Rural round-up

February 27, 2015

TB testing reductions another step in eradicating the disease:

Farmers and OSPRI continue to make good progress in their fight against bovine tuberculosis (TB) as high risk areas are reduced.

More than 3190 herds across 937,100 hectares will benefit from reductions in both Movement Control Areas (MCA) and cattle and deer bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests from 1 March 2015.

Herds throughout parts of North Canterbury, Otago and Southland will no longer require pre-movement TB testing, but will continue to be tested annually.

Dunsdale dairy farmer Kelvin Brock is moving out of the Hokonui MCA. He said the progress made by OSPRI’s TBfree programme through movement restrictions and possum control has been particularly satisfying. . .

 

Beef and lamb environment plan approved :

Environment Canterbury has approved a farm environment plan template for the beef and lamb industry under the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan.

Acknowledging the quality of the template, Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield said Beef + Lamb New Zealand had met all the requirements of Schedule 7 of the proposed plan.

“We hope the farm environment plans that come from this template are valuable both for farmers and for Beef + Lamb,” Bayfield said. . .

Tagged stock have added value – NAIT – Gerard Hutching:

The move towards tagging and registering all cattle and deer will be a significant boon to farmers and the New Zealand economy, says the agency administering the system.

Farmers have a deadline of July 1 this year to ensure all their cattle are tagged and registered. Deer will have to be up-to-date by March 2016.

Dr Stu Hutchings, head of the OSPRI’s National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme, said there were three main benefits of tagging: for biosecurity; food safety/market access; and farm management.

“The dairy sector thinks about biosecurity implications from a disease perspective such as foot and mouth, so for them it almost becomes an insurance policy,” he said. . .

Nation’s Top Lamb Finalists Announced:

The finalists of the 2015 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Golden Lamb Awards, aka the Glammies, have been announced.

Following stringent scientific testing, over 150 entries have been narrowed down to 20 in the search for the nation’s most tender and tasty lamb.

Carne Technologies General Manager, Nicola Simmons says the tests they run look at yield and the attributes which are relevant to the end product.

“We analyse each lamb leg entry using objective measurements for tenderness, colour and succulence as these are ultimately factors which affect the consumer’s eating experience,” says Nicola. . .

 

The evolution of Fonterra – Keith Woodford:

[This is the first of a series of five articles on Fonterra that I have been writing for the Fairfax NZ Sunday Star Times. This one was published on 1 February 2015.]

It is now a little more than 13 years since Fonterra was formed. In that time, all of the foundation directors have moved on. There have also been three Chief Executive officers (CEOs) and at least four Chief Financial Officers. None of the current top level management team that reports to the CEO were there at the start.

Fonterra itself is a very different company to those early days. It started off as a traditional co-operative, in which members owned shares in proportion to their production. These shares were purchased directly from the co-operative at a price which the co-operative determined. If a farmer ceased production, then the shares were sold back to the co-operative at the current buy/sell price as determined by Fonterra. Given that production and ownership were aligned, any apportionment between what was paid for the milk and what was paid as a dividend on invested capital, was of no material consequence. . .

Synlait Farms rebrands as Purata:

Synlait Farms – the former subsidiary business of Synlait Ltd – has rebranded as Purata.

With Latin and Maori origins meaning ‘clear, bright – like a beautiful morning,” Purata’s name reflects the company’s new vision post ownership change, says Purata CEO Juliet Maclean.

Accompanied by the tagline ‘Farming for Tomorrow’, the Purata brand embodies the company’s focus on innovation, sustainability and creativity.

Juliet Maclean says changing the brand name, tagline and colour palate will help Purata reinforce its separate identity since leaving parent company Synlait Ltd. . .

 

Positive forecast for PGG Wrightson - Alan Williams:

PGG Wrightson is forecasting a very solid increase in annual earnings after reporting its strongest interim result in seven years.

The after tax profit for the six months ended December 31 was $19.7 million, up from $13.4m in the same period a year earlier.

Though there were still several months of trading and the risk of lower farmer spending because of drought conditions, managing director Mark Dewdney said the group was now forecasting operating earnings (Ebitda) of between $62m and $68m for the full year to June 30, up from $58.7m last year. . .

A weather eye on the climate - Pete Mailler:

A FEW years ago my oldest daughter came home from school in a state of high agitation. I quizzed her on what was concerning her, to which she replied angrily that I was killing the polar bears.

Apparently she had learned at school that our collective continued use of petrol and diesel was causing global warming and this was threatening the bears. In her young mind this was interpreted as the fuel use on our farm was directly and singularly the cause of the problem.

“My agricultural science training compels me to rely on good science in forming my own opinion”

I was more than a little disgusted that climate activists were able to terrorise my daughter in such a way. However, as much as it pains me to say so, it did cause me to check my own assumptions and attitudes to climate change. . .

"Bales as far as the eye can see :-D<br /><br /><br /> #Baling #RounBales"


Fonterra holds payout

February 27, 2015

Fonterra’s announcement that it is holding the season’s forecast payout at $4.70 with an estimated dividend range taking it to $4.95 – $5.05 for the current season will have disappointed many after successive increases in the GlobaDairyTrade auction and  commentators had suggested an increase to $5.

Chairman John Wilson said that although dairy commodity prices had gone up, the increase was not sufficient to raise the forecast Farmgate Milk Price at this time.

“Since December, GDT prices for Whole Milk Powder have increased 45 per cent and Skim Milk Powder prices have increased 13 per cent,” Mr Wilson said.

“There continues to be significant volatility in international commodity prices. New Zealand volumes are down, with continued uncertainty in milk production due to climatic conditions in New Zealand with droughts in Canterbury, Marlborough, Central Otago and North Otago.

“Today’s forecast reflects the Board and management’s best estimates at this time. We are advising farmers to continue to be cautious with budgeting and we will update them as the season progresses.”

Chief Executive Theo Spierings said Fonterra was sticking to its strategy, with confidence in the long-term fundamentals of dairy demand.

“We will provide a full business update when we report our Interim Result on 25 March,” Mr Spierings said.

Fonterra is required to consider its forecast Farmgate Milk Price every quarter as a condition of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

 

But maintaining the payout will give farmers confidence.

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said the Co-operative’s announcement to maintain the 2014/15 forecast Farmgate Milk Price at $4.70 per kg/MS will be a relief for Farmers.

Mr Brown: “On-farm conditions have been really tough throughout the country and Farmers will be pleased that the recent downward trend has stopped.

“It has also been encouraging to see GlobalDairyTrade, and in particular Whole Milk Powder prices, increase significantly recently and given what took place late last year it will go some way to building confidence on farm.”

Mr Brown said that Farmers will be looking with great interest when the forecast dividend is announced at the interim results in late March.

“Our Farmers will want to see the strategy, which is key to adding value long term, deliver a return relative to the significant investment they have made and continue to make in their Co-op.

“In the interim, as always, the Council urges Farmers to be prudent in their financial planning to ensure they place their businesses in the best possible shape for next season.”

 

There is time for an increase but any is likely to be modest.

Most of this season’s milk has already been sold and while the outlook is more optimistic it is still volatile.


Rural round-up

February 26, 2015

Federated Farmers advises farmers to prepare Feed Budgets:

As stock feed becomes scarce Federated Farmers is encouraging farmers to get a feed plan and budget under way for the remainder of the year.

Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events Spokesperson says “The dry conditions and reduced payout have left many farmers not only short of feed now, but facing a shortage for the rest of the year.”

“Farmers may have already done this, but given this is a pretty stressful time we want to remind them to keep it up to date.” . . .

A2 Milk’s premium payout attracts farmer interest with lower dairy prices this year – Fiona Rotherham:

 (BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, says it’s had more interest from farmers interested in supplying the company since dairy prices have dropped this year.

A2 Milk pays a premium of around 5 to 7 percent to its small number of farmer suppliers in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK, which has become more attractive as the farmgate milk price for standard milk has dropped markedly this season. Dairy exporter Fonterra Cooperative Group is due to update tomorrow morning its forecast milk price which was reduced to $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids in December compared to $8.40/kgMS last season. . .

 

Old Reefton mines to be cleaned up:

New Zealand’s most toxic contaminated site located near Reefton in two old mines are to be cleaned up in a joint funding agreement between the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Conservation totalling $3 million, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today in Reefton.

“The Prohibition and Alexander mine sites are acutely toxic and a blight on New Zealand’s clean, green reputation. The levels of arsenic are among the highest recorded anywhere in the world at 400,000 parts per million on land, or 500 times the safe level, and in water at 300 parts per million, or 33,000 times the safe limit for drinking water,” Dr Smith says.

“We need to clean up this site so as to prevent ongoing contamination to the surrounding environment and make the site safe for future generations. . .

It is time to stand up for agriculture - About Agriculture:

Ahhhhh, Sunday morning.  The perfect time to sit down with a cup of coffee and actually open and read some of those links I’ve been eyeing up on twitter and facebook.  This week I started jotting down a few ideas for a couple blog posts and now I am searching social media to help with some thoughts to finish one.  I read through a few posts and news stories until I stumble upon a newly posted video of a TEDx talk by Robert Saik on GMOs.  Knowing Roberts company (AGRI-TREND) and his values, I figure that I should take the 20 minutes and listen, and I am really glad I did.

Our farm is not a customer of AGRI-TREND so there is no conflict of interest, this is not a paid post, and I am not ‘shilling’ in any way.  It is sad that these are statements that I feel I have to make when speaking up for biotechnology and agriculture, but the accusation of somehow being employed by “big Ag” (whatever ‘big Ag ‘means) is all too common. . .

Hat Tip: Utopia

White clover rewards careful sowing:

Farmers can get up to 20% more white clover established in their new paddocks simply by sowing it differently, a Canterbury trial has found.

Agriseeds compared five different techniques for establishing new pasture in autumn, plus a control treatment, to find out more about what effect sowing method has on clover population in the sward.

Broadcasting clover and ryegrass seed on the surface, then harrowing and rolling it to simulate the effect of a roller drill, gave the best result when the swards were analysed nine months after sowing. . .

 

The World’s LOUDEST Apple:

SweeTango® apples are the hottest apple in the world right now and it’s all about texture! SweeTango® have cells that are twicethe size of normal apples which gives them their legendary crunch and makes them amazing to eat. It’s also the reason why they’ve been scientifically proven to be the loudest apple in the world!

Bred by the University of Minnesota, who are known for developing unique varieties, SweeTango® has a flavour that is rich and intense at a time when many apples are becoming bland.

SweeTango® apples are ready in late January, before any other fresh commercial apple varieties are available. And because The Yummy Fruit Company are the only company growing them outside of the United States it means we get to enjoy them first each season! . . .

 


Rural round-up

February 25, 2015

Dealing with drought stress – Sally Rae:

Drought affects the whole family – not just the farmer.

That is the message from a rural woman who has first hand experience of depression, following the recent declaration of drought for large swathes of the South Island.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said there would be hidden stress in partners and children, along with an impact on staff. . .

Vanuatu RSE workers grow business:

A New Zealand viticulturalist says support for workers from the Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme is reaping rewards in Vanuatu as they are now producing coconut oil on the island of Tanna.

A director of Vinepower in Blenheim, Jono Bushell, says two years ago he followed his workers who were returning home to see how they spent their earnings and saw the potential to make better use of coconuts growing on Tanna. . .

Craigieburn Station on the market – Jamie Gray:

The historic Craigieburn Station, in the central Canterbury foothills, has come up for sale for the first time in 98 years.

The station includes five lakes, several hills, peaks, valleys, dales and various rivers, including the upper reaches of the Waimakariri, which forms the property’s northern boundary, and the Cass River, which forms part of Craigieburn’s western boundary.

It has historically been used to graze and breed merino sheep and horned Hereford cattle. . .

Choice is key in GM debate -  Daniel Kruithoff:

 AGRICULTURE is once again at the forefront of the national conversation about Australia’s future prosperity. Having ridden the mining boom all the way to shore, sectors such as agriculture are being viewed as the next wave of economic growth.

Improved market access through free trade agreements will undoubtedly help drive demand for Australia’s high quality food and fibre, particularly among the booming middle class of Asia.

What is less certain though is the capacity of Australian agriculture to sustainably increase productivity fast enough to capitalise on the opportunity of becoming a food bowl for Asia. . .

 

Shear success: 10-year record tumbles – Rebecca Sharpe:

BATHURST shearer Stacey Te Huia has smashed the world record, shearing 530 Merino ewes in nine hours at Parkdale Merino stud, Dubbo, NSW, on Friday.

New Zealand-born Te Huia broke the previous record of 513, set by fellow Kiwi Dwayne Black near Kojonup, Western Australia, in 2005.

Shearing Industry Promotions committee treasurer Michael Pora said Te Huia looked flawless as he made his way through the flock.

“Te Huia did a sensational job to shear 530 sheep. Everything went right for him,” Mr Pora said. . .

Manuka Health to launch groundbreaking bioactive supplement at world’s largest natural health products show:

Manuka Health, one of New Zealand’s most succesful and fastest growing honey brands, is preparing to unveil MGO™ Manuka Honey with CycloPower™, an advanced natural bioactive supplement, at Expo West in California, the world’s largest tradeshow for the natural, organic and health products industry.

In what is a pioneering move for the Manuka Honey industry, Manuka Health is the first to have combined all natural CycloPower technology with the proven health benefits of genuine New Zealand Manuka Honey. When combined with active ingredients (such as the methylglyoxal molecules found in Manuka Honey), the naturally fibrous cyclodextrin molecules in CycloPower substantially elevate the beneficial activity of Manuka Honey, making it tens of times more potent against certain bacteria then the Manuka Honey of the same strength. MGO Manuka Honey with CycloPower is more stable, soluble and bioavailable for more efficient delivery over a longer period of time. . .

NZ Organic Wine Awards 15:

After a successful inaugural awards in 2014, The awards return for the ‘2015 NZ Organic Wine Awards’. Created to find, promote and showcase New Zealand’s best organic wines the second annual NZ Organic Wine Awards.

The ‘New Zealand Organic Wine Awards’ is a ‘exclusively organic’ wine competition. In order to be judged, wine’s must be created using 100% certified organic grapes. Vineyards may be certified by any of the following certification authorities; Biogro, Demeter, Asure Quality or Organic Farm NZ. Organic wine is a fast market growth area, with consumer demand growing exponentially. Organic Wine doesn’t just offer health benefits such as being pesticide free, and lower in sulphites; we believe using organic techniques can help to create a superior wine. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 24, 2015

Celebrating 10 years of educating up-and-coming leaders in agriculture – applications open for 2015 program:

This year marks the 10th year of Rabobank’s Farm Managers Program, with more than 300 young farmers from across New Zealand and Australia graduating from the program since its inception in 2006.

Applications are now open for up-and-coming New Zealand farmers looking to undertake the 2015 Farm Managers Program.

Fifth generation bull beef producer, Rob Simpson from ‘Heaton Park’ in the lower North Island, who completed the program last year, says he was encouraged to attend the course by his father-in-law, who was one of the first graduates of Rabobank’s Executive Development Program.

“My father-in-law got a lot out of the program, and I thought it would be a good way to move forward in my own farming business,” he said. . .

Maniototo scheme ‘lifeblood’ of area – Sally Rae:

 Irrigation in the Maniototo is the ”lifeblood” for the area it serves, says Maniototo Irrigation Company chairman Geoff Crutchley.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the scheme, a jubilee dinner is being held this Saturday, and a public picnic and gala day is being held at the Gimmerburn Domain on Sunday.

The scheme, the last of the large community irrigation schemes built by the Ministry of Works and Development, has a chequered history. . .

Shear For Life fundraiser looming –

The countdown is on for Shear For Life.

Farmers Cole Wells, from Moa Flat, and James Hill, from the Teviot Valley, plan to shear over a 24 hour period, starting on February 28, to raise money for the Cancer Society.

The event will be held at Peter Jolly’s woolshed, near the Tarras township.

Mr Wells said the event had ”come around quickly” but training had been going well. . .

Easy riding in paradise – Rebecca Ryan:

Riding from the country’s highest peak to the ocean by bike, the 301km Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail offers an unforgettable experience, writes Rebecca Ryan.

DAY 1
Aoraki/Mt Cook to Braemar Rd (34.6km)

As a light rain clears, our group of five cyclists, some meeting for the first time, gathered at the start of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, at the White Horse Hill Campground, 2km north of Mt Cook Village.

Our seven-day adventure starts with a 7.2km off-road trail to Mount Cook Airport.

To cycle the Alps 2 Ocean in its entirety from Mt Cook to the ocean, riders must take a two-minute helicopter flight across the Tasman River. . .

Three new Olivers operations opening soon – Lynda van Kempen:

It’s all a changing canvas, says Olivers owner David Ritchie, indicating the finishing work taking place to launch three separate ventures in the complex next month.

After six months of construction work, the picture changes daily as Olivers Restaurant, The Victoria Store Brewery and the Merchant of Clyde cafe/bakery/delicatessen take shape.

All three businesses will run independently and are expected to open in late March.

The redevelopment of the Heritage New Zealand Category 1-listed group of historic buildings in the middle of Clyde has been challenging at times, Mr Ritchie admitted. . .

 United Fresh takes the lead in food safety

New Zealand’s only pan-produce organisation, United Fresh New Zealand Incorporated, has established a new Food Safety and Traceability Committee.

United Fresh Executive Member, Dr Hans Maurer, has been appointed chairman of the committee. Also appointed to the committee are Mathew Dolan from Horticulture New Zealand, Stephen Twinn from Snap Fresh Foods and Anne-Marie Arts from The AgriChain Centre, who was also confirmed in her role as United Fresh Food Safety representative. More members will be appointed to the committee in the coming weeks.

United Fresh President David Smith says the role of the committee is to represent the interests of United Fresh members and New Zealand’s pan-produce industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2015

MPI confirms fourth fruit fly find in controlled area:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed a fourth fruit fly in Grey Lynn and believes it to be part of the same localised population as previous detections.

A single male Queensland fruit fly was found on Sunday in a trap inside the existing Controlled Area.

There are no changes to the Controlled Area as a result of the find at this stage, says MPI Chief Operations Officer Andrew Coleman.

“We have been expecting to find more flies, so the latest detection is no surprise, and confirms that the trapping systems continues to be successful.

“The find was close to the original detections, so we believe the fly is likely to be part of the same population.” . . .

Te Hui takes out merino record:

King Country shearer Stacey Te Huia has taken out the merino shearing world record in Australia.

He managed to shear 530 finewooled merino ewes in nine hours at Parkdale Stud, about 40 kilometres northwest of Dubbo in New South Wales, on Friday.

He beat the previous record of 513 ewes, set by New Zealand-born Dwayne Black, in Western Australia, 10 years ago. . .

My Interview on Radio New Zealands Country Life Programme – Milking on the Moove:

I featured on Radio New Zealand Nationals Country Life programme on the weekend. You can hear it here if you have 20 minutes spare. . .

Now is time to buy winter feed – Annette Scott:

Cole Groves has big decisions to make for his dairy farming operation at Pleasant Point in South Canterbury.

With the drought creating a severe feed shortage on his property and irrigation no longer an option, it’s “crunch time again”.

“Unfortunately I am on Opuha water,” Groves said.

Without significant rainfall, Opuha would run dry on Wednesday. . .

Sustainable salmon farming subject of $5.2 million research project:

New Zealand government, research and commercial groups are aligning with international salmon experts to make salmon farming here even more sustainable.

The $5.2 million project is spearheaded by Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon and aims to fully understand the specific dietary requirements of King salmon.

To conduct the programme, New Zealand King Salmon has brought together a research group comprising Seafood Innovations Ltd (SIL), Nelson’s Cawthron Institute, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and Danish feed producer BioMar. . .

Dairy trainees not meeting expectations – Bryan Gibson:

Farmers are unhappy with the quality of training provided by agricultural training organisations, Craig Litten from Waikato told the Federated Farmers Dairy meeting last week.

“There are more and more training organisations popping up all the time and it appears to be more of a bums on seats type of scenario rather than an actual (focus on) quality of entrants and the people coming out the other end of the training institutions.”

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said Federated Farmers had met Primary ITO chief executive Mark Jeffries who did realise there was an issue in terms of the quality of the people coming through.  . .

Bee numbers rising:

According to Agcarm, bee numbers in New Zealand are on the rise and the crop protection industry will work with government and industry to help keep bees healthy.

 Agcarm says the industry takes pollinator health very seriously and they are keen to work with regulators and stakeholders to encourage further bee population growth.

According to official data, there are now 546,837 managed hives in New Zealand up from 2004 figures of 292,530 hives. . .

Pinot – New Zealand’s answer to burgundy – Fiona Beckett:

These days, even the Burgundians are flocking to New Zealand’s pinot noir heartland.

As you drive out towards the Central Otago region of New Zealand’s South Island, you come across the Kawarau bridge, where the bungee-jump craze started all those years ago. It must have taken a similar leap of faith, you feel, to plant vines in this extreme mountainous region. Yet in less than a generation, “Central”, as the locals call it, has become one of the best places on the globe to find great pinot, even though the area accounts for only 2.4% of New Zealand’s wine production.

Wine has been made in these parts for 150 years, but it took off commercially in the 1980s due to a group of local burgundy obsessives who yearned to get their pinot fix a bit closer to home. They’ve been so successful that, nowadays, young Burgundian winemakers regularly come from France to Otago to see how the Kiwis do it. . .

 Dual focus in the Hunter – Nick Heydon:

SINCE purchasing “Redman Park” in 2006, Stuart and Amanda Thomas have sought to continually improve their property to the point where it stands today – a holding of high quality clearly evident across its two major enterprises: horses and lucerne.

The couple, who are selling in order to downsize, established a horse stud on Denman’s “Redman Park”, running it jointly as a Thoroughbred broodmare farm and a lucerne property.

“We used to have 30 mares plus progeny on the farm, and we have a lot of local clients for the lucerne, some local horse studs, and some clients as far afield as Taree,” Mrs Thomas said. . .


Rural round-up

February 22, 2015

Region’s rivers dropping to point of possible irrigation stoppages - Rebecca Fox:

Otago rivers are dropping steadily again as the benefits from rain earlier this month evaporate.

The Taieri catchment is again teetering on the edge of a widespread irrigation stoppage and South Otago rivers are dropping steadily after a week of warm temperatures and little or no rain – the greatest amount to fall in Otago was 3.5mm at Sullivans Dam, near Dunedin.

Forecasts again indicated mostly dry weather was to continue, although while a front was expected to move over southern and eastern parts of New Zealand tomorrow and early Sunday, it was only expected to bring showers. . .

Strategic location move pays off:

It’s not an easy task to up sticks and move to a new farm. Steve and Jenny Herries took that an extra step and moved their angus stud from Central Hawke’s Bay to Gisborne.

Alpine Angus used to be at home on 320ha at Mangaorapa, southeast of Waipukurau. “The kids were enjoying their farming but they’d never seen shepherds on big country with teams of dogs. We’d managed other places like Tutira and Akitio, so we knew it could be different.”

They’ve only increased the farm size by 40 hectares but the country is very different. . .

Maori agribusiness on the brink of ‘enormous growth’  – Sue O’Dowd:

PKW’s new livestock company allows the large Taranaki Maori farming operation to further integrate the various arms of its business.

Te Oranga Livestock began operating in September last year.

“Our strategy has grown and our cattle numbers have grown, so we have created our own livestock company to support our long-term goals,” Parininihi ki Waitotara (PKW) chief executive Dion Tuuta said. “It’s a logical progression and allows us to retain value within our own system.”

In 2011 PKW took a major step towards growing its active business, putting managers on some of its dairy farms and taking on herd ownership. A specialist state-of-the-art calf-rearing unit capable of rearing 1800 calves a year at Matapu in South Taranaki followed. . .

Muster offers drover’s delight - Caleb Harris:

Forget running with the bulls in Pamplona – now you can run after them, in Wairarapa.

Cowboys, stockmen, gauchos and drovers have a special lot in life: superb views, magnificent animals, camaraderie, tough but satisfying work, the campfires, the starlit nights.

“The drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know,” was Aussie bush bard Banjo Paterson’s apt summary.

Now, the owners of one of New Zealand’s oldest farms are inviting all-comers, including city slickers, to experience the ancient lifestyle’s unique charms, in the form of a back-country cattle muster.

It’s not a contrived offering for tourists but a crucial task, done twice a year for more than 170 years – one of the country’s longest unbroken sequences of annual musters.

Riversdale Station in White Rock Rd, an hour east of Martinborough, has sweeping Pacific views, but otherwise little in common with its genteel namesake resort to the north. Nestled along the Haurangi (or Aorangi) Range, it’s gnarled, bush-cloaked country and not for the faint- hearted. . .

Sheep milk has big potential - Anna Sussmilch:

After a year of study, travel and developing contacts in the agricultural sector at home and aboard, the 2014 Nuffield Scholars have submitted their reports. This is the first in a series profiling each of the 2014 scholars, their experiences and their areas of particular interest.

Lucy Griffiths is a woman who clearly likes to keep busy. 

When approached for an interview she was busily preparing to present her Nuffield Scholarship findings at the inaugural New Zealand ewe milk products and sheep dairying conference at Massey University’s Food HQ, training for the Challenge Wanaka half-ironman and had only recently got married.

At the start of her Nuffield journey Griffiths was known as Lucy Cruikshank. . .

Dairy farmers can expect volatility in milk price:

While it may not be what farmers want to hear, a Lincoln University expert says price volatility in the dairy industry may be the new normal. Farm Management and Agribusiness lecturer Bruce Greig says prices will fluctuate widely from year to year ”as we have seen”.

He says the milk price farmers in New Zealand receive is a result of the demand and supply conditions of milk in the international market. It is a commodity market which exhibits characteristic fluctuations.

Dairy farmers may just have to get used to it and implement systems which can cope with these changes, Mr Greig says. . .


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