Rural round-up

26/04/2022

91 students enrolled with Growing Future Farmers in 2022:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) funds Growing Future Farmers (GFF) who aims to accelerate a graduate’s career from entry level Essential Farm Skills programme to advanced Farm Skills and Business Management.

GFF recently reported that 31 second year students and 60 first year students enrolled in the programme for the 2022 intake.

With a total of 91 students enrolled in 2022 Growing Future Farmers is cemented as the largest training organisation of its type in the country,” says GFF General Manager Cyn Smith.

Growing Future Farmers combines a range of specialised industry training and development with formal NZQA learning that includes classroom lectures, independent study, and group sessions. It is a two-year programme (46 weeks each year) with placements in 10 regions throughout the country. . . 

Winegrowers hopeful better harvest will allow renewal of stocks – Nicholas Pointon:

The 2022 grape harvest looks to have rebounded from the disappointment of last year allowing bigger production and winemakers to refill their cellars, after stocks were depleted a year ago.

The 2021 harvest was nearly 20 percent smaller than the previous year because of poor weather and wineries had to draw down on their reserves to meet market demand.

But reports are coming through from some makers of a much better year, with the stock exchange-listed company Foley Wines reporting its 2022 harvest was likely to be two-thirds higher than last year.

“The team across the business did a remarkable job in very difficult conditions,” chief executive Mark Turnbull said in a statement. . . 

 

Ukraine export woes prompt sunflower oil business to amend plans – Sally Murphy :

A New Zealand company is looking to more than treble its production of sunflower oil in response to global shortages.

Ukraine is the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil but due to the war its production is expected to be down 40 percent this season.

In a normal year it produces 7.5 tonnes of the oil each year, 7 million tonnes are exported.

Ukraine’s main sunflower oil producer is Kernel, its chief executive Ilevgen Osypov told CNN they’re struggling to get product to ports for export. . . 

Apiculture NZ secures funding for honey sector strategy :

Apiculture New Zealand has successfully secured funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, for a two-year project that will help identify how the New Zealand apiculture sector can achieve sustainable growth.

“The aim of the project is to establish a strategic direction for the apiculture sector by identifying actionable measures to enable sustainable value growth. This will be driven by a shared purpose, derived from engagement with all participants in the sector,” says Karin Kos, CE Apiculture NZ.

“The sector experienced huge growth following the quick escalation in demand from international consumers for New Zealand’s mānuka honey. But in many ways the sector’s response to meet that new demand has been unsustainable. Now is the time to understand how we can capitalise on the opportunities that have emerged, but at a rate that can be lasting, both for participants and the environment. Apiculture NZ welcomes the Government’s support to help us realise that goal,” says Ms Kos.

The work will look at opportunities to capture more value at all levels of the sector and understand what type of transformation, capability and innovation will be required to capture that value sustainably. . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest series regional finals a success :

The road to the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final is underway, with all regional finals now finished and competitors selected.

Seven FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Finalists, 14 FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year teams (28 competitors) and 21 AgriKidsNZ teams (63 competitors) will be heading to Whangarei to battle it out for the top awards, this July.

Wanting to celebrate the regional final season loudly and proudly, New Zealand Young Farmers CEO Lynda Coppersmith has called it an absolute success.

“To have travelled across the country during the omicron outbreak, held seven great regional finals with minimum disruptions and selected all our incredible competitors – all with no outbreaks at our events – is a testament to our exceptional teams and volunteers who put this contest together and their dedication and resilience. . . 

Award-winning riverfront cropping and grazing property is place don the market for sale :

A multi-award-winning agricultural block which has been diligently nurtured for generations to produce high cropping yields and grazing conditions has been placed on the market for sale.

The flat contoured 109-hectare property close to Wairoa between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay is known as Whakapau Farm and has sustained seasonal cropping of vegetables and grains, along with fattening of sheep and beef.

Whakapau Farm has been awarded multiple accolades by Hawke’s Bay-based agricultural and horticultural produce company Cedenco, including highest yield for sweet corn, Organic Grower of the Year, Highest Gross Return, and highest yield. . . 


Rural round-up

05/04/2022

A river runs through it – Lois Williams :

Flood-prone Franz Josef and nearby farms remain at the mercy of the West Coast’s biblical rainfall as the Government dithers on protection measures. 

In South Westland, work has begun on extending the giant stopbanks that protect the tourist town of Franz Josef and State Highway 6 from the wild Waiho River.

It’s nearly two years since the Government trumpeted a grant of $24 million for improved flood defences following the spectacular March 2019 event that washed away the road bridge and stranded hundreds of tourists for days.

But on the south bank opposite Franz Josef township, farmers and homeowners are still waiting to hear if they’re to be included or forgotten. . . 

Long processing season likely – Riley Kennedy:

Farmers should prepare for a “very long” processing season, Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer says.

While the company had managed to keep Omicron out of its plants, the outbreak had put pressure on its processing chains.

There had been high rates of absenteeism across its network as staff had to self-isolate.

Much as with the overall outbreak in New Zealand, Silver Fern Farms had experienced a “north to south” wave. . . 

The picking is good as vineyards wait for workers – Tracie Barrett:

Central Otago winemakers and viticulturists are looking forward to the 2022 vintage, reporting good fruit size and flavours as harvest takes place on sunny days, although possible labour shortages cast a shadow.

Quartz Reef Wines winemaker Rudi Bauer, a two-time recipient of New Zealand Winemaker of the Year, said harvest of grapes began on February 22 for the label’s sparkling wine, which requires lower sugar levels than are required for a pinot noir.

“Generally, we are very happy with the sparkling wine quality,” he said.

Picking of the pinot noir began on the Bendigo vineyard on March 17, and the stable season had contributed to a promising vintage. . . 

 

Medals for NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2022 announced :

After judging at the end of February the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) has announced 254 medal winners in the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2022.

In what was a record for recent years entries were up 20 percent on 2021 – more than 380 cheeses were judged, with 76 Gold Medals, 120 Silver Medals and 58 Bronze Medals awarded.

Thirty-six judges led by Master Cheese Judge Jason Tarrant assessed the cheeses at Wintec in Hamilton on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 February 2022.

Jason Tarrant thanked the high calibre judging team, saying proof of their skill and understanding of NZ cheese was how aligned they were with all their assessments. . . 

 

Tim Dangen takes out the Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year title:

Tim Dangen, 29, has secured himself the final spot at the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final for Season 54.

Tim, a beef farmer and calf rearer in Muriwai, was announced as the winner of the Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year on Saturday night after a full day of challenges.

Following closely in the runner-up position was Lisa Kendall and in third place, Sam Waugh, both members of Franklin Young Farmers.

The Northern Regional Final Organising Committee, led by Auckland Young Farmer Louise Ford, put on an outstanding day, challenging Contestants to a range of tasks ensuring to test their ability and knowledge of the food and fibre sector. . .

QAAFI science cracks down on beef counterfeiting – Shan Goodwin:

WITH beef commanding top dollar, the incentive to counterfeit species and cuts is stronger than ever and the ways of doing it are becoming more and more sophisticated.

While meat fraud is rare in Australia, cattle producers certainly have a strong interest in stopping it – or even accidental substitution – overseas, given three quarters of Australian beef is exported.

That’s why scientists in Australia are honing in on ways to outsmart the fraudsters.

Advanced machine learning algorithms that researchers at the Queensland Alliance for Agricultural and Food Innovation are helping to develop have the power to validate the species, cut and even provenance of meat. . . 


Rural roundup

04/04/2022

Food crisis coming farming leader warns – Tim Cronshaw:

The price of diesel has gone up so much that it cost Valetta grain farmer David Clark $4000 to fill up his combine harvester.

By the time he had finished harvesting a milling wheat crop that night it was empty and needed filling again.

A full tank only cost him $1700 last year.

Mr Clark said there was no alternative, but to pass on the extra cost to shoppers who would have to pay more for their bread. . . 

Surfing for Farmers hits the right spot – Nick Brook:

A nationwide initiative supporting farmers’ mental and physical health was a roaring success in its first season at Kaka Point in South Otago.

Surfing For Farmers (SFF) was launched in Gisborne in 2018 by Stephen Thomson after seeing how pressure on the rural sector was hurting farmers at an alarming rate.

The programme now operates at 18 beaches throughout New Zealand.

‘‘As much as we love this industry, the stress of the job can get on top of you. . . 

Govt drought support doesn’t go far enough – Simmonds

Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says the Government’s declaration of a drought in Southland is big on talk, but small on funding support.

Yesterday, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced the current drought condition in the Southland, Clutha and Queenstown Lakes districts as a medium-scale adverse event.

The adverse event classification unlocks up to $100,000 in Government funding to support farmers and growers until October 2022, O’Connor says.

“The drought coupled with pandemic disruption to meat processing has contributed to added strain on people. . . 

Looking for the perfect peanut – Country Life:

Can New Zealand grow peanuts suitable for peanut butter?

To find out, eight peanut varieties are currently being trialled in Northland and one looks particularly promising…

A text of GPS coordinates leads Country Life to a paddock of peanuts in the Far North. It can’t be spotted from the road.

“It’s by design,” laughs Greg Hall from the Whangārei development agency Northland Inc. “It stops people ripping off our peanuts.” . . 

The roots go deep at Wanaka vineyard – Cosmo Kentish-Barnes:

Rippon winemaker Nick Mills looks across his family vineyard on the western flank of the Upper Clutha Basin, overlooking Lake Wānaka.

He says the land has its own spirit that he feels strongly.

Asked by Country Life to elaborate, he puts it like this:

“This land is about belonging, connections, love, family, team, voice, being blessed to be a place that grows grapes… that can talk with warmth and accuracy to this beautiful place.” . . 

Taking Stock: No shearers? – the wool industry hits a dilemma – Stephen Burns:

There have been many issues which have threatened the existence of the wool industry during the past 200 years when Merino sheep have been bred in Australia.

Some have been divisive to the point of pitting neighbour against neighbour, family against family – think of the troubles to introduce a Reserve Price Scheme in the early 1960’s or think again about the rancorous attempts to introduce wide combs.

Each were a cause of much heartache and dispute at the time but wide combs are now so readily accepted, it is a wonder so much time was sweated in denying their use.

That the Reserve Price Scheme eventually came undone only caused great financial pain to the many woolgrowers who continued to breed Merino sheep for their fleeces only to see them added to the wool stockpile until that accumulation was eventually sold. . . 


Rural round-up

31/03/2022

Practical and powerful resources growing great workplaces in food & fibre sectors :

Farmer Hamish Murray knows first-hand what it feels like to be short of the resources needed to create a great workplace. In 2014/2015, he and his family’s high-country sheep and beef farm suffered from one of Marlborough’s toughest droughts.

“My cup was empty; I had nothing left to give. When I reached emotional breaking point, it was obvious that to be successful at leading others, I needed to look at myself first. Soft skills aren’t a typical priority on-farm, but they matter the most if you want to attract, train and retain the best team.”

Hamish embarked on a series of coaching courses, mentoring and a Nuffield scholarship. Empowered by his new-found skills and knowledge, he then shared what he had learnt with his team.

“I worked out what I can control or change, and what I can’t. I learnt how to ask better and more open questions. We created a team, not a hierarchy. Accessing some very practical and powerful resources, improved my wellbeing, grew our staff’s self-awareness, and made our family business a better place to work.” . . 

Farmers stressed as Southland’s ‘green drought’ unlikely to break soon – Rachael Kelly:

John Smart looks out the window in the morning, sees the clear blue sky, and thinks it is going to be ‘’another crap day”.

He says he has never seen conditions so dry in his 30 years of farming in Southland, and he is worried that if rain does not fall soon, farmers are going to move from being ‘’stressed to really struggling’’.

“I’ve seen it dry before, but this is different. There’s no wind drying anything, and it’s staying warm even late into the evening.’’

Only 6mm of rain has fallen this month on the farm he is managing just outside Invercargill. . . 

Lack of staff, bad weather and Covid-19 creating challenges for wine harvest – Piers Fuller:

Ripe grapes don’t like the rain, and east coast vineyards are doing their best to get their harvests in before bacteria and mould takes hold.

After a hot summer the grape crops were in great shape, but heavy rains in February and March, and labour shortages are causing headaches for some wineries, particularly in Wairarapa.

Pip Goodwin of Martinborough’s Palliser Estate said it was “all hands to the deck” as they rushed to get their harvest in this year before the grapes were too “compromised”.

“It was a very challenging harvest. The fruit got a little bit compromised by the rain, and then we had no pickers.” . .

Race to beat ute tax – Neal Wallace:

Attempts to beat the ute tax, which comes into force on April 1, have been hampered by supply issues delays.

Vehicle retailers reported exceptional interest as potential purchasers try to beat the levy and replace their utilities, but supply issues have caused delivery delays of up to six months for some models.

The Clean Vehicle Act imposes a levy on high carbon-emitting vehicles, with the money used to rebate or subsidise the purchase cost of new electric vehicles (EVs).

Implementation has already been delayed from January 1 due to covid. . . 

Hunters advised not to release deer into new regions :

Ahead of the hunting season kicking off in earnest, OSPRI and farmers are asking hunters to think again if they are considering illegally releasing and relocating deer into new areas.

Deer hunters can unintentionally spread bovine TB by moving/releasing deer from one area to another area. Over the years OSPRI has worked hard to eradicate TB in possums from large areas of New Zealand. This work can all be undone by the reintroduction of TB infected deer with the potential of spill back of infection into the possum population.

Waikato farmer Leith Chick says Sika deer from the Central North Island in particular, pose a threat of infecting others if they are released in TB free areas.

“Farmers who are getting deer released onto their land should be aware that they are exposing themselves to the risk of bringing TB to their farm,” says Leith. . . 

Comvita partners with Save the Kiwi to help safeguard taonga species :

Comvita has partnered with conservation organisation, Save the Kiwi, in a significant sponsorship agreement that will ultimately provide more safe habitat for the iconic birds across the North Island.

Starting with Makino Station, home to one of Comvita’s mānuka forests in the lush Manawatu-Whanganui region where kiwi already reside, the ambition is that over time Comvita’s properties will become kiwi-safe habitats.

The partnership will see the implementation of predator management plans on land managed by Comvita that will enhance biodiversity and provide kiwi safe habitats to help the endangered population and other native flora and fauna thrive.

Save the Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey says partnering with Comvita is a new and exciting approach for kiwi conservation. . . 

 


Rural round-up

07/03/2022

Growers wary of Russia-Ukraine conflict – Annette Scott:

Cropping farmers are wrapping up one of the worst harvests they’ve seen.

Coupled with the threat of the long-term implications of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, things can’t get much worse, United Wheatgrowers chair and Mid Canterbury cropping farmer Brian Leadley said.  

“It’s got beyond urgent for many crops, the damage is done now, particularly for cereals and cut grasses,” Leadley said.

“The weather hasn’t played its part right back from flowering time in December, covid has created logistics issues and now we have the added confusion of the Russia-Ukraine war – both that are large and strong grain growing nations. . . 

Nervous final push ahead for Marlborough wine vintage – Morgane Solignac:

This year’s Marlborough wine vintage is shaping up to be a good one, but pressure is high as the industry navigates Covid, a labour crunch and Mother Nature.

Marlborough contractor Alapa Vineyard Services owner Alan Wilkinson usually employs 250 seasonal workers, but he is 60 per cent down this year with only 100 staff.

“We were supposed to get 22 Samoan workers last November, but they only just arrived last week,” he said.

“Last year we had 70 Thai workers but 20 of them have returned home over the last four months for various reasons. . . 

Diversity for sustainability – Hugh Stringleman:

Concern for the soil structure after summer maize cropping with conventional tillage has led Northland dairy farmers Adam and Laura Cullen to introduce multi-species cover crops over the prior winter and use direct drilling where possible. They are only beginning to see the benefits of this regenerative approach, they told Hugh Stringleman.

Adam Cullen, of Ararua in the Kaipara District, has rediscovered his enthusiasm for agriculture and applies his curiosity to finding new ways of dairying better, says his wife Laura.

The change of mindset prioritises improving the environment and the farm resources rather than constantly driving for production.

But the Cullens are not following a formula or prescription, rather being adaptive to their circumstances and farming conditions. . . 

 

Art for farming’s sake – Peter Burke:

A warning from his wife not to hang around the house and get under her feet when he retires has prompted a Feilding-based farmer to launch himself into a new and successful career – as an artist, painting rural scenes.

Seventy-three year-old Graham Christensen was brought up on a farm and as a youngster helped with shearing and the like before eventually doing a degree at Lincoln University.

His first job was with the old MAF where he managed the sheep breeding programme on Mana Island, near Wellington. . .

2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards open for entries :

The search has begun to find Aotearoa New Zealand’s most exceptional primary sector employers.

Entries have opened for the 2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards, which are run by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT).

“The Awards provide the opportunity to recognise and celebrate outstanding employers across the primary sector that may otherwise fly under the radar,” said MPI’s director of investment, skills and performance Cheyne Gillooly.

“The sector has been resilient throughout the pandemic and the hard mahi of farmers, growers and processors is leading our export-led recovery from COVID-19. . . 

Death by red meat is unsubstantiated – Frank Frank Mitloehner:

One might expect that a major breakthrough delivered by a well-respected organization – especially when the breakthrough seriously overrides a conclusion drawn merely two years earlier – to be backed by cold, hard facts. And yet, they are woefully absent from a Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) that calls unprocessed red meat an unconditional health risk.

The 2019 report points to a 36-fold higher estimate of deaths attributable to unprocessed red meat consumption than what is outlined in GBD’s 2017 study. In other words, any amount of red meat intake can lead to serious health complications, particularly cancer. The claim is made all the more shocking by the fact that GBD’s previous report assigns relatively low death risk to animal-sourced foods.

Prof. Alice V. Stanton, a world-renowned physician who specializes in the study of pharmacy and biomedical sciences at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is cautioning us not to buy in. After a period of intense work with a team of researchers, that included Stanton, Frédéric Leroy, Christopher Elliott, Neil Mann, Patrick Wall and Stefaan De Smet, their take on GBD’s no-red-meat-ever cry was published in the well-regarded Lancet Feb. 25. The GBD study fails to clarify how it came to its conclusions, Stanton says. 

The GBD report isn’t the only time meat has been castigated. A 2015 study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) tried its best to link meat with certain types of cancer, namely colorectal cancer. The organization eventually released the full scientific basis of its finding, confirming just how weak the evidence linking meat and colorectal cancer is. Amidst confusion, the World Health Organization (WHO) – the parent organization of IARC – came forward to deflate IARC’s claim and reassure the public that meat should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet. . . 


Rural round-up

22/02/2022

Scenery is what ‘makes’ it for young shepherd – Sally Rae:

Life is no trial for young North Otago shepherd Mikayla Cooper.

Miss Cooper (23) has embraced living and working in the high country, where she reckons it is the scenery that “makes it”.

She works at Dome Hills Station, a large-scale sheep and beef property near Danseys Pass farmed by the Douglas family.

It was a much larger and more extensive property than her home farm at Raglan, where her family moved to from Te Kauwhata at the end of her year 8 studies, Miss Cooper said. . . 

From mother to daughter a smooth transition – Country Life:

After single-handedly running Rees Valley Station for nearly 20 years, Iris Scott was more than happy to hand over the reins to her daughter Kate.

The 18,000-hectare property at the head of Lake Wakatipu is home to about 5000 merino sheep and 200 cattle.

When Iris’ husband died in 1992, Iris decided to carry on farming the land that had been in the Scott family for more than 100 years. She was also running a vet practice in Glenorchy.

She admits it was a great relief to her when her daughter Kate finally expressed an interest in taking over the farm. . . 

Demand strong as $1b wine grape harvest gets underway :

The first grapes of the 2022 vintage have been harvested, with ongoing international demand and low stock levels meaning that winemakers are hoping for a significantly larger harvest this year.

“The 2021 harvest, while of exceptional quality, was 19% smaller than the previous year. Over the past 12 months this has forced wineries to draw down on stocks to maintain their place in market. New Zealand wine sales for 2021 were 324 million litres, meaning they were 48 million litres more than was actually produced in the 2021 vintage. This stock drawdown highlights that we desperately need a bigger harvest in 2022, to replenish cellars, and help satisfy international demand,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Over the past 12 months many New Zealand wineries have faced tough decisions over who they can supply in their key markets, and the ongoing increase in international demand has placed huge strain on already depleted stocks. For some wineries, there has been quite simply just not enough wine to go around,” says Philip. . . 

Drop in infant formula sales hits A2 Milk’s bottom line :

Specialty dairy company A2 Milk’s bottom line has been halved, as it continues to face significant disruption to its infant formula sales in China.

KEY NUMBERS:

(for the six months ended 31 December 2021 vs year ago)

  • Net profit: $59.6 million vs $120m
  • Revenue: $660.5m vs $677m
  • Underlying earnings: $97.5m vs $178.5m
  • Dividend: no dividend vs 12 cps

A2 Milk chief executive David Bortolussi said despite challenging market conditions in China and volatility caused by the pandemic, it was making good progress to stabilise the business. . . 

Strong demand for solution to urea price spike and regulations :

This season’s record urea prices, coupled with nutrient cap regulations, have seen a lift in the number of dairy farmers changing their fertiliser programmes to lower their nitrogen footprint and costs.

Donaghys Managing Director Jeremy Silva says the company is working at capacity to keep up with renewed demand for their N-Boost nitrogen booster product. Donaghys N-Boost is a proven addition to a fertiliser programme that helps maintain production, while lowering urea application.

“It’s one of the few options out there that can help farmers maintain or lift production off lower nitrogen inputs.”

“We’ve seen the dual impact of high urea pricing and regulations on N come together. The result has been a wave of dairy farmers turning to foliar applications of urea. When N-Boost is added they can cut back their application rates this way to get under the N-cap, and they’re finding they can cut their urea bill and protect their dry matter production.” . . 

Pāmu announces solid half year result:

Pāmu (Landcorp Farming Limited) has announced a net profit after tax (“NPAT”) of $41 million for the half-year ended 31 December 2021.

Pāmu’s EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and revaluations), which is its preferred financial measure, was $16 million compared to $14 million in the half-year to December 2020.

Chairman Warren Parker said the result was particularly gratifying as the company managed the ongoing impact of Covid.

“Covid has continued to disrupt our people, which on top of ongoing labour shortages, extreme weather events on the West Coast and in the Manawatu and logistics, processing and availability of farm supplies, has made for a challenging half year,” Dr Parker said. . . 


Rural round-up

15/02/2022

Farmers to pay more for essential staff when borders open – Rachael Kelly:

Farmers, desperate for staff, will end up paying essential workers up to $40 an hour when the borders re-open.

The border opens to vaccinated skilled workers on March 13, but they must be earning one and a half times the median wage.

Federated Farmers national intensive winter grazing spokesperson Jason Herrick said the requirement would push wages up from $27 an hour for foreign staff now, to $40 an hour.

“It’s just another attack on farmers and the primary sector,” Herrick said. . . 

Marathon shearing effort nets $130,000 for charity hospital :

Organisers are thrilled with the support they received during a shearathon that has raised money for the Southland Charity Hospital.

The hospital is the brainchild of the late cancer care advocate Blair Vining and his wife, Melissa, who wanted better cancer care for all New Zealanders.

Last weekend, a group of shearers, wool handlers, and support crew raised more than $130,000 during the Shear4Blair Shearathon.

Shearers put their bodies on the line as they completed 24 hours of shearing time, broken into 12 two-hour runs. . . 

The untold story of New Zealand’s favourite berry – Don Rowe:

They’re almost ready. Lined up in their thousands on tall bushes beneath an early summer sky, the boysenberries gleam like hairy red-wine jewels, or bloodshot spider’s eyes. Just a few weeks from now these bulbous berries will be picked from the vine, weighed, packaged and sent across the country and abroad. Because New Zealand is the world’s leading producer of a particularly unlikely fruit.

Simply put, we’re mad about boysenberries. Every year around Christmas they flood the market in punnets, jams and frozen treats. According to Tip Top, Boysenberry Ripple — first released in 1960 — is the fourth-highest selling flavour in both two-litre tubs and the humongous 16-litre tubs used for rolling ice-cream cones at dairies. In prepackaged cones, the boysenberry Trumpet is second only to a classic chocolate. And while the Ripple is exported to China, Malaysia and the Pacific Islands, it is here at home that we race to the dairy like pigs to the trough, consuming — per capita — the most boysenberry ice cream in the world, and never more than in summer.

The boysenberry is a Frankenstein’s monster of a berry and a uniquely juicy, hefty little mongrel. First developed early last century in Anaheim, California, by Swedish immigrant Rudolf Boysen, it’s a hybrid of the European raspberry and blackberry, the American dewberry and the loganberry. Boysen was an amateur horticulturist who spent his days splicing various genera and cultivars. Then in the early 1920s, before his creation made him famous, he disappeared, leaving his farm a tangled decaying mess. . . 

Anger, grief as cavalcade is called off – Shannon Thomson:

Organisers of the 2022 Goldfields Cavalcade have made the “gut wrenching” decision to pull the pin on this year’s event.

The cancellation coincides with the cavalcade’s 30th year celebration.

The event was scheduled for February 26, with hundreds of cavalcaders due to converge at the end of it on host town Millers Flat on March 5.

However the move to the Red traffic light setting due to the surge of the Covid-19 Omicron variant and the introduction of new regulations forced organisers’ hands. . . 

Little-known family firm buys renowned Sacred Hill winery out of receivership – Nikki Mandow:

The Poulters are New Zealand’s biggest family-owned winemakers, as well as the largest supplier of bananas to supermarkets. They just bought top-end vineyard Sacred Hill – their first big brand. In all likelihood, you’ve never heard of them.

Sacred Hill’s new chief winemaker Nick Picone laughs when I say I’ve heard Steve Poulter, the Hawkes Bay vineyard’s super-low-profile new owner, works hard. Crazy hard. 

“I’ve only been here five minutes, but what I can tell you is I haven’t met anyone as driven and hardworking as Steve. And I’ve worked for some pretty driven people,” Picone says. His bosses include, for many years, Villa Maria founder George Fistonich, definitely no slouch.

Oh, and while we are talking driven, Picone clocked up 10 (yes, 10) New Zealand Winemaker of the Year or Winemaker of the Show titles between 2011 and 2020. His new job puts him in charge of the future of some pretty classy wine brands – Riflemans Chardonnay ($70 a bottle), Deerstalkers Syrah ($60), and Helmsman cabernet sauvignon blend ($85). . . 

Otago-Southland FMG Junior Young farmer of the Year and AgriKidzNZ winners announced:

The competition was hot on Saturday as 70 teams went head-to-head in a bid to take out the Otago Southland AgriKidsNZ and FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year titles.

Twins Zoe McElrea (Columba College) and Millar McElrea (John McGlashan College) were crowned FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year Otago Southland champions and will be off to compete at the Grand Final in July.

Meanwhile, the ‘Agriboys’, Jud Duffy, Will Bensemann, and Theo Dynes from St Peter’s College in Gore took out the top spot for the AgriKidsNZ contest. . . 

 


Rural round-up

29/01/2022

Urgent action needed to stop carbon farming rort – William Beetham:

Federated Farmers is calling on the government to live up to its pledge and review the Overseas Investment Act ‘special forestry test’ and be fair to sheep and beef farmers

We understand that Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor have been lobbying for this fair and sensible step but Cabinet is dithering, and this is profoundly impacting our rural communities.

It’s well past time for action.  This is hurting rural people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

There are multiple factors driving the alarming and accelerating trend of productive sheep and beef farmland being sold for pine tree carbon farming, and a multitude of changes government must make to restore balance to land use policy. Sorting the special forestry test is straight-forward. . . 

Omicron outbreak may leave rural hospitals precarious staffing  levels – Rowan Quinn :

Rural communities could be left without local medical services for a time when Omicron hits.

Staffing is precarious in many small towns – and doctors, nurses or key administration workers will have to stop working if they get the virus.

Hospitals have predicted 30 percent of their staff could be off with Omicron at the height of the outbreak.

Rural doctor Jeremy Webber said it was hard to gauge the impact that would have on very small hospitals, which tended not to have staff to spare. . .

Horticulture, meat processors push for private RAT orders to protect supply chains – Maja Burry:

The horticulture and meat processing industries are among those advocating for the government to allow the private importation of rapid antigen tests, saying they’re worried Covid-19 testing capacity could impact on staffing.

The industry group Horticulture New Zealand said if Covid-19 testing capacity slowed that would impact monitoring – as well as return to work decisions – at a time when the sector needed as many hands on deck as possible.

Chief executive Nadine Tunley said it was imperative there was a focus on maximising the number of people available, to keep the supply chain operating during the Omicron response.

“We have strenuously pointed out to the government that our industry cannot withstand any further labour shortages as growers will be faced with having to leave vegetables in the ground and fruit on trees.” . . 

The taonga on fire: 40 days at Kaimaumau – Matthew Scott:

The fire at overlooked natural treasure Kaimaumau wetland began before Christmas, and it’s still ablaze

It’s been burning for more than 40 days and 40 nights.

Despite summer rains and being largely left behind by the media cycle, the fire in the Kaimaumau wetland in the Far North rages on.

The burning area is 2800ha, with a perimeter of 38km as of Day 41 – larger than Rangitoto Island. “On a national scale, that’s probably one of New Zealand’s biggest fires,” said incident controller Wayne Martin. . .

Robo tractor could revolutionise viticulture :

A driverless tractor able to perform up to three tasks at once is on the cards for New Zealand orchards.

The Government is contributing $622,360 through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to develop a prototype tractor, which is set to transform the productivity of trellised orchards while reducing carbon emissions. The Smart Machine Company Limited is taking the lead on the three-year project, and is contributing a further $945,520.

“The tractor will be able to perform several tasks, including canopy spraying, mulching, mowing, trimming, and leaf defoliation,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

“As well as lowering carbon emissions, we could expect to see reduced spray drift, and improved soil and tree health. . .

Canterbury teen wins beekeeping scholarship :

Canterbury-based Alyssa Wilson (17) is the 2021 recipient of Apiculture New Zealand Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship in beekeeping.

Alyssa topped a strong field of candidates to win the scholarship, which includes $2000 to support training and set-up costs for new beekeepers, a one-year membership with industry body Apiculture New Zealand and attendance at Apiculture New Zealand’s industry conference to be held in June 2022.

The scholarship was set up to help young people into a career in beekeeping and the judges identified Alyssa as showing great potential. “She’s clearly not afraid to get stuck in and learn as much as she can. With a strong work ethic and a real interest in bees, she is going to be an asset to our industry,” says judge Neil Mossop.

Alyssa says she was “pretty chuffed” to win and is planning to use the scholarship to help fund her involvement in the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Apiculture scheme run through Primary ITO in partnership with Apiculture New Zealand. . . 


Rural round-up

25/01/2022

NZ’s climate planting asking for trouble – Anne Salmond:

Dame Anne Salmond lays out the fundamental problems with this country’s strategy to use pine forests and overseas offsets to help wish away our climate emissions

New Zealand’s strategy for responding to climate change is fundamentally flawed. Much of the nation’s carbon debt is to be addressed by ‘off-setting’ – planting trees to sequester carbon, either at home or abroad.

On one hand, the government proposes to spend billions of dollars on international carbon credits – in other words, paying people in other countries to plant trees to sequester the carbon emitted in New Zealand.

On the other hand, the Emissions Trading Scheme has been designed as a ‘market’ for the owners of trees in New Zealand to sell the carbon they sequester to buyers who want to offset the carbon they generate.

Since most of the plantations in New Zealand are owned offshore, we’re paying even more to people in other countries to sequester the carbon we’re emitting. . . 

Here for the long game – DairyNZ:

In the sector we know that caring for the land, investing in the future, and making long-term plans are all part of dairy farming in New Zealand. To be a dairy farmer is to be in it for the long game; to create a better future for our farms, our families, our communities, and the country.

With that said it can often be hard to get this across to the wider public – to show we all share the same values, and we all want the best for New Zealand.

We want to help New Zealanders better understand and connect with dairy farmers – what drives you, the common values, and how we are seeking to create a better future for ourselves, our families, our communities, and the country we are proud to call home.  Most of all, we want you to feel proud of your work and vocation, and be confident your story is being proudly told to Kiwis. . . 

New Zealand cheers Canada’s loss in dairy dispute and calls for ‘significant reform’ – Cloe Desirée Juarez:

New Zealand said Canada needs to overhaul its approach to dairy imports because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has repeatedly broken its promise to let foreign cheese and butter flow more freely into the country.  

The public criticisms are the first in what trade lawyers expect could become an international pile-on following Canada’s loss to the United States this month in a long-running dairy dispute. Canada’s approach to dairy imports has long been a sore spot for trading partners, and the success of the U.S. in challenging that approach could embolden copycat actions under trade agreements Canada signed with the European Union and a group of mostly Asian countries that includes New Zealand, a major dairy exporter.

New Zealand’s ministry of foreign affairs and trade, “is currently considering its next steps to address these serious concerns,” spokesperson Susan Pepperell said in an email on Jan. 17. The trade ruling that got New Zealand’s attention involved U.S. complaints that Canada was using a work-around to dull the impact of extra dairy imports allowed under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USCMA), the pact that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement in 2020. . . .

Rider (86) readying for 30th cavalcade – Sally Rae:

“She’s just a treasure.”

That’s how Chris Bayne describes fellow cavalcader Alice Sinclair (86) who is preparing for her 30th consecutive Otago cavalcade next month.

The adventure-loving great-grandmother of 15 has ridden every cavalcade since the inaugural event in 1991 and is somewhat of a legend on the trail. She might rue her knees were “starting to give out” but she made few concessions for her age, including bungy jumping when she turned 85. 

When contacted last week, she was preparing to grub thistles in the hay paddock of her Taieri property.“. . . 

Grapes a bunch of history – Shannon Thomson:

More than 150 years after Frenchman Jean Desire Feraud first made his mark on Central Otago, his legacy lives on.

The goldminer turned winemaker is widely credited as the original commercial winegrower in Central Otago. He planted more than 1200 vines in the Alexandra Basin at his Clyde winery, Monte Christo.

When viticulturalist Sam Wood recently discovered an unidentified grapevine at the original site of Feraud’s winery — the present-day Monte Christo Winery — he turned to the Bragato Research Institute, a specialist research centre for the New Zealand wine industry, for DNA testing.‘

‘We weren’t sure what it was, and I was talking to someone in the industry and they suggested we get it DNA tested,’’ Mr Wood said. . .

 

 

‘Animal sentience committee’ could ‘attack’ farming, MPs fear :

MPs and rural groups have warned that the proposed ‘animal sentience committee’ could be used to ‘attack’ farming, pest control and wildlife management.

Concern has been raised over the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, with one MP this week referring to it as ‘a bad bill’ and ‘an unnecessary one’, during its second reading in the Commons.

The bill, which is only six clauses long, recognises that animals are sentient beings and creates a body to oversee UK ministers’ efforts to take account of their welfare needs when drawing up and implementing policy.

However, much of the controversary to date has centred on the proposed creation of an animal sentience committee. . . 


Rural round-up

13/01/2022

Fruitful days lie ahead, say North Otago growers – Ashley Smyth:

Fruitgrowers in North Otago are looking forward to a bumper crop this season.

Matsinger’s Berry Farm owner Leanne Matsinger said the season had been going very well, and the strawberries were “massive and beautiful”.

The Peebles business, about 15km inland from Oamaru towards the Waitaki Valley, had about 50,000 plants in the ground, and another 20,000 growing hydroponically. There was also 1ha of raspberries.

Far from being a burden, the wet weather had meant the fruit was big and juicy, Mrs Matsinger said. . .

Primary industry leaders call for Gen Z to secure the future of the sector :

New Zealand’s food and fibre sector is working hard to secure the future of the primary industries by trying to attract more young people to choose a career in the sector.

The key to attracting Generation Z, loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010, to the sector is raising awareness of opportunities and the range of roles available in the industry, experts say.

Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar Madison Pannett, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries as a senior adviser in the Animal Welfare Liaison team, released a report on this subject called Generation Z and the environment – how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers?

She says: “I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join. . . 

AACo partners with The Zanda McDonald Award to support future leaders in agriculture:

The new year is off to a great start for The Zanda McDonald Award, with the announcement that Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) have come on board as a partner for the trans-Tasman agricultural badge of honour.

AACo, Australia’s largest integrated cattle and beef producer, owns and operates stations, feedlots and farms comprising around 6.4 million hectares of land in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Managing Director and CEO Hugh Killen says the company can play a role in helping develop the next generation of industry leaders.

“AACo has been helping grow agriculture in Australia for almost 200 years and our association with the Zanda McDonald Award continues this legacy,” Mr Killen said. . . 

Comvita’s 50-year history: hippies, health and harmony :

Almost 50 years ago, 20-something hippie surfer Alan Bougen teamed up with 60-something beekeeper Claude Stratford to set up a health food company, based mostly around bee products. They called it Comvita. In the fourth in a series, Newsroom talks to Bougen about a small business which turned into our largest mānuka honey producer  

It all started with a mutual goal to improve people’s health, while leaving the environment better than they found it – and in that the Comvita founders were ahead of their time as sustainable thinkers. Stratford and Bougen were also leaders in the drive to validate mānuka honey’s unique health-giving properties and then share its magic with the world.

Claude Stratford died in 2013 at the age of 102; his longevity a testament to the founders’ shared Hippocratic belief that food is medicine and medicine is food. Now aged 71, and about to walk the Heaphy Track, Alan Bougen has new insights on old lessons learned over half a century in the business.

Hippie roots

“The natural food and products industry in 1970-1971 was where I dropped into the lifestyle of health and wellness, the ‘health food revolution’ as it was known,” Bougen says. He’s at home in Mt Maunganui, reminiscing about his early days in San Diego in true bohemian style. . . 

Five months on the 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist Of The Year national final set to go ahead:

It may be five months later than planned, but it’s on! Due to the sudden and extended Delta lockdown the 2021 Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition, just one week away from taking place in August, is set to finally go ahead on Thursday 27th January 2022.

It will take place at Indevin’s Bankhouse Vineyard in Marlborough and the national winner will be announced at the Awards Dinner the same night.

“We’re excited and relieved that we can finally go ahead with the competition” says Nicky Grandorge, the National Co-Ordinator “The flexibility of everyone involved has been incredible and shows the strength, resilience and passion of the Young Vit community.”

The national finalists have been in limbo for quite some time, although they were able to hand in their research reports and give their presentations online which relieved them of some pressure. The topic for this year’s project was “Assess various pruning options during a labour shortage”, thus addressing one of the real challenges currently facing the wine industry. . . 

Pending irrigation scheme water access set to add balue to livestock grazing blocks on the market for sale:

Two blocks of livestock grazing pastureland – with the potential to have access to a substantial sustainable water supply enabling conversion of the property into highly productive horticultural land – have been placed on the market for sale.

The 33.41-hectare property in two titles at Te Kopuru on the Poutu Peninsula is just south of Dargaville in Northland.

The pair of freehold lots 2 and 18 at Redhill Cemetery Road in Te Kopuru are now being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Whangarei, with the tender process closing on February 3. Salespeople Vinni Bhula and Todd Skudder said buyers had the opportunity tender for either of the blocks individually, or as a combined offering.

Lot 2 comprises 16.05-hectares, while adjoining lot 18 consists of 17.36-hectares. Both lots are classified as featuring flat to gently rolling topographic contours. . . 


Rural round-up

15/12/2021

Women forge farming futures together – Sally Rae:

A farm training institute with a difference opened its gates in Northern Southland at the beginning of this year. Business and rural editor Sally Rae checks out how the first year of the Fairlight Foundation went.

For the past year, Emma Foss, Yvonne van Baarle and Ella Eades have lived, worked and learned together.

Now they are preparing to go their separate ways, pursuing careers in the rural sector, but they will always share a common bond as the first interns of the Fairlight Foundation.

The foundation is a female-only farm training institute based at Fairlight Station, a 2500ha property near Garston, in Northern Southland, owned by Simon and Lou Wright, and Doug and Mari Harpur. . .

Data ‘wrangler’ happy on block –  Sally Rae:

She describes herself as a recovering academic.

Most days, Nicola Dennis is happily ensconced in her home office, on a rural block of land in East Otago, surrounded by animals, and doing her thing as a “data wrangler”.

In November, Dr Dennis made the move to self-employment, establishing her own business which focused on the agricultural sector which she has been involved in since graduating from university.

Originally from Northland, her parents moved to be dairy farmers in Southland in 1996. She always had a love of animals, being outside and living in a rural setting. . . 

 

A day in the life of a beekeeper – Nikki Mandow:

The sun is shining, the mānuka is coming into flower and New Zealand’s beekeepers are hoping for a great season. But as business editor Nikki Mandow discovered, producing some of the world’s best honey products is way harder than it sounds.

If you want to write a story about beekeepers, you better be prepared to get up early. I talk to Alejandro Gibson, Comvita’s Taupo-based apiary manager, at 7am, but he’s already been up a couple of hours, is dressed in his hi-viz gear, and is champing to get off the phone to head off to his hives, before it gets too hot for the bees. 

Talking to journalists? Not high priority on a sunny day. 

But then I ask the question: “What’s it like being a beekeeper?” and any impatience or reluctance disappears. Gibson’s love for bees is infectious – almost an hour later, when I press stop on the Zoom recording, I’ve caught the bug. . . 

Tomato prices pull down overall food prices:

Food prices fell 0.6 percent in November 2021 compared with October 2021, mainly influenced by lower prices for tomatoes, Stats NZ said today.

Tomato prices fell 49 percent in November. However, their price was 54 percent higher than a year ago.

“The weighted average price of 1kg of tomatoes fell from $12.04 in October 2021 to $6.16 in November 2021,” consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said. “This compares with $3.99 in November 2020.”

Monthly fruit and vegetable prices fell 6.7 percent in November. As well as lower tomato prices, there were lower prices for broccoli, strawberries, and potatoes. These falls were partly offset by higher prices for apples, kiwifruit, and carrots. . . 

New Zealand winegrowers launches 2021 mentoring programme:

New Zealand Winegrowers is delighted to launch the 2021 Mentoring Programme. This programme aims to support wine industry members increase their confidence, focus on their self-development and reach their goals.

The programme matches one mentee with an experienced mentor from within the New Zealand wine industry, following a careful selection and matching process. The pair then meet regularly over the next six to eight months as the mentee sets goals, makes plans to reach them and is encouraged and supported by their mentor.

Previous mentors and mentees have found the programme incredibly valuable, with the 2021 programme the biggest so far including 18 matched pairs. Applications were received throughout September and October, matches carefully made and the mentor and mentee workshops run by Fiona Fenwick were held at Giesen’s Ara Wooldshed Cellar Door in Blenheim. Auckland mentors had their session online due to Covid Alert Level restrictions. . . 

NZ Dairy Industry Awards’ dairy trainee numbers increase:

The Dairy Trainee category has received a substantial increase in the number of entries for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

170 entries have been received in the refreshed category including 27 in Canterbury region, 22 in Waikato and 21 in Southland/Otago.

Nationally, 112 entries were received in the Dairy Manager category and 82 entered Share Farmer of the Year.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon said a total of 364 entries were received for the Awards.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/12/2021

Shipping delays and staff shortages bite the meat industry – Rachael Kelly:

Farmers are starting to struggle to get stock killed because staff shortages and shipping woes are causing major issues in the meat industry.

Ben Dooley, a farmer from Mimihau in Southland, said he had 200 ewes booked in with Alliance Group next week, but he was worried about finding more space for stock in the coming months.

“It’s definitely concerning. If this shipping container issue doesn’t get sorted out then we’re going to have some big problems in the next few months.”

The Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms both say chronic labour shortages and global supply chain issues were causing problems. . .

Cheap accommodation, social sport used to entice workers for orchard jobs – Sally Murphy:

Efforts to attract workers to pick and pack fruit this summer are heating up – with more employers offering incentives to attract workers.

On the PickNZ website where orchards and packhouses advertise jobs, 42 percent are offering accommodation and 30 percent are offering bonuses.

Just under 20 percent are offering transport, social events and flexible working hours.

One company advertising on the site is Clyde Orchards. . . 

Fonterra’s Hurrell says New Zealand milk is the most valuable in the world – Tina Morrison:

New Zealand’s grass-fed farming model makes the country’s milk the most valuable in the world, Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell told farmers at the co-operative’s annual meeting in Invercargill.

Since taking over from Theo Spierings, Hurrell has moved Fonterra away from expanding its milk pools overseas, and brought the focus back to getting more value from the “white gold” produced by New Zealand farmers. His shift in strategy comes at a time when consumers are wanting to know more about where their food comes from and the environmental impact it leaves.

“We believe New Zealand milk is the most valuable milk in the world due to our grass-fed farming model, which means our milk has a carbon footprint around 70 per cent lower than the global average,” Hurrell told farmers. . .

 

River restoration starting to flow – Colin Williscroft:

The Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum recently won the supreme award at the 2021 Cawthron New Zealand River Awards for the catchment that has made the most progress towards improved river health. Colin Williscroft reports.

In a little over a decade, the Manawatū River has gone from being identified through Cawthron Institute research as one of the most polluted in the western world to that same organisation now celebrating the work being done to clean it up.

The Manawatū River Leaders’ Forum was established in 2010 in response to freshwater health problems facing the catchment.

The previous year Cawthron research showed the river topped a pollution measurement taken on 300 rivers across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand for all the wrong reasons. . .

Kiwifruit companies to amalgamate :

Seeka announces third amalgamation in 2021

 Gisborne growers will be delivered a stronger service with the proposed amalgamation of NZ Fruits and Seeka Limited.

In an agreement announced 10 December 2021, NZ Fruits shareholders are being offered Seeka shares and cash for their NZ Fruits shares. Seeka chief executive Michael Franks says the deal will enable Seeka to service the Gisborne region.

“The amalgamation will deliver a strong service to Gisborne growers,” says Franks. . . 

Research aims to develop more resilient sauvignon blanc vines :

An $18.7 million programme is aiming to introduce genetic diversity of New Zealand’s sauvignon blanc grapevines.

The Bragato Research Institute is partnering with New Zealand Winegrowers, more than 20 wine companies and the NZ Viticulture Nursery Association on the seven-year programme.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor the vines were based on one clone which presented some risk.

“Developing improved, commercially-available variants of this grape variety will also act as an industry insurance policy against future risks from pests, disease and changing markets. . . 


Rural round-up

06/12/2021

Wool price making a comeback as overseas demand for product rises :

Higher demand for sportswear, rugs and other wool products has resulted in a resurgence in wool prices.

Prices across all wool types lifted in the year to October, Beef and Lamb’s latest wool export data shows.

Merino was up 28.4 percent to just over $18,000 a tonne and strong wool, which has been struggling with depressed prices, rose 12.1 percent.

PGG Wrightson general manager of wool Grant Edwards said prices are lifting due to higher demand. . . 

Commercial beekeeper numbers drop amid low prices – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest apiculture monitoring report showed the number of beekeepers with 500 or more hives fell by 9.9 percent to 316 oin the 2020/21 season.

This follows a 7.6 percent drop the previous season.

The total number of registered hives in New Zealand also fell over the last two years to 806,000.

Prior to this the commercial honey industry had been experiencing growth, with a jump in the popularity and price of manuka honey driving a boom in production. . .

NZ agriculture is starting to see value in celebrating its provenance – Tina Morrison:

Much of New Zealand’s agricultural produce is sold as unbranded commodities on global markets. But that’s starting to change as companies discover there is value in heralding their Kiwi provenance.

“New Zealand has got a really strong story and that’s something that we haven’t really told in the past,” says Lincoln University agribusiness and food marketing programme director Dr Nic Lees. “We are making progress. I think we have started on that journey.”

Fonterra, the country’s largest dairy company, has been vocal about its shift in focus under new chief executive Miles Hurrell. Where his predecessor Theo Spierings envisaged the co-operative becoming another big global conglomerate like Danone or Nestle, Hurrell has sold off overseas assets and pulled back to New Zealand to focus on getting more value from the “white gold” produced by local farmers.

Hurrell says Fonterra is only now amplifying the New Zealand provenance message it always knew it had as demand has increased across its global markets to know more about the origin and purity of food. . . 

MLA becomes major supporter of award benefitting Australasian agriculture:

In an exciting development for future leaders in agriculture, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) have announced their partnership with Australasian agricultural badge of honour, the Zanda McDonald Award.

The Award, which recognises talented young individuals from Australia and New Zealand who want to make a difference in agriculture, helps take people’s careers to the next level for the betterment of the industry on both sides of the Tasman.

This is delivered through an impressive personal development plan for the finalists on both sides of the Tasman, and a ‘money can’t buy’ prize package for the winners. This prize includes media training, further education, and a tailored mentoring program across both countries, where they spend time up close and personal with some of the biggest leaders and influencers in the sector. . . 

Fellows of New Zealand Winegrowers announced for 2021:

The New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) Fellows award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

From making strides in wine governance to adding sparkle to the wine industry, the 2021 NZW Fellows are a group of highly respected and influential individuals who have helped to shape the success of New Zealand wine today.

We are pleased to announce the NZW Fellows for 2021: Steve Smith MW for service to NZW, Wine Institute of New Zealand, and other initiatives, John Clarke for service to NZW and New Zealand Grape Grower’s Council (NZGGC), Andy Frost for service to national research, Rudi Bauer for service to New Zealand Pinot Noir, and Daniel and Adele Le Brun for service to New Zealand bottle fermented sparkling wine. . . 

Eating less meat no climate solution – Shan Goodwin:

AUSTRALIAN-SPECIFIC research is showing the climate benefits of reducing red meat consumption below amounts recommended in dietary guidelines is small and could create negative environmental trade-offs such as higher water scarcity.

The industry’s big service provider Meat & Livestock Australia has released a fascinating report on the topic, which draws extensively from research conducted by CSIRO and other institutions.

Against a backdrop of increasing calls for affluent societies to significantly cut red meat consumption in the name of the environment, the work shows getting Australians to eat less beef is not an effective climate solution.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 65 grams of lean, cooked, unprocessed red meat a day.

The MLA report, called The Environmental Impact of Red Meat in a Healthy Diet, points out that Australian lamb production is in fact climate neutral already. Further, the water and cropland scarcity footprints of Australian beef and lamb are low. . . 


Rural round-up

29/11/2021

Which face do we believe – Peter Burke:

When Covid-19 first arrived in New Zealand, PM Jacinda Ardern made great play of the fact that it would be the primary sector – and that means rural NZ – would be the saviour of the economy.

Agriculture and the supporting processing and supply chain workers and farmers were deemed essential, and to their great credit these people have delivered 100% and more.

But if perchance, or maybe out of morbid curiosity, you tune into Jacinda’s daily sermons from the Beehive, you would struggle to hear the word ‘rural’ mentioned these days.

The vaccine roll-out has been urban driven with percentage rates in Auckland hailed and glorified. It seems to be all about high population numbers, which also means votes, or is that being too cynical? . .

Residents take up arms in Central Otago as rampant rabbits ruin land– Olivia Caldwell:

A plague of rabbits has destroyed thousands of grape vines, chewed through fence posts and rose gardens and left properties in Central Otago potted with holes, costing landowners thousands of dollars.

The trail of destruction has driven some to take up arms – despite never having owned a gun before – and shoot them from their front lawns.

The local authority says the responsibility for dealing with the pests lies with homeowners – a stance which has infuriated some, who say the buck should stop with the council, not them.

In recent months the Otago Regional Council (ORC) has visited more than 300 properties across the rabbit-prone areas of Lake Hayes, Morven Hill, Dalefield, Gibbston Valley and Hawea, and has now emailed hundreds of letters to landowners asking them to come up with their own compliance plan to get rid of rabbits. . . 

Bank opts for woollen carpet – Country Life:

The chief executive of Rabobank was so determined its new Hamilton HQ would have wool carpet he arranged for it to be craned in.

Todd Charteris says it was suggested synthetic carpet squares would be more appropriate because rolls of carpet were too big to be carried in the lift.

He wasn’t having a bar of it.

Rabobank specialises in rural banking and is relocating its head office from Wellington to the third and fourth floors of a central Hamilton building. . . 

Native dairy farmer – Country Life:

A Waikato farming couple will be hanging up their tennis racquets this year after transforming the farm’s tennis court into a native plant nursery.

Dave Swney and Alice Trevelyan started The Native Dairy Farmer and spent the latest Waikato lockdown potting up 22,000 plants now neatly lined up on the court.

Alice estimates they moved about 16 cubic metres of compost.

“Heaps of shovelling,” says Dave. “Some of us farmers have fatter fingers and probably aren’t as good on some of the more delicate jobs but we can get on the end of a shovel and shove a bit of compost.” . . 

First year EIT student chosen as Young Vintner of the Year:

Maddison Airey, a 23-year-old first year Bachelor of Viticulture and Wine Science (BVWSci) student from EIT, has won the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society & Craggy Range Young Vintners Scholarship for 2021.

Maddison received her award at the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards dinner last night.

As part of the scholarship, Maddison wins $2,000 funding from the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society and a vintage position at Craggy Range Winery for the harvest season of ’22, and she will also be an associate judge for the Hawke’s Bay A&P Bayleys Wine Awards next year.

Maddison says she is excited about the scholarship and the opportunities it will offer her. . . 

‘I’m afraid we’re going to have a food crisis’: The energy crunch has made fertilizer too expensive to produce, says Yara CEO – Katherine Dunn:

The world is facing the prospect of a dramatic shortfall in food production as rising energy prices cascade through global agriculture, the CEO of Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara International says.

“I want to say this loud and clear right now, that we risk a very low crop in the next harvest,” said Svein Tore Holsether, the CEO and president of the Oslo-based company. “I’m afraid we’re going to have a food crisis.”

Speaking to Fortune on the sidelines of the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Holsether said that the sharp rise in energy prices this summer and autumn had already resulted in fertilizer prices roughly tripling.

In Europe, the natural-gas benchmark hit an all-time high in September, with the price more than tripling from June to October alone. Yara is a major producer of ammonia, a key ingredient in synthetic fertilizer, which increases crop yields. The process of creating ammonia currently relies on hydropower or natural gas. . .


Rural round-up

09/11/2021

Signing of the methane pledge is irresponsible :

“Minister James Shaw’s signing the methane pledge is irresponsible and weak”, says FARM Chairman, Robin Grieve.

“There was absolutely no need for New Zealand to join this jamboree because we don’t have high fossil sourced methane emissions, we don’t have lots of leaky pipes and inefficient processes. What we do have is biogenic methane mostly from our ruminant livestock and this is quite different to fossil sourced methane. It is an amateurish mistake to conflate the two”.

“Industrial nations with high fossil sourced methane emissions have pledged to fix leaky pipes and improve processes to reduce fossil sourced methane by 30%. This pledge makes sense for them because leaky pipes should be fixed in any case and it is an easy and economical fix which will have environmental benefits”. . . 

Act now to meet climate’s growing unpredictability, farmers warned :

Farmers and growers are being told they need to adapt to growing food under increasingly dry conditions.

Three National Science Challenges, Resilience to Nature’s Challenges, Our Land and Water, and The Deep South Challenge held three webinars and a symposium recently to kick-start a research based conversation about climate change adaptation in the food and fibre sector.

A report summarising those talks, Growing Kai Under Increasing Dry, shows farmers need to begin to adapt now.

The report calls for regional councils to undertake clear planning for likely future climate scenarios in their regions, and to engage with farmers and growers to develop a shared understanding of the scenarios’ implications for the primary sector. . . 

How many cows need to go?

“The Government needs to answer how it’s going to meet its pledge to cut biogenic methane emissions,” says ACT’s Primary Production spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“The Government has pledged to cut biogenic methane by 10 per cent on 2017 levels by 2030, and by between 24 to 47 percent lower by 2050.

“According to James Shaw this does not require any new initiatives due to pre-existing Zero Carbon Act commitments, but there are still a range of questions to be asked.

“How are they planning to do this? Is it herd reductions or is it through new technologies? When will the Government bring farmers into this conversation? It’s their livelihoods at stake. . . 

Dairy prices up 3.7 percent as commodity prices reach record high :

Commodity prices have shot to a new record, with dairy, aluminium and meat fetching strong prices.

The ANZ World Commodity Price Index lifted 2.1 percent last month.

The report says freight prices are stabilising, although costs remain elevated, with persistent supply chain disruptions.

It said rising freight costs were inflationary, and expected to drive up New Zealand’s consumer price index to a peak of just under 6 percent by year’s end. . . 

New Zealand apple industry appoints new chief executive:

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI) today announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive, Terry Meikle.

Mr Meikle joins NZAPI with an impressive track record of strategic management and international trade relations, having led NZ agriculture and horticulture interests across the Americas including roles as Agriculture Counsellor at the NZ Embassy in Mexico City, Regional Manager North America for Beef and Lamb NZ and as First Secretary Agriculture and Trade for the New Zealand Embassy based in Washington.

“My networking, advocacy and leadership experience has been in both the public sector and through representing a levy funded organisation. These collaborative leadership roles have involved close partnership and engagement with a variety of public and private sector stakeholders,” says Mr Meikle. . .

 

Grape fungicide approved for use :

A new fungicide which controls bunch rot and powdery mildew in grapes has been approved for use in New Zealand, subject to conditions.

Kenja contains the active ingredient isofetamid, which is new to New Zealand but already approved for use in Australia, Europe, the USA, Canada, and Japan.

The applicant, ISK New Zealand, sought approval to import Kenja as a concentrate to be applied to grapes using ground-based methods.

During the application process, ISK submitted that its product helps to combat fungicide resistance, and is less toxic than other fungicides. It noted that Kenja doesn’t carry any human health hazard classifications. . . 


Rural round-up

08/07/2021

More than 100 ewes and lambs killed by feral dogs on Far North farm – Maja Burry:

A Far North farming family say they are living a nightmare due to feral dogs killing more than 100 of their livestock in the last week.

The Nilsson family run sheep and beef on Shenstone Farm, just south of Cape Rēinga.

Anne-Marie Nilsson said since last Monday more than 60 lambs and 40 ewes had been killed, while her 15-year-old daughter had lost about 36 angora goats.

“That’s pretty harrowing for a young person to deal with… it’s a gut wrenching thing to tidy up after that, dogs don’t kill cleanly. . .

Staff are the heart of Waikato farm – Gerald Piddock:

A Waikato farming couple have adopted a people-first culture in their farming business, rather than focusing on how much milk they can produce.

The measure of a dairy farm’s success isn’t in the litres of milk in the vat or the number of cows in the paddock.

It’s about maintaining the wellbeing of the people who work there because when they thrive, everyone succeeds.

It’s a philosophy David and Sue Fish have adopted in every facet of their farming business on the three farms they own near Waitoa in Waikato, where they milk 1300 cows on 340ha. . .

Quad bike maintenance a non-negotiable:

Checking tyre pressure on quad bikes should be a fundamental health and safety process, says WorkSafe New Zealand.

Harm resulting from quad bikes continues to be a serious issue in New Zealand. There have been 75 fatalities across the country since 2006. A further 614 people have been seriously injured.

The reminder comes after a fatality on Tui Glen Farms in Wharepuhunga in the Waikato in January 2020. . . 

 Deep in the valley – Lisa Scott:

Into the hills I go, to lose my mind and find my soul… Lisa Scott spends a day in the ‘‘Haka’’.

I’ve seen some stuff. The pyramids of Giza, the Mona Lisa. But nothing comes close to the sights that gladdened my eyeballs in the Hakataramea last Sunday.

Haka tara mea: the name means “a dance beside the river”. This little-known valley lies on the north side of the Waitaki River. The Hakataramea River winds through it, an arterial sister to the dammed.

First up, a guided walk with wellness company Sole to Soul’s Juliet and Sally. Their clients enjoy the benefits of ecotherapy (letting Nature “sshhh” the everyday stresses that leave you feeling squashed) while sharing a walk the girls love to do themselves on Collie Hills farm, which has been in Sally’s family for four generations . .

Grape fungicide submissions open:

The Environmental Protection Authority is seeking views on an application to import or manufacture Kenja, a fungicide to control bunch rot and powdery mildew in grapes.

Kenja contains the active ingredient isofetamid, which is not currently approved in New Zealand but is in use in Australia, Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan.

The applicant, ISK New Zealand, wants to import Kenja as a concentrate to be applied to grapes using ground-based methods. . .

Equity partnership a pathway to land ownership:

The New Zealand primary sector’s continued dilemma to secure capital for future expansion has prompted Bayleys rural real estate to take the initiative to be proactive and part of the solution. An upcoming seminar aims to introduce investors with capital to those young farmers who are keen to get a piece of their own property.

Bayleys Country has organised a farm equity partnership seminar in Hastings on August 3rd and invite those interested in learning more to RSVP their attendance to moana.panapa@bayleys.co.nz by 5pm, 20th July.

Bayleys national director rural Nick Hawken said that sourcing bank funding can be challenging for those entering the rural property market, and private capital placement provides an opportunity for those with capital to back operators unable to access funding as they are getting established or wanting to grow. . .

 


Rural round-up

14/06/2021

Dairy herd monitoring tech set to launch – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-created technology, designed to provide farmers with an “intelligent eye” over the health of their herds, will be launched at Fieldays at Mystery Creek next week.

Iris Data Science, which also created the world’s first sheep facial recognition system, is piloting the technology on five dairy farms in the lower South Island and hopes to extend to about 50, allowing it to develop it further.

The automated on-farm monitoring system, powered by artificial intelligence software, allows for early detection of conditions such as lameness, an issue which costs the dairy industry millions of dollars.

It uses a non-intrusive on-farm camera and monitoring system that collects tens of thousands of data points from every cow, every day, to provide an “intelligent eye” over livestock. . . 

Knees sore, head hurts – Pita Alexander:

The knees are sore, the back hurts and the tractor is noisy. Worse, the cash has gone and the only thing working well is the national superannuation.

Maybe it’s time to look at hanging up the farm boots.

If this is you, then don’t make any rash decisions. Firstly, you need to lead from the front and not get pushed too much from behind or from the side. Leading involves good thinking, planning, decision making, timing and cash. Being pushed from behind involves resistance, frustration and confrontation. Make sure you are on the right end of all of this as nothing well planned tends to happen overnight.

Your son – let’s call him Johnny – has been with you for 10 years and has been very supportive. Johnny’s wife likes shopping but this is his problem, not yours. Johnny has a 20 per cent share of the farm assets – that means land, stock, plant and debt – and is capable of managing the property’s sheep, cattle, vehicles and plant. Johnny works a lot harder than you, but plays a lot harder as well. You do though notice some of your own bad traits showing up in Johnny such as swearing at the wrong dog, being influenced by the tractor colour and feeling that the high overdraft is the bank’s problem. . . 

Good Bosses in action: Peter & Vicki Risi:

Waikato dairy farm owners Peter & Vicki Risi are nailing it at being good bosses, and their team approach has continued paying off despite the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Being a good boss makes perfect sense for our business and our team’s wellbeing. We milk 720 cows, employ four permanent staff, and are proud that our farm supports a good lifestyle for five families, including our own. Being a good boss means communicating well and holding on to valued staff.

The Risis say that in any business, the people you employ and work with are one of your biggest assets, so it’s important to value them because they can make or break your business. “We are very lucky to have this group of guys working for us.” Says Vicki.

Every morning the Risi farm team sits down to breakfast to plan the day. During the COVID-19 lockdown, breakfasts were on hold, and with them the accompanying banter – something everyone missed. . .

New ‘robust’ blueberry varieties available to New Zealand growers:

Eleven new blueberry varieties are being made available to New Zealand growers, with the aim of increasing export opportunities.

The crown research institute, Plant and Food Research, has licensed the new offerings, which it said produced larger fruit with good flavour and had been adapted to grow in a wider range of climates.

Plant varieties manager Emma Brown said the new varieties were more robust, which made them better suited for international freight.

“There’s a range of new genetics, with improved characteristics and a range of adaptability for growing regions across New Zealand,” Brown said. . . 

Vintage 2021: smaller harvest of superb quality:

Although the harvest was smaller than hoped for, the quality of the 2021 vintage is being described as exceptional throughout New Zealand’s wine regions.

There were 370,000 tonnes of grapes harvested during the 2021 vintage, down 19% on last year’s crop. Regions throughout the middle of the country – including Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, and North Canterbury – were impacted the most, down over 20% on 2020. However, there was some variability across different parts of the country, with Central Otago the one region to increase its crop, up 21% on last year’s harvest.

“While the quality is exceptional, the overall smaller harvest means many of our wineries will face tough decisions over who they can supply in their key markets. There is going to be some supply and demand tension because of this, with the shortfall in the crop equivalent to roughly 7 million 9 litre cases of New Zealand wine,” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Dairy producer shares passion for industry with consumers – Amie Simpson :

Indiana dairy producer Jill Houin has a passion for teaching consumers about the dairy industry and the farmers caring for the animals.

“I absolutely am humbled to be able to share that story from our farm to teach people about the dairy farm families that are out there,” she says. “It’s amazing what they do, how they recycle, how they reuse, and I think it’s very important.”

A New Jersey native, Houin was new to the industry when she married an Indiana dairy farmer in 2004. She retired from teaching in 2016 and became calf manager of the family’s operation, Homestead Dairy.

“I had no idea before I married into it that dairy farming is not a job, it’s a passion, it’s a lifestyle, and they live every moment for the cows, the land, and to produce nutritious milk,” she says. . . 

 


Rural round-up

10/05/2021

Fonterra boss Miles Hurrell says turning around the dairy giant has not been smooth sailing – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell faced a daunting task when he was asked to take the helm of the country’s largest company in 2018, but he is getting the dairy giant in shape.

The co-operative owned by its 10,000 farmer suppliers and supporting some 20,000 employees was heading for its first annual loss since its creation in 2001 after a period of big expansion failed to deliver the promised profits and left it saddled with too much debt.

Hurrell, an 18-year veteran of Fonterra and head of the Farm Source unit that worked with farmers, talked with his wife and a few close friends who backed him to take on the challenge of what was looking like a tough couple of years.

“I was under no illusion at that point in time about what needed to be done,” he says. “Clearly we needed to go about doing things differently.” . . 

Living the good life after ‘bovis’– Sally Rae:

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for South Canterbury farmers Kelly and Morgan Campbell since their cattle were the first in New Zealand to be depopulated due to Mycoplasma bovis. But they have come out the other side with a new business venture. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

On a lifestyle block in rural South Canterbury, Kelly and Morgan Campbell are living the good life.

Residing in their dream home, surrounded by hundreds of happy hens, their seemingly idyllic existence belies the roller-coaster ride they have lived the past few years.

Morgan Campbell arguably summed it up best by saying: “it’s a crazy story … with lots of kinks and curves … along the way. Dead cows, IVF and chickens.” . . 

Sheep numbers plummet by 800,000 in a year – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s sheep numbers plummeted by almost a million in 2020, new data shows.

Figures from Stats NZ put the sheep population at 26 million for the year ended June 2020, a fall of 800,000 from the previous year and a far cry from the peak of 70 million sheep in 1982.

Stats NZ agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said widespread drought conditions and feed shortages were a major factor in the 3 per cent fall.

“Hawke’s Bay had the largest decrease, with the total number of sheep falling by 12 per cent (346,000) from the previous year to a total of 2.5 million as at June 2020.” . . 

Too many customers, not enough grapes, Marlborough winemakers struggling to match demand – Hugo Cameron:

Key export markets are thirsty for Marlborough wine, but low grape yields mean that demand is outstripping supply.

Frost and cold weather early in the season led to smaller harvests from many vineyards in the area and the smaller crop could leave some wineries facing tough decisions on who they can supply over the next year, industry group Wine Marlborough says

Caythorpe Family Estate owner Simon Bishell said the grape yield was about 25 to 30 percent down on the normal volume.

The business had seen plenty of fresh interest, but supplying those new customers after a slim harvest was a challenge, Bishell said. . . 

100 years on the land – Shawn McAvinue:

The Frame family recently celebrated 100 years of farming Burnbank in Teviot Valley. Shawn McAvinue talks to Bill and Gwenda Frame about how four generations have transformed the land from an unfenced block covered in gorse and rabbits to a productive sheep and beef farm.

A blanket of snow covered the land when Bill Frame was born on the sheep and beef farm Burnbank in Teviot Valley, on New Year’s Day in 1932.

When the snow melted, rabbits covered the farm in Dumbarton, near Ettrick.

As the baby boy grew, so did the rabbit population, and a dream was born. . . 

Meet challenges head-on says Beef Achiever Tracey Hayes – Shan Goodwin:

IF there is piece of advice Tracey Hayes believes has the power to guarantee a prosperous future for every sector of Australia’s beef industry, it’s the idea of never shying from a challenge.

Don’t turn a blind eye to what’s difficult, regardless of how insurmountable it may appear. Instead focus on precisely that.

These were the words from Ms Hayes after she was named the 2021 Queensland Country Life Beef Achiever at Beef Australia in Rockhampton last week.

Ms Hayes is an agribusiness executive with a beef production background and a down-to-earth persona that has made her one of the most liked, and respected, identities in the cattle game. . . 


Still not kind enough

20/04/2021

The government is giving some long overdue relief to migrant families who have been separated for more than a year:

National is pleased a solution has finally been found for some of the migrants split from their families after the Government forced them to endure more than a year of distress and uncertainty, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“News that many migrants, including our critical nurses and health workers, will finally get to hug their children and partners will be an enormous relief to them.

“New Zealand is critically short of nurses and is undertaking the biggest vaccination programme in living memory, so it’s reassuring that migrant nurses caught by a policy anomaly can now stay here and be reunited with their families.

“We can’t afford to lose the highly-skilled migrants who fill gaps in our workforce that we can’t otherwise fill. They are our doctors, our engineers, our tech experts, and our children’s mathematics teachers – we desperately need them in this country.

We need them and they need their families.

“While National welcomes today’s announcement, which is clearly the right thing to do, it is a shame the Government only acted after intense and sustained pressure from the Opposition, the media and split migrant family advocates.

“It should not have taken nurses shedding tears on the 6pm news night after night, having been separated from their babies, for the Government to act after it ignored them for months.

“Today’s move is a good start, but there is more to do. This decision won’t cover many families whose visas were being processed but had not yet been approved.

“Families still left in limbo will be deeply disappointed the Immigration Minister did not give them a roadmap to reunification.

“This overdue announcement, coming after months of pressure, shows the Labour Government does not have a clear plan for our immigration settings.

“National will continue to closely scrutinise the Government’s immigration and border response, and will continue to be the party that values and speaks up for our migrants.” 

The government is acting on its be-kind mantra, albeit belatedly, but it is not yet being kind enough.

Too many families won’t qualify for this and there are a lot of businesses desperate for workers who still can’t get them through the border.

Fruit is rotting on the ground in Hawke’s Bay amid a massive worker shortage and orchardists warn that overworked pickers are suffering more accidents.

The official labour shortage first declared for Hawke’s Bay six weeks ago – with 192 tourists granted approval to work in orchards – expired on Friday.

It was immediately extended, but growers say it’s too little too late.

Phil Paynter from Johnny Appleseed Holdings had to say goodbye to 22 hard-working pickers last week and says that with a little more warning, he could have kept them.

“When the labour shortage expired last Friday, we laid off 22 staff,” he said. “There simply aren’t the tourist numbers by the time you get into April to find those people [again].” . . 

Fruit growers further south are facing the same problem:

Central Otago’s horticulture sector fears fruit may be left to rot if a labour shortage isn’t filled soon.

The region is suffering from a lack of the usual seasonal workers from the Pacific because of Covid-19 border restrictions.

Many locals who filled in for the summer fruit harvest have left for university or jobs elsewhere.

With the borders creaking open with the announcement of the trans-Tasman bubble last week, horticulturists are calling for a Pacific bubble to follow.

Wine grower James Dicey said this year’s vintage would be an expensive one.

“We’ve scrapped through by the skin of our teeth,” he said, of the difficulty of finding workers to pick grapes.

“It’s going to cost us a lot more – not only the minimum wage increase, but the loss of productivity we’ve had has been a double bite. I’ve had to put extra vans on, find accommodation for staff, go to a huge extra level just to make sure we are able to secure the people we need.”

Orchards and vineyards would pay the cost of getting foreign workers into MIQ, if that was an option, but the risk was so low from the Pacific workers should just be let in, Dicey said. 

The five main countries which supplied seasonal workers – known as RSE – had few or no cases of Covid. . . 

It’s not just added stress and loss income for the businesses, less fruit and vegetables picked means less to sell. That will result in less export income for the country and higher prices for households here.

The government needs to reassess its priorities when the cast and crew of The Lion King have been allowed in but the workers needed to pick fruit and vegetables aren’t.

Its current policy is not nearly kind enough.


Rural round-up

05/03/2021

Dairy price lift will give fillip to regional economies and fortify Fonterra’s confidence in pressing on with capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Our  dairy provinces  are  reverberating to  the  news that prices  soared  at the  latest Fonterra GDT auction. The prosperity  this  brings  to the regions  will  provide a  significant counterbalance  to the loss  of earning power  in the tourism sector because of the pandemic.

The average price at the auction climbed 15% to $US4,231 a tonne but,  more  importantly, the price for wholemilk  powder, which is  the  key to the payout  to farmers,rose an astonishing 21% to $US4,364 a tonne. Butter  was  up  sharply to $US5,826 a tonne, or 13.7%.

Overall, the increase compares with a 3% rise at the previous auction two weeks ago. . . 

Reducing cow numbers no silver bullet for emissions – Sudesh Kissun:

Reducing cow numbers isn’t the ‘silver bullet’ to lowering greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, says Northland farmer and entrepreneur Tom Pow.

With the Government facing calls to slash cow numbers as part of its climate change action plan, Pow, the founder of HerdHomes, says a knee-jerk reaction to reduce cow numbers would be naïve.

He suggests looking at other options including reducing the number of hours cows spend in paddocks. “Balanced feed can lead to less greenhouse gasses (GHG) or effectively a smaller herd mis-managed could produce even more GHG,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Exciting board role for up and coming farmer – Peter Burke:

A 50/50 sharemilker at an award-winning Maori farming enterprise has been selected as one of two associate directors at DairyNZ for the coming year.

Carlos Delos Santo works for the Onuku Maori Lands Trust which runs a number of dairy farms near Rotorua as well as a sheep milking operation and other businesses. The other new associate director is Cameron Henderson who farms in Canterbury with his partner Sarah.

Delos Santo says he’s really excited to be selected for this role, as it allows him the chance to gain knowledge on what occurs at DairyNZ board meetings and contribute to important sector discussions. . .

Following his calling, not many downsides to farming – Toni Williams:

Mike Carr has had a calling to be a farmer since he was 8 years old; old enough to drive a tractor and help out on farm.

By the age of 25 he’d travelled overseas and had a mechanic’s qualification under his belt before returning to the family farm to work alongside his parents, Ian and Sue.

Then he took over.

He loves farming — and being outdoors.

“You’re your own boss. It’s great — you don’t answer to anyone else,” he said. . .

Shed consent application process could be improved – Shawn McAvinue:

A frustrated West Taieri farmer is calling for the Otago Regional Council to do better so he can achieve his dream of building a shed to keep his cattle warm and dry.

The council says it will seek ways to improve its service.

Fred Doherty, of Outram, said he had expected the process to get the consents required to build a wintering shed in the middle of his 90ha sheep and beef farm to be “simple and basic” but it had been “frustrating” and made considerably more expensive by red tape.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be able to put my stock inside for winter and to know that whatever nature throws at them, they are safe, warm and dry and your farm is getting looked after.” . . 

Could the next Emirates Team New Zealand boat be made entirely of hemp?:

With The America’s Cup due to start in a few days’ time, innovators from a very different sphere have been wondering how long it could be before New Zealand could be competing in a boat entirely built from hemp, with the crew eating high-energy, nutritious hemp-infused foods and wearing high-performance hemp kit?

Industrial hemp (iHemp) is from the same family as cannabis, but from different cultivars and without the psychoactive effects. Having historically fallen out of favour, it’s rapidly finding its place in the world again, due primarily to its environmental and health benefits.

Hemp has a wide range of uses driven by its unique characteristics. Hemp textiles are naturally anti-fungerial, antic static, antibacterial and antimicrobial and can stop 95% of the UV light. Used in construction materials, it is fire resistant, breathable and strong; one sixth of the weight of concrete and continues to sequester carbon throughout its life. .  .


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