Ag journalists recognised with awards

October 16, 2017

The role of agricultural and rural journalists is even more important now that fewer people have links to farming and rural New Zealand.

The best have been recognised in the annual Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ Awards.

Wellington-based Radio New Zealand Radio Rurals journalist took out the top award for agricultural journalists at the 2017 awards night for the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

Alexa Cook won the supreme award, the Ministry for Primary Industries Rongo Award, which recognises excellence in agricultural journalism. She won the award for coverage of a week-long mustering in Muzzle Station, the first after the Kaikoura earthquake. Her items were featured on Morning Report, Checkpoint, and Insight programmes and on the Radio NZ website. 

Rural New Zealand is very well served by specialist rural and farming publications but many of these are delivered free only to those on rural delivery postal routes.

Radio NZ, is broadcast nationwide with a big urban audience which means Alexa’s work has a broader reach in both town and country.

Runner-up in the MPI Rongo Award was The Dairy Exporter team of NZ Farm Life Media, for several features, particularly the Team Building feature.

Other award winners were:

  • The AgResearch Science Writers Award, established to enhance standards of science writing, especially about pastoral agriculture, was won by Alexa Cook and Carol Stiles
  • The Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award was won by Sally Rae of Oamaru, for articles which appeared in the Otago Daily Times
  • The Federated Farmers Broadcast Journalism Award was won jointly by Carol Stiles and Alexa Cook
  • The DairyNZ Dairy Industry Journalism Award which recognises the ability to communicate the complexities of the dairy industry, was won by Jackie Harrigan for articles in The Dairy Exporter.
  • The inaugural Zespri Export Journalism Award, which recognises the vital importance of exports to the New Zealand economy, was won by Fairfax Media’s Gerard Hutching.
  • The Alliance Group Ltd Red Meat Industry Journalism Award, which focuses on all aspects of the red meat industry was won by Alexa Cook, of RNZ Rural News
  • The Beef + Lamb New Zealand News Award, which recognises excellence in hard news journalism, focusing on any aspect of the beef and sheep industry, was won by Nigel Stirling for articles in Farmers Weekly and NZX Agri’s Pulse, both on trade talks.
  • The Federated Farmers Rural Photography Award was won by Des Williams, for a photo which appeared in Shearing magazine.
  • The inaugural Rural Women New Zealand Rural Connectivity Award, recognising the importance of connectivity to rural communities and agri-businesses in rural areas, was won by Alexa Cook.
  • The Guild’s own award – the Agricultural Journalism Encouragement Award – is designed to encourage and recognise excellence among journalists with three or less years reporting on agricultural issues. This year, it was won by Brittany Pickett, of Invercargill, for articles which appeared in the NZ Farmer.

 

The ODT covers Sally’s Rae award here.

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No more Rural Delivery?

October 10, 2017

The future of Rural Delivery is under threat after missing out on NZ On Air funding:

Federated Farmers is disappointed to learn that TVNZ’s Rural Delivery programme has missed out on the latest round of NZ on Air funding.

The programme which profiles rural New Zealand and the primary sector, highlighting farmer ingenuity and innovation is now facing an uncertain future as it considers other funding options.

“One has to question the decision making at the NZ on Air. From what I know their programming is supposed to reflect and develop New Zealand identity and culture, ” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers National President.

“Rural Delivery surely meets that criteria and has done for the past 13 years-so what has changed?”

“This show has been attracting on average over 50,000 viewers per episode, which in the today’s competitive broadcasting environment is pretty reasonable for screening at 7am on weekends.”

The timing of decision is also unfortunate as the agriculture sector, especially farming is becoming increasingly concerned about its image among urban New Zealanders highlighted by the recent political campaigning.

“We’ve been saying this for some time now, the need for urban and rural New Zealand to reconnect. Our challenge, as farmers, is to tell our story and we rely on programming like Rural Delivery to help get that message across.”

Katie says the programme deserves a future and perhaps a different time slot from the current weekend time, would attract a bigger and more diverse audience.

“I’m not convinced that NZ on Air’s decision reflects the opinions of most kiwis. This type of programming is still popular with the mainstream and if it can’t be saved it will be a sad day for New Zealand broadcasting, as was the case with the The Dog Show,” says Katie.

Rural Delivery is available on demand  so the 7am Saturday time slot isn’t much of an issue.

The programme is sponsored by Rabobank and it might be able to find more sponsors but the failure to get NZ On Air funding threatens its ability to continue.

The loss of one of the few  programmes which informs and educates, treats its audience as intelligent and showcases positive rural people and developments is concerning.

New Zealand is unique in the developed world for the importance of agriculture to its economy.

When the majority of the population are urban based and have little connection to or knowledge of agriculture and wider rural issues,  the media plays a vital role in bridging the rural-urban divide.

There aren’t many quality planks in the bridge between town and country. It would be a great loss if this one was cut out.


Breaking news – farmer works in snow

July 14, 2017

An Ormondville farmer didn’t let the snow stop him from working on the farm during the inclement weather on July 13, 2017.

It’s the caption for a photo of a farmer feeding out in the snow.

As the Facebook friend whose post alerted me to it asked:

. . .  what was he gonna do stay inside and leave his stock without feed? ‬ go away to the islands on a holiday? Call the cattle and tell them that s/he wasn’t coming in today?

Sigh.

How could someone not know that farmers, like those in quite a few other occupations, not only continue to work in inclement weather, they have to work harder and often not in spite of it but because of it?

UPDATE:

The caption has been updated to:

An Ormondville farmer feeds out supplements to cattle.


Rural round-up

June 5, 2017

It’s Complicated: Is NZ Media’s Relationship with Kiwi Farmers Busted? – Ben Stanley:

I’m a farm kid, and a journalist, and right now that’s an awkward position to be in.

There’s a name you don’t say out loud in rural New Zealand right now unless you want to draw scorn and outright disgust.

It’s the name of one of my childhood heroes.

For the majority of the 1990s, Cameron Bennett was New Zealand’s foreign correspondent; our eye on international conflict and disaster. He’d travel to Iraq, Russia, Afghanistan and the West Bank and report back home with his gritty, but revealing, insights on war and why people make it. . .

A water battle looms in NZ’s Middle-Earth desert – Matthew Brockett & Tracy Withers:

In the rugged heart of New Zealand’s South Island, a high-altitude desert where the men of Middle-Earth made their last stand in the “Lord of the Rings” movies has become a battlefield once again.

Environmentalists and farmers are clashing over the Mackenzie Basin, an area known for its scorched-brown grasslands and crystal-blue lakes – and now, massive irrigation systems that are spreading circles of emerald-green pasture across the Mars-like terrain.

“It’s similar to greening the desert of Nevada or California,” said Annabeth Cohen, a freshwater scientist at environmental group Forest and Bird. . .

Mackenzie Basin set to lose $1.2b in farming production if wildings aren’t controlled  – Pat Deavoll:

The Mackenzie Basin could lose $1.2 billion in farming production a year if the spread of wilding conifers is not brought under control, said Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) wilding programme manager Sherman Smith.

Few species would survive if the basin was smothered by wildings, he said.

“If the basin is taken over by wildings, that’s 50 cumecs (of water) drained out of the Waitaki system, biodiversity that would suffer and there would be a lot of species that wouldn’t survive,” said Smith at the Federated Farmers High Country Conference, . .

Cut debt or go  – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers with unsustainable debt who can’t build equity buffers with profits should exit the sector, Reserve Bank governor Graham Wheeler says.

But Federated Farmers dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says Wheeler used outdated figures when he warned the dairy sector was still a financial risk to the economy and banks should monitor it closely.

“The uncertain outlook for dairy prices and the rising proportion of highly indebted farms means there remains a risk that non-performing loans could increase in coming seasons. . . .

Whitehall kiwifruit growers come out the other side of Psa disease – Gerald Piddock:

It’s been a slow road to recovery for Mark and Robyn Gardiner since Psa ripped through their kiwifruit business.

Called Seudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, the deadly viral disease was first discovered at their 200 hectare Whitehall Fruitpackers operation in 2010.

Left unchecked, Psa destroys green and gold vines and spawns leaf spotting, cankers and shoot dieback.

At the worst point of the outbreak, Mark cut out 40ha of his 16 Gold kiwifruit crop as well as partial cuttings of green fruit. At the same time, the more resistant G3 variety was grafted to the vines. . .

Farm win gets civic reception – Hugh Stringleman:

Winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori Excellence in sheep and beef farming was the achievement of a lifetime for Northland farm manager Lloyd Brennan and his staff, he told Hugh Stringleman.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy might be scheduled for another visit to Kaikohe, the Northland town that needs to celebrate success and encourage more young Maori into farming.

A civic reception was being planned by the Far North District Council with the Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) and its board of trustees, headed by Sonny Tau. . .

National ambassadors for sustainable farming recognised:

The winners of the national ambassador title for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards describe their farm as the largest lifestyle block in Taranaki.

Ohangai sheep, beef and dairy farmers Peter and Nicola Carver won the National Ambassador title over 10 other regional supreme winners at the National Sustainability Showcase event at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on May 31.

Operating as Holmleigh Trust Partnership, the couple combine dairy and dry stock farming on their 515ha family property east of Hawera. . .


Rural round-up

April 26, 2017

 Farmers feel dairying presented unjustly in TV programme – Joyce Wyllie:

None of us chose where we were born or which family we were delivered into. I’m very blessed with wonderful parents and reared on a farm up a valley north of Gisborne. My happy, stimulating childhood was varied and colourful except for learning about right and wrong, that was back and white. Our home had no TV, but plenty of books, routines, chores, homework, good habits and a healthy sense of fairness.

Mum and Dad were both people of high integrity who valued honesty and justice and taught us to treat our neighbours as we would like to be treated. Those solid standards were set for us to live up to and I hope to pass them on to the next generation for our children’s benefit. Consequently I am conscious of fairness and won’t be the only one who has noticed with increasing alarm the put downs, insults and the unjust tactics we witness on TV screens every day.

It’s meant to pass as entertainment, or debate, or news, and occasionally as documentary. Recently the programme, The Price of Milk, was heavily promoted proudly touting to be giving the farmers’ side of the story. . .

Thirst for high-end ‘craft milk’ drives Nelson dairy farmer upmarket – Julie Iles:

A Nelson dairy farmer is jump-starting a craft milk industry.

Seventh-generation dairy farmer Julian Raine’s family has been dairy farming for more than 80 years.

The family is now on a mission to bring back “how milk used to be” to the mainstream market.

“We are not highly industrialised, we are kind of the equivalent of craft beer in the dairy industry.” . . 

Beef and lamb help correct iron deficiency – Rod Slater:

Calling on all farmers, it’s your time to wave your flag proudly in a bid to support raising iron levels across our country.

As we know, beef and lamb is one of the most iron rich foods in our diet and next month marks World Iron Awareness Week running from May 1 – 7. Like everything we do in our offices, World Iron Awareness Week is something we are very passionate about – it’s hard not to be when you hear some of the facts around iron deficiency in New Zealand.

– low iron levels are evident in one in 14 adult women over the age of 15 years.

– 8 out of 10 toddlers don’t meet the recommended daily intake of dietary iron.

– 14 per cent of children under the age of 2 are iron deficient.

– 40 per cent of New Zealand women don’t get enough iron in their diet, and many go on to experience iron deficiency. . .

Zespri forecasts record profit from Gold3 licence revenue – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri International, the country’s kiwifruit export marketing body, expects to post a record profit this year due to increased revenue from the allocation of licences to grow the Gold3 variety.

The Mount Maunganui-based company forecast net profit of between $98 million and $103 million in the year ending March 31, 2018, it said in a letter to growers and shareholders. That’s ahead of its expectation for the 12 months ended March 31 this year of between $71 million and $74 million, and up from a profit of $35.8 million in 2016. . . 

Federated Farmers: Gypsum can reduce agricultural emissions:

Agricultural systems are leaky and losses of phosphorus, nitrogen, organic matter and suspended solids can impact on water quality.

While direct contamination of surface water can be prevented by avoiding livestock access and effluent discharge, it is less straightforward to prevent losses over and through soil that can eventually reach waterways.

These less direct losses are affected by complex hydrological and chemical factors.
Gypsum has long been used as a soil conditioner and fertiliser but it is only recently that gypsum’s potential for reducing agricultural emissions to waterways has been researched.
. .

Hogan warns of UK-US ‘bloodbath’ in future agri-trade talks – Philip Clarke:

EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan is predicting a “bloodbath” over the terms of any future UK-US free-trade agreement after Brexit.

Addressing an event organised by the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) in County Kildare, Mr Hogan said the UK had made it clear it intends to pursue its own international trade agenda once it leaves the European Union.

See also: Countryside Alliance demands ‘pragmatic’ trade deals

However, he said “fault lines” were already emerging with respect to any UK-US trade agreement. . .


Price of Milk fails fairness test

April 11, 2017

Sunday asked is our love affair with dairy farming over? and promoted this week’s programme as giving the farmers’ side of the story.

It was supposed to provide some balance to the anti-farming stories which have dominated media and it failed.

Jamie Mackay devoted most of yesterday’s edition of The Country to the reaction.

He interviewed Federated Farmers Dairy chair Andrew Hoggard and Waikato-based farm management consultant John Dawson:

Hoggard found the show “frustrating” as he was expecting to see farmers’ “heartfelt” reactions to criticism levelled at them in the media. Instead Andrew says he saw two farms being unfairly compared to each other which he believes would have created an unbalanced view for those not accustomed to farming.

John Dawson has a lot of clients on the Hauraki Plains where Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm was filmed in the documentary. He says Flint’s farm is not typical and there was a lack of “penetrating” questions for the farm that Flint’s was compared to.

Central Hawkes Bay sheep and beef farmer Steve Wyn-Harris and Northland dairy farmer Grant McCallum were equally incensed.

Wyn-Harris was looking forward to a balanced show where farmers would finally be able to tell New Zealand their side of the story. Within minutes of watching he says his “heart sank” as soon as he saw shots of Gavin “Flinty” Flint’s farm.

Wyn-Harris is so incensed he has laid a complaint with TVNZ and is fully committed to taking it the Broadcasting Standards Authority if need be. . . 

Sunday’s Facebook page  has hundreds of comments, almost all of which are critical of the show.

It also includes a post from the show’s front man Cameron Bennett saying:

We went to the Hauraki Plains with no agenda. We happened upon (as explained) Gavin Flint and he kindly showed us around. 

Happened upon? That might well be the case, but why didn’t the show use more examples.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle writes:

. . .Last year when we heard about this documentary, we approached the production company to provide information and we offered them farmers and industry spokespeople to interview. Several were interviewed, but none of their footage or commentary was included in the final cut.

In my job, I’m fortunate enough to see the good work you are doing on your farms, and the amazing connections you have into your communities.

Good dairying must be made more visible, especially to those that are commentating, those in regulation setting positions, and to our neighbours in the cities and towns.

At DairyNZ we are upping the ante in our efforts to engage with the media, the public and special interest groups to tell the real story of dairying.

As farmers living and working on the land, I urge you to continue to keep up the good work. We all have a role to play in the economy of our country, in staff development, in animal welfare and in care for the environment and our waterways.

To inform and change perceptions it is crucial to reach outside your circle of farming and rural friends. Tell it how it really is to people who may not know much about farming life, but enjoy their milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, etc., which arrives on their tables in a container conveniently purchased from the supermarket. Tell them you produce high quality food, and you’re proud of it. . . .

The Price of Milk  showed two atypical farms, took a far tougher approach to one than it did to the other and failed the fairness test.


Quote of the day

February 14, 2017

The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism. – Carl Bernstein who celebrates his 73rd birthday today.

He also said:

For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norms, even our cultural ideal.

And:

The greatest felony in the news business today is to be behind, or to miss a big story. So speed and quantity substitute for thoroughness and quality, for accuracy and context.

And:

The pressure to compete, the fear somebody else will make the splash first, creates a frenzied environment in which a blizzard of information is presented and serious questions may not be raised.


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