Rural round-up

October 6, 2015

Farm skills for youth _ Sally Rae:

The prospect of getting out of bed at 5am to gain work experience on a dairy farm does not bother Caleb Unahi.

The 19-year-old is enjoying keeping busy as part of the Farmhand training programme, which aims to expose Dunedin’s disengaged youth to rural opportunities.

Before starting the 13-week course, Caleb was doing ”nothing much really”, he said.

A family friend encouraged him to apply for the course, which was first held last year.

”I enjoy it. It’s a good opportunity for me to get up off my …”

he said, while learning about fencing at Invermay recently. . . 

Merino industry stalwarts honoured –  Lynda van Kempen:

A couple described as vital cogs in the fine wool industry had their efforts recognised at the weekend.

Peter and Elsie Lyon, of Alexandra, received life membership to the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society. The award – a surprise to the couple – was made during the national merino shearing championships in Alexandra on Saturday night.

The couple run Peter Lyon Shearing, which had a turnover of more than $10 million last year. . . 

The story behind merino wool – Camilla Rutherford:

I am very lucky to live on a high country Merino sheep station here in Tarras, New Zealand. This farm belongs to my husbands family and they have farmed here for over 100 years, which is a long time in NZ! Every year in the first week of September a big muster happens and the sheep are brought down off the hill and into the woolshed to get their yearly hair cut in time for the hot Central Otago summer. This wool is very carefully removed by highly skilled shearers, who have the very tricky task of removing the precious fibres without harming the wrinkly sheep.

Walking into the woolshed can be a little intimidating, with drum and bass blasting over the sound of the clippers, and a multitude of men and women working tirelessly, each with their own roll making the operation of shearing a sheep like a well oiled machine. This precious wool is sent to Merino New Zealand which is spun and made into Icebreaker clothing, which we all know and love. Merino wool is an incredible fibre; sustainable, warm when wet, cooling when you are too hot and keeps the stink off you. What better fibre to wear against your skin? My wardrobe is nearly 100% merino, from underwear, thermals, summer singlets, technical ski wear and awesome hoodies! . .  [whether or not you want to read more, it’s worth clicking the link for the photos]

Ballance Farm Environment Awards application period extended for Canterbury farmers:

Canterbury farmers have been given another three weeks to enter this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The entry deadline has been extended to Friday October 30 to allow farmers more time to get their entries in before judging commences in November.

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards Judging Coordinator Sandra Taylor acknowledged that drought and a low dairy pay-out have made for a tough start to spring and for many farmers entering the Awards has been low on the priority list.

“Recent rain and warmer temperatures will hopefully take the pressure off and give farmers a chance to think about getting their entries in.”

She points out the judging process gives farmers the opportunity to benchmark their businesses and get feedback from a team of experienced and knowledgeable judges. . . 

Life-changing win for Young Auctioneer:

With entries now open for the 2015 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneer of the Year Competition, the 2014 winner is urging other young auctioneers to enter the “life-changing competition.”

Cam Bray of PGG Wrightson won the 2014 Competition after entering all three years of the competition. The win enabled him to travel to the 2015 Sydney Royal Show to attend the Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association (ALPA) Young Auctioneers National Final.

Mr Bray said that the trip to Australia resulted in some life-changing experiences.

“The trip to Australia was great – not only for the fact that I was representing New Zealand but to be able to rub shoulders with Australia’s best was an invaluable experience.” . . .

A big win for Rural Contractors NZ:

Agricultural contractors around New Zealand will soon be able to bring in overseas workers much easier than in the past – following a deal struck between its national body and Immigration NZ.

Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says his organisation has been working with Immigration New Zealand for a long time in an effort to resolve the problems around contractors bringing in overseas workers for the harvest season.

“After many meetings and a lot of hard work by RCNZ – together with Immigration NZ – we believe have come up with a solution that will solve many of the problems that rural contractors currently experience every year and make it much easier to bring in overseas workers,” Mr Levet says. . .

Forest grower poll open:

Voting is now open for the person who will represent owners of smaller forests on the Forest Growers Levy Trust board.

The two candidates are Guy Farman, managing director of Farman Turkington Forestry and Steve Wilton, managing director of Forest Enterprises. Both have strong forestry credentials and are based in the Wairarapa.

Anyone who owns a ‘qualifying forest’ of between 4 and 1000 hectares, planted before 1 October 2003, may vote in the election that opened on Monday 5 October and closes on Friday 16 October. . . .

DataCol Group extends their reach into the rural market with acquisition of pioneering water measurement company Watermetrics:

Data collection and data integrator specialist business DataCol Group, today announced it had fully acquired Canterbury-based Watermetrics, a provider of integrated water flow monitoring, recording and analysis services.

“Watermetrics were pioneers in providing water measurement technology and services to the rural sector, have built a strong brand and significant customer base predominantly in the Canterbury region off the back of that,” says DataCol CEO Bruce Franks.

“Using data collection and measurement technology has become a critical tool for farmers in terms of enhancing productivity, reducing cost and complying with national regulations like water consents. . . 

Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours wins environmental tourism award:

A successful business driven by the ethos of ‘inspiration through adventure’ is how judges described Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours in announcing it as the winner of the Environmental Tourism Award at this year’s Tourism Industry Awards.

After almost six years in business – and a consistent winner of many sustainable practice awards over the years – Ziptrek received the award on Friday night, helping set a benchmark of excellence within the New Zealand tourism industry.

Judges were hugely impressed with the business, describing it as a “wonderful example” of a highly successful tourism business embracing and promoting sustainability in everything it does. . . 

Coronet Peak caps off ‘stellar’ season with visitor experience award:

Capping off a stellar season, Queenstown’s Coronet Peak fought off stiff competition to win the Visitor Experience Award at the New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards this weekend.

The ski area celebrated its final ‘hurrah’ on the snow this weekend with a Rugby World Cup-themed day in support of the AB’s on Saturday. On Sunday, all best efforts to host a Beach Party were somewhat thwarted by wet and wild weather, but a few brave souls managed the Pond Skim to cap off an amazing season.

The final weekend of 2015 winter started well, with Coronet Peak ski area manager Ross Copland accepting the honour in Auckland on Friday night. . . 

Quote of the day

October 6, 2015

. . . And when we say ugly, we mean ugly from each perspective – it doesn’t mean ‘I’ve got to swallow a dead rat and you’re swallowing foie gras.’ It means both of us are swallowing dead rats on three or four issues to get this deal across the line. Tim Groser

Rural round-up

October 5, 2015

Equality sets top table of Silver Fern Farm’s joint venture – Fran O’Sullivan:

The Chinese saying “two tigers can’t live on the same mountain” comes to mind when assessing how Shen Wei Ping and Rob Hewett will co-exist as the two chairmen of the newly recapitalised Silver Fern Farms.

Shen is the president of one of four Bright Food listed subsidiaries, Shanghai Maling Aquarius.

Shanghai Maling is a newcomer to the New Zealand commercial scene.

Its sister company Bright Dairy & Food owns a sizeable stake in Canterbury’s Synlait Milk and is widely credited with assisting that firm emerge from the GFC in good order. . . 

Clipping the ticket on NZ’s primary produce :

Shanghai Maling’s offer to take a 5o percent stake in Silver Fern Farms has reignited the debate about foreign investment in New Zealand’s biggest cash cow, agriculture.

Alistair Wilkinson investigates whether NZ is at risk of losing control of its primary produce sector. . . 

Rainstorm cleanup underway – Kate Taylor:

Hawke’s Bay farmers are still counting the cost of a rain storm that killed thousands of lambs two weeks ago.

Most inland areas and some coastal areas recorded between 200mm-400mm of rain with higher country such as Puketitiri, Te Pohue and Nuhaka copping around 500mm.

Farmers who have never used slinky collectors have been on the phone for pickups, said Wallace Corp contractor collector Andy Walsh, Napier. He picked up 4000 lambs from the Puketitiri area in the week following the storm – an area he doesn’t traditionally visit. He picked up 500-600 from one property and was heading back there to pick up another 1100. . . 

Off the dole and into the field – Kerre McIvor:

More than 63,000 fit, capable, work-ready New Zealanders are looking for jobs, so why are we importing workers?

Between 2011 and last year, more than 23,000 Filipinos were granted temporary visas to work on New Zealand farms, because, apparently, there were no Kiwis to do the jobs. Yet Government stats state there are.

I can understand why overseas workers might be brought in to work in industries or professions where years of specialist training is required.

But being a good farm worker requires little more than basic common sense and a willingness to work. And the furore over the faked Filipino work visas proves that. It is believed one in three of the thousands of Filipino farmer workers is here with faked documents. . . .

Beehive crimes plague Northland – Kim Vinnell:

There’s a warning tonight for would-be honey thieves across the North Island – give up now or face the consequences.

Northland is experiencing a spate of beehive crimes, and it’s not being taken lightly.

We can’t tell you where Graham Wilson keeps his bees. That’s because he’s had $18,000-worth of hives stolen, so now he’s not taking any chances.

Mr Wilson has been in the bee game since he left high school 29 years ago. . . 

No luck on natural replacement for 1080 –  Lauren Baker:

Researchers looking for a natural and indigenous replacement for 1080 say it is difficult to come up with a more effective pest-killer.

After an initial shortlist of six plants, a five-year programme focused on the toxin tutin, from the tutu plant, which is known to have poisoned people and killed livestock.

But the results have shown it is not as effective on rats as 1080. . . 

Strong dairy commitment to research and development:

Industry body DairyNZ has confirmed its commitment to investing in dairy science following the release of AgResearch’s proposals for staffing reductions.

DairyNZ’s chief executive Tim Mackle says DairyNZ has continually increased its funding for research and development – because of its importance to the dairy industry.

“Our investment in research and development is unwavering. This year we are funding $18 million worth of scientific research. That is a 1.5 percent increase from last financial year. Farmers tell us it’s a top priority for them. The dairy industry has always had a long and deep commitment to science as the foundation that drives innovation and our competitiveness,” he says. . . 

Merino Kids look for newborns to join their flock!:

The ‘Face of Merino Kids’ competition is back. New Zealand’s favourite sleepbag company are hoping to find the cutest, cuddliest and coolest newborn out there to join their flock and front up their brand new Autumn/ Winter 2016 range.

In the eight years since the competition began Kiwis everywhere have been purchasing, sharing and gifting Go Go Bags and baby wraps with new generations joining their flock every year.

The competition, which launches on the 1st October, will be encouraging Kiwis around the nation to submit their scrummy newborn baby photos and stories via the Merino Kids website for a chance to win a prize pack valued at over $4,000, as well as having their beautiful baby featuring in the Autumn/ Winter 2016 advertising campaign. This will provide a fantastic opportunity to capture some timeless family photos of your loved ones also. In true Kiwi spirit the team at Merino Kids will also be providing a special thank you gift to each entrant for their ongoing support! . . .

Rural round-up

October 3, 2015

Federated Farmers’ President praises WTO and criticizes those stalling the TPP at Geneva Forum :

The last 20 years of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have provided an objective framework on which to base our international trade and seen the organisation provide great assistance to small countries like New Zealand.

That was the message from Federated Farmers’ President Dr William Rolleston, Vice President of the World Farmers’ Organisation, in his address overnight to a WTO Public Forum in Geneva.

“New Zealand is a small country, which means our political influence bilaterally can be limited. Without WTO rules, disputes are more likely to be settled on bargaining power rather than the evidence,” said Dr Rolleston. . .

Fossicking in Fonterra’s annual report – Keith Woodford:

The release of Fonterra’s annual report on 24 September coincided for me with a long plane trip back from China. I used the time trying to work out what all the numbers really mean. It was not an easy task.

Fonterra’s annual report – like most reports from large companies –provides masses of numbers. Some are clearly there for public relations purposes. Others are there to meet the required rules of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). And then there is another set of numbers which Fonterra constructs according to its own rules.

These additional measures are called non-GAAP measures; i.e. ‘non-generally accepted accounting measures’. Fonterra itself acknowledges that these measures are not standard between companies, so comparison must be made with caution. . . 

‘Cloud of dread’ over Filipino workers:

A Filipino worker in the dairy industry says people with false documents are being denied visas and sent home, despite many of them not knowing their paperwork was wrong. 

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed it is investigating multiple work visa applications involving Filipino dairy workers in the South Island, after staff noticed false claims of work experience and qualifications on visa applications.

Roberto Bolanos is a dairy farmer in North Canterbury, who arrived from the Philippines 10 years ago.

Mr Bolanos said the problem started with recruiters in the Philippines who offered people dairy jobs in New Zealand, along with documents, at a cost of, in some cases, $15,000. . . 

Government to consider amending National Bovine TB plan:

An independent Plan Governance Group made up of representatives of funding organisations, OSPRI, and wider stakeholder interests, has reviewed the bovine tuberculosis National Pest Management Plan (TB Plan). Today it gave its final advice on the proposed changes to the TB Plan to the Minister for Primary Industries, Hon Nathan Guy. The changes build on the significant progress made by OSPRI under the current TB Plan.

The Plan Governance Group considered a range of technical and scientific advice, and strongly believes that the eradication of TB from New Zealand is both feasible and economically justifiable. The proposed changes to the TB Plan were consulted on with farmers, local communities, and other stakeholders in June and July this year. Over 400 quality submissions, covering a wide range of issues, were received on the draft Plan proposal, and the Plan Governance Group took them into account as it prepared its final proposal to the Minister. . . 

Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q3 2015: Traded Volumes Are Reaching Quota Limits:

New Zealand and Australia beef exports to the US are set to reach their quota limits in Q4. Meanwhile, global economic conditions—such as the appreciation of the US dollar and the depreciation of the yuan and the real—are having an impact on beef trade, according to the Rabobank Beef Quarterly Q3.

A strong US dollar has led to a reduction in US exports and support for US imports, while a weakening Chinese economy and devaluation of the yuan are curbing beef prices in China, and the devaluation of the real is expected to support Brazilian exports in the coming months. “With little change expected in major beef-trading economies in the coming quarter, other than a possibility of the US FOMC raising interest rates, a strong US currency is expected to continue to affect global beef trade”, according to Angus Gidley-Baird, Senior Animal Protein Analyst at Rabobank. . . 

Commission issues second draft determination on wool scouring assets application:

The Commerce Commission has released a second draft determination maintaining its preliminary view that it should allow Cavalier Wool Holdings (CWH) to acquire New Zealand Wool Services International’s (NZWSI) wool scouring business and assets.

The Commission released its preliminary view on CWH’s application in March 2015 and has since received further information and submissions from interested parties on various matters. The second draft determination has been released to allow interested parties the opportunity to submit on this new information.

Commission Chair Dr Mark Berry said having considered the new information, the Commission is still of the view that the public benefits of the acquisition would outweigh the loss of competition. . . 

Ballance thriving as it plans next 60 years:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients achieved record sales and returned $76 million to shareholders while keeping margins tight and prices affordable, Chairman David Peacocke told the annual meeting of shareholders in Tauranga on Wednesday.

He said the result for its financial year ended 31 May 2015 capped off a milestone year for the co-operative, which celebrated 60 years since the first shares in legacy company Bay of Plenty Fertiliser were issued. Noting the co-operative “not only survives but also thrives”, he said its core value of collective strength remained unchanged while it evolved to meet the current needs of farming.

“What has changed is that farmers are busier, operating over larger properties and working within increasingly tight environmental demands. So along with a secure supply of the right nutrients, we continually broaden our scope to tailor our products, our technology solutions and our advice for today’s farms, and the farms of the future.” . . .

Rural round-up

October 2, 2015

Chinese deal vital, SFF says – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms could be facing insolvency if shareholders do not approve a 50:50 joint venture with Chinese company Shanghai Maling.

Voting has opened on the proposal before a meeting of shareholders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on October 16.

Shanghai Maling, a subsidiary of state owned food giant Bright Food Group, is proposing to take a 50% stake in Silver Fern Farms, in return for an investment of $261million. . . 

Hold off on Silver Fern vote, farmers urged –  Sally Rae:

Farmers are being urged to hold off voting on the Silver Fern Farms joint venture deal with Shanghai Maling, with hints that ”concrete” alternatives will emerge.

Voting is under way and closes at 10.30am on October 14, before a special meeting in Dunedin on October 16, where two resolutions will be voted on.

As well as the Shanghai Maling proposal, the meeting will also consider the shareholder resolution, promoted by Heriot farmer Allan Richardson and John Cochrane, from Clinton, seeking full analysis of the benefits and risks of a merger with Alliance Group. That resolution was not supported by Silver Fern Farms’ board. . . 

Bright lets sparks fly – Alan Williams:

Bright Dairy group is an excellent strategic investor in Synlait Milk, the latter’s chairman Graeme Milne says.

“It’s more than just money they bring.

“They’ve got the knowledge and capability to help us make good decisions.”

Shanghai Maling, the proposed new investor for Silver Fern Farms, is part of the wider Bright Dairy-Bright Foods group. . . 

Super-drone sprayer comes with risks -Robin Martin:

The first unmanned helicopter certified to spray chemicals in New Zealand could ultimately save back-country farmers thousands of dollars but it comes with a hefty price tag – and a safety warning. 

The Yamaha RMAX is a beast by drone standards, powered by a 260cc engine and weighing in at close to 100 kilograms.

Yamaha business development manager Geoff Lamb and his team put the chopper through its paces for a gathering of curious farmers, spraying contractors and radio-controlled aircraft enthusiasts at a Lepperton farm in Taranaki this week. . . 

Fonterra boss offers $4m salary freeze:

The chief executive of Fonterra has asked for his multi-million dollar salary to be frozen this year as the co-operative goes through major cost cuts and slashes hundreds of jobs.

Theo Spierings requested the freeze on his base salary on the same day Fonterra announced it was slashing hundreds more jobs as part of a business shake-up, taking total layoffs to 750.

That came just days before the company released its annual result.

A spokesman said Mr Spierings went to a meeting of Fonterra’s people, culture and safety committee on 21 September and requested that his base salary of about $4 million for the 2015/16 year be frozen. . . 

Nutrient loss under the spotlight:

New Zealand’s shift from a pasture-based model to high feed-input dairy farms will come under the microscope in a joint research project involving Ballance Agri-Nutrients, AgResearch, DairyNZ and Tatua, in partnership with the Government’s Sustainable Farming Fund initiative.

The two year project, led by AgResearch’s Dr Stewart Ledgard, will use case study farms varying in intensity of feed use to examine effects of their system changes over the last decade on emissions, production and profit as well as testing options for improving their sustainability.

“Locally there is strong interest in understanding implications for water quality of dairy intensification through increased use of supplementary feeds and how effects can be minimised, while internationally there is a desire for food products to be produced with efficient use of resources and reduced wider environmental impacts”, says Dr Stewart Ledgard. . . 

Aussies nab heaviest fleece record:

Well it’s official New Zealand has been fleeced by the Australians ..who now hold the world record for the heaviest fleece shorn off a merino.

The Australians were quick to yell they had found a wild merino near Canberra in early September with a fleece which weighed in at 40 kilograms.

Otago’s ‘Shrek the sheep’ held the record up until last year when another wild merino – dubbed Big Ben – was found in the Mackenzie Country with a fleece weighing 28.9 kgs. . . 

Steady wool market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the more restricted wool type offering in the North Island sale of 6,165 bales saw a 97 percent clearance and a generally steady market.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies firmed 1.66 percent compared to the last sale on 24th September only impacting on the finer end of the offering.

Mr Dawson advises that the stronger New Zealand dollar and limited interest in the Fine Crossbred longer wools saw prices ease 2 to 4 percent with shorter types better supported with pries 1 to 3.5 percent softer in local terms. . . 

Quote of the day

October 2, 2015

What always haunts a Prime Minister is ‘will there be a series of trade blocs develop that you are not part of?’ Because that is unthinkable for New Zealand as an export-oriented, small trading nation.

So of course New Zealand has to be in on the action with the TPP and go for the very best deal it can as the agreement expands beyond the original four economies to a wider regional agreement.  Helen Clark

Rural round-up

October 1, 2015

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine – Uptown Farms:

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine on a sales call,

I wouldn’t have thought much about you before last night.  Chances are, if you had tried to call on my husband and ride along in his combine I wouldn’t have known about it.  Most likely I would have been on a different farm, with a different farmer, trying to do my job in the same way you are doing yours.

I didn’t think of you before – but now I will.  Last night I read a post from a woman who was upset that a young, presumably attractive female, made a sales call to the farm – and rode in the cab of the combine with the farmer (the poster’s husband).  

For anyone not in the industry, it may sound funny that you would get into a combine with a customer. This time of year, the combine often acts as an office.  People who need to see the farmer go to the field and are often invited to ride along while they keep working.  Roughly 70% of the time that farmer will be a man.  

Women poured out of the woodwork to attack the sales rep, calling her unprofessional, unthoughtful, disrespectful and worse. . . 

Turning point for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The Shanghai Maling Aquarius offer for 50% of Silver Fern Farms may not be the restructuring catalyst that MIE and some shareholders of both cooperatives were hoping for, but it certainly presages a dramatic change in the industry’s dynamics.

Assuming a positive shareholder vote on 16th October, for the first time in years all the major processors will have relatively strong balance sheets and will be in a position to compete on an equal basis. This is unlikely to bring about an immediate change in livestock procurement calculations, but different companies will progressively move to payments based on quality and specifications supplied for individual markets.

For too long the meat industry has been affected by an excess of processing capacity, under-capitalisation, procurement battles, inadequate market returns and, as a consequence of all this, falling livestock volumes. The recapitalisation of the country’s largest meat company potentially provides a solution to several if not all of these problems. . . 

Silver Fern receives an offer it can’t refuse – Allan Barber:

No wonder the deal between Silver Fern farms and Shanghai Mailing took so long to conclude, but from all appearances it was worth waiting for. Not that you would necessarily think so, if you read about the disappointment of some shareholders and the MIE group about the board’s unwillingness to give serious consideration to an alternative farmer offer of $40 million or some of the business commentary.

Going back several years, SFF wanted $120 million from its shareholders, hoped for $80 million and actually received $22 million. Nothing has really changed since then – good and bad years have followed each other, as livestock numbers and market prices fluctuated and the business struggled under a huge debt burden. . . 

Value-add key to improved returns for shareholders – Westland Milk Products:

Continuing its move into more value-added production is the best strategy to ensure shareholders competitive and sustainable returns Westland Milk Products says, as the co-operative confirmed a company average operating surplus available to shareholders for the 2014-15 season of $4.95 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), before retentions.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says Westland, like dairy companies globally, has been adversely impacted by the “significantly lower” market prices in the last season, with total group revenue for the financial year 2014-15 down 23 percent on the previous year, at NZ$639 million.

However he says there is room for cautious optimism for an improvement and, accordingly, Westland has increased its forecast payout for the 2015-16 season by 30 cents to $4.90 – $5.30 per kgMS. . . 

Identifying insect species crucial to protect the environment:

Students at Lincoln University are covering the length and breadth of New Zealand to discover new insect species and keep ahead of potential threats to agriculture and the environment.

Bio-Protection Research Centre students, Francesco Martoni, Samuel Brown and Hamish Patrick have visited mountains, grasslands and forests to collect insect specimens. They have identified about 50 new species.

“This research, to understand what [insects] are present in New Zealand, is vital for us to recognise any change. Especially if it involves the introduction of species that may become pests, or spread disease,” says Dr Karen Armstrong, a Senior Researcher at Lincoln University, and the students’ supervisor.

“The only way to stay ahead of this, and to detect damaging interactions, is to know what is here. And for that, we need to produce experts in traditional taxonomy who are also trained to use modern technological approaches to describe and discover [insect species],” says Dr Armstrong. . .

Initiative gives support to rural schools:

Canterbury’s rural primary schools have been given a welcome boost, thanks to the support of local farmers and fertiliser company, Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd.

The initiative, calls on farmers to nominate a school that they feel could benefit from Hatuma’s ‘Growing Minds’ fund. Over the last six years, Hatuma has donated over $30,000 to New Zealand’s rural schools through the programme.

One such beneficiary of the fund is Glentunnel School in mid-Canterbury, which attracted huge support from farmers. . . 

Chinese developer harvests first crop in Western Australia’s remote Ord Valley – Tom Edwards:

The Chinese-backed company developing the Ord River Irrigation Area in Western Australia’s east Kimberley is harvesting its first crop.

Kimberley Agricultural Investment is halfway through harvesting 360 hectares of chia in the Goomig farmland of Ord Stage 2.

Farm manager Luke McKay said it was an exciting milestone for the company and for the Ord agricultural zone in general.

“There’s been a fair bit of interest obviously, a lot of excitement about getting to this point,” he said. . . 

Wine Industry welcomes progress with South Korea Trade Deal

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes news that the Tariff Amendment Bill was passed through Parliament on Friday, a big step towards implementing the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

The negotiators have achieved a great outcome for the wine industry, said Philip Gregan, ‘tariff free access into South Korea at the time the agreement comes into force represents a significant boost to our export ambitions in one of the key Asian markets.’ . . 

More Veterans Set to Go From Protecting America to Feeding America – Nicole Mormann:

For 200,000 U.S. service members transitioning out of the military each year, returning to civilian life will mean trading in their combat boots for a tractor and rubber galoshes, thanks to new farming-focused job-training programs created by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Last week, the USDA and the Department of Defense announced that agriculture will be one of the industries in which the government will provide career assistance and counseling programs to service members finishing their term of enlistment.

The program will give veterans the opportunity to gain farming skills through classroom instruction and registered apprenticeships from experienced farmers. In addition to educational opportunities, the USDA will offer financial assistance to beginning farmers or ranchers who lack the funds to purchase necessary farming equipment, land, livestock, and other resources. Returning service members are also eligible for housing support programs, which can range from repair loans to emergency placement assistance. . . 



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