positive for TB a few years after we started dairying. All were slaughtered and vets who examined the carcasses found some, but not all of them had the disease.

The herd was tested again, any cows that were positive were killed and again some had TB and some didn’t.

Eventually the herd got several clear tests in a row but a couple of years later we had another cow test positive for TB.

We went through the culling and testing again until we got the all-clear.

More than a year after that a cow from our original herd dried herself off, was culled and sent to the works. There the vet found she was riddled with TB. She had been tested before we bought the herd, tested again several times on our farm but not once did she react positively.

A vet told us that was because she was too busy fighting the disease to react to the test.

Our milk is pasteurised so there was no danger to anyone if it was infected with TB.

The farmer in the story sells raw milk which is why MPI has said he must stop. TB tests aren’t 100% reliable and there is a risk that another cow in the herd could have the disease and pass it on to people through milk unless it’s pasteurised.

The farmer isn’t without choices, he doesn’t have to kill his cows. He can’t keep selling raw milk but he could get it pasteurised. He could also sell the herd (although the cows will only be on movement control which means they can only be moved to another property owned by the farmer or to slaughter);  but that’s not what the headline suggests.


Rural round-up

November 16, 2015

Fonterra increases forecast earnings per share range:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is increasing its forecast earnings per share range for the current financial year to 45-55 cents. With a forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $4.60 this lifts the total available for payout to $5.05-5.15 per kgMS and would currently equate to a total forecast cash payout of $4.95-5.00 per kgMS after retentions.

Fonterra is also increasing the rate at which farmers are paid the Co-operative Support of 50 cents per kgMS, with the total amount paid up to December going from 18 cents to 25 cents.

Chairman John Wilson said performance in the period 1 August – 31 October 2015 built on the strong second half of the 2015 financial year. . . 

95pct of rats killed by 1080 drops – Dave Williams:

New Zealand’s biggest pest poisoning programme killed 95 percent of the rats it went after and more evidence shows forests are better off after 1080 drops, scientists say.

The New Zealand Ecological Society 2015 Conference is being held at the University of Canterbury this week and one focus is on the use and effects of 1080, or sodium fluoroacetate.

The toxin has been widely used for pest control in New Zealand since the 1950s – possums are a target because they spread tuberculosis – but critics say it kills more than just pests. . . 

Kiwi inventions set to revolutionise horticulture industry 5:

Two giant hot-air blowers are being trialled in South Island vineyards and cherry orchards to fight off severe spring frosts. 

The Kiwi invention could protect crops and transform the horticulture industry.

The blowers stand five metres tall and blows out warm air like a giant blow drier.

Known as the Heat Ranger, it’s one of two machines being put to the test in Otago and North Canterbury. . . 

Speech to DRC Food Security and Food Safety Strategy Summit – Nathan Guy:

Distinguished guests,

It is my pleasure to speak here today. I want to thank the Development Research Centre (DRC) for inviting me here to participate at this Summit.

Today I will discuss the role that New Zealand, as a regional partner in the Asia Pacific, can play with China in meeting the challenges of food security and food safety.

As China liberalises its economy and raises living standards, its demand for raw materials and food for its 1.3 billion population will have a significant impact on global agricultural markets.

All agricultural producing nations have an interest in a strong China. As China looks to move away from a solely manufacturing-driven economy to one propelled jointly by agriculture, manufacturing and services, New Zealand can be a practical partner to support this change.

Background on NZ

We have a lot to offer because we are an agricultural and food producing nation.

The wider primary sector – including agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fisheries make up around three quarters of our merchandise exports. . .

AsureQuality first in World to Issue an Accredited FSSC22000-Q Certificate:

Food safety assurance provider AsureQuality is the first Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) in the world to be both accredited to the new FSSC22000-Q scheme, and to issue accredited FSSC22000-Q certification to a customer.

First published in February this year by the Foundation for Food Safety Certification, FSSC22000-Q gives organisations the option to have their Food Safety and Quality Management Systems certified under one certification, by way of one integrated audit rather than individual FSSC22000 and ISO9001 audits.

The first dairy site in the world to gain FSSC22000-Q certification is Fonterra’s Te Awamutu site, with other Fonterra sites awaiting certification. . . 

World first for Fonterra:

Fonterra Te Awamutu has become the first site in the world to be awarded the newly created Food Safety System Certification 22000 – Quality, an internationally recognised food safety accreditation.

Where previously food safety and food quality have been audited and assessed separately, the new certification gives companies the option of combining their food safety and quality management systems into one certification. This provides customers with the assurances of international best-practice in both food safety and quality.

Fonterra Director New Zealand Manufacturing Mark Leslie said this highlights the Co-operative’s commitment to producing the highest quality dairy nutrition and world-leading service. . . 


Arrest for 1080 milk powder threat

October 13, 2015

A man has been arrested on charges relating to last year’s threat to contaminate infant formula with 1080:

New Zealand Police have arrested a 60-year-old Auckland businessman in relation to the criminal blackmail threat to poison infant formula with 1080, made public in March this year.

The man is appearing in the Counties Manukau District Court this afternoon on two charges of criminal blackmail, relating to threat letters sent to dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group and Federated Farmers in November last year. Blackmail is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

The arrest follows the execution of five search warrants in Auckland and the Rangitikei district this morning.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said today’s arrest follows a long and complex 11-month investigation, that has cost over $3 million and involved a 35-strong investigation team.

“This investigation is one of the biggest undertaken by police in recent times and reflects how seriously we view this kind of crime,” he said.

The Operation Conchord team had used a range of forensic techniques in gathering evidence, some that were innovative and could be used in future investigations, he said.

It’s believed the arrested man was acting alone and no further arrests are expected though Bush said he couldn’t comment on his motivations for the threatened blackmail.

More than 2,600 people were considered by the investigation team over the course of the enquiry.

Ministry for Primary Industries chief executive Martyn Dunne said the safety of consumers was paramount during the investigation. . . 

This is weclome progress in the case and police deserve credit for the work that must have gone into gathering evidence.

MPI and others involved in ensuring infant formula is safe have also done good work.


Rural round-up

April 10, 2015

No 1080 found in 100,000 plus tests:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has carried out more than 100,000 tests since a threat to contaminate infant formula but none has detected any trace of 1080, it says.

It is almost a fortnight since the deadline imposed by a blackmailer threatening to contaminate infant formula with the pesticide.

The ministry began its testing in mid-January, after the threat was made. . .

Dairy farm’s boss has eye for talent – Sue O’Dowd:

The 2015 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year is on track for his second record production season on a Central Taranaki dairy farm.

Lance Chadwick is in his second season as manager of a 115ha (effective) Toko property owned by farm consultant Brendan Attrill and wife Susan Mundt.

Chadwick’s win is also the second successive Taranaki Dairy Awards title with which Attrill has a connection.

The 2014 Taranaki and New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winners, Jody and Charlie McCaig, were variable order sharemilkers on the Taranaki Community Rugby Trust Farm supervised by Attrill when they won both titles last year. . .

Stay safe on quads:

Farmers are being urged to take special care on quad-bikes after two fatalities this week. A farmer died on his Wairarapa farm on Tuesday, while a 17-year-old died today on a farm in Kaikohe.

“These two tragic events are a reminder to the farming community that while quad-bikes are a useful tool on the farm, they need to be used safely,” says Francois Barton, Manager of National Programmes at WorkSafe New Zealand.

“Five people died on quad-bikes in 2014 and many were seriously harmed. Using a quad safely comes down to the attitude of the user, their safety practices, making safe choices and using the bike responsibly.” . .

Former rural reporter becomes a dairy farmer in New Zealand Angela Owens and Sally Bryant:

It is not common to hear of young people leaving a successful career to go into farming but it is a move that has worked for one former journalist.

Former ABC Radio journalist Brad Markham worked in rural New South Wales and then became the state political reporter in Tasmania before throwing down the microphone and pulling on the gumboots.

Mr Markham grew up on a dairy farm, but chose a life in media and was having considerable success in that field. . .

Free workshops to up-skill NAIT users:

Farmers are being encouraged to get along to a series of workshops on how to use OSPRI’s National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme.

The workshops have been tailored to beef, deer and lifestyle farmers, and will provide a hands-on, interactive two-hour experience using NAIT’s online system.

OSPRI Acting Chief Executive Stu Hutchings said the workshops aim to help new users of the NAIT system and those needing a refresher course. The feedback to date from farmers who have attended a workshop has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The NAIT programme is critical to biosecurity and market access. To be effective, we need all cattle and deer tagged and registered with NAIT as well as up to date data on their location and movements,” said Dr Hutchings. . .

New manager to strengthen DairyNZ’s Forage Value Index:

The addition of persistence and metabolisable energy (ME) traits to the DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) are seen as key targets for Cameron Ludemann in his new role as Forage Value Manager.

Cameron, originally from a mixed farm in mid-Canterbury, joins DairyNZ having submitted his PhD thesis last year at the University of Melbourne.

In his thesis he assessed the value of changes in perennial ryegrass traits for Australian dairy farmers. The work was funded through the Dairy Futures Co-operative Research Centre.

A major component of Cameron’s thesis was the assessment of the value of improvements in the ME concentration trait in perennial ryegrass for Australian dairy farmers. . .

 Final Results in Kiwifruit Grower Referendum Confirmed:

The final results in the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KISP) referendum have now been officially confirmed by election management company Electionz.

KISP’s independent Chair, Neil Richardson, said that the official results have changed very little from the interim results and now they have been confirmed, the industry’s focus will turn to implementing the recommendations.

“With the official final results showing over 90% support for each recommendation in the referendum, including 97% support for the industry’s single point of entry structure, growers have sent a very clear message to the Government, Zespri, and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) on how they want their industry to be structured and controlled. . .

 

 


Rural-round-up

March 27, 2015

Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists announced:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has congratulated the three finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition, celebrating excellence in Māori farming.  

Mangaroa Station in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, Paua Station north of Kaitaia, and Maranga Station near Gisborne were announced as the finalists for the 2015 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming award at an event tonight in Parliament. . .

 Can green-lipped mussels be the next heavy lifter? – Keith Woodford:

If New Zealand is to double agri-food exports by 2025 in line with Government targets, then we are going to need some lateral thinking. We won’t get there just by doing more of what we have been doing.

Related to this, in recent weeks I have been giving thought as to whether the green-lipped mussel can be one of the heavy lifters that can get the job done for New Zealand.
The green-lipped mussel is indigenous to New Zealand. The species is found nowhere outside our coastal waters. It is easily identified in the shell by its distinctive emerald green colour. The flesh is also distinctive from other mussels.

Maori would no doubt have harvested green-lipped mussels for many hundreds of years, but most of nature’s mussels are well hidden. In most years there are huge amounts of microscopic mussel spat washed up attached to seaweed on the Northland Coast, particularly on the so-called Ninety Mile Beach. Exactly where it comes from no-one knows. . .

 – Keith Woodford:

A Chinese language report on WeChat –China’s popular social media platform – indicates that the Chinese infant formula market is about to become a lot more price competitive. According to a usually reliable Chinese industry website, the New Hope Nutritional Foods Company is about to introduce a new line of products called ‘Akarola’ which will come from New Zealand and sell for less than one third the price of similar products.

New Hope already has a New Zealand sourced brand called ‘Akara’ which is manufactured and canned by Canterbury-based Synlait. Linked to this, Synlait announced in late 2014 that it was taking a 25 percent share in New Hope Nutritional Foods and that this would create an integrated supply chain from farm to consumers, in line with Chinese Government regulations. . .

Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Awards Winners Determined to Advance in Industry:

The 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Justin and Melissa Slattery are passionate and determined to advance in the dairy industry – in fact they want to be farm owners before they are 35 years old.

The Slatterys took out the major title and claimed $18,800 in prizes at last night’s 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual dinner held at the Airforce Museum of New Zealand at Wigram. The other big winners were Mark Cudmore, the 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Farm Manager of the Year, and James Davidson, the 2015 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Food Safety Law Reform Bill consultation begins:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed the consultation process for the Food Safety Law Reform Bill, which will address the recommendations from the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Inquiry.

“We have made substantial progress implementing the WPC Inquiry recommendations; however, some recommendations require legislative change,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“The Food Safety Law Reform Bill will address these recommendations and reinforce New Zealand’s reputation as a reliable supplier of safe and suitable food.

“We are seeking feedback from the public and those in the food industry to ensure the proposed changes are usable and practical for all involved.” . .

Red Meat Sector welcomes signing of Korea FTA:

The recently signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Korea will be a significant step towards reducing the overall amount of tariffs paid on New Zealand red meat exports, according to the Chairmen of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Trade Minister Tim Groser signed this week the New Zealand Korea FTA with his Korean counterpart.

“This deal is critical for New Zealand sheep and beef farmers and meat exporters, keeping us competitive in this key market,” said Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman James Parsons. . .

 Commerce Commission issues draft determination on wool scouring assets application:

The Commerce Commission has reached a preliminary view that it should allow Cavalier Wool Holdings to acquire 100 per cent of New Zealand Wool Services International’s wool scouring business and assets.

The Commission has today published its draft determination on Cavalier Wool Holding’s application under the Commerce Act for authorisation of the proposed acquisition.

“Our preliminary view is that the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the North and South Island wool scouring markets, and in the small domestic customer wool grease market. Cavalier Wool Holdings would essentially have a monopoly on the supply of wool scouring services and the supply of wool grease post-acquisition. However, at this preliminary stage, the Commission is currently satisfied that the public benefits of the acquisition would outweigh the loss of competition,” said Commerce Commission Chairman Dr Mark Berry. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 23, 2015

Food Safety Arrangement signed with Viet Nam:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed an arrangement between New Zealand and Viet Nam to strengthen food safety cooperation.

The Food Safety Cooperation Arrangement between the Ministry for Primary Industries and Viet Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development aims to promote recognition and consistency between the regulatory systems of the two countries.

“This arrangement comes as we mark the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations between New Zealand and Viet Nam,” Mrs Goodhew says. “It is an important step towards boosting trade to Viet Nam and further developing the strong ties between our two countries.”

The arrangement was signed in the presence of Prime Minister John Key and Viet Nam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who is currently visiting New Zealand to discuss strengthening these bilateral ties. . .

Federated Farmers condemn breaches of animal welfare:

Federated Farmers is emphatic farmers and trucking operators must follow the animal welfare rules when they take stock to processing works, especially as drought conditions reduce animal feed in some parts of the country.

A picture of Jersey cows being transported across Cook Straight for slaughter recently, led to thousands of shares on Facebook, attacks on farming practices and a complaint to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Federated Farmers Animal Welfare spokesperson, Andrew Hoggard, says the rules on stock welfare and stock transport are clearly laid out in Ministry for Primary Industries’ Codes of Welfare Practice.

“For transport, the trucker has to follow rules, such as keeping the animals fed and watered for long distance transport, but both the trucker and farmer are legally responsible for making sure that stock are suitable for transport at loading.” . .

 

Farmers care about cow welfare, says DairyNZ:

Industry body DairyNZ is reminding farmers of the requirements for transporting cattle following recent news and social media comments on a case now being investigated by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

DairyNZ’s veterinary technical policy advisor, Dr Nita Harding, says the requirements for transporting cattle are the same whether the animals are going to slaughter or some other destination – all animals must be fit for the journey.

“It is not acceptable to load and transport very thin animals and most farmers understand that and take great care of their animals. The industry, and that includes farmers, see the importance of everyone adhering to the same standards of care and they place a high priority on ensuring that happens. The law and our industry take animal welfare very seriously and there are strict rules relating to animal transport.” . .

2015 Dairy Community Leadership Awards announced:

Two women deemed to be dedicated and inspiring influences in their dairy communities have won the Dairy Community Leadership Award at the annual Dairy Women’s Network Conference in Invercargill tonight.

The Dairy Community Leadership Award is open to all Dairy Women’s Network members and recognises dairying women who make significant contributions in their local community, through leadership and support.

The 2015 recipients of the award are Western Southland farmer Jo Sanford and Northern Southland mum Rachael Nicholson. . .

 Sustainable Farm Systems Win Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Awards:

The 2015 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Matt and Tracey Honeysett, aim to farm sustainably taking into consideration the environment and staff.

The couple were the major winners at last night’s Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards held at the Masterton War Memorial Stadium, winning $11,200 in prizes.

The other big winners were Rowan McGilvary, the region’s 2015 Farm Manager of the Year, and Grace Stephenson, the Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“Our future farming goal is to run a sustainable system taking into consideration the environment, human resources and producing efficient product,” the Honeysett’s said. . .

Big wins for Whitestone – Rebecca Ryan:

Artisan Oamaru cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese won big at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards this week, winning the Champion Sheep Cheese category for its Monte Cristo sheep milk cheese.

Whitestone’s other accolades included four gold awards, five silver awards and 19 bronze awards.

The winners were announced in Auckland after a panel of 31 dairy connoisseurs, including top international critics, had judged more than 470 specialty cheeses, yoghurts and butter entries in the 2015 awards. . .

 

"To celebrate our 29 medal win at the New Zealand Cheese Awards, we are giving away 6 x Gold Medal Cheese Packs! (one for every gold medal) Contains one each of the gold medal cheeses. To enter just comment below which cheese is your favorite winner...(can deliver to NZ address only)"

Hawke’s Bay economy gets major blast from new food facility:

Pictured is a Post harvest technician at the Rockit food packing facility in Havelock North

The global success of Rockit™ apples has led to a $17 million investment into land development and a state-of-the-art food packaging facility in Havelock North.

Minister for Economic Development, Hon. Steven Joyce officially opened the multi-million dollar food facility today (Wednesday).

Havelock North Fruit Company managing director Phil Alison said world-wide consumer demand, which is up 700 percent from 2013, has proved a fruit such as an apple can be marketed as “a premium snack food and compete against sugar-coated confectionary.” . .

 

Farm Prices Steady but Sales Volumes Falling

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 70 fewer farm sales (-13.1%) for the three months ended February 2015 than for the three months ended February 2014. Overall, there were 464 farm sales in the three months to end of February 2015, compared to 455 farm sales for the three months ended January 2015 (+2.0%) and 534 farm sales for the three months to the end of February 2014. 1,809 farms were sold in the year to February 2015, 1.0% fewer than were sold in the year to February 2014.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2015 was $28,009 compared to $22,644 recorded for three months ended February 2014 (+23.7%). The median price per hectare rose less than 1% compared to January.  . .

Association records another surplus:

The Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association have released their Annual Report announcing results for the financial year ending 31 December 2014. Despite some poor weather on the Wednesday and Thursday of the 2014 Canterbury A&P Show, attendance increased with approximately 103,000 visitors, slightly up on 2013.

The 152nd Canterbury A&P Show, hosted by the Canterbury A&P Association, attracted 6682 livestock, equestrian and feature competition entries. The Trade Exhibitor section experienced its most successful year in the history. .

 

 


Food industry regs open for consultation

January 20, 2015

Proposals for regulations under the Food Act 2014 are open for consultation.

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew says:

The proposed regulations ensure our food is safe and suitable, and will apply to around 85,000 food premises, growers and food importers when the Act comes fully into force by 1 March 2016. 

“We want the regulations to be practical and appropriate for the wide range of businesses operating in New Zealand’s food industry, from coffee carts and catering companies to restaurants and large industrial food manufacturers,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“The best way to ensure the regulations are suitable is for those people within the food industry to get involved in the consultation process.”

Proposals cover matters such as hygiene practices, production, processing, handling of food, and how businesses are checked to ensure they are meeting these food safety requirements.

Under the new Act, food businesses will have increased responsibility for managing their food safety risks, with good performance leading to fewer checks and therefore lower compliance costs. 

“Food businesses will be regulated at different levels depending on their food safety risk. High risk businesses will need a food control plan, while low to medium risk businesses will use a national programme,” Mrs Goodhew says.

“These changes bring the Food Act into line with other food safety laws in New Zealand.”

Proposed changes include:

The central feature of the new Act is a sliding scale where businesses that are higher risk from a food safety point of view will operate under more stringent food safety requirements and checks than lower risk food businesses.

The new law recognises that each business is different and is a positive step forward from the old Act and its one-size-fits-all approach to food safety.

Higher-risk food businesses – that prepare and sell meals or sell raw meat or seafood, for example – will operate under a written Food Control Plan (FCP) where businesses identify food safety risks and steps they need to take to manage these risks. The FCP can be based on a template or businesses can develop their own plan to suit their individual business.

Businesses that produce or sell medium risk foods – like non-alcoholic beverages, for example – will come under National Programmes. There are three levels of National Programmes, which are based on the level of food safety risk. They won’t have to register a written plan, but will have to make sure they are following the requirements for producing safe food that will be set out in regulations. This includes having to register their business details, keep minimal records and have periodic checks.

Unlike the old Act, the new Act provides a clear exemption to allow Kiwi traditions like fundraising sausage sizzles or home baking at school fairs to take place.  The only rule will be that food that is sold must be safe. 

Growing food for personal use and sharing it with others, including ‘Bring a plate’ to a club committee meeting or a lunch for a visiting sports team or social group, is outside the scope of the Food Act. The Act only covers food that is sold or traded. . .

Having higher standards for higher risk businesses and less stringent requirements for lower risks ones makes sense.

Clearly exempting traditional fundraisers like sausage sizzles and fairs  is a welcome common sense approach.

There must be a certain level of buyer beware and if you buy something at a sausage sizzle or fair you know the same standards of hygiene as commercial producers won’t apply.

Consultation is open until March 31. There’s more information on the Act here.

 


Govt accepts WPC recommendations

December 9, 2014

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the government accepts all the recommendations of the report into last year’s whey protein concentrate incident.

“The rigour and conclusions of the report, as well as the actions of key players since the incident, should further strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s world class food safety system,” says Mr Guy.

The second report of the independent inquiry, headed by Miriam Dean QC, looks at how the potentially contaminated WPC entered the New Zealand and international markets, and how this was subsequently addressed.

“This is a very robust piece of analysis which makes some valuable recommendations for all parties involved. I am pleased a number are already in place or are being implemented,” says Mr Guy. 

“The report concludes that the Ministry for Primary Industries took the correct decisions in putting consumer interests and public health first, both in New Zealand and overseas, by adopting a precautionary approach,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“It recommends, among other things, that MPI works to finalise its single scalable response model and undertake regular exercises and simulations. We accept these recommendations and work is already well-advanced in these areas.

“MPI has already better aligned its structure, provided greater clarity on food safety responsibilities and accountabilities to key players, and put in place new governance processes.

“A Food Safety Law Reform Bill is being developed for introduction in 2015, and a Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council is meeting quarterly.

“Working groups with industry representation are underway focusing on traceability and capability in the dairy sector. A Food Safety Science Centre is being established, and MPI has increased its presence in key overseas markets, including China,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“In addition to the funding provided by Government as part of its response to the Inquiry’s first report, we will be providing $7.9m over four years for MPI to strengthen its core food safety regulatory and operational capability,” says Mr Guy.

“The first part of the Inquiry reported back to the Government in December 2013. It concluded that New Zealand has a world class food safety system, and that the WPC incident was not the result of any failure in the regulatory system.

“It made 29 recommendations to the Government, all of which were accepted, and good progress has been made on implementing these.

“All parties involved in this incident have learnt valuable lessons, and have become stronger and better prepared for any future issues. We are aware of significant changes Fonterra has made to its processes and systems following the incident,” says Mr Guy.   

“We want to thank Miriam Dean QC who led the Inquiry, assisted by Tony Nowell and Dr Anne Astin, and Professor Alan Reilly as the independent peer reviewer.”

The full report is here.

Fonterra’s initial response to the incident was appalling.

However, the company learned from that and the government’s acceptance of this report’s recommendations will further strengthen food safety.

That is essential for both health and economic reasons when so much of our export income comes from food.


Rural round-up

November 12, 2014

The restructuring of Silver Fern Farms – Keith Woodford:

During 2014, I have written several times about the challenges of restructuring the meat industry. I have described the period we have been going through as akin the phony war as all sides prepared for battle, but everyone waiting for someone else to make the first move. Now, within the last ten days, we are seeing the first signs of action.

The key announcement, easy to miss within a wide-ranging media release covering multiple topics, is that Silver Fern Farms is restructuring into species specific business units. This contrasts a decision reported in the 2013 Annual Report that Silver Fern Farms had re-organised its sales on a geographical rather than species basis.

Why the change? Well, there is only one logical reason. The move will allow the overall business to be split into separate sheep, cattle and deer businesses. Each of these has potential to be of interest to buyers who could not contemplate the enormity of buying the whole business.

To understand what is happening, some background is necessary. . .

Food safety agreement signed with Indonesia:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has today welcomed the signing of a Food Safety Arrangement between New Zealand and Indonesia.

“Signing of the Food Safety Arrangement demonstrates the commitment of New Zealand and Indonesia to further develop our bilateral relationship,” says Mrs Goodhew, who met with Indonesian delegates earlier today.

“The areas of cooperation range from food safety risk assessments through to formal post graduate education programmes in food safety and technology.”  . .

CRV Ambreed consultant sells 70,000 semen straws this season:

CRV Ambreed is celebrating the success of its long serving sales representative in central-northern Southland, who has just sold her 70,000th semen straw of the season for the herd management company.

Irene Saul has worked for CRV Ambreed for nine and a half years and has consistently performed highly in the role. This season however is a personal best and an achievement that any sales consultant in New Zealand’s competitive dairy genetics industry would respect and acknowledge her for.

“It’s all about service,” said Mrs Saul. . .

 Changes afoot in Japanese rice farming –  Allan Barber:

I picked up quite by accident an article in today’s (20 October) The Star, a Malaysian English language newspaper, which described significant changes in Japan’s rice farming habits. Under the headline ‘Japan rice farmers rotting from inside’, the AFP article describes how many rice farmers are retiring with few interested in replacing them.

There is a photo of Shuichi Yokota, aged 38, checking growth conditions with a smartphone in his rice field 70 km from Tokyo. The article describes how he, at half the age of the average grower, flies on cutting edge technology to cultivate vast Padi fields which are many times larger than most of the country’s rice plots.

His farm in Ryugasaki is 112 ha, having expanded five fold in 15 years, simply, he says, because retiring farmers have asked him to cultivate their farms on their behalf, not wanting to sell the land, but having nobody who wants to buy it. While most rice farmers get along on centuries old methods, Yokota and his colleagues share information and data such as temperature and water levels, monitored by sensors installed in each paddy, on their smartphones. . .

Paddock warm-ups grow healthy hearty staff:

Watched by crisp lettuce and the swirling morning mist LeaderBrand harvesting staff have a new way of starting work – a paddock warm-up preparing their bodies for the day ahead.

The ten to15 minute set of exercises and stretches increases blood flow to the working muscles and gives the heart advance notice there’s about to be an increase in activity. Crew members gently start to move major muscle groups and lightly stretch tendons and nerves.

“It’s about looking after our staff” says Lettuce Crop Manager Andrew Rosso who oversees harvest crews picking five days a week year round. “The team is working hard with plenty of lifting and bending all day, so the exercises are a proactive approach for keeping our staff injury free.” . . .

Enter Dairy Awards to Progress Career:

With just over two weeks to go until entries close in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers encourage those dairy farmers who are keen to progress their career in the industry to enter.

National convenor Chris Keeping says 321 entries have been received to date in the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

Entries are being accepted online at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz and close on November 30.

Mrs Keeping says the 321 entrants are all eligible for the Early Bird Entry Prize Draw, giving them the chance to win one of six iPad and iPod bundles worth $2100. Two bundles will be drawn from the early entrants in each competition, so long as they progress through competition judging. The entry draw closed last night. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

November 11, 2014

Cheese-making success recognised – Dene Mackenzie:

Whitestone Cheese, of North Otago, was founded in 1987 as a diversification during the 1980s rural downturn and a series of crippling droughts.

Last night, the company won the Westpac-Otago Chamber of Commerce Supreme Business Awards at the 2014 OBiz awards ceremony held in Dunedin.

About 330 people attended the function which is held every two years.

Notes provided to the Otago Daily Times said Whitestone founder Bob Berry’s experience in livestock trading was quickly applied to cheese trading. . .

Alliance pool payment first in 3 years – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group farmer shareholders will receive a pool payment for the first time in three years after a better financial result.

The company has announced an operating profit, before a $7 million pool payment distribution, of $17.6 million for the year to September, up from $8.4 million last year.

Turnover increased from $1.38 billion to $1.46 billion, while after-tax profit increased from $5.6 million to $6.2 million. . .

Merino genetics focus breeds success – Sally Rae:

When Gordon Lucas’ parents bought Nine Mile Station, the local land agent commented that it ”wouldn’t be a bad stepping stone for the lad”.

”Here I am at the end of my career and I’m still on the stepping stone,” Mr Lucas quipped.

He was outlining the story of Nine Mile Pastoral Ltd to those attending the New Zealand Grassland Association conference, which was based in Alexandra last week.

As part of several field trips, including Ida Valley Station and Hills Creek Station, those attending visited Willowbank, near Tarras, an intensive irrigated finishing property run in conjunction with Nine Mile. . .

Mobile Milking System, Bureaucrats & Regulations – Milking on the Moove:

When I decided to actually build the mobile cowshed & process my own milk, I knew that the regulatory requirements would be the hardest part.

New Zealand trades on our food safety reputation. We need to protect that reputation. I’m aware that even small scale producers have the potential to put our whole reputation at risk too.

With this in mind, I delved into all the regulations that a mobile cowshed would have to meet. 

The regulations for the farm dairy side of things are in a document named NZCP1.

People wanting to process milk will also need to know all the requirements of DCP1, DCP2, DCP3 & DCP4.  . .

MP welcomes trail initiative;

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay congratulates the Gibbston community, landowners, and the Queenstown Trails Trust for delivering the $370,000 Gibbston River Trail which will join the Queenstown Trail as a part of the NZ Cycle Trail Great Rides network.

The Gibbston River Trail Upgrade was reopened today (8 November). Mr Barclay was presenting certificates to the landowners who provided easements to make the trail possible. . .

Feed Grain market tightens up:

Grain growers will be heading into the next harvest with silos completely empty, and an emerging potential for shortages. This is according to a recent study published by the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI).

David Clark, Federated Farmers Grain and Seed vice-chairperson, says this time two years ago there was a glut of wheat and barley available to end-users.
“That has now been obliterated” he says.

“Twenty-four months ago the market had a big surplus of carry-over stock heading into the end of the year.

“Last year we made a big dent in that surplus, but these latest figures show that it has now disappeared. . .

Building the next generation of Federated Farmers – Casey Huffstutler:

When it comes down to it, people are the key to our primary industry success and even survival. They are our most precious resource.

Our value recognised in the multiple organisations set up to promote and support the industry and its people.  From education, to industry good, to insurance, to lobby organisations; New Zealanders are building a strong agri-community.  NZ Young Farmers and Federated Farmers sit at the core of this; made up of the very farmers this community exists for.

The Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, of which I have been a NZ Young Farmers Field Officer for nearing on four years, have a great working relationship with Federated Farmers Waikato.  It is important to have cohesion between our young farmers and our farming leaders, to ensure we are supporting the next generation into the spotlight. . .

 Open Day aims to give public a peak at primary sector:

 Connecting city folk with ‘what goes on behind the gate’ is just one of the objectives for the upcoming Farm Open Day to be held at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF).

Following on from the success of last year’s inaugural event, the farm will once again open its gates to the public to showcase the operations of a commercial dairy farm and provide perspective on the broader scientific, commercial and logistical aspects of sustainable food production.

The event is organised by the South Island Dairying Development Centre (SIDDC) and Fonterra, and will include nine outdoor educational demonstrations and displays which take people on the journey of ‘turning sunshine into food’. A central marquee will offer information to the public, along with samples of a range of milk-based products, such as cheeses, yoghurt, milk drinks and ice creams. . .

Building NZ’s reputation as a leader in food safety in China:

 New Zealand Government owned AsureQuality and PwC’s New Zealand and China firms are cooperating with COFCO, China’s largest agricultural and food products supplier, to continually improve China’s food safety and quality. All four parties signed a cooperation agreement to that effect on the side-lines of the 2014 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Beijing, China today.

Drawing on leading New Zealand and international food and agricultural models, the agreement formalises areas where AsureQuality and PwC will support COFCO in embedding best practice in food safety and quality across the food and agriculture industries. . .

Results Announced for the 2014 Fonterra Elections:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2014 elections for the Fonterra Board of Directors, Directors’ Remuneration Committee and Shareholders’ Council.

Shareholders voted to re-elect incumbent Directors John Monaghan and David MacLeod. They will be joined by new Director Leonie Guiney.

Leonie Guiney lives and farms near Fairlie where she is Director of four dairy farming companies. Leonie has previous experience as a Consulting Officer, Dairy Production Lecturer and has studied overseas co-operatives in the Netherlands and Ireland. Leonie was the 2014 winner of the low-input Dairy Business of the Year. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 12, 2014

Trade deal with Japan could prove too costly:

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, must have noticed a striking difference between New Zealand and Australia when he visited the countries on consecutive days this week. In New Zealand he found a firm commitment to a comprehensive trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership. In Australia he was able to sign a soft bilateral “free trade” agreement, settling for much less on agriculture than other food producers hope to gain from the TPP. Australia is not a team player on trade – it is prepared to undermine collective efforts when offered a lesser but exclusive deal. Japan’s attitude is more important.

It is a country in economic and demographic decline but it is still one of the world’s largest economies, second only to the United States among the 12 nations negotiating the TPP. Its side-deal with Australia was disappointing, bearing out New Zealand’s expressed doubts that admitting Japan to the talks was a good idea. But elsewhere hopes persist that Mr Abe is serious when he uses the TPP as leverage for much needed and long overdue reforms of Japan’s economy. . .

Council not investing in water scheme:

Another potential investor has decided against putting money into Hawke’s Bay’s controversial Ruataniwha water storage scheme.

The Central Hawke’s Bay District Council says it believes the proposed $600 million scheme, which could irrigate about 25,000 hectares, could be a huge money- and job-spinner for the region.

But deputy mayor Ian Sharp said on Friday the council won’t be investing in it, now that residents have overwhelmingly opposed borrowing the $5 million needed to do so.

“I think it’s important we distinguish between support for the water scheme and borrowing money to invest in the water scheme,” he said.

“A number of the submitters who did not want us to borrow money to invest are 100 percent behind the scheme, they just felt it was fiscally irresponsible for the council to borrow money to invest in the scheme.” . . .

Reappointments to FSANZ board:

Minister for Food Safety Nikki Kaye today announced the reappointment of Andrew McKenzie and Neil Walker to the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) Board.

Dr McKenzie has a background in veterinary public health, food safety, food regulation, international and financial management.  He has extensive knowledge of the New Zealand food regulation system having led the New Zealand Food Safety Authority from its inception in 2002 until 2010.

Mr Walker is a food scientist and has spent 35 years working in senior roles in New Zealand’s dairy industry.  He has strong governance experience and has been a chair, director, trustee and committee member of public councils and authorities.

The reappointments were proposed by New Zealand in a formal process that required acceptance by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation. . .

Fonterra and Abbott to Form Strategic Alliance for Dairy Farming in China:

First Farm Expected to Produce Milk in First Half of 2017

Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd and Abbott today announced the signing of an agreement to develop a proposed dairy farm hub in China. The strategic alliance, which is subject to Chinese regulatory approval, will leverage Fonterra’s expertise in dairy nutrition and farming in China and Abbott’s continued commitment to business development in China.

Dairy consumption in China has been rising steadily over the past 10 years. The continued development of safe, high-quality milk sources is essential to meeting this growing demand from Chinese consumers. Fonterra and Abbott are pleased to be able to work together and through this alliance to make a positive contribution to the growth and development of China’s dairy industry. . . .

Fonterra seeks Hokkaido farmers for dairy study:

Fonterra is seeking four Hokkaido dairy farms to take part in a study to increase the efficiency and profitability of grassland dairy farming in Japan.

The study, which begins in December this year, will involve the collection and monitoring of physical, production and economic performance data from four leading Hokkaido grassland dairy farms. The analysis will take place over one production season and include data collection over summer outside grazing periods and during indoor winter housing.   . .

Top food science award for Massey professor:

MASSEY UNIVERSITY Professor Richard Archer has been awarded the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology’s most prestigious honour, the JC Andrews Award.

The annual award is in memory of Massey’s first Chancellor, Dr John Clark Andrews, who proposed that New Zealand’s first food technology degree be established in 1964. The award recognises institute members who have made a substantial contribution to science and technology and leadership in the food industry. . .

A brilliant new wound care products – Medihoney:

Now available at the SummerGlow Apiaries online store is the Comvita Medihoney range of products.

Medihoney combines leading wound care and therapeutic skincare products made with an exceptionally high quality medical grade Manuka Honey.

Comvita uses advanced scientific knowledge to maximise this honey’s potential in all of its therapeutic products.

Medihoney products challenge the reliance on synthetic medicines and treatments and provide a natural alternative for wound and skin care, suitable for use by the whole family. . .

It's Cow Appreciation Day! Let's pause for a little moment and think about all the  amazing cows in the world. It’s easy to forget how awesome these animals are and how integral to our daily life. #CowAppreciationDay


Rural round-up

July 10, 2014

India’s massive buffalo exports reflect different approach to food safety – Alan Barber:

India has exported well over 500,000 tonnes of buffalo to Vietnam in 10 months of the latest July to June year. This figure easily exceeds the total of New Zealand’s beef exports to all countries.

Over the same period India’s total bovine (buffalo) exports were 1.45 million tonnes at an average value of US$3041 (NZ$3475), while the average price to Vietnam was US$3489 (NZ$3987), an increase of 40% since 2012. Other main markets in order of importance are Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates.

In comparison New Zealand’s beef exports command an FOB price of between $5000 to the USA, Canada, Korea and China and up to $9000 to French Polynesia, the highest paying market, with other main markets such as Japan, Taiwan and Europe at various points in between. . . .

Consultation opens on infant formula proposals:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the opening of consultation on measures that aim to ensure the robustness of the government’s assurance system for infant formula exports.

“In June last year I announced a work plan to further protect and strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s food assurance systems, to match rapid growth in infant formula exports,” Ms Kaye says.

“Export assurances are particularly important for infant formula exports where consumers have strong concerns about food safety, quality and product integrity.” . . .

Wools of NZ:

It’s not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.Photo: It's not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.

Why politicians shouldn’t be on the field of play – Andrew Hoggard:

In case you were expecting Willy Leferink this week, there has been a bit of a change at Federated Farmers.  My name is Andrew Hoggard and I am the new Dairy Industry Group chair.  That’s not the only change.  Being a North Islander you may get a slightly different perspective on things as I farm with my wife and two children near Fielding in Manawatu. That’s of course the region which gave us that planning beast called “One Plan.”

At Federated Farmers National Conference last week, we heard from political leaders from across the spectrum.

One common theme that annoyed me and the farmers around me was this notion that New Zealand is doing the wrong thing in the marketing of its agricultural products.  That we are not adding value and are just doing cheap and nasty commodity products thanks to industrial farming practices.  Oh and the primary industries are like putting all our economic eggs in one basket.  Now where have I heard that before? . . .

Environment Southland listening to farmers:

Federated Farmers commends Environment Southland for listening to the concerns of Hill and High Country farmers, and delaying notification of the proposed Hill and High Country Development Plan Change today.

“The council’s decision, having engaged and taken on board farmers concerns, will result in better outcomes for farmers and the environment,” says Allan Baird Federated Farmers Southland acting provincial president.

“Taking time to fully consider the issues, potential impacts, inclusive of the whole community and their values, is a fundamental part of the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management, and needs to be central in all decision making. . .

Finalists of Consultant of the Year Awards announced:

The judges have deliberated and the finalists have been selected for this year’s annual Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.

Today Farmax announced the finalists for the DairyNZ Dairy Consultant of the Year, Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year, and NZIPIM Emerging Rural Professional of the Year.

Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen, said it was great to see such a high standard of talent and skills amongst the nominations. . . .


Rural round-up

July 9, 2014

Thoughts from the UK – Alan Barber:

While in the UK briefly last week I spent a couple of nights with an old university friend who actually got a First in Agriculture at Cambridge which was the best degree achieved by any of my friends or, not surprisingly, me. He farms near the M4 in Berkshire less than 100 kilometres from London.

As usual when I see him, we were chatting about the state of agriculture in our respective countries. He asked me whether I needed a ‘pommie farmer whinge’ to provide some material for a column, so not unnaturally I told him to go ahead. His first complaint was about the amount of New Zealand lamb competing with British lamb in the supermarkets. I suggested the view back home was the natural seasonal fit of New Zealand product didn’t really cut across, but rather complemented, the seasonal availability of British lamb. . .

Professional Foresters Award Their Achievers:

Leaders in the forestry industry were recognised at the New Zealand Institute of Forestry’s annual awards dinner held in Napier last night.

Forester of the Year was awarded to Paul Nicholls, managing director of Rayonier NZ,for outstanding service to the forestry industry.

The award is one of the highest accolades in the industry, recognising contribution, leadership, excellence and integrity. . . .

 Agrarian socialism’s sticky end? – David Leyonhjelm :

THE sugar industry is notorious for attaching itself to the public teat. Concentrated in several marginal seats along the Queensland coast, it has a long history of extracting taxpayer subsidies when prices are down, coercing governments into mandatory use of ethanol in fuel, and blocking imports of both sugar and ethanol.

Most famously, a decade ago it received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to help it restructure in the face of low prices. Prices bounced back soon after the scheme commenced and, apart from the impact of abolition of the single desk in 2006, not a lot of restructuring occurred. They kept the money though.

A major controversy has now erupted as a result of the decision by the sugar processing company Wilmar to sell all its sugar direct to international customers rather than via the grower-owned marketing organisation, Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), beginning in 2017. This has prompted another processor, Thai-owned MSF Sugar, to suggest it may follow suit. True to form, there are numerous calls for regulators and governments to intervene. A horde of politicians, including the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, is taking a close interest. . . .

 Environmental support for sheep and beef farmers:

Sheep and beef farmers will have a stronger voice in the regions on environmental issues, through an agreement between Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has added a regional policy capacity to its national and international policy activities directed at sustainability, through a contract with Federated Farmers to use its regional policy network.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Dr Scott Champion said: “Federated Farmers has an excellent regional network. Rather than duplicate that, we’ve reached an agreement to use its resources on regional environmental issues.

“We think this is the most efficient way of using sheep and beef farmers’ money to strengthen our voice in this important area.” . .

Genetics used to combat facial eczema:

Dairy farmers battling the devastating livestock disease facial eczema are getting help from scientists and a cattle breeding company.

Facial eczema is a fungal disease spread from spores in pasture. It can kill livestock and is estimated to cost dairy farmers about $160 million a year in lost milk production.

AgResearch and CRV Ambreed, with the backing of DairyNZ, are taking a genetics approach by breeding dairy cattle that are more resistant to the disease. . .

Clue to late puberty in sheep discovered by AgResearch:

A needle-in-a-haystack search for the genetic cause of delayed puberty in a flock of Romney ewes has paid off for a team of AgResearch scientists.

Understanding what regulates the arrival of puberty is important for livestock breeding as well as human health.

Researchers in AgResearch’s Animal Reproduction team at Invermay had noticed that late puberty was a family trait in their research flock. This caused the late developers to miss out on lambing during what could be their first breeding season. They had previously demonstrated that late developers also produce fewer lambs during their lifespans. . .

Rural talent on display in Lincoln:

Every year New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) members from across the country come together to catch up, cheer on their Grand Finalist at the ANZ Young Farmer Contest, compete in the clay target shooting, fencing and stock judging national finals and attend the Annual General Meeting.

The top scoring competitors from the regional levels represented their regions as they battled it out for top place at the finals in Lincoln University, Friday 4 July.

The winner of the Gun City Clay Target Shooting Final was Waikato/Bay of Plenty’s Jeffrey Benson of the Hamilton City Young Farmers Club followed by Isaac Billington of the South Waikato Club and in third place was Otago/Southland representative, Brendon Clark of the Tokomairiro Club. . .


Rural round-up

May 31, 2014

Lower forecast still good – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s confident opening forecast of $7 a kilogram of milksolids for the new season has equal upside and downside in volatile times for world prices and the New Zealand dollar, chairman John Wilson says.

Many uncertainties meant the only thing Fonterra could predict was that the 2014-15 season wouldn’t end on $7, he joked.

“The best way we can serve our farmers in the pre-season is by giving the most accurate forecasts.”

The market realities included considerable volatility in world prices, high NZ dollar exchange rates, and potential for big milk production increases in Europe and the United States, he said.

That said, Fonterra surprised market commentators with its opening price because some were picking $6.50 or less. . .

Wool stands up well when the heat goes on – Alan Williams:

People going to see I’m Loving Wool at Auckland’s Britomart as part of Wool Week were shown how wool can’t be set on fire.

Shearer and showman Billy the Sheep Man – also known as Billy Black – set an oxy-acetylene torch to the fabric to show bystanders its inflammability. 

He also showed how easy it was to set fire to a synthetic fabric.

“The blowtorch was really good,” Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) chairman Bay de Lautour said. 

“It showed up wool’s fire-resistant qualities and we need to do more on that to show how safe woollen children’s wear is.” . . .

The reasoning behind my micro dairy business – Milking on the Moove:

In the next 2 months, I’ll begin milking a small herd of 15 cows. I’ll sell the milk direct to the public. I’ll milk my herd on leased lifestyle blocks, using my mobile cowshed.

In my last blog post I outlined 5 points that I wanted to achieve with my new business.

  • Create a truly environmentally sustainable dairy business
  • Create farming opportunities for young people that also provided a great lifestyle
  • Keep control of the value chain
  • Offer real unaltered whole milk to the public
  • Concentrate on building a brand rather than owning land

It’s taken a few years of thinking about the issues and I wanted to briefly outline how I have come to settle on my current system. . .

He has a  quick video of the mobile cowshed.

Overseas experience to boost foot and mouth preparedness:

A team of vets and animal industry representatives are heading to Nepal next week for first-hand experience in dealing with foot and mouth disease (FMD), Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

“This field training is part of a newly signed agreement with Australia to cooperate and work together on preparedness for this disease,” Mr Guy says.

“While both countries are determined that it never enters our borders, we still need to be prepared and work on our readiness and capacity.

“Everyone knows that an outbreak would have major impacts on our valuable livestock industries, disrupting our exports and trading reputation. It would be devastating for farming families, rural businesses and communities. . .

Govt Inquiry into WPC to conclude in November 2014:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today that they have received a letter from the Chair of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident, advising that:

“The Inquiry has considered the time that will be needed to report, taking into account the work already undertaken by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Fonterra investigations, the number and nature of the issues arising from the Terms of Reference; the number of participants; volume of material; and the need for fairness to all participants.

Our preliminary advice has been that 6 -9 months would be an appropriate estimate. However, conscious of the need to resolve matters promptly, and in anticipation of full cooperation from all participants, the Inquiry’s present estimate is that it will require until Friday 28 November 2014 (6 months) to present its final report. Participants with whom the Inquiry has consulted have accepted this is a realistic estimate.” . . .

Addressing the big issues at our High Country Conference:

Federated Farmers will be addressing the big issues at their High Country Conference next week in Queenstown.

“We will be talking about what it means to be a ‘Good Neighbour’, and what it means in achieving positive outcomes,” says Chas Todhunter, Federated Farmers High Country Spokesperson.

“We are pleased that we have both sides of the political spectrum speaking, with Eugenie Sage, Green Party spokesperson on the Environment, Conservation, Water and Local Government, and Hon. Jo Goodhew, Associate Primary Industries Minister, both attending. I would expect there will be a lengthy question time from our delegates. . .

New programme set to transform hill country farms:

A new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme focussed on transforming hill country farms is formally underway, after this week’s contract signing between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and industry co-investor Ravensdown.

Announced in principle in June last year, the Pioneering to Precision: Application of Fertiliser in Hill Country PGP programme is a seven-year programme that aims to improve hill country sheep and beef farming productivity and protect the environment through more efficient and more precise use of fertiliser. 

By doing this, the programme will improve the profitability of hill country farming and generate earnings of $120 million per annum by 2030 from additional exports of meat and wool. . .

Dairy Awards Help 7000 Entrants:

About 7000 entries have been received in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, since the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year competition began 25 years ago.

“It’s a pretty impressive number. When we started to look at the figures and add up those that have entered over the years we were really surprised,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“What is also true is that the number of people involved or touched by the awards is many more times that.”

Mrs Keeping says many of the entries received were from couples and they were supported by farm owners, farm staff and families. Sponsors have also played a significant role in the awards programme with sponsor representatives from throughout the country backing the awards and encouraging clients to participate. . .

50 MPI officers swoop on rock lobster black market:

Fifty Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) compliance officers wrapped up an undercover operation today that targeted recreational fishers catching and selling rock lobster (crayfish) in the South Island.

The operation was focused on activities in the Kaikoura area but also included the Christchurch and Marlborough/Nelson areas.

It is illegal to sell your recreational fishing catch with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine. . . .


Highest value exports by country

May 19, 2014

Business Insider labelled every country in the world by its highest-valued export, aka the commodity that makes the country the most money in the global market.

exports

 

 

 

 

 

If you click on the link you’ll be able to see details, for example Australia’s highest value export is coal and ours is dairy products.

What struck me about the map was how few countries have food or beverage as their highest value export.

Of those, sugar was the highest value export for five.

Will the news that sugar is directly linked to heart disease  impact on them?


Rural round-up

May 2, 2014

Canada, dairy and the TPP – Keith Woodford:

Canada and New Zealand are currently in serious negotiations as to future rules for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In relation to dairy products, we sit on different sides of the debate. We want free access. In contrast, they want to retain their supply management quotas which control how much milk is produced, and hence protect the farm-gate price of milk.

The widespread assumption in New Zealand is that free trade will open up new markets in Canada. The current dairy market there is 8 billion litres per annum. To put that in perspective, our total milk production in New Zealand is about 20 billion litres per annum. So on the surface, free trade could open up exciting new opportunities.

A recent report from The Conference Board of Canada places a different perspective on matters. They agree with New Zealand that Canada should get rid of its supply management scheme. However, they see the outcome being that Canada would rapidly transform its industry and become a major exporter. . .

Dairying’s other big 2014 vote – Willy Leferink:

This year will see a general election but you have to wonder if three-year cycles are sufficient.  Let’s face it, year one is learning the ropes and doing what you promised.  Year two is fine tuning what you’ve done or running a mile from what you’ve done, meanwhile, year three is all about getting re-elected.

Many systems have four or even five year cycles and DairyNZ’s impending vote on its $61 million industry good levy fits into the five year cycle.

It isn’t appreciated by many who bemoan the lack of research and development in New Zealand, that every time my girls come in for milking, 3.6 cents in every kilogram of milksolids they produce goes towards R&D.  This money is collected by the milk processors and passed to our industry good body, DairyNZ.  It undertakes a whole host of research activities that no farmer could ever hope to do individually.  DairyNZ further leverages what it gets from us farmers in larger programmes like the Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP. . . .

Westland Milk Products Registered for Infant Nutrition Products Export to China:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative has confirmed today that it is registered to export dairy products including infant formula milk powder to China.

The company has been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Chinese authorities and has been notified of its registration with the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA).

“We support the Chinese moves to impose greater controls and stricter standards around the importation of infant formula. Ultimately this will benefit New Zealand exporters by giving Chinese consumers more confidence in our products” says Westland CEO Rod Quin. . .

Synlait misses China regulation deadline as it waits on factory build – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the dairy processor which counts China’s Bright Dairy as a cornerstone shareholder, missed out in the first round of approvals under China’s new regulation of imported infant formula as it waits for the completion of its new processing and packaging plant.

The Ministry for Primary Industry expects Synlait will receive approval once the new dry blending and consumer packaging factory is built which is scheduled for completion next month, the Rakaia-based company said in a statement. Companies without the new registration won’t be able to sell infant formula produced from today in China.

A2 Milk Company, whose Platinum infant formula is manufactured at Synlait’s Canterbury plant, also missed out on registration, which includes demonstrating a close association between brand owner and manufacturer. . .

Synlait Milk confident of China registration:

The initial list of registered New Zealand companies issued by the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) did not include Synlait Milk as an exporter of finished infant formula into China. This announcement has been anticipated by the Company for some time.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has confirmed that it expects Synlait Milk to receive registration following the approval of its Risk Management Plan by MPI for its dry blending and consumer packaging facility. Construction of this facility is scheduled for completion in June 2014. . .

FGC welcomes Nutricia’s investment:

The intended acquisition of New Zealand milk-drying and infant formula blending and packing capacity by French-owned Nutricia is a further indication of confidence in the New Zealand food and beverage industry, says the Food & Grocery Council.

Chief Executive Katherine Rich says today’s announcement is significant.

“This is great news for the industry and for New Zealand’s infant formula manufacturing capacity.

“Having such a renowned multinational company purchasing two New Zealand firms to ensure it has a major infant formula local manufacturing facility affirms once again that New Zealand’s dairy industry remains among the best and safest in the world.” . . . .

Comvita annual earnings pip 2013, meeting guidance; shares fall:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, which makes health products from manuka honey, said annual earnings and revenue eclipsed 2013, meeting guidance, as recent apiary acquisitions improved its security of supply. The shares fell.

The Te Puke-based company said net profit was about $7.5 million in the 12 months ended March 31 from $7.4 million a year earlier, on revenue of $115.3 million, up from $103.5 million in 2013. The company had previously said it anticipated beating 2013 profit and sales.

“When unconstrained by raw material shortages, as happened in the second six months, we clearly have growth momentum,” chief executive Brett Howlett said in a statement. “The strategy of acquiring apiary businesses is working to alleviate the supply shortage pressures.” . . .


Rural round-up

May 1, 2014

China’s taste for hotpot elevates lamb flaps from offcut to prime cut, sending prices to record – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – China’s taste for hotpot, where meat and vegetables are cooked in a broth at the dining table, has driven a four-fold increase in the price of lamb flaps, turning the offcut into a premium cut and lifting the overall return kiwi farmers can get from their animals.

Lamb flaps, the gristly ends of the ribs trimmed away when the butcher cuts racks and rib chops, used to be considered a cheap cut, retailing for about US$1.35 per kilogram as little as eight years ago. It has soared 84 percent to US$5.84/kg, overtaking shoulder at US$5.64/kg and narrowing the gap with lamb leg at US$8.12/kg, based on Agrifax data.

In China, the meat is processed into a lamb roll and sliced thinly for hotpot, the dominant cooking style for lamb and a staple of the national diet. Chinese sheepmeat imports nearly doubled to 165,300 tonnes in the 2013 export year as a growing population, higher incomes and a decline in the world’s largest sheep flock spurred demand for imported protein. . .

New Zealand companies approved for infant formula exporting to China:

Five New Zealand manufacturers have been approved for exporting infant formula to China, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye have announced today.

“These manufacturers represent around 90% of our infant formula exports to China by volume,” says Mr Guy.

“New Zealand officials have been working intensively with manufacturers and Chinese officials to address corrective actions, allowing these five manufacturers to be registered as of May 1.

“We appreciate the cooperative relationship with Chinese authorities in registering these New Zealand manufacturers. The new rules signal China’s desire for greater accountability for imported infant formula from all countries.

“MPI is working with all manufacturers to ensure the new Overseas Market Access Requirement (OMAR) – issued last night – is complied with. This sets out the requirements needed to produce infant formula for export to China from 1 May,” says Mr Guy. . . .

Nutricia takeover targets Sutton Group, Gardians among first to get China registration – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Sutton Group and Gardians, the dairy manufacturers acquired by Danone’s Nutricia arm, are among infant formula companies to gain registration to export to China under that nation’s new food safety regulations.

Nutricia itself gained registration, as did Fonterra Cooperative Group, GMP Pharmaceuticals and Dairy Goat Cooperative (NZ). They represent about 90 percent of New Zealand’s infant formula exports to China by volume.

Other companies can be registered after the May 1 deadline although owners of infant formula brands who can’t demonstrate a close relationship with a manufacturer may struggle to meet Chinese requirements, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today. . .

Nutricia to Add Milk Drying and Packing Capacity to Existing Platform in New Zealand:

Nutricia today announces an agreement for the simultaneous acquisition of the spray dryer of Gardians, located near Balclutha, and the blending, packing and can-forming activities of the Sutton Group in Auckland.

This transaction will provide Nutricia with a large milk drying capacity, along with a long-term fresh milk supply access. It will also add an infant formula blending and packing facility to Nutricia’s existing operations platform. . . .

Dairy Herd Consultation Underway:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today announced consultation on the future direction of the dairy herd improvement industry.

“The government’s main objective is to ensure New Zealand’s dairy industry can benefit from genetic gain in the national dairy herd. This objective supports the National Breeding Objective to identify animals whose progeny will be the most efficient converters of feed into farmer profit, says Marianne Lukkien, Acting Director Sector Policy.

“To achieve this we need to ensure the Dairy Core Database is fit for purpose, services are accessible at competitive prices and above all farmer’s interests are protected.

“The dairy industry is preparing for the transfer of the Dairy Core Database from Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) to DairyNZ. . .

A new generation of tools for the primary sector:

The primary sector is facing a major evolution in how they operate their businesses. Whether its satellite imagery of plantation forests, GPS tracking and real-time scheduling of transport and logistics, soil management through wireless sensor monitoring and automated tractor or irrigation systems, our primary sector businesses have a lot to benefit from improved mobile technologies.

Some of the best minds in New Zealand and Australia came together last year in Wellington for this region’s inaugural MobileTECH Summit 2013, an event designed to discuss and showcase new mobile technologies best suited to increase productivity for the primary sector. Building on this momentum, MobileTECH 2014 will be running this year in Brisbane, Australia and again, in Auckland, New Zealand in August. . .

Chinese buy five vineyards

Hong Kong-owned QWIL and Accolade Wines have been given the go ahead by the Overseas Investment Office to buy five vineyards from Mud House Wines.

The deal for $46.4 million involves the acquisition by QWIL of a freehold interest in five vineyards – Woolshed Vineyard in Marlborough, Home, Mound and Deans Vineyards in Canterbury, and Claim Vineyard in Otago.

The land comprises about 596ha. . . .

 


Rural round-up

April 25, 2014

Food Safety Assurance Advisory Council established:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today a Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council is being set up to provide independent advice to the government on issues relating to food safety.

Establishing this council is one of the 29 recommendations of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident, released in December last year.

“At the moment there is no independent group that looks at the whole of New Zealand’s food safety and assurance system and is able to provide high-level independent advice and risk analysis,” Ms Kaye says.

“This council is being set up to do this and will report to the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). It will provide a valuable sounding board for new ideas and contribute to raising consumer and market confidence in New Zealand’s food. . .

Memorandum to restore Waiapu catchment signed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Jo Goodhew today announced a collaborative partnership to restore the Waiapu catchment in the Gisborne District.

“The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between MPI, Te Runanganui O Ngāti Porou and Gisborne District Council demonstrates a long term commitment to work together and with landowners to address the erosion control problems in the catchment.

“The Waiapu River has the highest suspended sediment yield of any river in New Zealand and one of the highest in the world. If nothing is done, erosion and sedimentation could double by 2050.

“This is a great example of this Government working together with iwi and local councils to invest in and develop our regions. This long-term partnership will create significant environmental, cultural, social and economic benefits for iwi and the local community,” says Mr Guy. . .

Otago landowners help control TB through levy:

Consultation with Otago landowners over the levy for the region’s bovine tuberculosis (TB) control programme has gathered positive responses.

TBfree Otago Committee Chairman Ross Beckingsale said through the levy and a grant from the Otago Regional Council, landowners will fund around 10 per cent of the $7.5 million TB control programme to be implemented in the region.

The remainder comes from the farming sector and central government.

The 2014/2015 programme will consist of about one million hectares of pest control, mainly ground-based possum trapping, and a single aerial operation in difficult terrain. There will also be work assessing the possum populations and surveillance of pests to detect if TB is present in wild animal populations. . .

Earnscleugh Orchard Supreme Winner of Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

An industry leading Central Otago orchard with a long term sustainability focus has won the Supreme title in the 2014 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Wayne McIntosh, manager of Earnscleugh-based McIntosh Orchard Ltd, received the Supreme award at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 11. He also collected the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

BFEA judges said the 64ha pip and stonefruit operation is a business at the forefront of its industry, describing it as a top producing orchard with “a vision and strategy to promote the Otago region and to be recognised nationally and internationally”. . .

How to lose an argument on food and agriculture topics – Agriculture Proud:

A few weeks back, I shared several lessons learned while sticking my neck out and engaging in discussions centered around food and agriculture topics. Today, I share a few lessons learned by failure; sometimes my own.

  1. Assuming science will give us all the answers; it only gives us some of the answers. Pick a topic, any topic. Chances are you can find “scientists” on either side of the issue. Many people in the general public do not trust science or believe it can be bought-off. Often times, questions may be more about the ethics than the science.
  2. Using economics as the justification for all of our practices. If you own a business or depend on something for your livelihood, chances are who know what makes sound economic sense. “Of course we treat our cows well or they wouldn’t produce for us,” probably doesn’t convey the right message to a non-farm consumer. Making more money and welfare of animals/environment doesn’t always go hand in hand.
  3. Assuming that you have to speak up in defense of all agricultural practices. Chances are you don’t have experience in all areas, you’ll get backed into a corner and lose all credibility. Also, not all practices are defensible. (Read more) Wait, why are we waiting to play defense? . . .

Resistance better than resilience – Jamie-Lee Oldfield:

DRY conditions have meant lower than usual worm egg counts in sheep throughout summer, but recent rainfall and warm temperatures could see a rapid rate of infection.

However, those producers focusing on resistance, rather than resilience, may be better off this season.

Veterinary Health Research lab manager Rad Nielsen said while the worm season will potentially be less severe than normal because of the drought, he has seen high counts in recent weeks, and producers should be cautious not to “get caught out”. . .

  “Agriculture, science …. And stuff like that”… A New Blog – Pasture to Profit:

“Agriculture,science and stuff like that” is a new blog created by AgResearch scientist Jill Walcroft as part of an action research project investigating the ins and outs of science communication with social media.

Worth exploring and discussing, especially science to do with land. I feel that sometimes science is not very accessible. So I’ve given myself a challenge, “can I present the stories in such a way that people’s eyes don’t glaze over after the first sentence”. I am also keen to understand the reasons scientists may or may not see social media as a good avenue for communicating their scientific findings, and to hopefully find ways of enabling scientists to uptake up these technologies with some confidence.

Summer shade for cool cows – Agriculture, science . . . and stuff like that:

A study investigating the impacts of shade on the wellbeing of cattle came up with some ‘cool’ stuff, really cool for the cattle that is.

AgResearch scientist, Keith Betteridge, started his science career at the Kaikohe Regional Station of DSIR Grasslands. When he arrived in the far north, he couldn’t understand why the land had not been cleared of trees and scrub. Conversely, when he returned to the Manawatu 12 years later, he could not understand why so many farmers had cut down nearly every tree on their farm. That shift in his perception about what makes an attractive and healthy landscape has sunk in deep and made the study he carried out recently seem very logical.

At a recent beef farmer discussion group an argument was put forward, that if cattle are under shade then they aren’t eating and therefore might be slower to fatten and this might lead to a loss of income. Since there was little science data to support or dispel this argument, AgResearch was asked to undertake a short experiment to provide some hard facts. . .


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