Rural round-up

February 24, 2017

Isn’t agriculture really just at war with liberals? – Uptown Farms (Kate Lambert):

Last week after a speech, a young college student approached me. Eager to connect, she started with, “Do you ever get completely frustrated with these liberals?”

Her question was intriguing to me. Not because it was unique, the exact opposite. Because it was so common.

Almost without fail, when I get the chance to talk to producers about the desperate need to tell the story of agriculture, someone asks a similar, politically loaded question.

But it’s a fair question, isn’t it? In this politically correct era, surely a blogger can still call a spade a spade?

Because isn’t the reality that our enemies are easily identifiable? Isn’t agriculture really just at war with liberals? . . .

WTO agreement a victory for NZ exporters:

Trade Minister Todd McClay has welcomed the entry into force of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) saying it is a big win for New Zealand exporters.

“The TFA will benefit all New Zealand exporters and is particularly good for small and medium sized enterprises. The TFA reduces the cost, administration and time burden associated with getting products across borders and into the marketplace,” Mr McClay says.

“New Zealand’s agricultural exporters will also benefit significantly from a provision to hasten the release of perishable goods within the shortest possible time.”

A rising tide of protectionism could hit NZ dairy sector hard: NZIER –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s economy would be hard hit if there is a retreat to protectionism in the global dairy sector, a report from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has found.

“In the current global trading system, the tide of protectionism is rising. Brexit and the initial trade policy proclamations by Donald Trump both point to a challenging environment for further trade liberalisation, at least in the short term,” said NZIER in the report for the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand. Against this backdrop there is an increasing risk that tariffs could be lifted rather than reduced, it added. . . 

Bobby calf death rate halved over a year – but still room for improvement – Gerald Piddock:

Bobby calf deaths more than halved after a big improvement in their transportation welfare last spring.

A new report from the Ministry for Primary Industries showed the mortality rate went from 0.25 per cent in 2015 to 0.12 per cent last year.

Last year 2255 calves were reported dead or condemned during the time they were collected for transport to their slaughter from 1,935,054 calves processed.

Young NZers chase endless shearing season – Alexa Cook:

The declining number of sheep in New Zealand and changes in weather patterns are driving more shearers to chase work around the globe.

The national sheep flock is now about 27 million, a big drop from the 70m or so sheep that the country had in 1982.

Jacob Moore from Marton is part of a group of about 60 young shearers who follow the summer seasons for work.

Mr Moore said for shearers who were at the top of their game and established locally, there was full-time work and contractors tended to hold on to them for many seasons.

Wool market strengthens:

NZ Wool Services CEO John Dawson reports 4600 bales on offer this week saw an 87 percent clearance with mostly positive results, with lambs wool increasing considerably.

The weighted currency indicator is down 0.34 percent having a small but positive impact.

More growers are continuing to hold back wool, further reducing volume which is restricting supply in some categories.

Mr Dawson advises compared to the last South Island selection on 16 February; . . 

A2 CEO, chair sell down holdings following strong first-half earnings – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co’s chief executive and chair have sold down their stakes in the milk marketing firm, less than a week after reporting first-half profit more than tripled as demand for its A2 Platinum infant formula surged in its key Australia, New Zealand and China businesses.

Chair David Hearn sold 1 million shares for about $2.5 million, or $2.48 a share, on Friday, while chief executive Geoffrey Babidge sold 900,000 shares for $2.2 million, or an average price of $2.49, yesterday. Hearn gained the shares by exercising 1 million of his 5 million options, for which he paid $630,000, with the sale to facilitate a property transaction in the UK to move his personal residence, according to documents published to the NZX. . . 

Maize crops ‘worst in 30 years’ – Alexa Cook:

Farmers in drought-hit Northland battling with a shortage of stock feed are also experiencing the worst maize harvest in 30 years. . 

Northland Regional Council is warning farmers to be careful with feed reserves and not get too excited about the recent rain.

The council said the drought meant some farmers had already used up their extra supplementary feed, which was being saved for the autumn and winter months.

Northland dairy farmer Even Sneath said it had been a terrible season for growing crops. . . 

Busy summer for MPI biosecurity staff:

Faced with record numbers of international visitors this summer, Ministry for Primary Industries biosecurity staff have intercepted risk goods ranging from the bizarre to the potentially devastating for New Zealand’s economy and environment.

Some of the unusual airport interceptions so far this summer include:

• A chilly bin of live spanner crabs from Thailand presented to officers at Wellington Airport.

• Fruit fly larvae in mangos found at Auckland Airport inside a suitcase from Malaysia jammed full of plant produce and other food. . . 

New Zealanders Offered Sweet Investment:

New Zealanders are being invited to invest money for honey in a revolutionary hive sharing initiative launching today.

Whanganui-based Canaan Honey has launched a PledgeMe crowdsourcing campaign for investors looking to get a sweet return: a lifetime supply of honey.

A launch party last night saw the season’s first harvest of honey with a 3kg bonus honey offered to the first 10 signups.

Hive Share lets backers around New Zealand become beehive owners, without the fuss of having to look after the hive. . . 


90% swimmable

February 24, 2017

The Government has announced a target of 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers meeting swimmable water quality standards by 2040, alongside releasing new policy, regulations, information maps and funding to help achieve the new goal.

Image may contain: text, outdoor and water

“This ambitious plan to improve the water quality in our lakes and rivers recognises that New Zealanders expect to be able to take a dip in their local river or lake without getting a nasty bug,” Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The plan is backed up by national regulations requiring stock to be fenced out of waterways, new national policy requirements on regional councils to strengthen their plan rules on issues such as sewage discharges and planting riparian margins, a new Freshwater Improvement Fund and new maps that clearly identify where improvements are needed.

“This 90 per cent goal by 2040 is challenging and is estimated to cost the Government, farmers and councils $2 billion over the next 23 years. It will make us a world leader in water quality standards for swimming, and that’s important for New Zealand’s growing tourism industry. It will return our rivers and lakes to a standard not seen in 50 years while recognising that our frequent major rainfalls mean a 100 per cent standard is not realistic.”

The target covers the length of rivers over 0.4m deep and the perimeters of lakes greater than 1.5km, which total 54,000km. The plan is about improving the frequency that we can swim in our lakes and rivers, noting that even our cleanest rivers breach swimming water quality standards during storms.

This is a very important point – nature is sometimes to blame for lower quality.

The swimmable target is based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time, in line with European and US definitions. Currently 72 per cent by length meet this definition, and the target is to increase that to 90 per cent by 2040. This means an additional 10,000km of swimmable rivers and lakes by 2040, or 400km per year.

“The maps I am releasing today provide the most comprehensive and consistent information on water quality for swimming of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes ever published. These will help focus councils and communities on improving their local water quality, as well as help people make decisions about where they can safely swim. The maps are connected to the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa website that provides real-time information on water quality, which is particularly relevant for the fair and intermittent categories.

“The challenge of improving water quality varies significantly across New Zealand. This plan requires improvements in water quality across all regions and all categories. The target not only requires an improvement in areas that are swimmable, ie into the fair category, but also rivers and lakes being moved from fair to good, and good to excellent. Regional targets to achieve the national goals are to be worked through with regional councils by March 2018. Some regional targets will need to be greater than the 90 per cent and others, where it is more difficult to achieve, will be less.

The National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management is being strengthened to support the new 90 per cent by 2040 swimmability target, as well as changes to address the issues of ecological health and nutrients by:

  • replacing “wadeable” with “swimmable”
  • adding macroinvertebrate monitoring for ecological health
  • strengthening references to “Te Mana o te Wai”
  • clarifying the consideration of economic opportunities
  • requiring instream limits for nitrogen and phosphorus
  • clarifying inclusion of coastal lakes and lagoons
  • clarifying the policy on exceptions
  • strengthening the requirement for monitoring and improving quality.

“The new regulations on excluding stock from waterways are an important part of this plan to improve water quality. The rules progressively apply to dairy, pig, dairy support, beef and deer farms from this year to 2030 relative to the steepness of the country, at an expected cost of $367 million,” Dr Smith says.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, text, outdoor, nature and water

“We are today opening bids for the new $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund and announcing the eligibility and assessment criteria, which closes on 13 April. This comes on top of the $350m already committed by the government, of which more than $140m has been spent on specific river and lake clean-ups.

“This is the third phase of the Government’s work programme to improve New Zealand freshwater management and builds on the NPS introduced in 2011 and the National Objectives Framework in 2014. I commend and acknowledge the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group and the Land and Water Forum, who have worked tirelessly in assisting with these policy developments.”

The detail of the NPS and Stock Exclusion Regulations are open for consultation until 28 April 2017.

Deterioration in most waterways has taken place over many years and can’t be reversed quickly.

Lower standards of water quality have a number of causes, one of which is intensification of farming and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says farmers are up for the freshwater challenge the new standards pose:

New freshwater reforms will result in 56,000 km more fences protecting New Zealand waterways from stock – enough to go round the world one and a half times, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The new rules on stock exclusion are part of the Government’s plans announced today setting a target for 90% of rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2040.

“Farmers have made huge progress in recent years to improve their environmental practices and this will be another important step forward. Dairy farmers have already voluntarily fenced off over 24,000km of waterways,” says Mr Guy.

“We know that stock standing in or regularly crossing waterways can do significant damage. While dairy farmers have voluntarily fenced off around 96% of their waterways, we want to extend this to other types of farms as well.

“The proposed national regulation would ensure that dairy cattle, beef cattle, pigs and deer are kept out of waterways.

“We need to ensure the changes are practical for farmers, so the exclusions would be implemented in a staged process starting this year through to 2030, depending on the stock type and land slope.

“There are long term benefits for the primary industries and wider economy from these reforms. Overseas markets and consumers increasingly demand a strong environmental performance over and above regulatory requirements. In this context, protecting New Zealand’s natural advantage has never been more important.

“No single organisation or group is solely responsible for improving our water quality. Meeting the target will take a collective effort, but the primary industries have a key contribution to make.

“In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries continues to work with the primary sectors to invest in good ideas which promote environmental best practice. One example is the Farm Systems Change program, which identifies high preforming farms and uses farmers’ networks to spread their knowledge.

“Another is a major programme under the Primary Growth Partnership, called Transforming the Dairy Value Chain. Under this programme effluent management systems have been improved, and every region now has a riparian planting guideline developed in conjunction with regional councils.

“As a Government we are committed to growing the primary industries at the same time as improving water quality. Water storage schemes like Central Plains Water and the Waimea Community Dam help in this by taking pressure off groundwater sources and maintaining summer river flows, delivering both economic and environmental benefits.

“We also know that science will play a major role in improving our freshwater. The ‘Our Land and Water’ National Science Challenge is investing $96.9 million over 10 years into this, hosted by AgResearch and involving six other Crown research institutes.

IrrigationNZ says the outcomes are achievable:

“Achievable outcomes within a reasonable timeframe” is how IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis, described today’s release of the government’s ‘Clean Water’ document. He hoped however that the target of 90% of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040 didn’t let urban waterways ‘off the hook’.

“Farmers have received the lion’s share of blame for New Zealand’s water quality degradation and despite evidence backing up the contribution cities and industries make to poor water quality, they have largely escaped the finger-pointing. I’m hoping the Government will call every New Zealander to account for water quality, recognising we all contribute to the problem, therefore we must all work together to enact the solution” said Curtis.

Poor water quality is not only a rural problem nor is it solely due to bad farming practices.

IrrigationNZ was pleased the Government had recognised the important economic contribution farmers make to our communities, stating that Regional Councils must consider the economic wellbeing of their community when making decisions about water allocation.

“Farmers and growers make significant investments in irrigation infrastructure and on-farm efficiencies, and the return on that investment is spent in towns and cities throughout New Zealand. We all benefit from irrigation and it’s important councils don’t impose restrictions that negatively impact the viability of our primary sector.” . . 

DairyNZ welcomed the new rules:

“The new stock exclusion requirements for dairy cattle is a strong endorsement of the hard work dairy farmers have done on their farms to protect waterways,” says DairyNZ CEO Tim Mackle.

“The on-farm fencing requirements in the new rules have already been met by 97.1 percent of dairy farmers around the country, and the target by May, a month ahead of the new requirements, is to be 100 percent, with all waterways running through dairy farms will be fenced off and all stock crossings bridged,” he says.

“This means that right now very few dairy cattle have any access to waterways, and in just two months’ time no dairy cattle – that’s zero dairy cattle – should have access to waterways on our farms.”

Dr Mackle says fencing – currently 27,109 kms – is always set back a healthy distance from waterways, varying from farm to farm depending on the soil type and contour of the land.

“This ensures the optimum levels of bacteria, nutrients and sediment are filtered. Farmers also keep cows off sensitive areas in the vicinity of the fenced waterways, for example, in wet weather.”

“There’s still a way to go in some areas, and dairy farmers are well aware of that. We acknowledge that improving New Zealand waterways is a long journey, as today’s announcement recognises. The good news is dairy farmers around the country are leading the way in protecting freshwater on their farms.

“Our dairy farmers can be immensely proud of the work they are undertaking for the environment on their farms, and many are also doing work to improve their surrounding communities – and all New Zealanders, whether they are living in towns and cities, or in rural communities, can also be proud of the efforts of our dairy farmers,” says Dr Mackle.

As part of their commitment to the environment, dairy farmers are also planting vegetation along waterways, and using native plants such as manuka, cabbage trees and flaxes, as well as native grasses, that have superior ability to filter and slow run-off, he says.

“Added to this, all dairy farms now have dedicated effluent management systems with effluent ponds, just like towns around the country. Areas such as the dairy shed and yards drain directly into these systems where the effluent is stored and later used by farmers to fertilise their land.

“It’s also encouraging to see the rates of dairy effluent related prosecutions and abatement notices continuing to decline dramatically, and an improvement in overall effluent non-compliance, which is the lowest it has been in recent years.”

Over the past three years farmers have invested over $1 billion dollars in environmental protection measures, he says.

“About 70 percent of this expenditure has been on effluent systems that feature the latest technology. Farmers are also well along the way in preparing environmental management plans for their farms, working closely with environmental advisors and their local councils.”

Dr Mackle says while a number of forward-thinking farmers began environmental initiatives a decade and more ago, the actions of the past three years are recorded in the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord.

“The accord is an independently audited report. It can be seen as the commitment of every single one of New Zealand’s 14,000 dairy farmers to play their part in helping to ensure that their fellow Kiwis can enjoy cleaner freshwater.”

Full results of year three of the water accord are currently being audited and will be announced in April.

For year two water accord results see www.dairynz/wateraccord

Horticulture NZ chief executive Mike Chapman also welcomed  the clean water plans:

“Water is, of course, the lifeblood of horticulture and our commercial growers have been innovating for some time with environmentally sustainable ways of growing healthy, fresh food for all New Zealanders,” Mr Chapman says.

“Growers implement a number of techniques to protect waterways near their properties. These including riparian planting and management adjacent to waterways and silt traps to collect run-off caused by rain and stop anything entering nearby waterways.

“Riparian planting has many benefits, particularly to water quality, but it is also very expensive and growers bear the cost of that.

“It is great to see the Government opening applications for the $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund, and we will certainly be looking at projects that could be part of that to create more and better ways to protect waterways near growing land.

“But it is also important to note that water quality in New Zealand is not solely the domain of people in the primary industries or rural land owners. The bulk of New Zealanders live in cities and they both use a lot of water and create a lot of waste water. So instead of always pointing the finger at those outside the cities, urban dwellers might want to consider what their contribution to clean water in New Zealand might be to help our growers continue to feed them healthy food in an environmentally sustainable way.”

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has welcomed the announcement:

“The announcement is generally consistent with some of the Land and Water Forum’s recommendations,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“For the first time, swimmability is the objective in freshwater management.

“We will have transparency regarding which lakes and rivers are in fact swimmable and which are not. This will vary across seasons and places. Regional councils will need to improve degraded systems with a target of achieving 90% swimmability by 2040.

“The standard for what constitutes swimmable rivers and lakes is comparable with the EU Water Framework Directive. Whether the target date is acceptable will become clear during the consultation phase to follow.

“Other recommendations by the Land and Water Forum have been accepted by Government. These include providing greater rigour on nitrate levels and on macroinvertebrates in the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management. However, some of the detail on these issues appears to raise questions that need further exploration.

“One important issue that hasn’t been adequately addressed is turbidity and sediment – water clarity. The Forum is doing more work on this later in the year. . . 

Forest and Bird isn’t impressed:

Forest & Bird has condemned the government’s new water quality standards, warning New Zealanders that they lock in current levels of water pollution and allow for a 5-fold increase in the chance of getting sick from swimming in a river.

“Despite an explicit assurance from Minister Smith that the new water standards would provide for human and ecosystem health, he has failed to deliver on either of these things,” says Forest & Bird CEO Kevin Hague.

Contrary to the overwhelming public concern for the state of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes, the government’s announcement today does not require any improvement to our water quality, except for the very worst rivers.

“If your local river is polluted now, the government does not require that its water quality is improved to a standard that is safe for people and the ecosystem that it should support. Instead, all they propose is that the current situation is maintained,” says Mr Hague. . . 

What would he and his organisation do when nature causes the problems?.

The Otago Regional Council had concerns about only three waterways in January, two alerts were due to high rainfall and the poor water quality in the Kakanui River was caused by birds?

Clean water is one of the measures of sustainability, maintaining clean waterways and improving those with poor quality is a long-term and expensive process but the goal of 90% swimmable is achievable.


Rural round-up

February 23, 2017

Samuels sets world shearing record

Southland shearer Leon Samuels today set a new world solo eight-hours strongwool ewe-shearing record after a tally of 605 in a woolshed north of Gore.
Shearing at Argyle Station, Waikaia, Samuels was targeting the solo record of 603 set by Te Kuiti shearer Stacey Te Huia in December 2010.

He kept the large crew and growing number of supporters until the dying moments, claiming the record only in the last two minutes of the day which comprised four two-hours runs, the first starting at 7am, and the last ending when sheep number 605 was shut through the porthole just after 5pm. . . 

Fonterra confirms 2016/17 farmgate milk forecast:

Fonterra is required to consider its forecast Farmgate Milk Price every quarter as a condition of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act. For this purpose, Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today confirmed the forecast Farmgate Milk Price of $6.00 per kgMS announced in November.

When combined with the forecast earnings per share range for the 2017 financial year of 50 to 60 cents, the total pay-out available to farmers in the current season is forecast to be $6.50 to $6.60 before retentions.

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson says the Co-operative is confident that this forecast is at the right level, following the 75 cent rise in its forecast Farmgate Milk Price in November last year. . .

A semi-retired farmer hits back at Fonterra antis – Barrie Smith:

Over the last few months we have been hearing more from the anti-dairy group from around NZ.

Yes I am a semi-retired dairy farmer, have been involved in Federated Farmers since the age of 23 years, been a councillor on the Stratford County Council and Stratford District Council plus a term on our Regional Council.

It is through this period that one has been involved with research, development and hands-on involvement that makes me very confident our dairying and agriculture in Taranaki and NZ is in good heart.

Because of this, agriculture brings wealth to not only our economy but hundreds of thousands of families as well as feeding over one billion of our 7.4 billion world population. . .

Rotorua dairy farmer Chris Stevens runs three farms – Anne Boswell:

Kaharoa dairy farmer Chris Stevens has some advice for salespeople visiting her farm.

“If they come to the door and ask to speak to my husband, we are unlikely to do business,” she laughs.

Stevens, who grew up on a Gisborne dairy farm, admits she never had a great desire to run her and her husband Chris Haworth’s three dairy farms, but it is a role she has grown to love. . .

Battered Highfield woolshed to be saved – Amanda Bowes:

It may be buckled, bent and shifted off its piles from a ruptured fault running under it, but the historic Highfield woolshed near Waiau will be saved.

The woolshed, which was the first home for the Amuri A&P Association’s shows, was completely shifted off its piles during the November earthquake. . .

Backbench National MP milks cow, drinks milk – Jenna Lynch:

Think shearing a sheep is the ultimate display of being in touch with rural New Zealand?

Think again.

Try milking a cow and drinking the fruits of your labour.

That’s what National MP Barbara Kuriger did over the weekend at the Taranaki Vintage Machinery Club Vintage Hay Days.

Study finds farmers walk faster than any other occupation – Peter McCann:

People from farming backgrounds walk faster than any other occupation group, a study of Irish people aged over 50 years old has found.
The study was conducted by researchers at Trinity College Dublin and surveyed 5,985 from a range of backgrounds to examine relationships between changes in occupation during their lifetimes and physical functionality later in life.

The study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, found that respondents from farming backgrounds walked 0.04m/s faster compared with other occupational groups. . .

 

 


GDT drops 3.2%

February 22, 2017

The GlobalDairyTrade price index dropped 3.2% in this morning’s auction.

gdt22217

gdt22217

gdt-22217

 


Rural round-up

February 22, 2017

New report shows importance of dairy industry:

A new report launched tonight confirms the dairy industry makes a major contribution to New Zealand’s economy, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“According to the report dairy contributes $7.8 billion to New Zealand’s GDP, and is our largest good exporter. This is a timely reminder of just how important the dairy industry is,” says Mr Guy.

The report ‘Dairy trade’s economic contribution to New Zealand’ was commissioned from NZIER by the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) and released today.

“While the dairy sector has had a tough few seasons, in the year to March 2016 they still earned over $13 billion in exports for New Zealand.

“According to the report the dairy sector employs over 40,000 workers and employment in this sector has grown more than twice as fast as total employment, at an average of 3.7% per year since 2000. . . .

The full report is here.

Report finds New Zealand loses billions to trade barriers each year:

Trade barriers cost New Zealand billions of dollars annually, according to an NZIER report for the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ).

The report, titled Dairy trade’s economic contribution to New Zealand, highlights the strong contribution the dairy sector has continued to make to New Zealand’s national and regional economic development, even while it has been at the bottom of a price cycle, and despite global dairy markets remaining highly distorted.

“Trade barriers are a significant cost to New Zealand. Tariffs alone are suppressing the value of our dairy products by around 1.3 billion dollars annually,” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. . . 

Red meat story about more than brand image – Allan Barber:

There has been a great deal of progress towards the development of the New Zealand Red Meat Story, but most of it has been happening under the radar. That is all about to change. B+LNZ is holding a workshop on 1st and 2nd March at which a wide group of industry participants – farmers, government, processors and exporters – will gather to start formulating the detail of the story, assisted by a strong line-up of guest speakers with international experience in brand development.

Over the last 18 months B+LNZ has focused on implementing its market development action plan arising from extensive consultation with levy payers. The most obvious change was to close marketing offices in mature markets like the UK, Japan and Korea where exporters already have much deeper relationships with customers and feedback from farmers and exporters suggested funds could be better spent in other ways and in developing markets with greater potential. . . 

Rabobank beefs up its animal proteins specialisation:

Leading agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has appointed Blake Holgate to head up its research and analysis of New Zealand’s animal proteins sector.

Based in Dunedin, Mr Holgate joins the RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness division, a team of 90 analysts from around the globe focused on undertaking research into the food and agribusiness sector, including comprehensive reports on sector and commodity outlooks, latest market trends and future industry developments. . . 

Erin Atkinson crowned BOP Young Grower of the Year:

· First time in competition history that women have won both first and second place

· Top young talent have opportunity to demonstrate their horticulture skills

· Erin now to represent Bay of Plenty Young Growers in national competition

Erin Atkinson, 29, Technical Advisor for Apata Group Limited in Te Puke has been crowned Bay of Plenty’s Young Fruit Grower for 2017 at last night’s special gala dinner in Tauranga.

The day-long competition last Saturday, the 11th of February at Te Puke Showgrounds, followed by the gala dinner, saw six competitors battle it out in a series of practical and theoretical challenges designed to test the skills needed to run a successful export-focused business. . . 

Wool firms more:

New Zealand Wool Services International Ltd’s Marketing Executive Malcolm Ching, reports that of the original 15500 bales intended for sale from both centres, 2500 bales were withdrawn by growers prior to the auction with the balance of 13000 bales seeing 76.7 percent sold and most types firm to dearer.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was unchanged with the market reflecting more demand as client buying activity increases.

Mr Ching advises that some growers are holding back wool or refusing to accept below production cost returns, making volumes on offer further reduced, restricting supply in some categories.

Fine crossbred fleece and shears were firm to 5 percent dearer. . . 

Farming future on the agenda – Cally Dupe:

One of Australia’s biggest banks is hitting the road to host a one day seminar at Moora.

Farmers from across the Wheatbelt and further afield will converge at the town’s art centre on February 23 to discuss the future of farming in WA.

Coordinated by Bankwest, 2040 Farming – The Next Generation, includes guest speakers from Bankwest, AgAsset, Farmanco Management Consultants, Moora Citrus, Sandgroper Seed Potato and more.

The free event is targeted at younger farmers aged 20 to 40 but anyone is welcome. . . 

More on that here.


Rural round-up

February 16, 2017

Farming leader warns of Post Factual Science:

Our free trade prospects have been a victim of Brexit and the US Presidential election. New Zealand must be careful not to be caught in the crossfire of any ensuing trade war, Dr William Rolleston says.

Rolleston, the President of Federated Farmers, told its National Council in Wellington today that there were opportunities in disruption but our officials would need to play their cards with skill and tact.

“If there is any area of government which needs investment priority right now, it is our trade division,” he said. . . 

Special stock auction raises hope for young cerebral palsy sufferer – Dave Gooselink:

Stock prices were higher than normal today at a special sheep and cattle sale near Oamaru, bringing a big smile to the face of a four-year-old girl suffering from cerebral palsy.

Charlee McLachlan is used to being around farm animals but the special stock sale raised money to help her undergo lifechanging surgery in the United States, which will go some way towards alleviating her cerebral palsy.

“They go into her spine, they take a bit of her vertebrae out to pull out the spinal cord, and then put electrodes on her legs,” her mother, Anna McLachlan, told Newshub. . . 

The search for new agri-food markets – Keith Woodford:

The proposed 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is now well and truly dead.  The question is where do we go from here?

We are hearing talk from various sources about possibilities for a ‘TPP minus Mr Trump’s USA’. But that too is highly unlikely to happen. Getting Japan, in particular, to agree to something without the USA being involved is wishful thinking. And simply waiting for another four years and hoping the USA might came back into negotiations is also likely to prove wishful.  Both major American political parties know that supporting a new version of the TPP is a sure way to lose the next presidential election in 2020. . . 

Lamb price higher than expected – Sally Rae:

The 2016-17 season average lamb price is shaping up to be a bit over $5 per kg, economists predict.

While that was not quite as low as previously thought, it was still below its five-year average, BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap said.

Lamb prices have lifted some 15% in the UK over the past six months but the plunge in the British pound following the Brexit vote had “offset all of that and then some”, creating very challenging conditions for New Zealand exporters.

Chinese demand indicators have been positive and fewer New Zealand and Australian lambs had added some support to prices.

BNZ economist Doug Steel said the bank’s best guess was that this season’s lamb numbers were similar to, although probably marginally lower than initial industry estimates, perhaps about 23.5million. . . 

Sharemilking payment model has merit but awaiting review says Federated Farmers:

Federated Farmers has been concerned for some time at the reduction in herd owning sharemilking opportunities and possible impact on the industry’s future sustainability.
We encourage and support the development of new business concepts that will potentially make sharemilking more attractive and resilient as an industry.
The development of the variable rate payment option for herd owning sharemilkers has some merit, with Federated Farmers party to discussions relating to this option over the past year. . . 

This all-natural native corn is bejeweled with brilliantly colored kernels – Lacy Cooke:

Oklahoma farmer Carl Barnes decided to reconnect with his Native American heritage, so he began a hunt for old, native varieties of corn. He uncovered a brilliant strain of corn now called Glass Gem Cornthat looks almost too good to eat. These all-natural corn ears are riots of color, and are also a testament to the beauty we stand to lose as biodiversity vanishes.

Through his quest to reconnect to his roots, Barnes isolated several traditional strains of seeds that fell to the wayside when his ancestors traveled to what’s now Oklahoma in the 1800s. Through years of selective growing, Barnes grew corn that looks bejeweled, creating a colorful celebration of native heirloom varieties of corn. . . 

Image may contain: text and outdoor


How Do I Love Ewe?

February 15, 2017

How Do I Love Ewe? (With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

How do I love ewe? Let me count the ways

That lamb tempts the taste buds and any hunger stays.

Of course I love ewe roasted, but still a little rare.

And I love ewe butterflied, from all the bones carved bare.

I love you chopped or diced and threaded onto sticks,

With capsicum and onion to get my vege fix.

I love you minced with salad in a burger bun

And chewing on the chop bones is always lots of fun.

I love ewe tender barbequed, the smokey taste sublime,

And hocks cooked long and slow for flavour that’s divine.

I love ewe marinated, with mint or coriander,

And many other ways my appetite ewe pander.

Though proud Kiwi that I am, would be hard to find one keener,

My favourite way to cook ewe is how it’s done in Argentina:

 

It’s a date on which the history of New Zealand changed – February 15th, 1882, William Davidson and Thomas Brydone launched the first shipment of frozen sheep meat to London from Port Chalmers in Otago.

New Zealand wasn’t the first country to export frozen meat:

Canning was started in 1869 in New Zealand but only the best meat was preserved.  The rest of the carcass was boiled down for tallow and all offals were wasted.  The returns from these processes were poor and sheep were principally grown for their wool.  In some districts the only practicable way of getting rid of surplus flocks was to drive them over the cliffs into the sea.  (A practice still followed in the Falkland Islands).  

With this background, it is not difficult to imagine the interest which must have been aroused in New Zealand by the various  attempts made by the pioneers of refrigeration to transport  carcasses across the seas.  The first exports of cooled meat to Britain originated in the United States in 1874. Natural ice chilled the beef.  A trial shipment of frozen meat from Australia was planned in 1876.  Ammonia refrigeration plant was installed in a ship, with brine pipes used to provide chamber cooling.  These pipes leaked, causing the failure of the shipment before the vessel left harbour.  

The first successful shipment took place between San Nicholas in the Argentine and Le Havre in 1877-1878.  It took seven months because a collision and subsequent repairs delayed the the ship, “Paraguay”, but the eighty tons of hard frozen mutton was in perfect condition. The freezing plant used ammonia compression.   

The “Strathleven” inaugurated the Australia trade to London the following year, and by 1881, it had become established.  . . 

The next year New Zealand’s first frozen shipment took place:

In 1881 the Albion Line fitted a Bell-Coleman plant to its sailing ship Dunedin and at Totara Estate, just outside Ōamaru, the Land Company added a slaughterhouse to these late 1860s farm outbuildings. Davidson and local manager Thomas Brydone supervised the slaughtering of 300-400 sheep a day. Ōamaru’s harbour works were incomplete, so they railed the carcasses to Port Chalmers for freezing aboard the Dunedin, which sailed for London on 15 February 1882. The ship landed the cargo in perfect condition. Over the next few decades refrigeration reshaped the New Zealand economy, making meat and dairy products new staple exports. ‘A new economy and society was created’, the New Zealand Historical Atlas noted: ‘one of sheep bred for meat as much as for wool, of owner-occupier farms rather than stations with large numbers of hands, of freezing works and their associated communities, and of ports, some of the activities of which were dominated by this industry.’ By 1902 frozen meat made up 20% of all exports. . . 

New Zealand’s sheep numbers peaked at more than 70 million, we’re now down to fewer than 30 million.

The quantity of sheep is down but the quality and variety of meat cuts has improved.

It doesn’t earn the farmer as much as it did or should, but today’s National Lamb Day – the day to celebrate my favourite meat.


%d bloggers like this: