Rural round-up

January 18, 2020

Disease’s cost killed meat firm – Jacob McSweeny:

Meat production at a 100-year-old Dunedin company has ceased and 13 staff have been made redundant but the owner of The Craft Meat Company says the business will live on.

The decision came after meat producers’ profits were cut by rising costs due to a global shortage of protein triggered by the African swine fever epidemic, owner Grant Howie said.

‘‘[It was] the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to do,’’ Mr Howie said of the decision to axe staff. . . 

Sage softens lease land changes – Neal Wallace:

The Government appears to have softened the sharpest edges of proposed changes to the management of pastoral lease land while confirming farming will continue in the South Island high country.

The bill detailing changes to the Crown Pastoral Lands Act appears to back down on initial proposals that included greater political oversight of the activities of the Commissioner of Crown Lands, traditionally an independent position.

It seems also to accept submissions from farming sectors that lessees have legal rights to pasturage and quiet enjoyment of their land, which would have been compromised by the original recommendations. . . 

Fonterra pioneer expects much better:

One of the architects of Fonterra says he’s very disappointed with the co-op’s performance over the years.

Tirau farmer, Tony Wilding says farmers expected better when they formed the co-op in 2001. “It’s not the performance we had in mind when we formed Fonterra,” he told Rural News.

Wilding received a New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s honours list for his contribution to the dairy sector and community. . .

New chief executive for Meat Industry Association – Sudesh Kissun:

The Meat Industry Association has appointed Sirma Karapeeva as its new chief executive.

Karapeeva, who is currently the Meat Industry Association’s (MIA) trade and economic manager, has been with the trade association since 2015. She replaces Tim Ritchie who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Karapeeva, who takes over in April, held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles in Government before joining MIA.

Kiwifruit prices hit record high:

Kiwifruit prices were at an all-time high in December 2019, with prices for seasonal fruit and vegetables also up, Stats NZ said today.

“Kiwifruit prices rose 32 percent in December to a weighted average price of $8.27 per kilo, an all-time high,” acting consumer prices manager James Griffin said.

“This compares with $4.24 in December last year.” . . 

Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award nominations open:

Nominations to a national award that recognises dairy farmers who demonstrate leadership in their approach to sustainable dairying and who are ambassadors for the industry open January 15th.

The Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award was introduced by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards to recognise those dairy farmers who are respected by their farming peers and their community for their attitude and role in sustainable dairying. Entry for this award is by nomination only via dairyindustryawards.co.nz. . . 


Rural round-up

January 2, 2020

Henry’s letter proves a hit – Murray Robertson:

YOUNG Tairawhiti farmer Henry Gaddum penned an open letter through The Herald in mid-November that has gone ballistic as readers nationally picked up on his concerns around the theme of Carbon Credits and Pine Trees.

It has been viewed more than 14,800 times on The Herald website since publication, and has been shared widely on Facebook and Twitter.

In it, Henry voiced his deep concerns, and the concerns of others, about the future of the region when it comes to land use and he wants to do something about it. . .

Year in Review: Hawke’s Bay farmer’s heartfelt Facebook post goes viral :

Year in Review: This heartfelt social media post from Hawke’s Bay farmer Sam Stoddart went viral in September. In it he pointed out the strong connections New Zealand farmers have with the communities around them. It was one of The Country’s most popular reads of 2019.

In September Stoddart told The Country he was surprised by the strong reaction to his post, which at that point had nearly 6000 reactions and nearly 3000 shares.

“For a vent to mates out of frustration on Facebook it certainly has gained some momentum.

I can’t believe the positive feedback though. For over 700 comments only about five are negative. Maybe the rural urban divide isn’t as big as we think. . .

Central housing demand prices worry fruit growers – Tess Brunton:

Central Otago fruit growers say housing could come under more pressure as their industry expands.

A recent Southern DHB report found a lack of housing availability was driving up housing prices in Central Otago, forcing some to live in crowded homes or even sleep rough.

While many orchards have staff accommodation available, some businesses say they’re losing good staff who can’t find a permanent place to live.

Sarita Orchard manager Matthew Blanch said he was not sure how fruit growers would find enough staff if big orchard proposals went ahead. . .

Reflecting on our rural past and building for the future – Nikki Verbeet:

Hope. It’s fundamental to our psychology to have something to look forward to, writes Nikki Verbeet.

It would be fair to say that hope hasn’t been in abundance in our rural sector of late.

There is no doubt the sector is experiencing rising costs, environmental pressures, public perception issues, shrinking price margins, cash flow challenges and pressure to meet compliance obligations – all of which impact confidence.

Research around mental health indicates that to have hope we need three things: . . 

Rodeo ‘great thing for the community’ – Hamish MacLean:

After more than three decades in Omarama, rodeo is alive an well in the Waitaki Valley town.

Under sunny skies, the 33rd annual Omarama Rodeo drew hundreds to Buscot Station for the penultimate Christmas series rodeo on Saturday.

“You can see by the crowd — people still enjoy it,’’ Omarama Rodeo Club president Jamie Brice said.

“And this is a great thing for the community. It brings money into the wee town.” . .

High country cattle grazing by Victorian family – Stephen Burns:

Grazing cattle in the Victorian high country has been a practice extending over 150 years, but very few families now take advantage of the summer pastures on the Alpine plains.

But the McCormack family from Mansfield, Victoria proudly continue the timeless trek taking three days to drove their Angus cows with calves slowly along the Buttercup Road over Mountain Number Three to the flats alongside the headwaters of the King River. 

Other Mansfield district families have long had an association with the High Country and include the Lovicks, Stoney’s and Purcell’s. . .

 


Rural round-up

December 12, 2019

Keeping the faith on a family tradition – Sally Rae:

Tom O’Sullivan’s grandfather paid off his Canterbury farm with a single wool cheque during the wool boom in the early 1950s.

His father used to say that he could not buy a second-hand car with the proceeds from his wool, while in the last financial year for Tom, wool — for the first time in his family’s sheep farming history — came at a cost to his business.

But the Hawke’s Bay agribusinessman-turned-farmer remained passionate about the fibre, and is the chairman of the Campaign for Wool New Zealand Trust, wanting to be part of the solution rather than complaining behind the farm gate. . . 

Helping to bridge the rural-urban divide – Pam Tipa:

The urban rural divide is not just a New Zealand issue.

So says Courtney Davies, the New Zealand representative to the Bayer Youth Ag Summit, in Brasília, Brazil, in early November.

Davies (23) says she comes face to face with this issue daily as an educator in environmental sustainability and the oceans with the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

She is quick to try to shift misconceptions about agriculture among young people, she says. . . 

Call goes out for ‘wool renaissance’ – Sally Rae:

“It’s time for a wool renaissance.”

So says Stephen McDougall, of Studio Pacific Architecture, who has been an ambassador for the Campaign for Wool New Zealand Trust since 2011.

Wool needed to get “back on the table — or the floor” and be part of the solution of the future as a groundswell of people consciously choosing what was best for the environment.

They wanted natural products, they believed in and valued wellness, and they wanted luxury. . . 

Early runs on board for Fonterra – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s first-quarter results for the 2020 financial year show its strategy reset and operational changes have begun to deliver more consistent outcomes, it says.

In the Q1 announcements it held the full-year earnings guidance of 15c to 25c a share and added 25c to the forecast farmgate milk price, now in a narrower range of $7-$7.60/kg milksolids.

If delivered at the $7.30 mid-point, on which the advance price schedule is now based, it will be the fourth-best milk price from Fonterra. . . 

LIC flying in supplies for flood-hit farmers :

The critical spring mating period is underway on most of the country’s dairy farms, but heavy rain, slips and floodwaters have closed key roads in the South Island, making it difficult to reach a number of flood-hit farms and get the cows in-calf.

Despite the tough conditions, agritech and herd improvement co-operative LIC, the largest supplier of artificial breeding (AB) services to New Zealand’s dairy farms, is using small planes and helicopters to make sure semen straws are still delivered to farmers on time.

Around three out of four dairy cows mated to AB in New Zealand are from LIC’s bull semen. . . 

New Zealand blueberry growers anticipate another record season:

New Zealanders ate a record seven million punnets of fresh locally-grown blueberries last season and are expected to eat even more this summer as the main season gets underway.

Latest supermarket sales data shows Kiwis bought an extra one million punnets of blueberries (18.3% more) last summer compared to the year before, with total sales now exceeding $25 million.

New Zealand Olympian Eliza McCartney has signed on to be Blueberries’ NZ ambassador for the fourth year running and the organisation’s Chairman, Dan Peach, credits this high-profile partnership and general health trends for the big rise in sales. . . 

CC releases final report on Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its final report on its annual review of Fonterra’s farm gate Milk Price Manual for the 2019/20 dairy season (Manual). The final report builds on our previous reviews of the Manual.

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s 2019/20 Manual remains largely consistent with the purpose of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

“This year we have taken a look at the amendments to the Manual made by Fonterra and matters carried forward from our previous reviews. In our view Fonterra’s amendments to defined terms in the Manual improve clarity or are minor corrections. . . 


Rural round-up

December 10, 2019

New approach called for on lending – Nigel Malthus:

Banks need to take a different approach to lending to farmers, according to new Lincoln University research.

Banks usually look at historic business statistics and equity levels, but the research suggests that a better indicator of a farmer’s credit worthiness is his or her skills, attitudes and knowledge in running a farm.

Honorary Associate Professor Peter Nuthall said the study emphasised the fact that the world runs on individuals and their skills.

While a lender might form a subjective impression about a would-be borrower…“they rely on those records, credit ratings and so on to make those decisions rather than their personal feelings,” he said. . . 

A2 Milk boss Jayne Hrdlicka exits job suddenly – Jamie Gray:

Shares in alternative milk company a2 Milk had recovered some ground but were still weak after the surprise announcement that managing director and chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka would step down, having spent less than 18 months in the job.

By 12.30 pm the stock was trading at $14.69, down 48c or 3.1 per cent from Friday’s close. The stock had opened sharply weaker at $14.00.

Former chief executive Geoff Babidge has stepped in as interim CEO commencing immediately, a2 Milk said. . . 

Getting the best out of people – Colin Williscroft:

Helping rural women connect with each other and realise their potential has become a source of inspiration for Sandra Matthews, as Colin Williscroft discovered.

Successful farming partnerships are built around a connection between the land and those who work it and for Sandra Matthews that means ensuring women know they belong on farms and have important roles to play.

Sandra farms with her husband Ian inland from Gisborne in a partnership that can be traced back to their meeting 30 years ago at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, when they were on OE.

At the end of their travels they returned to their homes, Sandra to Australia and Ian to Te Kopae Station, the 536ha family farm that borders the Rere Falls, about 50km northwest of Gisborne, where the couple live today. . .

Winner wants to make difference – Riley Kennedy:

The horticulture sector has always been in Simon Gourley’s blood and he is now working hard to make a name for himself in the wine industry. He spoke to Riley Kennedy.

Growing up in Invercargill Simon Gourley spent his school holidays and weekends on his grandparents’ berry orchard in Central Otago, which he believes is what inspired him to work in horticulture.

“I spent a lot of time in the school holidays and weekends up there and I knew it was the path I wanted to take,” he said. . . 

Seasonal workers’ important NZ role – John Gibson:

It’s time to start giving credit to the seasonal pickers, packers and pruners for the role they play in our economy, writes the University of Waikato’s John Gibson

The Government recently announced increases in the cap for visas under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. After the second increase, the scheme will allow up to 16,000 workers to come in the 2020/21 season. These seasonal workers are mainly from the Pacific, and come to pick and pack fruit, to prune, and to carry out other labour-intensive tasks in the horticulture and viticulture industries.

This increase comes as the kiwifruit industry faces the possibility of fruit rotting on the vines if there are not enough workers to pick it. And they aren’t the only export industry facing a shortage. . . 

India shows why the global shift to plant-based diets is dangerousSylvia KarpagamFrédéric Leroy and Martin Cohen:

Vegetarians, much less vegans, would prefer not to be compelled to eat meat. Yet the reverse compulsion is what lurks in the growing proposals for a new plant-based “planetary diet.” Nowhere is this more visible than in India.

The subcontinent is often stereotyped by the West as a vegetarian utopia, where transcendental wisdom, longevity and asceticism go hand in hand. 

Earlier this year, the EAT-Lancet Commission released its global report on nutrition and called for a global shift to a more plant-based diet and for “substantially reducing consumption of animal source foods.” In countries like India, that call could become a tool to aggravate an already fraught political situation and stress already undernourished populations. . . 

New Zealand wool showcased in planes, offices, shops and homes around the globe:

The global marketing efforts of Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool) mean the humble-looking sheep in your nearest paddock could be producing wool that is destined for some very high places around the world.

Through its subsidiary NZ Yarn, which spins wool yarn for use in carpets and rugs, national wool company CP Wool has supplied wool that is gracing the floors of the first class cabins on Emirates airliners.

Closer to the ground, CP Wool’s efforts are seeing New Zealand wool showcased on the world stage in several corporate headquarters in New York; including carpets in the Wells Fargo, American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Time Warner and Chaincode Labs head offices. The London Stock Exchange’s New York outpost also features New Zealand wool soft flooring. . . 


$484k per job yet there’s a worker shortage

December 9, 2019

The Provincial Growth Fund gets a lot of publicity but the results are a long way from matching the rhetoric:

An answer to a written question from National Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop reveals 1922 people are employed by PGF projects – and of that, just 616 are full-time jobs.

So far, $297.4 million has been spent so far on PGF projects. That’s $484,000 per full-time job, excluding those part-time jobs.

Jones insists infrastructure projects like roads and rail will take years to build, however in the long-term they’ll create jobs and further investment and increase confidence in the regions. . . 

Roads? We’re paying higher fuel taxes but that money is going on public transport in Auckland not much-needed upgrades to roads in the provinces.

And the bus and rail not roads policy is costing jobs as businesses finishing roading  projects have no more work ahead of them.

Rail? That’s a very limited option that doesn’t go very far from routes taken by State Highway 1.

While politicians squabble over whether enough jobs are being created in the regions, the PGF is managing to create well-paid jobs here in Wellington.

The unit in charge of the fund’s doubled in size over the past year. There are now 116 employees. And 71 of them earn a salary of more than $100,000.

That’s around one job in Wellington for fewer than 20, full and part time in the provinces.

David Farrar calls the number of jobs created pitiful:

By comparison in 2016/17 there were 137,000 new jobs created which was 66 new jobs every working hour.

So Shane Jones has spent $300 million over two years and created what was basically one day of job growth under National!

New and growing businesses creating more jobs ought to be applauded, but in some areas the problem isn’t no jobs, it’s a shortage of workers for the jobs in already established businesses.

Employers in dairying, horticulture and hospitality are struggling to find staff willing and able to fill their vacancies.

The provinces would get more value from initiatives that would provide employable workers than they’re getting from the money scattered through the PGF.


Rural round-up

December 7, 2019

Action needed now:

Houston – or more correctly Wellington – we have a problem.

And that problem is a shortage of workers right across New Zealand’s primary sector.

The latest example is the apple sector (click here for the story), which is facing a potential $80 million loss in the coming season because of a looming labour shortage.

Apples and Pears NZ chief executive Alan Pollard told Rural News that the main reason for this is the Government’s decision not to allow the numbers of overseas workers required under the RSE (recognised seasonal employer) scheme to meet the needs.  . . 

Analysis of regenerative ag needed – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The groundswell supporting the restoring powers of regenerative agriculture is mostly based on examples from overseas.

The big question should be, do the examples stack up in New Zealand? If yes, no problem. If no, what might happen? Would there be any unintended consequences?

Answering these and similar questions is the goal of scientific research.

The foundation for advancing knowledge is laid by identifying the problem and then analysing what has gone before . . .

Setting up for the future:

Key changes made by Waikato dairy farmers Sam and Jacqui Owen have laid their on-farm groundwork for 2020 and beyond. They’re also focused on growing dairying’s next generation.

The Owens stepped up to 50:50 sharemilking in the 2014/15 season at Walton – then the milk price more than halved. That’s when Sam became chair for MP3, a DairyNZ-supported three-year project focusing on ‘profit, planet and people’, starting with 35 Matamata-Piako farms.

“I wanted to help others make their way through that price drop. MP3 also enabled us to grow our budgeting and financial skills to work out that doing that would be profitable for us. . .

Hail limits summer fruit supply – Riley Kennedy:

Some stonefruit will be in short supply this season after a severe hailstorm damaged Hawke’s Bay orchards in October.

The storm hit the region at the most vulnerable time for growers when the fruit was in early spring growth. 

SummerfruitNZ market support manager Richard Mills said the storm was very unusual for the time of year.

“An October hailstorm this bad had not been witnessed before by growers. . . 

Production of red, berry-flavoured kiwifruit is under way:

Zespri expects it will take two years before it can meet demand for its new red, berry-flavoured kiwifruit. 

The company has been trialling the fruit in New Zealand and Singapore, and chief executive Dan Matheson said it had sold well even when priced at 25 percent above green and gold varieties. 

“The response has been quite exciting. We’ve had incredible feedback from our consumers who have been buying the fruit at the supermarket shelf.

“In fact we’ve just had letters coming in from consumers both here in New Zealand and Singapore asking for more of that and ‘why it was only available on the shelf for such short period of time’.” . . 

Imported insect predator to help bees and willow trees to thrive – Eric Frykberg:

Beekeepers are keenly awaiting the arrival of a tiny insect from California which preys on the giant willow aphid.

They say it will help willow trees survive and provide essential food for bees.

Their response follows approval of the parasitoid insect Pauesia nigrovaria by the Environmental Protection Authority.

Scion entomologist Stephanie Sopow said the insect was an an effective control agent. . . 


Rural round-up

December 4, 2019

An exciting future – Mike Petersen:

Special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says New Zealand leads the field in many areas but cannot rest on its laurels.

These are exciting but also challenging times for New Zealand agri-food and fibre. 

At a time when demand and prices for NZ food are at near-record highs the mood among farmers is subdued with new environmental policies being developed and fears about the impact from the brinksmanship being played out in the complex world of international trade.  . . 

Chinese ban on Oamaru Meats lifted Jacob McSweeny:

A suspension to the China market has been lifted on Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) and the company has begun trying to re-recruit seasonal workers and suppliers.

The meat processor shut down on September 13 after its access to the Chinese beef markets was suspended. Some 160 seasonal workers were laid off temporarily.

Yesterday, OML director Richard Thorp said the suspension came after some beef fat packaging was not up to standard. . . 

AgriSea boss takes women’s award – Annette Scott:

Seaweed products pioneer AgriSea is the 2019 supreme winner of the NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards.

Celebrating and showcasing entrepreneurship and innovation by rural women the annual awards take in seven categories with the supreme winner judged from the category winners.

While excited about the win AgriSea business manager Clare Bradley said it was unexpected given the high calibre of every woman in the finals.

“We are often caught up in keeping our heads down, working hard to achieve our goals in our businesses, communities and families.

“The awards are an opportunity for both me personally and our whanau at AgriSea to take a breather and celebrate where we’ve come from.  . . 

 

Looking back moving forward:

Five farmers featured in Inside Dairy in 2019 tell us about their year, where they’re heading in 2020 and what they’d like others to know about dairy farmers and the dairying sector.

Mark and Vicki Meyer – Tangiteroria, Northland

Most proud of in 2019?

“On the farming front, we’re proud of how we managed to turn around our end of 2018/19 season. We’d ended up slightly down in production, due to minimal rain in autumn and a lack of grass growth.

“We’d been staring down the barrel of going into winter with skinny cows and not enough pasture for feed. We bit the  bullet and made the hard decision to dry off the cows earlier than normal, which enabled us to get cows off grazing earlier and build cover here on the farm. This worked well, as we had awesome winter growth. . .

Abuse of farmers only strengthens corporate agriculture’s hand – Adam Currie:

Condemning agriculture and tarring all farmers with the same brush does nothing to further environmentalists’ cause, argues Adam Currie.

Are there simply too many cows in our country? Or are urbanites just aggressively exacerbating the farming crisis from their sterile offices?

The inconvenient truth is that both are true.

We urgently need to change our approach to land use and kai production – or our environment will experience irrevocable collapse. But this urgency needs to be communicated in a new way, because the current paradigm not only unhelpfully condemns all farmers as ‘bad’; the pressure it puts on farmers also only serves to stir up hatred and division. If nothing else, framing the debate in such an antagonistic way puts a damper on political support for any environmental measure deemed to be ‘anti-farming’. . .

Cosmic Crisp: the apple that can last a year in the fridge :

A new breed of apple that took two decades to develop and supposedly lasts for up to a year in the fridge is going on sale in the US.

The apple – Cosmic Crisp – is a cross-breed of the Honeycrisp and Enterprise and was first cultivated by Washington State University in 1997.

The launch of the “firm, crisp, and juicy apple” cost $10m ($NZ15.6m).

Farmers in the state of Washington are exclusively allowed to grow the fruit for the next decade. . .


New Zealand begins genetic programme to produce low methane-emitting sheep
– Ben Smee:

The New Zealand livestock industry has begun a “global first” genetic program that would help to tackle climate change by breeding low methane-emitting sheep.

There are about six sheep for each person in New Zealand, and the livestock industry accounts for about one-third of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The livestock industry’s peak body, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, already uses a measure called “breeding value” to help breeders select rams with characteristics they want to bolster within their flocks. Within two years breeders will be able to select rams whose traits include lower methane emissions.

“Farmers are more interested than I anticipated,” said a stud breeder, Russell Proffit. His family has been producing rams for more than 40 years. . . 


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