Rural round-up

03/10/2021

Don’t be complacent about agriculture’s ability to rescue us – Gareth Kiernan:

The massive increase in tourist numbers coming to New Zealand between the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic is well documented, lifting from under 2.5 million in 2008 to 3.9 million in 2019.

But it’s perhaps less well-known that agriculture and forestry exports held their own during this period, with their share of total exports increasing from 44 per cent to 49 per cent.

The drop in “other goods” in this chart implies that the squeeze was felt more by manufactured exports than the primary sector – a trend that is not unique to the last decade.

Since Covid-19 struck, a reliance on agriculture has been the defining feature of the best-performing regional economies. . . 

New visa some relief for rural communities :

The Government’s announcement of the 2021 Resident Visa will provide some welcome relief to rural communities, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“Today’s announcement of the one-off 202 Resident Visa, which creates residence pathways for approximately 9,000 primary industry workers, is excellent news and will relieve some of the stress in our rural communities,” says RWNZ board member Sharron Davie-Martin.

Davie-Martin says that RWNZ understands the one-off visa will support workers elsewhere in New Zealand in retail, teaching, health care, construction and aged care which she says must be a great reassurance to all migrant workers and their families.

“However, RWNZ is acutely aware of the pressure on the health and well-being of rural communities caused by stressed migrant workers and staff shortages. . .

Sensible solution to desperate time keeping workers on farm :

Sighs of relief all round at Federated Farmers after the announcement of a clear and achievable residency process for international workers and their families.

“I am delighted. This gives 9000 of the workers who have stayed on to help run our farms some certainty about their future,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“And they deserve it. They’ve supported us through exceptionally difficult times on farm and we are going to need them even more in the future.

“There will be big smiles in cowsheds and tractors across the country after this announcement.” . . 

Alliance welcomes decarbonisation investment

Alliance Group says decarbonisation projects at three South Island processing plants is a major boost to its goal of reducing its carbon footprint.

Alliance Group and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) will co-fund the projects at the co-operative’s Lorneville and Mataura plants in Southland and at Smithfield plant in Timaru. Together, the plants employ approximately 3,000 people at peak season.

As part of the decarbonisation project, Alliance will install an electrode boiler to reduce the use of existing coal fired boilers at its Lorneville plant near Invercargill, saving 11,739 tonnes of carbon per annum. . .

Soaring demand for beef drives 26 per cent increase in New Zealand red meat exports in August:

New Zealand’s red meat exports increased by more than a quarter in August compared to the previous year, according to an analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall exports for August 2021 reached $650 million with the 26 per cent increase largely driven by a growth in beef exports, up 39 per cent to $299m year on year.

Exports to the top three beef markets all increased, with China up 89 per cent to $117m, the United States by 31 per cent to $102m and Japan by 31 per cent to $15 million.

Sirma Karapeeva, MIA chief executive, said volumes of beef exported during August were also historically high. . . 

‘TRY A NEW CHEESE, NEW ZEALAND!’ October’s NZ Cheese Month encourages Kiwis to try a new cheese:

Kiwis are being encouraged to try a new cheese this month to celebrate New Zealand Cheese Month.

A regular event on the country’s food calendar, New Zealand Cheese Month is an initiative created and organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, to draw attention to the value of the local cheese industry. NZ Cheese Month occurs in October because it’s ‘spring flush’ the early days of spring, with warmth and soil moisture creating lush, green grass for animals to feast on. Sheep and goat milking resumes and there is plenty of fresh cheese available for cheese lovers.

NZSCA Chair, Catherine McNamara says the country’s cheesemaking industry is constantly evolving and she’s encouraging cheese lovers to take a fresh look and try something new.

“From its beginnings with the European settlers in the early 1800s, through to the present day; the art of cheesemaking has thrived in Aotearoa thanks to the environment producing some of the world’s best milk. This is reflected in the success small and large New Zealand cheese producers have enjoyed on the international stage. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/09/2021

‘Frustrating, disappointing’ – Call for better vaccine rollout in rural areas – Sally Murphy:

There are concerns the vaccine rollout is lagging in rural areas with some farmers having to do three-hour round trips to get the jab.

The Rural General Practice Network said it had been asking for data on rural vaccinations from the Ministry for Health for some time without a response.

Chief executive Dr Grant Davidson said the network believed the rates for rural communities, and rural Māori in particular, lagged the vaccination rates for the general population being reported by the government.

“We do know that there are small niche areas such as Rakiura/Stewart Island where entire communities have been vaccinated, but we believe this is hiding what is a major issue for a vulnerable population in New Zealand – the rural backbone of the country needing support. . . 

Growers nervous of labour shortage despite imminent arrival of RSE workers – Tom Kitchin:

The arrival of seasonal workers from next week gives growers some certainty, but they fear the upcoming season will still be a big challenge.

The arrival of seasonal workers from next week gives growers some certainty, but they fear the upcoming season will still be a big challenge

Seasonal workers arriving from the Pacific Islands next week will be able to skip MIQ and go to work during their isolation period.

Vaccinated workers from Vanuatu can come in from next Monday, while those from Tonga and Samoa will need to wait until Tuesday, 12 October.

The workers will complete a self-isolation period of seven days and undertake day zero and day five tests, all while working at their work sites. . . 

Groundswell protests no Bloody Friday – luckily – Jamie Mackay:

Imagine running 1500 animals through the main street of a city, then mobbing them up and cutting their throats in protest.

The year was 1978. I remember it well, as it was a watershed year in my life. I’d taken a gap year after secondary school to try my hand at senior rugby with the big boys.

Many parts of Southland had suffered a crippling drought in 1978. Combine that with a season of industrial mayhem at the four local “freezing” works, and you had a powder keg waiting to explode. The meat companies, farmers, unions and workers were literally at each other’s throats.

Lambs weren’t worth much and the old ewes, who had selflessly given the best five or six years of their lives to bear the aforementioned lambs, were worthless. They had reached their use-by-date. As the dry summer rolled into autumn and beyond, the old ewes were eating scarce winter feed needed for their younger and more productive counterparts in the flock. . . 

Open trade climate change can work together – Macaulay Jones:

Supporting local businesses benefits the economy, but supporting local products is not always beneficial for the climate.

As the world and New Zealand continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and policies enacted to curb its spread, many consumers are making a conscious effort to support local businesses.

Local businesses directly and indirectly support local communities and are often owned and operated by active members of the community. However, while supporting local businesses is a great way of helping your neighbours financially recover from the pandemic, extending this principle to choosing to buy local products as a means of taking climate action may not offer the benefits for the atmosphere you’d expect. . . 

OSPRI reduces TB slaughter levy rates for dairy and beef farmers :

OSPRI who manages the TBfree programme is to reduce the TB slaughter levy rates for cattle farmers from 1 October.

The Differential Slaughter Levy (DSL) is reviewed each year to ensure that industry funding aligns with that agreed under the 2016 TB Plan Funders’ Agreement, this is subject to a 15-year period.

The slaughter levies collected support funding of the TBfree programme on behalf of the beef and dairy industries. The revised levies are collected by meat processors.

The new differential slaughter levy rates are: . . 

This silage contractor chartered a jet for $44,000 to get his workers home from New Zealand – Angus Verley:

What do you do when your key staff are stranded overseas and peak season is fast approaching?

COVID-19 has shut down international travel. For Sam Monk, one of the largest silage contractors in the country, that meant four of his machinery operators were stuck in New Zealand.

With just a fortnight before those workers were required in Australia for corn planting, Mr Monk went to the extraordinary length of chartering a plane to pick up his workers.

Mr Monk said the charter plane landed in Sydney on Friday. His employees are completing two weeks of quarantine before getting to work. . .


Rural round-up

10/09/2021

Austrian company given consent to buy 2018ha farm for forestry conversion – Rebecca Ryan:

More farmland is set to be converted into forestry in the Waitaki.

An Austrian company has been given consent to buy a 2018ha sheep and beef farm at Mount Trotter, near Palmerston.

The Overseas Investment Office approved the sale of the farm to 100% Austrian-owned company Cerberus Vermogensverwaltung GmbH, from Peter and Susan Lawson, as trustees of the Lawson Family Trust, for $8.5million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 1524ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees, and has received resource consent to do so. Planting is expected to start next year, and the trees would be harvested in 26 to 32 years. . . 

Flower farmers forced to bin or mulch harvest due to restrictions – Ella Stewart:

Under alert level 4 flower growers aren’t able to sell or distribute their goods. This means months of work and beautiful flowers are going straight into the bin.

On Saturday, Auckland-based flower grower Aila Morgan Guthrie took to her Instagram page to voice her frustration.

“I’ve just finished my harvest for the day and this is only one days’ harvest. It’s going to be the same tomorrow and the same after that and we’ve still got two more weeks of level 4 lockdown and we can’t sell them.

“Is there anyone out there in government or with contacts to government that can help us figure out how we can advocate for flower farmers in level 4. We’re one of the only businesses that have perishable goods that we can’t sell. All meat, fruit, veg – that can all be sold – but as for us, you know well, what do I do with this? This is all just going to go in the compost heap.” . . 

Hope tool can eliminate American Foulbrood –  Shawn McAvinue:

A new technology helping fight against a bee-killing disease is a “massive breakthrough”, an Otago apiarist says.

New Zealand Alpine Honey owner and Project CleanHive chairman Peter Ward, of Hawea, said he ran about 5000 hives across Otago, Southland and the West Coast.

The operation was one of the biggest in the South Island.

He had been beekeeping for nearly 45 years and the highly contagious American Foulbrood disease was a “constant concern”. . . 

Campaign for Wool reveals strategic direction:

Change is on the horizon and the future is bright.

That’s the message from The Campaign for Wool who has this week unveiled a dynamic short-term strategy that aims to help turn the tide on the struggles faced by New Zealand wool growers.

Campaign for Wool Chairman Tom O’Sullivan – himself a fourth-generation sheep farmer – says the strategy heralds a turning point for the wool industry, and growers should take heart. “I believe we’re at an important crossroads for strong wool,” he says. “Globally, consumers are starting to actively seek out natural and renewable products. We’re acting as quickly as we can, putting a short-term strategy in place that effectively triples our investment into the projects and resources required to leverage this sea change.”

The Campaign for Wool NZ Strategy 2021-2022 aims to deliver greater consumer awareness of wool fibre options through an integrated public campaign. “We know that when people are more aware of how wool benefits their lives, they’re more likely to purchase it,” says Tom. “That’s one way demand will grow, so an important focus for us is education and fostering a greater understanding of wool’s many qualities.” . . 

Farmers urged to enable staff to get vaccinations :

Farmers should do all they can to enable and encourage their staff to get their COVID vaccinations, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I know dairy farms are flat tack with calving and workforce shortages have never been worse. But there’s nothing more important than your family’s health, and that of your staff and their families.”

It would certainly help if district health boards booked a hall in some smaller towns for well-advertised-in-advance day clinics.

“If it’s possible to combine getting a jab with a trip into town for the next supermarket shop, or to pick up supplies from Farmlands or Wrightsons, try to make it happen. It’s part of being a good boss,” Chris said. . . 

Fall in dairy and forestry demand hits commodity prices :

Weakening demand for dairy and forestry exports saw commodity prices fall in August.

The ANZ Bank’s World Commodity Price Index dropped 1.6 percent last month, as dairy and wood products retreat from the extreme highs these hit earlier this year.

The dairy sub index fell 4 percent month on month, with whole milk powder, a key driver of farmer’s returns, falling 6.5 percent.

Forestry prices fell sharply, down 6.6 percent in August, as high overseas demand for logs started to ease. . . 


Rural round-up

29/08/2021

RTF frustrated by Govt’s ‘she’ll be right’ attitude – Annette Scott:

Road transport operators are frustrated over decision-makers holding up their business of moving essential freight and livestock.

Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Nick Leggett says the “she’ll be right” message from the Government is not good enough.

He says the decision-makers appear to be gripped by timidity and that is not helping to move essential freight around the country.

A key concern is the insurance liability of trucks . . .

Chinese export clampdown threatens Kiwi businesses – Sam Sachdeva :

Exporters already dealing with strained supply lines and the downsides of lockdown face another threat – the suspension of export licences with China if the current Covid-19 outbreak makes its way into their workplace

Kiwi food exporters battling through lockdown have been warned a single positive Covid-19 case within their workforce could lead to Chinese authorities immediately suspending their export rights and forcing a recall of their products.

Sector figures say the advice from government officials has added to the stresses businesses face as they deal with strained supply lines and the public health requirements of operating at Level 4.

In a guidance note to export businesses this week, the Ministry of Primary Industries said it was aware of new import measures being applied by China, covering “all cold chain food products that are normally stored and transported under refrigeration, including vegetables and fruit”. . . 

US foodies drive TPN’s popularity up – Annette Scott:

Taste Pure Nature (TPN) is growing in the United States, as conscious foodies strive to understand where their meat comes from.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand global manager brand and red meat story Michael Wan says brand tracking in the US market shows there is increased awareness of the TPN NZ red meat brand and story.

TPN is a global brand platform designed to enhance the position of NZ grass-fed beef and lamb globally.

Awareness of NZ grass-fed beef and lamb and what makes it unique and special has increased by 17%, as more consumers understand the story behind the brand. . . 

A2 Milk facing 80 percent drop in net profit in year battered by Covid-19 disruption :

Specialty dairy company A2 Milk has had a major slump in full year profit caused by pandemic related disruptions to key markets.

A2 Milk’s net profit dropped by 79 percent as excess stock and a slide in sales of infant formula in the key Chinese market battered its earnings.

The company issued numerous earnings downgrades over the past 12 months as Covid-19 closed borders and put an end to the previously lucrative “backdoor” daegou sales channels, while a falling birth rate in China also reduced demand.

Key results for the year ended June vs year ago: . .

 

Forestry waste trial offers lifeline to Huntly power plant – Jonathan Milne:

Until this week, Genesis Energy had steadfastly refused to discuss any future beyond 2030 for the coal and gas-fired plant. That’s just changed.

To most New Zealanders, the twin stacks of the Huntly power station are a Kiwiana icon. But to the people of that community, the electricity generator is a family, and a future.

Yvonne Anscombe runs the town’s community patrol. Her neighbour works at the power station. Her friend’s husband worked there. And when the local Lions Club was fundraising to buy a new car for the community patrol this year, Genesis came to the party with a $10,000 donation.

“Genesis are part of our community,” Anscombe says. “It’s been a big employer over the years. We’re not stupid, we understand the climate issues. But we would be supportive of anything that kept the jobs in Huntly.” . . . 

End  quarantine bickering say ag leaders – Andrew Miller:

Stop the bickering over quarantine.

That’s the message to federal and state governments from farm sector leaders, desperate to get workers into the country.

They say quarantine is the main sticking point to the introduction of the new Australian Agriculture visa, which responds to workforce shortages in the agriculture sector.

“The elephant in the room is this continual bickering, or lack of co-ordination, between state premiers themselves and the federal government,” GrainGrowers chairman Brett Hosking said. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

27/08/2021

Why farmers will be hoping for a better FTA agreement with the Brits than the Aussies secured – Point of Order:

Reports  this  week  indicate that  New Zealand is  getting  closer  to a  free  trade  deal  with  the  UK.  Trade Minister  Damien O’Connor says  NZ’s negotiators  have been working around the clock to reach the shared objective of an FTA agreement in principle by the end of August.

The problem, as  Point of Order understands it,  is that  NZ has  been  offered  the  same arrangements as  Australia  on  agricultural products,  with  a  phase-out  of  tariffs  over  11  years.

As  NZ trade  expert  Stephen Jacobi argues:

“It would be absolutely ridiculous if we were to enter into an FTA with the UK that did not put forward the prospect of free trade, zero tariffs in lamb and beef and dairy within a reasonable timeframe.” . . 

Farmers consider what would happen should they get Covid-19 – Sally Murphy:

Federated Farmers is working with the government around what would need to happen if a farmer gets Covid-19.

Currently all positive cases are transferred to a quarantine facility – but taking a farmer off their property would create a lot of issues especially in a busy calving and lambing season.

Federated Farmers general manager of policy Gavin Forrest said some farmers have raised concerns about catching the virus especially in rural areas where health care is limited.

He said they are working with the Ministry of Health around what would happen if a farmer tests positive. . .  

Feds – pragmatism prevails on winter grazing :

Farmers will breathe a considerable sigh of relief over news the government has accepted most of the Southland Advisory Group’s winter grazing recommendations, and will now consult on proposed revised rules.

“Everyone wants strong protection for our waterways but from the day they came out Feds had said a number of aspects of the Essential Freshwaters winter grazing rules were simply unworkable,” Federated Farmers environment spokesperson Chris Allen said.

The Southland Advisory Group is testament to how inclusive processes involving local communities and informed stakeholders are able to produce good results.
“It’s good to see the government taking a pragmatic view – a stance we’re also looking for across more of the multitude of issues they are imposing on farmers in the next three years.

“We’ll take this as a win for common sense, and for consistent advocacy for pragmatism by Federated Farmers and others,” Chris said. . . 

Poultry industry having to adapt in face of staff shortages

The poultry industry is feeling the impact of staff shortages during Covid-19 alert level 4, with some processors having to adapt their operations to try and keep supermarkets stocked.

The industry has been grappling with labour challenges since the border closed last year – with the usual supply of migrant workers and backpackers cut off.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said the problem had been compounded further during lockdown, as some workers had to stay home to look after their children and others were isolating while they waited for Covid-19 tests result.

There was plenty of chicken, but without enough staff some products which required more processing were not being made, Brooks said. . . 

Let’s  not kill five more people  on farm this spring :

Last year’s spring saw a spike in fatalities on farm and Federated Farmers is asking its members not to let history repeat this year.

WorkSafe statistics show 20 on farm workplace fatalities in 2020, with a spike of five deaths in August and September during the busy lambing and calving period.

So far this year five people have died in on-farm workplace accidents. One of these deaths was in August.

Federated Farmers vice president and health and safety spokesperson Karen Williams says enough is enough, farmers need to priortise their own, their children’s and their staff’s safety on farm. . . 

Golden kiwifruit orchard with a character house for sale:

Golden kiwifruit orchard with a character house, plus three residential rentals placed on the market for sale

A well-managed kiwifruit orchard producing the fruit’s high-value golden varietal – complete with a character home, three residential rental dwellings delivering multiple revenue streams – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 6.2466-hectare property close to Kerikeri in the ‘winterless North’ is known as Puriri Park, and comprises 1.51 canopy hectares of G3 (gold) kiwifruit vines planted in fertile volcanic soil with a good water supply. The orchard has approximately 869 plants.

Production data for the Northland property at 1349B State Highway 10 for the past four seasons show output has grown from 18,596 trays in the 2017/2018 season -to 26,500 trays in the 2020/2021 cropping year. Early bud counts indicate 24-27,000 trays for the next season delivering a great return to a new owner. . . 

 


Rural round-up

26/08/2021

Why the rush? – Barbara Kuriger:

The pace of regulatory change for rural communities has been relentless under the current government.

It’s the concern I hear most when I move among them around the country and speak with rural advocacy groups.

It’s the reason why Groundswell NZ founders, Otago farmers Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson organised a tractor protest in Gore against the National Policy Statement on Freshwater in November. The group’s overwhelming national support since then led to the Howl of a Protest’ on July 16.

Agricultural, horticultural communities aren’t the types to jump up and down, so when they take to the streets in their thousands, you can bet there’s a reason. . .

Why NZ farmers should hope for positive results from research into the methane effects of lacing stock feed with seaweed – Point of Order:

A warning  bell  sounded  for  New Zealand farmers  when The Economist – in an editorial  last week headed “It  is  not  all  about  the  CO2” – argued  that carbon  dioxide is by far the most important   driver of  climate  change, but methane  matters  too.

The  final  sentence of  the  editorial reads,  ominously:

“Methane  should be  given priority on the  COP26 climate  summit  this  November”.

NZ may  fight  its  corner   vigorously   at the   Glasgow  summit,  but  the   risk is  that  delegates  there   will  seize  on  the  thesis  advanced  by The Economist    that   methane is  a more  powerful  greenhouse  gas  than  carbon   dioxide,  and  decide  to  target  it harshly. . . 

UK releases NZ free trade negotiation details as agreement nears :

The UK government has released more details of how negotiations have been progressing.

Tariffs on exports of honey and apples to the UK would be slashed and wine which faces tariffs of up to 20 pence per bottle would also be expected to be cut.

In return tariffs on British gin, chocolate, clothing and cars we import would be dropped.

Britain trade secretary Liz Truss said teams were working around the clock to get the deal done in the coming weeks.

“We are both big fans of each other’s high-quality products, so this could be a huge boost that allows British shoppers to enjoy lower prices and British exports to be even more competitive,” Truss said. . . 

Carbon farmers need to understand the ETS – Keith Woodford:

The price of carbon is determined by Government. There lies the risk for carbon farming. 

Two recent articles of mine have explored the economics of carbon farming on land that is currently farmed for sheep and beef.  Those articles showed that, if financial returns are what matters, then at current carbon prices the development of permanent forests for carbon credits provides significantly higher returns than sheep and beef.

My focus there was on the close to three million hectares of North Island farmed hill country, but a similar situation exists in considerable parts of the South Island. One big exception is the Canterbury Plains, where history shows that shallow soils plus norwest wind storms wreak periodic havoc to forestry operations.

Those findings on the apparent economics of forestry lead to a series of other questions. First, how reliable is this carbon market? Second, what are all the other important things apart from simple economics that need to be considered? . .

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers in 2021:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) has announced the winners of its prestigious 2021 awards. In what has been an exceptionally volatile year for many, the forestry sector remains a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President James Treadwell says the industry is working hard to benefit Aotearoa / New Zealand and New Zealanders, not only with significant returns to GDP but also to offer social benefits including carbon capture, recreation opportunities, clean water, biodiversity and general wellbeing. “We’re fortunate with our high-calibre industry professionals who set the standards for others to aspire to. The NZIF relishes the opportunity to celebrate with ‘the best of the best’ and to proudly champion the recipients of NZIF’s awards.”

This year’s recipient was acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level to high level policy planning and execution and academic leadership.

The NZ Forester of the Year award, which was presented in Wairarapa on Monday night by Minister Nash (Minister of Forestry) went to Paul Millen. . .

Sponsor support continues for Dairy Industry Awards:

Entries for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) open October 1st with planning well underway and National sponsors continuing to back the programme.

The Awards programme allows entrants to connect, learn and grow as individuals across the board from Trainees and new entrants to the industry through to experienced Share Farmers.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is thrilled to confirm DeLaval have renewed their sponsorship for the next three years. “It’s a significant commitment and we’re rapt to have world leaders in milking equipment and solutions for dairy farmers as part of our national sponsor family.” . .

 


Rural round-up

25/08/2021

Labour must stop flooding rural NZ with pointless and onderous regulations :

Labour’s latest regulatory hurdle for rural water schemes shows it is deeply out of touch with provincial New Zealand, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“As it stands, the Water Services Bill would expose tens of thousands of rural water schemes to disproportionate bureaucracy, just so they can continue supplying water between, for example, a farmhouse, a dairy shed and workers’ quarters,” Mr Luxon says.

“Despite warnings from National and major sector bodies at select committee, the bill will require Taumata Arowai to track down and register around 70,000 farm supply arrangements, each of which will need to write safety and risk management plans.

“We’re deeply concerned that the compliance costs and administrative burden this will create for farmers will be significant, while any supposed safety gains will be tiny. . . 

Shearing industry faces added challenges at busiest time of year – Chris Tobin:

The pressure is on the shearing industry as contractors juggle the usual challenges of inclement weather with the added restrictions of level 4 lockdown which has fallen at their busiest time of year..

South Canterbury Federated Farmers president and meat and wool chairman, Greg Anderson, said under level 4 restrictions which include social distancing and mask wearing, shearing was taking longer to complete with daily tallies down on usual numbers.

Anderson said there was now pressure to get pre-lamb shearing done.

“The time frame depends on when lambing begins, if it is in early September, the shearing will have to be done in the next week or so,” Anderson said. . . 

Should people really be thanking farmers for their morning latte? – Craig Hickman:

Like many silly ideas, the Thank a Farmer hashtag that has been popping up all over social media and which even made an appearance at the recent farmer protest can trace its origins back to the United States.

It was a silly sentiment when it originated there in the 1800s, and it hasn’t improved in the intervening 300-odd years.

I recently objected to the concept in reply to a social media post where a local young dairy farmer was berating his audience for not being more appreciative for the milk in their Sunday morning coffee while he was at work on the farm.

I was confused. My milk goes to the Clandeboye factory, where it is processed into either milk powder or mozzarella. Do I deserve thanks from the Sunday morning coffee sippers or is that reserved for the farmers who produce the 5 per cent of dairy product that isn’t exported? .  .

Yili and Westland “Cream Team’ create new product for China:

A cross-cultural research and development project has succeeded in harnessing the natural grass-fed goodness of milk from New Zealand’s remote West Coast into a product suitable for discerning Chinese bakers.

The product, Yili Pro UHT Whipping Cream, will be available to Chinese consumers this October.

Resident Director for Yili in New Zealand, Shiqing Jian, said the two-year collaboration between Westland Dairy Company Limited and parent company Yili had managed to overcome the inherent variability of grass-fed milk to produce cream with a consistency suitable for Chinese bakers.

Mr Jian said Yili’s growth as an international brand relied strongly on innovation and longstanding research and development investment. New product sales accounted for 16 per cent of Yili’s total revenue in 2020 with Yili now ranked the fifth largest dairy producer globally. . . 

Whittakers goes nuts for Canterbury with its new artisan block:

Whittaker’s has released its new Artisan Collection Canterbury Hazelnut in Creamy Milk Chocolate 100g block. Whittaker’s Artisan Collection celebrates New Zealand’s finest home-grown ingredients, and this is the first flavour that features premium produce sourced from the Canterbury region.

Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers with a keen eye may have already spotted the block at their local supermarket. It is available now in stores nationwide and via online shopping and there is plenty to go around, so Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers are encouraged to wait until their next planned supermarket shop to pick up a block.

Whittaker’s Canterbury Hazelnut in Creamy Milk Chocolate combines roasted Canterbury hazelnut pieces, sourced from Canterbury hazelnut co-operative Hazelz, with a silky smooth hazelnut paste and Whittaker’s 33% cocoa Creamy Milk Chocolate. . .

Country diary: the ups and downs of buying a retired shepherd’s flock – Andrea Meanwell:

I haven’t been to Ingleton since the 1980s, but the rocky landscape still inspires as much awe and wonder in me now as it did when I was a girl. We would come here on school trips to crawl into a cave or abseil down a pothole, but this time I’m here to discuss buying sheep from a retiring shepherd.

It is a difficult thing to retire and sell a flock of sheep, and it’s a difficult thing to buy one. I felt guilty for buying all of them, not some. And it brings to mind your own limited time as guardian of your farm. What will happen when I can no longer walk the length of the farm to gather sheep? Will I retire, or simply carry on doing what I can? Is the only realistic exit strategy death?

My mind is brought back down to earth as we arrive at the gate. I thrust my cash into my pocket and jump out of the car ready to look at the sheep. This will not be an easy conversation. How do you buy someone’s life’s work, their legacy? . . .


Rural round-up

22/08/2021

Primary producers charter ships to beat global ports logjam – Jonathan Milne:

A bold proposal for the Government to invest in shipping charters has been put on ice, as ministers watch to see whether exporters can work together to get their produce to international markets.

New Zealand’s biggest fruit, meat and seafood producers are paying up to double the odds to charter ships to the lucrative markets of Asia, Europe and the USA.

It will add to the consumer price of this country’s food in Northern Hemisphere supermarket chillers or cut into export margins – but for some producers, the alternative is dumping their produce.

The international supply chain crisis, getting supplies in and exports out, has become critical. It’s understood the Government was in industry talks to intervene, floating the radical solution of buying or chartering its own ships like the late Prime Minister Norman Kirk’s NZ Shipping Corporation. . .

A delay getting lambs to the meat works could cost farmers if lockdown drags on – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers should get stock away to the meat works as early as possible because the risk to the supply chain is growing by the day, Silver Fern Farms supply chain manager Dan Boulton says.

Level 4 lockdown could lead to delays at the works depending on how long it continued and farmers could face problems if they waited, he said.

But he said the timing of the current lockdown was better than last year’s because livestock numbers were low. Lamb numbers were down between 20 per cent and 30 per cent nationally.

“That tells me farmers are sitting on lambs chasing higher prices. There’s a real risk with that as capacity may not be there. And as we get into the main season there is a risk there will be problems with the volume coming at us.” . .

Climate change work on track – Colin Williscroft:

Concerns about the effectiveness of Overseer by an independent panel will have little effect on agriculture climate change partnership He Waka Eke Noa, which is well on track to meeting its targets.

Programme director for the partnership between Government, industry and Māori Kelly Forster says Overseer is on its list of approved tools when it comes to raising awareness of farmers knowing their greenhouse gas (GHG) numbers and having a plan to measure and manage their emissions, but He Waka Eke Noa does not look at it as a regulatory tool and its ability to provide real-time data, which is the problem raised by the panel.

“We’ve said it’s suitable for building awareness, for getting an understanding of tracking direction,” Forster said. . .

How to keep safe during milking in a lockdown – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ has developed advice, tools and resources to support dairy farmers and their teams to farm safely during the Covid lockdown.

It urges farmers to keep themselves and their employees safe at milking during COVID-19 with the following tips:

“We know from medical professionals that Covid-19 stays on surfaces for at least 72 hours and is transferred via droplets. This means that we have to be extra vigilant with the hygiene of our shared work surfaces, and that we must maintain a distance of two metres from others to minimise its spread over the next four weeks of lockdown.

“Traditionally, and especially in our herringbone milking platforms, we worked closely together and with no disinfection of our surfaces. To keep everyone safe, we now need to make changes to how we milk

Farmer protest a time for reflection – Melissa Slattery:

I also loved hearing farmers were dropping into foodbanks on their travels and donating some farmer goodness; that’s just such great stuff to hear and a great outcome for the day.

There’s no doubt the protest arose out of frustration. Many farmers are feeling overwhelmed by too many regulations, coming in too fast. There is a lot to consider and often the timeframes are too short to allow meaningful consultation.

As farmers, we’d rather not get bogged in politics. We’d much rather look ahead at what we can do to continue running progressive, environmentally sustainable and successful businesses into the future.  . .

Victorian agriculture still looks to horses – Rebecca Nadge:

While many sectors in agriculture have adopted technologies to improve efficiency, there are some places where traditional horsepower is still the best way to go.

Cobungra station, Omeo, was established in the 1850s and has both freehold and grazing leases across 30,000 hectares.

The station runs Full Blood Wagyu, and British breeds to use as recipients for an embryo transfer program

Station manager Bruce Guaran said almost all mustering was carried out on horseback. . . 


Who’s standing up for farmers?

30/07/2021

This is funny:

. . . after 20 years of nuking our taste buds with bread that’s mostly sugar, Ronald McDonald’s special sauce, chicken vindaloo, deep-fried chicken and crisps made from artificially flavoured carpet underlay, most of us could not tell a beautiful piece of prime beef from a Walnut Whip.

This is not:

. . . Right. So one day you’re in the supermarket and in front of you are two legs of lamb. One is from the UK and costs £20 and one is from New Zealand and costs £15. So that’s an easy choice. You buy the one from down under. Lovely.

But it isn’t lovely, because animals farmed in New Zealand and America and China and Brazil and Canada and Australia — with which Boris has just done a much-trumpeted trade deal — do not have anything like the happy lives enjoyed by the animals farmed here. . . 

Both come from the pen of Jeremy Clarkson writing in The Times on why the UK should be proud of its animal welfare.

He might be right about that but he’s wrong that New Zealand standards for animal welfare aren’t at least as high as those in the UK.

Ironically that is partly due to the need to meet standards imposed to give access to the UK market when it entered the EU.

But more than anything it is because we’re very good farmers and very good farmers know that animal welfare is paramount.

The Listener has caught up with Clarkson’s criticism and in its editorial (not online) asks: who would we rather have tell the world about New Zealand produce – Jeremy Clarkson of our own government?

Britain’s RSPCA welcomed the trade negotiations, stressing New Zealand alone among the UK’s potential free trade partners has animal welfare standards as good as, and in some cases, better than Britain’s.

But did our Government speak up in our farmers’ defence on animal welfare? Did it point out that this country is also head-and-shoulders the most sustainable producer of dairy and meat – even counting air miles after export to the northern hemisphere? Not a word.

Nor has it ever thanked agriculture for agreeing to arguably disproportionate methane-reduction goals because of the lack of progress on – mostly urban-generated – carbon emissions.

It’s this sense of abandonment and blame that sent farmers with placards to more than 50 towns and cities last week as much as the undeniable burden of new restrictions and compliance obligations they face.

Yes. This government, at least as much as its predecessor in the mid to late 1980s, doesn’t understand farming nor does it champion it. The policies of the 80s were necessary, based on sound economics, and have led to better outcomes. Much current policy is unnecessary, based on political ideology not economics or science and will lead to perverse outcomes.

The government has been damagingly remiss in declining to champion the global competitiveness of this country’s meant and dairy sector. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has had unprecedented global attention, not least for climate advocacy, yet rarely, if ever, has she talked overseas of this economy’s most outstanding sustainability story. As we approach new trade negotiations with the European Union, the United States and Britain, that environmental prowess has never been more relevant. Yet how can we sell our products to other countries’ populations if even our own citizens are under the misapprehension we willfully produce every emissions? . . 

 Farmers here have been doing a lot to improve environmental practices and doing it for some time. But government policies and dictates give no indication they understand or appreciate that.

Urban New Zealander should be encouraged to take pride in the progress the majority of the farm sector is making. Townies are not subject to a fraction of the individual accountability required from farmers for landfill, emissions and water use. . . 

The generally positive response to the Groundswell protests indicates that many urban people do understand and respect what farmers are doing.

It’s a pity the government doesn’t show it has nearly such a positive view and that it is failing to champion farming on the world stage.

 


Rural round-up

28/07/2021

Dairy exports could hit 22b – Gerald Piddock:

NZX is forecasting New Zealand dairy exports to reach $22 billion by 2030 as companies shift NZ’s milk to higher-value products.

Last year, NZ’s dairy exports were worth $19b.

NZX head of insight Julia Jones emphasised the forecast in NZX’s 2021 Dairy Outlook is contingent on a number of factors lining up.

“It’s a point in time with what we know today, this is what we believe it will look like in the future,” Jones said. . . 

Methane vaccine for cows could be ‘game changer’ for global emissions – Tina Morrison:

A methane vaccine for cows being developed in New Zealand could be a big game changer for animal emissions globally, according to the chairman of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, Professor Jeremy Hill.

Hill, who is Fonterra’s chief science and technology officer, says the methane vaccine it is working on aims to introduce antibodies into a cow’s saliva which then pass to the animal’s rumen, or stomach, and bind with the methanogens which convert hydrogen into methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“That would be the big breakthrough because in theory a vaccine could be implemented in any animal production system,” Hill told reporters at Fonterra’s research and development facility in Palmerston North earlier this month.

“This would make a real game changing difference to the world.” . . 

The organics myth – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The ongoing push that “organic is better” is frustrating when the facts, evidence and data don’t support the case, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

With all the research and information available it is extraordinary that the myth of organics – that the food is safer, healthier for them and kinder to the environment which means that people will pay more for it – persists.

It isn’t and they don’t. Not enough to cover the costs.

Of course this is “usually”, and people will always be able to show that they make it work in terms of the economics, at least in some operations in some years. . . 

Tarata Honey wins national gold medal for creamed manuka honey :

A Taranaki honey packing factory has won a national gold medal for its creamed manuka honey.

Tarata Honey owners Raul and his wife Eniko Mateas-Orban attended the Apiculture New Zealand  in Rotorua last month.

Raul says they entered the company’s Manuka Honey MG0 300+ in the creamed honey medium colour category.

“We’re very pleased to have won the gold medal in this category. We think it is a great recognition of our hard work and high quality standards in terms of manuka honey. Nevertheless it just goes to show that people really like our honey.” . . 

Calf rearers dropping their numbers – Hugh Stirngleman:

High beef schedules and store cattle prices are not feeding through into four-day calf values and calf rearing margins, which march to the beat of different drums.

Major calf rearers say their businesses are dependent on calf supply numbers in sale yards, input and labour costs, seasonal weather and demand down the track from beef farmers for 100kg weaners.

The numbers of calves being reared are going down, which is counter-productive for the industry, despite good markets for beef and the availability of better beef genetics over dairy cows.

The biggest operators are hanging in, but not expanding, while low margins and uncertain outcomes have decimated the ranks of smaller businesses. . . 

UK lamb exports plummet by a a quarter in May:

Lamb exports from the UK continue to be under pressure as new figures show exports declined by nearly a quarter last month.

UK sheep meat exports declined 23 percent year-on-year in May to stand at 4,850 tonnes, data by HMRC shows. The vast majority – 95 percent – were to the EU.

Volumes of fresh carcase exports only recorded a modest 2% on the year with most of the reduction being in cuts of sheep meat.

Looking at the figures, AHDB said there had been continuing trade friction between the UK and the EU which had ‘no doubt put volumes under pressure’. . . 


Rural round-up

03/07/2021

Call for pork imports to meet NZ standards – Shawn McAvinue:

New Zealand Pork has launched a petition asking the Government to force producers of imported pork to meet the same animal welfare standards as pig farmers in this country. Reporter Shawn McAvinue asks North Otago pig farmer Ian Carter why he wants people to sign the petition. 

North Otago pig farmer Ian Carter has joined a call for new legislation to force producers of imported pork to meet New Zealand’s animal welfare standards.

Mr Carter, who runs about 2000 pigs, including 200 sows, near Hampden, said he wanted New Zealanders to show their support for farmers by signing a petition.

Earlier this month, NZ Pork policy and issues manager Frances Clement launched a petition seeking Parliament to urge the Government to apply the same animal welfare standards to imported pork as is required by New Zealand pork producers. . .

Stern response to winter grazing post – Laura Smith:

Winter grazing in Southland is once again in the spotlight, following social media posts from an environmental activist.

The posts, though, have brought a stern reply from some Environment Southland councillors.

Activist Geoff Reid took some photos of weather-worn Southland farms, some of which look to have been taken by drone.

“This farm is currently spilling runoff into a freshly dug trench that is draining a large peat wetland.

“Pollution is flowing into the Eglinton River and causing havoc in Lake Te Anau,” he posted on Monday. . .

Orchards seek Labour bubble with Covid-free islands – Anuja Nadkarni:

Fruit growers stretched for labour are desperately seeking a Pacific bubble for workers as demand for MIQ allocations outstrip supply. More than 3 million cartons of fruit will to go waste, they warn.

Apple and pear orchards have large blocks of fruit still sitting on trees in the Hawkes Bay, weeks before pruning season starts.

“It looks a bit depressing, really,” NZ Apples and Pears chief executive Allan Pollard says.

The labour shortage will have a “huge” financial cost with the industry expecting more than 3 million cartons of unpicked fruit going to waste. . .

Focusing on the future of farming – Ben Speedy:

It’s been a remarkable 18 months for New Zealand, and for the world. For a country like ours that is reliant on exports, many predicted the pandemic would result in a broad slowdown in international trade, due to border closures, logistics challenges and reduced demand dampening the economic outlook.

But given our country’s status as a quality food producing nation, we finished 2020 in a stronger financial position than expected, and that’s thanks, in large part to New Zealand’s rural sector.

Despite predictions of a sharp fall, New Zealand goods exports finished the year in a resilient position. Data from our ASB economists shows that over the past 12 months regions that are more reliant on agriculture and exports have been benefiting from this. . .

Season a success but not without issues:

The kiwifruit industry has successfully reached the end of its harvest with a record crop now headed for overseas markets – if not already there.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. CEO Colin Bond says the sector weathered the labour crisis that affected the country’s horticulture sector well – “but that was down to a combination of good practice and good fortune.”

Bond says the 2021 season’s domestic operational practices weren’t disrupted by COVID-19 to the same extent as last year’s, but continued border closures meant Working Holiday Visa (WHV) holder numbers were down significantly and RSE worker numbers were limited – meaning an even heavier reliance on Kiwis filling the roles. . .

Country blokes are better than their city counterparts – Samantha Townsend:

Country music legends Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings might have sang the line “mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys”. But thank goodness those mammas didn’t listen.

Some women like surfers, some like sportsmen, but for me there is nothing better than a man in wranglers, dusty boots and working hands to sooth the soul.

With the ever-popular television series Farmer Wants a Wife set to hit our screens again this week, it begs the question: Are country men better than their city counterparts?

Let’s look at the facts (my facts). Firstly country blokes are jacks-of-all-trades. They can fix a fence, fridge, car, nail together a high heel shoe and if country songs are anything to go by, they can mend a broken heart. . .

 


Rural round-up

11/05/2021

Primary sector exports defy challenges – Sudesh Kissun:

Primary sector exporters, take a bow.

Despite major challenges, New Zealand primary sector exports are holding up well. And it’s not just dairy products leaving our ports in droves – beef, apples, kiwifruit, wine and sheepmeat are also being shipped out.

According to BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap, NZ primary sector exports have been impressively resilient to the massive global economic shock over the past 12 months.

BNZ senior economist Doug Steel points out that exporters have been facing considerable challenges – many of which are ongoing.

Critical worker shortage on dairy farmers will take a toll:

Federated Farmers is deeply disappointed the government’s exception announcement today shows it could not find a way to bring 500 desperately needed skilled dairy employees into the country.

Feds believes the pressure some farming families are now under, due to a severe lack of people to work on farms, is already taking a toll on stress levels, wellbeing and health.

“Farmers have been telling us for well over a year there is a real shortage of suitable dairy staff,” Federated Farmers employment and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I am getting daily calls about the labour situation and many farmers don’t know what to do for the coming season. . . 

New Zealand horticulture industry welcomes Government’s decision to bring in more workers from the Pacific:

The New Zealand horticulture industry has welcomed the Government’s latest move to increase the flow of workers from the Pacific, in support of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. 

‘Pacific workers are an integral part of the horticulture industry’s seasonal workforce, particularly for harvest and winter pruning.  They make up the shortfall in New Zealanders while at the same time, enabling the horticulture industry to grow and employ more New Zealanders in permanent positions,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Indeed, over the past decade, the New Zealand horticulture industry has grown by 64% to $6.49 billion while in 2019, before Covid struck, more than $40 million was returned to Pacific economies through the RSE scheme.  . .

Silver Fern Farms creates opportunities for young people to succeed in the red meat industry :

Silver Fern Farms will launch their search for the future stars of the red meat industry in the coming weeks, with applications opening for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Silver Fern Farms Graduate Career Programme.

Since 2017 Silver Fern Farms has invested $130,000 to further the careers of young people through Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships, and has also placed nine young people in roles around the business in the Graduate Career Programme.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Graduate Career Programme reiterates the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers. . .

Alternative proteins industry has huge potential but lacks direction – report – Maja Burry:

New Zealand’s alternative proteins sector has huge potential, but is fragmented and lacks clear leadership, according to a new report.

The report was done by FoodHQ, a group which represents the country’s food innovation organisations, and was based on input from 185 people working in the broader sector. Products considered to be emerging proteins include plant-based foods and beverages, insect foods and lab-grown proteins.

FoodHQ chief executive Abby Thompson said while there was huge potential to meet global demand for emerging proteins, the industry faced significant challenges.

“New Zealand is currently missing a co-ordinated approach that is going to help drive some of addressing infrastructure gaps that is going to really help with the attraction and retention and development of talented scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who can really drive some of this stuff.” . .

New technology brings vegetables centre stage:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is enabling New Zealand to tap into the growing market for plant-based products, where vegetables feature as a ‘centre of the plate’ item.

A diverse range of new processed vegetable products is now available on the market, thanks to $147,000 investment from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund – and more innovation is under way.

The two-year project led by Food Nation, which kicked off in mid-2019, aimed to develop a range of plant-based ‘meat alternative’ foods using mushroom seconds and an array of other more novel plants.

One year on, it has made some exciting progress. . . 


Chips – a local industry under threat

29/03/2021

Rural round-up

25/03/2021

Pastoral lease review untenable – farmers – David Anderson:

High Country farmers are questioning the Government’s motives and the legality of its proposed reforms to pastoral land legislation.

“The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill is a solution looking for a problem, and is unnecessary, counterproductive and potentially unlawful,” Federated Farmers South Island policy manager Kim Reilly told the Environment Select Committee that is overseeing the bill.

“The existing contractual relationship [under the Crown Pastoral Land system] based on trust and reciprocity would be replaced by an approach of regulation, policing and enforcement.”

Reilly says the bill – as proposed – reduces the certainty of leases and the incentives for farmers to continue to invest in enhanced environmental outcomes. . . 

Beef up carcasses: Researcher – Shawn McAvinue:

Beef carcass weights need to rise after decades of “disappointing” results on the hook, a genetics researcher told a room of farmers in Gore last week.

Zoetis genetics area manager Amy Hoogenboom, speaking at a “What’s the Beef” roadshow at Heartland Hotel Croyden last week, said cattle carcass weights in New Zealand had increased by 4% on average in the past 30 years.

“Does that surprise anyone? Does that disappoint anyone?” she asked a room of about 40 beef farmers.

Dr Hoogenboom, of North Canterbury, said the increase was “not a great improvement”. . .

Are you roar ready? – Grace Prior:

The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council is calling for greater awareness about hunting safety this season.

MSC said it was predicting that this year’s Roar, the biggest event in the deer hunting calendar, would be a big one with hunters itching to get out in the hills after covid-19 cancelled their chances to get out last year.

This year, MSC’s message was simple, “be the hunter your mates want to hunt with”.

MSC said there had been a death in Wairarapa in 2012 during the Roar season, where someone had been misidentified. . .  

Feds proud to back NZ Dairy Story:

Sip that fresh glass of New Zealand milk, cut a wedge of our cheese, and know the farmers behind it are world leaders in animal welfare and climate change. And unlike producers in many other nations, they do it without direct, free-trade distorting subsidies.

Federated Farmers is proud to endorse the messages in The New Zealand Dairy Story. It’s a resource launched this week that draws together facts and figures our exporters, government representatives, educators and others can use to continue to grow our global reputation for producing quality, highly-nutritious milk and more than 1500 other products and product specifications made from it.

“New Zealand’s farmers and dairy companies produce the equivalent of two and a half serves of milk per day for around 90 million people each year, many of whom are in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where there are not the same natural resources to produce milk,” Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Wayne Langford says. . . 

New Zealand Dairy Story: dairy goodness for the world:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is proud that dairy has joined other export sectors in telling its story through the New Zealand Story initiative to ‘make New Zealand famous for more good things’.

The New Zealand Dairy Story has been added to the New Zealand Story online toolkit (https://www.nzstory.govt.nz/) and is one of dairy goodness for the world.

“The New Zealand Dairy Story sets out New Zealand’s unique combination qualities as a country – our natural advantages, our care, our ingenuity and our integrity – and how they come together to make New Zealand a great source of milk, and therefore of dairy nutrition for a sustainable diet” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey. . . 

Westland unveils Project Goldrush: a $40 Million investment to access global consumer butter market:

Westland Milk Products is embarking on an ambitious $40 million plan to double capacity of its consumer butter manufacturing facility.

The plan to increase production of premium grass-fed consumer butter brand Westgold has been five years in the making and is backed by new owner, global dairy giant Yili.

Westland resident director Shiqing Jian said Westland was transitioning from a supplier of mostly bulk commodities to play a greater role in the production of consumer goods in an expanding global butter and spread market.

“The investment highlights the important role Westland plays in Yili’s ongoing plans to supply international industrial and consumer markets,’’ Mr Jian said. . . 

Water crisis highlights need for new solutions, technologies to drive conservation in Asian agriculture:

As World Water Day is recognized in Asia and around the globe today, CropLife Asia is marking the occasion by calling for more intensive efforts and collaborative work to drive water conservation in regional agriculture.

“There is no natural resource as precious as water, and how we work together to ensure it’s conservation will play a large part in determining the future for all of us,” said Dr. Siang Hee Tan, Executive Director of CropLife Asia. “Food production requires far too much of this precious resource. Thankfully, plant science innovations are reducing the amount of water needed to drive agriculture. Access to these technologies and other tools that support sustainable food production with less dependence on water are critical for Asia’s farmers.”

With the recent release of new water security data as part of UNICEF’s Water Security for All initiative, the critical importance of the availability of this resource is more evident than ever. Specifically, the analysis revealed that more than 1.42 billion people worldwide live in areas of high or extremely high water vulnerability – this includes 450 million children. . . 


Rural round-up

23/03/2021

Border exemptions for The Lion King show Government is not listening, farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural businesses affected by the severe seasonal labour shortage say the Government is not listening to their concerns, after it was revealed that 126 people involved in The Lion King play had been granted visas under the “other critical worker” category.

Owner of farm work agency, Hanzon Jobs, Richard Houston, said he felt his industry had been “disregarded”.

Kiwifruit grower and packer, Seeka chief executive, Michael Franks, said labour was going to be “very tight” next month, which meant people were working long hours and he was concerned about possible health and safety implications.

“It’s clear that the Government is not listening to us. I predict it’s going to get tighter, particular after Easter when we open our night shifts and we get our processing business up to speed,” Franks said. . . 

Unity needed to tackle rules -Annette Scott:

While it is encouraging that the Government has listened to the Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group, it is also the trigger reiterating that farmers must keep being heard, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

The environmental reset facing the high country farming sector proved the underlying current in the presentations and discussions for more than 100 farmers and industry stakeholders who turned out for a field trip through the Lees Valley, North Canterbury, taking in Richon and McDonald Downs Stations.

The day followed the announcement by Environment Minister David Parker that the Government had accepted some of the group’s proposals, including supporting an industry-led intensive winter grazing module to farm plans in the coming year, while also delaying implementation of the winter grazing rules.

In his presentation at the field day, Allen said the announcement was the result of farmers and industry front-footing action for farmer-led practical solutions that will achieve better results than arbitrary rules. . . 

Launching the New Zealand Dairy Story:

Our dairy story is one of Dairy Goodness for the World.

The New Zealand Dairy Story has been developed in partnership with the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ), with input from DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, and Dairy Women’s Network; with support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The development of the story established seven defining elements as part of the sector’s story:

Natural
New Zealand is favoured by nature when it comes to making milk, with a climate, soils and abundant water that create a perfect environment for growing grass. Our cows can access pasture year-round. Our geography means New Zealand is free from many pests and diseases, supporting healthy cows and allowing us to farm with a lighter hand. . . 

No more nail polish for woman who gave up life in accounts for organic farming – Lawrence Gullery:

Shannon Wright used to go to work wearing nail polish on her fingers but now she comes home with soil under her fingernails.

It has been almost five years since she swapped out her office job to start a business growing and supplying vegetables for farmers markets, organic food outlets and supermarkets in Hamilton and Cambridge.

“I used to work in accounts, payroll, HR, health and safety for a firm in Te Rapa but things started to change after I had Izabel, my third child.

“I went along to a permaculture course when she was nine months old and that really started the ball rolling. . . 

Farming families celebrate – Richard Davison:

Organisers of an annual celebration of rural history are crossing their fingers Covid-19 will not intervene again this year.

After having to postpone last year’s Century Farms event due to the Covid-19 lockdown, organisers said they were hoping a long list of patient participants would finally be able to celebrate in Lawrence this May.

The event, which celebrates families who have been farming their own land for 100 years or more, held its first and, until now, largest gathering in 2006, but was due to beat that record with 70 attending families spread over two weekends last year.

Century Farms chairwoman Karen Roughan said she was delighted only one family had dropped off that roster since, although it still left the three-day event vulnerable to a change in Covid-19 alert status. . . 

 

Sanatech Seed launches world’s first GE tomato – Maura Maxwell:

Sanatech Seed, the Japanese start-up behind the launch of the world’s first direct consumption genome-edited tomato, says the variety is the first of several it plans to develop with enhanced nutritional benefits.

The company’s Sicilian Rouge High GABA tomato was developed using cutting edge CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology. It contains high levels of Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA), an amino acid believed to aid relaxation and help lower blood pressure.

According to Shimpei Takeshita, president of Sanatech Seed and chief innovation officer of Pioneer EcoScience, the exclusive distributor of the tomato, it contains four to five times more GABA than a regular tomato. . . 


Rural round-up

20/03/2021

NZ apple volumes fall: millions will be lost in exports:

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI), the industry association representing all apple, pear and nashi growers in New Zealand, has released an updated crop estimate for 2021.

In January, the industry was forecasting a gross national crop of 558,672 metric tonnes, 5% down on the 2020 harvest. The export share of the gross crop was forecast to be 374,751 metric tonnes (20.8 million cartons), 7% down on 2020, reflecting a shortage of available labour and significant hail events in the Nelson and Central Otago regions.

“As we near peak harvest, it has become increasingly clear that we will not achieve those initial forecasts”, NZAPI CEO Alan Pollard said. . .

Hort industry wants workers not workshops :

“What a slap in the face to the horticulture and viticulture sectors today’s $350,000 ‘wellbeing support package’ is as they face losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” says ACT Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron and Immigration spokesperson James McDowall.

“These people don’t need workshops, they need workers,” says Mr Cameron.

“To get this pitiful news in a week when it’s become clear that Hawke’s Bay is short of thousands of workers and estimates its apple losses alone will run to between $100 and $200 million this year is just sickening.

“The Government doesn’t seem to understand the lifecycle of plants, having rationalised that a sector that had ‘had it good’ for a number of years could suck up one rotten harvest. . . 

Immigration NZ overturns decision on sheep scanners’ work visas – Riley Kennedy:

Immigration New Zealand has given the green light to 11 foreign sheep scanners to help New Zealand farmers.

Sheep scanning happens around April and May and is the pregnancy test for ewes due to give birth this coming spring.

It comes after the scanners’ applications for critical worker visas were previously denied, however, an Immigration NZ spokesperson said it recently received new information about the availability of sheep scanners in New Zealand.

The department then informed employers who had applied for workers and had been declined, that their requests would be reconsidered. . .

Make sureyou have a grazing contract in time for winter:

The Winter Grazing Action Group (WGAG) is stressing to farmers the importance of having grazing contracts in place for the coming season.

The group was set up by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last year in response to a report from the Winter Grazing Taskforce, which made 11 recommendations to help ensure that animal welfare became a key part of all winter grazing decisions in the pastoral supply chain.

He said the action group’s job was to recommend ways to improve animal welfare following what he called “a lot of concern about managing winter grazing for cattle, sheep, and deer across the country”. The group’s 15 members represent industry organisations, government, vets, farmers, and other rural professionals. It is supported in its work by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

WGAG Chair, Lindsay Burton said the group was keen to emphasise the need for grazing contracts for livestock when grazed off farm to make sure health, nutrition and welfare needs are understood and managed especially during periods of greater risk like winter. . . 

MPI seeks feedback on new organic regime:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is seeking feedback on proposed regulations for organic primary sector products.

“The proposals set out the details of the proposed regime for organic food, beverages, and plant and animal products,” said Fiona Duncan, director of food skills and science policy.

The proposals outline the processes that would apply to businesses marketing organic products. Producers and processors of organic primary products, as well as importers, exporters and domestic-focused businesses, will be interested in how these proposals could apply to them.

“With these proposals, consumers would be better able to tell which products are organic and make more informed choices about what they buy,” said Ms Duncan. . . 

 

Harness the power of earthworms – Paul Reed Hepperly:

When moist, practically all soils from tundra to lowland tropics support the activity of earthworms. Largely unseen, earthworms are a diverse, powerful workforce with the capacity to transform soil into fertile ground.

Found in 27 families, more than 700 genera and greater than 7,000 species, earthworms vary from about 1 inch to 2 yards long. Their living mass outweighs all other animal life forms in global soils. Although we may view earthworms as being both prolific and productive, do we fully appreciate our human capability to favor their beneficial efforts as allies allowing farms and gardens to flourish? I think not.

Earthworms’ powerful activities include promoting favorable soil structure, increasing biological diversity, improving soil function, balancing nutrients needed by plants and animals and optimizing living soil. . . 


Rural round-up

15/03/2021

Office staff asked to help out in apple packhouses due to labour shortages  –

The corporate fruit and vegetable firm T&G Global is asking its office based staff to help out in apple packhouses.

This year all apple growing regions are facing severe labour shortages for both picking and packing the crop.

As a result T&G Global, originally known as Turners and Growers, is asking Hawke’s Bay staff to swap computer terminals for apple trays.

Its operations director Craig Betty said the firm was under real pressure to meet export schedules and needs 70 more people right now, so salaried staff and family members were being asked to help out. . . 

Covid-19 exposes global biosecurity systems as ‘fractured’ – expert – Riley Kennedy:

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a fractured global biosecurity system and a new approach is needed, a biosecurity expert says.

The paper by distinguished professor Philip Hulme from the government funded Bio-Protection Research Centre has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BioScience.

Hulme said Covid-19 had shown there needed to be an approach to biosecurity that integrated threats to human, animal, plant and environmental health, recognising that disease or invasions in one sector often spilled over into the others.

He said the Covid Tracer app and the National Animal Indenification and Tracing (NAIT) system, were two examples of where lessons can be learnt and shared among different industries. . . 

Duck shooting season in doubt for many this year:

Many hunters and farmers will miss out on this year’s duck shooting season because the Police are failing to address a backlog of firearms licence applications, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“There are 10,000 applications waiting to be processed with 3000 of those just licence renewals.

“With opening weekend for duck shooting season fast approaching the Police should be adding more resources to help clear the backlog.

“Hunters missed out last year due to the Covid-19 restrictions. They’re understandably itching to get back out on the pond, but they may miss out again this year because of an administrative backlog. . . 

FarmIQ links to Lead with Pride :

For Darfield dairy farmer Dan Schat, the decision to supply Synlait and participate in the company’s Lead with Pride initiative has proven to be a good one three years into farm ownership.

The Schats enjoy the double premium of supplying A2 milk and being on the Lead with Pride initiative, both making the company payments worth the extra effort the initiative involves.

Lead with Pride encompasses the four pillars of supply to Synlait, recognising and rewarding best practice in environment, animal health-welfare, social responsibility and milk quality. . . 

Produce industry launches UN initiative in New Zealand to address hunger and increase wellbeing:

Aotearoa’s $6 billion fresh produce industry today rolls out a localised UN initiative, as it celebrates the launch of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).

The 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables to highlight the nutritional benefits of fresh produce.

The official launch this evening at Parliament will be hosted by the Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, in partnership with United Fresh, New Zealand’s pan produce industry organisation, Horticulture New Zealand and Plant & Food Research.

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables will showcase the government-funded Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative which addresses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an exemplary programme with a case study presented by the international group AIAM5 in August last year. . . 

This California start up has a meat test it says can help prevent the next pandemic – Chloe Sorvino:

Food ID, a San Mateo, California-based startup, has raised $12 million in a Series B round that it says will help improve the safety and transparency of the U.S. meat supply.

The funding comes from S2G Ventures and will be used to commercialize the company’s rapid-result tests that can detect antibiotics in animals and a range of other adulterants, like heavy metals in seafood. Food ID says it has been working inside some industrial slaughterhouses for more than a year and that its tests are finding many of the meats being sold as “antibiotic-free” are not.

“There’s a feeling that consumers understand what they are buying and there’s authenticity,” says Food ID cofounder Bill Niman, the legendary grass-fed beef rancher in Northern California. “We know that’s not totally true, and when that becomes clear to the suppliers and to the brands that depend on antibiotics costing a premium to consumers, we’re gonna be very busy.”

Niman says he is offering the meat industry its first comprehensive testing platform and can provide more accuracy and transparency for consumers, who are increasingly looking for antibiotic-free meat, and paying on average $1 more per pound for it. . . 


Dairy delivers again

05/03/2021

Good news from Fonterra:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today lifted its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range to NZD $7.30 – $7.90 per kgMS, up from NZD $6.90 – $7.50 per kgMS.

The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, has increased to NZD $7.60 per kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the lift in the 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range is a result of consistent strong demand for New Zealand dairy.

“We’ve seen Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices continuing to increase since February when we last updated on our forecast Farmgate Milk Price and then this week there was the 15% increase in GDT prices.

“It’s very much a China demand led story but there is also good demand for New Zealand dairy across South East Asia and the Middle East.

“China’s strong economic recovery, following the initial impact of COVID-19, is flowing through to strong demand for dairy and we’ve seen this through sales during the Chinese New Year.

“China’s local milk supply is being used in fresh dairy products and they are looking to us to provide longer-life dairy products – in particular, whole milk powder which has a big influence on the forecast Farmgate Milk Price.

“Customers know we are continuing to get products to market, despite the challenges in the global supply chain and they are looking to us for this reliability. We’re also seeing customers want to buy more of our products than usual to help mitigate the risk of global supply chain delays.”

Hurrell says today’s lift in the Co-op’s forecast Farmgate Milk Price is good news for New Zealand farmers and the wellbeing of rural communities. It would see the Co-op contribute more than $11.5 billion to the New Zealand economy through milk price payments this year.

But before we get too excited:

Fonterra has decided to maintain its plus or minus 30 cent range on its forecast Farmgate Milk Price, reflecting the continued uncertainties in the global dairy market.

Hurrell says it is important that farmers recognise there are a number of downside risks to the mid-point of the range. For example, the EU and US are heading into their season and their milk supply will start increasing, the impacts of COVID-19 on key markets and market volatility.

“A $7.60 per kgMS forecast Farmgate Milk Price also increases our input costs putting further pressure on our earnings in the second half of the 2020/21 financial year. More details on our earnings will provided at our half year results on 17 March.”

 


GDT price index up 15%

03/03/2021

Dairy farmers – and indeed the country – woke to good news this morning: a 15% increase in the GlobalDairyTrade price index.

 

It’s late in the season and only one sale, but the trend gives confidence that Fonterra’s milk payout will be near the top end of the forecast.

 


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. . . 

 


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