Rural round-up

March 26, 2019

Last calves go under the hammer – Sally Rae:

It was dubbed The Last Hurrah.

Rural folk from throughout the Catlins and further afield gathered on Thursday for the last-ever Owaka calf sale.

As the stories and nostalgia flowed – many commenting on how long it could take in years gone by to get home from the sale – there was also a touch of sadness.

PGG Wrightson, which owns and operates the saleyards, is moving the sale from next year to a special sale day at the Balclutha saleyards. . .

Pilot ‘trees and carbon’ workshop proves popular – Sally Brooker:

A pilot project helping farmers make the most of the One Billion Trees Fund has generated a lot of interest.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a series of workshops in the central South Island this month called ”Farms, Trees and Carbon”.

Experts from Wairarapa forestry and marginal land use advisory and management company Woodnet presented an overview of global warming and New Zealand’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.

Then they discussed possibilities for plantings on attendees’ land. . . 

‘Serious pest’ affecting avocado trees discovered in Auckland

An avocado tree-loving beetle, regarded as a serious pest overseas, has been discovered in Auckland.

The wood-boring granulate ambrosia beetle has been detected in four Auckland areas since late February, according to Biosecurity New Zealand.

The beetle is known to feed on a wide range of broadleaf trees, including horticultural species such as avocado, and can spread fungal diseases. . . 

Primary sector attitudes give lessons for life – Bryan Gibson:

It has been a challenging week or so in New Zealand as we all try to make sense of the events in Christchurch on March 15. We’ve all been doing some soul-searching, wondering about the foundations of our society and how it will recover from this tragedy.

As an island nation at the bottom of the world many of us might have thought we were isolated from the hatred that we see in much of the world at the moment.

But we’d be wrong to think that. Our nation was formed through conflict and to this day we often express our fear of others through anger. It might help for rural communities and primary producers to reflect on our make-up. People of all nationalities work the land, grow the crops, pick the fruit and milk the cows. There’s only four million of us here but we produce enough to feed many more people so we’ve had to form partnerships with other nations to sell our great food internationally. . . 

Dairy dramas – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers face a strange mix of uncertainties when contemplating with satisfaction the likelihood of a fourth consecutive season of $6-plus milk prices.

While extreme volatility in dairy product prices has calmed down and New Zealand farmers now receive as good as others in Europe and the United States, their institutions have developed cracks.

There might be no better time to rebuild the foundation, beginning with the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, part 2019.

Last week Fonterra’s leaders promised for the third or fourth time since the embarrassment of their first financial loss in 2018 a fundamental strategy review. . . 

NZ Champion of Cheese Medals Announced:

NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2019 has awarded 223 medals to locally-made cheese, proving the quality of New Zealand speciality cheese continues to improve.

Organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards has been run since 2003. The Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal winners have been announced today, with the Gold Medal winners vying for one of 26 cheese trophies, which will be announced in Hamilton in May. All the New Zealand Champion of Cheese medal winners are on the NZSCA website https://nzsca.org.nz/winners/. . .

Hawke’s Bay dairy farm opportunity on market:

A top-end Patoka dairy farm with consents in place to increase its output by 30 percent for at least the next 10-years has been placed on the market for sale. With Hawke’s Bay’s land values around half of some other districts, the returns from this property would likely be stronger than anywhere else.

Raumati Dairy some 41-kilometres north-west of Napier is a 458-hectare property milking a herd of between 730 – 750 cows, but with consent from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to stock up to 1000 cows through to 2028. It ticks all the environmental boxes too with riparian areas fenced off. A 60 bail rotary, 600 cow feed pad and all the bells and whistles make this a must view. . . 


Rural round-up

March 22, 2019

Staff shortages impacting on rural health – Peter Burke:

The health of rural business people – including farmers, orchardists and health facilities — is being affected because they cannot get sufficient good staff and must work longer hours to compensate.

So says rural health professional Professor Jane Mills, pro vice-chancellor of the College of Health at Massey University. She was raised on a farm in Australia and has extensively researched rural health issues.

She told Rural News that the staff shortage in rural areas is forcing many people to work extra hours beyond what is reasonable and that their work/life balance is out of sync, resulting in physical or mental health issues. . . 

Inhibitor can solve methane issue – Neal Wallace:

News the world’s first methane inhibitor for livestock will be released in New Zealand later this year has been greeted by scientists as evidence technology can solve our greenhouse gas problem.

Dutch company DSM has developed 3-NOP, a feed additive that inhibits a methane producing micro-organism in the rumen, reducing emissions by about 30% while also being safe for animals and consumers.

However, the effet stops within a few hours of feeding so it must be ingested regularly. . . 

Brexit: Should I stay or should I go now? – Stephanie Honey:

Just over a week before the Brexit deadline, the UK faces the prospect of a lengthy delay – but equally, the possibility of a “no-deal” Brexit looms larger than ever.  It is hard to predict which of these two extremes we may see next Friday.   In anticipation of no-deal, however, the UK has released a new temporary post-Brexit tariff schedule.  While most imports would be duty-free, sensitive agriculture products, including New Zealand exports of lamb, beef and dairy, would still face barriers.

If anything, the roadmap to Brexit is less clear than it was even at the start of this week.  (See our last blog here.)  The Parliamentary process has descended into chaos after “meaningful vote 3” was disallowed, under which PM May’s Withdrawal Agreement would have come back again to the House to attempt to clear the path for an orderly Brexit.   All eyes are now on Brussels.  The European Council meets on Thursday and will consider an extension – although this would need to have a clear purpose to satisfy EU member states. . . 

School and Trust boost farming – Neal Wallace:

Students at Wairarapa College are to get more farm training and career opportunities following an initiative with a Masterton community trust.

The Masterton Trust Lands Trust has provided 14ha next to the college for agricultural training for 64 years but is taking it a step further by establishing an advisory panel of local industry leaders to provide advice and expertise for the course.

More than 330 years nine to 13 students, a third of the roll, are studying agriculture this year and trust chairman Karl Taucher says the advisory panel will ensure teaching and skills developed on the farm are in line with what the industry needs. . . 

Cows are turning desert back into grassland by acting like bison – Sara Burrows:

The Savory Institute is transforming 40 million acres of desert back into grassland by “rewilding” cows and other domesticated grazing animals

Two thirds of the land on Earth is now desert or in the process of becoming desert, according to world-renowned ecologist and environmentalist Allan Savory.

If you know anything about deserts, you know that’s not good news, as neither humans nor many other species can survive very well in them.

Responsible for the collapse of many civilizations and now threatening us globally, Savory says humanity has never understood the causes of desertification. But the fact that it began around 10,000 years ago and has accelerated dramatically in the last 200 gives us a clue, he says. . . 

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate Frank M. Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences. . . 


Rural round-up

March 4, 2019

EU makes a galling offer – Nigel Stirling:

The European Union is pressing New Zealand to drop the use of some cheese names in free-trade talks but is refusing to open its own dairy markets to increased competition in return.

Negotiators met for the third round of talks in Brussels last week. NZ’s lead negotiator Martin Harvey said the talks had made progress since being launched in July last year and the EU had already tabled an offer on agricultural market access.

“The EU has made us an offer but it is not satisfactory.” . . .

Milk price up but decisions loom – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra decided not to pay an interim dividend because of its debt reduction priorities and steps to improve its operational performance, chairman John Monaghan says.

Fonterra lifted its forecast farmgate milk price range 30c to $6.30-$6.60/kg MS on the back of improved demand from Asia, specifically China, and bad weather slowing production in Australia and Europe.

Countering that, geopolitical pressure in Latin America has made trading conditions difficult in some countries, chief executive Miles Hurrell said. . .

History made as Canterbury woman qualifies for for FMG Young Farmer of the Year final:

A North Canterbury shepherd has made history after qualifying for the prestigious FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.

Georgie Lindsay, 23, won the fiercely-contested Tasman regional final in Culverden last night, beating seven other contestants.

She’s the first woman from the sprawling region to make it through to the grand final in the contest’s 51-year history. . .

Chance to lower N leaching – Ken Muir:

Southern Dairy Hub business manager Guy Michaels said the key takeaway from last week’s field day at the Hub near Wallacetown was that there is a range opportunities for farmers to save money and reduce nitrate (N) leaching. ”While it is still early days for our research, our monitoring programme being carried out in association with AgResearch is starting to provide a picture of the differences in nitrate leaching in different situations,” he said. . . 

Enterprising family’s team work bears fruit – Sally Brooker:

Usually, it’s the kids who leave home. In the Watt family, it was the parents.

Julie and Justin Watt own Waitaki Orchards, just east of Kurow. Their eight children have become so involved in the business that they have stayed to run different aspects of it.

“Justin and I and the youngest are in Duntroon,” Mrs Watt said when the Oamaru Mail called in last month. “We were the first to leave home.” . . . 

The high school where learning to farm is a graduation requirement – Mary Ann Lieser:

A group of teens gathers quietly in the predawn darkness. Dressed in warm clothing, they meet before breakfast to help capture and pack broiler chickens to be taken to a slaughterhouse. They fed, watered, and watched the birds grow; now they prepare them for their final trip. Eventually, the birds will return as meat and be cooked for the teens to eat.

High school students at Olney Friends School, located on 350 acres near Barnesville, Ohio, witness the cycle of birth and death time and again during their four years on campus. Founded in 1837 to serve the children of Quaker families, Olney has always had a farm program and students have been involved in its operation to varying degrees. . .

 


Mooving to a2 milk

February 20, 2019

Fonterra is signing up farms to supply the a2 Milk company:

Mike Cronin, Fonterra Managing Director of Co-operative Affairs, says “Signing up New Zealand farms to significantly increase supply of high quality milk to The a2 Milk Company is a positive step forward. It clearly shows the strength of our strategic relationship, and our shared commitment to fast-track market growth and enable farmers to create additional value from their milk.”

The Co-op’s initial milk pool will be based in the Waikato around its Hautapu site and will support the production of ingredients. It is anticipated around 100 farms will be needed for next season.

Jayne Hrdlicka, The a2 Milk Company Managing Director and CEO, says “The a2 Milk Company is pleased to be making progress on our relationship with Fonterra. These farms will help support new growth areas for our company across existing and new markets. This is the next step in what we believe will be a fruitful long-term relationship with tremendous potential.”

The location of the milk pool was determined by several factors. Most importantly, the site needed the ability to manufacture the specific product in demand, produce relatively small batches and adapt easily to any product demand changes.

“While other regions were thoroughly considered, ultimately the decision must be demand-led. The ability to efficiently manufacture a range of products to meet that demand was the over-riding factor in choosing a site.As demand and product lines grow, we’ll look to expand the milk pool to enable more farmers to participate,” said Mr Cronin.

Most of the value from the relationship with The a2 Milk Company will be returned to all Co-op farmers through the dividend. Participating farms will also receive a premium for their milk.

Today’s development follows the national launch of the a2 Milk™ brand by Anchor from late September 2018.

A2 milk mostly lacks a form of β-casein proteins called A1 and instead has mostly the A2 form.

There is debate about A2’s health benefits but it attracts a premium price.

Fonterra missed the opportunity to lead with A2 milk and the a2 company has prospered.

Most herds have some cows which produce A2 milk and if Fonterra wanted to corner the market it could require its suppliers to use A2 semen for artificial insemination and in a few years all cows would be producing A2 milk.

That it’s seeking suppliers to supply a2 suggests it won’t be taking that approach.

 


Rural round-up

February 20, 2019

Fonterra wants many DIRA changes – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra wants to ditch the requirement for it to take all milk if its market share drops below 75% in a region.

It also wants to exclude big processors except Goodman Fielder from accessing its milk at the regulated raw milk price.

Instead it wants to introduce a 12c/kg handling fee, it says in its submission to the Primary Industries Ministry’s review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

All other processors should be required to publish their average milk price paid to farmers and details of how they set it, Fonterra said.

DIRA should evolve to cover the whole dairy industry and not just control Fonterra. . . 

Otago young farmers lay claim to two titles – Sally Rae:

Otago can lay claim to three new national champions – all in the rural sector. Luke Kane (30) and Isaac Johnston (25), from West Otago, won the national fencing competition held recently as part of the New Zealand Young Farmers conference.

Elizabeth Graham (21), who lives on her parents’ farm at Hindon, won the national stock-judging title. . .

Duck eggs hatch into growing business – Luke Chivers:

Taranaki duck farmers Dawn and Glen Bendall are earning a living out of making people, including themselves, healthier. Luke Chivers reports. 

It is 7.30am in deepest, darkest winter.

As daylight breaks on mountainous, coastal Taranaki Urenui duck farmer Dawn Bendall is preparing her children for school before fossicking around in wood shavings up to 25 centimetres deep to retrieve 400 eggs.

“The ducks will dig up, they’ll lay and then they will cover the egg up again.

“It’s their little way of not letting the vermin get to the egg so I don’t know what they think of me,” she says, laughing. . . 

Riparian planting cleans Waikato dairy farm river – Hunter Calder:

From above it looks like any other river.

But up close, the Marokopa River through Ruawai Farm in Te Anga is exceptionally clear.

Data collected by Waikato Regional Council shows the water quality is some of the best in the region.

The river rates particularly highly for macroinvertebrates – tiny creatures without backbones such as insects and worms. The more of those, the healthier the water. . . 

Bounce in deer numbers :

Farmed deer numbers, including the number of breeding hinds and fawns, increased in 2018 according to provisional agriculture census figures released by Statistics New Zealand.

This follows a small recovery in stag numbers in the 2017 census.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup says the trend is a strong indication of growing farmer confidence in the viability of deer in a drystock farming operation. . . 

Wrightson cleared to sell seeds business – Gavin Evans

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson has been cleared to sell its seeds business to Denmark’s DLF Seeds.

The Commerce Commission said the $434 million transaction, announced in August, was unlikely to substantially reduce competition in any of the markets it assessed.

DLF is not at present a close competitor of PGG Wrightson Seeds in respect of ryegrass seeds containing endophytes and is unlikely to be so in the future,” deputy chair Sue Begg said. . .

Trade deals with Africa would help continent grow – Marian L. Tupy :

In December 2018, Donald Trump approved a new strategy for Africa that includes increasing US commercial ties with the continent. According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump’s strategy “is part of a broader effort…to fight for global supremacy with Russia and China”. Geopolitical considerations aside, freer trade between the United States and Africa makes good economic sense that’s bound to become more obvious over time.

Today, the economy of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is small, accounting for some 2 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Between 1960 and 2017, SSA GDP grew from $252 billion to $1.75 trillion. The world economy grew from $11.3 trillion to $80 trillion (all figures are in 2010 US dollars). That amounts to an average annual compounded growth rate of about 3.4 per cent and 3.43 per cent respectively.

The United Nations estimates that over the next 50 years, the SSA and world populations will grow at average compounded annual rates of 2.05 per cent and 0.63 per cent respectively. SSA’s population will thus increase from 1.1 billion to 3.1 billion and the world’s population will increase from 7.7 billion to 10.6 billion. That means that SSA will account for roughly 30 per cent of the world’s population in 2070. . . 

Trace elements a solution close to home :

Despite New Zealand’s relatively benign climate lending itself so well to pastoral farming, its soils can hide some chronic mineral deficiencies that can undo the efforts of the best farm managers as they try to get the most out of their stock.

Richard Sides, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health NZ technical veterinarian is urging farmers to look harder at what may be holding their stock’s performance back, and says the answer may be easier to find than they first thought. . . 


Rural round-up

February 19, 2019

Tasman facing serious drought – Tracey Neal:

First there were floods, then fire and now drought.

The Waimea Plains, cradled between two mountain ranges, are usually immune to such extremes in the weather.

But a Tasman District Council water scientist says the wider area is facing its worst drought since 2001. . .

Explainer: Why NZ can’t afford to mess with China – Aimee Shaw:

China and New Zealand have enjoyed decades of mutual benefits.

The global powerhouse and New Zealand signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2008 and since then have phased in provisions to ease trade between the two countries.

China is now New Zealand’s largest trading partner, followed by Australia. Suffice to say it’s a relationship New Zealand can’t afford to lose.

Fallout from the Government taking the United States stance on the Huawei debate and now reports of people not wanting to come to New Zealand as a result are threatening the country’s long-standing friendly relationship. . . 

Year of the Pig means feast of exports for Fonterra :

Celebrations have been underway around the world to celebrate the festive Chinese New Year season — welcoming the Year of the Pig.

In China itself those celebrations are likely to have included family feasts including dairy produced in Waipa’s Fonterra plants.

Fonterra’s Te Awamutu site exported around $175 million in products to China for consumption in 2017/18. That’s about $12,500 per person in Te Awamutu. . . 

Optimistic report on ‘M bovis’ response – Sally Rae:

Improvements are already being made in many areas highlighted in the Mycoplasma bovis Technical Advisory Group’s report, response head Geoff Gwyn says.

Work is under way to develop a new surveillance approach for the beef industry and the focus is increasing on improving communication to affected farmers, the public and staff.

The report, released this month and following the group’s meeting in late November, provided independent validation the eradication programme was ”on track”, he said.

Mr Gwyn said the findings and recommendations were not surprising. Some of the recommendations were relatively simple to implement or were already in train, while others would need careful consideration before a decision was made. . . 

Open Country challenges validity of Fonterra 2018 milk price – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Open Country Dairy is seeking a judicial review of the way Fonterra Cooperative Group set its milk price in the 2018 season, despite the Commerce Commission giving the price-setting process a pass mark.

The commission noted the judicial review on its website, saying Open Country Dairy brought proceedings against certain conclusions in its 2018 report.

In that report, the regulator was satisfied that Fonterra’s calculation was largely in line with the efficiency and contestability elements required by law governing the dairy sector. . . 

Unusual beefalo meat in demand – Ken Muir:

A chance meeting with an engineer building a cowshed on a neighbouring farm next door to Nadia and Blair Wisely introduced them to bison and from there they’ve taken to producing beefalo – a bison beef cross – on their Isla Bank farm.

”We met Dennis Greenland by chance and he had purchased animals from a Marlborough breeder Bob Blake”, Mr Wisely said.

”He told us about the animals and that piqued our interest.”

The Wiselys purchased a bison bull, crossed it with a range of cows and Netherton Farm Beefalo was born. . . 

Wild horses go under the hammer in Hanmer

Twenty horses, all aged two or three years old, were mustered from the isolated Ada Valley and sold by auction at cattle yards in the St James Conservation Area, where there was once an 80,000-hectare cattle station.

The two-day biennial muster is a family tradition.

Hugh Dampier-Crossley, a sheep and beef farmer near Cheviot, has been mustering the horses since he was ten.

“The Stevensons owned the property. Jim Stevenson was my grandfather, they bought the place in 1927. He taught me how to break in horses and shoe horses so it’s become a bit of a passion,” he said. . . 

Plan to plant genetically engineered trees throughout US to save dying forests – John Gabattis:

Inserting genes to protect against foreign diseases and pests could bring species back from brink of extinction

Plans are under way to plant swathes of genetically engineered trees across the ailing forests of North America in a bid to save them from the ravages of disease and pests. 

Species such as the ash tree and whitebark pine have faced catastrophic declines of up to half their populations after creatures introduced from overseas tore through their defences. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 14, 2019

Irrigation goes high-tech to preserve Christchurch aquifer – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers irrigating just north of Christchurch are using the latest technology to ensure not a drop is wasted.

Preserving water quality is also front of mind as the land they irrigate is geographically linked to an ancient, slow moving aquifer which also supplies domestic drinking water to the city’s residents. 

In the first project of its type in New Zealand, the latest in digital technology has been rolled out to Waimakariri Irrigation’s farmer-shareholders, taking the guesswork out of irrigating.   . . 

Challenge ahead for smaller wineries – Simon Hartley:

A caution has been thrown out to New Zealand’s smaller, domestic market wineries which might be finding it more difficult gaining access to distribution channels.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said the industry in New Zealand had grown substantially in recent decades.

“The industry is heavily concentrated in Marlborough, which specialises in sauvignon blanc production”, about three-quarters of the country’s wine production, by value, she said.

The New Zealand winemaking industry has an annual turnover of $2.5 billion and wine exports have doubled in the past decade to $1.7 billion per year, becoming the country’s sixth largest export by commodity. . . 

New opportunities for agri-food:

Changes being driven by computer scientists in the agri-food sector are providing new opportunities for Kiwi farmers.

The disruption, which is changing what we eat, was the focus of the KPMG farm enterprise specialist Julia Jones’ keynote speech at the Young Farmers Conference.

“There’s a restaurant in Boston with a robotic kitchen,” she said.

Spyce is a world-first and was created by four robotics-obsessed engineers who wanted healthy food at a reasonable price. . . 

Students experience agriculture – Richard Smith:

Kotara Kikuchi, a second-year student at Tono Ryokuho High School, an agricultural school, is on a home stay with three other boys from his school to do farming.

Kikuchi wants to experience agriculture, however, “I want to be a fisherman after graduating from high school”.

Fellow schoolmate Tokiya Ogasawara, 16, hasn’t decided what he wants to be. 

“But there’s nothing outside agriculture that I want to do,” he said. . . 

Agtech is not going to be a road to riches – here’s why – Glen Herud:

Agtech is quite trendy in New Zealand at the moment. But it’s unlikely to be a road to riches for those involved.

I would caution any entrepreneur from developing a tech solution for farmers.

No doubt, technology will change how agriculture is conducted. Just as it is changing all aspects of our lives.

But that doesn’t mean you can actually make any money out of developing some fancy technology solution for farmers. . . 

Joint call made to end non-stun slaughter in UK

The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have joined forces to call on the government to repeal a legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning.

Both groups say slaughtering without pre-stunning causes ‘unnecessary pain and suffering’.

The latest figures from 2017/18 reveal that over 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned first – more than three animals slaughtered every second on average. . . 


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