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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Weather wishes show urban-rural divide

December 27, 2017

While most urban holiday makers are hoping for sun, farmers, even those on having an off-farm break, and those who support and service them are very grateful for rain.


How much?

December 12, 2017

Conversations today all began with how much did you get?

We were talking about welcome rain and answers varied from 10mls at Enfield through 15mls at Five Forks, Kakanui and Hakataramea to 23mls at Waianakarua.

The longest dry spell in Christchurch 46 days –  is forecast to end which might be causing a little discombobulation.


Rural round-up

December 10, 2017

Liam Hehir DESTROYS a neoliberal farmer – Liam Hehir:

When I went out to see my parents the other night, Dad looked pretty worried. Every now and then I would catch him looking out the window at the sea of yellowing grass on our little dairy farm. “It’s going to be one of the worst droughts in decades,” he said absentmindedly.

My patience wore thin. “You usually vote for National, right?” I asked. Dad said nothing in silent confirmation.

I adopted my most scolding voice.

“You farmers have a lot of nerve being upset about this. You lot are always voting National. But National is the party that allowed water bottling companies to dig up our water and ship it overseas. Surprise, surprise, we’ve run out – it’s all in other countries! Now you have the temerity to wince and try to guilt us over the great summer we’re enjoying?” . . 

James and Bridget’s farm:

From the farmers:

Hi, we’re James and Bridget and we run Quambatook farm near Oamaru. The Aboriginal name of Quambatook means ‘place of rest’. We are fifth generation farmers in partnership with James’ parents Ray and Kathrin McNally.

We converted to dairy ten years ago and currently milk 800 cows increasing to 900 in the 18/19 season. We have three children, Charlotte (5), Jimmy (3) and Olivia (1). They all love getting out and about on the farm and helping.

Our main purpose is to be environmental stewards for the next generation and dairy farming is providing us with a pathway to succession.  We would love to have people come and visit our farm to inform and educate them about how a sustainable dairy business works and show them how much we care about our environment. . . 

Open Gates day a chance for farmers to show they care about the environment – Gerald Piddock:

Wynn Brown hopes opening the gates of his dairy farm will put a human face on an industry that increasingly is offside with the public.

The Matamata dairy farmer is one of eight farmers around Waikato and 40 around the country taking part in Fonterra’s Open Gates day on Sunday, December 10.

The industry “had taken a fair bit of a beating” over the last six months and he hoped the day would go some way to changing that.

“My hope is that it bridges the gap between urban and rural and that urban people can see that we are trying hard to do the right thing.” . . 

Meat company choice clearer than it’s every been – Allan Barber:

November used to be the month when we could get a comprehensive idea of the financial state of the meat industry because annual results were published in quick succession by three of the major processors: Alliance, Silver Fern Farms and AFFCO. When AFFCO was absorbed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Talley’s, there were still the two cooperatives to provide a comparison, but now SFF’s balance date is 31st December. So we must now wait until March to find out about ANZCO and SFF. This means Alliance’s result is the only one which can give a factual record of the traditional meat year, while it is still reasonably fresh in the mind.

Therefore the headline numbers – turnover up 13%, $20.2 million operating profit (2016 $10.1 m), $11.4 million pool distributions ($9.8 m) and 71% equity (70.6%) – make encouraging, if not exactly overwhelming, reading and suggest Alliance has turned a corner after last year’s near breakeven performance, while also indicating a better trading environment for the industry as a whole. This has also occurred against the backdrop of improved returns for sheep and beef farmers. That said, last season was easier for sheep meat dominant processors than for those with larger beef businesses because of the respective climate effects on livestock flows. . . 

Mouldy fed threatens animal health – Pam Tipa:

Mycotoxins threaten animal health and producer profits, so identifying and addressing these hidden challenges is important for farmers.

The Alltech 37+ test now identifies five extra mycotoxins that can threaten animal health and producer profitability.

The testing is available to New Zealand farmers, but it is done in Ireland, an Alltech NZ representative says. At least 140 samples have been sent from NZ with interesting results. . .

‘Choose Black’ wins gold:

A campaign to market mastitis treatments to dairy farmers has been recognised at the Westpac Waikato Business Awards.

The Choose Black marketing campaign was developed to showcase Virbac New Zealand’s locally made mastitis treatments.

At the start of the 2016-17 season Virbac targeted the lactating cow intramammary market where rival products had been used for many years. . .


Rural round-up

December 9, 2017

Culling continues, MPI quashes ‘stories’ – Sally Brooker:

Cattle culling is continuing on the South Canterbury dairy farms infected with Mycoplasma bovis.

All cows have been removed for slaughter from the first two farms in the Ministry for Primary Industries’ ”depopulation” programme.

The number of farms where the bacterial infection has been confirmed since July remains eight, and 21 properties are still under quarantine restrictions.

After all the infected herds are culled, the farms will be disinfected and go into a stand-down period when no cattle will be allowed there.

The ministry has quashed what it said were ”stories circulating in the farming community that M. bovis survives in soil for years”. . . 

Farmers withdraw appeal to save ratepayers’ cash:

Farmers have pulled the plug on an expensive Environment Court hearing but are deeply disillusioned Invercargill City Council turned its back on an option to amicably settle points of difference.

They are disappointed the rural sector is under relentless pressure to deal with contaminants but the city council is being allowed to discharge stormwater containing untreated human waste into some of the same waterways farmers are working hard to improve.

In October four Southland farmers jointly appealed Environment Southland’s decision to grant Invercargill City Council (ICC) consent to discharge urban stormwater into five local waterways.

The discharges include stormwater from roads, hard stand areas, roofs and permeable surfaces, as well as drainage water.  The ICC has acknowledged this stormwater includes raw sewage, due to the deterioration of infrastructure and incorrect pipe connections. . . 

Reducing nitrogen leaching discussed – Sally Brooker:

Pastures containing plantain and Italian ryegrass could help reduce nitrogen leaching without compromising productivity.

At a North Otago Sustainable Land Management (Noslam) workshop at Weston last week, two scientists from the Forages for Reduced Nitrogen Leaching discussed a six-year programme across the dairy, sheep and beef, and arable sectors, involving nine Canterbury farms.

Paul Edwards, from DairyNZ, said the study looked at plants that were better able to take up nitrogen from the soil and that contained less nitrogen themselves. Pasture that reduced the amount of nitrogen a cow took in and had improved metabolisable energy content would improve animal performance and reduce leaching from urine patches. . . 

Dry weather brings warnings – Neal Wallace:

The country could be headed for drought with no widespread rain expected for the next month to provide relief from the sweltering start to summer, Weather Watch head forecaster Philip Duncan says.

Farmers have contacted him concerned at the dry conditions and with little obvious respite he has warned the Ministry for Primary Industries there are signs the country could be in the early phases of a drought.

“I think we’re going into one but it is a long way off being declared.

“It is very dry and some areas on the east coast of both islands and north of Auckland towards Whangarei are the areas to watch. . . 

Advice for irrigators over a long, dry summer:

With much of New Zealand experiencing exceptionally dry conditions, IrrigationNZ has some advice for irrigators on how to make the most efficient use of water over summer.

According to NIWA, several areas in the South and North Island came close to or broke low rainfall records during November, with rainfall well below normal for much of Canterbury, the West Coast, Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Wellington, Wairarapa, Manawatu-Whanganui, and parts of Hawke’s Bay, Auckland, and the Bay of Plenty. . . 

Why demand for British wool is unravelling – Howard Mustoe:

It is in the finest carpets, it is in Harris Tweed, and now you’ll even find it in top-of-the-range beds; but at £1 a kilo, UK wool hasn’t been this cheap in seven years.

Only 14 months ago, it was worth 30% more. So why is wool coming down in price and how come the cost of that soft woollen jumper isn’t coming down as well?

According to Jo Dawson, who has spent 20 years in the wool trade, there are a number of reasons which have combined over time. Since sheep make wool come what may, if wool demand drops, prices can suffer quickly if fleeces go unsold. . . 

 


Fonterra’s forecast milk payout falls

December 8, 2017

Fonterra has revised its forecast farmgate milk payout price from $6.75 to $6.40:

Chairman John Wilson says the lower forecast Farmgate Milk Price reflects a prudent approach to ongoing volatility in the global dairy market. The GlobalDairyTrade price for Whole Milk Powder is a big influencer of the Farmgate Milk Price and it has declined by almost 10 percent since 1 August 2017.  

“While the result of the arbitration with Danone has impacted our earnings guidance for the season, it has no influence on our forecast Farmgate Milk Price,” says Mr Wilson.

“What is driving this forecast is that despite demand for dairy remaining strong, particularly in China, other parts of Asia and Latin America, we are seeing strong production out of Europe and continued high levels of EU intervention stockpiles of Skim Milk Powder.

“This downward pressure on global prices is being partly offset by the lower NZ-US dollar exchange rate,” says Mr Wilson.

“Our strong financial position, customer order book at this point in the year, and confidence in demand means that the Board is able to increase the payments made in January by 10 cents per kgMS and will hold the Advance Rate through to the payments in May.

“In effect, our farmers will receive equal or higher payments for their milk over this period than were scheduled under the previous $6.75 milk price.

Fonterra has also updated its full season New Zealand milk collection forecast due to ongoing challenging weather conditions. The Co-operative has reduced its forecast by 1 per cent to 1,525 million kgMS – the same volume as last season. 

Given drops in GlobalDairyTrade price index in successive auctions, relieved by a very small lift this week, the drop in the forecast payout isn’t surprising.

It’s not the early Christmas present dairy farmers, sharemilkers, their staff and those who service and supply them were wanting, but it wasn’t unexpected and it’s still a reasonable return.

Of more concern is the dry weather.

A wet spring enable a late start to irrigation in North Otago but everyone’s watering as much as they can now.

At least here we have reliable water supplies.

Farmers in other areas where there is no irrigation, or where they face restrictions in dry weather, will be hoping forecasts for continuing hot weather and little or no rain are wrong.


Snow can’t stop the message

September 10, 2017

Three years ago when Hamish Walker was campaigning for National in Dunedin South  he donned skis to continue door knocking when it snowed.

He’s now National’s Clutha Southland candidate and is showing he still won’t let snow stop the message:


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