Rural round-up

July 14, 2019

Quiz local govt candidates on costs, services — Feds – Sudesh Kissun:

Hold your local council candidates to account on costs and services: and if you think the voice of farmers is not being heard, consider standing for election yourself.

That’s the underlying message to rural people in the Federated Farmers 2019 local body elections guide, Platform: Feds on Local Government, released at the Feds’ AGM in Wellington this week.

“The quality of local government in rural communities can mean the difference between dodgy roads and safer ones, and many thousands of dollars in rates,” Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says. . . 

Workshop helps tackle succession :

Taihape farmer Kerry Whale’s family hadn’t even talked about succession. 

“We had our heads in the sand really.”

“It’s a very complicated subject but now our family has a plan to build on and it’s opened communications among us about what the next 10 years will look like.”

What changed? . .

Huge effort for farmers recognised – Annette Scott:

South Canterbury cropping farmer Colin Hurst has been recognised for his immense contribution to the arable industry.

Hurst was crowned Arable Farmer of the Year at the Federated Farmers arable industry group 2019 awards in Wellington.

The South Canterbury Federated Farmers vice president has represented the federation at national, regional and branch level and contributed to the South Canterbury Rural Support Trust, the arable group’s herbage seed growers subsection, United Wheatgrowers and the Foundation for Arable Research. . .

Concentrating on black currants – Chris Tobin:

Pleasant Point vegetable and berryfruit grower Tony Howey is scaling back.

He and his wife Afsaneh Howey have sold and given up leases on 600ha of land on which they grew onions, carrots, potatoes, grain and seed, in order to concentrate on their blackcurrant business.

Mr Howey said he had hoped to find a young keen grower who might take over the operation but this did not happen.

”It was quite difficult; it’s hard to entice young ones now. There’s no-one around.” . . 

Forget about following the floundering fortunes of Fonterra – a2 Milk is the NZX’s fast-rising star – Point of Order:

New Zealand  eyes  have been so  focussed  this  week  on  an event  20,000kms distant   that they  might  not have  noticed here  at  home another  extraordinary  event, taking  place  on the  NZX.

The market capitalisation of a company  which listed   as recently  as  2012  on the local sharemarket soared  past the  $12bn  mark and is hard on the heels of  Meridian Energy,  which has the  highest   valuation  of  NZ-based companies on the NZX  at $12.3bn.

The  challenger is a2 Milk,  which sells a  specialised  type of  milk  with what  it claims are health benefits. . .

Fonterra declares war on waste :

Fonterra is planning a war on waste.

The co-op will stop sending solid waste to landfill by 2025 and will by then have 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging.

These are the right things to do and even more important as more consumers choose products that are environmentally friendly, says the co-op’s director of sustainability, Carolyn Mortland.  . . 

Being a girl won’t stop Courtney Hanns from becoming a livestock auctioneer – Olivia Calver:

YOU don’t see many women selling in yards but Courtney Hanns, 19, is one of a growing number taking up the gavel.

Courtney grew up in the Blue Mountains and from a young age set her sights on becoming a livestock agent.

“…since I was little girl, my Pop had a farm, and I always just wanted to be an agent because I loved what they do,” Courtney said.

However, first she had to convince some in the industry that she was up for the challenge. . .


Rural round-up

July 13, 2019

AFB spread prompts burning of hives – Laura Smith:

Watching bees burn would have to be one of the most difficult things a beekeeper could do – it is also an experience more Southland apiarists will have to face.

It is the consequence of the spread of destructive bee-killing disease American foulbrood (AFB).

Southland commercial beekeeper Geoff Scott said ignorance was a major contributor to the disease spreading.

”And we’re doing it – it’s us beekeepers doing it.” . .

Hinewai revival worth every cent – Tim Fulton:

Hinewai Reserve was once dismissed as a fantasy of fools and dreamers. 

Now, as the 1250ha native sanctuary on Banks Peninsula flourishes it has about $1m of carbon credits plus income from a walking track and public donations.

But Hugh Wilson’s neighbours let rip when his plans for Hinewai Reserve became clear. . .

Possum is scourge of farm and forest: – Nick Hancox:

Managing disease in farmed cattle and deer is one stream of the TBfree programme’s work. It underpins the value and reputation of the meat and milk New Zealand exports.

The other essential work the programme manages is possum control — taking and keeping numbers down at a level where disease can’t keep cycling in wildlife.

That possum control work has two big benefits for New Zealand: eradicating bovine TB to protect the primary sector while supporting the goals of the predator-free movement.
The TBfree programme managed by OSPRI aligns with programmes designed to protect and defend New Zealand’s biodiversity and environmental health, such as the Department of Conservation’s Battle for Our Birds and Predator Free 2050. . .

Ploughman straight on to Minnesota – Chris Tobin:

”You don’t go to the Olympic Games and wear someone else’s track shoes and you don’t go to a Formula race in someone else’s car.”

Champion ploughman Bob Mehrtens is explaining his approach to the upcoming world ploughing championships at Baudette, Minnesota.

After placing eighth in Germany last year and second in Kenya in the reversible section of the world championships, he is aiming for gold this time round in the United States. . .

Avocado prices plunge as new season starts – Esther Taunton:

Avocado fans, rejoice – you can now buy two for less than the cost of a flat white.

Supplies of the popular toast topping have surged and those who have struggled through the avo off-season can again feast on the fruit.

On Thursday avocados were were selling for $2.70 each or two for $5 at Countdown supermarkets around the country. . .

Boarding school allowances – rural families deserve better – Ann Thompson:

The cost of sending children to boarding school is placing a big burden on rural employees, and it’s well past time a change was made to make the boarding allowance system fairer, writes Federated Farmers policy adviser Ann Thompson.

Over the past few years Federated Farmers has made requests to both the National and Labour-led governments to increase the Access Barrier Boarding Allowance.

This allowance is provided for pupils who live so far away from school that boarding school is the only realistic option.

As at June 2019, the Access Barrier Boarding Allowance was $3200 per annum while the Multiple Barriers Boarding Allowance was $7500 (plus $500 for pastoral care). . .


Rural round-up

July 12, 2019

Rotten reality: Apples still on trees in July a visual reminder of Hawke’s Bay picking struggles :

Fruit hanging on trees well into a cold and frosty Hawke’s Bay winter provides a visual reminder of the struggle growers had finding pickers over the last season.

New Zealand Apples and Pears CEO Alan Pollard said it was the third year in a row a labour shortage had been declared in Hawke’s Bay, and it was time to have a conversation about solving the issue.

“We can’t continue to have an annual conversation which is what we’ve been doing in the past, we’ve got to have much more long-term solutions. . .

Winston Peters wonders why he doesn’t get a thank you from farmers – Hamish Rutherford:

No one provides a defence of the New Zealand Government quite like Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

Over the course of nearly two years in Government, senior Labour Party Ministers have adopted an increasingly conciliatory approach to critics, while, if anything, Peters becomes more cantankerous.  . . .

Sheep and beef on farm inflation reaches 3 percent:

Sheep and beef farm input prices rose twice as fast as consumer price inflation in the year to March 2019 with on-farm inflation at 3.0 percent, according to the latest Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Economic Service Sheep and Beef On-Farm Inflation Report.

The report identifies annual changes in the prices of goods and services purchased by New Zealand sheep and beef farms. The overall on-farm inflation rate is determined by weighting the changes in prices for individual input categories by their proportion of total farm expenditure.

B+LNZ Economic Service’s Chief Economist Andrew Burtt says the biggest three expenditure categories – shearing expenses; fertiliser, lime, and seeds; and council rates – contributed substantially to the 3.0 percent rate of on-farm inflation. . .

ANZCO confident no repeat of horror year – Allan Barber:

ANZCO’s 2018 pre-tax loss of $38 million was the worst result in the company’s history. The exporter has traditionally posted a profit, even in difficult years for the meat industry which has always had a chequered history, so it is critical to assess what went wrong and, more important, how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

None of the largest meat companies that publish their annual results, Silver Fern Farms, Alliance and ANZCO, enjoyed a great year, but contrary to its previous performances relative to its competitors, ANZCO had the worst of it by a considerable margin. Analysis of the figures shows record income more than offset by expenses and finance costs; the obvious questions for CEO Peter Conley are what is going to change and how is 2019 tracking? . . .

Alternative protein startups: let’s get the facts straight about livestock’s carbon footprint – Lauren Manning:

The impact of the meat industry on the environment, particularly relating to greenhouse gas emissions, has become common knowledge among consumers and is increasingly a feature of mainstream media headlines today.

Arguably starting when the Food and Agriculture Organization released a paper entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow in 2006, the anti-meat movement moved on from focusing on concerns about the humane treatment of animals to its environmental footprint. . . 

Inaugural Ground Spread Awards recognise  innovation, skill and excellence:

The inaugural winners of the New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) awards were announced this week at the organisation’s 63rd annual conference, ‘Technology the Enabler’, in Taupo.

The NZGFA Innovation Award (sponsored by Trucks & Trailers) was presented to Canterbury’s Ron Smith of R&R Haulage Ltd for his detailed research into testing bout widths against product quality. . .


Rural round-up

July 11, 2019

New Zealand scientists lead the way to global breakthrough in methane reduction – Kate Nicol-Williams:

An international research programme led by New Zealand scientists has revealed a breakthrough in their fight to reduce agricultural greenhouse emissions.

After two years of work, researchers from AgResearch and Otago University, along with researchers from Australia, the United States and Japan, have discovered which bacteria in a sheep’s first stomach produce hydrogen as part of the digestion process, and the specific enzymes inside the bacteria that are responsible.

They’ve also found which organisms use the hydrogen as a food source in the production of methane. . .

Visiting expert showcases footrot vaccine – Sally Rae:

Footrot is a nasty and complex disease.

Estimated as a $10 million problem for New Zealand’s sheep industry, the infection caused major changes to the hoof, resulting in lameness and loss of production.

Dr Om Dhungyel from the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney has devoted much of his career to footrot research.

Last week, Dr Dhungyel was in Otago, talking to farmers about footrot and a vaccine he has helped develop which is now on the market. . .

Winter grazing must not compromise animal health and welfare:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association says there is no place in modern farming for winter grazing practices that compromise animal health and welfare.

“The time has come to transition away from winter grazing practices that result in poor animal welfare for livestock,” says NZVA Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Helen Beattie.

Intensive winter grazing is commonplace and can lead to poor animal welfare and environmental damage, particularly during prolonged periods of wet weather. . .

Winner of 2019 Nelson Young Fruitfrower announced:

Jono Sutton has won the Nelson Young Fruitgrower of the Year for 2019.

He will go on to represent the fruit and vegetable sectors at the Young Grower of the Year competition in Tauranga on 1-2 October, where contestants will compete for their share of $40,000 worth of prizes.

Nelson Young Fruitgrower of the Year Coordinator, Richard Clarkson, says his focus has always been on education. . .

Retailers warn of an egg shortage, hike in prices:

Gilmour’s, the country’s largest supplier of wholesale food and beverages, is warning that the price of eggs is set to increase and the breakfast favourite may be harder to come by as egg farmers move to meet changes to the law.

In an email sent to customers today, the retailer owned by supermarket giant Foodstuffs, said “huge investment” was required by the industry to meet the Animal Welfare Code of Practice for Layer Hens which in turn would drive up the price of eggs. 

“There is currently uncertainty around supply as farms struggle to gain resource consent for new production whilst other suppliers exit the supermarket sector and/or industry altogether.  . .

Mulan trailer features Waitaki beauty:

The majestic grandeur of the Waitaki district is on display in the first glimpse of Disney’s live-action remake of the animated classic Mulan.

On Sunday, Walt Disney Studios released the first trailer for the film, filmed in part in the Ahuriri Valley, near Omarama, last year.

About 800 to 900 crew were in the Mackenzie Basin for about a month in spring.

The film was shot by Whale Rider director New Zealander Niki Caro and stars Chinese-American actress Yifei Liu in the titular role. . .


Rural round-up

July 10, 2019

From vodka to high country – Sally Rae:

Geoff and Justine Ross are best known as entrepreneurs and founders of the hugely successful 42 Below vodka company. But they have traded city life for a rural adventure at Lake Hawea Station where they are using the skills gained in business to apply them to the rural sector. They speak to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae.

Geoff Ross was always going to be a farmer.

But the career path he took to farm ownership was not necessarily what he envisaged growing up on a deer and dairy farm in the North Island.

His wife Justine recalls how she wanted to marry a farmer; in fact, she thought she was marrying a farmer. It did not quite pan out like that. . .

Keeping the farm in the family – Luke Chivers:

Kairuru farmer Amanda Henderson says there’s a whole lot more to farming than picking a paddock and putting some animals in it. The fourth-generation sheep and beef farmer is dedicated to shifting the perception of New Zealand’s primary sector. She spoke to Luke Chivers.

When people think of agriculture, not all think of science, innovation and technology. 

But, thankfully, one South Islander is set on changing that.

“I believe education is critical in the agricultural sector,” 33-year-old Amanda Henderson says. . .

Farmers find perfect match in 100% grass-fed wagyu beef producer group – Sally Rae:

Southland farmers Mike and Kirsty Bodle are looking to create a point of difference – or X-factor – in their farming operation.

The couple moved south from the North Island 14 years ago and bought a drystock farm after deciding they liked the region.

After a few years, they bought a neighbouring property to convert to dairy but when the dairy market started experiencing volatility, they decided they needed to spread their risk to cover themselves during those times . .

Chewing out the vegetarian preachers – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I was a vegan myself once.

It was in India 40 years ago in a small village where it seemed everyone was vegan, going by the menus in the cafes.

But it was only for one day.

The next village appeared to eat meat and nothing else. . .

Kiwi healthcare company HoneyLab on the cusp of going global – Esther Taunton:

A decade after it was set up, healthcare company HoneyLab is on the cusp of going global, co-founder Dr Shaun Holt says.

A clinical study recently proved the company’s flagship kānuka honey jell, Honevo, is as effective in treating cold sores as well-known pharmaceuticals.

It was the second big win for the product, which has also been proven effective in treating rosacea, and growing international interest is keeping Holt busy. . .

Comedian Te Radar brings the light touch to agricultural events – Gerard Hutching:

After two decades on TV screens, the stage and the comedy circuit, beloved entertainer Te Radar has become the go-to jester for the agricultural crowd, and with good reason.

The funnyman has serious cred in rural circles; he grew up on a dairy farm in north Waikato, on the isthmus bordered by the Waikato River that juts into Lake Waikare. His father was a top elected official in Federated Farmers.

No stranger to the milking shed, he helped on the family farm until he was 20. But dairying held no long term attraction. . .


Rural round-up

July 9, 2019

Uncertainty plus unique ownership structure drive Fonterra share volatility – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s shares have been on a steady downward slide for the last 18 months. In January 2018 they were selling at $6.60 dropping to $3.86 at closing on 30 June 2019.

Then this last week things suddenly turned volatile, dropping at one point on 4 July a further 10 percent to $3.45, before rising by six percent to $3.69 at close of trade on 5 July.

The causes of the long-term drop are well understood. Very simply, Fonterra made a loss of $196 million in financial year 2018 largely because of write-down on assets. Fonterra is also now in asset-selling mode to strengthen its balance sheet. Non-farmer investors are coming to understand that, with family silver having to be sold as well as some rubbish disposal, any turnaround is likely to be long-term rather than short-term. . .

One billion tree flawed says climate scientist :

The Forestry Minister Shane Jones’ one billion trees won’t reduce carbon emissions, as too few natives are being planted, climate scientist Jim Salinger says.

The government has allocated $120 million in grants to landowners to plant trees on their properties, and wants two-thirds of those planted to be natives.

Forestry New Zealand figures show in the first year, of the 91m trees planted, only 12 percent were native. . .

Falling log prices may make some woodlots unprofitable – ANZ -Rebecca Howard

(BusinessDesk) – In-market prices for logs in China – New Zealand’s largest export market – have fallen in recent weeks and ANZ Bank warns the drop will make the harvest of some woodlots unprofitable.

While some price softening is not unusual at this time of year as construction activity slows in the hot months, “the scale of the correction was unexpected,” said ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

The price of an A-grade log landed in China has fallen from US$130/JAS cubic-metre in early June to approximately US$105/JAS cubic-metre.. .

Vet behind Mycoplasma Bovis detection hopeful for eradication:

The Ōamaru vet, whose efforts led to the identification of cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis in New Zealand, says she is optimistic the disease can be eradicated.

Earlier this week, Dr Merlyn Hay was given the Outstanding Contribution to the Primary Industries Award, for her work to identify M Bovis in July 2017.

Dr Hay told Saturday Morning that the disease was very hard to diagnose, and in many other countries it was only detected after it had already been spreading for several decades . .

Group aims to help farmers improve M. Boris response – Daniel Birchfield:

Lines of communication between the Ministry for Primary Industries and farmers impacted by cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis have been muddied for too long, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Alongside Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley, he chaired the first meeting of the recently formed Waimate/Waitaki Mycoplasma Bovis Advisory Group held at the Waimate District Council on Wednesday.

The group, modelled on a similar Ashburton arrangement, was formed to support the ministry’s M. bovis eradication programme and assist with regional decision-making to benefit farmers. . .

Lamb contract rewards loyalty – Colin Williscroft:

A $9/kg fixed-price lamb contract for August is a reward for customer loyalty, Affco national livestock manager Tom Young says.

So, farmers generally should not raise their hopes it signals prices higher that they might usually expect as the season unfolds.

The contract has been the subject of much discussion at sale yards but Young said it is not an offer being made to every farmer.

It is only available to loyal clients, farmers who have shown Affco consistent support. . .

Dismantling free markets won’t solve biodiversity threat – Matt Ridley:

Driven perhaps by envy at the attention that climate change is getting, and ambition to set up a great new intergovernmental body that can fly scientists to mega-conferences, biologists have gone into overdrive on the subject of biodiversity this week.

They are right that there is a lot wrong with the world’s wildlife, that we can do much more to conserve, enhance and recover it, but much of the coverage in the media, and many of the pronouncements of Sir Bob Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), are frankly weird.

The threat to biodiversity is not new, not necessarily accelerating, mostly not caused by economic growth or prosperity, nor by climate change, and won’t be reversed by retreating into organic self-sufficiency. Here’s a few gentle correctives.

Much of the human destruction of biodiversity happened a long time ago . . .


Cleaner water priority for councils

July 9, 2019

Otago Federated Farmers’ chair Simon Davies wants councils to be held to the same standards as farmers when it comes to water quality:

Across the country, more and more catchment groups and other farmer-led environment-focused groups are getting stuck in.

In my own neck of the woods, the recently launched Tokomairiro Water Catchment Group is made up of farmers who are trying to do their bit to improve the water in the local river.

So I was appalled to discover the local district council has applied for resource consent to continue to discharge untreated wastewater (a nice way of saying raw sewage) and stormwater into the same river during high rainfall.

For some time now the agricultural sector has been being dragged through the mud over its environmental footprint. Farmers are now lifting their efforts, and spending a lot of money, to improve farm practices and the quality of the water leaving their properties.

They’re upgrading effluent systems and other infrastructure, excluding stock from waterways, running nutrient budgets and increasing riparian planting, to name just some of the initiatives.

Most farmers are aware that activities on their land can affect water quality. They’re seeing the benefits of changes they’re making and it is now an accepted part of being a good farmer.

It’s not hard to understand why we get grumpy when we put in the time, effort and resources to improve our sustainability but the same cannot be said for urban councils . . 

Dealing with wastewater is one of the core responsibilities of district and city councils.

Yet too many get distracted by other projects at the expense of the infrastructure and practices needed to  gain and maintain the required standards.

Farmers can be prosecuted for effluent spills that could reach a waterway. Time after time councils get away with actually spilling wastewater into streams, rivers and the sea.

Councils should be held to the same standard as farmers and other businesses and ensure best practice wastewater management is a top priority.


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