Rural round-up

March 5, 2018

Upset farmers still in the dark – Annette Scott:

Farmers desperately seeking answers feel they have been left in limbo as the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis takes hold and still the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it has no clear idea how it got here.

The ministry has confirmed the outbreak could cost $100 million in tracking and tracing the spread of the disease and paying compensation to farmers. It initially budgeted for $35m.

With too many gaps and too few answers farmers are understandably anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate it, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said. . . 

Healthy Rivers plan drags out – Richard Rennie:

Waikato farmers have found an upside in the continuing delays plaguing the Healthy Rivers plan and believe critical dates in it might be pushed out beyond the original timeframe.

Despite being notified in October 2016 the plan was derailed late that year when Hauraki iwi objected to part of the catchment being included, subject to that iwi’s claim over its ownership.

That required the plan to be effectively split with the 12% or 120,000ha of the catchment affected by the claim becoming subject to negotiation between iwi and the council on Healthy Rivers conditions, before being re-notified.

But Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said farmers are conscious the plan has some specific dates in it requiring them to submit nitrogen reference points by March next year. . . 

Higher meat yield from Beltex breed – Nicole Sharp:

Former Invermay head Dr Jock Allison, his wife Hilary and Canterbury farmer Blair Gallagher had the Beltex breed on show at this year’s Southern Field Days.

Together with farm adviser John Tavendale, and their families, the group is behind Beltex New Zealand, which has brought the breed to New Zealand.

”They’re a double-muscled Texel, with higher meat yield, bigger eye muscle areas, bigger legs. It’s all a plus in terms of meat production,” Dr Allison said.

The breed was imported from the UK, and was originally from Belgium and Holland. . . 

Mānuka honey definition could change if new science is developed – Gerard Hutching:

The definition for mānuka honey may be revised if fresh science shows the need, Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Martyn Dunne says.

MPI first announced the definition on December 11 last year but beekeepers objected to an aspect of the definition that required a kilogram of monofloral or multifloral honey contain at least five micrograms of  2′-methoxyacetophenone (known as 2 MAP).

They threatened legal action, claiming it would cost the industry $100 million. . . 

Live goat exports to Asia in demand – Yvonne O’Hara:

More pure and composite meat goats are needed to fill four planned shipments of live goats and goat meat to Asian clients in the next few months, says Shingle Creek Chevon partner Dougal Laidlaw, of Clyde.

As the market for live exports was competitive, he did not wish to say which countries or clients the goats were going to.

However, he wanted to hear from farmers who might be interested in supplying or rearing goats, both for live and meat export as well as for the domestic top end restaurant trade.

”It will be a struggle to get enough animals,” Mr Laidlaw said. . . 

What turns some law-abiding Canadians into smugglers? The high price of imported cheese. – Nate Tabak:

Clara is a college student in Toronto, and in a few days, she’s flying home to Paris to visit her family and friends. She also stopping at a fromagerie to buy some cheese to bring back to Canada, specifically Comté, a cousin of Gruyere made under strict rules in the French Alps. 

“It’s not gooey, and you know it’s not going to give a scent to your entire suitcase,” Clara says. Comté is also a lot cheaper in France. It’s easy to find at supermarkets for the equivalent of about $6 or $7 a pound. In Canada, it’s both a lot harder to find, and it’s usually at least $20 a pound.

Clara’s yearly ritual becomes a source of anxiety when she flies back to Canada and prepares to face a border officer — and that dreaded question: “Are you bringing in any food?” . . 



Rural round-up

February 23, 2018

Southland eyes oats instead of dairy – Baz Macdonald:

Southland is looking into an alternative to dairy farming that taps into surging Asian demand, but uses less capital and water and produces less nitrates and greenhouse emissions. Baz Macdonald reports.

Agriculture represented 4% of NZ’s real GDP in the 2016 financial year, yet an OECD report released last year showed the sector produced half of our countries greenhouse emissions – making NZ the second highest creator of emissions per unit of GDP in the world. The recommendation from the OECD was that we develop “alternative measures to counter the pressures of farming”. . . 

Gita: Motueka orchards hit hard – Alexa Cook:

Orchards in the Motueka area have been hit hard by flooding from Cyclone Gita, prompting fears fruit will not make it to market.

The Nelson region grows a quarter of the country’s apples, and in the past week has started harvesting this year’s crop.

Apple and Pears Incorporated chief executive Alan Pollard said the flooding came at a bad time and was a big set back. . . 

Cyclone devastates ‘up to 50 percent’ maize crops – Alexa Cook:

The pressure is on for Taranaki farmers to harvest maize crops that have been flattened by Cyclone Gita, before the crop starts to die and rot.

The cyclone hit the region on Tuesday with wind gusts of up to 140km/h.

Southern and coastal Taranaki farmers have struggled with drought this summer, but conditions were just right for growing maize – and a bumper crop was expected.

However, Taranaki Federated Farmers president Donald McIntyre said the cyclone might have put an end to that. . . 

NZ’s largest pine-to-native forest regeneration project reaches major milestone:

The last pine trees have been felled in a major Hawke’s Bay conservation project that aims to convert a 4,000-hectare pine plantation back to regenerating native forest.

Over 3,500 hectares of the Maungataniwha Pine Forest have now been logged since 2006 and are now in the process of being re-converted back to native forest by land owner Simon Hall, Chairman of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.

The land lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6,120-hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawkes Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera National Park and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest. . . 

Rural women need access to midwifery care:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned that Wanaka is soon to lose one of the community’s two midwives.

“Midwives practicing in rural communities have long battled the problems of geographical isolation in areas where the population continues to grow,” says Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Resourcing has been lacking for so long that rural families are suffering – it is absolutely unacceptable that expectant mothers and their families have been placed in the firing line. . . 

New Zealanders warned of stink bug risk to their own households:

Warnings are going out about the devastating impact the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug would have on New Zealand households and urban communities as the potential risk of an incursion escalates.

New Zealand Apples & Pears chief executive Alan Pollard is encouraging all New Zealanders to be on high alert because the Stink Bug was not just a risk for orchardists.

The Stink Bug would also be devastating to urban communities where home gardens would be destroyed and houses would become safe havens for the invasive pest, he said.

Mr Pollard praised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the work that they are doing to protect New Zealand’s borders against the Stink Bug, including four shipments of cars from Japan recently turned away from entering the country. He has also commended Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor, for making biosecurity his number one priority. . . 

Dairy farming – the ancient history of producing milk – K. Kris Hirst:

Milk-producing mammals were an important part of early agriculture in the world. Goats were among our earliest domesticated animals, first adapted in western Asia from wild forms about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Cattle were domesticated in the eastern Sahara by no later than 9,000 years ago. We surmise that at least one primary reason for this process was to make a source of meat easier to get than by hunting.

But domestic animals also are good for milk and milk products like cheese and yogurt (part of what V.G. Childe and Andrew Sherratt once called the Secondary Products Revolution). So–when did dairying first start and how do we know that?

The earliest evidence to date for the processing of milk fats comes from the Early Neolithic of the seventh millennium BC in northwestern Anatolia; the sixth millennium BC in eastern Europe; the fifth millennium BC in Africa; and the fourth millennium BC in Britain and Northern Europe (Funnel Beaker culture). . . 

Forget sauvignon blanc, New Zealand’s new big thing is pinot noir Elin McCoy:

Actor Sam Neill just finished a six-part television documentary on the voyages of Captain Cook, but right now he’s focused on the role of proud farmer. I’m walking with him on a tour of his organic vineyard in Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand as he shows off his prize pigs and pulls out bottles of his much-talked-about Two Paddocks pinot noirs.

“What do you think?” he asks.

Thumbs up, for sure. 

When it comes to wine, New Zealand is on a roll. According to a just-released Vinexpo study, it’s now the fastest-growing wine-exporting country to the U.S. By 2021, it’s predicted to become the No. 4 exporter to the U.S., right behind Italy, Australia, and France—which is pretty remarkable, considering that the country makes barely 1 percent of the world’s wines. . . 

Young leaders to drive conversations at agritech event:

New Zealand’s agritech community will be joined by some of the country’s best young leaders at MobileTECH 2018. One of the key highlights at the upcoming agritech event is the ‘Meet the future leaders’ panel.

“In addition to unveiling the very latest agritech innovations, we have lined up three emerging leaders to share their visions on just where the technology is heading, what areas they see as the most beneficial to their businesses and how it will impact on the sector’s future,” says Ken Wilson, programme manager for the MobileTECH 2018 event. . . 

365 days of gratitude

February 22, 2018

After three days of steady rain we measured 130mms.

That’s set us up for autumn growth and today the sun came back, for both of which I’m grateful.

And still it rains

February 21, 2018

Our rain gauge holds only 25mms.

My farmer had emptied it before we left home on Monday and it was overflowing when he checked it this morning.

One of our staff has recorded nearly 100mms since it started raining on Monday.

It’s still raining steadily but, thankfully, we have escaped the serious damage that Cyclone Gita brought to other areas.

Christchurch, Buller, Grey District, Selwyn, Westland, Tasman and Taranaki have each declared a state of emergency as ex-tropical Cyclone Gita shows her heavy hand.

Authorities and people in the affected districts are all on high alert as a state of emergency has been declared in those provinces.

The downpour has also led to record rainfalls particularly in Kaikoura, where 194.4mm had fallen by about 7.40pm – four times more than the monthly normal, according to Niwa.

A total of 53.6mm of rain fell in the area between 4 and 5pm – the wettest hour on record and over a month’s worth of rain in only an hour. . . 


30mm and still raining

February 20, 2018

Forecasters told us Cyclone Gita would bring rain to North Otago.

It has and still is.

It started yesterday.

We’ve had 30mms and it’s still raining.

Rural round-up

January 31, 2018

Southern farmers feel the heat as crops fail – Simon Hartley:

Rural Otago and Southland continues to bear the brunt of the heatwave and farmers are facing hard decisions on destocking and replanting failed winter feed crops.

A smattering of rain across the North Island and upper South Island was allowing farmers there to consider holding on to stock for further fattening.

But in Otago and Southland meat processors are working to capacity as stock is sold off, according to Federated Farmers Otago province president Phill Hunt of Wanaka.

“The pasture has taken a hiding, dying in places. That will have to be replaced over the next two years, at a significant cost,” he said when contacted yesterday. . .

Southern drought meeting requested with minister – Rachael Kelly:

Southland and Otago Rural Advisory groups have written to Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor requesting him to declare a drought for both provinces.

Sweltering temperatures and little rainfall have put pressure on farmers as dry conditions have reached levels not usually seen in January.

Both Southland and Otago have formed drought committees with rural stakeholders including Rural Support Trusts, Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, Fonterra, regional councils and MPI, and they are asking the Minister to declare a medium-scale adverse event classification.

Regions get drought  classification  – Sally Rae:

Drought in Southland and parts of Otago has been classified as a medium-scale adverse event following a request from drought committees and rural communities.

Yesterday, Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor announced the classification – already in place in parts of the North Island and the Grey and Buller districts – had been extended to all of Southland, plus the Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago and Clutha districts.

That triggered additional funding of up to $130,000 for rural support trusts and industry groups to co-ordinate recovery support. . .

Two more farms found with Mycoplasma bovis in the South Island:

Mycoplasma bovis has been found on on two more farms, lifting the total number of infected properties from 18 to 20, the Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed.

One of the new farms is in the Waimate district and the other is in Gore, Southland.

M bovis causes illness in cattle including mastitis, abortion, pneumonia, and arthritis. This illness is hard to treat and clear from an animal. Once infected animals may carry and shed the bacterium for long periods of time with no obvious signs of illness.

There are 11 infected properties in South Canterbury (Waitaki and Waimate Districts), six in Southland, two in Mid-Canterbury and one in Hawke’s Bay. . . 

A straight talking farmer with an appetite for risk – John King:

“I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it,” said late comedian Jonathan Winters.

North Cantabrian James Costello has a similar attitude farming sheep on 300ha of alluvial flats at Hawarden next to the Hurunui River.

His business remained profitable during three years of drought while many in his district did not.

James has a reputation for being an innovator and is active in the Hurunui/Waiau Water Zone committee and Landcare group. He knows you cannot be passive when faced with overwhelming odds. . .

The future of farming – Grant Leigh:

Younger generations are growing up surrounded by technology and the advancement of these technologies is ferocious.

Along with being frightening and daunting to most of us, it is also exciting, challenging and now more than ever necessary.

The biggest hurdle will not be the appetite for young farmers and supporting industries to do the job, it will be capital and viability. . . 

Federated Farmers’ Katie Milne opens up about the changing times – Michelle Hewitson:

After breaking a 118-year history of male leadership of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne wants to convince townies that rural folk are the same at heart.

When you take the head of Federated Farmers, Katie Milne, out for lunch, it’s redundant to ask if we’re going to eat meat.

“Ha! Yeah. You know what I saw on there,” she says, gesturing at the menu, “and wanted to have a go at and share? That crackling.” Have a go at! She’s a West Coast sheila through and through. I ordered the crackling. She had the beef and bacon burger and chips; I had black pudding and spuds. We were having a health lunch. “We are. We are,” she says. “It’s Friday. It’s a mental health day when you’re eating great stuff like this, isn’t it?” We cracked into the crackling. . . 

Soil health comes first then grass and livestock – Burke Teichert :

In recent columns, I’ve touched on the following topics:

• Empowered people, because everything in our businesses happens because of and through people – usually those closest to the business, land and livestock.

• Sustainability, because it’s such a buzz word and people outside of our business will have an impact, whether we like it or not. Also, ranchers don’t know all we should about the environment, particularly the ecosystem – its complexity and interconnectedness, and how it reacts to our management actions.

• Planning strategically first, and then developing tactics and operational schedules and methods to accomplish the strategic objectives. Too often, we do it backwards – starting with operations, then tactics, letting strategy be determined by default – with tactics defining our strategy. . . 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2018

Seasonal labour a vital ingredient – Mike Chapman:

Research New Zealand recently conducted a survey reporting on the impacts of the RSE scheme, where it has directly enabled:

– The area under cultivation to expand consistently over the last three years.

– The employment of more permanent and seasonal New Zealand workers.

– A more stable workforce, with better and more productive workers.

RSE workers supplement other seasonal employees, and account for roughly one in five of all seasonal workers across the country. In areas where unemployed is very low, more RSE workers are employed, while in areas with higher unemployment, fewer RSE workers are employed. . .

Storm helped cure dry spell for Waikato farmers – Ruby Nyika:

The storm that battered the North Island last week left lasting damage for some.

But for farmers, the heavy dump of rain was magic.

The lengthy dry spell that preceded it had been stressful.

I think it’s been a bit of a relief for every farmer,” Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said. “Not for the poor townies having their holidays, but for farmers it’s been a relief to get some moisture back in the ground.” . .

MPI and dairy industry extend milk testing programme for Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and its dairy industry partners have decided to extend the current Mycoplasma bovis milk testing underway in Canterbury, Otago and Southland into a national milk surveillance programme.

While there is no indication that the disease is present beyond the areas currently identified, checking for other possible regional clusters is essential to building a complete picture of the disease in New Zealand.

The programme will involve testing 3 milk samples from every dairy farm. One sample will be taken from bulk milk as part of the regular sampling process at milk collection. Farmers will also be required to provide 2 samples from ‘discard milk’ (milk unsuitable for collection, for example, from cows with mastitis). Mycoplasma bovis is more easily identified in milk taken from otherwise sick animals, which makes testing of the discard milk a valuable surveillance tool. . .

Concern about cattle disease in Hawes Bay – Jill Galloway:

Manawatū and Tararua dairy farmers are getting anxious about future outbreaks of Mycoplasma bovis after the disease was confirmed in Hawke’s Bay.

Farmers are looking more closely at the source of their feed supplies and where they graze their young stock.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman, Murray Holdaway said he hoped the Ministry for Primary Industries would be able to tell farmers more in the coming weeks.

“Not as many cows go to [Hawke’s Bay] as there used to be six to eight years ago, but it is always an alternative if things get really tight on the feed front, here.” . . 

Trans-Tasman war of words over ‘mānuka’ honey gets stickier :

Australia’s honey industry is calling for an armistice in the ongoing battle over use of the term “mānuka honey”, after Tasmanian producers claimed they produced it first.

The Australian Mānuka Honey Association says New Zealand apiarists should join forces with their Ocker cousins to peacefully assert Antipodean dominance over the global market.

Mānuka honey is produced by European bees feasting on the pollen of the plant Leptospermum scoparium – known here by its Māori name, mānuka. . . 

Celebrity farmer suggests badger caused death of sheep on viral social media post :

A celebrity farmer has caused a stir on social media after suggesting badgers killed his sheep.

Martin Irvine, who has appeared in BBC documentary This Farming Life, posted a photo on social media of his dead sheep with a gory wound.

Mr Irvine wrote on Facebook: “Badgers decided to have this ewe for Christmas dinner, she’s still alive for now. About time we were allowed to control this destructive vermin!” . .

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