Rural round-up

April 29, 2016

Trade negotiations like water dripping on a stone – Allan Barber:

Before he left for China last week, New Zealand’s Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, Mike Petersen, gave me his thoughts on the process of trade negotiation and a brief list of successes he has been involved with since 2003. At that time he was Chairman of Meat & Wool NZ as it was called in those days.

During that 13 year period New Zealand has signed free trade deals with Taiwan, China, ASEAN which comprises 12 countries and at long last South Korea, not to forget the TPPA. No wonder he called trade negotiations ‘like water dripping on a stone.’ Signing FTAs is never quick and demands a huge amount of manpower, preparation, patience and recognition no country ever gets everything it wants.

The reaction to the TPPA, not only here, but also in other signatory countries, notably the USA, indicates a growing feeling of disaffection with free trade deals because of the perceived loss of sovereignty they entail, including domestic employment opportunities, and conversely the benefits to big business. . .

Food ‘knowledge gap’ creates dangers for farmers:

Does a cow need to have a calf to give milk?

The answer should be obvious, but more than 70% of consumers get the question wrong explains University of Guelph associate professor Mike Von Massow. A majority of Canadians also believe that a chicken is processed for meat when it reaches four years of age.

Von Massow shared these findings from his research on consumer perceptions of food at the Farm & Food Care Ontario annual meeting earlier this month. While many of the findings are troubling for agriculture there is also reason to be optimistic. “Consumers feel pretty good about the food they eat in Canada. Generally they believe they have safe, healthy food and they trust farmers,” says Massow. . .

Tribal councils appeal farmers’ discharge consents – John Gibb:

A decision by independent commissioners to grant a consent for a North Otago farmer from 2020 to discharge nitrogen from three farms on to land ‘‘in a manner that may enter groundwater” has been appealed to the Environment Court.

The consent application from Borst Holdings Ltd was the first to be made under Otago’s new 6A water plan change, which concerns itself with the amount of nitrogen being released into the area’s rivers.

The consent for the Borst farms, near the Kakanui River, was granted for 15 years starting from April 1, 2020. . . 

Dairy farmers will pay for next five years say John Mulvany:

MURRAY Goulburn has sheltered farmers from the real global milk price and they’re going to pay for five years, according to a leading consultant.

Gippsland-based consultant John Mulvany said the effect of the overpayment for milk in 2015-16 will result in the deduction of the equivalent of 24 cents a kilogram of milk solids from milk supply during the next three years, or $36,000 a year for a 150,000kg/MS farm, to pay back for this season’s mistake.

“The late notification is absolutely inexcusable,” he said.

“It is not fair to the MG field staff who, until mid-December, were issuing income estimates with three step-ups leading to a milk price over $6 a kilogram of milk solids. . . 

Sweet opportunities in honey industry for locals:

Today marks the first day of work for 11 Work and Income clients, who will be developing Northland College’s mānuka plantation site.

30 hectares of mānuka will be initially planted on Northland College land – an initiative that provides current and future employment opportunities for Kaikohe people.

The Northland College Mānuka Initiative stems from the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan which identifies 58 actions for stimulating the Northland economy. . . 

Horticulture Welcomes Dam Progress:

Horticulture New Zealand has welcomed the announcement of the progress made in funding for the Ruataniwha Dam project in Hawke’s Bay.

The horticulture industry is reliant on sensible management of freshwater in New Zealand and the provision of water for future generations of primary sector business is essential.

“This will see the number of growers increase, and this in turn will improve the sustainability of the proposal,” HortNZ natural resources and environment manager Chris Keenan says. . . 

Expect more gains in nutrient management says Ballance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is confident that Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord targets around nutrient data collection and efficiency reporting will continue to lift as more farmers understand the direct benefits to their farms and their OVERSEER® nutrient budgets.

Commenting on the release of Accord results yesterday, Ballance CEO Mark Wynne said that while results had fallen short of targets for nutrient management data and the reporting back of nutrient efficiency information, good progress is being made.

The target is for all dairy farms to provide quality nutrient management data. Progress is currently sitting at 75 percent, up from 56 percent last year. . . 

New online financial problem-solving platform for farmers: ASK Crowe Horwath:

Earlier this month accounting and business advisory firm Crowe Horwath announced the launch of the online platform, ASK Crowe Horwath.

ASK Crowe Horwath, an obligation-free, online financial problem-solving service allows questions to be posed by New Zealand agribusinesses and individuals that are then answered by Crowe Horwath advisors – ‘get a real answer from a real advisor’ is indeed the tagline of the platform.

There are no boundaries to the questions that can be asked, with rural professionals covering the full spectrum of financial services. . .

Debbie Kelliher's photo.


Rural round-up

April 28, 2016

Farming salaries holding firm despite tough conditions:

Dry stock farmers’ salaries have seen strong growth in the last year, according to Federated Farmers and Rabobank’s 2015/2016 employee remuneration report.

Despite tough times and low inflation, most sheep, beef and grain farmers have been able to provide higher average salaries on a year ago – illustrating real income increases for many farm workers at all levels of experience and responsibility.

Salaries in the dairy industry have remained stable, but for the first time there has been a very small decrease in the value of extras farmers provide their staff, such as firewood and internet access, pushing the total value of their package (TPV) down. . .

Farm Environment Competition Produces Great Crop Of Supreme Winners

Left to Right: Roger Landers and Matt Kelbrick (Taranaki), Graham and Marian Hirst (East Coast), Shane Gibbons and Bridget Speight (Southland), Joe and Suz Wyborn (Canterbury), Richard and Dianne Kidd (Auckland), Daniel and Reidun Nicholson (Greater Wellington), John Hayward and Susan O’Regan, (Waikato), Brendon and Paula Cross (Otago), David and Adrienne Hopkins & Ben and Belinda Price (Horizons), Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan (Northland), Leighton Oats and Matt Nelson (Bay of Plenty).The 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards have delivered an outstanding line-up of Supreme winners from the eleven regions participating in the prestigious competition.

Auckland is the latest region to join the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, with Helensville sheep, beef and forestry farmers Richard and Dianne Kidd claiming the region’s first Supreme title. Fellow sheep and beef farmers Dennis and Rachelle O’Callaghan, Taipa, were Supreme winners in Northland, with large scale kiwifruit operation BAYGOLD Ltd, Paengaroa, winning in the Bay of Plenty. . .

Federated Farmers thrilled Ruataniwha scheme now in position to proceed:

Federated Farmers is thrilled the Ruataniwha Water Storage scheme in Hawkes Bay has made another significant step towards hitting the go button, after it was confirmed sufficient water sign-up will make the scheme cash positive.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) announced yesterday it has 196 Signed Water User Agreements, the numbers needed for the project to proceed.

Federated Farmers Hawkes Bay Provincial President Will Foley says the dam will preserve the inter-generational nature of family farming in the Hawkes Bay. . . 

Dog stays with dead farmer:

The body of an 87-year-old farmer who went missing in rugged Far North bush was found after searchers spotted a dog which had stayed near his side all night.

The man was last seen about 1pm on Monday when he left home on his quad bike to check farm equipment on his Topps Access Rd property, just south of Kaeo.

Family, friends and neighbours began a search when neither he nor the dog returned. They called police when there was still no sign of the pair by 8pm.

The cattle dog, which was described as small and normally timid, was understood to belong to the man’s daughter but followed him everywhere he went. . . 

Love of farming is in the DNA – Kate Taylor:

University student Olivia Ellis works every time she goes home for a visit. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Home is a 320-hectare farm, Papawai, on State Highway 50 between Onga Onga and Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay… home also to parents Richard and Helen Ellis.

They’ve been there since 1995 when Olivia was a toddler, along with big brothers William, who after qualifying as a builder is now shepherding near Timaru, and the late George, who worked for WaterForce in Ashburton before a truck crash in 2014. . . 

GlobalDairyTrade moves to 24/7 online trading:

The global dairy trading platform owned by Fonterra is to expand further into online trading.

GlobalDairyTrade (GDT), though owned by Fonterra, acts independently as one of the world’s leading dairy trading platforms.

As well as its fortnightly auction, the company offer a new way for customers to trade in the 66-billion litre international dairy market. . . 

Dairy co-op Murray Goulburn cuts milk prices, MD Gary Helou departs – Nikolai Beilharz:

Australia’s largest dairy processor Murray Goulburn has announced it will cut its milk price for suppliers, with managing director Gary Helou also announcing his departure.

The dairy co-op says it is no longer feasible to pay $5.60 per kilogram of milk solids, and now expects to pay between $4.75-5 per kilogram, a drop of around 10 per cent.

MG says it will introduce milk support payment programs to give suppliers an equivalent milk price of $5.47 per kilogram. . .

What farmers in other countries get paid for milk – Charlie Taverner:

The dairy crisis is hurting farmers across the world, as production far outstrips any rising demand.

Farmers Weekly looks at the farmgate prices and milk production levels around the world and considers how milk producers are coping in different countries.

See a snapshot of farmgate prices in the graphic and read the detail for each country below.

See also: How UK dairy producers can compete globally

UK

The UK’s strength is a big liquid market — but that means dairy farmers are divided.

The average milk price of 23.13p/litre in January hides a great split. . . .

Soils big win buried in the science – Mike Foley:

AUSTRALIA’S approach to soil must dig deeper if our agriculture sector is to keep pace with its competitors.

Government policy has for too long taken a narrow focus on soil, prioritising funding for research aimed at enhancing environmental outcomes, as opposed to research that delivers productivity gains.

That’s according to soil researcher Andrea Koch, formerly of the United States Study Centre’s soil carbon initiative. . . 

 


Where do they get the money?

April 28, 2016

New Zealand schools are surrounded by junk food:

Councils are being urged to toughen up their rules on fast food outlets, after a study showing most schools are less than a kilometre from unhealthy food shops.

The Auckland University study – published today in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine – mapped nearly every school in the country in 2014 and their proximity to takeaways and dairies.

View the study: ‘Obesogenic Retail Food Environments Around New Zealand Schools’

It showed some schools were surrounded by dozens of unhealthy food outlets, and the shops tended to be closer to poorer schools than wealthier ones. . . 

Country schools are usually many kilometres away from any sort of shop but the proximity of food shops to town schools doesn’t surprise me.

There was a grocers and fish and chip shop directly opposite my primary school and a couple more about half way on the mile walk home.

Whether or not there are more outlets, one thing that must have changed is children’s ability to buy food.

When I was at school no-one had much money and the little we had was usually saved for something special.

We all had breakfast before we got to school and had packed lunches to eat while there too.

So where are the children getting the money from and do they have breakfast at home and food from there for lunch?

If being given money instead of food and not being fed well is the problem, banning outlets isn’t going to solve it because children will find a way around the ban.


Farmers back Ruataniwha

April 28, 2016

The success of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (RWSS), always depended on farmers backing – and they have:

Irrigation New Zealand is delighted to see the Ruataniwha project is now in a position to proceed.

HBRIC today (Wednesday 27 April 2016) announced it has 196 Signed Water User Agreements, the numbers needed for the project to proceed. CEO of Irrigation New Zealand Andrew Curtis said: “This is good news for Central Hawke’s Bay as it will re-invigorate the shrinking communities of Waipukurau and Waipawa.

“This result shows farmer backing is strong for the project. This is not surprising given the Ruataniwha Plain’s current and future susceptibility to drought.

Mr Curtis said: “The mix of land-use is, as Irrigation New Zealand predicted, dominated by traditional mixed cropping, and sheep and beef finishing systems. This is what Central Hawke’s Bay has and will always do well. There is also some permanent horticulture in the mix, and given the boom in the orchard and wine industries currently it is very likely this area of opportunity will be expanded further in future.

“The land-use mix should alleviate any environmental concerns for the Tukituki River. This, when combined with the dam’s ability to release water to guarantee summer flows alongside mimicking natural flood events that cleanse it, means the Tukituki River is in a great position to maintain and improve upon it’s predominantly good water quality.

“Irrigation New Zealand is now looking forward to both the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Crown committing investments to this community dam project and the ‘land swap’ court issue being resolved in a timely manner.

Mr Curtis concluded: “No one disputes the Hawke’s Bay needs water storage. The local community has now demonstrated its support for the Ruataniwha project. It’s time for regional and national communities to do the same.”

Sadly some people do dispute Hawke’s Bay’s need for water storage including the Green Party which wants the dam dumped.

But at last farmers have confirmed their willingness to invest in the scheme that will drought-proof between 20,000 and 30,000 hectares of land with good potential for increased agriculture, horticulture and viticulture.

The climate and soils in the area will give farmers more  choice over what they grow with the water than those with irrigation in many other areas.

The scheme will bring environmental, economic and social benefits to the region and the country.


366 days of gratitude

April 27, 2016

I’ve always aspired to be one of those hostesses who has everything done and is ready and relaxed when guests arrive.

This evening, by taking a realistic approach to how much I could do in the time available, keeping the meal simple and delegating the cooking of the lamb on the parilla to my farmer I did it and I’m grateful for that.


Rural round-up

April 27, 2016

What makes a good farmer? – Bryan Gibson:

It seems that everyone has an opinion on the qualities that make up the perfect food producer, especially at the moment when times are tough.

Judging by the number of emails I’m getting detailing roadshows and information days, it appears the average farmer isn’t short of advice.

Whether they are bankers, consultants or other support company staffers or even other farmers, the range of opinion can be overwhelming.

Now, New Zealand farmers are already good at what they do.

But this dairy downturn means almost every farmer will be looking at his or her balance sheet and strategy and looking to make positive changes. . .

Environmental showcase ‘good farm practice’ – Pam Tipa:

Environmental initiatives began as just good farming practice for the first-ever supreme winners of the Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

Richard and Dianne Kidd, of Whenuanui Farm, Helensville, began fencing and planting about 35 years ago for stock health and farm management. But enthusiasm also grew for the environmental side as they started to see the benefits.

The BFEA judges described the Kidd family’s 376ha sheep, beef and forestry unit, as “a showpiece farm on the edge of Auckland city”. . . 

Farmers fear rights being eroded – Glenys Christian:

Changes to the Resource Management Act and freshwater management proposals might force farmers to increase consultation, Auckland Federated Farmers fears.  

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, now at select committee stage, will make it mandatory for councils to involve iwi authorities in the appointment of hearing commissioners as well as in the critical stages of preparing council plans, Auckland Federated Farmers president Wendy Clark said.  

While she agreed consultation with iwi before plan notifications was appropriate, she argued there should be consultation with anyone directly affected by the plans. . . 

Base labeling on science not superstition:

The left can be quite smug about its allegiance to science. And quite selective, too. That’s particularly true of the environmental movement’s relentless and often hysterical attacks on genetically modified food.

The nation’s food industry is locked in a battle with Vermont over a state law set to go into effect July 1 that will require the labeling of all food products to indicate whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Agricultural and grocery associations have a pending federal lawsuit claiming state-by-state labeling requirements will make mass distribution of food nearly impossible. They’re also concerned, rightly, that the unwarranted fear campaign pressed by opponents of GMOs will drive consumers away from the products. . . 

Extra payment as Miraka grows :

Milk processing company Miraka will set its own price for the 2016/17 season starting on June 1.

The company, which is owned by Maori and overseas interests, already pays its suppliers in the central North Island 10 cents more than Fonterra for every kilogram of milk solids.

Chair Kingi Smiler says there will be an additional premium paid for suppliers who meet Te Ara Miraka farming excellence standards. . . 

Do you eat? Then you should care about agriculture policy – Adam Diamond, Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, Danielle Neirenberg:

Even though only 2 percent of Americans live on farms in 2016, agricultural policy remains extremely important. Why? Everyone has to eat.

It is unsettling to observe that, while Iowa’s caucuses in February forced presidential candidates to pay lip service to agricultural policy, the subject quickly receded from their radar. Food and farm issues may be hard to package in 30-second sound bites, and they certainly do not lend themselves to cutting debate repartee, but that does not mean they should dwell in the shadows of this 2016 election season. Far from it.

Today, Americans are more concerned than ever before about what they’re eating, how it was grown, where it was grown and by whom. And just as those vying to lead our executive branch need to have a basic grasp of foreign affairs, they also need to understand the basics of the farm and nutrition policies that touch us all, every day of the year, in the most visceral way. . .

Farmers United - We love our animals's photo.


Rural round-up

April 26, 2016

Safety change generational – Sally Rae:

Lynn Carty reckons Health and Safety is a little bit like the old seatbelt campaigns.

Nobody wanted to adhere at the start, then it became a generational change; advertisements targeted children, who quickly began to “click” and encouraged their parents to do the same.

“I think this is similar. It’ll be a generational change as well,” the WorkSafe Otago health and safety inspector said. . . 

App saves H&S paperwork:

Onside has launched an online health and safety app for farmers to make compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 easier.

It enabled farmers to develop their own health and safety plan by working through a pre-populated list of risks overlaid on a satellite map of their farm, chief executive Ryan Higgs said.

Contractors and visitors who entered the farm would be prompted to sign in on a smartphone as they crossed a virtual “geo-fence”. . . 

Industry calls for Kiwi farmers to be allowed to grow cannabis – Charlie Mitchell:

It’s green, environmentally-friendly and growing in popularity around the world but some say a roaring cannabis market is about to pass New Zealand by.

Growers and farmers are taking a keen interest in cannabis, as countries around the world legalise its cultivation for medicinal purposes.

Some are looking at the plant’s potential in light of falling dairy prices and restrictions around importing seeds, most recently due to an outbreak of the invasive weed velvetleaf. . . 

Deer farmers focus on meat in the box – Kate Taylor:

Tim Aitken breaks into a smile when asked why he’s a deer farmer.

“A lot of people think deer are hard to farm but they’re not. You just have to get the basics right. We love every minute of it.”

Tim Aitken and Lucy Robertshawe have been farming deer since the late 1980s. The continual improvement is one of the aspects they love about their business… alongside a simple love of farming deer. . . 

This one’s for you Dad‘ – Kate Taylor:

Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year Grant Charteris saluted his father Bruce, who died on the Tikokino farm three years ago, as he and wife Sally celebrated their win.

The couple have a mix of deer, cattle and sheep on their 320ha farm with an economic farm surplus (EFS) of $941/ha and a 9.6 per cent return on capital. They will host a winner’s field day on May 12.

“It was awesome to be able to pull it off and we’re pretty blown away, to be fair,” Grant said.

After thanking people such as vets, bankers, contractors and staff who had helped make their business successful, he also thanked Sally, who had been “the glue that makes our family stick” while looking after a “two-year-old boy who is very active and a seven-month-old girl who’s nocturnal.” . . 

Successful trip to China concludes:

Primary Industries Nathan Guy has concluded a successful trip to China as part of a delegation led by Prime Minister John Key with Trade Minister Todd McClay and New Zealand businesses.

“This visit has reinforced the strong and growing agricultural ties between our countries. Not only is China our biggest export market, there is now a depth of two-way investment and cooperation between our primary industry sectors,” says Mr Guy.

“We have made great progress on an updated meat protocol that includes chilled meat access which will be significant for exporters and farmers. This will help put premium chilled meat cuts on the tables of high end restaurants.

“A new Halal Arrangement will recognise New Zealand’s halal standards and will provide our producers with a first mover advantage in this culturally diverse market that takes 33 percent of our total halal certified exports. . . 

Pacific farmers using web tools for market updates:

Young farmers in the Pacific are being taught web and social media skills to help them earn more, and to share information with other farmers in the region.

The workshop, by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community, or POETCom, began in Niue last week, and will move to the Cook Islands and the Marshall Islands.

POETCom’s coordinator, Karen Mapusua, says farming is often just seen as manual labour by young people, but social media and internet skills can be useful in the agriculture sector. . . 

Peterson Farm Bros's photo.


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