Rural round-up

23/11/2022

Feds breaks ranks on HWEN – Sudesh Kissun:

The He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership and Māori Agribusiness Partners are calling on the Government to change key aspects of its proposal on agricultural emissions pricing.

However, Federated Farmers has decided not to back the joint submission from the 10 partners.

It recommends changes that would develop an emissions pricing system that creates incentives and opportunities to reduce agricultural emissions while maintaining the viability of the primary sector.

The submission recommends changes to price setting, governance and transitional arrangements that would see decision-making on emissions pricing balance the socio-economic impacts on the primary sector and wider economy with emissions reductions.  . .

HWEN partners question methane targets – Neal Wallace:

The primary sector wants the government to review its methane targets before it starts pricing agricultural greenhouse gases.

This is included in the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) submission on the government-proposed pricing structure, saying new targets that reflect the latest scientific evidence are needed before the sector starts to be charged in 2025.

Methane targets were legislated by Parliament in 2019 as part of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act, requiring the sector to reduce emissions 10% below 2017 levels by 2030 and by 24-47% below 2017 levels by 2050.

The HWEN submission pulls few punches, saying the government’s changes are not acceptable to the partnership and the growers and farmers they represent. . . 

Emissions plan: DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ – The Country :

No deal is better than a bad deal when it comes to pricing agricultural emissions, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says

DairyNZ had made a submission in the emissions plan and hoped for a response from the Government, van der Poel told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“We had to go into this next stage in good faith because our primary objective is still to get a solution here and put this to bed.

“We’ve been talking about this since 2004 and it’s not going to go away.” . . 

Cherry on top growers feeling “positive”, expecting record volumes of fruit :

Central Otago cherry growers are expecting record volumes of fruit this season.

45 South Cherries chief executive Tim Jones said now that they had survived October’s nasty weather, they had been able to assess crops, and fruit volumes may be double that of past years.

New plantings were coming into their own, he said.

“The last three years have been pretty disappointing crops but all those trees that have been planted in the past five or six will really hit their straps this year.

“Last year the industry exported a little over three thousand tonnes and I would suggest this year it could be at least five or six thousand,” he said. . . 

It’s time to resolve carbon forest conflicts –  Dean Baigent-Mercer :

 Forestry is back in the spotlight. After years of being on the margins, forestry has come full-circle and is again at the heart of discussions about New Zealand’s future. Why? Because of climate change and biodiversity. The opportunity is exciting but there are issues to resolve. A key question is native versus exotic forestry carbon sinks.

The world risks overshooting its climate change targets. We need to stop using fossil fuels, cut emissions and store increasing amounts of carbon in forests, wetlands and other natural carbon sinks for centuries to come.

New Zealand forestry has been quick to act and respond. New Zealand has gone down the pine forest carbon storage route as a relatively fast and cheap way to store carbon.

But it’s clear that this is no longer a viable path. The Climate Change Commission has advised that we must stop relying on pines to store carbon and instead rely on permanent carbon sinks in native forests. Pine planting may appeal in the short term, but a large blaze can release a carbon bomb. There is increasing evidence that pine-based carbon sinks will end up being stranded assets or uninsurable. . .

Rural tourism business finalist at New Zealand Tourism Awards :

“The future of rural tourism is bright”, say Will and Rose Parsons of Driftwood Eco Tours, finalists of the 2022 New Zealand Tourism Awards for community engagement.

The annual New Zealand Tourism Awards, hosted by Tourism Industry Aotearoa in Hamilton, highlights excellence in tourism and helps operators aspire to greater customer service.

Driftwood Eco Tours was delighted to be one of three finalists for the community engagement category.

Operating since 2004, Driftwood Eco Tours is based in Kaikōura, but runs small group, multi-day tours throughout the upper South Island and on offshore islands, offering guests the chance to visit and experience some of New Zealand’s most isolated rural communities. . . 


Rural round-up

18/11/2022

No workers to harvest, so farmer sacrifices 300,000 heads of lettuce – Gerhard Uys:

A farmer has been forced to plough more than 300,000 heads of fresh lettuce into the ground because he cannot find enough workers to manually harvest them.

Farm labour woes come on the back of the Government announcement that the official unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.3% in the three months to the end of September.

Alan Fong, a Waikato vegetable grower, said ploughing produce back into the ground was sad, especially because of high vegetable prices. In October, vegetable prices were up 17% on the year before.

In October, the average price of 1kg of lettuce was $6.43, Stats NZ said, up from $5.39 a year earlier and $3.64 the year before that. . . 

Lamb processing delays expected due to labour shortage – Sally Murphy :

Farmers are being told to expect delays for this years peak lamb kill, with the season expected to be longer due to labour shortages.

Processors have been struggling with staff shortages for the past two years due to the border closure and staff being off sick with Covid-19.

AgriHQs latest market update said staff shortages had been a major problem for some processing plants and in some cases lambs were sent back to the farm as there were not enough staff to process them all.

Alliance Group, which operates five meatworks in the South Island and two in the lower North Island, had not had to send lambs back, but farmers were experiencing wait times of 10 to 14 days. . . 

Lifecycle study challenges methane measurement – Richard Rennie:

A carbon lifecycle study on New Zealand red meat has been welcomed as a good start, with provisos, by climate change (āhuarangi panoni) researcher Professor David Frame.

Released by Beef + Lamb NZ, the lifecycle assessment (LCA) study has determined NZ’s red meat is among the most efficiently produced in the world. 

Per kilogram, sheepmeat produces 15kg of carbon dioxide, while beef produces 22kg per kilo of meat.

The report determined the outcome is largely driven by farm-level efficiencies, representing 95% of the products’ carbon footprint. . . 

Dairy land being lost at 1 percent a year, Fonterra – Nikki Mandow :

Fonterra says declining annual milk production will likely continue in the foreseeable future, as dairy farmers sell their properties or switch to alternative land use. But forests aren’t to blame.

Dairy farmers are converting their land away from cows and milk at about 1 percent a year, Fonterra chair Peter McBride says. And that’s something the company is going to have to live with. 

Speaking at the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund annual general meeting, McBride said land use change could even go faster, as a variety of factors – from ageing demographics and farmer lifestyle choices to stricter regulation around greenhouse gas emissions and water quality – put further pressure on farmers.

The trend is despite record farm gate dairy prices, which rose from $6.35 per kilo of milk solids in the 2018/19 season to $7.14 in 2019/20, $7.54 in 2020/21 and $9.30 last season. . . 

EastPack announces $30 million notes issue to meet growth in kiwifruit demand :

EastPack, the largest post-harvest operator in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and one of the country’s largest cooperatives, today announced that it intends to raise $30 million via an issue of five-year subordinated Notes to New Zealand investors. EastPack will have the ability to take oversubscriptions of up to $10 million.

The amount raised will help expand packing capacity at EastPack including processing and packing efficiency.

The minimum interest rate for the Notes will be 8.5% per annum, paid quarterly in arrears. The interest rate is set annually and will be set at the higher of the minimum rate or the five-year government bond plus 4.5%. The initial interest rate is 8.9% per annum.

In its discretion, EastPack may redeem the Notes any time after 3 years. There is no intention to list the Notes on the NZX debt market but the notes will be tradeable via Syndex. . .

Livestock is a form of climate justice in the global south – Simplice Nouala:

As the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) proceeds in Egypt, few seem to be acknowledging that the elephant in the room is actually a cow. The livestock sector has faced global scrutiny for its contribution to climate change, but is reducing livestock production actually a fair, or even an honest, climate outcome?

The answer is less than straightforward when considering the billions of people living in the Global South. As counterintuitive as it might seem at a first glance to people living in the “Global North”, there is a strong case to invest more in sustainable livestock systems across the developing world as a matter of climate justice. Let me explain.

Having been widely recognised as the “African COP”, this year’s negotiations are emphasising the need to support the most vulnerable in adapting to climate change by requiring the wealthiest historic emitters of greenhouse gases to pay for the loss and damage that has already occurred. Livestock actually offers a compelling case for both of these priorities.

If COP27 is to truly deliver for Africa, this should start with recognising the vast differences between livestock in the Global North and South. Viewing livestock and its climate impact in developing countries through the same lens as livestock in the Global North is, at best, inaccurate, and at worst, actively harmful. . . 

 


Rural round-up

17/11/2022

Farming leader pleads with PM for more time – Peter Burke :

A dairy industry leader is calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to take the pressure off farmers and give them more time to properly understand and digest the huge raft of changes that the Government is trying to push through before next year’s election.

Ben Allomes told Dairy News that the Government has a number of things they want to achieve before the next election and he says most of these seem to be aimed at the primary sector.

These include greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, animal welfare and labour.

Allomes says this is on top of farmers trying to deal with the uncertainties around Covid, such as disrupted supply chains and increasing costs, all of which are creating an uncertain business environment. . .

The seven significant setbacks to He Waka Eke Noa recommendations – Jim van der Poel:

 DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel outlines why his organisation is not prepared to accept the He Waka Eke Noa proposal in its current form and why it’s a poor option for the sector and New Zealand as a whole.

When the primary sector took on the challenge of an emissions pricing alternative, there was a clear goal – to secure the best possible system for farmers and the climate.

In 2019 the Government legislated to put agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). We believed that was a poor option for the primary sector and for New Zealand.

We approached the Government to have the option to come up with a better proposal that was fairer, more practicable for farmers and would deliver better outcomes. . . 

Kiwifruit growers fear ‘zero income’ next year after severe frost :

Some Waikato kiwifruit growers will have no income next year and others will have crops that will not cover the cost of production, following a heavy frost in October.

Waikato is a smaller growing region with about 500 hectares of fruit; an additional 100 hectares was planted this winter.

A grower with 22 hectares, Richard Glen, said it had taken until now to get his head around the full impact of the October frost event.

Glen said it was the worst frost he had seen in his 40 years of growing. . . 

Hi-tech traps on trial in fruit fly surveillance programme :

Biosecurity New Zealand’s National Fruit Fly Surveillance programme is trialling 60 state-of-the-art traps, with the aim to bolster the detection of exotic fruit fly.

“We have a world-class biosecurity system, but the growth in global trade and travel increases the opportunity for fruit flies to enter the country,” says Biosecurity New Zealand Director Diagnostic & Surveillance Services Veronica Herrera.

“Exotic fruit fly incursions could significantly impact New Zealand’s horticulture industry, so early detection is critical.”

The fruit fly surveillance programme runs from September to July each year to coincide with the heightened risk of fruit flies entering New Zealand. More than 7,800 traps are currently stationed across the country. . . 

Zespri rolls out SAP technology to support its people, processes and growers :

SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced that Zespri, the world’s biggest marketer of kiwifruit, has gone live with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition. The move will support Zespri’s ability to deliver the highest quality fruit to market and sustain strong returns to growers.

The go-live of this new technology, which took place on 1 November 2022, is the first phase in Zespri’s ambitious, multi-year Horizon transformation programme. The aim of the programme is to standardise and automate Zespri’s processes, increase its operational efficiency, and provide a platform for growth and innovation.

As a result of the implementation, Zespri hopes to deliver kiwifruit to customers more effectively. Ultimately a more robust, transparent and reliable process will support its entire product delivery system, from the receipt of a sales order, to payments for product, through to distribution. Zespri’s quality management solutions will include proof that the product has been grown and handled in accordance with regulatory, customer specifications and consumer expectations.

With a focus on creating global consistency, almost 1,000 full-time employees and contractors across offices in 17 countries will benefit from the implementation, with Zespri also undertaking its biggest-ever training programme. . . 

The fake meat scam -Dr Joseph Mercola:

  • Ultra-processed foods typically have five or more ingredients, many of which are not commonly used in home kitchens. This aptly describes the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger, including fake blood processed from genetically engineered yeast to mimic the taste and texture of real beef.
  • Although the soy-like hemoglobin used in the Impossible Burger is classified as generally recognized as safe, no tests have been done by independent labs on the product’s safety. However, tests on lab rats altered the animals’ blood chemistry; the company did not follow up on the results.
  • The parent companies for Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger commissioned studies to assess the environmental impact of production against typical concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) beef production. Not surprisingly, they found their product had a lower impact. But it’s not nearly as low as the beef production at White Oaks Pastures, which uses regenerative farming practices to produce natural beef products.
  • If a plant-based, genetically engineered (GE) meat alternative is not enough of a science fiction adventure, consider the “meat” scientists are growing from stem cell cultures in the lab. Some see these alternatives as the lesser of two evils, but when holistic herd management improves the environment, your best choice is to seek food from natural sources.

Rural round-up

16/11/2022

Country roads not taking us home – Richard Rennie :

New Zealand’s long skinny, swampy, steep terrain has never made for easy road building and it’s a tribute to our pioneering forefathers this country has the roads it does, going to the places they do.

But the escalating impact of climate change, bringing rainfall events of ever greater intensity, is making keeping that spiderweb network of 76,000km of rural roads tougher to keep open, let alone improve.  

Rural local roads are already the poor relative to their state highway links. 

For 2021-22 an average of $170,000 per km is budgeted for state highway improvements, compared with only $14,700 a km for local roads. . . 

Low methane sheep coming to a farm near you? –  Esther Taunton

Farmers will soon be able to breed low methane sheep through a “world first” genetics programme. 

Beef and Lamb New Zealand has added low methane production to the list of traits breeders can target when choosing rams.

Farmers already use several “breeding values” (BV) to select animals with characteristics they want to strengthen in their flocks, including meat yield and lamb survival rate.

With the addition of a methane BV, they could also breed animals that produced less of the agricultural greenhouse gas. . . 

The problem with coconut milk – Pete Fitz-Herbert

His father-in-law’s innocent “coconut milk” mistake at the supermarket has Manawatū farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert thinking about food labels, “nut juice” and the meaning of communication in relationships.

Every relationship has communication issues at times.

Generally, it comes about because we switch roles temporarily. I know in this modern world we are meant to do everything equally but some days we should just be thankful we aren’t the Taliban.

So, when my father-in-law got released into the supermarket with an essential Covid grocery list (during those interesting times), it was something David Attenborough should have been commentating. . .

Final Zespri charter vessel departs :

Zespri’s last charter vessel carrying some of the final volumes of this season’s New Zealand kiwifruit crop has now departed the Port of Tauranga, bound for Tokyo and Kobe in Japan.

Around 158 tonnes of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit and 2,231 tonnes of Zespri Green Kiwifruit is onboard the charter reefer vessel MV Kowhai and is expected to reach Tokyo by the end of this month, with the season’s final container shipments scheduled to conclude over the coming weeks. In total, Zespri has used four charter vessels to Northern Europe, eight to the Mediterranean, four to North America’s West Coast and forty-one to Asia, along with almost 17,000 refrigerated containers to ship more than 160 million trays of New Zealand-grown Zespri Kiwifruit this season.

Zespri’s Chief Global Supply Officer Alastair Hulbert says that there had been a huge effort right across the industry and supply chain to ensure fruit could get to market this season given the headwinds experienced in 2022.

“This has been a really challenging season given the ongoing impact of COVID-19 across the global supply chain, as well as the need to manage our fruit quality. . . 

Orchard sector manager Regan Judd names Young Horticulturist of the Year :

Twenty-six-year-old Regan Judd has taken out the title of 2022 Young Horticulturist of the Year.

Regan, an orchard sector manager at T&G Global in the Hawke’s Bay, represented fruit and vegetable growers across the two-day event in Karaka, Auckland this week.

The competition brings together finalists from all corners of the horticulture sector to vie for the grand title in a series of tasks designed to test their practical and theoretical skills, leadership qualities and more.

Regan says he is “stoked” to have won the grand title, particularly given the calibre of the six other finalists and the effort that went into preparing for the event. . . 

Red meat is not a health risk. New study slams years of shoddy research – Ross Pomeroy:

Studies have been linking red meat consumption to health problems like heart disease, stroke, and cancer for years. But nestled in the recesses of those published papers are notable limitations.

Nearly all the research is observational, unable to tease out causation convincingly. Most are plagued by confounding variables. For example, perhaps meat eaters simply eat fewer vegetables, or tend to smoke more, or exercise less? Moreover, many are based on self-reported consumption. The simple fact is that people can’t remember what they eat with any accuracy. And lastly, the reported effect sizes in these scientific papers are often small. Is a supposed 15% greater risk of cancer really worth worrying about? 

Study slams lazy research 

In a new, unprecedented effort, scientists at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) scrutinized decades of research on red meat consumption and its links to various health outcomes, formulating a new rating system to communicate health risks in the process. Their findings mostly dispel any concerns about eating red meat

“We found weak evidence of association between unprocessed red meat consumption and colorectal cancer, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and ischemic heart disease. Moreover, we found no evidence of an association between unprocessed red meat and ischemic stroke or hemorrhagic stroke,” they summarized.  . . 


Can’t they join the dots?

18/10/2022

Remember Labour promising to prioritise reducing child poverty? Add that to yet another big promise and bad performance:

Students are suffering as their families’ food budgets shrink, with an increasing number arriving at school ‘hungry, cold, and miserable,’ teachers say. As schools return for term four, the focus for many won’t be teaching – but feeding children who have survived the holidays on limited food. KidsCan has seen a sharp rise in demand, with schools ordering food for over 10,000 more children a day than at the start of the year.

KidsCan surveyed its partner schools on the impact of the rising cost of living, with more than five hundred responses. Teachers said some students were surviving on food provided at school, with cupboards at home empty by the end of each week. They were also helping more families access food banks.

“Parents are having to decide between bills and basic essentials for their children, even with both parents working,” one principal wrote. Another reported one child telling her, ‘Dad was crying last night because he said it’s his job to feed us kids, but he doesn’t get enough money, and everything is so expensive.’ “Children are worried about family money and their parents’ well-being,” she said.

Hungry children can’t learn properly, add worries about their parents and it’s not hard to join the dots between that and increases in young people’s mental health problems.

Some students were living in grim conditions, with increasing overcrowding as families couldn’t afford both rent and enough food. One school reported a child living in a 3-bedroom home with nineteen others. “Sadly, this is not unusual,” the teacher wrote. Petrol costs were affecting attendance, with one school picking up sixty children every day. High schools reported reduced attendance as senior students worked part-time to support their families or left altogether.

Teachers were seeing an impact not just on students’ education, but their wellbeing too. Several schools said they’d seen a drop in the number of students able to participate in sport. School camp letters didn’t make it home if students thought their parents couldn’t afford it.

The increase in demand comes as KidsCan has seen a drop in regular givers, who are having to tighten their own budgets. The charity is now supporting 877 schools nationwide, helping to feed more than 49,000 students a day. A further thirty-nine schools are waiting for help, with most applying since April as costs rose. KidsCan also supports more than 7,000 students in 177 early childhood centres nationwide with food and clothing.

“The situation is pretty dire. We’re seeing record demand for KidsCan food at school, as families go hungry at home,” KidsCan’s founder and CEO Julie Chapman says. “We are bringing in more food to meet the increased demand from our partner schools, while also working to reach those children on our waitlist. But with our costs rising, and a drop in people able to donate every month, we need more help from individuals and businesses too. Too much of the burden is falling on overwhelmed teachers, and they need all the support we can give them.” 

It’s fair to give some of the blame for the cost of living crisis to Covid-19.

But the government is also at fault because, as John MacDonald points out,  it has got its priorities wrong:

When it comes to knowing what it should be prioritising, this government is hopeless.

If you want evidence, where would you like me to start? Centralised control of the health system. A priority? No. Centralising all the polytechs around the country. A priority? Wouldn’t have thought so. Restructuring water services up and down the country. A priority? Maybe in some places, but not everywhere.

That’s just a start. And I actually think there are two headlines in the news today that trump all of those examples. Two headlines that, in just a few words, show how way off beam the Government has got when it comes to knowing what its priorities should be.

The first headline: ‘The worst we’ve ever seen it’: Kidscan’s support for hungry children grows as food prices hit 13-year high’. And the second headline: “Government expects to spend $6 million on contractors working on public media mega-merger”. . .

Remember the Wellbeing Budget?

Is there any measure of wellbeing that has improved since then?

Poverty, for children and adults, certainly hasn’t, nor has the associated problem of homelessness.

There’s little hope of any improvement to hungry children and wider issues of poverty when the government doesn’t appear to be able to join the dots between that and its policies that have fuelled inflation and added costs and complexity to food production.

Fruit and vegetables weren’t harvested because of labour shortages, reducing supply, export income and increasing domestic prices.

That’s due in part to closed borders and Labour’s anti-immigration stance.

It’s also due to the increased minimum wage which means beneficiaries work fewer hours before they hit the ceiling where their benefits are reduced.

The locks have been taken off the border but the number of people coming in who are willing and able to work in horticulture and on farms is well below the number needed.

The situation is made worse by the long and expensive process to employ them. The government mandates that immigrant workers must be paid the median wage which in most cases is more than the going rate for horticulture and farming staff. It shouldn’t be hard to join the dots between higher wages and more expensive food.

The raft of regulations that have hit farming are also part of the problem and if the government succeeds in forcing its butchered version of He Waka Eke Noa on the sector it will add to the problem of less production and higher prices.

Heather du Plessis-Allan says the climate tax will wreck the industry:

The Government can’t force this version of its climate tax on farmers.

It’s economically reckless. It will shut down up to one in five sheep and beef farms.

This is the prediction from the Government’s own models.

It will cause a 24 per cent drop in sheep and beef revenue. That works out at $2.9 billion a year. That’s more than we spend on our entire education system annually.

It will cut jobs, close businesses and kill towns.

It will not only reduce production of meat and milk, it will add to the costs of producing fruit and vegetables too and some of those costs will be passed on to consumers.

The tax breaches the Paris Agreement that demands action “in a manner that does not threaten food production”. This nukes 20 per cent of sheep and beef food production in a food-producing nation.

It is economic sabotage, threatens food security and it won’t help the environment.

Our farmers are the most climate-friendly in the world. If they stop exporting 20 per cent of their meat, some other farmers somewhere else in the world will take up that slack. Those farmers are less climate-friendly. The sheep and cows they farm will hurt the climate more than the sheep and cows we’re getting rid of to help the climate.

This tax will remove 1.6 megatonnes of sheep carbon emissions in New Zealand. Farmers in the rest of the world will replace that with 2.1 megatonnes of sheep carbon emissions. The climate tax will lead to a 133 per cent increase in those emissions. This is the prediction in the Government’s own models.

The Prime Minister claims our farmers will “benefit from being world-leading”. That’s BS. Precious few consumers in London and Perth and even Auckland are wealthy enough to question the climate impact of their meat before buying it. Right now – with inflation soaring internationally – they’re more concerned about the price. . .

People might voice concern for the climate when they’re asked about it but when they’re shopping its quality and price that matters.

It could only get worse when the protests start. Groundswell has announced protests for Thursday in all the major centres.

It may snowball when farming communities realise the impact this will have on those living around sheep and beef farms. Many of those farmers will simply switch to planting trees if their council allows it. People will be replaced by pine. Groundswell predicts, 2368 Kiwi farming families will walk off their land.

Schools, shops and cafes will close. Meat plants won’t have work. It’s predicted one close every year from 2030 and 13,984 red meat sector jobs will be lost. . . 

It’s should be easy to join the dots between the job losses and more hunger but the government doesn’t appear able, or willing to do it.

Unless, or until, they do the headlines showing how badly wrong they’ve got their priorities will worsen.


Rural round-up

06/10/2022

Rural internet snag – Jessica Marshall:

Despite its importance to the sector, many farmers and rural customers are still managing with subpar internet and mobile phone service.

That’s according to the recent 2022 Federated Farmer Rural Connectivity Survey. 

The survey found that more than half of the approximately 1,200 farmers who responded had reported download speeds at or less than 20 megabytes per second.

Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesman Richard McIntyre says broadband and mobile are vital to farming businesses. . . 

a2 Milk strikes a distribution deal with Chinese partner and sets sights on 2bn annual revenue – Point of Order:

While  the  big  co-op Fonterra  is  the  dominant force  in the  NZ  dairy  industry,  injecting nearly $14bn into regional  economies  through its payout  to  farmers, some  of  the  smaller  companies  have  become  spectacular performers.

Point of  Order  last week   drew  attention  to  how  the  specialist  Waikato processing company Tatua had  outstripped  Fonterra  with  its  2021-22 payout.

This  week a2 Milk  grabbed  a  headline  by  telling the   market it  had renewed exclusive import and distribution arrangements with a Chinese company for five years. This  triggered   fresh interest in  the  company,  which  is  sitting  on  a cash  pile  of $816.5m  It  plans  to  spend $150m of this in a  share buy-back

China State Farm Agribusiness has been a2 Milk’s strategic distribution partner in China since 2013 and is the exclusive import agent for its China label products, including a2’s China label infant milk formula. . . 

Agricultural emissions MOU a positive step :

The new memorandum of understanding between the Government and agribusiness leaders as part of the Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions is a step in the right direction, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“The $172 million over four years committed to tools and technology, including $7.75 million in this financial year, is a constructive spend of committed Budget funds.

“National supports the Government’s current emissions targets and budgets.

“Our agricultural sector is currently worth $52 billion to New Zealand, and our farmers are already the world’s lowest emitters.  . . .

Rewarding to invest in renewable power – Tim Cronshaw:

Solar power is only part of the environmental equation that adds up for a Canterbury vegetable and crop grower, writes Tim Cronshaw.

Robin Oakley’s call to put in 564 solar panels at his Southbridge vegetable and arable operation was done with his head and heart.

The ground-mounted solar line-up sits next to the packing shed and powers 40% of the site’s energy needs each year.

Within seven years, the payback from electricity generated by the panels will have covered the capital outlay of $400,000. . . 

Milestone for NAIT as CRV becomes first accredited provider under new standards :

Dairy genetics company CRV NZ has become the first service provider to achieve NAIT accreditation under OSPRI’s more rigorous five-step process.

Representatives from OSPRI today officially presented CRV with its accreditation certificate in Hamilton.

National Manager Quality, Compliance and Assurance Melissa Bailey says the intention of the new voluntary accreditation system is to give farmers more confidence that organisations handling and managing their NAIT data, such as saleyards and meat processors, meet the highest industry-agreed standards.

Under the old system, more than 150 providers were accredited. Farmers were getting notices for not complying and there were some instances where the movements were recorded incorrectly. . . 

 

NT government releases plan to address banana freckle disease outbreak in the Top End – Alicia Perera:

Since first being detected in May, banana freckle has spread to more than 40 properties across the Northern Territory’s Top End region.

One of those is Julie-Ann Murphy and Alan Petersen’s farm, Rum Jungle Organics.

The only commercial farm caught up in the outbreak, they’re now facing the prospect of losing their entire banana plantation for the second time in a decade, as the NT government takes steps to tackle the disease. 

“It’s pretty devastating to do it a second time,” Ms Murphy said. . . 


Rural round-up

29/09/2022

We don’t want farmers to break the law :

The Government’s winter grazing regime is becoming increasingly confusing for farmers as D-Day looms to have consents in place, warns Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ

The Government has been slow to implement freshwater farm plans, forcing farmers into an expensive consent process, while councils nationwide are struggling with the consenting burden.

This has left farmers at risk of breaking the law as planting for winter crops needs to take place in late spring, says Federated Farmers National Board spokesperson, Water and Environment, Colin Hurst. 

“We’ve been told by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and various regional councils that ‘it’s ok’ and nothing will happen if farmers get planting, even though they’d be at risk of breaking the law.” . . 

Have your say on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructure) Amendment Bill:

The Primary Production Committee is seeking public submissions on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment Bill. This bill would enable Fonterra to implement a new capital structure.

The bill would amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 to allow Fonterra’s unit fund to be partially and permanently delinked. Fonterra’s ability to limit the size of the unit fund would be specifically excluded from conduct that could be considered illegal.

The bill also seeks to improve the transparency, and strengthens the Commerce Commission’s oversight of Fonterra’s base milk price-setting arrangements. It would also support liquidity in trade of Fonterra shares. . . 

Non-food corps are eating our food – Deepak K Ray:

The world’s farmers grow crops for food as well as other uses. Those other uses are threatening to crowd out our chance to feed the world’s hungry, writes Deepak K Ray.

It’s sometimes bandied about that enough food is grown globally to feed everyone now and into the future. Undernourishment is ‘just a distribution challenge’. And it’s mostly true: enough kilojoules do and will be harvested in just the top 10 global crops, which account for more than 80 percent of all calories. We will grow an extra 14,000 trillion kilocalories (around 59,000 trillion kilojoules) by 2030.

But while distribution is certainly one challenge, under the hood things are not so simple; all harvested crops are not for direct food consumption.

Crops are often consumed with little to no processing, such as apples from the tree and tortillas made from the flour of a wheat or maize crop. But there are another six reasons crops are grown: animal feed (for dairy, eggs and meat production); the food processing industry (think high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil and modified starch); exports (to countries that can pay); industrial use (think ethanol, bio-diesel, bagasse, bio-plastics, and pharmaceuticals); seeds; and then there are crop losses. These last two categories are relatively small, though in the 2010s crop losses were still relatively high in Africa. . . 

The fragile magic of highly productive land – Emile Donovan:

Not all land is created equal.

Some – which we call ‘highly productive land’ – is, as it says on the tin, highly productive.

That means it’s much more flexible than other types of land: you can grow many different types of fruit or vegetables on it; you can adapt it for other types of farming, all with minimal input from farmers.

Aotearoa puts its highly productive land to good use: in breadbaskets, like Pukekohe, we grow food that feeds New Zealanders, and is exported around the world.  . . 

More seasonal workers welcome :

BusinessNZ welcomes the Government’s announcement of another 3000 places for seasonal workers to help ease workforce pressure, and would like to see the same done for more sectors.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says this afternoon’s announcement is a good start.

“Hopefully by recognising the urgent need for more workers in the horticultural sector, the Government is also open to considering the shortages New Zealand is currently facing across all sectors and at all levels of employment.

“The global war for talent has resulted in a very competitive international environment and New Zealand businesses are looking to source skills from the New Zealand labour market where that is possible. . . 

Increased RSE cap will help wine industry meet seasonal work peaks :

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement today that the Government has increased the RSE cap to 19,000, providing 3000 additional places.

“The availability of skilled seasonal workers continues to be a critical concern for many growers and wineries. The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry to plan with more certainty to meet seasonal work peaks, and ensure we can continue to make premium quality wine. This decision will benefit Pacific workers, their families, and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“There are very clear requirements for all accredited employers regarding accommodation, and pastoral care. As an industry we expect these are upheld, as a minimum. It is a privilege to have this scheme, to enable our industry to meet our seasonal work peaks, and RSE employees must be provided with fair and ethical working conditions – anything less is unacceptable.”

“This increase recognises the Government’s confidence in the scheme, and the confidence they have in the primary industries to get this right, and give RSE workers the experience they deserve. This is a responsibility that will not be taken lightly.” . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2022

Research set to improve safety over calving – Bronwyn Wilson:

Research into sprain and strain injuries over calving has identified some simple ways farmers can reduce injuries on dairy farms.

The three-year DairyNZ project, funded in partnership with ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention programme, is researching the causes of sprains and strains on dairy farms – and developing practical solutions to reduce injuries.

“Around 40 percent of injuries on dairy farms are sprains and strains, with the highest risk from August to October. As calving progresses, fatigue can set in and increase injuries,” says DairyNZ senior scientist and research lead, Dr Callum Eastwood.

As part of the Reducing Sprains and Strains project, 370 farmers were surveyed on how they managed health and safety, and whether injuries had occurred. . .

Mycoplasma bovis Mid Canterbury update – enhanced biosecurity measures in the Wakanui area :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, alongside DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is a partner in the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) eradication programme.

The M. bovis programme is now targeting the remaining known pocket of confirmed infection with depopulation starting on a mid-Canterbury feedlot in Wakanui and strict new biosecurity measures for the surrounding area.

Although further detections across the country are possible in future, the only properties known to have infected cattle are located in this small area, where there are three Confirmed Properties, including the feedlot.

M. bovis is known to be most commonly spread via direct contact between infected and uninfected cattle. However, despite recent thorough investigations, the programme has been unable to confirm the pathway(s) by which disease has been spreading in this area. . .

Gisborne drone spraying trial deemed a success – Hamish Barwick:

Gisborne based vegetable grower LeaderBrand recently trialled the use of drones for spraying at its Makauri Farm with positive results.   

LeaderBrand research agronomist Chris Lambert said the trial took place over three months during winter, an ideal time as the ground was too wet to operate a tractor on.

“We wanted to manage our weeds in winter. Rather than spray over a wide area, which is a big waste of chemicals, the drone was able to target weed clumps.”  

He said the advantage of drones is that they don’t compact soil like tractors do and they’re also more agile than helicopters. . . 

High-tech strawberry farm aims high in Foxton – Country Life:

Slip behind a bee-proof mesh curtain in an old Foxton factory building and a sweet surprise awaits.

“Welcome to our secret laboratory,” Matthew Keltie says.

Under the bluish glow of the high-tech lights, pops of red catch the eye.

A bee buzzes past and quiet music overlays the faint gurgle of nutrients swishing through tubes. . . 

Meryn Whitehead wins 2022 Young Grower of the Year national final :

Meryn Whitehead, a 28-year-old supervisor at Vailima Orchards, has won the national title of 2022 Young Grower of the Year, held in Nelson.

“It is a real privilege to be named the winner of this year’s competition, especially given the impressive talent on display,” says Meryn.

Meryn was one of six contestants that vied for the grand title in a series of practical and theoretical horticulture modules across two-days. The competition encourages young people to take up a career in horticulture as well as celebrating their success in the industry.

Despite being Meryn’s second year entering the competition, she says the experience has been nonetheless valuable. . . 

Proposed Bill would support wine tourism in New Zealand :

New Zealand Winegrowers is thrilled the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill, proposed by Stuart Smith MP, has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today.

New Zealand Winegrowers has had longstanding concerns about aspects of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act as they apply to winery cellar doors. This Bill would help to address some of our key concerns for wineries.

We congratulate Stuart Smith MP on having this Bill drawn from the ballot. As the Member of Parliament for New Zealand’s largest wine region, he understands first-hand the importance of this proposal.

Winery cellar doors are an important part of wine tourism, yet the current legislation does not permit wineries holding an off-licence to charge for tastings. “The current legislation is out of date,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “It either forces wineries to give wine away for free, or forces them to go through significant cost and time to acquire and maintain a separate on-licence.” . . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2022

Too many famers still stuck in connectivity ‘slow lane’ :

Coverage, reliability and speed of mobile and internet services for many farming families and businesses are treading water, if not going backwards, the 2022 Federated Farmers Rural Connectivity Survey shows.

More than half of the nearly 1,200 farmers who responded to the survey report internet download speeds at or less than what could be considered a bare minimum (20 megabytes per second/Mbps) and those who said their mobile phone service had declined in the last 12 months jumped from 20% to 32%.

“For a sector that underpins the lion’s share of New Zealand’s export earnings, and one where productivity gains and reporting requirements are increasingly aligned with used of technology, apps and devices, this is really concerning,” Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesperson Richard McIntyre says.

“It’s a given that it’s easier and more profitable to deliver high standards of mobile and broadband to urban areas. But rural families and farm businesses – who due to remoteness and road travel times can really benefit from strong on-line connectivity access – must not be left behind.” . . 

Why does everyone want to work on a farm? – Brianna Mcilraith:

Job-hunters might be looking for a lifestyle and career change on the farm, if Trade Me data is anything to go by.

The site said agricultural jobs were the most-viewed listings last month.

The top five job listings were for South Island agriculture, fishing and forestry roles, and of the 100 most-viewed listings in August, more than half (55%) were in those categories.

Trade Me Jobs sales director Matt Tolich said 18 of the most popular listings were for shepherds and a further nine for stock managers. . . 

Biosecurity Bill passes first reading :

An opposition member’s bill boosting penalties for biosecurity breaches has passed its first reading with near unanimous support.

In the name of National MP Jacqui Dean, the bill is aimed at deterring incoming visitors from bringing in illegal biosecurity items such as fruit or other food.

The Increased Penalties for Breach of Biosecurity Bill would double the existing penalty from $1000 to $2000, upon conviction.

It would also increase the on-the-spot fine for a false declaration from $400 to $1000. . . 

Frontline biosecurity ranks bolstered :

Biosecurity New Zealand has welcomed 17 new quarantine officers to help protect Aotearoa’s borders from invasive pests and diseases.

Eleven officers graduated on Friday after completing an intensive 10-week training programme. They will work at frontline border locations in Auckland to ensure international travellers and imported goods comply with New Zealand’s strict biosecurity rules. The other six new officers have joined Biosecurity New Zealand’s border teams in Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.

The graduates will bolster Biosecurity New Zealand’s frontline ranks as international passenger traffic begins to gather pace following the reopening of borders, says Mike Inglis, Northern Regional Commissioner, Biosecurity New Zealand.

He says Biosecurity New Zealand will have recruited nearly 60 new quarantine officers by the end of this year. There are plans to recruit a further 20 Auckland officers in early 2023. . . 

Alun Kilby from Marisco wins Marlborough 2022 Young Winemaker of the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco, who came became the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year. The competition was held on 21st September at MRC and the winners were announced at the Awards Dinner the same evening

Alun, 28, was thrilled to take out the title and the judges commented on his broad range of knowledge and skills as he scored consistently well across all sections.

Congratulations also goes to Thomas Jordaan from Vavasour who came second and to Ruby McManaway from Yealands who came third.

For the first time, there were ten contestants competing in the Marlborough regional competition. “It’s exciting to see how many aspiring Young Winemakers want to stretch themselves and start making a name for themselves” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Mick Ahern wins HortNZ’s Industry Service Award for 2022 :

Horticulture industry stalwart, Mick (Michael) Ahern, has won the Horticulture New Zealand Industry Service Award for 2022.

‘Mick has contributed to the development of New Zealand’s horticulture industry for more than 40 years,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Mick is known for his common sense and ability – after everyone else has exhausted themselves with talking – to sum up the situation and provide wise counsel, while pointing to the best if not only way forward.’

Mick started out in the 70s as a university student writing a case study on the kiwifruit industry’s development. That lead to roles in the then fledgeling, kiwifruit export industry. . . 

Miriana Stephens wins Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022:

Horticulture industry leader, Miriana Stephens has won the Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022.

‘Miriana is shaping the future of the horticulture industry by example,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘She is a director of Wakatū Incorporation, which grows apples, kiwifruit and pears in its Motueka Orchards under the business, Kono.

‘To Miriana, business is not just commercial – it involves being a kaitiaki of the whenua and moana, as well as being commercially responsible.’ . . 


Rural round-up

22/09/2022

Finalists announced for prestigious Trans Tasman Agricultural Award :

The Zanda McDonald Award, Australasia’s agricultural badge of honour, have announced their 2023 Award finalists, comprising of six passionate young professionals from Australia and New Zealand.

Now in its ninth year, the coveted award recognises future leaders working in agriculture, and provides an impressive prize package centred around tailored mentoring and education. The six talented finalists – three from Australia and three from New Zealand – have been selected for their passion for the industry, strong leadership skills, and the contributions they’re making to the primary sector. One winner will be chosen from each country.

The New Zealand finalists are Harriet Bremner, 33, author and health, safety and wellbeing advocate for Rural New Zealand, and farmer at Jericho Station, Southland; Jacques Reinhardt, 34, Station Manager at Castlepoint Station Wairarapa; and Monica Schwass, 31, Future Farming Manager at The NZ Merino Company, based in Christchurch.

The Australian finalists are Charles Vaughan, 29, Queensland Operations Coordinator/Group Veterinarian for Australian Cattle Enterprises and Director of Charles Vaughan Veterinary Services Pty Ltd; Mitch Highett, 33, Founder and Managing Director of farm management company Bullseye Agriculture, from Orange NSW; and Sarah Groat, 34, Development Officer for government Agtech programme “Farms of the Future”, for the Department of Primary Industries, who lives on the family farm near Rankin’s Springs NSW. . . 

Asparagus growers hoping to overcome flooding troubles ahead of harvest :

The asparagus harvesting season has just begun, but some growers’ fields are still partly underwater from recent flooding.

It’s hoped this season will outperform last year’s, when just a third of the spears were harvested because Covid lockdowns disrupted the restaurant trade right up until Christmas.

Cam Lewis of Horowhenua’s Tendertips Asparagus said they cranked up their packhouse last week, but they had to get to the produce first.

“There’s still quite a few of our paddocks underwater at the moment, but we’re hoping for a good spring,” he said. . . 

Feds MP face off in John Luxton memorial match – Hamish Barwick :

Three Federated Farmers board members make up the front row of the dairy sector rugby team in this Saturday’s John Luxton Memorial Match in Morrinsville.

Facing off against MPs and parliamentary staff, the rugby match is a memorial for the late Hon John Luxton, the founding chair of DairyNZ and former Agriculture Minister. A netball game is also held in Luxton’s memory.

“We’ve got a full front row from Federated Farmers – president Andrew Hoggard, vice-president Wayne Langford and dairy chair Richard McIntyre – and I’ll be pulling on my boots to play on the wing,” said DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

In the rugby team, Southland farmer Tangaroa Walker is flying up to pull on the number 8 jersey – Tangaroa runs his own Farm4Life programme with how-to information for people starting out in dairy farming. Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award winner Quinn Morgan will be playing mid-field – Morgan takes an active role encouraging other young people to join the sector. . . 

A fair shears share on both sides of the Tasman :

New Zealand wool harvesting trainer Elite Wool Industry Training has taken a big step to address global shortage of skilled woolshed labour by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with two of Australia’s major players in the industry.

The other parties are woolgrower-owned Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Australia’s largest shearing and wool handling training organisation, SCAA Shearer Wool Handler Training (SCAA SWTI).

The MOU is in response to the global shortage of shearers and skilled woolhandlers, which New Zealand wool and sheep meat producers have endured for the past two years, resulting in the costs of shearing increasing by at least 15-20 per cent. . . 

Land Co head: slow investors forcing us toward offshore investors :

Local investors are sitting on their hands, an NZX-listed land management company says, and they are now on the hunt for foreign investors.

NZ Rural Land Management (NZL) chair Rob Campbell said in the company’s annual report that its manager had been doing an ‘excellent job’.

The initial public offering of shares (IPO) were followed by a record full year net profit and a strong increase in the value of shares.

The entity was created to manage the new NZ Rural Land Company Limited (NZRLC), which buys rural land to lease to farming operators. It first listed on the NZX in late 2020. . .

Parasitic worm pesticide approved for use :

A new pesticide to combat parasitic worms in carrots, kūmara, parsnips, and potatoes has been approved for use in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Plant-parasitic worms, or nematodes, are considered a major risk to some of our most popular root vegetables, with producers sometimes experiencing complete crop failure from the damage they cause.

The applicant, Adama New Zealand Limited, said Nimitz will be an important tool to ensure the economic viability of these important crops.

“EPA staff conducted comprehensive risk assessments and found the risks to people and the environment to be negligible, with appropriate rules in place,” says Dr Lauren Fleury, Hazardous Substances Applications Manager. . . 


Rural round-up

21/09/2022

Time to reopen the GE in agriculture debate – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Ideologically-based beliefs are preventing consumers from experiencing the benefits that gene editing in agriculture can bring, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

It is over two decades since the Royal Commission on genetic modification (GM) responded to the task of evaluating the technology within the context of New Zealand.

The major theme of the 473-page report was self-described as “preserving opportunities”.

The authors went to considerable lengths to explain the different concerns and perspectives of New Zealanders who, by and large, were comfortable with GM for medical purposes, but were less so in food production. . . 

Holy cow milk is best!  – Warren McNab:

 Plant-based beverages are expensive and provide only a small fraction of the nutritional goodness of cow’s milk.

These are the findings of a new study, published in the Frontiers in Nutrition journal (August 8), which assessed the nutritional profiles of a range of plant-based beverages – such as soy, oat, coconut, almond or rice drinks – and compared them to standard bovine milk.

Researchers collected 103 plant-based products from supermarkets in Palmerston North, New Zealand. These drinks were found to have much lower quantities of the 20 nutrients measured – such as calcium and protein – and were significantly more costly than cow’s milk.

The study was carried out by Riddet Institute scientists, from Massey University, in Palmerston North. The Riddet Institute is a Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE), hosted by Massey University. . .

HortNZ says National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land is critical :

The National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land will provide protection for the country’s best land and soil so it can be used to produce food.

‘Covid has taught us that we can’t take for granted that there’ll always be New Zealand grown vegetables and fruit on our retailers’ shelves,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Nadine Tunley.

‘HortNZ has advocated for nearly a decade for government policy that recognises the importance of our best soils, and ensures that they are prioritised for what they are best for – producing healthy vegetables and fruit.

‘All along, we have said that with good planning, New Zealand can have fresh vegetables and fruit, and houses.’ . . 

ORC consent map upgraded to be farmer-friendly :

Otago Regional Council (ORC) has upgraded its online consent mapping site in a move designed to make the service more farmer-friendly.

The map, Consents in Otago, now includes a property-by-address, legal description or consent number search function, satellite imagery similar to Google Maps, plus named waterways, a polygon/draw tool and also a print button, says Alexandra King, ORC team leader consents.

“It’s now much more user friendly for farmers who’re working through the mapping part of their applications, specifically intensive winter grazing plans,” she says.

King says the tool allows farmers to easily identify and measure blocks throughout their farms, and help them in identifying risk areas/sensitive receptors on-farm such as critical source areas, waterways, wetlands or water bores. . .

Who will join the next generation of beekeepers? :

Mossop’s Honey and Apiculture New Zealand are looking for the next Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship recipient to get a boost into the apiculture industry.

The scholarship was set up five years ago as a way of giving young people the best possible start in the apiculture industry. It includes $2000 to be put towards best-practice training or set-up costs, membership of industry body Apiculture New Zealand for a year, attendance at the industry’s national conference in the year of the award and an accommodation allowance for Conference.

Last year’s recipient, Alyssa Wilson from Canterbury, is currently finishing off a Primary ITO course the scholarship helped pay for. The course involves writing about and photographing her practical experience working at Gowanleagold with beekeeper James Corson, where she says she is “learning heaps”.

While attending the Apiculture New Zealand Conference in Christchurch this year, Alyssa says she particularly enjoyed listening to Dr Sammy Ramsey, one of the international speakers from the United States. . . 

Fears Australian farm labour woes may worsen with loss of UK backpackers under trade deal – Khaled Al Khawaldeh:

Rosie Bradford arrived from the UK in November 2019 on a working holiday visa ready to trade in some of her youthful energy for the chance to enjoy the Aussie sun for an extra year or two.

“The only reason I went to do it [farm work] was obviously to get my second and third year. I was so focused on that but after doing it, I would definitely say I would have still done it,” she said.

“I absolutely do not regret doing farm work at all. I learned a lot from those experiences. And I met so many amazing people. But to be honest [without the compulsion] I probably wouldn’t have done … I probably wouldn’t have been that interested.”

Bradford would end up spending three years working in parts of the country where most Australian workers do not venture. Picking bananas in Tully, oranges and mandarins in Gayndah, grafting in Tasmania, and even working on a fishing boat in Darwin. Like many of her compatriots, she helped fill a gap in a workforce stretched thin in a vast, but highly urbanised, country. . . 


Rural round-up

01/09/2022

The Huiarua / Matanui betrayal – Clive Bibby :

Recently I enjoyed the experience of helping two young local men shear some of my sheep.

The exercise was a mixture of one that helped to restore my faith in our local farm based economy but also another that reinforced my concerns about the contemptuous manner in which the farming industry is being treated by the current government.

Who would have thought that it would be possible to have two views of the same cornerstone industry that are so diametrically opposed. 

Yet here we are lamenting that those who have the power to safeguard the jobs and welfare of those who make it happen, actually doing their best to destroy our number one asset – all in the name of an already discredited ideology. It is criminal activity and those who are responsible should be held to account.  . .

Dairy is fundamental to New Zealand’s future but it needs an informed debate – Keith Woodford:

The key message of this article is that dairy is of fundamental importance to the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.  However, the journey to get there is not straight forward and it will be controversial.

First, I set out the reasons why dairy is so important, and hence the need to face-up to the challenges that lie ahead. This then leads towards necessary actions to address the challenges.

It is no accident that New Zealand’s most important export industry is dairy, comprising some 30 percent of the export value of goods that leave New Zealand’s shores. Add in sheep, beef, timber, fish, kiwifruit and wine, and New Zealand’s primary industries contribute a little over 80 percent of the export earnings derived from merchandise goods.

The remaining exports are led by aluminium and some machinery. However, with these and other manufactured goods, the net contribution is typically much less than the export earnings, given the imports that are required to feed into the manufacture of these exports. . . 

Tomato growers face skyrocketing energy costs, labour shortages – Sally Murphy:

Tomatoes NZ hopes feedback from growers about the issues they’re facing will show the government and consumers how expensive and hard it’s become to grow the fruit.

The industry group is getting feedback from growers to create a living document of information.

It highlights the main issues growers are having such as rising energy and production costs, labour shortages and biosecurity incursions.

The cost of energy used to heat glasshouses had skyrocketed, with coal between 45 and 65 percent higher in price and gas up 50 percent.

Sourcing labour remained a challenge, the document said. Tomato growing businesses were operating with 40-60 percent of employee numbers due to the effects of Covid-19 and border restrictions. . . 

Worsening labour shortages forces agricultural sector to evaluate next steps :

Agricultural businesses in New Zealand are currently experiencing one of the highest labour shortages in its history. Farmers, business owners, and growers are dealing with a range of issues that are being felt nationwide with multiple crop losses and recent floodings. These issues and the additional strain on expenses are forcing employers to step back and evaluate next steps. There has never been a better time for employers to be well informed and aware of their obligations when it comes to managing and paying their staff.

New Zealand’s leading employment relations and health and safety at work specialists, Employsure New Zealand have released resources for agricultural business owners. Having represented over 6,000 businesses, Employsure have used their experience and knowledge to create tailored and effective resources for small business owners who find themselves unsure of their responsibilities.

Employsure New Zealand’s Operations Manager, Laurence McLean has commented on the importance of employer obligations. Mr McLean commented, [1]“With New Zealand doubling its working holiday intake and offering a fast-tracked path to permanency for temporary migrant workers, it is vital for employers to be knowledgeable on how to manage their staff from all walks of life including vulnerable workers such as backpackers and migrants many of whom do not fully understand their rights as employees. . . 

A2 share price rallies sharply as the processor reports big jump in net profit – Point of Order :

A mixed  bag  of  news  came  down the  line  for  New Zealand’s  dairy  industry  over the  past  week.  On  one  side,  Fonterra trimmed   its  forecast  payout  for  the  season, while  on  another a2  Milk   surprised   its  critics  by  reporting  a  42% jump  in  net  profit  to $114m.

Any   company  listed  on  the NZX  and  sitting  on a  cash  mountain  of  $800m  must  be  doing  something  right.    Yet  some of  the  headlines  on   its  result  focussed  on  what  might  go  wrong   for   the  company  that specialises  in marketing  a2 milk  and  infant  formula.

For  example  Business  Desk’s  Jenny Ruth  says the    biggest source of uncertainty for a2 Milk right now is China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) deadline of February 21, 2023, for companies selling infant formula in China to get a new form of approval.  It’s called the GB standard, which is a Chinese national standard. Foreign companies won’t be able to manufacture formula for the Chinese market beyond that date unless they meet the new standard and have that all-important tick from SAMR.

But the  investment  community  was  cheered  by the  result in  what  is  currently  a rather downmarket climate. A2 Milk’s  share price rallied sharply after the company reported the  leap in profit which was driven by strong growth in its infant formula business in China. . . 

Integrated report shows strong progress for company against strategic objectives :

Ravensdown’s 2022 Integrated Report published today shows the fertiliser co-operative owned by primary producers is tracking well against its strategic objectives.

Highlights include:

  • A 12 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from fertiliser against the previous year.
  • A net reduction of scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions of 2,206 tonnes of carbon dioxide (14%) since the base year of 2018.
  • Confirming plans to convert the company’s Dipton, Southland coal-fired combustor to biomass eliminating at least 1100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, almost 10 per cent of Ravensdown’s direct carbon footprint. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/08/2022

Race against time on winter grazing – Neal Wallace :

Last-minute discussions are underway to ensure farmers can winter livestock on crops next year without swamping regional councils with urgent resource consent applications.

Farming leaders, regional councils and the government are rapidly trying to find a solution after it emerged that officials are unlikely to have finalised Freshwater Management Plan criteria in time for planting intensive winter grazing (IWG) crops.

This process is an alternative form of approval for non-compliant winter graziers and without it, thousands of farmers may need resource consent for next winter. 

Farming groups are calling for a year’s deferral of the new rules, citing the absence of a freshwater plan. . . 

My beef with George Monibot – Diana Rodgers:

Many, many people have forwarded me the latest piece by George Monbiot and asked me to comment, so here it is.

At first, I felt incredibly frustrated because Robb Wolf and I address his worldview in our book, Sacred Cow – and this really is a battle of worldviews. 

George is of the view that nature (wild animals) is more important than human livelihoods and our nutritional status… and that uprooting people who live in rural communities, dishonoring their way of life and food culture, and testing unproven food like substances on them all in an effort to preserve wilderness is perfectly noble.

Robb and I on the other hand believe that sustainable regional food systems that take the local environment, human nutrition, food culture, and economy into account are the right path forward.  . .

Mushroom farm in Havelock North to cut jobs and stop production – Tom Kitchin:

A mushroom farm which got a $19 million loan from the government will let around 100 of its staff go and close much of its factory.

Te Mata Mushrooms, in Havelock North, is the second largest commercial mushroom farm in the country and supplies mushrooms around the Central North Island and Auckland.

It also has one of the largest non-seasonal horticultural workforces in Hawke’s Bay.

It was given the Covid-19 Infrastructure Investment Fund loan in 2020 to help expand and improve its facilities, with former infrastructure minister Shane Jones excited about “sustainable full-time employment for more than 200 people”. , , 

Kiwifruit growers to appeal Sungold licenses being included in property RV

The group that represents New Zealand’s kiwifruit growers says it’s disappointed in the recent high court decision appeal ruling that SunGold kiwifruit licenses can be included in the rateable value of a property.

The Bushmere Trust, a kiwifruit grower, took the Gisborne District Council to the Land Valuation Tribunal last year after the Council changed its ratings to include the value of the licenses in the property’s capital value.

That took the nearly six hectare property’s rateable value from $2.8 to $4.1m.

The Tribunal ruled the capital value was only $2.8million, and the kiwifruit license was “not an improvement to the land or for the benefit of the land”. . .

Fieldays Innovation Awards announced 2022 prize package details with additional sponsors :

Innovators across the food and fibre sector stand to be rewarded this year as the Fieldays 2022 Innovation Awards prize

package grows, thanks to new sponsors joining the returning partners of the awards.

The Fieldays Innovation Awards are the ultimate launch platform for Primary Innovation, and are a globally renowned

awards programme. The total prize package is over $60,000 worth of cash, services and products. . . 

‘Like sending bees to war’: the deadly truth behind your almond milk obsession – Annette McGivney:

Dennis Arp was feeling optimistic last summer, which is unusual for a beekeeper these days.

Thanks to a record wet spring, his hundreds of hives, scattered across the central Arizona desert, produced a bounty of honey. Arp would have plenty to sell in stores, but more importantly, the bumper harvest would strengthen his bees for their biggest task of the coming year.

Like most commercial beekeepers in the US, at least half of Arp’s revenue now comes from pollinating almonds. Selling honey is far less lucrative than renting out his colonies to mega-farms in California’s fertile Central Valley, home to 80% of the world’s almond supply.

But as winter approached, with Arp just months away from taking his hives to California, his bees started getting sick. By October, 150 of Arp’s hives had been wiped out by mites, 12% of his inventory in just a few months. “My yard is currently filled with stacks of empty bee boxes that used to contain healthy hives,” he says. . . .


Rural round-up

29/08/2022

Farmers are receiving mixed messages – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Around the world, restricting food production to reduce environmental impact will have the consequence of decreasing food availability and escalating food prices – so what do governments actually want from farmers?

Farmers are receiving very mixed messages.

Globally, food security concerns have escalated due to war, floods, fire and drought.

In a worst-case scenario, McKinsey is predicting a food deficit representing a year’s worth of nutritional intake for up to 250m people – or 3 per cent of the global population. . .

Starting our pasture to plate journey – Barbara Kuriger:

Like many of you, I’m so over the uninformed knockers of primary industries.

People who are swayed by a headline, a social media post or a slick advertising campaign, without any in-depth knowledge of why sectors within it, operate the way they do.

One area which often gets a bad rap from these faultfinders is fertiliser.

Fertiliser, like many pastoral and arable practices, grew out of necessity. . . 

Fonterra ramps up opportunities in complementary nutrition partnership :

Fonterra and Royal DSM, a global purpose-led company in health, nutrition and bioscience, are establishing a new start-up company to accelerate the development and commercialisation of fermentation-derived proteins with dairy-like properties.

The start-up is a next step in Fonterra and DSM’s long-standing joint development relationship. They have been working together since 2019 to build a comprehensive understanding of how to use precision fermentation science and technology to produce proteins similar to those found in dairy.

To date, this work has created valuable intellectual property for which Fonterra and DSM have filed patents. The new start-up company will enable the acceleration of commercial product solutions utilising this intellectual property, while continuing to focus on further precision fermentation research and development.

Fonterra and DSM are also collaborating to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by exploring applications for DSM’s methane-inhibiting Bovaer® technology in the New Zealand pasture-based farming system. . . 

Rockit Global is Hawkes Bay ASB Exporter of the Year:

Rockit Global has been named ExportNZ Hawke’s Bay ASB Exporter of the Year for 2022 for the second time.

The Hastings apple business was presented with the award last night by ASB Executive General Manager for Corporate Banking, Nigel Annett, at the sold-out awards dinner at the Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre.

The judges remarked that Rockit Global’s commitment to excellence across their entire operations – quality, health and safety, gaining skills from outside the sector, growing skills from inside the sector – combined to produce outstanding results, and a solid platform for continued strong future growth.

Earlier in the evening, Rockit Global won the T&G Global Best Established Award, going head-to-head with the other category winners for the top award – Starboard Bio, producer and supplier of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical ingredients (winner of the ContainerCo Best Emerging Exporter Award), and Pultron Composites from Gisborne (winner of the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence in Innovation Award). . .

Proposal to introduce new wasp to Manawatu-Whanganui :

Manawatū and Whanganui could soon be home to a new foreign wasp.

On behalf of the National Biocontrol Collective – a consortium of regional councils, unitary authorities and the Department of Conservation – Horizons Regional Council has applied to import and release the bud-galling wasp to control the spread of an invasive acacia shrub.

Biosecurity and biodiversity manager Craig Davey told Morning Report the insect had been shown to stop most seed production of the plant.

“It is only existing to live on Sydney golden wattle. So when we release it, if the application is successful, it’s only going to live on those acacia that are in our coastline.” . . .

 

Pāmu achieves another good financial result, declares dividend:

Landcorp Farming Limited (trading as Pāmu) has reported an EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and revaluations) of $75 million for the year ended 30 June 2022, a 23% increase on the previous year ($61 million). The company has declared a dividend of $5 million.

Chief Executive Mark Leslie said the result reflected good product prices and steady revenue growth across the business.

“The result is particularly pleasing given the significant input cost pressures farmers are facing because of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian-Ukraine conflict impacting feed, fuel and fertiliser costs, and general inflationary pressure. As well, farm production and earnings were constrained by extreme weather events, including floods on the West Coast and in the Manawatu, and drought in the Te Anau basin.

“The team managed these external pressures well both on farm and at a corporate level, to produce a very good result.” . .


Rural round-up

24/08/2022

Getting super growth into those tree seedlings is simple – it can be done for a song (or two) and some nurturing conversation – Point of Order:

The Government’s esteem for science and science-based research findings can be gauged from a press statement released by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The statement gives a progress report on a New Zealand Forest Services’ partnership with a marae-based tree-growing project and its grant of nearly $500,000 over two years through the One Billion Trees (1BT) programme.

It suggests the money has been well spent because – it transpires – the trees being grown on the marae are out-performing trees grown elsewhere.

This is instructive, pointing to how the Government can pick up the pace in bringing the ambitious One Billion Trees programme to a triumphant conclusion. . . 

Rural stalwart has pests in his sights – Sally Rae:

It takes a fair bit of pluck to be a possum dispatcher.

Just ask Jason Rogers, the West Otago owner of Aotearoa Pest Control, who works with farmers in the area to rid their properties of pesky pests.

He is a rural man through-and-through; throughout his career, he has done everything from farming to shearing.

But after accidents had taken a toll on his body, he decided it was time to go back to what he had always done — pest control, an occupation he could do at his own pace. . . 

Valais cute, comic, curious, charming creature – Lucy Wormald:

In the hills above Arrowtown, among a small pear orchard and a cluster of old musterers’ huts, live the cutest sheep in the world.

Farmer Dagg rattles a bucket of sheep nuts and three dozen inky faces shoot up in unison, crimped forelocks bouncing. With black knees, ankles, hocks and face punctuating an otherwise white coat, Valais Blacknose sheep are a sight out of a children’s book — both comical and charming.

Glencoe Station has been breeding purebred Valais since 2018 under the management of John Dagg, a long-time sheep farmer with family roots in neighbouring Coronet Peak Station.

The farm is home to 35 Valais Blacknose ewes and eight rams, a couple of hundred pheasants, and John’s canine sidekick, Bob. . . 

Best of the best – Clive Bibby:

Last Sunday night’s Country Calendar and, from what we already know about next week’s story, provide all the evidence of why this nation has become one of the most efficient producers of agriculture products in the world. 

I can say that without having seen the next episode simply because l already know about the East Coast property that compliments the magnificent portrayal of our mixed race farming families that we saw in the 30 minutes joy ride into the Clarence River valley – and will no doubt repeat the exposure in a weeks time at a dramatically different North Island location. 

You can’t “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” no matter how hard you try if the basic ingredients aren’t there and these two families are typical of so much that demonstrates why we are world leaders in so many areas. 

They also show why there is so much promise for the future if only the government would leave us alone to get on with doing what we do best. . . 

Court rules SunGold kiwifruit licenses can be included in property RV :

The High Court has ruled SunGold kiwifruit licenses can be included in the rateable value of a property, in an appeal ruling.

The Bushmere Trust, a kiwifruit grower, took the Gisborne District Council to the Land Valuation Tribunal last year after the Council changed its ratings to include the value of the licenses in the property’s capital value.

That took the nearly six hectare property’s rateable value from $2.8 million to $4.1 million.

The Tribunal ruled the capital value was only $2.8million, and the kiwifruit license was “not an improvement to the land or for the benefit of the land”. . . 

After planting thousands of wattles, farm goes from ‘bare paddocks’ to teeming with wildlife  – Hamish Cole:

When Mikla Lewis took over a cropping farm near Grenfell in the New South Wales central West in 2002, almost all of the land’s native plants had been cleared. 

Two decades later she has planted thousands of wattles, turning her property into an oasis for almost 200 different native animals. 

Ms Lewis, who also runs sheep on the property, said it had been a long, worthwhile process. 

“We almost immediately started planting because most of it had been cropped, so there were very bare paddocks and there hadn’t been any planting of natives done at all,” she said. 

Ms Lewis said the wattles had brought animals such as birds, goannas, butterflies and frogs back to the farm.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/08/2022

Regulations repeatedly failing ‘practicality test’ – Andrew Hoggard:

Federated Farmers has given repeated warnings to government that aspects of the 2020 ‘Essential Freshwater’ regulations are unworkable. Frustratingly, officials have treated us as lobbyists and viewed our concerns as simply coming from a point of self-interest rather than recognising we seek workable and lasting solutions.

But it is becoming increasingly apparent that all the problems we identified are coming to fruition.

First cab off the rank was the N fertiliser reporting deadline of 31 July 2022. This is where all the dairy farmers are supposed to report back to their regional council that they haven’t exceeded the 190kg per hectare nitrogen cap. The vast majority of dairy farmers never use more than this anyway, and we are already reporting all this stuff back through their dairy companies but hey let’s do the job a second time because what else do we have going on at this time of year….Actually, make that the third time because Stats NZ would also like to know how much fertiliser I applied.

Federated Farmers opposed this regulation because it wasn’t scientific and it targeted dairy farmers over other users of fertiliser. But at the end of the day, it is a pretty simple regulation. We would have thought it would be pretty easy to implement. . . .

Sector praised after challenging times – Tim Cronshaw:

A farming leader says the way the red meat sector has got through unprecedented times in sheep and beef farming is an “unsung hero” story.

Agricultural exports made $52 billion and contributed 82% of export revenues despite a line-up of challenges since Covid-19 arrived.

About 300 delegates attending the Red Meat Sector Conference in Christchurch heard that they’d faced an increase in government policies, regulations and consumer attitudes around Climate Change.

“I’m really proud of how we’ve navigated these Covid challenges and I’m really proud we’ve collectively navigated these policy challenges,” Beef+Lamb NZ chairman Andrew Morrison said.

“We’ve come together as a red meat sector and an agricultural sector.” . . 

Glimmer of hope in draft Tasman stock control bylaw  – Hamish Barwick:

Federated Farmers has a glimmer of hope that the Tasman District Council is listening to its concerns about the council’s Draft Stock Control and Droving Bylaw.

Farmers in the Nelson and Golden Bay area’s feel the Bylaw is unworkable as it would require mobs of livestock to be held 50m back from the roads, before going onto the road, in an attempt to stop stock defecating on roads. . . 

The Bylaw would also require permits which would capture virtually all road droving within consent application processes, so the Council can gather information on stock droving.

In addition, there are wrongly placed rules citing the need for compliance with Resource Management Act (RMA) freshwater management policy and regulations when the Tasman Regional Resource Management Plan doesn’t allow the Council to use bylaws in its implementation methods on Freshwater Management. . . 

Young winegrowers heading to Burgundy :

The best young talent from Central Otago is going to one of best wine-producing areas in the world.

After a two-year pause on travel, the Central Otago Winegrowers’ Association (Cowa) is once again sending young winegrowers to France’s Burgundy area.

The six young winegrowers are part of the Central Otago Burgundy exchange stagiaires (interns), which is back on its feet.

This will be the largest group that has headed to Burgundy since the exchange was first established in 2006. . . 

Seeka announces result for the six months to 30 June 2022 :

Listed New Zealand produce company Seeka, reports its unaudited interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2022.

– $49.4m EBITDA – up 5.3% on six months to June 2021, (previous corresponding period (pcp))
– $21.5m NPAT – up 4.3% on pcp

Seeka has announced its results with a backdrop of Covid-19, adverse weather events, extreme labour shortages, machine commissioning delays, shipping disruption, lower fruit yields and poor quality. It has been a tough six months and the company has hunkered down, toughed it out and focussed on the immediate job of optimising its operations and results in a volatile environment with significant inflationary pressure and geopolitical events affecting key markets.

The company has focussed on core business having completed the acquisition and integration of OPAC, Orangewood and NZ Fruits in the last twelve months. . . 

The most damaging farm products are not regenerative beef & lamb, George Monbiot  – Meg Chatham:

It’s half-baked, over-simplifications of nature’s complexity and our increasing disconnection from the rest of the living world.

I was recently made aware of this article by author, George Monbiot, damning organic, pasture-fed beef and lamb as the world’s most damaging farm products.

This statement alone reveals a misunderstanding of global ecology and an ignorance of how essential livestock is to 1.3 billion people.

First, let’s address the sweeping assumption that all animal impact causes a negative impact around the world. . . 


Rural round-up

17/08/2022

Concern about rate of forestry conversions – Sally Rae:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says the rate of whole-farm sales and conversions to carbon farming in the country is “out of control”.

The Government’s announcement last week that exotic trees would no longer be removed from the permanent category of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) was a step back from addressing the “deeply concerning” sale of sheep and beef farms, chief executive Sam McIvor said .

Overseas Investment Office decisions for June show consent has been given under the special forestry one-off purchase for the acquisition of nearly 2300ha of land, running sheep and beef, for conversion to forestry.

Approval was also granted for the sale of a dairy farm for forestry conversion and an existing forestry block. . .

Kiwifruit returns not so juicy this year as rising costs and fruit quality issues bite – Andrea Fox :

Growers in New Zealand Inc’s sweetheart kiwifruit industry are in for some unusually downbeat news next week as rising costs and fruit quality issues combine to drive down forecast returns.

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson has sounded the warning in an update to the global marketer’s 2800 New Zealand growers, saying the next orchard gate returns forecast on August 23 will reflect that fruit quality this season remains a significant issue as previously flagged.

Zespri, which has a statutory near-monopoly on kiwifruit exporting with record net global sales nudging $3.6 billion last year, is a little over halfway through its sales season.
Ongoing rain and cold weather in New Zealand and unseasonably high summer temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere had led to a crowded fruit market, Mathieson said.

“Fruit quality remains an ongoing and significant issue this season….We are not alone in facing this challenge, with quality issues evident across other global fruit categories this season, and our competitors and colleagues have also battled labour shortages, supply chain congestion and inflationary pressures, all of which impact grower returns. . .

Align Farms CEO Rhys Roberts on Government’s regenerative farming project

While chief executive of Align Farms Rhys Roberts has reservations about the Government’s new regenerative agriculture project, he welcomes another voice on the subject.

Ngāi Tahu and the Government are undertaking a seven-year research programme to validate the science of regenerative farming.

The trial will compare a conventional and regenerative farm side-by-side to assess the environmental impacts of their practices.

Roberts, who is also the 2022 Zanda McDonald Award winner, has been running a similar trial at Align Farms for years. . . 

NZ avocado industry warned to brace for lower prices as key Aussie market swamped – Tina Morrison :

New Zealand’s avocado industry needs to brace itself for a period of lower prices and volatility ahead as its key Australian market is swamped with the fashionable fruit, and returns from its emerging Asian market lag behind.

Increased Australian production resulted in an “avalanche” of avocados last year which saw retail prices for the green creamy fruit fall to a record low A$1 and prices this year are 47% below the five-year average, according to Rabobank associate analyst Pia Piggott.

“It’s simple supply and demand – as the supply goes up, the price goes down,” she says.

Strong demand for the heavily promoted “superfood” which features in dishes such as smashed avocado, has prompted Australian farmers to plant more than 1000 hectares a year and after six years those trees are now coming to maturity, which is expected to see Australia’s production expand by more than 40% over the next four years. . .

Course tailored for workers – John Lewis :

The rhythms of the seasons have been taken into account in a new Otago Polytechnic education pathway aimed at refining wine-growing and fruit production skills in Central Otago.

It means those already working in the horticulture and viticulture fields can concentrate their energy where it is needed during peak production times of the year while studying for a New Zealand diploma in horticulture production (level 5).

Delivered online and run at night, it enables students to continue to develop their skills in two focus areas: orchard fruit production (stone fruit, pip fruit and berries); and vineyard wine growing.

When they graduate, students will be able to manage horticultural or viticultural operations to ensure fruit or wine grape quality requirements are met. . . 

Australian Dairy Nutritionals to stop milk and yoghurt production in Camperdown – David Ross :

Camperdown Dairy, a historic Victorian brand, will stop producing fresh milk as rising costs push its owner to turn to better margins on milk powder products.

The ASX-listed Australian Dairy Nutritionals, based in the southwestern Victorian town of Camperdown, on Tuesday said it would cancel its fresh dairy produce due to rapidly rising costs that had eroded margins. Woolworths supermarkets stock Camperdown milk in their stores.

Australian Dairy Nutritionals said the move would mitigate staffing shortages and allow it to focus production on higher-margin products such as infant formula and nutritional supplements, but three staff might lose their jobs.

It said margins on fresh milk products had made it uncompetitive to continue, with nearly all suppliers increasing prices by more than 10 per cent and logistics costs nearly doubling. . . .


Rural round-up

09/08/2022

Govt urged to listen to communities on Three Waters :

Local government lobby group slates Bill as ‘expropriation without compensation’ of assets held by authorities for their communities.

The government has lost its social licence around Three Waters reform in the face of overwhelming opposition, Communities 4 Local Democracy says.

It needs to listen to the community demanding better water reform rather than pushing forward with a plan that could deliver disastrous outcomes, the local government group said in its submission to the Finance and Expenditure committee on the government’s Water Services Entities Bill.

C4LD is a coalition of 31 territorial and unitary local authorities that was formed to develop and propose reforms to the government’s proposed Three Waters policy settings. . . 

Alliance beef and lamb fuels Commonwealth athletes :

Kiwi athletes’ medal-winning success at the Commonwealth Games has been powered by Alliance Group’s beef and lamb.

The co-operative is the official supplier to the New Zealand Olympic Committee for the games in the UK city of Birmingham.

General manager sales Shane Kingston says Alliance was privileged to supply its award-winning Pure South beef and lamb range and Lumina lamb for the protein-packed meals for the NZ athletes, their entourage and delegates.

“It’s no surprise our Commonwealth Games’ athletes turned to New Zealand beef and lamb to give them the boost they need. . . 

Redefining ‘rural’ can help tackle health disparities: study – Mike Houlahan:

Rural people have a higher mortality rate than city-dwellers and the New Zealand health system should redefine what “rural” means to ensure people who live in those areas have fair access to healthcare, new research suggests.

An article published in The New Zealand Medical Journal today argues for a review of the current “rural” criteria.

A group of authors, which included University of Otago academics, resurveyed New Zealand on an internationally recognised “geographical classification of health” (GCH) basis and then examined how well the enrolment data of two primary health organisations — one being WellSouth — matched both the old and new maps.

The methodology commonly used in New Zealand had a 70% match to WellSouth’s data, while the new geographic survey was rated almost 95% accurate. . . 

Whisky in the jar at New Zealand’s arable awards :

Many would say yes to a warming single malt whisky on one of these cold winter evenings – how about one made from purple wheat, black oats, or even black barley?

That’s the offer from Southland’s Auld Farm Distillery, awarded the Innovation title at tonight’s New Zealand Arable Awards sponsored by Rabobank in Christchurch.

Rob and Toni Auld’s enterprise – the couple also make a range of three gins from a base alcohol of oat, wheat, and barley – is typical of the diversity, entrepreneurship and commitment to quality being displayed so often in the nation’s arable sector.

Auld Farm Distillery has achieved several world firsts with their products, and that’s not uncommon from an arable sector that leads the world in several categories of the international seed market and has set world records in wheat and barley yields. Federated Farmers arable executive member David Birkett, who farms at Leeston, Canterbury, was named Arable Farmer of the Year.  . .

T and G Global lifts profit despite weather, logistical challenges :

Produce exporter T&G Global has managed to lift its half year profit in the face of ongoing supply chain disruptions and challenging economic conditions.

Key numbers for the six months ended June compared to a year ago:

  • Net profit $5.7m vs $3.4m
  • Revenue $645.5m vs $652.1m
  • Underlying profit $15m vs $10.9m
  • Net assets $563.6m vs $514.9m

T&G chief executive Gareth Edgecombe said the company had improved its financial results, despite it being a tough start to the year. . . 

Danny Bearsley wins horticulture Bledisloe Cup for 2022:

Danny Bearsley has won the horticulture Bledisloe Cup for 2022.

Danny is credited with saving the Hawke’s Bay process vegetable industry in the 1990s. This industry now processes more than 5,500 hectares of produce sourced from the Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and Manawatu regions.

Danny’s horticulture career spans more than four decades. While he diversified into growing apples and kiwifruit, and fresh broccoli in the 1990s, Danny has always maintained a healthy interest the process vegetable industry.

Today, Danny maintains his involvement in horticulture through the wine industry. . .

Robin Oakley wins HortNZ environmental award:

Robin Oakley, a fifth-generation grower from Canterbury, has won a HortNZ Environmental Award for 2022.

‘Oakley’s is dedicated to continuous improvement,’ said Robin. ‘I am proud that our efforts have been recognised by HortNZ and want to share with New Zealanders the good work that is done on our farms.’

Oakley’s Premium Fresh Vegetables grow potatoes, beetroot, broccoli, pumpkin and arable crops including grass seed, wheat, peas and maize on more than 450 hectares. They wash, grade and pack produce on site.

In recent years, Robin has taken considerable steps to reduce, monitor and manage greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen leaching and improve soil quality, through initiatives such as the Sustainable Vegetables System project. . . 


Rural round-up

03/08/2022

Government flip-flopping helping no-one – 50 Shades of Green:

Last week’s letter from Minister Shaw and Nash is baffling.

“While we consulted on options to prevent exotic forests from registering in the permanent forest category by the end of the year, we have now decided to take more time to fully consider options for the future direction of the ETS permanent forest category. …this means it is unlikely that we will propose closing the permanent category to exotics on 1 January 2023”

This backflip which we can only conclude has come about on the back of opposition advocacy but with no context for doubling down is unbelievably odd, given last week’s CCC urgency around limits to offsetting with exotic pine. If Māori concerns were what has driven this backflip those concerns could have been dealt with through an exemption’s regime. Now we are left with no plan, no certainty and even less faith of any decent plan to manage climate change and pollution from industries who have shown little urgency around change while they can merrily plant our food producing hill country in an exotic that will never be harvested and therefore provide no economic benefit to New Zealand.

At least that proposal was something to work with and plan around. . .

Farmer confidence plumbs new depths Feds survey finds:

In January farmer confidence was at the lowest level recorded in biannual surveys that Federated Farmers has been running since 2009. Last month’s survey found it had dropped even further.

More than 1200 farmers from around New Zealand responded to the July survey and a net 47.8% of them considered current economic conditions to be bad, down 55.6 points from January when a net 7.8% considered conditions to be good.

“That’s a huge drop in six months, Federated Farmers President and trade/economy spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“Obviously inflation and supply chain disruption fallout from COVID and Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine are part of it, but continued concern over the pace and direction of government reform and regulation, not to mention staff shortages, are also contributing to uncertainty and gloom,” he said. . . .

Aerial methods used to rid Otago of wallabies

Wallaby hunters are turning to helicopters, drones and thermal cameras in a bid to eradicate the pests from Otago.

The Otago Regional Council predicted the cost to the South Island economy would escalate to about $67 million a year within a decade if action wasn’t taken now.

The pests cause serious damage to the environment, deplete forest understories, prevent native forest regeneration, compete with livestock for food, foul pastures, and damage crops and fences.

The council is part of the government’s national wallaby eradication programme. . . 

Fonterra to close Brightwater milk powder plant:

Fonterra has today announced it will be closing the milk powder plant at its Brightwater site near Nelson in April 2023. However, milk collection and associated activities will continue at Brightwater as Fonterra moves its milk transfer activities there from Tuamarina.

The small aging plant processes about 0.25% of the Co-operative’s overall milk supply into whole milk powder. Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Fraser Whineray says the move, which will instead see the milk being processed at Fonterra’s Darfield site, is in line with Fonterra’s long-term strategy.

“We know milk supply is declining over time, flat at best, so we need to make sure we’re getting the most out of every drop of milk and optimising our plants to match both consumer demand and available milk supply.

“Part of our long-term strategy is to direct more milk into our Foodservice and Consumer business, less into Ingredients, and in some cases, to divert product away from the Global Dairy Trade auctions. This, along with forecast capital and maintenance costs, means we’ve made the tough decision to close our milk powder plant at Brightwater. . .

New wood fibre technology set to future proof local hort, agri industries NZ Plant Producers:

When you purchase locally grown fruit, vegetables, or plants from your favourite retailer they will have been grown in compost or potting mix which usually contains a highly sought-after ingredient called peat which boosts production, retains nutrients, and holds water.

An estimated 60,000 cubic metres of growing media (compost, garden/potting mixes etc) is used each year within the horticultural and agricultural industries in New Zealand and much of it contains peat.

There is a small amount of peat extracted here in New Zealand but as peat bogs are regulated in the same way as the likes of coal mines their days are numbered.

Most of the peat contained in compost and other growing media used by New Zealand growers is imported from Canada or Eastern Europe. . . 

Emerging leaders take on B+LNZ’s Generation Next programme :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Generation Next programme is well underway.

The programme targets emerging farming leaders, building their technical skills while widening their network.

Participants attend three workshops over a six-month period to upskill in key farm management areas with topics spanning from understanding financial and management basics to technology and genetics as well as mental health and wellbeing.

The first North Island intake graduated last week after completing module three. . . .

 


Rural round-up

25/07/2022

Apple and kiwifruit growers tell thousands on jobseeker support during harvest: ‘we want workers’ – Gianina Schwanecke:

During peak harvest while apple growers across Hawke’s Bay were crying out for workers, there were up to 4000 people of working age on unemployment benefits in the region.

As the kiwifruit vines continued to ripen and the next harvest event rolled round a few weeks later, there were another 3000 across Bay of Plenty.

Ministry of Social Development figures detailthe number of working age people in Hawke’s Bay and Western Bay of Plenty on the Jobseeker Support Work Ready scheme between January 15 and May 15.

It found there were 4113 people on the scheme in Hawke’s Bay in January, dropping to 3684 by May. In Bay of Plenty, there were 3315 in January, dropping to 3177 by May. . . 

Fonterra”s McBride says changes to capital structure will ‘level the playing field’ – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra chairperson Peter McBride says relaxing requirements for farmers to hold shares in the co-operative would level the playing field with rival milk processors and increase competition.

The country’s largest dairy company wants to adopt a more flexible shareholding structure, allowing farmers to hold fewer shares and widening the pool to include sharemilkers, contract milkers and farm lessors as associated shareholders.

Its farmer suppliers voted in favour of the proposal in December last year, and the company is now waiting for the Government to approve the changes under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act which enabled the creation of the dairy giant in 2001.

Fonterra is re-shaping its business as a period of rapid expansion in the country’s dairy herd comes to an end as dairy farming faces increased regulation to reduce its environmental impact. . . 

Perception of wool changing amongst millennial consumers – research – The Country:

A three-year research study into the perceptions of wool has found efforts to build the industry’s sustainability credentials are transforming how millennial consumers perceive the fibre.

Industry experts say the perceptual change is removing significant barriers to the growth of the domestic and export wool markets.

The nationwide Bremworth study, which has tracked changes in attitudes over the past three years, also shows the perception of wool carpet as having a higher cost – when compared to synthetic alternatives – is becoming less of a barrier for most consumers.

While wool was once ubiquitous on the floors of Kiwi homes, over the past two decades synthetic flooring had become dominant in the market, chief executive of Bremworth Greg Smith said. . .

Forward thinking farmer ‘walking the talk’, embracing change – Shawn McAvinue:

The only thing certain in life is change and Southland farmer Kevin Hall wants to be part of it. Shawn McAvinue visits a field day to see how the Ballance Farm Environment Awards regional winner is continuing to  keep his dairy grazing and  beef-fattening business Hollyvale Farms sustainable.

Be part of the change.

In his closing speech on a field day on his farm last week, 2022 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards winner Kevin Hall acknowledged the challenges ahead for farmers.

Farming was a “long-term career” requiring constant change to remain sustainable. . . 

Business management award for Mid-Canterbury farmer :

Mid-Canterbury farm manager Darryl Oldham has taken out the 2022 Rabobank Management Project Award, a business management prize for up-and-coming farmers.

Selected from a group of New Zealand’s most progressive farmers – graduates of the 2021 Rabobank Farm Managers Program (FMP) – Oldham was recognised for his business management project, which highlighted how he had utilised the lessons from the program in his role as farm manager on the 200ha farming operation he runs in partnership with his wife Anna, and parents Peter and Gael.

The Oldhams’ farming partnership is located in Westerfield near Ashburton. As the farm manager, Darryl is involved in all the day-to-day aspects of running the business which grows cereals, small seeds, peas, maize for silage, and fodder crops for finishing lambs.

Oldham says his management project assessed the viability of converting all or part of the farming operation to sheep milking. . . 

Life as a hobby farmer is not all I imagined in the winter of 2022 – Alison Mau:

My West Country grandad would have called it “letty weather” – rain so persistent you may as well just stay inside. Here on the hobby farm, I call it rainpocalypse; relentless, pitiless, unceasing rain that’s almost broken me this week.

I was once a pluviophile​. When I lived in the paved suburban world, there was nothing cosier than that rhythmic patter on the roof at bedtime. Rain was something you wanted for the roses (especially when the sprinkler was Council-banned) but didn’t otherwise think that much about.

I roll my eyes at that person, now. Last year, I moved to the sticks – one of those “Covid evacuees” who made a whole new and different life, albeit within a reasonable commute. Living on my own land has been my dream since I was six years old and we don’t often get to live our life-long dream, do we? And if not in the middle of a global pandemic, then when?

The dream’s been pretty sweet so far. The view is captivating, the community’s lovely, I bought a coffee machine. I rarely sit down during daylight hours. If I owned anything like a fit-bit, my step count would be off the charts. . . 


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