Rural round-up

February 4, 2018

Govt won’t support irrigaiton while farms dry:

The Government is holding back regional New Zealand through its opposition to water storage projects which help grow jobs in the regions, boost exports and provide environmental sustainability National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s description of funding for irrigation projects as ‘unnecessary’ will come as a huge shock to farmers – especially when he supports the construction of the Waimea Dam in his local area. . .

Allbirds shoe business growing as it highlights connection to NZ merino farmers – Gerard Hutching:

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but Allbirds wool shoes founder Tim Brown has had enough of the recognition from some rivals.

Late last year Allbirds filed a trade dress infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of California against shoe giant Steve Madden for allegedly copying its signature wool lace-up sneakers.

Steve Madden is not the only established company venturing into the woollen shoes business. Adidas, Nike and Puma are also using wool in sneakers and clothing, as more consumers seek out natural fibres over synthetic.

It is all good news for New Zealand’s 400 merino farmers who are riding the wave of a boom in demand for the fine fibre. . . 

Nixing nitrate with nanoparticles

Smart catalytic conversion technologies are being used to find better ways of improving the quality of water affected by nitrate pollution.

Dr Anna Garden (Chemistry) is leading a research project that seeks a quicker and safer way of removing nitrate from waterways. Garden says that nitrate pollution of New Zealand’s waterways has become a serious problem over recent decades, due to agricultural intensification and associated overuse of nitrogen-based fertilisers such as ammonium nitrate and urea.

“We are putting so much nitrogen-based fertiliser onto our land these days, as well as increasing the density of stock. . .

Riparian fencing poses challenges – HUgh Stringleman:

Northland dairy farmers Richard and Bev Dampney, farming at Otaua, west of Kaikohe, must urgently complete 10 to 11km of riparian fencing to continue supplying milk to Fonterra.

Within only a few farms nationwide still to comply, the Dampneys had argued riparian fencing was impractical on local rivers that flooded an average of six times a year.

Furthermore, cows had reticulated water in troughs and were effectively excluded from the water courses by steep, overgrown banks.

Hot tapes were used to break feed, and where cows might venture down to the waterways. . . 

Late change for honey standard – Richard Rennie:

The manuka honey industry has welcomed the Government’s last-minute revision of honey standards that, left unchanged, would have sliced millions off the value of the country’s premium honey type.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has made a significant change to the level of a chemical marker that defined manuka honey from multi-floral honey only days before the standards are to be formally enforced on honey producers.

February 5 marks the official launch of the new standards.

The MPI standards were released just before Christmas to an industry outcry at their failure to adequately define manuka honey and the impact they were likely to have on multi-floral honey’s ability to be defined as manuka.  . . 

Death threat vegans bombard award-winning dairy farmers:

Vegans have bombarded an award-winning young dairy farmer, his wife and children with hundreds of chilling death threats.

The American activists blasted Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore with a firestorm of vicious non-stop online abuse for five days.

The mob latched on to the couple, who are in their 30s, after they posted on social media about their new triplet calves.

See also: FW Awards 2017 – Diversification Farmer of the Year winners

The Crickmores, who run Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay, north Suffolk, scooped the Farmers WeeklyDiversification Farmer of the Year Award last year. . . 

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Join dots between science deniers and epidemic risk

December 4, 2017

The Environmental Protection Authority’s  2016/17 annual report warns that scepticism about experts and opposition to bureaucracy are key pressures faced by environmental regulators.

“New Zealand has its share of science deniers whose opinions are reinforced and nurtured in the unmoderated milieu of the internet,” the report says. . . 

The report says New Zealand is not immune to the global phenomenon of scepticism of science and the role of experts.

“We have our share of science deniers, who oppose fluoride, 1080, vaccinations, glyphosate, genetic modification and much more,” the report notes. . . 

Scepticism of experts and opposition to bureaucracy can be healthy, but not when they’re based on emotion rather than science, feelings instead of facts, rheteric not reason.

Then they can be dangerous, as the national outbreak of whooping cough illustrates:

Director of public health Caroline McElnay said babies under one year old were most vulnerable.

Dr McElnay said the best way to protect against whooping cough was for babies to get free immunisations when they were six weeks old, three months old, and five months old.

Pregnant women should get vaccinated between 28 and 38 weeks of pregnancy to protect the child until they’re old enough to be immunised.

Outbreaks of the disease happen every three to five years – the most recent spanned August 2011 to December 2013.

During the outbreak hundreds of babies and children needed to go to hospital, and three died.

Health professionals are expecting the outbreak to turn into an epidemic. . . 

Herd immunity is necessary to stop epidemics – that means enough people are vaccinated to stop disease spreading among people who aren’t.

Some people aren’t vaccinated for medical reasons, for example children with leukemia. Some aren’t vaccinated through inertia or choice, and if it’s children it’s almost always because their parents, don’t get round to vaccinating them or won’t allow them to be vaccinated.

Those who opt out of vaccinating their children are denying the science and in doing so posing a risk to their children and to those who can’t be vaccinated.

 

 

 

 

 


Anti-GMO handicaps progress

November 14, 2017

Given the strength of arguments against the use of alm oil, you’d think a product using an  oil made from algae would be popular, but the company which developed it struck problems:

When green cleaning company Ecover announced the launch of a new laundry liquid containing an oil made from algae, as an alternative to the palm oil used in most detergents, it wasn’t prepared for the backlash.

The problem? The algae producing the oil were genetically modified. “We put everything on hold,” says Tom Domen, global head of long-term innovation at Ecover, following reactions to the 2014 product trial.

Environmental groups Friends of the Earth and Grain were among 17 organisations to sign an open letter calling on the company to “reconsider the false solution of using ingredients derived from the new genetic engineering”.

For Ecover it was a lesson learned. “We had quite detailed conversations with all our stakeholders,” says Domen, “for which the main outcome was that we were a bit clearer on how we would go about deciding on responsible innovation … and what the principles for use are when going off with more controversial technologies.” . . 

This is one of many examples where science is no match for environmental activism based on emotion.

It is possible to use genetic engineering responsibly and it’s irresponsible to damn a product out of hand because it’s used GE .

Radical environmentalists want stock reduced in number or even eliminated altoegether to reduce greenhouse emissions but won’t consider the possible of GE technology which would have the same environmental outcome without culling animals.

Ignorance has led to many environmental problems and ignorance based on arguments lacking any scientific basis are preventing some solutions.

Caution over new developments is prudent, refusal to countenance them at all lets science lose to emotion.

 

 


On a lighter darker note

August 22, 2017

North America experienced a total solar eclipse yesterday their-time, this morning in NZ.

NASA explains it here.

And  Cowsmopolitan Dairy Magazine reacted with this:

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Once upon a time there was light in my life. But now there’s only dark at the barn. Nothing I can do. A solar eclipse at the farm.

 


Rural round-up

April 12, 2017

NZ lamb shortage drives up prices :

A drop in slaughter rates in New Zealand, the world’s largest exporter of lamb meat, has pushed up prices to multi-year highs in export markets.

Benchmark frozen lamb prices for legs, french racks, forequarters and flaps all lifted in March, according to AgriHQ’s latest monthly sheep & beef report.

Demand for lamb in overseas markets is coming at a time when supplies are lower than normal in New Zealand as good grass growth prompts farmers to retain their stock for longer to increase their weights.The latest lamb slaughter data for New Zealand shows the lamb kill in the fortnight to March 11 was 11 per cent below the same period a year earlier and 18 percent weaker than the five-year average, AgriHQ said. . . 

Synlait transforms from bulk powders to infant formula – Keith Woodford:

Synlait is currently undergoing a strategic restructure from a producer of bulk milk powders to a producer of consumer-packaged infant formula. These investments will make Synlait the dominant New Zealand producer of infant formula.

So far, Synlait are still in the early stages of the transformation, but with a current construction contract with Tetra Pak to double their wet-kitchen capacity to 80,000 tonnes per annum, plus a foreshadowed announcement about doubling canning capacity to 60,000 tonnes, it is ‘all systems go’.

It is only a few months since Synlait was focusing in their public communications on building a fourth dryer on a new yet to be found site. . . 

NZ cow prices rise to record on tepid start to slaughter season – Tina Morrison

New Zealand’s cow slaughter season has got off to its slowest start in five years, pushing prices for stock to record highs for this time of year.

Just 41,789 cows were slaughtered in the fortnight to March 11, the lowest level for this period since 2012, according to AgriHQ. That pushed up the price meat processors paid for stock to record levels for this time of year, with the North Island price last week reaching $4.50 per kilogram, and the South Island price hitting $4.20/kg, AgriHQ said. . . 

Scottish farmer Euan McLeod crosses the world to chase a dream – Andrea Fox:

Thanks to New Zealand’s much-envied farming career pathway, a young Scot is realising his dream, writes Andrea Fox.

When young Euan McLeod was bitten by the farming bug back home in Scotland he became a bricklayer.

Getting a trade seemed the only option to a teenager who jumped at chances to work weekends and school holidays on a farm but without family farm roots couldn’t see how to get ahead, recalls McLeod, Waikato 2017 dairy manager of the year. . .

North Canterbury farmers make the best of life after earthquake – Tracy Neal:

North Canterbury farmers Bob and Vicki Todhunter lost their 1902 villa in November’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake when a fault ruptured beneath it.

It was the centrepiece of the 1100-hectare farm Ngaio Downs, near Clarence, which is also now part of an altered landscape.

They are among the hundreds waiting on insurance assessments and pay-outs, but they have moved ahead under their own steam. They are now living in their shearing quarters, converted into a stylish home, landscaped with the boulders that smashed down the hills behind them. . . 

Vet practice redevelops site -Sally Rae:

When Clutha Vets senior vet John Smart joined Clutha Vets as a young graduate back in 1976, it was a very different place to what it is now.

The business employed two vets in Balclutha and one in Milton, with a total of three other staff.

Forty-one years later, Mr Smart is still there but staff numbers have grown to 20 vets and a total staff of between 45 and 50.

This month, Clutha Vets will celebrate a recent $3million redevelopment of its Wilson Rd premises in Balclutha.

The official opening is on April 20.

The last upgrade was in 1994-95. At one stage during the most recent rebuild, Mr Smart worked out only one more staff member was needed for it to have tripled in size since that last redevelopment. Obviously, the building had been ”bursting at the seams” while, cosmetically, it was also looking a little tired, he said. . . 

Is Mike Joy a biased scientist? – Doug Edmeades:

It might have made good TV but it was, from my perspective at least, bad science. I’m referring to those pictures of Dr Mike Joy, a fresh water ecologist from Massey University, standing in the dry bed of Selwyn River lamenting about the poor state of New Zealand’s rivers.

Those pictures and his words perpetuate what appears to be his considered opinion that, when it comes to water quantity and quality, all roads lead to any combination of nitrogen, dairying and irrigation – intensification of dairying full stop.

From my reading and understanding of the science of water quality, noting that this is not my specialty, it seems to me that Dr Joy’s opinions on this subject are biased. I know some water quality experts who agree with this assessment. . . 

Orange roughy’s redemption celebrated at book launch:

The remarkable turnaround of New Zealand’s orange roughy fishery, long-hailed as an example of over-fishing, has been detailed in a book to be launched tonight in Wellington.

The book Roughy on the Rise was written by Tim Pankhurst, former editor of the Dominion Post and now Chief Executive of the fishing industry’s peak body, Seafood New Zealand.

It tells the story of the decline of the stocks by over fishing in the 1980s to the fisheries management that, last year, saw the fishery gain the global gold standard of sustainability by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). . . 


Film based on medical hoax endangers children

April 3, 2017

A film which  premiered in Auckland yesterday, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe   is putting children at risk:

Paediatric Society president David Newman says parents are still being caught out by the film’s debunked claims.

“I understand that parents who make these choices passionately want to protect their children from harm, and because of their anxiety, make a choice that is not supported by the scientific evidence,” he told Newshub.

Dr Newman says it’s insulting to the medical profession that people think they can all be deceived in such a way.

“I think it is insulting and indeed ludicrous to claim that the medical community could be hoodwinked at a global level for very long.”

He says if an overwhelming majority of people are vaccinated it protects those who can’t be, due to allergies, health or their age. This is known as ‘herd immunity’. It prevents disease from easily finding a new host.

“It is possible that people will not get their child vaccinated because of this [film],” says Dr Newman. “That puts their child at risk, and it puts the community at risk.” . . 

“The movie is scare-mongering,” says Immunisation Advisory Centre director Nikki Turner. “The science around MMR is very clear. It’s an excellent vaccine, it’s a horrible disease.” 

There is no scientific evidence at all vaccines cause autism. The claims originate from a fraudulent research paper published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield, the director of Vaxxed.

It was later discovered Mr Wakefield had manipulated evidence and had various conflicts of interest. He was later struck off the medical register.

His fraud was described as “the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years” in a 2011 journal article.

 

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Rural round-up

November 28, 2016

Aiming for better public science understanding – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Interactions between agriculture and the environment have rarely been so much in the face of the public, and finding a path for the future is proving challenging.

Should New Zealand remain GE-free, ban glyphosate and embrace organics, or should it lead in adopting new technologies to increase efficiencies whilst minimising impact on the environment?

The general problem is that decisions have to be made on issues which arouse high public interest, and where knowledge is incomplete and complexity great. These issues are almost always linked to values, emotions and personal experience — what the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor, professor Sir Peter Gluckman, describes as “the political power of the anecdote”. . .

Improved environmental performance to provide long-term strategic value for New Zealand’s agri sector– industry report:

Improved environmental sustainability should provide long-term strategic value to New Zealand’s food and agri sector, according to a recently-released report by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

In the report, Sustainable Returns: Finding the value in Environmental Sustainability, Rabobank says two major types of value have been identified for farmers and food & agribusiness (F&A) companies from improved environmental practices – the immediate monetary benefit of these practices (from a price premium) and the long-term strategic advantages that provide growth and prosperity into the future.

Report author, Rabobank rural manager Sustainable Farm Systems, Blake Holgate says the type of value farmers and F&A companies can derive will vary depending on the product they are producing, how they are producing it, where they sit on the supply chain, and who the end consumer is. . . 

Stronger farm partnerships beneficial:

A national programme to increase profitability and productivity of sheep and beef farmers by strengthening farming partnerships is being scaled up to reach 2800 farms.

Since 2014, almost 500 women involved in sheep and beef farming businesses have completed the Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) programme, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT).  That included 50 women who last month graduated from the similar AWDT programme for Maori women, Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua.

The four-month programme, funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership , builds business and communication skills, and confidence of farming women, empowering them to view themselves and their farming roles differently and help lift farm performance. . . 

South Island leaders in for Australasian agri-business award

2017 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced

Three young agriculturalists from the South Island have made it through to the next stage of the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award. The three – Morgan Easton, a 33 year old farm owner and sharemilker from Oamaru, Jolene Germann, a 32 year old dairy consultant from Invercargill and Henry Pinckney, a 34 year old farm owner from Waiau were selected for their impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry.

The three will head to Brisbane next month for the interview round for a place in the finals. They will be up against Australia’s Anna Speer, CEO of AuctionsPlus, Will Creek, a Stud Manager at Stanbroke and Airlie Trescowthick, a business analyst and managing director of The Farm Table. . . .

In the running for agribusiness award – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton has been shortlisted for the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property.

Mr Easton (33), along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann (32) and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney (34), have made it through to the next stage of the award.

The trio were selected for their “impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry”. . . 

New plan to target Mackenzie wilding conifers:

A new strategy for tackling wilding conifers in the Mackenzie Basin has been announced today by Conservation Ministers Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

“Currently, wilding conifers impact on almost a quarter of land in the Mackenzie Basin, and without further control they will spread and take over large areas of farm and conservation land,” Ms Barry says.

“Wilding conifers are a major threat to our ecosystems, land and farms. These invasive self-sown trees spread fast and are very hard to eliminate once established.

“Prevention is the best form of management. Removing young seedlings now, before they start producing seeds, costs less than $10 per hectare, but removing mature trees can cost $10,000 per hectare.” . . .

National milk production down 1.5%:

Despite New Zealand dairy farmers receiving the lowest milk prices in 20 seasons, milk production dropped just 1.5%.

That was one of the New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2015-16 released on November 14 by DairyNZ and LIC. They revealed there were 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

Dairy companies processed 20.9 billion litres of milk containing 1.86 billion kilograms of milk solids in 2015-16. The previous season, they handled 21.2 billion litres of milk, with 1.89 billion kilograms of milk solids. . . 

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . . 

Kiwifruit industry welcomes Government decision on seasonal workers:

• 1000 additional seasonal workers for horticulture

• RSE workers support New Zealanders who remain primary workforce

The kiwifruit industry has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an additional 1000 seasonal workers for the coming season.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) Chief Executive Nikki Johnson says the extra workers in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are essential to support the kiwifruit industry’s strong growth. . . 

Crown Irrigation Invests up to $3.4m in North Canterbury – some good news for the region:

Crown Irrigation Investments will invest up to $3.4m in the Hurunui Water Project, an irrigation scheme that will be capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

The scheme infrastructure includes water intakes from the Hurunui and Waitohi rivers, with both on plain and dam storage, and a pressurised piped distribution system. The current project cost estimate is approximately $200 million. . . 

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock – a victim of its own success:

The record turnout for last week’s New Zealand Bloodstock’s (NZB) Ready to Run Sale at Karaka shows our bloodstock industry is still punching well above its weight says Crowe Horwath’s bloodstock specialist Hayden Dillon. As interest from Australian and Asian buyers continues to grow, the sale saw a record number of entries with 552 horses offered, however, this was tempered by a low clearance rate of 60% compared to the 81% of last year’s record-breaking sale, which left a number of vendors taking their horses back home. Dillon, says “the industry should take comfort that this is not a structural issue for the sale, rather growing pains, and NZB and the vendors will be making adjustments as necessary for the 2017 sale.” . . .

The Cambodian farmers paid to protect birds:

Rice farmers in Cambodia are battling falling regional rice prices and a black market that’s been undercutting them.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, together with a firm called Ibis Rice, is offering to pay above market price for the rice.

In return, the farmers must help protect Cambodia’s national bird – the Giant Ibis. . .


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