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. .  .


Rural round-up

17/02/2021

Cows, coal and carbon – Elbow Deep:

I was once told by someone much smarter than me that the Green Party policy of today will be Labour Party policy in 10 years’ time. Even without that level of insight, nobody who has been paying attention to the political discourse for the past decade will be very surprised at the Climate Change Commission’s recent report, though there do seem to be large numbers of people shaking their heads in dazed bewilderment.

The Commission’s report largely reflects the findings and recommendations of the Royal Society’s 2016 one, Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for New Zealand. That report was essentially ignored by the government of the day, but it is extremely unlikely the current government will treat the latest version in the same manner.

The report calls for, among other things, an immediate end to the construction of coal fired boilers, an end to the burning of coal for process heat by 2037 and a reduction in the national dairy, beef and sheep numbers of 15% each by 2030.

No matter how climate hesitant you might be or how little New Zealand has contributed to global warming since pre-industrial times, the Commission estimates that figure to be 0.0028 degrees C, the fact remains our share of global warming is 4 times greater than our share of the total population and 1.5 times greater than our share of landmass. . . 

Waterways benefit from farmer’s ‘dream’ :

A Southland dairy farmer has invested $200,000 over the last 10 years in planting and fencing around a river and creeks on his property – an outcome of a dream he had back in his native Zimbabwe.

Edwin Mabonga, who together with his wife Fungai milk 850 cows on a 270ha farm bordering the Aparima River at Otautau near Invercargill, used to spend time in Zimbabwe reading books about New Zealand.

“It was always a big goal of mine to come to New Zealand because I saw it as being the world benchmark for dairy farming,” he says. “We used to read books to learn as much as we could and eventually decided to move to find out what the big deal was.” . . .

Agribusiness icon helping to change dairying :

Project to reduce nitrate run-off from farms attracts critical corporate clout.

A key environmental project on lower North Island dairy farms has attracted renewed corporate backing – and a grandmother is helping bring it about.

Two of New Zealand’s biggest business players, Fonterra and Nestle, have joined a DairyNZ-led project in the Tararua district in which a blend of the herb plantain is being sown in pastures with the aim of both reducing nitrate run-off into waterways and lowering on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

The two companies are bringing their muscle to the project by providing additional funding to enable the 50 farms taking part to increase the amount of plantain they grow. . . 

Lasers used as bird deterrent – Jared Morgan:

Using lasers to control birds might sound like science fiction but Ewing Stevens hopes the technology will save his grapes from the peckish pests.

At age 94, Mr Stevens believes he is New Zealand’s oldest vintner but his age is no barrier to being at the cutting edge of technology when it comes to managing his crop at Anthony James Vineyard near Alexandra.

This week three lasers were installed at his Hillview Rd vineyard to replace labour intensive and expensive bird netting.

Mr Stevens said the idea was born out of a conversation with Viticultura co-owner Timbo Deaker, whose Cromwell-based company manages Mr Stevens’ grapes through its vineyard management service, about three years ago. . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year Northern Regional Final postponed :

Following Auckland’s move to Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country to Alert Level 2, we have made the decision to postpone the Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final based on Government recommendations.

Given the uncertainty around the latest COVID-19 community cases, postponement of the event is the safest and most cautious option despite contingency plans we have in place to run events during an alert level two.

Like other businesses, organisations and events, we need to respond and do our part to limit the potential spread of this virus.

The safety of our competitors, staff, sponsors and spectators is our main priority. It is imperative that we protect our people and do not put anyone at risk. . .

 

Grange visit a flashback for ‘Birley girls’ – Shawn McAvinue:

A former Taieri farm girl got her dying wish to say goodbye to the homestead she was raised in.

Joan King (83) and her sister Patricia Snell (75) were young girls when their family moved on to The Grange farm in East Taieri.

Their parents, Percy and Rita Birley, managed the nearly 300ha sheep, beef and dairy farm.

The women, from Motueka and Auckland respectively, visited the homestead recently to celebrate Mrs King’s birthday. . .


Rural round-up

10/02/2021

Pandemic disruption highlights challenges looming for farming – Anna Campbell:

Walk into any New Zealand supermarket and life feels pretty normal. The shelves are filled with staples of bread and toilet paper and there is the usual melee of highly packed and processed products vying for attention.

Normality, though, hides the continued disruption many New Zealand food producers and manufacturers face as they experience delays in ingredient and product transport and associated increasing costs.

I have heard of New Zealand companies bringing more of their production processes back on-shore in an effort to mitigate supply chain uncertainty, and many companies are having to buy ingredients in large amounts, at increased costs, to ensure continued supply.

Internationally, food access continues to cause major problems. . . 

Pick Nelson campaign calls on Kiwis to help out with the summer harvest – Tim Newman:

A new campaign is calling on Kiwis to head to Nelson to fill the hundreds of jobs available for the summer harvest in the region.

The Pick Nelson Tasman campaign was launched by Project Kōkiri this week, part of a collaboration between local government, iwi, and business organisations to respond to the economic fallout of Covid-19.

Project Kōkiri spokesman Johny O’Donnell said while the region was renowned for growing some of the world’s best produce, some estimates suggested Nelson/Tasman’s horticulture industry was facing a shortfall of more than 1600 workers.

“These jobs used to be primarily filled by travellers and international workers, but while our borders remain closed there’s a big shortage of staff. . . 

 

Cheese nomenclature in spotlight – Ashley Smyth:

Does a feta by any other name taste as good?

This is the conundrum facing New Zealand cheesemakers, who may have to change the names of some of their cheese varieties, if the European Union (EU) gets its way.

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association spokesman and Whitestone Cheese managing director Simon Berry said the topic has come about because of Brexit, and the EU opening up for trade negotiations with “the world”.

“So now our trade ministers are meeting with the UK as well as the EU, and the EU has turned around and said ‘OK, if we’re renegotiating, we now want to protect these names’ . . . and they’ve come out with a list,” Mr Berry said. . .

Repairs connect lavender farm with the world – Rebecca Ryan:

When you live in Danseys Pass, you have to be prepared for anything and take whatever happens on the chin, Jo and Barry Todd say.

After flooding closed Danseys Pass Rd for almost a month at the peak of the lavender season, Mr and Mrs Todd were pleased to finally be able to welcome visitors back to their lavender farm and shop this week. The Waitaki District Council reopened the road on Monday.

The couple started Danseys Pass Lavender on their 4ha property in 2009 and had seen it all living in remote North Otago; they had been snowed in, and flooding had taken out bridges on either side of their home in previous years.

They did not get too stressed about having no customers for almost a month — they had started the business as a way to keep busy as they reached retirement age. . . 

Easing into vineyard ownership – Ashley Smyth:

Kurow is a familiar stomping ground for Alisa Nicholls, but she and husband Paul are venturing into unfamiliar territory by taking the reigns at River-T Estate.

“It’s a completely new industry for us. We’re just sort of taking it all in,” Mrs Nicholls said last week.

The pair took over the vineyard and cellar door from the original owners, Karen and Murray Turner, on January 21 and are easing themselves into their new lifestyle.

“We’re really lucky Karen and Murray are sticking around until February 8, so we’re just sort of learning from them, which is great … they’ve been very helpful.” . . 

Regional Australia ‘should not pay bill for climate target’  – John Ellicott:

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has backed his Nationals leader, saying agriculture had already done much of the heavy lifting on limiting carbon pollution and should not be hit in any future climate target process.

On the weekend Nationals leader Michael McCormack said Australia should follow New Zealand and cut agriculture from any possible 2050 zero emissions taxes or penalties as this would hurt regional Australian communities.

Any move forward to control carbon pollution had to be done through technology advances, he said.

“Well what we need to make sure is that we don’t disproportionately affect regional Australia,” he told Sky News. . . 


Rural round-up

29/01/2021

Covid minces meat prices – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmgate red meat prices are taking a hit as Covid continues to disrupt dining out businesses around the world.

Beef prices are down 16% on a year ago, lamb prices down around 18% in New Zealand dollar terms.

ASB economist Nat Keall says it’s a more muted start to the year for beef and lamb prices when compared to dairy.

Keall notes that lamb prices in particular aren’t too far above the lows seen in the immediate post-pandemic churn.

Dog detective sniffs out pest plants in Wairarapa – Marcus Anselm:

New Zealand’s leading dog detective was unleashed in Wairarapa’s wetlands on Tuesday as part of the fight against invasive toxic weeds.

Bailey is part of the Department of Conservation’s [DOC] Conservation Dogs Programme.

The seven-year-old boxer-short haired pincer cross, and her pal Wink, are trained by Graeme Miller, a 38-year DOC veteran and canine specialist based in Invercargill.

The age-old partnership of man and dog is augmented by high-speed technology. . . 

 

High dairy prices push up Synlait payout forecast by 13% :

Speciality dairy company Synlait Milk is lifting its milk payout forecast by nearly 13 percent following strong world prices.

The company has increased its base milk price by 30 cents to $7.20 a kilo of milk solids from $6.40/kg.

Synlait national milk supply manager David Williams said dairy prices had risen strongly in recent months and were expected to stay around current levels for the rest of the season. . . 

New Years honours recognise QEII covantors:

A new year brings with it the New Year’s Honours list, where New Zealanders who have made significant contributions to their communities are recognised and thanked for their workWe are incredibly honoured to have several QEII covenantors on the New Year’s honours list this year and are proud to celebrate their achievements along with the rest of the amazing individuals on the honours list.  

Gillian Adshead and Kevin Adshead 
Gillian and Kevin Adshead were both awarded The Queen’s Service Medal for their services to conservation.  
 
The Adsheads are conservation champions in their community, connecting with other landowners and farmers to support and encourage conservation practises. They are both QEII covenantors and started the Mataia Restoration Project in 2005, which focuses on pest control on their 1,300-hectare family farm.  
 
Their efforts allowed for kiwi to return to Mataia in 2013 and following this, the pair foundethe Forest Bridge Trust.  . . 

Pernod Ricard winemakers selects Trellis to dynamically predict yield, quality and timing of grape harvest:

 Pernod Ricard Winemakers, the premium wine division of Pernod Ricard, today announced that food system intelligence innovator Trellis will support its business and supply chain operations by providing accurate grape yield, quality, harvest timing and procurement cost prediction across Australia and New Zealand.

“As we continue to lead the wine industry into the digital era, we are committed to working with artificial intelligence (AI) innovators that are reimagining global supply chains. We were impressed by Trellis’s expertise in the industry and proven ability to scale across complex business units and multiple geographies,” noted Alex Kahl, who is leading the project and the optimization of technology across operations for Pernod Ricard Winemakers. “We are excited to give our teams the ability to more accurately predict risks and uncover new opportunities for efficiency.”

A leading advocate for advanced supply and demand prediction, Pernod Ricard Winemakers expanded the deployment of Trellis across its grape supply network throughout New Zealand and Australia.  . . 

View From the Paddock: Ag – lead the exodus we need – Bess O’Connor :

I can hardly bring myself to talk about 2020 or the stupidity that continues to go on with borders.

They somewhat resemble the dozen, hair-trigger mouse traps around my house, snapping closed in the dead of night for absolutely no reason, as a hollow and unproductive threat to the mice going about their business around them.

Last year demonstrated clearly how overlooked and disregarded our ‘small community’ of 2 million rural Australians is.

Yet, in the rubble of a country that no longer knows who it is, where it’s going, or how the hell to get there; we might be the only unified, borderless team left. . . 


Rural round-up

17/01/2021

A year of opportunity and challenges – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The year ahead for New Zealand’s primary sector is full of promise and opportunity.

Of course, there are challenges and there will be more that haven’t yet been realised. But the very fact that the country is relying on the sector to underpin, enable and drive economic growth means that there will be support. And the goodwill towards the work that the primary sector did during the Covid lockdown is still with us.

Internationally we are highly-respected for what we achieved collectively through Covid. New Zealanders listened to the science, obeyed the instructions and achieved a positive result.

What applied during Covid reflects our general attitude – when the facts are clear, we comply. This is part of why we are trusted as a food supplier. Our food is safe to eat as well as delicious. It is also what people want for health. . . 

Gym for farmers – Nigel Beckford:

A home-built gym was the start of Kane Brisco’s journey from milking shed to social media influencer.  

Kane’s into his seventh year 50/50 share milking at Ohangai near Hawera, in South Taranaki. His progress in the industry’s been rapid and life’s busy on all fronts.

“We have 215 cows which I pretty much milk myself. My wife helps as much as she can with the calves, but she’s working part time as a nurse too. We’ve also got a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. The last 2 years have been hectic with my daughter starting school and the younger one becoming more mobile and racing around.”

Juggling these responsibilities would be a challenge for anyone. How does Kane cope? The answer might surprise some people – as busy as he is, Kane dedicates part of each day solely to meeting his own needs. . .

Passion for or shearing started early for young shepherd – Sandy Eggleston:

A fascination watching shearers as a child has drawn one young woman into having a go herself.

Shepherd Melissa Hamilton took part in the 39th Northern Southland Community Shears held at the Selbie family woolshed, Lowther Downs, near Lumsden yesterday.

Miss Hamilton grew up on a sheep and beef farm near Browns.

“When we were shearing it was the most exciting time of the year — always fascinated watching the shearers.” . .

Heavy rain no dampener for wine makers – Jared Morgan:

The New Year’s deluge of torrential rain has been welcomed by winemakers.

Their gain is in stark contrast to the pain caused by the rain to the region’s orchardists, whose cherry crops were all but wiped out by the heaviest rainfall in 40 years.

The epicentre for flooding of orchards and vineyards was the Earnscleugh area between Alexandra and Clyde.

The flooding was caused by the Fraser River breaching its banks and runoff from the Rocky Range; it was the latter that led to the cellar door and the winery at Black Ridge Vineyard being inundated with about 6cm of water and mud. . .

Why is it so hard to find lemons right now? – Alex Braae:

Supermarket shoppers looking for citrus are seeing a sour trend at the moment – some stores are entirely tapped out of lemons. But why? 

Batches of homemade lemonade will be taking a hit this summer, with life not giving New Zealand shoppers lemons. Prices are high at supermarkets and grocers that have the citrus fruit, and some stores have completely sold out.

The problem isn’t so much domestic problem – the citrus industry in New Zealand is small, but is largely operating as normal. Rather, import difficulties are making it much harder to stack the shelves. . .

Omarama Clay Cliffs – the little slice of Mars hidden in South Canterbury* – Brook Sabin:

New Zealand has no shortage of stunningly beautiful drives, and one of the best is between Queenstown and Aoraki Mt/Cook. This route weaves through some of our most spectacular mountain scenery, with a few hidden gems in between.

From Queenstown, ascend the Crown Range, as you wind your way into a majestic mountainscape that passes through Cardrona village. After an hour you’ll be in Wānaka, where you can stop for ice cream at Patagonia Chocolates, and a leisurely walk along the waterfront to see That Wānaka Tree.

Next, traverse the stunningly sparse Lindis Pass, before reaching the heartland of hidden gems: Omarama, which has two unmissable stops.

This unworldly landscape has to be one of the most underrated attractions in New Zealand. If it were overseas, there’d be ticket queues, cafes and novelty shops scattered around the place. Here, there’s a hand-painted sign pointing towards the entrance and an honesty box which asks for $5 per car to visit . .

* The cliffs are amazing & they’re on the right side of the Waitaki River so in North Otago not South Canterbury.

 


Rural round-up

31/10/2020

Horticulture work ‘really hard’ at first, but there’s decent money to be made – Rob Stock:

Robert Doig spent three months pruning vines in Canterbury to take a break from his usual job as an auto industry sparkie.

The 31-year-old Cantabrian said he earned decent money in the spell from June to August, got fit, grew some muscles and loved working outdoors.

Now, he’s recommending horticulture work to people who’ve been left jobless as a result of the Covid-19 economic recession.

“It was great fun. The first few weeks were really, really hard, but it was a case of getting used to it, learning your own style,” he said. . .

IrrigationNZ delighted Northland water storage first fast-track approved:

IrrigationNZ is pleased to see that approval of a much needed water storage project in Northland to support horticulture, agriculture and provide drinking water is the first ‘cab off the rank’ under the Government’s Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Act.

IrrigationNZ CEO Vanessa Winning commented on the announcement made by Minister Parker today:

“These are exactly the types of projects we are keen to see more of as part of New Zealand’s Covid recovery process, and as a focus for regional investment. . . 

Dairy exports dip in September:

The value of dairy product exports in September 2020 fell from the same month in 2019, Stats NZ said today.

The fall was price-led, as the overall quantity of dairy products exported rose over the same period.

 “New Zealand exported a greater volume of dairy products in September 2020 than in the same month last year, but received less in return,” senior insights analyst Nicholas Cox said. . .

Agrochemicals air quality study planned for Marlborough – Chloe Ranford:

Are pesticides degrading air quality in rural areas? It’s a question researchers have begun investigating in New Zealand’s largest wine region.

The Marlborough District Council plans to trial a new air monitoring programme to better understand the “localised impacts” of farm chemicals, like spray drifts.

The study is due to begin within a year, and comes 13 years after a consultant hired by the council suggested it begin tracking air pollution near schools and residential areas in Blenheim, concerned that airborne agrochemical impacted human and environmental health. . .

 

Celebrating 15 Years of NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year competition:

Members of the New Zealand wine industry were delighted to be able to come together in Martinborough early October and celebrate fifteen years of the Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition. The celebration consisted of a conference entitled “Investing in the Future” followed by a dinner at the Town Hall. It was a great chance for the viticultural community to discuss the opportunities and challenges which lie ahead for the industry as well as look back over the last fifteen years.

Since 2006, the NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year initiative has helped support and encourage ambitious young people to become confident, strong leaders in the NZ wine industry. Investing in the future has paid off and there are many inspirational success stories of previous contestants and winners becoming some of the great innovators, pioneers and decision makers of the industry today. . . 

Cars can’t compare with cows when it comes to air quality – Steve Dittmer :

Here’s some sound science to clear the air on cattle’s contribution to air quality.

Many first heard of Frank Mitloehner when he exposed and invalidated the UN’s “Livestock Long Shadow” report and forced its withdrawal of wildly exaggerated cattle greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

Mitloehner is in the animal science department and is an air quality specialist at UC-Davis. He is not only eminently qualified to examine the nitty gritty of livestock and their environmental impact, his classes in California give him constant exposure to the thinking of younger generations regarding climate change and cattle. 

Mitloehner has been chair of the UN-Food & Agriculture Organization panel to benchmark the environmental impact of livestock production and a similar National Academy of Science, Engineering & Medicine panel. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

30/10/2020

50 years of flower farming  – two families harness the power of sunflowers for bird food company – Emma Rawson:

Two Waitaki families farming in partnership for more than 50 years have developed a bird-loving business out of a crop sown on a wing and a prayer.

Riotous rows of yellow sunflowers beaming from fields south of Ōamaru are a shot of happiness in the Waitaki landscape. Sandwiched between crops of golden wheat and barley, the big friendly giants turn up the colour dial to a saturated yellow.

The exact location of the flowers, grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for more than 50 years, is usually kept on the low down.

Sometimes they are planted on Thousand Acre Road between Ōamaru and Kakanui, sometimes further inland towards Enfield. Crop rotation is the official reason; sunflowers need a five-year interval before being replanted in the same field since they are prone to fungal disease. However, transplanting the lots has the bonus of tricking the birds and keeping humans on their toes until the flowers hit their full two-metre height and yellowy glory at the end of January. . . 

Hawke’s Bay growers consider ‘every possible option’ to fill worker shortage – Thomas Airey:

Horticulture and viticulture growers are trying to be innovative and flexible in order to attract the employees they need to get through a worker shortage for the coming summer season.

There is an urgent need for local seasonal labour, with limited availability of overseas workers due to Covid-19 and 10,000 workers required to thin, pick, package and process the year’s crop between November and April.

The industry has joined up with the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and the region’s local government leaders to deliver a plan to the Government next month to resolve the situation.

Part of that plan includes a growers’ employment expo and information session on Tuesday, November 10, through which they plan to showcase the summer work and career opportunities in the sector. . . 

One-size-fits all-model no more – Anthony Beverley:

New Zealand’s farmers are among the most efficient and productive in the world — and they need to be.

Our world is demanding high-quality, environmentally-friendly food. At the same time, regulatory costs continue to build; our weather is increasingly challenging to bank on and farm profitability and balance sheets are under pressure.

As a result, farmers are increasingly looking more closely at the economic contribution of each part of their farms. Not all land is the same; some parts of farms — if farmers are really honest about it — cost them money to farm.

It’s the steep, rough hill country out the back that farmers are taking a second look at. Not only is this land unprofitable, but it’s often difficult and dangerous to farm. This land is typically erosion-prone and topsoil run-off is undermining farmers’ broader environmental efforts. . . 

Award winner a hands-on business owner – Sally Rae:

Whether  about horses or lambs, alpacas or goats — Henrietta Purvis derives satisfaction from positive feedback from happy animal owners.

She and her husband Graeme Purvis operate Purvis Feeds from their Waianakarua property, south of Oamaru, selling lucerne chaff throughout New Zealand.

Very much a hands-on business owner who spends time both in the cutting shed and on the books, Mrs Purvis has been named the innovation category winner in this year’s NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards . . 

Researchers find ‘sweet spot’ for kiwi fruit pollination

Upping the proportion of female flowers in a kiwifruit orchard may boost production, according to new research.

Plant and Food Research scientists and collaborators from the USA have compiled more than 30 years of field-based data from kiwifruit research to create “digital twins” of pollination processes in kiwifruit orchards, and have used these to predict how growers can optimise their fruit set.

Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical systems – in this case mathematical models of the biology of the plants and the behaviour of pollinating bees.

These digital twins gave researchers the ability to examine complex scenarios which examine multiple, intertwined factors at once. . . .

Brahmans from North Queensland are in demand from NSW graziers – Kent Ward:

Demand for larger lines of quality cattle has seen North Queensland become the go-to market for New South Wales graziers as they rebuild their herds.

The strong demand from southern restockers has not only provided competition at northern store sales, but also seen paddock deals culminate in thousands of cattle being trucked across the border in recent months.

Since March of this year, private agency firm Kennedy Rural has successfully sold and overseen the transport of in excess of 10,000 head of cattle into areas of NSW. . . 


Rural round-up

27/08/2020

‘People, trust’ key to environmental work – Sally Rae:

A group of farmers in the Wanaka area have taken a proactive approach to water quality in  their patch and  are now moving into stage 2 of  their catchment group project. Sally Rae reports.

“Relationships and people. I don’t know why when it comes to the environment, we always forget that. I can wax on about science up to my wazoo — this thing is purely about people, relationships and trust.”

Environmental consultant Chris Arbuckle is referring to the Wanaka Catchment Group, set up three years ago and comprising 15 large properties that drain into or are upstream of Lake Wanaka.

Representing 95% of the farmed catchment, they range from fourth generation — such as the Aspinall family at Mt Aspiring Station — to overseas owners and everything in between. . . 

Why farmers are talking trees – Sam McIvor:

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says turning productive farmland to plantations for carbon farming will have negative effects on rural communities and the Government should rethink its flawed approach.

Trees have become a hot topic with farmers lately, and with good reason.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand supports protecting and restoring native bush and the planting of forestry on farms in a way that complements the landscape. However, we’re concerned about the impact of policies that economically incentivise wholesale land use change from pastoral-based farming into exotic trees for carbon offsetting.

Put simply, we’re not anti-forestry – we’re against policies that will lead to widespread carbon farming, which will have detrimental effects on our rural communities. . . 

Big win for Fonterra in latest DIRA amendments – Keith Woodford:

New DIRA settings give Fonterra what it wanted but make life much more challenging for any new dairy processors.

Fonterra will be feeling very pleased with the final outcomes from the much drawn-out 2018-2020 review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). Last minute changes as a consequence of Fonterra’s lobbying have made it very hard for any new start-ups to nibble away at Fonterra’s dominance.

These latest DIRA amendments were passed in late July and were supported across the political spectrum.  They were inserted at a late stage in the Select Committee process, and were a fait accompli before outsiders realised what was happening.  Someone in Fonterra deserves a job promotion for their lobbying skill. . . 

Sixty hectares of kiwifruit being planted in the Whanganui region – Mike Tweed:

Whanganui dairy farmers Jarrod and Holly Murdoch will soon be turning 20 hectares of their Waitotara land into a kiwifruit orchard.

They’re part of a burgeoning kiwifruit growing industry in the region, which includes Mangamahu grower David Wells who is now adding 16.5ha to his existing 3.5.

These projects, along with another 20ha of kiwifruit planting in the Whanganui region, have resulted in New Zealand company Apata Group Limited, which harvests, packs and stores fruit, signing on to provide infrastructure and oversee the growing of these crops.

Wells, who began growing kiwifruit in 1978, said Apata’s involvement, as well as support from local investors “triggered it all”. . . 

Honey may be a better treatment for coughs and colds than over-the-counter medicines –  Rob Picheta:

Honey may be a better treatment for coughs and colds than over-the-counter medicines, a new study has found.

Researchers said honey was more effective in relieving the symptoms of cold and flu-like illnesses than the usual commercial remedies, and could provide a safer, cheaper and more readily available alternative to antibiotics.

They encouraged doctors to consider recommending it to patients in place of prescribing antibiotics, which can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance when overused.

The proven health benefits of honey

Honey has long been used as a home remedy for coughs, but its effectiveness in treating common illnesses has not been heavily researched. . .

Award winning Waiheke vineyard for sale offers vintage opportunities for investors:

The land and buildings sustaining an award-winning vineyard in one of Waiheke Island’s most commanding locations have been placed on the market for sale.

Peacock Sky, in the established rural residential area of Onetangi/Trig Hill, features a mature productive vineyard which was planted more than 20 years ago. Owners Connie Festa and Rob Meredith bought it in 2008, and have since developed the property and brand into a multi-award-winning vineyard.

Located at 152 Trig Hill Road in central Waiheke, on one of the island’s highest points, the site offers panoramic views – with available space mooted for development of a luxury residential retreat, destination restaurant or events facility. . . 


Rural round-up

18/07/2020

Harvesters fear for industry as temporary workers’ visa expiration looms – Nona Pelletier:

The horticulture industry warns it may have to cut back on the harvest, if the government does not move quickly to head-off a critical labour shortage in spring.

The hospitality, pork, shearing, dairy and agricultural services industries were also concerned about labour shortages, with thousands of working holiday visas expected to expire on or before 25 September.

More of concern was the skilled temporary workers who were unable to re-enter the country.

The minister of immigration promised the horticultural industry that it would be able to recruit up to 14,400 registered seasonal workers from Pacific Islands later this year. . . 

Rural mental health service inundated by women hoping ‘farm speak’ will save men – Pip Courtney and Margot Kelly:

Mothers, wives and sisters have overwhelmed a suicide prevention service with stories of loss and grief after it featured on ABC Landline.

The founder, plant scientist Mary O’Brien, said women left behind after a son, brother, or husband took their own lives, also needed support but often slipped through the cracks.

Ms O’Brien said country women had contacted her to share their stories and thank her for encouraging rural men to ask for help when they were mentally ‘bogged’.

“Many had lost sons and several had lost a father and a brother, or a brother and a husband,” Ms O’Brien said. . . 

Stoat breakthrough could be the key to eradication:

In a country with few living native predators, stoats are the kings of the forest.

Despite appearances, these mustelids are brutal creatures: carnivores who can kill animals many times their size, from rabbits and hares to possums, birds, and even freshwater crayfish.

In many environments in New Zealand, they are the top predator.

As such, they’re a big threat to many of our native species, and the eradication of stoats is a key point in New Zealand’s ambitious goal to be predator-free by 2050.

At the moment, we rely largely on chemical drops and organised trapping missions to get rid of them – but a scientific breakthrough may have changed that. . . 

‘Jaw-droppingly beautiful’: Wanaka winery makes top 50 list

A list of the world’s 50 best vineyards for wine tourism has named a Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay estate as being among the best.

And those two Kiwi vineyards rank in the top 20 in the world in the list out today.

The global list of wine tourism destinations named Argentina’s Zuccardi Valle de Uco in the top spot for the second year running.

Bodega Garzón in Uruguay was second for a consecutive year and Domäne Wachau in Austria jumped 16 places to claim third spot this year.

But Central Otago’s Rippon, on the Wanaka-Mt Aspiring Rd, placed 13th and was also named the best vineyard in Australasia. . . 

Congratulations to Annabel Angland – Corteva Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2020:

Annabel Angland from Peregrine became the Corteva Central Otago Young Viticulturist of the Year 2020 on 16 July following the competition held at Otago Polytechnic Central Campus in Bannockburn.

Congratulations also goes to Liam Burgess from Viticultura who came second and Jordan Moores from Felton Road who came third.

There were eight contestants competing in total. The other five contestants were Katrina Jackson from Chard Farm, Hannah van Velthoven from Prophets Rock, Daniel Brewster from Akarua, Annabel Wylie from Rippon and Theresa Woessner from Domaine Thomson.

“It was one of the closest competitions, we’ve ever seen” said Nick Paulin, the Regional Organiser, and all judges commented on the high calibre of the contestants. . .

 

 

Burger King’s “breathe the farts of change” not passing the sniff test– Dr Frank Mitloehner:

Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, hold the methane?

new communication campaign from Burger King is promising beef that comes from cows that are 33 percent less gassy on average, allowing the international fast-food chain’s consumers to have it their way without guilt.

Burger King, which is part of Restaurant Brands International, has been adding lemongrass to cows’ diets in an attempt to cut down on cattle’s methane emissions. Given the greenhouse gas’ role in global warming, it’s a big deal. If nothing else, decreasing methane would buy us time to try and get a handle on carbon dioxide emissions, the No. 1 elephant in the room – and in the atmosphere.

According to Burger King, cattle that consume the modified diet produce up to one-third less methane than cows that eat a more traditional diet. “ … We found that by adding 100 grams of dried lemongrass leaves to the cows’ daily feed, we were able to see a reduction of up to 33% on average of methane emissions during the period the diet was fed (the last three-to-four months of the cow’s life in the case of our research),” the website states.

It’s a noble pursuit, and such results would definitely be welcome, but has Burger King jumped the gun? . . 

 


Rural round-up

17/07/2020

Government’s food and fibre reset lacks a core – Keith Woodford:

The Government’s new food and fibre reset document is PR aspirational fluff. The hard work remains to be done

On July 7 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern released the Government’s document “Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential”. The associated  press release  from the Beehive says that it provides a 10-year roadmap for the food and fibre industries’.

At the same function where this report was released, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor released a companion document from his Primary Sector Council of chosen industry leaders.  That document is also titled “Fit for a Better World” but lacks the title extension about ‘accelerating our economic potential’.   This second document is indeed a different document, singing from the same song-sheet, but with considerably different material. Very confusing indeed!

My focus here is on the Government’s version of the report because this is the one that has been signed off by Cabinet. Minsters in attendance at the release also included Stuart Nash and Shane Jones. . . 

Concerns for shearing as overseas workers can’t get in – Susan Murray:

New Zealand’s traditional shearing routines could be thrown into disarray this summer if overseas shearers can’t get into the country.

The New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association said, nationally, at least two million sheep are shorn by international shearers.

The vice president, Carolyn Clegg, said farmers may have to re-design their shearing plans to avoid animal welfare issues, and it could have business implications too.

She said some lambs may not get shorn, or ewes may just get crutched, rather than fully shorn.

Taste Pure Nature one year on – Allan Barber:

A little over a year since the launch of the Taste Pure Nature country of origin brand in California, Beef + Lamb’s GM Market Development, Nick Beeby, is thrilled with the evolution of the programme. At the start a small number of meat exporters were supportive of what Beeby concedes was initially seen as a B+LNZ initiative, but 15 months later success in targeting specific consumer groups and expansion of the scheme into China have brought increased industry commitment. TPN is now viewed positively as a sector-led strategy and the meat exporters have injected huge momentum and drive in support.

Original participants included Lamb Company shareholders, Alliance, ANZCO and Silver Fern Farms, and Atkins Ranch and First Light, two exporters which stood to benefit from the tightly targeted digital strategy directed at the Conscious Foodie consumer segment in California. The initial strategy was to raise awareness and increase the preference for New Zealand grass fed, naturally raised and anti-biotic free red meat, and importantly to point consumers to where they can buy it. These strategic objectives remain the same. . . 

Craggy Range Winery staff celebrate being among World’s Best Vineyards – Shannon Johnstone:

Craggy Range Winery staff celebrated with, well, a glass of lunchtime wine, as they found they were sitting at number 17 among the World’s Best Vineyards.

This year, the winery placed among some of the world’s most respected wineries such as France’s Mouton Rothschild & Château Margaux, Italy’s Antinori, the United States Opus One and Australia’s Penfold.

It is one of two New Zealand wineries to make the list alongside Rippon in Central Otago.

Craggy Range director Mary-Jeanne Peabody said they were “thrilled” to have been recognised. Last year they placed 11th. . . 

HoneyLab does licensing deal with US company:–  Andrew McRae:

Health product company HoneyLab is to sell seven of its products in North America through a licensing agreement with American company Taro Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.

The agreement covers the sale of its kanuka honey products for the treatment of cold-sores, rosacea and acne, a bee venom-based cosmetic range and a product for joint and muscle pain.

Taro will be able to make and sell these licenced products in the US, Canada and Israel and they will be on shelves in stores sometime in 2021. . .

ASB appoints Ben Speedy as Rural General Manager:

ASB is pleased to announce that Ben Speedy has been appointed to the bank’s leadership team in the role of general manager, Rural.

Speedy joins ASB from his previous role as New Zealand Country Manager for Core Logic International.

Speedy grew up on a farm and started his career with BNZ after graduating from Massey University with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Farm Management and Rural Valuation, and Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (Marketing).

As an Agribusiness Graduate he worked his way up to become Senior Agribusiness Manager in Hawke’s Bay. . . 


Rural round-up

29/06/2020

Agriculture emerges from lockdown relatively unscathed, but coming global recession will bite, says economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Agricultural incomes are expected to take a hit later this year as the effects of the global recession caused by coronavirus kicks in, says Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny.

The sector was likely to remain profitable, however.

Despite having come through the lockdown and its immediate effects relatively unscathed, due largely to agriculture’s classification as an essential service, the forecast 3 per cent hit to global growth over 2020, meant there would be less demand for the forseeable future.

As a country that exported over 90 per cent of its agricultural production, New Zealand would be heavily exposed, Penny said. . .

McBride optimistic about Fonterra’s future despite global uncertainty – Esther Taunton:

Fonterra will face “bumps in the road” as the global economy rebuilds after the coronavirusoutbreak, but chairman-elect Peter McBride is optimistic about the dairy co-op’s future.

“Businesses learn more from challenges than successes and there will be plenty learnt from this,” the South Waikato dairy farmer said.

And McBride should know.

As the chairman of the Zespri board from 2013-18, he led the kiwifruit marketer through a crippling outbreak of the vine disease Psa, estimated to have cost growers close to $1 billion . .

Few winter grazing issues found – Neal Wallace:

Soutland farmers are being given a pat on the back for their winter grazing management so far this year, which Environment Southland says is an improvement on last year.

An aerial inspection by regional council staff prompted chief executive Rob Phillips to conclude farmers have made positive improvements.

“I’m encouraged by what we’ve seen. Farmers appear to have made a real effort, which is exactly what we need.”

Phillips said it is early in the season so wet weather will change conditions. . . .

Outstanding vintage despite Covid-19 conditions:

While it will be forever remembered as the Covid-19 harvest, an excellent summer throughout most of the country has contributed to an outstanding vintage for New Zealand’s wine regions.

“Although Covid-19 restrictions did have a huge impact on the way the harvest was run, they will not affect the quality of the wine, and we are really looking forward to some exceptional wines coming from this year’s vintage” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The New Zealand wine industry had hoped for a larger harvest in 2020, after smaller than expected crops over the last three years. With 457,000 tonnes of grapes harvested, this year’s vintage will help the industry to meet the high demand for New Zealand wine.

With New Zealand moving into Alert Level 4 just as Vintage 2020 began, the industry was acutely aware that it was in an incredibly privileged position to be allowed to pick the grapes, says Gregan. . .

Tug-of-war fan desperate to keep sport alive – ‘It’s weightlifting lying down’ – Carol Stiles:

A Waikato farmer is building a museum on his farm to preserve memorabilia from New Zealand’s oldest introduced sport – tug-of-war.

Graham Smith has a dairy farm 50 minutes south of Hamilton.

He is also a passionate advocate for a sport which is dwindling. He’s preserving the memory of tug-of-war in case one day it sparks up again.

He is the president of the New Zealand Tug of War Association and has been involved for more than 40 years. . .

Record on-farm price for EC Angus – Hugh Stringleman:

An Angus bull from Turiroa Stud, Wairoa, has made $104,000 at auction, believed to be a New Zealand on-farm sale record.

Turiroa’s best-ever sales performance also featured a price of $86,000 and an average of $12,560 for a full clearance of 50 bulls.

Andrew Powdrell said there was good buying further into the catalogue and there was a bull for everyone.

The Powdrell family was humbled by the result and thrilled the bulls are going to good homes. . .


Rural round-up

07/06/2020

What farmers wish other New Zealand knew – Esther Taunton:

Remember when Country Calendar was must-see TV? When The Dog Show was on every week and the Young Farmer of the Year competition was screened live?

The times aren’t just a’changin’, they have already a’changed, taking New Zealand’s general knowledge of farming with them.

We’ve fallen out of touch with the people who put food on our tables and clothes on our backs and it’s no surprise the rural-urban divide often feels more like a canyon than a crack to farmers.

Many Kiwis don’t know the simplest things about farming but, thanks to the farmers who’ve taken me from total-townie to slightly-less-townie in my time as a rural reporter, we can change that right now. . . 

Govt’s snubbing of Feds short-sighted — Editorial:

Petty and small-minded is the only way to describe the continued snubbing of Federated Farmers in regard to the Government’s freshwater reforms.

Outgoing Federated Farmers president Katie Milne has hit out at Wellington-based government officials for their lack of understanding about farming.

Late last week, Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor – along with ministry officials – unveiled the long-awaited reforms before invited guests at Parliament.

However, the farmer lobby was a notable omission.

How does the Government expect to get farmers onside for its highly contentious water plans, when it refuses to deal or even engage with the farmer representative organisation?

China reopens for New Zealand venison imports:

A catalogue of approved animal species for human consumption has been issued by the Peoples Republic of China. It includes venison from farmed malu – the Chinese name for red deer – along with more traditional farm animals and poultry.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says the inclusion of our deer is great news for venison producers and marketers, as it will make it clear to officials across China that the sale and consumption of our venison is legal and safe for Chinese consumers.

“Chinese consumers have a growing appreciation for quality animal proteins, making China an increasingly important market for our venison. It was taking about 10 per cent of our exports until the end of 2019,” he says. . . 

Kinship & solidarity: Harvest a family affair at Domaine Thomson – Sophie Preece:

Kate Barnett clearly recalls her father pulling up in Wanaka on New Years’ Day, to load his four begrudging daughters into the Chrysler Valiant station wagon.

The first days of January were always dedicated to picking blackcurrants on their farm, north of Dunedin, and Kate was there for every harvest, from age five through to 20.

The planting of Felton Road vineyard was also a family affair, after her dad – Stewart Elms – found the Bannockburn site, kick-starting a wine life that eventually led Kate to Domaine Thomson in Central Otago, where she’s Operations, Marketing and Cellar Door Manager.

This year she was also chief recruiter of locals for harvest, including her 11, 12 and 14-year-old children, in a step back in time she’s cherished. . .

 

Strengthened NAIT approach sees significant improvement in compliance:

Farmers are lifting their use of animal tracing after changes to strengthen the NAIT* scheme and boost compliance, new data shows.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director of compliance, Gary Orr, says this is particularly encouraging at this time of year when dairy farmers are moving cows between farms around the annual Moving Day.

“From January to March this year, 77% of animals were registered correctly – a 24% increase over the same period in 2019. And 75% of animal movements were recorded on time (within 48 hours of the movement) – a jump of 11% over the same time in 2019. And 98.7% of animals slaughtered were tagged – an increase of 0.3% from the previous year.

In late 2019 the fine for NAIT offences increased to $400 per animal and Mr Orr says that is quite an incentive to do it right. . . 

Approval for new crop protecting insecticide:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved a new insecticide, Vayego, for use in New Zealand, subject to conditions.

This insecticide is used to keep codling moths, leaf rollers and other pests away from apples, pears, grapes, and stone fruit crops.

Vayego contains tetraniliprole, an active ingredient that is new to New Zealand and has only recently been approved for use in Australia, South Korea, and Canada. Tests here have found that although tetraniliprole is not rapidly degradable, it also does not build up over time. Allowing this insecticide to be used in New Zealand provides more choice for farmers, which is considered to be a significant benefit. . . 

Cattle producers want best science for measuring methane :

PEAK beef producer group Cattle Council of Australia wants a full scientific assessment of modeling used to calculate the impact of beef on climate change and the alternative global warming potential model.

CCA President Tony Hegarty said with the broader red meat industry committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030, it is important to use the best available science to measure the impact of cattle-produced methane.

“We have a responsibility to make sure we use the best available science in our response to climate change,” Mr Hegarty said. . .


Rural round-up

29/05/2020

Oxford research: Livestock emission calculations could be ‘unfair and inefficient’ – Sylvester Phelan:

The way that governments are setting targets for different greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions could be “unfair, inefficient and dangerous”, according to researchers at Oxford University – referencing the calculations of livestock emissions such as methane in particular as inaccurate.

Researchers from the LEAP (Livestock, Environment and People) project, based at the Oxford Martin School, made the argument in a paper published in Environmental Research Letters last month.

In the paper, the scientists say the commonly-used GWP100 (Global Warming Potential) method “obscures how different emissions contribute to global temperature change”. . . 

Forestry reform bill ‘cumbersome and unworkable’ – industry– Eric Frykberg:

There has been scathing criticism of the government’s latest forestry reforms at a parliamentary select committee.

The reforms are part of the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill, which was introduced into Parliament on Budget night] and has already surfaced for consideration at a parliamentary select committee.

This law would require forestry advisers, log traders and exporters to join a register and agree to work on nationally agreed standards.

The aim was to reduce the number of logs being exported raw and to direct more towards New Zealand sawmills and create jobs as a result. . .

Farm Environment Plans come out on top for growers and the environment:

Farm Environment Plans have come out on top as the best way for vegetable and fruit growers to manage their environmental impact and at the same time, provide evidence to regulators. 

That’s the finding of independent research called Joining the Dots, conducted by Agrilink NZ and New Zealand Good Agricultural Practice (NZGAP) for the New Zealand horticulture industry.  (Farm Environment Plans are part of the horticulture industry’s GAP programmes.)   

Horticulture New Zealand Sustainability and Extension Manager, Ailsa Robertson says the research is exactly what the industry has needed to support the use of Farm Environment Plans. 

‘Joining the Dots shows what we knew all along, which is that Farm Environment Plans are the best tools for growers to use to understand their environmental impact and put in place actions to reduce that impact, where necessary.  . . 

Federated Farmers – Rabobank remuneration survey shows good growth in farmer pay:

Strong growth in pay packages in the last two years is another reason for New Zealanders to consider a career in agriculture, Federated Farmers President Katie Milne says. 

The 2020 Federated Farmers – Rabobank Farm Remuneration Report, released today, shows that between 2017/2018 and 2019/20, the mean total remuneration package (i.e. salary plus benefits such as accommodation, meat, firewood, Kiwisaver, etc) has increased significantly for farm employees across all sectors groups. 

Based on survey responses relating to nearly 3,000 on-farm positions, the report shows the mean farm employee remuneration package for dairy farm workers rose by 9.7% to $57,125, across sheep/beef farm roles it was up by 7.6% to $55,568, across grain farms it was up by 3.1% to $58,800 and in ‘other’ specialist farm roles outside standard position descriptions, it was up by 16% to $61,288.  . . 

After seven years Alison Gibb steps of Dairy Women’s Network board:

After seven years Alison Gibb will pull up her chair as a Trustee at next week’s Dairy Women’s Network board meeting for the last time.

“It’s time to step back and let fresh eyes and input take the organisation to the next level, and it’s also important for me that I move on to new challenges,” she said.

“I was on the appointments committee for the three replacements (for the Dairy Women’s Network Board) and believe that they will bring a different set of skills and provide an exciting freshness to the board.” . . 

Wine growers hope harvest fortunes will remain golden – Tracy Neal:

Marlborough winemakers are hoping the best harvest in a decade will help shore up exports and cellar door sales.

Covid-19 hit hardest as the harvest was in full-swing, forcing a rapid shift in how it was managed.

Now the grapes are in, some say the hard work is only just starting as they strive to maintain markets.

On a late autumn morning, as the fog was just lifting off the hills above the Wairau River, Huia Winery’s team of three – Claire Allan, husband Mike and daughter Sophie, were taking a break amid the tanks and wooden barrels in their organic winery. . .


Rural round-up

08/05/2020

Concern farmers’ wellbeing affected: –  David Hill:

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

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

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

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

Farmers need to be heard not patronised:

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

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

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

Rural GPs not just another business – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

Differing responses to wage subsidy scheme – Allan Barber:

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

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

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

Community to the rescue for harvest – Toni Williams:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


%d bloggers like this: