Rural round-up

22/01/2022

Audit solutions won’t work against climate change – look to the practical – Eric Roy:

It’s encouraging to have some better acceptance of the need to address climate change. What is frustrating is the lack of meaningful engagement and the absence of applied science to find solutions.

It has largely been slogans and talk fests combined with finger pointing as to who the worst perpetrators are by country and by sector.

I’m no doubt biased. I’m a farmer and I take exception to some hyperbole levelled at the industry which largely creates the bulk of the wealth that pays for so much of the social needs and services of our country.

New Zealand is the most efficient food producer in the world. . . 

Meat industry warns a Covid-19 Omicron outbreak among its 15,000 workers would have a significant impact during peak season – Karen Coltman:

New Zealand meat plants are bracing for a wave of staff illness if the Omicron Covid-19 variant hits as they head into peakprocessing season

Silver Fern Farms said chief executive Simon Limmer ​said the timing was bad because its peak workforce of 7000 was already 550 short, and he wanted the Government to re-examine its border rules for seasonal workers.

Good weather conditions had alleviated pressure on farmers who had more feed than usual, but that could change.

“Any significant dry period from this point on, coupled with labour-related capacity reductions, will create livestock pressure on farm,” Limmer said. . . 

Young farmer outstanding in her field – Sharon Cain:

Katie Watson reckons she has always been a bit of an animal mad person. Sharon Cain reports.

Growing up on a lifestyle property at Otorohanga with pet lambs, calves and goats and spending time on the family farm in the school holidays has given her a great love for farming and the outdoors.

Watson’s first on farm working experience came in 2011 at the age of 15. She was in year 11 at school and while her friends were getting part-time jobs in cafes and supermarkets, being quite shy she was freaked out at the thought of working with people. With the help from her livestock agent dad, Owen, she got a job with a nearby dairy farmer who taught her how to milk cows.

During her last year of school, Watson did not have a clue what she wanted to do for a career. Following a discussion with a career advisor, she chose to study an Agricultural Science degree at Lincoln University. For the next four years, she surrounded herself with like-minded people who had the same interests. . .

Listen to the land – Diana Dobson:

Sir Ian Taylor may be a pioneer in technology and animation, but it is from the past he draws his strength and innovation.

A keynote speaker for February’s East Coast Farming Expo, the lad from Raupunga brings a fresh perspective to the effect of Covid on our planet, and how to put our country on track for a sustainable future.

Sir Ian’s company Animation Research created platforms that give a real-time, 3D, bird’s eye view of the America’s Cup, among other sports. It is lauded as one of the world’s leading sports graphics companies.

During the pandemic, he has constantly pushed the Government on MIQ, their response to Covid and the future of New Zealand. . .

Kelston orchards opens new multi-purpose cool store and packhouse :

Family-owned business, Kelston Orchards Ltd, has more than doubled the size of its Hawke’s Bay packhouse and cool store in response to increased global demand for New Zealand apples.

Located in the heart of New Zealand’s apple growing region, Kelston Orchards packs fresh apples grown on their 15 orchards and also provides post-harvest services to some of the largest growers in the Hawke’s Bay.

The new fully racked 1,200 square metre finished goods cool store has the capacity to hold 1600 pallets, adding to the current 3000 square metre, 12000 bin store , while the state-of-the-art 2,500 square metre packhouse facility features a multi-lane feeding and optical grading system capable of handling 60 bins per hour.

With technology developed in France by MAF Roda agrobitoics, the facility includes a high performance handling system which ensures apples are managed delicately and quality is not compromised at any point during the process. When not packing apples for export, the packhouse will also be used to support local summerfruit growers. . . 

John Deere’s driverless tractor have hit bump in the road – Brian Henderson:

Excitement ran high in the farming media last week when the second biggest tractor company in the world, John Deere, announced that they were soon to release their first autonomous tractor on to the market.

For, while we’ve all grown used to the ‘hands-free’ option available with GPS auto-steer guidance systems on our big pieces of machinery, taking that a step further and having little more to do to cultivate a field than to drive the tractor down there and then just let it get on with it would certainly appeal to many.

Well, I say many but there still remains a hardcore of tractor fanatics who would happily spend each and every day ensconsed in their cosy cab, driving up and down the same field or racing about the roads with beacons ablaze.

And some of these fan-boys devote the sort of level of support to one brand or colour equalled only on the pre-Covid football terraces or in the stands at the six nations matches. . . 


Rural round-up

14/01/2022

Incentives working but more people needed for Otago summerfruit harvest :

Summerfruit growers in Otago are experiencing severe staff shortages, due to the ongoing impact of border closures and low unemployment in New Zealand.

‘We know it is tough for growers at the moment. Last season, they had the weather. This season, it is the severe labour shortage,’ says Summerfruit New Zealand Chief Executive, Kate Hellstrom.

‘Summerfruit New Zealand is working with other horticulture product groups and government departments to attract and retain as many seasonal workers as possible. However, due to Covid and its impact on New Zealand’s borders, it’s tough.

‘We ask that where possible, growers club together to make best use of available labour. But in saying that, we know that fruit will go to waste, which will affect profitability and morale, as some growers only have about half the staff they’ve had in previous seasons.’ . . 

More dairy industry workers needed ‘for farmers’ mental health’ – Gerhard Uys:

The dairy industry is calling for another 1500 international dairy workers to be let into New Zealand for the 2022 dairy season, with concerns that staff shortages are affecting farmer well-being.

Dairy NZ said recent labour surveys indicated that the dairy sector was short of 2000 to 4000 workers, the statement said.

New Zealand has its lowest unemployment rate since 2007, at 3.4 per cent. A low unemployment rate and closed borders meant massive labour shortage on farms, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for farm performance Nick Robinson said.

Matt Zanderop, a dairy farmer in Waikato, said he had recently advertised for a local part-time position on his farm but that no one applied because there were no locals workers available to fill such posts. . . 

Environmental compliance still high in Southland – Sudesh Kissun:

Southland farmers are being praised for maintaining high environmental compliance during the 2020-21 monitoring year.

The 2020-21 compliance monitoring report, presented this month to Environment Southland summarised compliance monitoring, enforcement and technical teams’ activities.

Environment Southland general manager integrated catchment management Paul Hulse said that once again Covid restrictions led to significant disruption of the inspection programme, and therefore, inspection numbers.

“It has been another challenging year, however, the compliance team has managed the programme extremely well.” . .

Just how viable is the Tarras airport plan? – Jill Herron:

Jill Herron looks at the road ahead for the mysterious and seemingly unwanted airport in Tarras

Lifestyle blocks are continuing to sell around the site of a proposed international airport at Tarras, with newcomers arriving into a community impatient for clarity on the project.

Construction of this considerable chunk of infrastructure could begin in six years’ time, according to its proposers, Christchurch International Airport Ltd.

A three-year consenting process is due to start in 2024 for the jet-capable facility with a 2.2km runway, coinciding with sustainability and community consultation policies tightening across all levels of government. . . 

Landing at Minaret Station Alpine Lodge – Sue Wallace,:

You can escape the real world at Minaret Station, writes Sue Wallace

It’s simply breathtaking skimming over snow-dusted mountains, emerald green valleys and spotting tumbling waterfalls and meandering streams on the way to the South Island’s luxury Minaret Station Alpine Lodge.

The lodge fits snugly on the western side of Lake Wānaka between Minaret Burn in the south and the Albert Burn in the north.

Head swivelling is in full force on the 30-minute helicopter hop from Queenstown Airport to the remote highland retreat among some of the world’s best scenery. You just don’t want to miss anything. . . 

Propaganda films disguised as documentaries continue to take aim at agriculture – Jonathan Lawler:

At every turn, there is a new food/farm documentary coming out with sensationalist titles like GMO OMG and Cowspiracy. Thanks to the popularity of streaming sites like Netflix and the deep pockets of some interest groups, it has become easier than ever to get such a movie made. And that would be fine if there was any value and truth to what they show. These “documentaries” are too often light on substance and tap into very little — if any — reality about modern agriculture. And, as a farmer who is doing my best to build a sustainable and thriving operation, it’s crushing to see these kinds of depictions get so much buzz in popular culture.

Not long ago, I spoke to a teacher who had recently shown Food, Inc. to her class, and she asked me my opinion of Cowspiracy. I told her it was equivalent to what I shovel out of the cattle pens. I reminded her the purpose of a documentary is to document real-world experience, and even though most will be somewhat biased through the eyes of the filmmaker, these food and ag docs are most often marketed as the definitive answer on a particular subject matter (such as biotech, nutrition, or soil).

Consider a National Geographic documentary on crocodiles, for example. You don’t walk away saying, “Those crocodiles are evil and greedy; why do they kill so many buffalo and why do they trick them by pretending to be logs?” Of course you don’t, because the documentary director is just … well … documenting. . . .

 


Rural round-up

13/01/2022

Fruitful days lie ahead, say North Otago growers – Ashley Smyth:

Fruitgrowers in North Otago are looking forward to a bumper crop this season.

Matsinger’s Berry Farm owner Leanne Matsinger said the season had been going very well, and the strawberries were “massive and beautiful”.

The Peebles business, about 15km inland from Oamaru towards the Waitaki Valley, had about 50,000 plants in the ground, and another 20,000 growing hydroponically. There was also 1ha of raspberries.

Far from being a burden, the wet weather had meant the fruit was big and juicy, Mrs Matsinger said. . .

Primary industry leaders call for Gen Z to secure the future of the sector :

New Zealand’s food and fibre sector is working hard to secure the future of the primary industries by trying to attract more young people to choose a career in the sector.

The key to attracting Generation Z, loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010, to the sector is raising awareness of opportunities and the range of roles available in the industry, experts say.

Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar Madison Pannett, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries as a senior adviser in the Animal Welfare Liaison team, released a report on this subject called Generation Z and the environment – how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers?

She says: “I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join. . . 

AACo partners with The Zanda McDonald Award to support future leaders in agriculture:

The new year is off to a great start for The Zanda McDonald Award, with the announcement that Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) have come on board as a partner for the trans-Tasman agricultural badge of honour.

AACo, Australia’s largest integrated cattle and beef producer, owns and operates stations, feedlots and farms comprising around 6.4 million hectares of land in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Managing Director and CEO Hugh Killen says the company can play a role in helping develop the next generation of industry leaders.

“AACo has been helping grow agriculture in Australia for almost 200 years and our association with the Zanda McDonald Award continues this legacy,” Mr Killen said. . . 

Comvita’s 50-year history: hippies, health and harmony :

Almost 50 years ago, 20-something hippie surfer Alan Bougen teamed up with 60-something beekeeper Claude Stratford to set up a health food company, based mostly around bee products. They called it Comvita. In the fourth in a series, Newsroom talks to Bougen about a small business which turned into our largest mānuka honey producer  

It all started with a mutual goal to improve people’s health, while leaving the environment better than they found it – and in that the Comvita founders were ahead of their time as sustainable thinkers. Stratford and Bougen were also leaders in the drive to validate mānuka honey’s unique health-giving properties and then share its magic with the world.

Claude Stratford died in 2013 at the age of 102; his longevity a testament to the founders’ shared Hippocratic belief that food is medicine and medicine is food. Now aged 71, and about to walk the Heaphy Track, Alan Bougen has new insights on old lessons learned over half a century in the business.

Hippie roots

“The natural food and products industry in 1970-1971 was where I dropped into the lifestyle of health and wellness, the ‘health food revolution’ as it was known,” Bougen says. He’s at home in Mt Maunganui, reminiscing about his early days in San Diego in true bohemian style. . . 

Five months on the 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist Of The Year national final set to go ahead:

It may be five months later than planned, but it’s on! Due to the sudden and extended Delta lockdown the 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition, just one week away from taking place in August, is set to finally go ahead on Thursday 27th January 2022.

It will take place at Indevin’s Bankhouse Vineyard in Marlborough and the national winner will be announced at the Awards Dinner the same night.

“We’re excited and relieved that we can finally go ahead with the competition” says Nicky Grandorge, the National Co-Ordinator “The flexibility of everyone involved has been incredible and shows the strength, resilience and passion of the Young Vit community.”

The national finalists have been in limbo for quite some time, although they were able to hand in their research reports and give their presentations online which relieved them of some pressure. The topic for this year’s project was “Assess various pruning options during a labour shortage”, thus addressing one of the real challenges currently facing the wine industry. . . 

Pending irrigation scheme water access set to add balue to livestock grazing blocks on the market for sale:

Two blocks of livestock grazing pastureland – with the potential to have access to a substantial sustainable water supply enabling conversion of the property into highly productive horticultural land – have been placed on the market for sale.

The 33.41-hectare property in two titles at Te Kopuru on the Poutu Peninsula is just south of Dargaville in Northland.

The pair of freehold lots 2 and 18 at Redhill Cemetery Road in Te Kopuru are now being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Whangarei, with the tender process closing on February 3. Salespeople Vinni Bhula and Todd Skudder said buyers had the opportunity tender for either of the blocks individually, or as a combined offering.

Lot 2 comprises 16.05-hectares, while adjoining lot 18 consists of 17.36-hectares. Both lots are classified as featuring flat to gently rolling topographic contours. . . 


Rural round-up

12/01/2022

Veganuary: Can veganism save the planet? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Whether you enjoyed your festive dinner with gusto, defiance, guilt, or smugness in the knowledge that you chose non-animal food, you can make a resolution to embrace a more environmentally friendly diet for the future.

You’ll be able to do this by eating food in moderation to meet the needs of your body and mind.

Extreme diets, over-eating and simply the number of people doing the eating are the main causes of environmental impacts associated with food, not animals per se.

This doesn’t fit with the message from activists to save the planet by becoming vegan, but the science doesn’t fit the message either. . .

Sun helping cherries but staff still scarce :

A year after heavy and persistent rain destroyed millions of dollars of Central Otago cherries, growers are thankful for this month’s sun, but are facing another sort of problem.

Last year, heavy rain began on New Year’s Day and continued for 36 hours, causing the Fraser River to breach its banks and localised flooding, and making cherries split in what were expected to be bumper crops.

3 Kings Cherries manager Tim Paulin said rain early in the season last month had caused some splitting in the Sweetheart cherries, but fine weather since meant the fruit was now in good condition.

The company started operations last month in a large new packhouse on the hill above the Clyde bypass, and staff were busy last week packing fruit for another grower. . .

Shear4Blair – 24 hours of shearing to raise funds for Southland charity hospital – Rachael Kelly:

Preparing for a 24-hour shearing event is not unlike preparing to run a marathon except the race is much longer.

Cole Wells is one of four shearers who will spend 24 hours on the boards in the historic Wohelo Station woolshed, high in the hills of West Otago at Waitangi weekend, for the Shear4Blair event.

He’ll be joined by Eru Weeds, Braydon Clifford and David Gower, who will collectively aim to shear more than 9500 lambs in 24 hours, donating their wages to the Southland Charity Hospital.

They’ll shear 12 two hour runs, starting at 6am on Saturday morning, finishing at 2pm on Sunday afternoon. . .

Honour surprises scientist :

DR PETER FRANCIS FENNESSY

For services to agricultural science and business

“Exceptionally surprised, to be perfectly honest,” is how Dunedin scientist Dr Peter Fennessy describes being made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to agricultural science and business.

Dr Fennessy, who said he was honoured by the accolade, has had a broad and distinguished career as a scientist, mentor, consultant, and entrepreneur over 45 years and has held governance and management roles across numerous small-to-medium agri and biotechnology startups and enterprises, including a long-term involvement with Blis Technologies as a director and chairman.

He was general manager of AgResearch Invermay from 1992 to 1997 before entering the private sector and founding highly successful agribusiness consulting firm AbacusBio in 2001. . .

How the man from McKinsey ended up running NZ’s biggest farm – Jamie Gray:

How did Steve Carden, whose curriculum vitae includes a stint at the high-powered US consultancy McKinsey and Co, end up running Landcorp?

Carden, who is soon leave to the state-owned farming giant for NZX-listed winemakerDelegat’s, says it was a matter of “falling in love” with agriculture.

Landcorp, which has the brand name Pāmu (to farm) produces dairy, beef, lamb, wool, venison, trees and of all things, sheep and deer milk from a vast estate of 144 farms, covering a million acres (404,000 hectares).

Before joining Pāmu in 2013, Carden was general manager of PGG Wrightson Seeds Australia from 2010 having earlier joined the company as its group manager of business development. . .

 

Lab grown meat is supposed to be inevitable, the science tells a different story – Joe Fassler:

Splashy headlines have long overshadowed inconvenient truths about biology and economics. Now, extensive new research suggests the industry may be on a billion-dollar crash course with reality.

Paul Wood didn’t buy it.

For years, the former pharmaceutical industry executive watched from the sidelines as biotech startups raked in venture capital, making bold pronouncements about the future of meat. He was fascinated by their central contention: the idea that one day, soon, humans will no longer need to raise livestock to enjoy animal protein. We’ll be able to grow meat in giant, stainless-steel bioreactors—and enough of it to feed the world. . .


Rural round-up

22/12/2021

My thoughts on carbon farming – Pete Fitz-Herbert:

Manawatū farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert is worried about carbon farming and he’s got something to say about it.

As you sit by your prematurely harvested and quickly wilting tree this Christmas, ponder this – have you heard about this carbon farming thing?

I think it’s getting out of hand.

Most people don’t appear to understand it, so they think it doesn’t affect them, but it will very soon. . .

Looking on the bright side for 2022 – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Remembering the good things of life is a great resolution for 2022, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

In October this year, New Zealand was ranked eighth of 167 countries in the Legatum Prosperity Index.

Denmark topped the list, followed by Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Luxembourg and then New Zealand. The UK is thirteenth and Australia sixteenth. The USA is twentieth.

We sometimes forget how good New Zealand is. . .

Feds ask for flood protection for all :

Canterbury Federated Farmers’ presidents are alarmed to hear urban based regional councillors wildly claiming entire towns should be shifted to avoid flood protection costs.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president David Clark warns councillors to remember to focus on flood recovery and river management for all ratepayers, not just a few.

“Proactive management of our flood protection works is essential for the wellbeing of our communities,” David says.

During 2021 most of Canterbury has been challenged by flooding, with Christchurch and Banks Peninsula the most recent areas receiving more heavy rain.   . . 

Feds survey shows slight uptick in farmer bank relationship :

Farmers are feeling slightly more satisfied with relationships with their banks but interest rates are starting to rise and some are reporting a tougher attitude from lenders.

Results from the November Federated Farmers Banking Survey show 67 percent of the more than 900 respondents are satisfied with their bank relationship, up 5.5 points on the May survey and a break in what had been a steady erosion in satisfaction since 2017 (when it was over 80%).

“It’s also pleasing to see that the 13.5 percent of respondents feeling ‘undue pressure’ from banks is down 4.4 points compared to six months ago,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“However, there are hints of more bumpy times ahead, with a quarter of farmers saying their lending conditions had changed since the May survey, and of those with changed conditions most said they were tougher rather than easier.” . . 

Fruit exports dominated by gold kiwifruit :

Gold kiwifruit continues to dominate fruit exports in an otherwise challenging market, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended November 2021, gold kiwifruit made up 47 percent ($1.9 billion) of total fruit export value, while green kiwifruit made up 23 percent ($923 million).

Both increases were quantity driven, with prices falling compared with a year ago. Gold kiwifruit have a traditionally higher unit price than green. Since the kiwifruit season in 2016, which is typically from March to November, gold has overtaken green in terms of value. In the 2020 season, gold kiwifruit also overtook green in terms of volume. . .

Rain dances don’t provide water security – Tom Marland:

Paradise Dam on the mighty Burnett River has now released more water than it can store at its reduced capacity of 170,000 megalitres.

Bundaberg farmers who started the water year on just 22 per cent of their allocations have been provided with a stay of execution, with widespread rainfall across the Bundaberg region and the Burnett River catchment.

Many farmers were facing significant crop losses across the region prior to the much-needed rain.

Despite assurances from the Queensland Labor Government that a decision about the future of Paradise Dam would be made before Christmas, it looks like Santa Clause will have come and gone before we see any leadership on water security in this state. . .


Rural round-up

20/12/2021

Looking for community connection – VIctoria O’Sullivan:

Building a multi-million-dollar water care project in a year has been no mean feat for a group of dedicated Maniototo locals. Each is ardent about preserving and enhancing the values of the upper Taieri Catchment in Otago.

The five-year Tiaki Maniototo project run by local catchment group, Upper Taieri Wai, received $4.55 million from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) towards freshwater improvement in the Taieri catchment this year. When combined with the in-kind support from other agencies and farmers, the total budget amounts to about $6m.

.

Project manager Morgan Trotter says the project is about improving freshwater quality, ecosystem values and biodiversity in the Upper Taieri catchment. Trotter previously spent 17 years working for Fish & Game in the region and has more than 20 years’ experience in freshwater environmental management. While the focus of the project is creation of jobs and environmental outcomes there is a “massive” opportunity to help farmers through upcoming regulatory changes. . .

Low-methane sheep research wins top award :

AgResearch’s work to successfully breed low methane-emitting sheep has been recognised with the supreme award at this year’s Science New Zealand Awards.

The decade-long work by AgResearch scientists has enabled them to identify genetic differences which influence how much methane an individual sheep produces.

By breeding for this low-methane genetic trait, the scientists have been able to demonstrate that after three generations the lowest-emitting sheep produce close to 13% less methane than the highest emitters, per kilogram of feed eaten.

While the actual methane reduction at the farm-scale will be less when sheep are also being bred for other desirable genetic traits, it is still expected to be significant. . . 

Envy demand forecast brings building plans:

Horticultural company T&G Global has projected a $100 million new build of a pack house at Whakatu, near Hastings but not given a date for commencement or the start of operations.

The announcement was in the context of growth in market demand for its licensed Envy apple variety, independently forecast to reach $1 billion by 2030. 

Orchard redevelopment over 300ha in Hawke’s Bay and Nelson during the next four years will help meet that demand, including two-dimensional trees to allow for future automated management.

T&G is partnering with the NZ Super Fund through FarmRight in a 40ha Envy orchard. . .

Number of beef cattle on the rise :

Beef cattle numbers increased in 2021 while the number of sheep dipped slightly, Stats NZ said today.

Provisional figures from the 2021 agricultural production survey show beef cattle numbers have increased to 4 million at June 2021, a 4 percent (142,000) increase from the previous year.

“The total number of beef cattle was at a historical low in 2016, however it’s been increasing and is now up by 492,000, or 14 percent, since that time,” agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said. Good beef prices throughout this period contributed to this increase.

The number of sheep nationally has been steady compared with the previous year, at 26 million. The lambing rate was also consistent with the previous year. . .

Trust lifts more kiwi eggs that ever in first half of bumper nesting season :

The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust looks likely to set fresh records for its Maungataniwha Kiwi Programme following delivery of 54 viable eggs to the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua in the first half of the 2021/2022 season. It still has two more ‘first clutch’ eggs to retrieve so it is possible that its ‘half time score’ will grow to 56.

Earlier this year it completed the return of a record 53 juvenile kiwi to the bush as part of its work with Operation Nest Egg, the nationwide kiwi recovery initiative that removes kiwi eggs from their burrows, incubates them and cares for the chicks in captivity until they’re big enough to fend for themselves in the wild.

Traditionally, fewer eggs are retrieved in the back half of the egg-lifting season. These are known as ‘second clutch’ eggs. But there are already signs that the second half of the 2021/2022 egg-lifting season at the Trust’s property in the Maungataniwha Native Forest in Hawke’s Bay will also be strong.

Trust staffer and ‘kiwi whisperer’ Barry Crene said he had retrieved three eggs from two second-clutch nests. This is, he says, a promising start although he will never “count my kiwi before they’re hatched.” . . 

New chief executive appointed at Pāmu:

Silver Fern Farms Chief Operating Officer Mark Leslie will join Pāmu as its new Chief Executive, Pāmu Board chairman Dr Warren Parker announced today.

Dr Parker says Mr Leslie brings a wealth of primary sector experience to the role.

“The Board are delighted that Mark is joining Pāmu as we continue to successfully deliver our strategy. His skillset, including hands on experience running substantial livestock and dairy operations and background in farming, will be beneficial as we work to produce higher farm gate returns with a smaller environmental footprint, and with an ongoing focus on the wellbeing of our people, our animals and the land we farm,” Dr Parker said. . . 


Rural round-up

18/12/2021

 Government ‘tone deaf’ to meat industry’s needs – Sally Rae:

The Meat Industry Association has lambasted what is understood to be the approval of 15 long-term critical worker visas for halal butchers – when 45 are “desperately” needed – saying it shows the Government is “tone deaf to the needs of business”.

Muslim markets and many customers demanded meat be processed in the halal way; 49 out of 55 processing plants in New Zealand operated halal systems and relied on 250 halal butchers.

In a statement yesterday, MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the “miserly” approval knee-capped the ability of the second-largest goods export sector to fully contribute to New Zealand’s economy and capture higher value from its exports.

Halal certified products contributed about $3.7 billion of annual export earnings. The sector could typically recruit only 100 halal butchers domestically due to New Zealand’s small Muslim population and the nature of the job. . . 

Farmers will want to milk it – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers will be milking cows for as long as they can to capitalise on a record milk price this season.

Soaring farm input costs may erode profit margins, but a milk price near $9/kgMS provides farmers the chance to boost income and reduce debt.

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says farmers around the globe are facing inflationary pressures and NZ is no exception.

“But I don’t think there will be any adverse reaction to milk production,” says Hurrell. . .

T&G Global to invest millions in automated packhouse, orchard redevelopment

Produce company T&G Global has announced it will pour in millions of dollars to expand its apples business to meet growing consumer demand. 

The company will invest $100 million into a new automated packhouse and has committed millions more to orchard redevelopment across Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

The announcement comes after T&G downgraded its full-year profit expectations in October, due to persistent labour shortages and rising shipping costs.

T&G, which is one of New Zealand’s largest apple growers and marketers, said its premium Envy apple was on track to be a billion-dollar brand. . . 

Funding of hemp fibre innovation set to propel New Zealand on to world stage :

New Government funding will help a New Zealand hemp fibre company explore untapped opportunities – from soft flooring to food packaging that’s more environmentally sustainable.

The Government is contributing $1.34 million through MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) to New Zealand Natural Fibres’ (NZNF) five-year research and development programme project. NZNF is the only hemp fibre company in New Zealand that controls its own supply chain end-to-end. The company is contributing a further $2 million in cash and in kind to the project.

“We plan to use the SFF Futures funding to develop our hemp growing, processing and marketing capability to ‘go further, faster’ towards taking a global leadership position in the development of industrial and consumer products made from hemp fibre,” says NZNF CEO Colin McKenzie.

“We are very pleased to have received government backing to continue our work with hemp fibre, which has huge potential to be part of the solution to some of the most crucial environmental challenges facing our planet today. . . 

Gearing up for harvest:

The export cherry season is now underway and in New Zealand, summerfruit has started appearing in the supermarkets.  In other words, the new season’s fruit harvest is gathering pace, as Christmas fast approaches and the great kiwi summer getaway also gets underway. 

Tomorrow, the Auckland borders will finally be open. Unfortunately across some areas of the country, there is apprehension and reservations about this change.  But let’s not pre-empt any negative thoughts.  Our Auckland comrades have done it very hard for a long period.  To help growers and packhouse operators prepare for in the event of a positive Covid test, we have worked with the Ministry of Primary Industries to pull together advice on what to do.  Click here to access that advice. 

The most important things to do are to isolate the worker and their bubble, alert your local District Health Board and follow their instructions regarding the public health implications, and contact your product group for further advice.  In terms of any media interest, it is recommended to direct any journalist to your product group or HortNZ for any comment as you will be busy managing the response and we are all here to help you.  . . 

Once perceived as a problem, conservation grazing by cattle a boon to vernal pools :

Giving 1,200-pound cows access to one of California’s most fragile and biologically rich ecosystems seems a strange way to protect its threatened and endangered species.

But a recently published study suggests that reintroducing low to moderate levels of cattle grazing around vernal pools – under certain conditions – leads to a greater number and greater variety of native plants.

“We found that after 40 years of rest from grazing, reintroducing conservation grazing had – across the board – positive impacts on vernal pool plant diversity,” said Julia Michaels, a visiting professor at Reed College who led a three-year study in a Sacramento-area reserve during her time as a UC Davis Ph.D. student.

Ecologists consider vernal pools – ephemeral ponds that form seasonally – “islands of native habitat” amid California’s grasslands that are dominated by exotic grasses. These biodiversity hotspots harbor about 200 native species of animals and plants, such as the coyote thistle, which germinates under water and forms a snorkel-like straw to deliver oxygen to its roots – and then “fills in” its stem as the pool dries. . . 


Rural round-up

17/12/2021

Primary producers overcome big challenges (including govt regulations) to lift export revenue in latest forecasts – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s  primary  producers  deserve   a  Christmas bouquet – or a big hamper stuffed with goodies – as food  and  fibre  export revenue is projected  to top $50 billion for the  first  time   next  year.  They are achieving this despite  the challenges of regulatory compliance, increasing costs for inputs such as feed and fertiliser, Covid impacts on freight movements and constraints around labour availability.

Total export value is expected to rise 6% to $50.8bn in the year to June 30 2022, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report released today.

Ministers were quick to hop on the bandwagon, despite framing many of the  new regulatory constraints.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the healthy growth forecast across the majority of the primary industries showed the future of the food and fibre sector is bright. . . 

Science New Zealand 2021 Awards :

This year’s annual awards celebrated 24 awardees across three award categories – Early Career Researcher, Individual / Lifetime Achievement and Team. A Supreme Award winner was chosen from the 24 awardees. 

Supreme Award Winner

The AgResearch Breeding Low Methane-Emitting Sheep Team

AgResearch’s Breeding Low Methane-Emitting Sheep leads the world in breeding sheep that produce less methane. This innovation gives farmers practical tools to lower methane emissions on their farms. As methane is a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas, this could contribute significantly in helping to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions.

Gains made by using this technology in sheep flocks are permanent and cumulative. The team’s work is gaining momentum with other livestock industries, particularly cattle and deer. . . 

Student Jo Search helps fill vacancies in agriculture, fishing and forestry – Niva Chittock:

Student Job Search is coming to the rescue of farmers and growers crying out for skilled workers.

There’s been a 76 percent increase in the number of jobs it’s offering in agriculture, fishing and forestry.

At the same time, student earnings from these jobs have more than doubled, totalling just under $7 million in the last financial year.

Student Job Search places around 27,000 students into work every year. . . 

Rockit sees strongest year yet with 45% growth:

Innovative New Zealand apple company, Rockit Global Limited is celebrating its strongest season yet, with forecast turnover up 45 percent year on year in a tough economic environment.

Global demand for its snack sized apples is continuing to grow exponentially, with the high-performing business this year recording 33 percent growth in bin volume, resulting in over 75 million apples being packed and shipped to consumers around the world. Rockit is also forecasting orchard gate returns of around NZD $230,000 per hectare on mature orchards.

Rockit Global CEO Mark O’Donnell puts these impressive results down to a combination of the company ‘doing things differently’ on the global stage through innovation, backed by its disruptive new brand and great product.

“To see such a robust result among this year’s economic challenges is extremely exciting,” says Mark. “As global consumer demand increases – and more Rockit trees are planted to meet this – we’ve implemented leading edge automation and artificial intelligence to meet our strong growth trajectory and reduce reliance on manual labour across all parts of the supply chain– which is also creating higher value, and more innovative roles for our people.” . .

Hawke’s Bay pumpkin milk wins big in New York :

A Hawke’s Bay company making a pumpkin milk has been recognised at the World Plant-Based Awards in New York.

The product, known as Kabocha Milk, is produced by one of New Zealand’s largest buttercup squash growers.

The company said squash is staple part of the Japanese and East Asian diet and the milk allows them to make use of crops which aren’t export grade due to cosmetic blemishes.

It’s milk is stocked in two high-end Japanese retail store chains which plans to extend to 5,000 stores across Japan, Korea and China in the next couple of years. . . 

Australian manuka industry hails UK trademark decision as a victory for common sense:

The Australian Manuka Honey Association is delighted that the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has rejected an application by a group of New Zealand producers to trademark the words “Manuka honey”, recognising that it is a purely descriptive term for a type of honey. The decision will have widespread ramifications in jurisdictions beyond the United Kingdom.

In reaching its decision, the IPO accepted there was significant evidence that the general public understands manuka honey is not produced exclusively in New Zealand, but rather originates from a number of places including Australia.

Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) Chairman Paul Callander said: “This decision is the right decision and a fair decision. The term manuka has been used in Australia since the 1800s and the Australian industry has invested significantly for decades in manuka honey science, research and marketing. It would be deeply unfair – and financially devastating – to deny that reality.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/12/2021

Feds backs withdrawal from governments archaic pay agreement laws :

Federated Farmers supports Business New Zealand’s decision to opt out of the government’s plans for it to be a partner in implementing so-called ‘Fair Pay’ agreements.

Federated Farmers has already indicated it will not function as a mediator for the government’s flawed pay negotiation scheme.

It fully supports Business New Zealand’s decision.
“We support them and for the same reasons they outline we will also refuse to be a negotiating partner for agricultural employers.

“We call on other agricultural organizations to take a similar stance,” employment spokesperson and national board member Chris Lewis says. . .

Fonterra’s Flexible Shareholding structure gets green light from farmers :

Fonterra shareholders have today given the Co-operative’s new capital structure proposal the green light with 85.16% of the total farmer votes in support of the proposal.

The final votes on the capital structure proposal were cast at a Special Meeting in Invercargill early this afternoon.

Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

“Today our farmers have agreed. We have received a strong mandate for change with 85.16% of votes cast in favour of the proposal and 82.65% of eligible votes being cast, , 

Rural schools cry out for mental health support – Matthew Scott:

Without proper access to mental health services for students, teachers in rural schools are left putting out fires

On paper, it was a dream job.

Sarah* had taught at an urban intermediate school for six years before packing up and moving to the country.

Her new school in rural Manawatu meant teaching a class of 18 students rather than her old class of 31. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports increase by 27 percent:

The value of New Zealand’s red meat sector exports reached $693 million during October, a 27 per cent increase year-on-year, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sheepmeat was a standout performer with the value increasing by 25 per cent to $309m. The major sheepmeat markets by value were China, up 25 per cent to $131m, the United States, up 54 per cent to $46m, and the Netherlands, up 94 per cent to $29m.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said a mixture of supply constraints and good demand in key markets had contributed to the high sheepmeat prices. These factors included Brexit-related issues and Australia rebuilding its sheep flock.

“The average Free on Board* (FOB) value for sheepmeat exports for the quarter was $12.52/kg,” said Ms Karapeeva. . .

Forest Owners say Fish and Game barking up wrong tree :

The Forest Owners Association says Fish and Game’s criticism of exotic plantation forests doesn’t accord with reality.

“Fish and Game is, quite simply, barking up the wrong tree when it invents what it calls a ‘myriad of adverse impacts’ from exotic forests,” says Phil Taylor, the FOA President.

“It is true that forests moderate rainfall entering waterways – which reduces the risk of floods. But that also applies to native trees – which Fish and Game wants a lot more of – as well as to exotics – which Fish and Game wants less of.”

“The same applies to water quality. Water emerging out of forests is cleaner than that flowing off farmland – irrespective of the type of forest or type of farmland,” Phil Taylor says. . .

Te Mata Exports acquire rights to Bay Queen™ Apple:

New Zealand produce exporter, Te Mata Exports Limited, has acquired the exclusive rights to a new early season apple variety.

Developed by Hawke’s Bay growing operation, Bayley Produce, the Bay Queen™ is New Zealand’s earliest export apple variety. Bay Queen™ has a vibrant bright full block red colour with crisp flesh and it’s smooth, sweet balance makes it broadly appealing.

Te Mata Exports and Bayley Produce have enjoyed a close working relationship for 10 years, originally partnering to manage the global sale and distribution of apples and summerfruit, and more recently working together to trial and commercialise the Bay Queen™.

The exclusive rights will see Te Mata Exports manage all tree distribution, planting, exporting and marketing. . . .


Rural round-up

24/11/2021

Sometimes we forget where our watches come from – Peter Cresswell:

The weekend’s #Groundswell protests, and the #Groundswell movement itself, were intended to highlight the plight of the New Zealand farmer under an unsympathetic regime. Instead, however, the organisers have allowed it to become easily gaslighted as something it’s not. As racist, or anti-vax. 

And the important message has been lost: that it’s NZ farmers who allow us to live in first-world comfort — that it’s their exported produce that allows us to buy, at not unreasonable prices, all the technology of the world. As Ludwig Von Mises explained back before electronics took over:

The inhabitants of [Switzerland] prefer to manufacture watches instead of growing wheat. Watchmaking is for them the cheapest way to acquire wheat. On the other hand the growing of wheat is the cheapest way for the Canadian farmer to acquire watches.

The lesson remains the same. To paraphrase now, for us: . . .

‘It’s getting harder and harder to farm’ – Farmers rally for second protest :

Farmers and their townie mates are determined to keep pressuring the government to back off what they see as unnecessary expensive changes after Sunday’s nationwide Groundswell protests.

Driving tractors and utes, they clogged streets in all of the main centres on Sunday to have their say on the government’s Three Waters reforms.

It was the second time the Groundswell group had organised such action, calling the rally the “Mother Of All Protests”.

It was hard to get a handle on the exact numbers taking part, with everybody mostly remaining in their cars and socially distanced, but one thing was for sure: the protesters were rowdy. . . 

New coalition demands a halt to further large-scale exotic carbon farming :

The Native Forest Coalition representing the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Rod Donald Trust, the Tindall foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmond and Dr Adam Forbes, has released a policy statement and recommendations on native forests, highlighting the urgent need to halt the rapid proliferation of pine plantations driven by high carbon prices and short-term policy settings.

The Coalition strongly favours prioritising native forestry over exotics and argues that before seeking offshore carbon forest credits, government should invest in native forests, for their myriad of benefits, at home. The Coalition’s concerns are summarised in the policy statement below: 

“In tackling the climate change crisis, there’s an urgent need to move away from short-term thinking and siloed government policy. We need a shift towards joined-up strategies that also address the biodiversity crisis, the degradation of waterways and risks to rural communities.  . .

Online job expo hopes to entice seasonal workers for picking season :

A job expo which helps link job seekers with jobs in the horticulture sector is moving online this year.

Last year, Employment and Careers South held a series of expos around Southland and Otago to help those who found themselves unemployed due to the pandemic get jobs in the horticulture sector which was short staffed due to the border closure.

With summer just around the corner and the border still shut – some growers are still facing a worker shortage going into the vital picking season.

With Covid event restrictions the job expo called Super Summer Jobs has gone online this year. . . 

Hill Country Futures programme:

Innovative tools to support farmers and farm consultants in pasture planning are expected to become available next year as part of the Hill Country Futures Programme.

Lincoln University’s Professor Derrick Moot, who is leading several of the research areas that make up the programme, said findings from a number of projects are now being written up.

These include a simple model to help farmers forecast potential yields of lucerne for their properties, a national database of pasture growth data, and legume production data to help farmers assess the difference in productivity they could achieve by replacing resident pasture with improved pasture.

Hill Country Futures is a long-term $8.1m partnership programme, co-funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Seed Force New Zealand and PGG Wrightson Seeds. . .

Manawa Honey wins four awards at the London Honey Awards 2021:

A small honey producer from Ruatāhuna, in the remote Te Urewera wilderness, crowned Best Tasting Honey in the World earlier this year, has now won four awards at the London International Honey Awards 2021.

Manawa Honey’s Manuka Honey and Tawari Honey won Gold, and their Rewarewa Honey and Pua-a-Tane Wild Forest Honey won Silver. The London Honey Awards attract hundreds of entries from over 30 countries across the world each year. Entries are judged on a range of criteria including the general sense of enjoyment, taste and appearance.

These achievements and awards are now snowballing for this honey producer that has its community rather than commerce alone at heart. Ruatāhuna is situated deep in Te Urewera forest, home to the Tūhoe tribe. It has a population of only about 350 people residents and is a one-hour drive from the nearest town, Murupara and two-hour’s drive from Rotorua. . . 


Rural round-up

05/11/2021

Hey Glasgow we’re way ahead of you :

Federated Farmers believes Climate Change Minister James Shaw should not hesitate to sign the global commitment to reduce methane by 30% by 2030, because New Zealand is already playing its part and working hard to become even better.

The pledge, signed by more than 100 countries, is a commitment to work together to collectively reduce global anthropogenic methane emissions across all sectors by at least 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030.

The pledge does not mean that New Zealand must or should increase our current domestic 10% by 2030 biogenic methane reduction target, which already goes well beyond what is required for the GHG to achieve warming neutrality.

The pledge is clear in recognising that the mitigation potential in different sectors varies between countries and regions, and that the energy sector has the greatest potential for targeted mitigation by 2030. . . 

Farmers are making good money from milk but they should brace to meet commitment to reduce the methane – Point of Order:

A surge in  prices  at the latest  Fonterra global  dairy  auction once  again underlines  how  New Zealand’s dairy  industry  is the  backbone of  the  country’s export economy.  At  the level they  have  reached, dairy farmers  can  look  to  a  record  payout    this  season  from  Fonterra.

Overall,  prices rose 4.3% in  US dollars, and, better  still, 5.1% in NZ$. Star  of the  show  was  the  cheddar  cheese  price, which shot up  14%,  with other  foodservice products also  strong.

The average price for whole milk powder, which has the most impact on what farmers are paid, lifted 2.7% to US$3921 (NZ$5408) a tonne, prompting speculation it will push through US$4000/t.

A  record  payout  is  already  mooted  by  some some  economists  in  the agricultural  sector. Above  $8.80kg/MS, it might  dispel  the  gloom  being  cast across the industry  by Cop26, where the  focus has  shifted to the  need  to  cut methane  emissions. . . 

Food security needs certainty :

The Government must act now to ensure New Zealand growers have certainty in how Covid will handled, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“We are indebted to our growers and producers that provide the food security our country needs at this time.

“But Covid is here and it will inevitably impact essential services such as growers. . . 

Kit Arkwright appointed chief executive of Beef and Lamb New Zealand Inc,:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc (BLNZ Inc) has appointed Kit Arkwright as the organisation’s new chief executive.

Mr Arkwright, who has been fulfilling the role of acting CEO during the recruitment process, has been with the organisation since 2017, most recently as General Manager – Marketing.

Prior to working for BLNZ Inc, he worked in the UK for Great British Racing – the central promotional body for the British horseracing industry – tasked with marketing the sport to the British public.

He succeeds Rod Slater, who retired earlier in the year after 27 years in the role. . . 

Horticulture students place in top three in international food marketing challenge :

Two teams of high-flying university students from Massey and Lincoln Universities have placed in the final three in the recent International Food Marketing Challenge.

The Lincoln University team, consisting of Grace Moscrip, Grace Mainwaring, Kate Sims and Emma Ritchie, came in third place. The Massey University team, consisting of Dylan Hall, Sre Lakshmi Gaythri Rathakrishna, George Hyauiason and Reuben Dods came in second place.

Massey student Sre Lakshmi Gaythri, who’s in her final year of her Agricommerce degree, says this year’s competition was essential for putting her learning into practice.

“It was a great way to challenge ourselves to learn about the structure of the agricultural industry in the US, working on the challenge problem and coming up with solutions all within a short period of time,” says Sre. . . 

Secure water supply offers exciting opportunities in Northland :

The new Kaipara water scheme now underway offers the opportunity to tap into this Northland farm’s horticultural potential. This Te Kopuru property provides a chance to secure an investment in a green field site with secure water access for high value horticulture, offering scale and superior soil types in a highly desired location.

Learn more about how the Te Tai Tokerau water storage project will transform Northland into a horticulture hub for high value crops – www.taitokerauwater.com

Horticultural investors looking beyond the Bay of Plenty for horticultural land with scale and water security can invest in a large Northland property offering excellent growing conditions. . . 


Rural round-up

25/10/2021

Focus on discerning consumers – Neal Wallace & Colin Williscroft:

An increasing number of meat and dairy exporters are targeting discerning consumers with products that meet their environmental and animal welfare expectations. 

First Light managing director Gerard Hickey says suppliers of its beef and venison have to meet certain provenance, welfare and market standards that consumers are prepared to pay a premium for.

Silver Fern Farms’ Plate to Pasture brand underpins its production values, but will this year launch net carbon zero beef into the US and is seeking suppliers to commit to regenerative agriculture, all of which will pay premium prices.

Chief executive Simon Limmer says it has 3500 suppliers certified to NZ Farm Assurance Plan (NZFAP) programme, representing 94% of sheepmeat and 58% of beef supply. . .

Condition major profit driver – Russell Priest:

Ewe body condition is the most powerful profit driver in a sheep production system and unlike many objective measurements taken on sheep is cheap to assess, requiring only a farmer’s valuable time.

That’s the message delivered by former BakerAg consultant and now full-time farmer Sully Alsop at a Beef + Lamb NZ Farming for Profit seminar held in Manawatu recently.

It influences the three main profit drivers – kilograms of lamb weaned/ha, weaning weight/lamb and number of lambs weaned/ ha.

“If there is one thing that drives sheep production more than anything else it is ewe condition,” Sully said. . .

What is wool’s future in New Zealand? – Dorian Garrick:

Dorian Garrick scopes the range of options for wool off the typical New Zealand sheep farm.

Early in my career, a typical family sheep and beef farm in New Zealand earnt roughly one-third of its income from wool, roughly one-third from sheep meat, and the rest from cattle. 

The woolshed was a stimulating workplace at shearing time, with the hard-working team, the competitive environment, and the high value of the product being harvested. At that time, those few individuals that had knowledge and experience with wool classing were held in high regard. 

The approaches used to improve reproductive performance and lamb growth rates by selection were based on considerable scientific efforts. They were in concert with the onfarm activities of the enlightened ram breeders and the interest of industry to support activities such as Sheep Improvement Limited (SIL) and its predecessors. . .

Dr Ron Beatson wins the Morton Coutts Award

Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Ron Beatson has been awarded the Morton Coutts Trophy.

The award was presented at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand 2021 New Zealand Beer Awards in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the New Zealand hops industry.

Beatson has led the research and development of hop breeding and genetics for 38 years at Plant & Food Research.

Based at the Motueka Research Centre, he recently celebrated his 50th anniversary as a Plant & Food Research scientist. . . 

ASB bets Fonterra will pay farmers a record milk price this season – Desire Juarez:

ASB hiked its expectations for Fonterra’s milk price to farmers to the top of the co-operative’s range, saying declining milk production will push payments to a record high this season.

ASB economist Nat Keall lifted his forecast for Fonterra’s farmgate milk price this season by 55 cents to $8.75 per kilogram of milk solids. That’s at the top of Fonterra’s forecast for between $7.25 per kgMS and $8.75 per kgMS, and would surpass the previous record of $8.40 per kgMS paid in the 2013/14 season.

Keall took heart from the latest global dairy trade (GDT) auction which showed whole milk powder, which has the most impact on what farmers are paid, continued to be in demand, with prices for future contracts lifting as production looks set to fall this season.

“GDT events over the first half of spring have shown no sign of demand softening and, with supply continuing to look tight, we’re comfortable making a sizeable upward revision,” Keall said in a note. “A record farmgate milk price for the season is very much live.” . . 

 

Productivity and lifestyle in a superb coastal setting :

A picturesque coastal sheep and beef farm has gone up for sale in North Canterbury offering an enticing blend of productivity and lifestyle plus options to further grow production.

Located on Gore Bay Road, about four kilometres south of Cheviot in rural Hurunui, the approximately 590-hectare hill country farm is well subdivided for ease of management, with productivity underpinned by good access and infrastructure.

The land offers a favourable balance of aspect and is well-regarded, healthy stock country particularly suitable for fine wool production. . .


Rural round-up

23/10/2021

No MIQ spots for dairy workers :

The fact that only two dairy workers have made it past the post and into the country instead of the 200 granted border exceptions by the Government is again a reflection of the shambles of our MIQ system,” says National Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“Minister O’Connor is blaming COVID’s Delta strain for lack of numbers making it through.

“So I find myself reflecting on what I said last week regarding the lack of 50 MIQ spots for qualified vets who are desperately needed and trying to get into New Zealand. . . 

Nine cent avocados – glut leads to low prices but it’s not so flash for growers – Tom Kitchin:

A glut of avocados this year has led in extraordinarily low prices at the supermarket, despite growers not being able to make any money.

One in particular – PAK’nSAVE in Hastings – was selling the fruit for nine cents each today only, as a one-off special.

Other supermarkets in Hawke’s Bay were selling the fruit for around $1.

The day began with a limit of 10 per day, changing to six later on as demand rose. . .

DCANZ welcomes high quality UK – NZ FTA dairy outcomes :

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the agreement in-principle of the United Kingdom – New Zealand free trade agreement (FTA).

“Reaching a point of complete elimination of all dairy tariffs five-years after entry-into-force will make this a high-quality FTA” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. “This is the ambition we expect for an FTA with a developed OECD economy, and the UK has now set the bar”.

The agreement will also provide new trade opportunities for New Zealand dairy exporters from day one. All dairy products except butter and cheese reach the point of duty free trade over three years. For butter and cheese, DCANZ is pleased to see the agreement include transitional quotas which will provide for some duty-free trade during the 5-year tariff elimination period. New Zealand cheese exporters will have access to a tariff free quota which starts at 24,000 tonnes and grows to 48,000 tonnes over the five-year period. For butter, a duty-free quota with a starting volume of 7,000 tonnes grows to 15,000 tonnes over the 5-year period. . .

NZ’s onion growers and exporters applaud in principle agreement of the UK-NZ free trade agreement:

New Zealand’s onion growers and exporters are welcoming the in-principle agreement of the UK-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA), saying that it will ensure that this country’s onion exports continue to grow as the world comes to terms with Covid.

‘Trade and exporting benefits a diverse range of New Zealand businesses. Without clear trading arrangements, improved market access and reduced tariffs, it is extremely difficult to export from the bottom of the world to larger economies like the United Kingdom,’ says Onions NZ Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘Of immediate benefit to the onion sector is the expectation of tariffs being eliminated on onions, once the agreement comes into force. . .

“After 18 months in a pandemic, the Government announced yesterday it will finally allocate 300 priority spaces a month for healthcare workers from November 1. . . 

Free trade deal will be a welcome boost for the NZ honey industry :

Apiculture New Zealand welcomes the move by the New Zealand and UK governments to a free trade agreement in principle which will see the removal of tariffs on all New Zealand honey into the United Kingdom.

“The free trade deal will be a great outcome for our industry and will improve our competitiveness in one of our largest export markets,” says Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture New Zealand.

The United Kingdom consistently ranks as one of top three export markets for New Zealand honey and is worth $70 million annually. . . 

NZ wine industry welcomes UK FTA announcement:

New Zealand Winegrowers is pleased with today’s announcement of an Agreement in Principle for a future New Zealand UK Free Trade Agreement.

“The agreement is very positive for the New Zealand wine industry. We understand the agreement will mean significant progress for wine, including a specific wine annex. This will help remove technical barriers to trade and minimise burdens from certification and labelling requirements,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“The UK is New Zealand’s second largest export market for wine, with exports valued at over $400 million over the past 12 months. The agreement will reduce trade barriers and remove tariffs on New Zealand wine exports to the UK, which will make a big difference for many within our industry.” . . 

Beef research project reduces deed costs considerably:

Annual feed bills across the UK beef industry could be reduced by up to £12.5m due to the development of new selection index tool that allow animals to be selected for feed efficiency.

The tool, which was developed by the Beef Feed Efficiency Programme, will also enable the rate of reduction of beef-related greenhouse gas emissions to be accelerated by 27% over a 20-year period.

The programme, established by the AHDB, Defra, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the Scottish government and ABP, studied Limousin and Angus store cattle to identify animals and sire groups that eat less than others but achieve the same growth rate. . .

 


Kindness to theirs not ours

30/09/2021

The litany of woes from people trying to cross Auckland’s boundaries grows by the day.

A Rotorua father faces the prospect of missing the birth of his triplets after his application for an exemption to get through Auckland’s southern border was denied.

The rejection letter leaves Kevin Acutt forced to pick earning a living for his family over one of the most significant moments of his life.

His wife Amber went into premature labour during the nationwide alert level 4 lockdown last month – just 23 weeks into her pregnancy – but staff at Waikato Hospital were able to put a stop to her contractions.

Since then, she’s been having regular scans at Auckland City Hospital’s maternal foetal medicine unit – and last Friday she was admitted there permanently as she requires close monitoring for abnormal umbilical cord flow.

Currently, the triplets are in a stable condition – but the couple have been advised it’s still a high-risk pregnancy, and things could change at any moment.

If one of them takes a turn for the worse, it’ll prompt an emergency procedure requiring swift removal of the babies, and likely the need to promptly resuscitate them. . . 

He is in Auckland with his wife but has to return to his job on Monday.

“We’ve fallen into a category that doesn’t really exist at the moment, because you can go to appointments as a support person, but our appointment has turned into a whole ‘however long she might be’,” he told Newshub. . . 

He’s asking the ministry to show humanity.

“What’s the point? What are we doing this whole COVID lockdown thing for? It’s for the people, it’s for humanity. But what’s the point, if we’re going to lose our humanity along the way?” he said.

“We’re stopping people from burying the dead, from witnessing the birth of new life. What’s the point of carrying on if we’re going to stop doing that?” . . .

It’s not only stopping people at the city boundary where humanity is lacking, there’s a growing problem at the border. Claire Trevett says MIQ is a debacle that has made mincemeat of the promise Kiwis could always come home:

If there was one thing Sir John Key was right about in his critique of the Government’s response to Covid-19, it was his assessment that the MIQ system has become a national embarrassment.

For all the successes in the Government’s handling of Covid-19, there have been failings and the ongoing bottleneck that is the MIQ system is one of them.

MIQ has been largely effective in one of its two core purposes: keeping Covid-19 out.

But its other core purpose was to let New Zealanders come in. The extent to which it is keeping New Zealanders out has now reached an inexcusable level.

It falls well short of the Jacinda Ardern’s promise that, no matter what else happened, New Zealanders would always be able to come back.

The latest draw for MIQ slots highlighted that in the process of trying to make the MIQ booking system fairer, it has done the opposite. It has also been very bad PR for the Government.

The new ‘virtual lobby’ system in which people are randomly selected for places in the queue for rooms makes it abundantly clear just how much the demand is outstripping the supply. . . 

MIQ has become an MIQueue that has left people stuck in other countries without jobs, without homes and with the threat of losing their pensions.

The Government’s response has partly consisted of blaming people for not returning earlier – for not coming, say, in June last year when there were vacancies in MIQ, or for not coming back from Australia when the bubble was open, or for going overseas at all.

That is not good enough. The Government showed it was capable of quick action when it ramped up the vaccines rollout after the Delta outbreak. But it has failed to deliver the same urgency on MIQ.

The delays and uncertainty have flow-on effects.

This week, it was pensioners overseas who were concerned they would not be able to get back within the 30 week window after which their pensions would be halted.

The Ministry of Social Development’s response bordered on heartless:

“Closure of the travel bubble with Australia, other flight limitations due to Covid and difficulty securing a spot in MIQ, were all reasonably foreseeable before departure for anyone who left New Zealand within the past 30 weeks.” . . 

The return of Covid-19 was more than reasonably forseeable, it was inevitable but the government was prepared for that.

Had it been, we’d have had a vaccine rollout not a strollout, testing and tracing would have been much faster and any lockdown would have been shorter, or possibly unnecessary.

The MIQ system was put together in a hurry because it had to be. It was a blunt instrument and it has also been effective. It was not expected then that it would be needed for so long.

But it has not evolved since then. In fact, it seems to have gotten worse – and the downstream consequences have compounded: it is not only New Zealanders trying to get in that are suffering.

It has caused backlogs in immigration and severe worker shortages in many sectors.

That was excusable for a while, but it has dragged on and on and things have hit pressure-cooker levels. . . 

It is no longer excusable. New Zealanders overseas have a right to come home and people here have a right to leave the country without the fear they won’t be able to come back.

Remember the tongue lashing Jacinda Ardern gave Scott Morrison about the way Australia treated illegal immigrants?

She was demanding he show kindness to the people who had become their problem but she, her government and bureaucrats are showing none to our own people.


Rural round-up

24/09/2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Australians must be laughing at our immigration woes.

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

Why is the Ardern government consistently the loser?

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

The human cost of no response :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

17/09/2021

Migrant exodus felt in Mid Canterbury – Adam Burns:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ORC pleased with grazing compliance – Hamish MacLean:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we toilet train cattle? Would we want to?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kiwifruit companies to amalgamate :

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

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

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


Rural round-up

12/09/2021

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

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

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

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

Rural New Zealand rejecting more regulation from Labour:

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

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

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

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

The right tree in the right place – David Williams:

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

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

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

That system is starting to pay off. . . 

Lockdown sees fewer farm dogs being adopted :

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

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

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

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

Government staffer receives NZ apple and pear industry award:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wouldn’t listen, didn’t learn

23/08/2021

The excuse of no rule book for a pandemic held some water last year. It doesn’t now and we’re paying a very high price because of a government that wouldn’t listen and didn’t learn:

The first Level 4 lockdown hit big manufacturers hard. But when one came up with a plan to allow plants to stay open safely, the Government wouldn’t listen

Last year, after New Zealand came out of our first Covid-19 lockdown, Tony Clifford went to the Government with what he thought was a pretty good idea. An idea which might save manufacturers millions of dollars if we went back into Level 4.

Clifford, managing director of big forestry and wood products company Pan Pac, proposed a Covid certification system. 

Government would draw up a set of standards which a manufacturer had to meet to operate under Level 4 lockdown. Companies would be audited independently and if they passed, they could stay open through lockdown. Think of it like a Covid WoF for factories.

“I advocated for it strongly,” Clifford says. “But there was no appetite at all.”

Once New Zealand went back into Level 4 lockdown this week, Pan Pac had to shut down its whole operation.

Pan PAC isn’t alone. A whole lot of other businesses that could operate safely aren’t permitted to, yet a confectionary factory is regarded as essential.

I’ve got a whole mouth full of sweet teeth but I don’t think lollies are essential.

Clifford says he approached a range of government agencies with his accreditation plan, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

He also got in touch with ministers, including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, who also has the economic and regional development portfolio.

“I said: ‘Why not prepare for the future?’ They basically told me there wouldn’t be another Level 4, so we didn’t need to worry.” . . .

If the government and its Ministries had worried and acted on the worrying some businesses which can operate safely would be able to now and we might not be at level 4 lockdown.

Catherine Beard, executive director of Manufacturing NZ and Export NZ says there are other companies like Pan Pac, which could gear up to operate safely in Level 4, but don’t get the chance because they aren’t deemed essential by Government.

“It costs them many millions per week to shut down, although often they have a highly controlled health and safety regime in place – registered to deal with chemicals, for example – and would even create a special worker bubble if they needed to,” Beard says.

“The cost of a shut-down for those companies is disproportionately high and they are working in environments they can control very precisely.”

The more often New Zealand companies are forced to shut down, the harder it is to remain credible in the international market, Beard says.

“Manufacturers often have export customers waiting, and particularly in this environment with a lot of shipping interruptions, if you miss a shipment it’s a big deal.

“New Zealand doesn’t want to look like a country that’s unreliable and expensive and give[s] our international customers a reason to drop us.” . . .

The lockdown restrictions have a flow on impact on the housing shortage:

Julien Leys, chief executive of the Building Industry Federation, is frustrated at the ramifications for the construction sector from the latest Level 4 plant closures.

Last week, before any thought of a lockdown, Leys went on RNZ’s Nine to Noon show and described the situation for the building industry as “as bad as it gets” in terms of shortages of construction timber and other building supplies.  . . 

That was before the new Covid outbreak. This week, the latest Covid outbreak has shut down logging operations, sawmills, cement factories and manufacturing operations, perhaps for three days, perhaps for a week, potentially for far longer.

‘As bad as it gets’ for home building just got a bit worse.

There are government exemptions which allow New Zealand Steel’s production facilities, Tiwai Point’s aluminium smelter and the Methanex methanol plant to stay open under Level 4 lockdown, Leys says. Why can’t exemptions be given to other production facilities that can operate safely.

“We need to consider what other materials we need to produce, for example structural timber,” he says.  . . 

Meanwhile, Fletcher Building is also left wondering why its Golden Bay Cement works can’t get a Level 4 exemption. The Government says exemptions to steel, aluminium and methanol are because the time and difficulty to turn the plants off and on again makes shutdown uneconomic.

But the same could be said for cement too. It takes three days to wind down production at Golden Bay and the same amount of time to get the lines up and running again.

Fletcher Building chief executive Ross Taylor says the company will need skeleton crews on site this week to turn the plant off, and would be keen to see some sort of exemption applied for his company too.  . . 

The arbitrary criteria of essential causes all sorts of anomalies. The criteria should be whether or not businesses can operate safely.

Meanwhile, Pan Pac will wait out this lockdown, hoping it doesn’t go on too long, Tony Clifford says. Then he will be back on the Government’s case about Covid accreditation. 

Maybe this time someone will listen.

They haven’t listened to horticulturists and greengrocers:

A Pukekohe vegetable grower says with independent fruit and vege stores unable to open his crops will be left in the ground to rot.

Under level 4 green grocers can provide contactless delivery but cannot open for customers.

Harry Das grows 100 hectares of potatoes, pumpkins, cauliflowers and lettuces for independent stores and restaurants.

He said if lockdown continues past this week he will lose around 60 to 70 percent of his lettuce crop.

“With the independent stores closing our orders will just drop off to almost nothing, the products will sit in the paddock and go to waste.

“We also supply processed lettuce to McDonald’s and with all their doors closed all our beautiful lettuce will be wasted.” . . 

Butchers are similarity frustrated:

More than a year on from the first Level 4 lockdown, the rules around essential groceries still seem murky. Butchers and fishmongers can’t open, but dairies can and people can get wine, chocolate and doughnuts delivered to the door.

While at Level 4 supermarkets can operate with shoppers in store buying meat and vegetables, those same customers cannot walk into a green grocer or butcher without breaking the law.

For those small, specialist businesses not set up for “click and collect” or delivery, this means trading ceased at midnight on Tuesday.

Two butchers said they had gone into survival mode. . . 

Greengrocers, butcher and bakeries operating a one-in-one-out system, or with phone orders they could package and leave at the shop door when customers arrived for pick-ups would be at least as safe as supermarkets where far more people shop at a time.

Then there’s the problem of what’s an essential item and what’s not for businesses like dairies:

Dairy and service station workers want to be supported like supermarkets, as other small business owners get to grips with what counts as an essential item for online delivery.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson on Wednesday said the rules for what non-food items counted as an essential item would become clearer as the lockdown went on, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) last night released a list to help in that process.

There is some ambiguity however – the guidelines note that businesses will be relied on to determine which products are essential. . .

If customers go in to a dairy to buy a bottle of milk, is the shop assistant going to tell them they can’t also buy a magazine? Is it any less safe to sell a magazine than milk?

This is an absolutely unacceptable level of control freakery that wouldn’t be necessary if the government had listened to businesses with plans to operate safely, had learned from mistakes made in earlier lockdowns and used safe rather than essential to determine which businesses can operate and which can’t.


Rural round-up

18/08/2021

Ongoing battle for river draining experience – Sally Rae:

As the microscope continues to focus on the Manuherikia River in Central Otago and its future minimum flows, rural editor Sally Rae talks to award-winning Omakau farmer Anna Gillespie about the stress the rural community is under.

They are two farmers farming – literally.

Central Otago couple Ben and Anna Gillespie trade under Two Farmers Farming, running a 400ha property at Omakau comprising a dairy grazing and beef finishing operation.

It was a challenging environment to farm in, with an average rainfall of about 450mm, temperatures in winter as low as -10degC and summer hitting more than 30degC, Mrs Gillespie said. . . 

Govt reforms ‘absolutely punishing’ – Neal Wallace:

Local authorities and industry groups warn they are being driven to breaking point by the volume and pace of Government legislation reforms.

One described the pace and scale as “absolutely punishing” and warned “it has the potential, unless managed very carefully, to break the system”.

Karen Williams, a former planner and current Federated Farmers vice president, says that pace shows no letting up, with parties given just one month to comment on the exposure draft of the first of three documents to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA).

“The RMA is 30 years old, so you don’t start looking at its replacement with one month of submissions,” Williams said. . . 

Carbon-farming economics are also attractive on easier country – Keith Woodford:

Given current carbon prices, the march of the pine trees across the landscape has only just begun. The implications are massive

My previous article on carbon farming focused on the North Island hard-hill country. If financial returns are to be the key driver of land-use, and based on a carbon price of $48 per tonne, then the numbers suggested that carbon farming on that class of country is a winner.

By my calculations, sheep and beef farms on this hard-hill country provide an internal rate of return (IRR) of around 2%, whereas my recent estimate for carbon farming was 9.7%.

Here I extend the analysis, still using a price of $48 per tonne, by looking at the easier hill country that Beef+Lamb (B&L) categorise as ‘Class 4 North Island Hill Country’. This fits between their ‘Class 3 North Island hard-hill country’ and the ‘Class 5 North Island intensive finishing farms’. . . 

Efficiency key to simple, profitable A2:A2 farm– Samatha Tennent:

A Waikato farmer has succeeded in creating a top farming business, as well as a career in the corporate world.

The desire to have a dynamic farming business as well as an exciting career off the farm, a Waikato farmer has come out on top in both.

And he got there by focusing on creating a simple, profitable farming operation with an efficient Jersey herd.

Zach Mounsey who is an equity partner and sharemilks 440 Jersey cows on 161ha at Te Kawa near Otorohanga on the family farm, which was the most profitable Waikato 50:50 sharemilker in Dairybase for 2018. He is also the general manager of milk supply for Happy Valley Nutrition (HVN), a new dairy processor aiming to produce high-quality infant formulas. . . 

NZ grower’s squash milk creates new export patch :

One of New Zealand’s largest buttercup squash growers is diving into Asia’s alternative proteins market with a plant-based milk.

Kabochamilk is a collaboration between Hawke’s Bay grower Shane Newman and Sachie Nomura, a Japanese celebrity chef who also developed a world first avocado milk.

Kabocha, a Japanese variety of squash, is a staple part of the Japanese and East Asian diet and New Zealand is one of the largest exporters of kabocha to Japan and Korea.

The Ministry for Primary Industries contributed more than $95,000 through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to help boost Kabocha Milk Co’s efforts to formulate, manufacture, and market a shelf-stable kabocha milk recipe that would appeal to consumers in Japan, Korea, China, and beyond. . . 

Commission publishes draft conclusion on base milk price:

Commission publishes draft conclusion on base milk price calculation

The Commerce Commission has today released a draft report concluding that Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price it will pay farmers in the 2020/21 dairy season is consistent with the requirements of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Fonterra set a forecast price for the season of $7.45 – $7.65 per kilogram of milk solids according to rules set out in its Farmgate Milk Price Manual. DIRA requires the Commission to review Fonterra’s methodology for calculating the price and to conclude on whether the calculation is consistent with the purpose of DIRA and the rules set in the Manual.

The regime is designed to provide for the setting of a base milk price that is consistent with efficient and contestable market outcomes. . . 


Rural round-up

16/08/2021

Confusion around new docking rules – Coin Williscroft:

New docking rules that came into force in May are causing concern and confusion among some farmers.

MPI announced the new regulations, which aim to improve sheep welfare by clarifying how tail-docking should be done and who can carry it out, at the end of last year.

A sheep’s tail cannot be docked shorter than the distal end of the caudal fold. This means the tail needs to be long enough to cover the vulva in ewes and a similar length in rams.

Docking too short could result in a fine of $500, or $1500 for a business, and if multiple sheep are involved that could lead to court proceedings. . . 

In perspective:

More and more farmers around the country are doing the right things in regard to environmental management. Recent reports by a number of regional councils around NZ show positive results when it comes to managing effluent on farms.

Meanwhile, despite winter grazing practices across the country coming under the microscope, there have been few reports of major breaches of the regulations. This is even more remarkable considering the flooding experienced in some regions.

For years, governments, councils, environmentalists, activists et el have been pushing for the agricultural sector to lift its environmental game. The evidence shows that farmers are responding and responding well!

However, anyone reading, listening or viewing mainstream media in NZ could be forgiven for thinking that the opposite is occurring. Every sector has its slackers, those who are not doing the right things, and farming is no exception. The industry, including farmers themselves, must continue to come down hard on those who let the whole sector down. . . 

Farmers living the dream – Sudesh Kissun:

‘ToViewADream Farming’ was started 16 years ago by farmer Dion Kilmister and it’s been living up to its name ever since.

Today, the business comprises of four farming properties finishing 17,000 lambs and 600 cattle a year. The jewel in the crown – a butcher shop in Masterton – opened last year.

The journey has been one of hard work, calculated risks, tragedy and resilience. Dion’s wife, Ali Kilmister, told their story at the recent South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) in Ashburton.

In January 2005, he arrived in the Wairarapa with first wife Maria and two children – Maria’s daughter Aleshia and their son Jayden. All they had were 70 steers that they had had out grazing in the King Country, and a $30,000 overdraft. . .

Growing the workforce – vegetable producer offers bonus for turning up to work – Country Life:

One of New Zealand’s largest vegetable growers is paying people a bonus for turning up to work.

Gisborne-based LeaderBrand has rolled out a raft of benefits in order to secure a workforce.

“I think our job now is to make it easy for people to come to work,” says LeaderBrand chief executive Richard Burke.

LeaderBrand employs 400 people across New Zealand and another 150 during seasonal peaks. . . 

Potato industry shows resilience – Annette Scott:

The New Zealand potato industry remains a growing sector despite enduring a challenging year.

Ahead of the industry’s annual forums, Potatoes NZ (PNZ) chief executive Chris Claridge reports the total value of the industry sits at $1.16 billion, amidst a year of crises and disappointment.

This represents a 58% growth rate since industry targets were set in 2013.

“This result shows the immense value of our processing sector, with 55% of our locally-grown potatoes producing fries and another 12% producing crisps,” Claridge said. . .

Tasmanian farmer finds a “nutty” way of beating power regulations – Andrew Miller:

A northern Tasmanian prime lamb producer has found a novel way around TasNetworks regulations, which restricts power generated on-farm to use in only one piece of plant, home or shed.

TasNetworks insists on a separate meter, for each point on the property using power.

That means electricity for most of the farm has to be purchased from hundreds of kilometres away, rather than using on-property generated power.

Simon Hackett has circumvented the regulations by linking an aircraft hangar, houses and shearing shed on his 70 hectare farm by cable to his 100kw solar system. . . 


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