Rural round-up

September 21, 2020

Minus 12.2.% – Mike Chapman:

Our GDP has hit rock bottom at minus 12.2% in the June quarter, and on top of that, the Government has already spent the $50 billion recovery package.  The financial cupboard is literally bare.  Everyone is talking about the rebound and they seem very confident about it.  If there is one thing that Covid has taught us, it is that predicting what is going to happen is not easy.  In fact, I would say it is near to impossible.  The result is we have all had to be very flexible- what we planned to happen has more often than not had to be changed.  I can’t see any reason why the current uncertainty and the ever-present unpredictable future will suddenly become certain and predictable.

The problem with spending the $50 billion is that it has not by in large been spent on enabling New Zealand’s economic recovery.  It has been spent propping up the status quo with wage subsidies and the like.  With that money spent, how are these workers going to get paid?  Where are they going to work?  Accommodation and food services took a 47.4% hit in the June quarter with hits also in mining, clothing and footwear, furniture manufacturing and transport.  Just walk down any main street and see empty shops.  Agriculture went down 2.2%, but that drop was saved from going further down with fruit exports up 10% and wine up 15%.

New Zealand is in recession.  Tourism, international education and hospitality will not be the drivers for economic recovery in the immediate future.  The main driver for economic recovery will be the primary sector and within the primary sector horticulture and wine. . .

Helping grow farming’s future – David Anderson:

John Jackson’s ability for future and critical thinking saw him deeply involved in the development of an agribusiness programme that has now been rolled out in secondary schools throughout NZ.

The North Waikato sheep and beef farmer has had an interesting and eclectic journey on the way to his eventual farming career and farm ownership. With a long history of community service, Jackson was invited to join the Waikato Anglican Trust Board in 2012 that governs the running of St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton, where his children went to school.

“John Oliver – a notable King Country farmer and philanthropist – encouraged the school to consider teaching agriculture and develop a curriculum accordingly,” he explains. . . 

NZ’s largest ever medical marijuana crop gets the go-ahead :

A Marlborough medicinal cannabis company has secured a licence to grow New Zealand’s largest ever crop.

Puro received the license allowing it to commercially cultivate 90,000 plants for medical use from the Ministry of Health on Thursday.

The crop will be germinated in tunnel houses before being transplanted into the company’s site at Kekerengu.

But it will hold no recreational appeal with it being used for CBD and cannabinoids to be exported overseas. . . 

Move over, mānuka honey, bee pollen is creating a buzz – Esther Taunton:

Move over mānuka honey, there’s a new bee product creating a global buzz.

Demand for New Zealand bee pollen has skyrocketed since the outbreak of coronavirus, with one company saying sales have soared and there are no signs of a slow-down.

NatureBee says sales of its potentiated bee pollen capsules have increased five-fold over the last year as the Covid-19 pandemic drives a shift in consumer behaviour. . . 

Cows big change from animals in Laos – Mary-Jo Tohill:

She has swapped monkeys and tigers for dairy cows and is loving the change of animal.

Sonya Prosser was one of 13 students who took part in the first SIT-Telford GoDairy course at the South Otago campus near Balclutha, which began on August 24.

Before the pandemic, she had been working in Laos for three years, where her partner, Maddie, had got a job with the world’s largest sun bear sanctuary, Free the Bears, in Laos and where Ms Prosser was doing freelance wildlife work.

This included Project Anoulak, in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area in central-eastern Laos, which is home to nine species of primates. . . 

Where would we be without bees? – John Harvey:

It’s fair to say that most of us have some understanding that bees play an important role.

But do we understand why?

Because bees are more than important, in fact they’re critical to our food security.

Through the process of pollination we depend on bees for one in every three mouthfuls of the food we eat. . . 

 


GDT up 8.3%

July 8, 2020

Last night’s GlobalDairyTrade auction brought some good news – an 8.3% increase in the price index.

Even better, whole milk powder increased by 14%.

It’s only one auction and just like political polls it’s the trend that counts, so it’s far too soon to be excited about a possible increase in the milk payout.


Rural round-up

July 1, 2020

Regenerative ag’s mythology questioned – David Anderson:

The “mythology” of regenerative agriculture and lack of scientific evidence has prompted two renowned plant scientists to write to Ag Minister Damien O’Connor.

In the letter, Lincoln University’s Professor Derek Moot and retired plant scientist Professor Warwick Scott, express their concerns about the increased profile of regenerative agriculture in New Zealand media and farming sectors.

They have called on the minister to convene an expert panel of scientists to review all the claims made about practice.

“It is important that sound science drives our agricultural systems,” they say. “We believe such a panel should provide a robust critique of the claims made about ‘regenerative agriculture’ to ensure the public, industry and policy makers have a balanced and scientifically informed view of the ideas promulgated.” . .

Rachel Stewart on the Green Party and farmers:

To say Rachel Stewart isn’t backward in coming forward is somewhat of an understatement.

The self-described “ex-media, ex-farmer, ex-train driver” falconer has often ruffled feathers with her forthright opinions – especially when it comes agriculture.

So Stewart’s’ recent Twitter activity, criticising the Green Party and coming out in support of farmers, caught the attention of The Country’s Jamie Mackay, who invited her to talk on today’s show.

The Greens are moving away from their environmental roots and becoming too urban, Stewart told Mackay. . . 

Seeking new markets in the West – Keith Woodford:

Neither Europe nor the USA are going to do us any trading favours. It is all about self-interest

In recent weeks I have been exploring and writing about some of the challenges in finding new markets that would allow New Zealand to stem its increasing reliance on China. My focus in the last three trade articles has been first on North East Asia, then the ASEAN countries of South East Asia, then South Asia and Iran. This week I look further west to Europe and the Americas before completing the circle.

First to recap a little.

The emergence of China as the most important trading partner of New Zealand has been a function of natural alignment between what New Zealand produces and what China wanted, complemented by New Zealand also wanting what China has been producing at lower cost than anyone else. . .

Tomato red spider mite pest discovered in New Zealand for first time – Maja Burry:

A pest known for damaging tomato plants and other crops has been detected in New Zealand for the first time

Biosecurity New Zealand said two populations of the tomato red spider mite (Tetranychus evansi) were found near Auckland Airport and in Pakuranga as part of routine surveillance several weeks ago.

Tomato red spider mites are the size of a full stop and are very difficult to identify. The mite’s main hosts are plants in the Solanaceae family, including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. They also attack beans, kumara and some ornamentals – roses and orchids. . .

Juniper hunt seedlings could grow New Zealand’s first gin berry plantation – Robin Martin:

New Zealand is one step closer to establishing the country’s first plantation of Juniperus communis – whose berries are the key ingredient of gin – following a nationwide search for the elusive conifer.

About 40 trees were discovered as part of the Great New Zealand Juniper Hunt, and seedlings are now being nurtured at Massey University and at two locations in Taranaki.

Egmont Village lifestyle block owner Marlene Busby had aspirations of making gin herself when she snipped a bit of juniper bush at a garden centre some 30 years ago.

“At the time I sort of took a little bit. They were going to pull them out anyway so it didn’t really [matter] any way. . . 

Waitaki’s geological wonderland – Mike Yardley:

Crossing the border dividing Canterbury from Otago, the Waitaki River, is like a pathway into another world. A region built on the remains of prehistoric creatures from a vanished world. The wondrous Waitaki District has always been proud of its rocks, lustily exemplified by the creamy pure texture of Oamaru Stone that underpins the classic good looks of the historic town’s Victorian Precinct. But before hitting town, I ventured west into the heart of the Waitaki Valley, to delightful Duntroon, with its pending designation as a Global Geopark by UNESCO. As Australasia’s first Geopark, it threads together the spell-binding natural landforms, abundant fossil finds and rich cultural history of the Waitaki Valley, which was under sea when Zealandia drifted away from Gondwana. Seismic forces later thrust the ancient seabed upwards, at the same time that the Southern Alps were formed.

Robert Campbell, the wealthy land-owner and runholder established Duntroon in 1864, naming it in honour of his Scottish birthplace. This cute-as-a-button village is home to the Vanished World Fossil Centre, but before heading there, don’t miss Duntroon’s assorted trove of evocative landmarks. . .


Rural round-up

June 26, 2020

Govt’s obsession with planting trees a big mistake – Mike Hosking:

am glad the forestation of this country at the expense of good, productive farmland finally appears to be getting the sort of attention it deserves. The trouble with a crisis, is it takes your eye off all sorts of balls, and  various issues would have had far greater scrutiny if we hadn’t had a virus to deal with.

Planting trees to allow us to meet our Paris accord deal is potentially a catastrophic mistake that is unfolding before our eyes.

Firstly, because our calling card to the world is not our climate credentials, it’s the food we sell. For that you need productive land. Under the Emission Trading Scheme changes, the price of carbon lifts. As it lifts, it becomes more attractive to buy land to plant trees.

Planting trees is easy, and people always take the easy path. And what makes this worse is many who invest in these trees have no intention of harvesting them. They’re simply there to clip the ticket. . . 

Majority of farmers find Fonterra Shareholders’ Council ineffective – survey – Eric Frykberg:

The main watchdog for dairy giant Fonterra has been told it has to lift its game.

The comments came in the first of a two-part inquiry into Fonterra Shareholders Council.

The council is supposed to monitor the company on behalf of its 10,000 farmer shareholders, but it has incurred a lot of criticism including comments from the Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor that it was “less a watchdog than a lapdog”.

The Shareholders Council commissisoned a review of itself last year, chaired by veteran public servant James Buwalda. . . 

Wool classer receives merit award – Yvonne O’Hara:

Wool has always been part of Anne-Marie Parcell’s life.

“I love it and not a day goes by when I am not staring at sheep or touching wool. If I am not spinning it, I am shearing or crutching or drafting. I never wear polar fleece,” the Bannockburn wool classer said.

And neither did the two lambs that turned up last week wearing wearing wool jackets.

Ms Parcell was delighted when she was given a merino merit award from the New Zealand Wool Classers Association recently, for the clip she classed at Northburn Station, near Cromwell. . .

Fonterra announces Peter McBride as chairman elect:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (FCG) has announced that current Farmer Director, Peter McBride has been selected as the Co-operative’s Chairman-elect by his fellow Directors.

Under Fonterra’s constitution, its Chairman is selected by the Board from within its pool of seven elected Farmer Directors.

Mr McBride will replace current Fonterra Chairman, John Monaghan when he retires as a Director of the Co-op at its Annual Meeting this November. . .

Adept wool presser will never give up :

Here’s a riddle … If two shearers clip a total of 100 sheep, and one shears three more than the other — what is the tally for each? Turangi Morehu jokes that he has asked this riddle to many in the shearing fraternity over the years, including world champion Sir David Fagan “and I’m still waiting for his answer”, he quips.

Mr Morehu, known to most as Tu, “after one and before three”, is the ubiquitous and hard-working character floating between the gangs of Peter Lyons Shearing, keeping an eye on things for Mr Lyons and wife, Elsie.

Originally from Tuatahuna and spending his younger years in Rotorua, Mr Morehu has worked as a wool presser since he left school at the age of 13 . .

Kauri still waiting for dieback plan – Farrah Hancock:

A pest management plan for kauri dieback is missing in action. Farah Hancock reports.

Thirty months after it was announced, there’s still no National Pest Management Plan for kauri dieback.

In 2017, the Government said it was moving immediately to strengthen efforts to protect kauri trees. One of those efforts was creating a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP).

“An NPMP shows how serious we are about protecting kauri. It is by far the strongest piece of regulation available and will ensure mandatory hygiene practices, consistent regulations that apply nationally, stronger governance and access to funding,” said Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor when he announced the plan in December 2017. . .

Britain opens free trade negotiations with New Zealand – Liz Truss:

This week is the start of an exciting new chapter in the shared history of Britain and New Zealand.

Our two island nations are already close friends, bound tightly by cultural, economic and social ties that have stood the test of time.

Britain is the largest ex-pat community in New Zealand. We both share a language, a head of state and a system of common law. We also share a strong commitment to free and fair trade, and believe fundamentally in the rule of law and the power that democracy has to drive forward human progress. . .


Rural round-up

June 21, 2020

NZ primary sector the fuel for the post pandemic engine room:

Bank of New Zealand’s (BNZ) Shift Happens Agribusiness survey reveals a significant change in the mindset of New Zealand primary producers with the vast majority excited about the primary sector’s prospects post COVID-19.

The survey, conducted before and during the COVID-19 lockdown, found a marked shift in mindset of New Zealand’s primary producers whose pre-COVID-19 outlook improved from 58% positive about the opportunity to embrace a new future for their agribusiness, to 89% being excited about their pivotal role in supporting the New Zealand economy.

BNZ’s Shift Happens Agribusiness survey also found: . . 

Some farmers get banned gun rights – Neal Wallace:

Select farmers now have the right to use prohibited firearms for pest control but there are warnings access to new weapons and spare parts could be restricted and the cost inflated.

Alexandra pest controller Robert Andrews is unsure he will be able to get spare parts such as rifle barrels, with one importer telling him it will no longer be involved because the market has shrunk.

“We are only looking at probably 300 commercial users with semi-automatics for pest control and they may have two or three firearms each and then factor in the part-timers so I would guess we are talking maybe 1000 to 2000 prohibited firearms nationwide.”

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners estimates 170,000 now-prohibited weapons were imported in the last 10 years. . . 

Index points to greener herds – Richard Rennie:

Genetics company LIC is providing a tool for farmers wanting to consider their herd’s gas and nitrogen footprint when breeding replacements. Environment and welfare manager Tony Fransen spoke to Richard Rennie about its new HoofPrint index and how it could help make herd environmental footprints lighter.

LIC’s annual genetics catalogue showcasing farmers’ bull options for breeding will this year include an extra column amid the usual production and economic traits. 

The HoofPrint index ranks its sires’ estimated ability to breed greener daughters that produce less nitrogen and methane.

“The objective was to determine how we can quantify the role genetics has had in achieving environmental gains over the last 20-30 years and, from that, estimate what the cow 20-30 years from now will look like,” Fransen said. . . 

Tenure review submitters highlight access :

Access is at the forefront of submissions on a tenure review of New Zealand’s largest high country station.

Many of the more than 30 submissions on a preliminary proposal developed for Northern Southland’s Glenaray Station, home to more than 60 threatened species and 15 rare plants, are focused on access.

Under the preliminary proposal, 38,000ha would become public conservation land, 13,400ha freehold subject to conservation covenants, and the remainder of the 62,000ha station freehold without conditions.

Submitters included Otago Conservation Board, Southland District Council, Game Animal Council and other individuals. . . 

North Canterbury farm wins two accolades in national dairy competition

A North Canterbury farm has clinched two awards in the national final of a major dairy cow breeding competition.

Almost 700 cows from 95 farms were entered in this year’s Holstein Friesian NZ Semex On Farm Competition.

Sherraine Holsteins, of Ohoka near Kaiapoi, won the two-year-old class and the veteran cow class.

“We are thrilled. The line-up of cows in this year’s national final was outstanding, so to take out two classes was exciting,” said Olivia Cahill. . . 

DCANZ welcomes launch of NZ-UK FTA negotiation:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is welcoming the launch of free trade agreement negotiations between New Zealand and the UK as a positive development in the trade agenda.

“A high-quality and comprehensive FTA between the UK and New Zealand will further strengthen the historic and close relationship between our two countries” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey

“At this time, when we are seeing a number of countries revert to trade protectionist policies and subsidies, it is heartening to see like-minded countries like New Zealand and the UK showing leadership on trade issues”.

Currently, the UK is only a small market for New Zealand dairy exports, accounting for 0.08% of New Zealand’s dairy exports in 2019. This is despite the fact that the UK is one of the world’s largest importers of dairy products. . . 


Rural round-up

June 16, 2020

Faltering forestry risks NZ’s climate strategy – Marty Verry:

Global headwinds are lining up against New Zealand’s number one climate change mitigation strategy – the one billion trees policy. The coming weeks will tell if the Government has given up or is committed to making that policy a success by backing it with its procurement.

But first let us recap on what is at stake. The country’s plan is to use trees to sequester carbon dioxide over the next 30 years while it finds ways to reduce emissions from our other main pollutant sources: transport, buildings, energy and agriculture. If the forestry strategy fails, we will need a more aggressive approach to meeting carbon zero by 2050 – something consultancy EY calculated in 2018 would cost the country $30 billion. New Zealand cannot afford to add that to the $60b Covid tab, so the forestry strategy simply must succeed.

So let’s look at the prospects for forestry. For New Zealand, the battle ground is China. Like it or not, it takes 80 per cent of our log exports. All our logs are in that basket, you could say. . .

Federated Farmers wants migrant workers on Govt’s COVID exemption ‘A-list’ :

Auckland officials are emphasising the economic benefits of letting in America’s Cup crews, but farmers feel they’re being left off the ‘A-list’. 

The Government has granted border exemptions to cup challengers American Magic and INEOS Team UK, each bringing a couple of hundred crew and staff into the country. 

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says they’ll face the same 14-day quarantine rules as New Zealand citizens at the border, to prevent one of them inadvertently bringing in COVID-19.  . . 

Visa uncertainty threatens farm crisis – Richard Harman:

The Government is considering extending temporary work visas due to expire over the next few months so that essential businesses do not lose semi-skilled workers.

But there are big questions about why it won’t announce that it is doing so. POLITIK understands that around 70,000 temporary work visas are due to expire by the end of September.

But following representations from the dairy and aged care sectors POLITIK understands the Minister of Immigration, Iain Lees-Galloway favours an extension of six to 12 months for many of the workers. . . 

Why is it taking so long to install fishing cameras? :

“Cameras are all about transparency. They’re all about public accountability and providing proof that the industry – as they state – have nothing to hide. Now if they have nothing to hide, why aren’t we seeing cameras on some of these big boats?”

That’s the question Newshub reporter Michael Morrah has been trying to solve since National decided they were a good idea and promised to introduce them in 2016.

But their introduction has been pushed back again and again, often quietly.

National’s primary industries minister Nathan Guy was attacked by the then Labour opposition over them; but just a few months after Labour came into office and “the whole idea around accountability and transparency is put on the backburner”, Morrah says. . . 

 

Horticulture NZ says New Zealand needs more water storage schemes like Northland:

HortNZ says New Zealand needs more water storage schemes like the one just announced for Northland.

‘New Zealand is not really short of water, it is short of water capture and storage,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘People and plants need water – that’s a basic fact. For years, we have known that our climate is changing – droughts are getting more severe – however, red tape and a lack of capital has seen most parts of New Zealand slow to do anything practical about the situation. . . 

New trial could lead to breeding of low methane-emitting cows – James Fyfe:

A trial is underway in the Waikato to see if there is a link between cows’ genetics and how much methane they produce.

If such a link is found, it could mean it’s possible for farmers to fight climate change by specifically breeding cows that emit less methane.

The trial, involving dairy breeding bulls, is being run by Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) and CRV Ambreed, which between them sire 90 percent of the country’s dairy herd through their artificial breeding bulls. . . 

NZ Food Heroes campaign takes off:

Thousands of free-range chooks have been able to keep on laying rather than getting laid off due to lockdown. It’s just one of the heart-warming stories shared in the ‘NZ Food Heroes’ campaign.

From baking to business models – nominations for the NZ Food Heroes Awardare flooding in. Diverse in nature, the entries all reflect the Kiwi brand of innovation and community spirit that has flourished during the COVID-19 crisis ensuring New Zealand has access to fresh, local produce.

Nominee Olliff Farm north of Auckland faced a dilemma. With 95 per cent of their pasture eggs supplying high-end Auckland restaurants and cafes in normal times, lockdown restrictions presented a complete loss of business income. . . 

Fonterra’s Asia Pacific market gets creative in lockdown :

Fonterra’s Asia Pacific market is living proof of the adage “necessity is the mother of invention” Judith Swales says.

Fonterra’s CEO for Asia Pacific told The Country Early Edition’s Rowena Duncum that Covid-19 restrictions had forced the co-op to rethink its approach to customers.

“Our teams have adapted really quickly and they’ve done a lot of great work. It’s about how we adapt to customers and consumers” Swales said.

One example was a trend that had popped up in Korea – creating new recipes for the garlic cream cheese bun. . . 


Rural round-up

June 11, 2020

Open letter on the value of animal agriculture’ – penned by a global farming community:

Almost 70 groups and individuals representing farmers, producers, vets and researchers from across the world have written an “open letter” to highlight the valuable role that animal agriculture has held during the Covid-19 pandemic.

From Europe to the US, from New Zealand to Africa and Canada leading farming associations, agricultural academics, producer associations, and other high-level industry stakeholders are “pushing back” against what is described as “misinformation” around animal agriculture that has circulated throughout the outbreak. . .

DoC leaves concessionaires in the lurch:

The Department of Conservation (DoC) has shown a lack of compassion towards businesses permitted to operate on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

When the border shut, concession holders saw a large chunk of their business dry up overnight. Despite having no income from international visitors, they are still having to pay full concession fees to DOC.

Those affected are often small businesses like cafes and tourism operators. . .

Feral deer sightings spark concern for kauri forests :

Northland residents are being urged to report feral deer sightings after several animals were spotted in the area.

Four deer were recently seen – and one shot – from a helicopter in the Bay of Islands.

Wild deer are classed as an ‘eradication species’ in the north and it is illegal to release or move wild deer in or around the region.

Northland Regional Council biosecurity manager Don McKenzie said Northland is one of the few regions in New Zealand that has no established wild populations of deer and it would be “disastrous” for the area’s kauri forest if this changed. . . 

Protecting NZ fries as part of PNZ pandemic recovery & transformation plan:

Potatoes New Zealand has met with Minister Faafoi this week to discuss investigating the potential importation of heavily discounted frozen potato chips into New Zealand.

With MBIE’s support we are undertaking an investigation to gather evidence of the potential import threat. 

KEY POINTS

    • PNZ want growers to feel confident in the industry recovering from pandemic crisis
    • PNZ want to discourage the Europeans from attempting surplus import
    • We are gathering economic trade data and carrying out public interest analysis . . 

Barley use for brewing and malting ‘lowest in 10 years’ :

Barley usage for the brewing, malting and distilling sector in April has fallen to the lowest figure in over a decade, according to analysis.

New figures – the first full month of data showing the implications of the Covid-19 lockdown – show that barley use for the sector was just 114,700t.

The last time that barley usage for brewing, malting and distilling fell below 120,000t in a month was August 2009, when just 111,500t was used. . . 

Cheese price hits record highs – Lee Miekle:

Dairy prices ended May in far better shape than at the beginning of the month, and block cheese prices entered June Dairy Month at record highs.

The cheese handily topped $2 per pound for the first time since November 2019 in the Memorial Day holiday-shortened week. The 40-pound Cheddar blocks closed Friday at $2.23 per pound, up 29.25 cents, all on unfilled bids, and 51.5 cents above a year ago.

The 500-pound Cheddar barrels finished Friday and the month at $2.0225, up 13.25 cents on the week and 48.25 cents above a year ago. . .


Rural round-up

June 5, 2020

Saving livestock and saving lives – Peter Burke:

With $1 million now behind them, Hawkes Bay Rural Advisory Group is working to get as many farmers and livestock through winter as possible.

“We’ve got to get every farmer through the winter and save as much stock as possible.” That’s what chair of the Hawkes Bay Rural Advisory Group (RAG), Lochie MacGillivray, told Rural News.

MacGillivray’s been tasked with dispensing the recently established $1 million special mayoral and government fund set up to pay for transporting much-needed stock feed to the drought-stricken region. . .

 

Wairarapa farmers determined to win over Kiwis with love of wool – James Fyfe:

Auckland-born Kate Tosswill never imagined she’d end up living on a farm in the Wairarapa.

Now, not only is she loving the rural life, but she’s determined to prove she can overcome the odds and help Kiwis fall in love with wool again.

Tosswill, who lives with her husband and two young children on the Bagshot Farm 20 minutes from Masterton, is on a mission to breathe life back into the classic fibre that was once so important to the country’s economy. . .

Three new faces for Dairy Women’s Network board:

The Dairy Women’s Network will have three new faces when its board meets on Friday.

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the year 2019 Trish Rankin, Dairy Women’s Network Business Group Director Rachel Haskew and Chief Executive of iwi-owned Pouarua Farms Jenna Smith will all bring valuable varied skills and experiences, Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board Chair Karen Forlong said.

“They all have taken different paths which have led them to our board table that adds the diversity we need. They will bring an abundance of new thought and enthusiasm that links to present opportunities and challenges within Dairy.” . .

Export meat prices fall from recent highs:

Export prices for meat, including lamb and beef, fell in the March 2020 quarter, from record levels at the end of 2019, Stats NZ said today.

“The fall in export prices coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak, which was declared a global pandemic in March 2020,” business prices delivery manager Geoff Wong said.

“The COVID-19 outbreak affected demand in export markets and disrupted supply chains, such as sea and air freight. . .

Red meat exports holding despite COvid-19 disruptions:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports for April was largely unchanged from the same month last year despite COVID-19, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported $859 million of lamb, mutton, beef and co-products in the month of April. While the overall value of exports was broadly similar compared to April 2019, there were changes to some major markets due to the impact of COVID-19.

Total exports to the United Kingdom were down 27 per cent to $39.6 million compared to last April and down 30 per cent to Germany ($22 million). . .

Dairy farmers say yes to milk solids levy:

Levy paying dairy farmers have voted to continue the sector’s milksolids levy.

The one in six-year milksolids levy vote closed on May 30, with provisional results showing 57 percent of the 11,747 levy paying dairy farmers voted – and of those who voted, 69 percent voted ‘yes’ to continuing the levy.

Weighting the vote by milksolids production shows even greater representation and support for the levy, with this year’s votes equating to a 67 percent farmer vote and 74 percent voting ‘yes’. . . 

 


National Lamb Day

May 24, 2020

It’s National Lamb Day:

National Lamb Day is celebrated on the 24th of May to commemorate the day in 1882 when the first shipment of frozen sheep meat arrived in the UK aboard the Dunedin. The shipment was organised by two entrepreneurs, William Davidson and Thomas Brydone and left New Zealand on February 15th from Port Chalmers, Otago. William Davidson, was a British-based general manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, whose landholdings in the two countries exceeded 1 million hectares. Davidson had taken an interest in refrigerated experiments, which had proved the concept, if not yet the economic viability, of shipping frozen meat around the globe. That historic journey of around 5,000 carcasses was the beginning of what is now a multi billion dollar industry. New Zealand farmers produce some of the best lamb and the rest of the world just can’t get enough.

Beef + Lamb NZ has a gallery of photos from New Zealand farms featuring lambs here.

 


Rural round-up

May 22, 2020

RA 20 virus danger to NZ farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation. It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus, which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long-term than COVID-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA 20, but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. RA 20 is believed to have originated in the Great Plains in America. It quickly spread to the Australian Outback and then hopped the ditch to New Zealand.

Interestingly, like Covid-19, it is particularly severe in those weakened by other complicating factors. Some victims are known to have no knowledge of the important values of science, evidence, logic and reason. Another cohort includes those who know little about the principles of soil fertility, pasture management and animal husbandry.  . . 

Film gets monkey off his back – David Anderson:

A young Kiwi, Los Angeles-based, filmmaker has made good use of the lockdown period to help farmers battling with mental health issues.

Twenty-year-old Hunter Williams has shot and produced a short video that addresses the poorer mental health outcomes facing the rural sector. The short film encourages rural people to talk about the struggles they may be facing and not keep their feelings bottled up.

Williams told Rural News that he’d had his own mental health issues growing up and the film was something that was close to his heart. The eight minute documentary is called ‘The Monkeys on Our Backs’. Various farmers and organisations have been involved in the production, including the Rural Support Trust and Farmstrong.

Williams was raised in Hawkes Bay and comes from a large farming family. 

Venison marketers building on-line and retail sales :

Marketers of New Zealand farm-raised venison are making a concerted push to build sales through on-line outlets and through gourmet retailers. This gourmet product, normally sold mainly through food service distributors to chefs, has been particularly hard-hit by the sound of restaurant doors slamming shut around the globe.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says Covid-related restaurant shut-downs created a crisis for their food service suppliers and the farmers that supply them. Demand from chefs for NZ farm-raised venison – one of the industry’s greatest assets – overnight became a vulnerability.

“Fortunately our venison export marketers and/or their overseas partners already had small retail and on-line marketing programmes. They are now putting a lot of energy into generating more sales through these channels, while looking out for the green shoots of recovery in food service.” . . 

Potato prices reach all-time high in April:

Rising prices for potatoes, soft drinks (large bottles), capsicums, and fresh eggs saw overall food prices up 1.0 percent in April 2020, Stats NZ said today.

Potato prices rose 18 percent in April to a weighted average price of $2.51 per kilo, an all-time peak.

Some media reports suggest the potato industry has seen a 30–50 percent increase in demand from supermarkets and a shortage of workers.

“Higher demand and a shortage of potato pickers, many of whom stayed home due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, could explain this large price increase,” consumer prices manager Bryan Downes said. . . 

Hunting industry requires domestic support:

New Zealand’s guided hunting industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and is appealing for support from domestic hunters looking for a unique hunting experience.

“Guided hunting was worth over $50 million a year to the New Zealand economy and provided primarily international visitors with fantastic Kiwi hunting experiences on both private and public land,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “It has also been an extremely important employer in provincial regions and has a low impact on our environment.”

“It really has been a New Zealand tourism success story.” . . 

Why your rural sales reps won’t sell remotely – St John Craner:

Remote selling isn’t something new yet we’re seeing a lot of resistance to it right now.

Many clients are telling us their reps won’t sell remotely, complaining that they “need to see the customer”.

Whilst I buy that argument in-part, selling remotely has been around for a wee while. Phone, email or online have been a stable source of sales for years. They aren’t new technologies. 

The real reason why most sales reps feel they can’t sell remotely is because of fear. . . 


Rural round-up

May 21, 2020

“Geen tape’ policies should be put on hold – Simon Bridges :

National leader Simon Bridges wants the government to put off “green tape” policies in the farming and primary sector.

The comments were in response to a question asked during a presentation to the Otago Chamber of Commerce, on whether the government needed to change some of its policies it wanted to introduce in the primary sector.

Bridges said it was one thing to have certain policies in good times and another during a time of deep recession or depression.

“Some of the policies around climate change, water, a variety of other areas of green tape I think are going to be unhelpful at this time.

“I’m not suggesting these issues aren’t important, they are, but the facts have changed and we need to change what we do.” . . 

Prices drop for sheep and beef farmers:

Prices paid to sheep and beef cattle farmers and meat manufacturers both fell sharply in the March 2020 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

Sheep, beef, and grain farmers received 11.5 percent less for their products in the March quarter, reversing rises over most of 2019. In turn, prices paid to meat manufacturers were down 4.4 percent in the March quarter.

“The sharp fall in prices for sheep and beef farming in the first three months of 2020 coincided with dry conditions in many parts of New Zealand, with sheep and beef prices falling,” business prices acting manager Geoffrey Wong said. . . 

How to export your way out of a financial crisis – a 10 point plan for New Zealand – Charles Finny:

The hugely successful coronavirus response means New Zealand is well-placed for an export-led recovery, writes Charles Finny in this paper for the SSANSE Commission for a Post-Covid Future at the University of Canterbury.

New Zealand’s response to Covid-19 has come at an enormous economic cost. If we don’t move very fast that cost will increase greatly, and if we are not careful we will be left with a really perverse result. We will be even more dependent on one market, China, and on one sector, agriculture, than we were before going into this crisis.

Of course, China will continue to be an important market for New Zealand for many years to come and agriculture is critical to our future – but we don’t want all our eggs in a couple of baskets, particularly as China has in recent years shown a propensity to use trade dependency as a political lever.

In 2019 China took: . . 

Nine Van Leeuwen Group farms offered for sale :

Nine Van Leeuwen Group farms are up for sale, close to three years after cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was discovered on more than a dozen properties owned by the South Canterbury-based company.

Sixteen properties belonging to the group had restricted place notices imposed on them by the Ministry for Primary Industries in July 2017 after the outbreak of the bacterial cattle disease, in an effort to control the movement of stock.

At the time two dozen cows on one of the group’s farms tested positive for the disease, the first identified in New Zealand. . . 

Rain brings relief to Hawke’s Bay farmers over weekend – but the drought isn’t over yet – Bonnie Flaws:

For the first time since the drought began, Hawke’s Bay has had double digit rainfall over the weekend, bringing much needed relief to farmers in the region.

Farmers have been under extraordinary pressure in recent months as coronavirus compounded the issues brought about by the drought.

Rain fell all weekend on the farms of Hawke’s Bay, which saw sample measurements of rainfall for the week reach approximately 30 millimetres in the Southern Ranges, south coast and Tangoio as well as some northern coastal areas and ranges. . . 

Taranaki accounting specialist urges farmers to be proactive about their future finances :

The $500,000 government funding for drought recovery has been welcomed by the dairy industry. However, with the current global uncertainty limiting the ability to predict where the milk price will land and the negative implications of COVID-19 affecting contractors’ and farmers’ income, Dairy NZ and Baker Tilly Staples Rodway have teamed up to highlight the need for farmers to understand their finances.

Taranaki farm accounting specialist, Amanda Burling, of Baker Tilly Staples Rodway said: “It’s been a challenging time for the Dairy Industry. The drought, along with the impacts of Covid-19 are providing a lot of uncertainty. The sale yards in lockdown along with the works slowing down due to social distancing rules has had an impact on cashflow. Now we must work together to prepare for next spring.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 9, 2020

Build more and be damned! – David Anderson:

Water storage is one of the keys to helping rebuild NZ’s economy in the wake of COVID-19, says Ian Proudfoot, KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness.

This was the message he gave to Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee on the opportunities our food and fibre industries have to lead our national economic recovery.

“We have long been the developed nation with the greatest reliance on growing and selling biological products to the world to pay for our schools, roads and hospitals,” he explained.

“Now, more than ever, the industry recognises it needs to step forward to ensure that our country is able to maintain the living standards we have become accustomed to.” . . 

Drought relief ‘too little too late’ Hawke’s Bay farmer – Robin Martin:

A Hawke’s Bay farmer says the government’s latest drought relief package – a $500,000 fund for advisory services – is a “drop in the ocean” and won’t go far to alleviating struggling farmers’ problems.

Extremely dry conditions have hit much of the North Island and parts of the South Island in recent months and in some areas, including Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay, the situation remains dire.

Grant Charteris farms deer and beef cattle at Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay.

He said today’s relief package was a case of “too little too late”. . .

Telephone diplomacy to fight protectionism – Peter Burke:

Rising protectionism is one of the major concerns of New Zealand exporters in the light of COVID-19.

NZ’s chief trade negotiator, Vangelis Vitalis, told Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee that as a result of COVID, many countries will resort to protecting their own economies. NZ exporters fear this will make it much harder for them.

Vitalis says exporters are also concerned about the logistics of getting goods to market, but they have praised the work done by MFAT, NZTE and MPI in keeping freight lines open. . . 

New farm safety initiative aims to empower women to effect change :

A new farm safety initiative aims to rally rural women to help save injuries and lives on New Zealand farms.

Action group Safer Farms has partnered with Australian woman Alex Thomas to bring the #PlantASeedForSafety Project to New Zealand.

The project profiles women from all parts of rural industries and communities who are making positive and practical improvements to the health, safety and wellbeing of those around them.

With the message “save a life, listen to your wife”, it aims to raise the voices of rural women and boost their confidence in their ability to influence change and to inspire others to make safer, healthier choices. . .

Quinoa growers urged to band together and take on the world – Nigel Malthus:

One of New Zealand’s very few quinoa growers is calling on his colleagues to band together to help market their product.

Andrew Currie, who farms near Methven in inland Canterbury, believes he is one of only three commercial quinoa growers in the country. He’s the only one in the South Island and the only one with a breeding programme of golden, white, red and black quinoa varieties.

He told Rural News if there is any good to come out of the current COVID-19 emergency, it may be renewed support for locally grown produce. Currie says the post-lockdown environment will be very different.

“New Zealand farming will be the strength of our economy. Some people will need to change occupation to more rural orientated jobs.”  . .

Ag’s critical role in post-COVID recovery a unique opportunity – Michael Guerin:

Although Australia is weathering the COVID-19 storm better than almost any other nation, there is no doubt that it has dealt us a sickening blow.

And the worst is definitely still to come, as the long-term economic, employment and social effects become apparent.

However, out of the tragedy emerges a unique opportunity for Australian agriculture to lead the country out of the COVID-19 doldrums.

The NFF’s “Don’t panic. Aussie farmers have your back” campaign was highly successful in reassuring the public that our robust industry would ensure the country could feed itself.. . 


Rural round-up

May 8, 2020

Concern farmers’ wellbeing affected: –  David Hill:

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro is concerned for the wellbeing of farmers as they negotiate the ongoing effects of a dry season and the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said last month’s rain was “a great morale booster” for farmers in the drought-affected area in North Canterbury.

“Since that rain four weeks ago, things went pretty quiet. But it’s just a pity we haven’t had a follow-up rain and we really need a good warm follow-up rain, particularly for the farmers from Waipara north to get some growth before winter.

“It’s starting to get dry and cold in that northern part, but other than that it’s business as usual. . . 

Farmers need to be heard not patronised:

The Government’s drought recovery advice fund announced today is merely a drop in the bucket for supporting farmers affected by drought, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“The fund is specifically for providing affected farmers with recovery and planning advice, but does not contribute to farmers’ rising feed costs or general business costs.

“Most farmers already know what is needed to help their business recover and it is insulting for the Government to tell them they simply need to seek more advice to get through the drought. . . 

Rural GPs not just another business – Peter Burke:

Rural General Practice Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden is disappointed that the Government is treating rural general practices the same as any other business in the community.

Bolden told Rural News that rural GPs were expecting to get two payments from the Government to assist them financially.

However, she says while they had received the first payment, Cabinet vetoed the second payment – just days before it was expected to be paid.  . .

Differing responses to wage subsidy scheme – Allan Barber:

The country’s meat processors have followed two distinctly different paths in response to the government’s wage subsidy scheme which is available to all businesses for 12 weeks, providing they can substantiate a 30% drop in revenue during the period. Silver Fern Farms, Alliance, ANZCO, Taylor Preston and Blue Sky Meats have all claimed the subsidy to varying extents, whereas AFFCO, Greenlea and Wilson Hellaby have decided it is not justified or necessary, at least partly on ethical grounds.

The contrast in approach has already been commented on by independent economist, Cameron Bagrie, who has slammed the two largest claimants, SFF which has claimed $43 million and Alliance $34 million, for taking advantage of taxpayer funding when they are classified as an essential business, operating in lockdown. Equally Bagrie complimented those companies not making a claim because they were getting on with business as usual. Speaking to The Country’s Jamie Mackay, he said “the wage subsidy is out there to support businesses that are getting clobbered, that are effectively in lockdown.”

I am not convinced this interpretation is either totally fair or even correct. Both SFF’s Simon Limmer and Alliance’s CEO David Surveyor are clear the wage subsidy is not a company entitlement, but is paid directly to various categories of employees: firstly it maintains standard wage rates at normal processing speeds despite the 30-50% reduction to meet distance requirements, it retains those who would have to have been terminated seasonally, and it is used to pay those who cannot work e.g. because of age,  compromised immunity or family circumstances. . .

Community to the rescue for harvest – Toni Williams:

CharRees Vineyard owners Charlie and Esma Hill put a call out on social media for help to harvest during lockdown.

They were so overwhelmed by community response, including some from Christchurch, they had to turn people away.

The lockdown harvest, approved by Ministry for Primary Industries as essential for food and beverage production, attracted about 20 people from Ashburton and Methven — many who had never harvested grapes before — to put their hands up to help.

The pickers worked alongside family members of the couple and vineyard workers to pick the first of three annual grape harvests. . . 

Red meat exports top $1 billion in March 2020, a first for monthly exports:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports topped $1 billion for the first time, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Total exports reached $1.1 billion in March 2020, an increase of 12 per cent on March 2019.

While overall exports to China for the month of March were down by nine per cent compared to last March as a result of COVID-19, exports to all other major markets increased, demonstrating the agility and resilience of the New Zealand red meat sector. . . 

Time to take ag reform out of the “too hard basket” – Fiona Simson:

Regional Australia is well placed to be the engine that powers Australia’s COVID-19 recovery. The bush has done this before, with strong exports helping keep recession at bay during the Global Financial Crisis.

And, after a challenging period of drought, bushfires and floods, widespread rainfall has seen the fortunes of farmers begin to improve. Agriculture is ready and raring to grow.

As we dare to cast an eye to the world post-COVID-19, now is the opportune time to consider the changes agriculture and regional Australia needs to best contribute to the recovery task. . . 


Rural round-up

May 2, 2020

Ongoing drought is bleeding us dry – Rhea Dasent:

We are living through exceptional times, and the drought of 2020 is one of the exceptions – and not in a good way.

Businesses affected by the coronavirus lockdown understand how farmers feel about the drought.

Being unable to trade due to external influences puts you not just on the back foot, but several feet behind, for the rest of the year or even longer.

Tourism businesses rely on a good summer with lots of customers in order to have the income to get through the low winter season. Farmers have good and bad seasons too, and hope that it all evens out.

But the lockdown and this drought have taken the usual seasonal ups and downs to a whole new level. . . 

Overseas markets holding up – Allan Barber:

In a recent conversation, Alliance CEO David Surveyor described world red meat markets by comparing them to traffic lights. Contrary to the evidence earlier in the year, when buyers stopped buying because of Chinese New Year closely followed by the Covid-19 shutdown, China has emerged as the brightest light with the traffic lights firmly set on green. The composition of Chinese orders has changed since the virus outbreak with retail and online sales growing considerably, while there are signs of hot pot outlets starting to reopen.

Silver Fern Farms’ Simon Limmer agrees with this assessment, although he cautions against assuming there won’t be a risk of a market reversal at some point. For the time being China is a saviour, in spite of meat exporters’ wish not to put too many eggs in the same basket. This is not a time to pick and choose though. The rest of Asia is also quite strong with demand for grass fed beef holding up well in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and South East Asia. . .

Changing patterns in food supply must be addressed – Anna Campbell:

I have been reading and listening to reports and podcasts on the impact of Covid-19 on food supply and buying patterns.

It is interesting to note that most of these trends were identified as trends before Covid-19, but the pandemic has massively shifted the dial in terms of the pace of change. We are likely to see many of these shifts sustained in the Covid-19 recovery and beyond.

1. In the United States, Covid-19 has increased the dominance of the large food players such as Walmart and Amazon (which owns Whole Foods). Small grocery chains and independents, before Covid-19, made up 40% of the grocery sector — this is rapidly shrinking. Workers within the large chains are negotiating higher pay and, in general, profit margins on grocery products are decreasing. This will make it harder for small players to compete, especially without the benefits of robotics and artificial intelligence systems. . . 

Four Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leader finalists:

Grassroots dairy farming leadership efforts from throughout New Zealand are represented by the four finalists in the Dairy Women’s Network new DWN Regional Leader of the Year award.

The finalists are spread from the north of the North Island where Sue Skelton is farming south west of Whangarei near Waiotira to Jessica Goodwright who is sharemilking in Drummond in Central Southland.

Mid-Canterbury farmer and personal development coach Tania Burrows and North Canterbury contract milker Rebecca Green are the other two finalists that represent over 70 volunteer Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leaders spread throughout the country. . .

High yields in difficult season a credit to NZ’s arable farmers:

Yields for the 2020 harvest are up 16 percent across the board when compared to 2019, the latest Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) survey shows.

Particularly encouraging was the fact fewer hectares were planted in total this season compared to last (98,090 ha vs 104,000) yet tonnes harvested were substantially up (873,080 vs 796,700), Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, said.

“This is in despite of a severe early season hailstorm, flooding in some regions and some pretty variable weather.  It just highlights that our arable farmers are world class,” Brian said. . .

Muttonbird hunters expect prices to go up as season cut short by lockdown – Te Aniwa Hurihanganui:

Eager muttonbird hunters are hoping to get a flight out to the Tītī / Muttonbird Islands as soon possible, with alert level 3 now opening a small window of opportunity to gather the delicious tītī before the season is over.

Muttonbirds are in hot demand every year, but with alert level 4 putting the season on hold, hunters now have just two weeks before the birds leave the island in early May.

Tony McColgan from Invercargill usually collects up to 2000 birds a year; he thought the season was over when the lockdown began. . . 

Investing in cows grows wealth in dairy – Samantha Townsend:

It might have taken the Nicholsons 30 years to put their name on the mortgage but it was an investment well worth the wait for the next generation.

Megan and Geoff Nicholson started their dairy journey as lease farmers in 1989 having moved back to her home town of Taree from the United Kingdom where they met.

Geoff was from a beef, sheep and cropping farm but neither of us had particular dairy experience but we decided to give it go and loved it ,” Mrs Nicholson said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 1, 2020

Broadband money ‘just a drop’ – Gerald Piddock:

A $15 million fund for ultra-fast broadband in rural areas is not enough to improve the technology for farmers.

“It’s a drop in the bucket,” Technology Users Association chief executive Craig Young said.

The Government money will upgrade some existing mobile towers and wireless backhaul that connects remote sites and for the installation of external antennae on houses to improve coverage. . .

Winter grazing drought hits farms – Gerald Piddock:

North Island dairy farmers are struggling to find graziers to take their cows over winter because many don’t have enough feed.

The effects of the drought across Hawke’s Bay, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Manawatu mean demand for graziers outweighs supply this autumn. 

Waikato Federated Farmers dairy chairman Ben Moore said farmers are getting calls from graziers saying they cannot take their cattle as planned.  . .

West Cost Regional Council reverses wetland decision – Lois Williams:

The West Coast Regional Council has reversed its controversial decision on wetlands – giving relief to sphagnum moss harvesters around the region.

The council rejected recommendations in February on a change to the regional plan, identifying significant wetlands and giving them additional protection.

The change would also have taken some wetlands off the list and made moss harvesting a permitted activity in those areas. But the council’s resource management committee voted against it, saying the plan change did nothing for other private landowners whose properties were still on the list. . . 

Forest Growers Levy Trust commits to support industry:

The New Zealand Forest Growers Levy Trust is anticipating borrowing and using reserves to maintain as much of its yearly work programme as possible.

The Trust has decided today (29 April eds) to reduce its work programme by a million dollars, following disruption to forest exports and production caused by the international spread of coronavirus.

But the Chair of the FGLT, Geoff Thompson, says it’s anticipating covering an even larger fall in its revenue and is planning on using reserves and borrowing so as not too significantly disrupt its funding of industry good activities. . . 

Kiwifruit gives March exports a golden glow:

Exports hit a new high in March 2020, driven by kiwifruit, dairy, and meat, even as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, Stats NZ said today.

The value of total goods exports rose $215 million (3.8 percent) from March 2019 to reach $5.8 billion in March 2020. This was a record for any month – the previous high was in May 2019.

The increase in total goods exports reflected a bumper kiwifruit harvest and higher prices for milk powder and meat. This rise was partly offset by a fall in log exports, particularly to China, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. . . 

US could be weeks from meat shortages with shutdowns spreading – Michael Hirtzer and Tatiana Freitas:

Plant shutdowns are leaving the U.S. dangerously close to meat shortages as coronavirus outbreaks spread to suppliers across the nation and the Americas.

Almost a third of U.S. pork capacity is down, the first big poultry plants closed on Friday and experts are warning that domestic shortages are just weeks away. Brazil, the world’s No. 1 shipper of chicken and beef, saw its first major closure with the halt of a poultry plant owned by JBS SA, the world’s biggest meat company. Key operations are also down in Canada, the latest being a British Columbia poultry plant. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 29, 2020

Covid-19 and New Zealand’s agricultural trade – Keith Woodford:

Despite any attempts to diversify away from China, exports to China will be increasingly important in coming months as much of the world descends into increasing turmoil

With COVID-19 now dominating all of our lives, it was easy to decide that COVID-19 would determine the focus of my rural-focused article this week. However, in choosing COVID-19 and agricultural trade, I want to focus primarily on the world beyond the current lockdown and explore where we might be heading in the months thereafter.

The starting point is that in times like these, export markets choose New Zealand, rather than New Zealand choosing its export markets. In this environment, all we can do is hang out our shingle, and help potential buyers to manage the logistics. . . 

Coronavirus: Rural communities ‘more vulnerable’ says expert – Angie Skerrett:

Questions have been raised about how rural communities will cope with COVID-19 after new cases of the virus in a number of small towns.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed 78 new coronavirus cases in New Zealand, bringing the total to 283.

Locations of new cases included small towns such as Te Anau, Roxburgh, Cromwell, and Alexandra.

While some farmers have suggested the isolation of rural life provided an extra sense of security during the pandemic an expert said that was not the case. . . 

Are we fit for a better world? – Sarah Perriam:

It’s being described as the ‘rehab’ from our destructive farming practices weaning our land off the ‘drugs’. Sarah Perriam digs deeper into what’s driving a new way of farming that is creating a groundswell of support in Canterbury, but not everyone’s convinced.

Internationally renowned ecologist Allan Savory’s TED Talk with over 4 million views on YouTube titled ‘How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change‘ was my introduction to the concept of ‘regenerative agriculture’.

Allan has dedicated his life to turning around ‘desertification’ which he refers to two-thirds of the world’s grasslands degraded from erosion from intensive livestock grazing and extensive soil cultivation. . .

The race to save a bumper kiwifruit season – Jim Kayes:

Tougher Covid-19 restrictions would have a massive impact on the billion-dollar industry, but growers remain cautiously optimistic they can beat the clock, writes Jim Kayes.

Craig Lemon sits in a room usually teeming with people, surrounded by bottles of hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes.

With 260 hectares of kiwifruit orchards producing about 48 million of the green and yellow pockets of juicy vitamin C, his mind should be solely on the harvest. This is the time when the fruit is picked and packed, with Lemon’s Southern Orchards filling 1.5 million trays at his packhouses in South Auckland and Tauranga over the next few months. . . 

2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards say good, capable people are the cornerstone of their business.

Ralph and Fleur Tompsett were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards. Other major winners were Stephen Overend, who was named the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Lucy Morgan, the 2020 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Tompsetts say they want to continue to grow and develop their business. “It’s a goal of ours to bring great people along with us to share and enjoy the growth opportunities which our dairy industry provides.” . . 

Coronavirus: Taranaki farmer makes giant hay bale teddy for ‘Ted in the window’ campaign – Angie Skerrett

A Taranaki farmer has created a giant hay bale teddy bear as part of the international ‘Ted in the Window’ campaign.

The campaign which has been sweeping the globe, aims to entertain children during the COVID-19 restrictions by giving them something to look out for in their neighbourhood on a social-distanced scavenger hunt.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 27, 2020

Farming must step up, sector heads say – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s lockdown over Covid-19 is an opportunity for the agricultural sector ‘‘to step up and remind our country how great we are’’, Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie says.

The farm supplies co-operative has been identified as an essential service and will remain open, although customers have to call or email orders first, and a contactless collection process will then be arranged.

Yesterday, Mr Reidie said the world would still need to be fed and New Zealand was very well placed in terms of the quantity and quality of its produce .

‘‘Provided we can get things on boats … we should keep on keeping on. That’s got to be the ambition,’’ he said.

It was a reminder of the importance of landowners, farmers and orchardists. . . 

Kiwi Jack Raharuhi takes the crown in top Australasian award:

Jack Raharuhi from Pāmu Farms in Westport, and Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer of the Year 2016, has been crowned the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award winner.

Raharuhi, 27 years old, is the Buller Dairy Group Operations Manager for Pāmu, where he oversees 4 dairy farms and a machinery syndicate at Cape Foulwind, and Health and Safety leadership for 10 dairy farms. He is also Chair of the West Coast Focus Farm Trust, and heavily involved with training and mentoring staff as part of the West Coast 2IC Development Programme.

The annual Award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises and supports talented young individuals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. It was launched in 2014 in memory of Australian beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013. . . 

Carrying on farming and consider grain options for stock feed:

Farmers can carry on doing what they do best – putting high quality food on people’s tables and earning export revenue – with confirmation direct from the Prime Minister that they are an ‘Essential Service’ that can continue operating under the Covid-19 lockdown from midnight Wednesday.

Services associated with the primary sector, including food processors, diagnostics, farm suppliers, freight and trucking can also go about their business, while taking all practical steps to limit people to people contact.

This confirmation they are vital to helping the nation survive the virus crisis will be a relief and reason for pride for many farmers and workers in those associated industries. But for some, there remains a pressing concern – the drought, and how to feed stock. . . 

Dairy Trainee of the Year spots all go to women :

Women won all three placings in the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year competition.

The awards were presented at the West Coast Events Centre in Shantytown on Tuesday last week.

Alexis Wells won the trainee section, Dallas Bradley was second and Stephanie Gray claimed third place.

Ms Wells (21) is a farm assistant on a 307ha, 670-cow Pamu Farms of New Zealand property in Reefton. She is studying level 4 husbandry and feeding with Primary ITO and said she was proud to have made it to the dairy awards finals three years in a row. Her goal is to the win the national title. . . 

Pandemic postpones DoC predator control – David Williams:

The Conservation Department will halt operations to kill bird-eating pests during the four-week national shutdown. David Williams reports

Pest control operations to protect rare and vulnerable native species are about to cease.

The Department of Conservation will halt all biodiversity work during the upcoming four-week national shutdown, director-general Lou Sanson confirms.

“We debated that seriously but when we heard the Prime Minister [on Monday], and we understood the seriousness of the lockdown, the number one focus for New Zealand is to stop people moving, and that means all our biodiversity work stops, our construction work stops. About the only things we’ll be doing is the operation of sewerage schemes, search and rescue, and fire.”

(DoC acts as the local council, providing utilities like drinking water and sewerage schemes, in places like Aoraki/Mt Cook Village.) . . 

Exports rise as dairy gains while logs and fish fall:

Total goods exports increased in the February 2020 month due to an increase in the value of dairy products, Stats NZ said today.

The total value of meat exports was little changed, but higher quantities were exported to the United States instead of China.

The increase in total good exports was despite falls in exports of logs and fish, particularly to China, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The value of total goods exports rose by $212 million (4.5 percent) from February 2019 to reach $4.9 billion in February 2020. . . 


Processing essential link in economic chain

March 27, 2020

Some New Zealanders don’t understand primary production and the importance of trade:

A number of New Zealanders are outraged that staff at largely export-driven food manufacturers are required to work during lockdown, leading to questions over the fairness of putting employees’ health at risk for the sake of feeding foreign markets.

It is valid to question if all possible measures to keep workers safe from Covid-19 are being observed, but not to discount the importance of processing food for export.

An employee of an unnamed onion processing factory claims staff are required to work throughout New Zealand’s four-week lockdown, despite all the produce being exported overseas. 

“I work in a food factory that processes onions – hardly essential by themselves. They export them all overseas, none go to the local market, but these guys have decided to stay open,” the worker, who Newshub has decided to keep anonymous, told MagicTalk host Ryan Bridge on Tuesday.

Onions might not be essential by themselves, but does the worker want them left in paddocks to rot, does he not want a job when the pandemic is over and does he not want the country to keep up the trade that will be essential for economic recovery?

“I don’t see what good that’s doing for New Zealand in this situation. The directors have decided because they can, because they’re a food manufacturer, they’re going to stay open… it’s not cool, I’m really aggravated by it.”

The employee says the factory has given staff an ultimatum: if they don’t want to work, they don’t get paid. 

“I have to work… if we don’t, we don’t get any money. I don’t really have a choice, everyone needs a wage coming in,” he said. 

If the factory isn’t operating, the business doesn’t get income and if there’s no income how will it pay its staff?

“Everyone’s health is at risk for absolutely no gain. An onion is not essential, especially when it’s getting sent overseas.” . . 

All workers have the right to be safe from disease just as they have the right to be safe in every other way at work.

The worker can ask for safety measures such as protective clothing and masks and for the two-metre rule of social distancing to be observed at all times. But he’s wrong to question the need for the factory to keep operating.

He obviously doesn’t understand his work in processing is an essential link in the chain that starts in the paddock and finishes with export income that will be needed even more now that the country is headed into recession and spending billions on measures to reduce the damage that Covid-19, and the response to it, is  inflicting on businesses, their owners and staff.

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard says supplying food is an essential activity, and all governments around the world – including New Zealand – are prioritising food production, importing and exporting.

“New Zealand is part of a global food supply chain which would be disrupted if we started putting restrictions on food exports,” Catherine Beard said.

“Food exports are going to help New Zealand weather this economic storm. 70-80% of goods exports are food-related and they are essential to our economy.

“Nor is there cause for concern about working conditions, as food manufacturing businesses are already highly regulated and sanitised environments.

“Employers will be taking extra care about working conditions to keep employees safe, in line with Government recommendations for safe working conditions in a Covid19 situation.

“Any employee with safety concerns should talk to their employer. Employers don’t want sick workers coming to work with even a cold. Employers will be highly vigilant around the safety of their workers as they don’t want to risk a shut down.”

People everywhere still need to eat.

New Zealand produces far more food than we can consume domestically.

Keeping the production chain going will reduce waste, enable growers to prepare for next season, keep people in work, keep businesses afloat and keep on earning the export income that will be needed to fund the economic and social recovery from Covid-19.


Disease shows need to diversify markets

March 12, 2020

Theodore Dalrymples writes on the longer term economic impact of coronavirus Covid-19:

But the epidemic might well have effects far beyond any that its death rate could account for. The world has suddenly woken up to the dangers of allowing China to be the workshop of the world and of relying on it as the ultimate source for supply chains for almost everything, from cars to medicines, from computers to telephones. No doubt normal service will soon resume once the epidemic is over, even if at a lower level, but at the very least supply chains should be diversified politically and perhaps geographically; dependence on a single country is to industry what dependence on monoculture is to agriculture. And just as the heart has its reasons that reason knows not of, so countries may have strategic reasons that economic reasons know not of.

China has been our biggest market for good reasons – it has wanted to buy our products and produce, especially food, and it has been willing to pay well for it.

It has also been a major source of imports of finished goods and components and packaging for goods produced here.

The shutdown caused by attempts to contain Covid-19 has shown that while returns from exports have been higher, and cost of imports often lower, than if we were trading with other countries, there are risks in over reliance on one market.

The economic impact from the spread of the disease has reinforced the need to diversify markets.

The danger is that the epidemic will be used as a justification for beggar-my-neighbour protectionism, and for zero-sum game economics, to the great impoverishment of the world. Judgment, that mysterious faculty that is so difficult to define or quantify, but which undoubtedly exists, will be needed to adjudicate the claims of strategic security and economic efficiency. Even in situations in which there is hard scientific evidence to guide us, such as the present epidemic, judgment is still required. The present highly-charged political atmosphere, in which opponents can hardly bear the sight of one another, or conceded any value to their ideas, is not conducive to its exercise.

As a small nation, producing far more food than we can consume domestically, New Zealand has a lot to gain from free trade and stands to lose a lot if other countries use the disease as an excuse to implement protectionist policies.


Rural round-up

March 5, 2020

Tears for a life’s work – Tim Fulton:

Farming with Mycoplasma bovis is an alien experience, one full of officials and strangers in full-length protective jumpsuits washing down yards and troughs, for the Wobben family. Tim Fulton reports.

Despite being a hard-nosed man with a bent for confrontation Roel Wobben is crying for his cows.

The family will lose their 2700 cows and have already lost nearly as many young stock and bulls to a Mycoplasma bovis cull.

They milk through two sheds on their irrigated 710ha North Canterbury farm, doing about 500kg MS a cow and calving twice a year. There’s also a second 285ha farm nearby milking 900 cows, run by a contract milker. . . 

Open Farm day draws 5,500 visitors:

Over 5500 people spent the day on farms around the country on Sunday.

45 farmers opened their gates to visitors on Sunday for New Zealand’s inaugural nationwide open farm day.

Farms of all types and sizes participated: from high-country sheep stations in Otago to dairy farms in the Waikato and even an indoor, vertical microgreens producer in Wellington.

A wide range of activities were on offer for visitors, says Open Farms founder Daniel Eb. . .

Shearer is up for a challenge :

Colin Watson-Paul shore sheep for 30 years. 

Now he trains others, including seven women who recently learned to shear to raise funds for Farmstrong.

He says he got a real buzz out of teaching the novice shearers.

“Shearing’s easier said than done but they can all shear a sheep now. There’s been a lot of humour. They’re a great bunch of women, who will have you in stitches. Now when they go out they talk about sheep shearing, believe it or not.” . . 

New Zealand grass-fed butter in Whole Foods first:

Premium butter produced by Lewis Road Creamery has become the first New Zealand dairy product to be stocked US-wide by American supermarket giant Whole Foods.

The New Zealand grass-fed butter is now on Whole Foods shelves in 37 states, including in flagship stores in Union Square, New York, and Austin, Texas.

The butter is made from milk that meets a stringent 10 Star Premium Standard that covers grass-fed, free-range, animal welfare, human welfare, environmental sustainability, and climate change mitigation. . . 

Bega value-add strategy helps combat drought impact – Carelene Dowie:

Bega’s milk intake has fallen 13 per cent on the back of drought and increased competition for milk supply, hitting the company’s earnings.

But the half-year statutory profit of NSW-based dairy and grocery business lifted 3.5pc to $8.5 million, due to growth in its branded consumer and food-service business.

The company also pointed to improved performance at the former Murray Goulburn Koroit, Vic, milk-processing plant, which it acquired last year, the improvement in milk returns following the closure of its Coburg, Vic, factory and new toll-processing arrangements as contributing positively to the result. . . 

Farmers angry after senior government adviser says UK could import all food ‘like Singapore’ – Greg Heffer:

The UK has a “moral imperative” to produce its own food, the chief of the farmers’ union has said after it emerged a senior government adviser argued Britain could import all produce.

Minette Batters, the president of the National Union of Farmers, hit back at suggestions the UK could copy nations such as Singapore and import all its food.

In emails obtained by The Mail On Sunday, Dr Tim Leunig – an economic adviser to Chancellor Rishi Sunak – wrote that the food sector “isn’t critically important” to the UK and farming and fishing “certainly isn’t”. . . 

 


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