Rural round-up

27/09/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biosecurity Bill passes first reading :

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

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

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

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

Frontline biosecurity ranks bolstered :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

16/08/2022

Lack of rural health services distressing – RWNZ :

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) say it is distressing to see rural communities suffer due to a lack of access to quality health services.

RWNZ president Gill Naylor says the health and wellbeing of rural communities is at risk of further deterioration if something is not done to resolve the issues facing people who live, work and play in rural New Zealand.

In June this year, a rural health strategy was added to the Pae Ora Healthy Futures legislation which came into effect last month. The strategy had been removed during the select committee phase but was added back into the legislation after Health Minister Andrew Little was convinced to add it by his party’s ‘rural caucus’.

Naylor says the challenges rural families face with access to health services are varied and include a lack of rural midwives, lack of rural nurses and GPs, lack of rural mental health services, delays in emergency services such as ambulances and long distances to travel for services like allied health and cancer treatment. . . 

Exotics forestation surges on ETS carbon values – Richard Rennie:

The Climate Change Commission is estimating exotic forestation has surged to a rate well beyond the annual levels it says is required for New Zealand to achieve 380,000ha of exotic plantings by 2035.

The commission’s general manager for emissions budgets, Stephen Walter, told delegates at this year’s Carbon Forestry conference that the latest data indicates 60,000ha of exotic forest will be planted this year. That is more than twice the rate the commission envisaged.

This is also reflected in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ workload for accepting forests into the Emissions Trading Scheme. MPI’s ETS forestry manager, Simon Petrie, said there is an application queue of 130,000ha of forest awaiting scheme approval as of June.

The recent move by the commission to recommend the government limit carbon units is partly due to concern that current ETS emissions prices will drive large-scale afforestation for sequestering carbon, rather than behaviour change to reduce emissions. . . 

Rural residents ropeable over lack of cellphone coverage – Rachel Graham :

Residents in Ladbrooks, a seven-minute drive from the edge of suburban Christchurch, say living in a cellphone coverage blackspot is annoying and dangerous.

Ladbrooks School, with its 150 pupils, sits in the centre of a semi-rural area with an increasing number of lifestyle blocks.

It also sits in the middle of a cellphone black spot.

Ladbrooks School principal Margaret Dodds said the lack of cellphone coverage was much more than an inconvenience. . . 

Bale-grazing experiment benefits cows and soil – Shawn McAvinue:

A grass and hay wintering system is showing promising results in Northern Southland.

AgResearch Invermay soil scientist Ross Monaghan is running a nearly $1 million project to explore whether dairy cows grazing on pasture in winter can reduce nitrogen leaching and mud compared with being on traditional forage crops.

The Soil Armour Project was launched in October 2020.

Experiment sites are live on a dairy farm on the Telford campus near Balclutha and Freedom Acres Dairy Farm at Wendonside. . . 

New Zealand’s pipfruit industry gathers in August for National conference :

More than 250 growers, suppliers, industry leaders and government officials from around the country will gather at the Rutherford Hotel in Nelson for the 2022 NZ Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI) Conference.

The Conference will be held on Thursday 25 and Friday 26 August, with the industry AGM being held on Wednesday 24 August at 4pm. An ‘Agritech in the Orchard’ field day will be also be held on Wednesday 24 August, a collaboration between Callaghan Innovation and NZAPI.

The theme for the 2022 conference is ‘Adapting to New Horizons’. NZAPI CEO Terry Meikle says that two years on from the beginning of the pandemic, we have learned to modify and adapt to a new environment to ensure New Zealand pipfruit can continue to compete on the global stage, demand premiums and remain an industry exemplar.

“NZ is widely regarded as the best apple and pear producer in the world, but to retain that title, we must continue to adapt and innovate. The Conference will explore how we as an industry can meet and succeed in these new environments. . . 

Improving crop resilience with nanoparticles – Neil Savage:

Materials that can carry CRISPR gene-editing into plant cells could be key in the fight against global hunger.

There were sceptics when Michael Strano and his colleagues published their method for using nanoparticles to alter the biology of living plants (J. P. Giraldo et al. Nature Mater. 13, 400–408; 2014). In a letter to Nature Materials, one prominent plant scientist stated that the findings were wrong. “She wrote to the editor and said, ‘What these authors are proposing is not possible. We think they’re misinterpreting their data’,” Strano recalls.

But the chemical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Cambridge, won over his critics, overturning an assumption that the membrane of the chloroplast — an organelle within plant cells that is responsible for photosynthesis — was impervious. “We had real-time video of particles going into this seemingly impenetrable chloroplast,” he says. The method, known as lipid exchange envelope penetration (LEEP), allows scientists to calculate where a nanoparticle will go to inside a cell — such as into the chloroplast or another organelle — or whether it will remain in the cytosol, the fluid that surrounds the organelles. This information can inform the design of nanoparticles that carry gene-editing machinery to targeted areas to rewrite the plant’s genome and imbue it with properties such as pest and disease resistance.

In particular, researchers are exploiting the CRISPR gene-editing system to engineer food crops that offer higher yields, or plants that produce compounds used in medications. The technology, for which Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, allows specific stretches of DNA to be targeted for editing, deletion or replacement. . .

 


Our Table

10/04/2022

Peter H* Reynolds reads his story Our Table:

 

*The H is for Hamilton, named after the New Zealand city where his father was born.


Rural round-up

21/02/2022

No cheap entry to split gas options – Richard Rennie:

The cost to run the alternative greenhouse gas (GHG) system for the primary sector now under discussion could cost the sector as much as $90 million a year.

The He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) split-gas emissions proposal roadshow is now well under way across New Zealand, with farmers having a chance to get under the hood of the two schemes presented, both likely to hit farm profits by between 4-6%.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the estimate of up to a $90m a year cost was “quite possible”, but was also one that had been fully imputed into estimates of what the respective farm based or industry-based schemes are likely to have on farm profits.

“There is no doubt, when you scale up the costs at a farm level to an industry level it does come to quite a big number,” Mackle said. . . 

Carbon report calls for a more strategic approach – Colin Williscroft:

Short-term land-use decisions risk the long-term future of New Zealand’s rural landscapes and communities, according to a green paper by former Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, however, some industry players are questioning parts of the paper’s content.

Managing Forestry Land-Use Under the Influence of Carbon calls for a more strategic approach to planting trees and outlines policy areas for urgent investigation to address the issue.

It was released ahead of a workshop early next month involving stakeholders, including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, councils, forestry interests, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and Local Government NZ.

Yule said the paper outlines the risk that short-term decisions will make to the detriment of long-term land-use flexibility, rural communities and export returns. . . 

New Zealand’s 2022 kiwifruit harvest begins :

New Zealand’s 2022 kiwifruit harvest has kicked off with the first crop being picked this morning in Te Puke and more kiwifruit to be picked around New Zealand over the coming months.

The 2022 season has the potential to be another record-breaking year with more kiwifruit produced than ever before. A forecast of at least 190 million trays will need to be harvested, overtaking last year’s record of over 177 million trays. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit.

Zespri’s new RubyRed variety is picked first which is then followed by the Gold and Green varieties. The harvest traditionally peaks in mid-April and runs through until June.

The sweet, berry-tinged tasting Red kiwifruit will also be picked for supermarket shelves in New Zealand and some overseas markets this year. 2022 marks the first year that RubyRed will be sold as a commercial variety. . . 

Kiwifruit grower and post harvest operator Seeka reports record revenue :

Kiwifruit grower and post harvest operator Seeka has reported a record revenue for the year driven by a rebound in kiwifruit volumes and a lift in production.

Key numbers (for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 vs year ago)

  • Net profit $14.9m vs $15.2m
  • Revenue $309.6m vs $251.5m
  • Operating earnings $56.8m $42.9m
  • Dividend 13 cents per share vs 12cps

The company’s net profit is down 2 percent as 2020’s result included a $5.6 million deferred tax benefit. . . 

Precision Growing technology takes top honours at New Zealand International Business Awards 2021:

A Bay of Plenty business dedicated to “the art of growing for a healthier world” is the supreme winner of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2021, announced tonight [17 February] at the Awards’ first-ever broadcast ceremony. 

The Supreme Award winner, Bluelab, provides high-precision measurement technology for controlled environment agriculture, including greenhouses, vertical farms and hydroponic production. Operating for more than 30 years, Bluelab is internationally recognised as an industry leader, and provides tools and systems to measure critical factors like pH, temperature and moisture levels when growing plants in controlled environments. 

Bluelab’s products are designed, manufactured and exported globally from its base of operations in Tauranga. Bluelab previously won the Excellence in Innovation category at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019.   . . 

Producer prices increase in the December 2021 quarter :

Producer input and output prices increased in the December 2021 quarter, led by rising prices in dairy and construction industries, Stats NZ said today.

In the December 2021 quarter compared with the September 2021 quarter, prices received by producers of goods and services (outputs) increased 1.4 percent. Prices paid by producers of goods and services (inputs) increased 1.1 percent over the same period.

“Producer prices are increasing, but slower than in the middle of 2021,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said.

“Most industries had increases in input and output prices, with dairy and construction industries having the largest contribution to increases in overall producer prices.” . . 


Rural round-up

22/11/2021

Feds honours the life and work of John Luxton:

Federated Farmers wishes to pass on its condolences to the family and friends of former Minister of Agriculture and dairy industry leader John Luxton who passed away today.

“We pay our respects to acknowledge and praise the work John did for New Zealand agriculture, especially the dairy sector,” Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard says.

John was a Member of Parliament from 1987 to 2002 and his political contribution was significant across numerous ministerial roles, including his time as Minister of Agriculture.

“The dairy sector would not be the same if it weren’t for John’s work towards forming DairyNZ and then chairing the organisation between 2008 and 2015. . .

Farmers helping feed Auckland families this Christmas:

Farmers and growers are being asked to help put fresh food on the Christmas table for Aucklanders in need this year.

Federated Farmers has launched a “Farmers Feed Families” campaign aimed at raising funds for the Auckland City Mission.

Feds Gisborne President Toby Williams was dismayed to learn how many more Auckland families were struggling as a result of COVID-19 fallout, including loss of jobs or cutbacks to hours.

“It only costs $135 to provide a box of food for a family of four, with enough good ingredients for about four days’ worth of meals. We are asking fellow farmers to help families pay for good, fresh food for Christmas. . .

Rural connectivity not ready for Covid-19:

Rural New Zealand is facing a COVID crisis thanks to the Government’s failure to secure their digital future, says National’s Digital Economy & Communications and Rural Communities Spokespersons Melissa Lee and Joseph Mooney.

“Alongside the Government’s failure to provide New Zealanders with a plan to get our country back in business and end the MIQ Lottery of misery the Government continues to leave rural connectivity behind causing real fears that families across our regions will be unable to access critical health services and information when COVID strikes their towns.

“Rural New Zealanders have already had to do the hard yards during lockdowns of the past 18 months facing network congestion, poor connectivity options and data limits that have seen many of them having to choose between their child’s education or keeping their businesses afloat. This is morally bankrupt for those working in the primary sectors keeping our economy intact. . .

Crunch is coming for agricultural contractors :

Federated Farmers’ concerns about the serious shortage of experienced agricultural machinery operators is proving justified as summer approaches.

A shortage of experienced operators is being felt across rural New Zealand, and the pressure is building on both farmers and rural contractors, Feds immigration and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Unfortunately, we all saw this coming a long way out. Federated Farmers has repeatedly explained the implications of having no international seasonal rural workers to the Immigration, Primary Industries and Workplace Relations and Safety Ministers, the Primary Production Select Committee and the CEO of WorkSafe.

“The shortage is leaving both contractors and farmers in the lurch and we have serious concerns for the coming season. These are complex machines that require experienced operators,” Chris says. . .

IrrigationNZ makes big strides with plans to deliver more in 2022 :

IrrigationNZ has made great strides in the last 12 months, with a revitalised strategy put to work propelling the organisation to new heights.

The organisation held its annual general meeting (AGM) via Zoom yesterday, and revealed to members that for the first time in three years the organisation has ended the financial year in the black.

Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ Vanessa Winning, who has been in the role for a year, is proud of her team’s performance, and is looking forward to continuing the good work into 2022.

“I joined IrrigationNZ just before last year’s AGM. We had just completed a restructure, decided to move the head office to Wellington, and were close to another annual loss,” says Ms Winning. . .

Producer prices increase :

Producer prices increased more in the year ended September 2021 than in any other year for more than a decade, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended September 2021, prices received by producers increased 6.2 percent, and prices paid by producers increased 7.0 percent.

“The increases in prices received and paid by producers in the year ended September 2021 are the largest increases since the years ended March 2009 and December 2008 respectively,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said. . .


Rural round-up

29/10/2021

Tourism reset would hurt agricultural exporters :

The Government’s proposal to reduce future international tourism visitor numbers post-COVID to concentrate on higher spending visitors may solve one problem but create others.

Research by Lincoln University’s Dr Rob Radics, Dr Muhammad Umar, and Associate Professor Anthony Brien, highlighted that most of our agricultural products delivered fresh to market are transported on passenger planes, and tourists contribute to the cost.

The drop in tourism numbers could push up transport costs to the point some businesses do not export at all and are put out of business.

Their work showed that before COVID-19 hit, there were 550 international flights into and out of New Zealand each week, which carried 80% of New Zealand’s overall export airfreight in their belly-holds, and that it was worth $10.8 billion in December 2019. . . 

A fillip for farmers from Fonterra’s milk-payment forecast – Point of Order:

In    a  timely   boost  to  the  rural regions,  Fonterra has raised its forecast milk payment to farmers for this season to match its previous record high  of  8.45kg/MS, as demand for dairy holds up while supply tightens.

The giant co-operative lifted and narrowed its forecast farmgate milk price range for the 2021/22 season to between $7.90 and $8.90kg/MS from the  initial $7.25 to $8.75  kgMS.

The midpoint of the range on which farmers are paid increased to $8.40 kg/MS, from $8 last  season.  That would match the previous record, paid in the 2013/14 season, and would result in almost $13bn flowing into regional New Zealand.

The  country is heading into its peak milk production period in late spring and output so far is below last season, constrained by poor weather and limits on expansion. Milk production is also soft elsewhere, because  of  poor weather and high feed costs. . . 

Log exports to peak before dropping more than a third within decade – Forsyth Barr – Nona Pelletier:

Major changes are looming for the forestry sector as the deluge of raw log exports fades amid dwindling supplies and demands increase from the building industry and other users.

An industry report by investment house Forsyth Barr suggests the mainstay of the industry, log exports, will peak and then drop by more than a third within a decade.

“Export volumes will peak by 2026 then decline as insufficient planting activity after the 1990s boom means total harvest volumes will fall,” report author and head of research Andy Bowley said.

“The use of wood domestically is undergoing a transformation through the use of trees to sequester carbon, power boilers and as a low carbon building material alternative.” . . 

Primary sector returns strengthen export-led recovery:

Farmers’ hard work in leading New Zealand’s export-led recovery from COVID-19 is being rewarded with high prices forecast for milk and very strong returns for meat, says Trade and Export Growth and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Fonterra announced today a record predicted milk price of $7.90 to $8.90 for the coming season. The mid-point of $8.40 would match the previous record set in 2014. The announcement follows continuing high demand for NZ-grown meat.

“Our farmers and growers have been working hard maintaining their volumes and together, through the COVID response, we’ve been able to keep supply chains ticking and freight links open,” said Damien O’Connor.

“The resilience of all export sectors is vital to our ongoing economic strength. Just as we aim to have diversified export markets, we’re also focussed on growing all our export sectors.” . . 

Pāmu and Westpac NZ agree market- leading sustainability-linked loan :

Westpac NZ and Pāmu have signed New Zealand’s most comprehensive Sustainability-Linked Loan to date, also the largest in the agricultural sector, and the first involving a state-owned enterprise.

Pāmu, also known as Landcorp, is New Zealand’s biggest farming business. It will borrow $85m from Westpac NZ over three years. To incentivise continued improvement in sustainability performance, Pāmu will receive a pricing discount from Westpac NZ if it meets material and ambitious performance targets and pay higher interest costs if it fails to reach them.

It is the first Sustainability-Linked Loan in the agricultural sector to include a 1.5-degree Science-Based emissions reduction target that will be validated against global best practice. . .

Farm 2050 coalition names first five nutrient technology trial startups :

 Finistere Ventures and Innovation Endeavors today revealed the first five companies selected for the Farm2050 Nutrient Technology Trialing Platform, a dual-hemisphere agritech testing and validation platform. The Farm2050 Nutrient Trialing Platform aims to identify, validate and demonstrate at scale promising technologies in nutrient management and water contamination reduction across broad acre crops, horticulture and pasture-based dairy in collaboration with agritech investors, farmers, researchers and startup companies around the globe.

The innovators chosen for the first wave of trials in New Zealand include:

– ClimateAi, which uses AI to tackle climate risk across the food supply chain

– CropX, an established farm management platform with soil sensing and nitrogen monitoring solutions. . 


Rural round-up

05/10/2021

Farmer who contracted Covid-19 urges public to get vaccinated – Maja Burry:

Some farmers impacted by one of last year’s high-profile Covid-19 clusters are encouraging people to get vaccinated, no matter where they live in the country.

As the global pandemic was being declared in March last year, around 400 delegates from around the world were attending the World Hereford conference in Queenstown.

There were 39 people identified in the cluster, including Roxburgh farmer Robyn Pannett. She became very sick and is still feeling the impact of the virus – even today.

“I still have a really distorted sense of taste and smell. At the same time, my immunity is not where it was. And I am a bit more fatigued. So it has had an ongoing effect.” . . 

Hopes of relocation to NZ dashed– Neal Wallace:

Raynardt van der Merwe and his family will board a plane in November and head back to South Africa, their dream of relocating to NZ eroded by the Government’s uncertain immigration policy.

A taxidermist and hunting guide based in Hawea, Central Otago, van der Merwe has been working in partnership with Glen Dene Hunting and Fishing since December 2019.

“I was reasonably confident I had a good opportunity by relocating to NZ and in fact getting a work visa and working towards residency.”

Even though he has an essential skills visa, the lack of certainty about the path to residency, meant they could not plan for a future. . . 

Discovery brings replaceable closer to irreplaceable – Richard Rennie:

Making formula milk more like Mum’s could provide a means to not only improve its nutritional profile, but also prove to be a valuable formula additive in an industry with a global value of US$60 billion a year. Richard Rennie spoke to AgResearch scientists developing a component that makes infant powder almost as good as the real thing.

Working in the area of infant nutrition and formulation, AgResearch scientist Dr Caroline Thum points out much of infant formula production requires processors to take out some of milk’s best components, and then try to add them back in for the final product.

Typically, infant milk processing has bovine fatty acids replaced with non-bovine fatty acids to try and replicate the fat’s ratio, and resemblance to human fatty acids as close as possible. 

That usually involves adding vegetable oils as the fat source. . . 

New tech helping meat industry mitigate skills shortage :

New retail automation technology introduced by one of the country’s largest beef and lamb suppliers is helping to increase efficiency within its growing domestic business.

PrimeXConnect, an automated transaction platform designed for the meat supply chain, was first piloted by ANZCO Foods in the New Zealand market in 2019 as they sought new ways to help manage the unique nature of the domestic business model.

The system is designed to replace the traditional email and phone call based offer-and-order model that has been favoured by generations of Kiwi butchers.

The platform allows ANZCO Foods customers to place orders from the shop floor at any time from their computer, laptop or phone. The automated process then ensures that the confirmed orders are routed to the company’s distribution centres for delivery. . .

Tatua annual results for the year ended 31 July 2021:

The Tatua Board of Directors and Executive met on 30 September 2021 to consider the financial results for the 2020/21 financial year and decide on the final pay-out to our supplying shareholders.

The lingering uncertainty related to Covid-19 and the ongoing global shipping disruption continued to create challenges through the year. However, we acknowledge that many businesses and individuals have faced greater hardships, and that we are fortunate to have been able to continue to operate as we have.

We are pleased to report that the business has had a good year, achieving Group income of $395 million and earnings available for pay-out of $162 million.

Our earnings equate to $10.43 per kilogram of qualifying milksolids, before retentions for reinvestment and taxation. This is an improvement on the previous year earnings of $9.96 per kilogram of milksolids, and is a record for Tatua. . . 

Farm boost with new agricultural visa signed off – Andrew Brown:

Farmers could soon have access to more workers from overseas, following the creation of a new agriculture visa.

The new visa type, which came into effect from Thursday, will allow for the entry and temporary stay in Australia of workers across primary industries.

While the final numbers of how many workers would be able to enter the country on the visa are yet to be confirmed, the first workers are expected to arrive from late 2021.

Entry to the country will be subject to quarantine arrangements and agreements with partner nations. . . 


Shane Reti on vaccines, travel bubble, and cyber security

09/07/2021

Nathan Rarere interviewed National’s Deputy Leader, Shane Reti.

https://www.rnz.co.nz/audio/player?audio_id=2018802725

It’s good to hear from someone who understands what matters and knows what he’s talking about.


Rural round-up

18/06/2021

Calls for MP acknowledgement of farmers :

The co-owner of a major farm machinery business wants more rural sector acknowledgement from MPs.

A record number of Labour MPs will be at Fieldays 2021.

Power Farming’s Brett Maber says farmers often get a bad rap – but they’ve had a good season, especially given the past year. . .

Feds applauds UK-Australia free trade deal:

News that Australia and the UK have signed a free trade agreement is a promising step forward in the fight against tariffs and protectionism, Federated Farmers says.

“It reinforces the international rules-based trading framework and is important for rural producers and global consumers,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard says.

The FTA is the first to be signed by the UK since it left the European Union. . .

Education resource highlights NZ dairy and red meat’s role in feeding global population:

A new climate change education resource has been released by New Zealand’s pastoral farming sector.

The resource, ‘The important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population’, has been co-authored by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

It explores the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system. Written in a straight-forward and science-based style, it will provide secondary school students, in particular, with balanced information.

As a producer of food for around 10 times its own population, New Zealand has a unique emissions profile and consequently has a unique challenge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. . .

Utes big ticket items at Fieldays

Thousands of farmers flocked to the first day of Fieldays today, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agricultural event.

Last year’s event was cancelled because of Covid-19, so expectations were high for the more than 1000 exhibitors who were back to put their wares on display.

The last time the event was held at Mystery Creek, near Kirikiriroa-Hamilton in 2019, it generated $500 million in sales for New Zealand businesses.

Some of the big ticket items are utes and, with the recent EV policy announcement, farmers are expecting to soon pay fees when they buy fossil fuel vehicles for their farms. . . 

Primary industries outlook predicts export rebound after 1.1% fall :

The food and fibre sector is expecting a 1.1 percent drop in export revenue due to covid related issues, but is expected to bounce back.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ outlook for primary industries (SOPI) report was released at Fieldays this morning.

Exports amounted to over $47 billion and the forecast for the year ending June 2022 was for exports to reach a record $49.1 billion – a 3.4 percent increase on the year just ending.

Sustained growth is forecast year on year, hitting a further record of $53.1 billion for the year to June 202-5. . . 

Vodafone and Farmside supporting rural New Zealanders with new connectivity options:

As Fieldays gets started, Vodafone is proud to offer rural Aotearoa new connectivity options including trialling a RBI2 Unlimited Broadband service for people who live in the second Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI2) area.

This comes as Vodafone ramps up network investments to expand its regional coverage footprint around Aotearoa, and as part of the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) to build more cell towers in rural New Zealand under the RBI2 program.

This three-month RBI2 Unlimited Broadband trial sees Farmside, Vodafone’s rural broadband specialist, offer unlimited wireless broadband* for $79.99 a month to households within the geographical RBI2 area, with the trial also open to wireless internet service providers (WISPs) as part of Vodafone’s wholesale agreements. . . 


Rural round-up

28/02/2021

Meat processing industry supports move away from coal, but concerned about livestock cuts:

New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry is generally supportive of the Climate Change Commission’s draft report and its focus on reducing the use of fossil fuels but is concerned about the stated 15 per cent reduction in sheep, cattle and dairy numbers.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, says red meat processors and exporters are committed to reducing and eventually eliminating the use of coal, although achieving the commission’s 2037 target will be difficult.

“We do need a fair and just transition away from coal to ensure jobs and livelihoods are not put at risk.  However, our chief concern is any drop in livestock numbers may jeopardise the viability of some processing plants and jobs in rural communities.

“Meat processors rely on throughput of livestock to create efficiencies of scale and be profitable. The commission estimates that without major on-farm practice change and new technologies, a 15 per cent reduction in livestock numbers will be required to achieve the targets by 2030. This would have a serious impact on the ability of many processors to keep operating. . . 

Meat industry calls for Covid vaccine priority :

The meat processing and export industry wants its workforce to be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccinations.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said the industry was considered high-risk, due to the large numbers of people working closely together.

Countries such as Australia, the US and the UK have all had Covid-19 outbreaks at meat processing facilities.

“We saw a significant increase in the spread of Covid in that workforce, which led to the closure of plants,” Karapeeva said. . . 

Time for UK to ‘walk the talk’ – Todd Muller:

One of life’s commercial shibboleths is that one should be wary of going into business with close friends because emotion is always involved.

But shibboleths are meant to be broken – as we have proven with our dear friend Australia over 40 years. You can have remarkably close economic relations with mates, and it can work.

You have to have a unifying idea (in our cases, closer economic integration and freedom of movement) and the strength of relationship to say it like it is.

So, I believe it’s time to address the elephant in the trading room. The eye-watering gap between the UK’s rhetoric on free trade and its current approach to NZ.  . .

 

Fonterra details how farmers will be paid for sustainable, high value milk :

Fonterra has released the details of how it will pay farmers for producing sustainable, high quality milk as part of The Co-operative Difference framework.

From 1 June 2021, up to 10 cents of each farm’s milk payment will be determined by the farm’s sustainability credentials and milk quality.

“Fonterra farmers are already among the world’s best in these areas and we’re really proud of that. The Co-operative Difference payment is another way we can recognise farmers, while also supporting our strategy to grow the value of our New Zealand milk by responding to increasing demand around the world for sustainably produced dairy,” says Richard Allen, Group Director, Farm Source. . . 

Volume of wine on the rise :

The total volume of wine available for consumption in New Zealand rose in 2020, Stats NZ said today.

“The volume of wine available to the New Zealand market was up 4.3 percent in 2020, in contrast to falls in each of the previous two years,” international trade manager Alasdair Allen said.

“This year’s wine volume available to the domestic market is nearly 113 million litres, surpassing the previous high of 2017.”

The volume of wine made from grapes rose 4.9 percent to 94 million litres, following falls of 2.7 percent in 2019, and 2.6 percent in 2018. . . 

FarmIQ adds value to compliance:

The demands on farmers to become more compliant have grown significantly in only five short years, with expectations from the public, processors and government all requiring greater accountability for how resources of land, water and people are managed.

Regardless of what government is running New Zealand, it is more likely than not the regulations proposed or in place around water and land management are not going to change significantly. New Zealand’s need to stake its reputation as a food producer delivering high quality, sustainable products requires regulatory effort to deliver on that promise.

As the demands around compliance have grown, the ability to capture data that proves a farmer is compliant in areas of environmental management, health and safety and ultimately green-house gas emissions has never been greater. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/02/2021

Study: Farmers help identify solutions to reduce farm footprint :

New DairyNZ research shows farmers can identify ways to increase efficiency and reduce environmental footprint – but there will be challenges for some.

The Greenhouse Gas Partnership Farms research project worked with farmers to identify and model how their farms might reduce both nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Making these gains will be the first steps as farmers work towards the government’s 2030 climate change targets,” said DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Dr Bruce Thorrold.

For some farms, the research identified options that offered lower footprint and higher profit. For already highly efficient farms, footprint gains tended to come at a cost to profitability. . .

You can read more about the study here.

Fonterra narrows 2021 earnings guidance:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced it has lifted the bottom end of its 2021 forecast earnings guidance and narrowed the range to 25-35 cents per share, from 20-35 cents per share.

“That is why we have come out today with narrower forecast earnings range of 25-35 cents per share, which still reflects the usual uncertainties we face over the course of any given year.

“Despite the challenges and flow on effects of COVID-19, the team have remained committed and disciplined. There has been strong demand for the Co-op’s New Zealand milk and we’ve continued to get product to market.” . .

Dairy and meat drive large fall in exports:

The value of total goods exports fell 10 percent in January 2021 from January 2020, to $4.2 billion, led by falls in dairy and meat, Stats NZ said today.

“The fall in exports of $486 million was the largest year-on-year fall in exports since March of 2016,” international trade manager Alasdair Allen said.

The fall in exports was led by a drop in dairy products with milk powder, down $97 million, butter, down $62 million, and whey, down $31 million from January 2020.

“The drop in dairy exports was partly due to a fall in quantity for whey products to one of New Zealand’s top export trading markets, the United States. Exports of dairy were the largest fall for the US in January 2021, specifically exports of whey,” Mr Allen said. . .

Kiwifruit harvest taster day registrations open:

An initiative giving people an insight into working in the kiwifruit industry over harvest is about to kick off.

The initiative – led by New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) and funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) – sets its sights on encouraging jobseekers to take up employment in the kiwifruit industry by providing a free harvest taster day for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. It follows NZKGI’s successful winter pruning and summer-work taster programmes in 2020.

NZKGI Education Co-ordinator Di Holloway says the kiwifruit industry needs a workforce of more than 23,000 people from March to July. . . 

NZ challenged to buck trend on climate conservatisml – Marc Daalder:

Lord Deben, chair of the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Committee, says New Zealand has a unique opportunity to lead the world on reducing emissions, Marc Daalder reports

New Zealand’s attempts to treat methane from cows differently from other greenhouse gases puts its international reputation on climate change at risk, but if it can jump that hurdle, the country has the opportunity to help lead the world on emissions reductions, the chairman of the United Kingdom’s Climate Change Committee tells Newsroom.

Lord Deben, formerly a longtime Conservative Party MP and agriculture minister with the given name John Gummer before being made Lord Deben in 2010, spoke to Newsroom as part of a “virtual visit” to New Zealand. He also addressed environment spokespeople from different parties in Parliament and spoke at the National Party’s summit for its environmental wing, the BlueGreens. . . 

WayBeyond offers agriculture industry alternative to Microsoft :

New Zealand Tech innovator WayBeyond is taking on Microsoft’s Power BI and Excel products to give growers an alternative solution for integrating all their business data into one digital platform.

“Historically the technology to manage your data was limited. Growers have gotten used to spreadsheets and other historical tools, however solutions now exist that are specifically created for agriculture and can address some of the biggest pain points – access to real time data and everything in one central view. This is what Data Studio now offers,” says Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Morgan.

“Being agriculture focused means we can have a relationship with our customers supporting them in a way these generic products can’t. We’re offering an easy-to-use option without the need to be a data analyst or spend countless hours pulling information together manually into a spreadsheet.” . .


Rural round-up

18/01/2021

Mobile black spots: Meet the Kiwis with worse mobile coverage than the developing world – Tom Dillane:

Teresa Wyndham-Smith remembers with a laugh when it first dawned on her that mobile coverage was better in West Africa than the West Coast of New Zealand.

That was five years of signal silence ago.

The 57-year-old writer and journalist returned to her home country after a decade in Ghana, and plonked herself down in Te Miko, a settlement on the 1000-plus kms of mobile black spots along New Zealand highways.

“I’m originally from Wellington but I was living in Ghana in West Africa for 10 years before I moved to the Coast,” Wyndham-Smith said. . . 

SWAG ready to tackle 2021 – Annette Scott:

The Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool industry out of the doldrums, has kick started the new year on a positive footing.

Since putting the call out in November for financial support, industry contributions have now reached more than $500,000.

SWAG, established and incorporated late last year, is targeting a $3 million working budget to fund identified opportunities that will increase the demand and value of NZ produced strong wool.

The company aims to raise $700,000, matched with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) funding, will secure a total operational budget of about $3m. . . 

From liquid gold to price crash : NZ’s honey hangover – Jane Phare:

Mānuka honey producers have been reaping the profits from selling pots of gold in recent years but now there’s a glut of non-manuka varieties as beekeepers stockpile, hoping prices will recover. New Zealand has more than 918,000 beehives, and Jane Phare looks at why the country is oozing with honey and why Kiwis looked for something less expensive to spread on their bread.

It was always a Kiwi staple, honey on toast in the morning, a spoonful to help the medicine go down. It was sweet, yummy and affordable.

Then, the so-called magical health benefits of mānuka honey became known worldwide causing export sales to take off. As the mānuka honey story reached fever pitch, so did the prices. Honey producers were earning upwards of $100 a kilo, selling little pots of dark golden nectar. . . 

Alliance partners with children’s charity :

Alliance Group will become an official partner of Ronald McDonald House South Island, the independent charitable trust providing free accommodation and support to families who need to travel to Christchurch and Invercargill for their children’s medical treatment.

The partnership will see the co-operative provide support for the Ronald McDonald House major 2021 fundraiser – the annual Supper Club events in Christchurch, Queenstown and Invercargill – and donate meat for a range of events throughout the year.

Alliance will also play a key role in the charity’s Host a Roast month in July – when people are encouraged to host a roast, brunch or lunch and invite friends and colleagues to attend for a $20 donation to support the Ronald McDonald House programmes.

“Ronald McDonald House is very close to the hearts of many of our people, our farmer shareholders and the wider community,” Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said. . . 

 

New Alps2Ocean leg opens to rave reviews – Doug Sail:

A new $1.2 million section of the Alps2Ocean cycle trail has proved a hit with holidaymakers as they discover rarely seen South Island scenery.

The 16-kilometre section from Sailors Cutting to the top of the Benmore Dam in the Waitaki Lakes region follows the Ahuriri arm of Lake Benmore serving up sights that users have raved about since it opened on December 18.

Among the more than 7000 cyclists and pedestrians to have tried the track so far was Stuffphotographer John Bisset who has previously completed the four sections from the start in Aoraki/Mt Cook through to Omarama.

“It was an awesome ride with great vistas. . .

America’s biggest owner of farmland is now Bill Gates – Ariel Shapiro:

Bill Gates, the fourth richest person in the world and a self-described nerd who is known for his early programming skills rather than his love of the outdoors, has been quietly snatching up 242,000 acres of farmland across the U.S. — enough to make him the top private farmland owner in America.

After years of reports that he was purchasing agricultural land in places like Florida and Washington, The Land Report revealed that Gates, who has a net worth of nearly $121 billion according to Forbes, has built up a massive farmland portfolio spanning 18 states. His largest holdings are in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres) and Nebraska (20,588 acres). Additionally, he has a stake in 25,750 acres of transitional land on the west side of Phoenix, Arizona, which is being developed as a new suburb.

According to The Land Report’s research, the land is held directly and through third-party entities by Cascade Investments, Gates’ personal investment vehicle. Cascade’s other investments include food-safety company Ecolab, used-car retailer Vroom and Canadian National Railway.  . . 


Welcome to tomorrow – an interesting prediction

28/12/2020

This came in an email from a friend.

I have no idea of its origin or authenticity, but it is interesting reading:

Most or all of the following will become realty in the next 10-20 years . . . some of us won’t see the changes but our kids and grandkids will.

1 – Auto repair shops will disappear . . . .

 2 – A petrol/diesel engine has 20,000 individual parts . . . . An electrical motor has 20 . . . . Electric cars are sold with lifetime guarantees and are repaired only by dealers . . . It takes only 10 minutes to remove and replace an electric motor . . .

3 – Faulty electric motors are NOT repaired in the dealership but are sent to a regional repair shop that repairs them with ROBOTS . . . .

 4 – Your electric motor malfunction light goes on . . . . so you drive up to what looks like a car wash, and your car is towed through while you have a cup of coffee . . . . Then your car comes out on the other side with a new electric motor or component . . . .

 5 – Petrol pumps will go away . . . .

 6 – Street corners will have meters that dispense electricity . . . . Companies will install electrical recharging stations . . . . in fact, they’ve already started in the developed world . . . .

 7 – Smart major auto manufacturers have already designated money to start building new plants that build ONLY electric cars . . . .

 8 – The “Coal Industries” will go away . . . . Gasoline/oil companies will go away . . . . Drilling for oil will stop . . . . So say goodbye to OPEC . . . . The middle-east is in trouble . . . .

 9 – Homes will produce and store more electrical energy during the day than they use.

 . . . It will be sold back to “The Grid” . . . . The Grid will store and dispense it to the industries that are high electricity users. Has anybody seen the Tesla roof?

10 – A baby of today, will only see “personal cars” in museums. The FUTURE is approaching faster than most of us can even handle . . .

11 – In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide . . . . Within just a few years, their business model disappeared . . and they went bankrupt . . . . Who would have thought of that ever happening?

12 – What happened to Kodak and Polaroid will happen in a lot of industries in the next 5-10 years . . . . and most people don’t even see it coming . . .

13 – Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later, you would never take pictures on film again . . . . With today’s smart phones, who even has a camera these days?

14 – Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975 . . . . The first ones only had 10,000 pixels but followed Moore’s law . . . . As with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment in the beginning . . . . Before it became way superior and mainstream in only a few short years . . . .

15 – It will now happen again (but much faster) with Artificial Intelligence (AI), health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs . . . .

16 – Forget the book, “Future Shock”, welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution . . . .

17 – Software has disrupted and will continue to disrupt most traditional industries . . . (in the next 5 to 10 years . . . .

18 – UBER is just a software tool, (they don’t own any cars), and are now the biggest taxi company in the world . . . . (Ask any taxi driver if they saw that coming) . . . .

19 – AIR-BnB is now the biggest hotel company in the world . . . . (they don’t own any properties) . . . . Ask Hilton Hotels or the Marriott, if they saw that coming . . . .

20 – Artificial Intelligence (AI): Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world . . . . This year, a computer beat the best Go-player in the world . . . . (10 years earlier than expected) . . . .

21 – In the USA, young lawyers already don’t get jobs, (because of IBM’s, WATSON) . . . . you can get legal advice within a  few seconds so far the basic stuff . . . . with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans . . . . So, if you’re studying law, STOP IMMEDIATELY . . . . There will be 90% fewer lawyers in the future, what a thought and only omniscient specialists will remain . . . .

22 – WATSON already helps nurses diagnosing cancer . . . . It’s 4 times more accurate and many times faster than human nurses . . . .

23 – Face book now has a ‘face recognition’ software that can recognize faces better than humans . . . . In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans . . . .

24 – Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self-driving cars were already here . . . . In the next few years, the entire auto industry will start to be disrupted . . . . You won’t want to own a car any more as you will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination . . . .

25 – You will not need to park it; you will pay only for the ‘driven distance’ and you can be productive while driving. The very young children of today will never get a driver’s license and they will never own a car . . .

26 – This will change our cities because we will need 90% to 95% fewer cars . . . . We can transform former parking spaces into green city parks . . . .

27 – About 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents (worldwide). That includes distracted or drunk drivers . . . . We currently have one accident every 60,000 miles driven . . . . However with autonomous driving that will drop to 1 accident in about 6 million miles . . . . That will save a million plus lives, worldwide each year . . . .

28 – Most traditional car companies will doubtless become bankrupt . . . . They will try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car . . . . while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels . . . .

29 – Look at what Volvo is doing right now . . . . no more internal combustion engines in their vehicles starting this year with the 2020 models . . . . They are using all-electric or hybrid only, (with the intent of phasing out hybrid models in the not too distant future) . . . .

30 – Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi are completely terrified of Tesla . . . . Look at all the companies offering an all-electric vehicle . . . That was unheard of, only a few years ago . . . .

31 – Insurance companies will have massive trouble to . . . . because, without accidents, the costs of insurance will become cheaper . . . . Their car insurance business model will disappear . . . .

32 – Real estate will change . . . . Because if you can work while you commute, or you can work from your home . . . . people will abandon their towers to move far away to more beautiful and affordable properties . .

33 – Electric cars will become mainstream by about 2030 . . . . Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run ONLY on electricity . . . .

34 – Cities will have much cleaner air . . . .

35 – Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean . . . .

36 – Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years . . . . but you can now see the burgeoning impact . . . . and it’s just starting to get ramped up . . . .

37 – Fossil energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid . . . . to prevent competition from home solar installations . . . . but that simply cannot continue . . . . Technology will take care of that strategy in the not too distant future . . . .

38 – Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year . . . . There are companies who will build a medical device called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, a sample of your blood, then you breath into it . . . . It then analyses 54 bio-markers that will identify nearly any disease . . . . There are dozens of phone apps out there right now for health . . . .

WELCOME TO TOMORROW – some of it actually arrived a few years ago . . . .  

And, wouldn’t you know it, I’m still trying to work out how to use my cell phone


Rural round-up

21/11/2020

European potato ‘dumping’ hurting– Toni Williams:

An influx of European potato fries into New Zealand has already impacted on domestic growers, with less product planned for growing and staff job losses.

Hewson Farms, in Mid Canterbury, grows on average around 350ha of potatoes a year as part of its operation. It grows a large tonnage for McCain Foods, but it also grows onions, wheat, ryegrass, clover, hybrid vegetable seed, seed carrots, beetroot, hybrid rape kale and linseed.

Director Ross Hewson said the influx of European fries into New Zealand, as shown in New Zealand trade figures, resulted in more than 40 containers of product flooding into the domestic market.

There was an even larger influx into Australia, he said. . . 

Lewis Road: a tale of two butters – NIkki Mandow:

The (true) story of how a former global advertising guru with a passion for making patisserie and a former international banker and property investor with a passion for dung beetles may just have produced that rare prize – a New Zealand value-add dairy export brand

Anyone shopping at the gourmet Central Market grocery store in Austin, Texas last year might have been surprised to know that the middle aged man handing them a slice of bread and butter to taste wasn’t a down-on-his-luck casual retail worker, but a high net worth Kiwi businessman on a mission to reform New Zealand dairy.

Former Saatchi & Saatchi global boss Peter Cullinane, better known in New Zealand as the guy that sparked that chocolate milk madness in 2014, was accompanied on those trial-by-in-store-tastings by his Lewis Road colleague and company general manager Nicola O’Rourke.  . .

2020 Agricultural Journalism Awards:

Winners of the 2020 NZ Guild of Agricultural Journalists & Communicators Awards were announced at the eighteenth anniversary dinner, sponsored by Ravensdown, in Wellington on Friday 16 October.

Following are the award-winning entries. Most are linked to online items, but some are in pdf format requiring Acrobat Reader.

Ministry for Primary Industries Rongo Award

This award is for excellence in journalism in the primary sector. . . 

Tech-Talk – supporting supply chain transparency :

Consumers are increasingly calling for more transparency within supply chains and University of Canterbury PhD student Pouyan Jahanbin wants to do something about it.

Jahanbin knew that issues such as sustainability, child-labour and animal welfare were impacting consumer choices so he decided to develop a tool which will give people information about products at the point of sale, in real time.

Part of his research in Information Systems (IS) aims to comprehend the needs of all participants in the food supply-chain in order to develop an app that allows suppliers, growers, packers and distributors to share product information with consumers.

Pouyan says using blockchain technologies will improve trust and transparency of information and make verifying and sharing it easy. . . 

Producer prices whey down for dairy manufacturers:

Prices paid to dairy product manufacturers fell sharply in the September 2020 quarter, reversing gains in the March and June quarters, Stats NZ said today.

Despite falling 13 percent in the September quarter, the price level remains relatively high, similar to the highs observed in 2013.

“In the three months to September, prices fell for a variety of dairy products traded in the Global Dairy Trade auction, dipping from higher levels seen earlier in the year,” business prices delivery manager Bryan Downes said.  . . 

Significant Queenstown station up for sale:

One of New Zealand’s most prominent alpine properties has been listed on the open market for the first time in 40 years.

Halfway Bay Station – a phenomenal 18,000-ha station located on the shores of Queenstown’s majestic Lake Wakatipu – is now up for sale through premium real estate agency New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty (NZSIR). A large and unique landholding of this scale is likely to receive offers in excess of $50 million.

NZSIR sales associates Matt Finnigan and Russell Reddell say they are anticipating interest in the property from Kiwi residents and syndicates, expats and internationals. . .


Rural round-up

24/10/2020

Fired up over freshwater – Hamish MacLean:

Stop the degradation, show real improvements in five years, restore New Zealand’s waterways in a generation, and infuriate how many farmers? Environment reporter Hamish MacLean checks in on the fight for healthy rivers after 100 tractors rolled through Gore last week in protest over new freshwater regulations. 

Southern farmers are facing reams of new rules and red tape as New Zealand starts to go hard on keeping sediment, E.coli, phosphorous, and nitrogen out of its rivers.

But Federated Farmers calls some of the new rules “unworkable” and prohibitively costly, and says they will need to be amended by Cabinet.

Federated Farmers environment and water spokesman Chris Allen says a parade of tractors down Gore’s main street and a gathering of hundreds of farmers in Invercargill last week amid public calls for ignoring the new rules en masse are representative of farmers’ anger about the costs and the extent of the changes being forced upon them.

Measures would squeeze businesses ‘doing it tough’ – Jacob McSweeny:

Business and farming leaders in the South are joining a chorus of similar stakeholders throughout the country hoping the Labour Party forms its own government rather than going into a coalition with the Greens.

Labour won 64 seats according to Saturday’s preliminary results and can govern alone if it chooses.

Farra Engineering chief executive and Southern Otago Regional Engineering Collective chairman Gareth Evans said he was not surprised by the result, just that it was more comprehensive than expected.

“It’s good in a sense that Labour have an absolute majority so that they have to be accountable for everything that they do from here on in.” . . 

Research funded to unlock seaweed’s potential as new ‘superfood‘ –

It is far from a staple on most Kiwi dinner tables, but AgResearch scientists are aiming to unlock the potential of seaweed as a go-to food with proven health benefits. And they have enlisted the services a of a world-class chef to help them do it.

The scientists are joining counterparts in Singapore in a project funded by New Zealand government, in the amount of $3.3 million, alongside parallel funding from the Government of Singapore. The New Zealand funding is from the Catalyst Fund:Strategic – New Zealand-Singapore Future Foods Research Programme.

The research, focused on the Undaria pinnatifida species of seaweed abundant in waters around New Zealand and Singapore, also involves partners the University of Otago, University of Auckland, A*STAR, AgriSea NZ, Ideas 2 Plate and AMiLi. . . 

Waikato berry farm expecting influx of visitors due to strawberry picker shortage:

Strawberries may be harder to come by on supermarket shelves this year due to an expected shortage of pickers, so a Waikato berry farm is gearing up for a big influx of Kiwis wanting to pick their own.

Whatawhata Berry Farm, located five minutes from Hamilton on the Raglan Road will open for the summer this Friday (23 October) and is expecting record crowds during the strawberry picking season, which runs from now until late March or Easter if demand exists.

Owner Darien McFadden says commercial growers are deeply concerned there won’t be enough overseas RSE workers or those on Working Holiday Visas to pick this year’s crop, leaving fruit to go to waste and creating supply and demand issues for both export and domestic markets. . . 

Shearers were among those travelling to Melbourne via Sydney :

New Zealand shearers were on the first flights to Australia and among those who travelled on to Melbourne.

Shearers who boarded the first flights to Melbourne should have been praised for their work ethic not “poo-pooed by the Premier”, an industry representative has said.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford confirmed New Zealand shearers were on the first flights out of New Zealand to Sydney, and they later went on to catch a flight to Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne.

“Anecdotally I know they were on those flights and there was nothing illegal or incorrect in what they did – they followed process and were sponsored by their employers and had the correct permit to travel from metropolitan Melbourne to rural Victoria,” he said. . . 

HappyMoo developing tools to monitor cow health :

ICBF is participating in a large-scale European research project called HappyMoo. The project aims to develop tools to identify cow welfare issues before they become a problem and affect performance. There are many different aspects to cow welfare and essential among them are freedom from hunger, stress, and disease. These are the areas that the HappyMoo research project is focusing on.

The project will use machine learning to identify patterns in milk spectral data that are associated with undesirable conditions in the cow. Milk spectral data is recorded when milk samples are analysed in a milk recording lab by mid-infrared machines. Essentially a mid-infrared laser is shined into a milk sample and the absorbance levels are recorded. Every analysed milk sample generates 1060 data points and when we consider the thousands of cows in the thousands of milk recording herds it does not take long to add up to Big Data. Therefore, these absorbance levels provide a deep dataset and in the HappyMoo project the spectral data will be correlated with phenotypes. Already, spectral data can be used to measure milk constituents, but it has also been shown to indicate difficult to measure phenotypes such as energy balance. . . 


Not okay doomers

23/01/2020

Sean Plunket has coined the term doomers for the people who are prophesying catastrophe as the result of climate change.

They are the ones who label anyone who questions their apocalyptic forecasts as deniers even though most of the changes they’re demanding of us are, as Bjørn Lomborg says, empty gestures which trivialises the challenge:

Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, wash your clothes in cold water, eat less meat, recycle more, and buy an electric car: we are being bombarded with instructions from climate campaigners, environmentalists, and the media about the everyday steps we all must take to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, these appeals trivialize the challenge of global warming, and divert our attention from the huge technological and policy changes that are needed to combat it. . . 

For example, environmental activists emphasize the need to give up eating meat and driving fossil-fuel-powered cars. But, although I am a vegetarian and do not own a car, I believe we need to be honest about what such choices can achieve.

Going vegetarian actually is quite difficult: one large US survey indicates that 84% of people fail, most of them in less than a year. But a systematic peer-reviewed study has shown that even if they succeed, a vegetarian diet reduces individual CO2 emissions by the equivalent of 540 kilograms – or just 4.3% of the emissions of the average inhabitant of a developed country. Furthermore, there is a “rebound effect,” as money saved on cheaper vegetarian food is spent on goods and services that cause additional greenhouse-gas emissions. Once we account for this, going entirely vegetarian reduces a person’s total emissions by only 2%.

Likewise, electric cars are branded as environmentally friendly, but generating the electricity they require almost always involves burning fossil fuels. Moreover, producing energy-intensive batteries for these cars invariably generates significant CO2 emissions. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an electric car with a range of 400 kilometers (249 miles) has a huge carbon deficit when it hits the road, and will start saving emissions only after being driven 60,000 kilometers. Yet, almost everywhere, people use an electric car as a second car, and drive it shorter distances than equivalent gasoline vehicles. . . 

Individual actions to tackle climate change, even when added together, achieve so little because cheap and reliable energy underpins human prosperity. Fossil fuels currently meet 81% of our global energy needs. And even if every promised climate policy in the 2015 Paris climate agreement is achieved by 2040, they will still deliver 74% of the total.

We already spend $129 billion per year subsidizing solar and wind energy to try to entice more people to use today’s inefficient technology, yet these sources meet just 1.1% of our global energy needs. The IEA estimates that by 2040 – after we have spent a whopping $3.5 trillion on additional subsidies – solar and wind will still meet less than 5% of our needs.

That’s pitiful. Significantly cutting CO2 emissions without reducing economic growth will require far more than individual actions. It is absurd for middle-class citizens in advanced economies to tell themselves that eating less steak or commuting in a Toyota Prius will rein in rising temperatures. To tackle global warming, we must make collective changes on an unprecedented scale.

By all means, anyone who wants to go vegetarian or buy an electric car should do so, for sound reasons such as killing fewer animals or reducing household energy bills. But such decisions will not solve the problem of global warming.

The one individual action that citizens could take that would make a difference would be to demand a vast increase in spending on green-energy research and development, so that these energy sources eventually become cheap enough to outcompete fossil fuels. That is the real way to help fight climate change.

The doomers are fixated on unrealistic and ineffective actions which would, if taken up as they demand, come at a high economic and social cost for little if any environmental gain.

That’s not okay, doomers.

Investment in research and development that will lead to innovation and technical advances would achieve far more without the economic and social sabotage the doomers’ prescription would inflict on us all.


Rural round-up

22/01/2020

China deal gives US beef an edge over NZ producers – Pattrick Smellie:

A range of import restrictions affecting New Zealand beef exporters to China will be swept away for their American competitors as part of the new “phase one” US-China trade deal signed in Washington DC on Wednesday.

However, US producers will continue to face tariffs on beef as high as 47 per cent while New Zealand beef exports enter the Chinese market duty-free under the free trade agreement in place since 2008, according to initial analysis of the deal by the Meat Industry Association. Details were still emerging, but newly appointed MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva told BusinessDesk there was no suggestion “that I can see” that New Zealand lost its tariff advantage over US exporters to China. . . 

Application for GMO ‘imitation blood’ raises concerns:

Foods Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has received an application seeking approval for the GE Imitation blood ingredient used in the Impossible Burger to enter the food chain.[1]

The application does not have the proper safety profile for approval of the bacterial ingredient, called leghemoglobin (SLH), derived from genetically engineered soy.

The “imitation Blood” ingredient used in the Impossible Burgers to make them “sizzle like blood” has been trialled in select meals on Air New Zealand flights from the USA. This circumnavigates NZ regulations, because the ingredient cannot be sold in this country. . . 

Drop in China meat prices not expected to last – Alan Barber:

It is difficult to see any real reason for panic over the sudden pre-Christmas reduction in demand for sheepmeat and beef from Chinese importers which has led to prices coming off their peak. Livestock suppliers will already have noticed a drop in schedules from the elevated levels processors had been paying over the first couple of months of the season. It’s tempting to fear the worst given past experience with high prices paid by meat processors which have inevitably been followed by a sudden crash and a long slow recovery. This time the situation really does seem to be different, if you look at the fundamental demand for product in China.

In discussion with AFFCO Group Sales & Marketing Manager, Mark de Lautour, he sees the current situation as more of a hiccup, with traders collectively liquidating inventory in advance of Chinese New Year and the need for cashflow to cover large shipments of South American beef on the water. . .

Hawke’s Bay deer farmers pay record $102,000 for stag – Blair Voorend:

Two Hawke’s Bay men have set a New Zealand record, paying more than $100,000 for a velvet stag at a recent sale in Southland.

At the Brock Deer Sire and Stag sale, Hawke’s Bay deer farmers Jeremy Dearden and Grant Charteris paid $102,000 for the prized velvet stag, $12,000 higher than the previous New Zealand record.

Elliot Brock, of Brock Deer, told Andy Thompson on The Muster radio show that they were over the moon with the haul but that they were expecting to get something in that region. . . 

Robotic technology is revolutionising farming– Mark Ross:

From weeding and spraying crops to taking care of cattle, digital technology is making its mark on agriculture.

Self-driven vehicles are picking and grading fruit as well as detecting and pollinating flowers. Now the latest technology involves detecting and managing disease – helping farmers to become more productive and sustainable. Modern agricultural machines take away some of the more time-consuming tasks and help to protect crops from disease with exact doses and targeted applications of products.

In the last decade, there has been an unprecedented growth in precision farming – with about 80 percent of new farm equipment using it. This advanced digital precision technology can help farmers to use land efficiently and maximise harvests while reducing costs and workloads. . .

Cheesemakers Encouraged to Enter NZ Champions of Cheese Awards

Entries are open for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020, which will for the first time have three Supreme Champions.

To ensure the Awards represent the all the country’s cheesemakers from boutique producers through to the very large cheese companies and every producer in between, three Supreme Champion Awards will be made this year. The Countdown Champion of Champions Commercial category for producers making more than 100 tonnes annually and Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions Boutique for companies making less than 10 tonnes per annum will be joined by the New World Champion of Champions Mid-sized category for producers who make between 10 and 99 tonnes annually. . .

 


Function keys

03/08/2019

It’s more than 30 years since I got my first computer and I’ve only just learned this:

Hat tip: Brightside


Smartphone saves 444 watts

20/07/2019

Our home has a lot of things that weren’t invented when I was a child and many of them use power.

But while we have a lot more electrical gadgets, the one that fits in our pocket or purse, has replaced lots of others.

 


Rural round-up

08/07/2019

Katie Milne addresses national conference:

Kiwis can be proud of the rural women and men who produce the top quality food that arrives daily in supermarkets, and the extra which is shipped offshore as exports that help fuel our economy.  Over 65% of our exports come from agricultural food production and we produce it with a lower carbon footprint than any other country in the world.  

Biosecurity threats, geopolitics, alternative proteins, robotics, disruptors, food and environment sustainability…there’s no shortage of challenges and change confronting us. 

But you should also know – especially if you’ve been fortunate enough to catch some of the keynote addresses and panel discussions of the inaugural Primary Industries Summit that Federated Farmers organised and has hosted Monday and Tuesday – that New Zealand also has a wealth of ideas, talent and drive to deal with these big issues coming at us. . .

Tougher bank capital rules could slice 10% from dairy profits – Rabo NZ – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Stricter bank capital requirements would severely dent dairy farm profits if the Reserve Bank goes ahead as planned, warn dairy interests in submissions on the contentious proposals.

“Our initial estimates are that the proposals could – at least in the short term – result in approximately a 10 percent decrease in profit for the agriculture sector,” Rabobank New Zealand said in its submission. . .

Trees replace top cattle – Annette Scott:

As far north as sale yards get in New Zealand the Broadwood selling centre in Northland hosted one of the country’s more notable capital stock clearing sales last week.

On behalf of Mark and Michelle Hammond of Herekino, Carrfields Livestock held the sale of a Hereford beef herd that put 50 years of top-quality genetics under the hammer, the animals’ grazing land destined for pine trees. . .

Ruapehu rural reading scheme spells out a winning idea  –  Katie Doyle:

A pair of librarians from the central North Island town of Taumarunui are bringing a love of reading to rural school children.

Fiona Thomas and Libby Ogle have started their very own mobile library – each month ferrying a load of books to two isolated primary schools in the Ruapehu District.

The idea came to life eighteen months ago when Mrs Thomas realised some kids in the region couldn’t access the library because they lived too away. . .

Blue Sky reports best result in 8 years – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Southland meat processor and marketer Blue Sky Meats says the year to March was its best result in eight years as a strategic plan bore fruit.

The company, which is due to release its annual report shortly, said the March financial year ended with revenue up by 34 percent to a record $140 million. Pre-tax profit was up 36 percent at $5 million. . .

Overseas investors fined almost $3 million for illegal purchase of Auckland properties:

The High Court yesterday ordered the overseas owners of two rural properties at Warkworth, north of Auckland, to pay $2.95 million to the Crown after an Overseas Investment Office (OIO) investigation found they were bought without consent. The properties were bought in 2012 and 2014.

The court ordered the owners to sell the properties and pay penalties, costs and the gain made on the investment.

The overseas owners – Chinese businessmen Zhongliang Hong and Xueli Ke, and IRL Investment Limited and Grand Energetic Company Limited – should have applied to the OIO for consent to buy both properties because they are rural land of more than five hectares. . .

Latest technology to be demonstrated at the Horticulture Conference 2019:

Technology that will help fruit and vegetable growers now and in the future will be demonstrated at Our Food Future, the Horticulture Conference 2019 between 31 July and 2 August at Mystery Creek, Hamilton.   

‘We’ve gone all out to ensure that this year’s conference features demonstrations of technology that can help growers tackle some of the challenges that they face,’ says Horticulture New Zealand Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘From biological control products for crop protection to robots for asparagus harvesting and greenhouse spraying, they will all be demonstrated during the morning of second day of the conference.  . .

Ben Richards becomes Bayer Marlborough Young Viticulturist of Year 2019:

Ben Richards from Indevinbecame the Bayer MarlboroughYoung Viticulturist of the Year 2019 on 4 July following the competition held at Constellation’s Drylands Vineyard.

Congratulations also to Jaimee Whitehead from Constellation for coming second and Dan Warman also from Constellation for coming third. . 


%d bloggers like this: