Rural round-up

March 28, 2020

After the lockdown, the economy’s recovery will be dependent on dairy farms and their milk – Point of Order:

The planet is  in a state of   flux,   economies are tumbling into  recession, no-one (not even Donald Trump) can predict  when the agony will  end.

Suddenly, the streets  are  empty:  life  as  we have  known  it is  now  very  different. The  nation  is  in   lockdown.

As  the  London  “Economist” put it:

“The struggle  to  save  lives  and the  economy  is  likely to present  agonising choices…As  that  sends economies  reeling, desperate  governments are trying to tide over  companies and  by handing out millions of  dollars in  aid and loan guarantees. Nobody can be sure how these rescues  will work”. . . 

Don’t stress weakening economy – Neal Wallace:

Economist Cameron Bagrie is joining a chorus of calls for the Government to delay introducing policy imposing new environmental rules and costs on a rapidly weakening economy.

Bagrie says Government borrowing as a percentage of gross domestic product has doubled from 20% to 40% in the last few weeks as it tries to protect jobs and businesses from the impact of measures to control the covid-19 virus pandemic.

He expects Government borrowing will increase further and warns now is not the time to introduce more costs on businesses in freshwater regulations and the new minimum wage, which applies from April 1.

“Farming has been unloved and beaten up by the Government for the last two or three years but the Government is going to need farmers for the next few years.” . . 

Virus adds to woes of North Canterbury farmers – David Hill:

The uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic is adding yet another headache for North Canterbury farmers.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Cameron Henderson and North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro say dry conditions, the ongoing effects of Mycoplasma bovis and coronavirus, and this week’s 5.1-magnitude earthquake near Culverden are creating uncertainty.

‘‘The effects of the virus seem to be changing day to day as we have seen with share markets and travel bans,’’ Mr Henderson said. . . 

Meat matters to sector stalwart – Colin Williscroft:

Tim Ritchie retires as Meat Industry Association chief executive on April 7 after a career in primary sector roles that began in the 1970s. Colin Williscroft reports.

THE meat industry has come a long way since Tim Ritchie got involved and a decision made on the far side of the world about then that has provided the biggest advantage to the sector here in the years since.

Though it might not have seemed like it at the time, in retrospect Britain joining the then European Economic Community in 1973 was the best thing that could have happened for New Zealand farmers. . . 

Leader learnt a lot in dairy industry – Yvonne O’Hara:

‘‘It was like being dropped into the mothership of emergency management.’’

That is how Katrina Thomas describes her involvement with the recent flood recovery effort in the South.

The Wreys Bush dairy farmer was Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) southern regional hub leader for Otago and Southland since 2016, and regional leader for Southland since 2012.

However, this year she decided she wanted to try other challenges. . . 

Wine industry faces worker accommodation woes during lockdown:

The wine industry is facing criticism for continuing harvest during the Covid-19 lockdown, and is facing problems with worker accommodation

The government says the grape and wine industry can continue to operate as an essential business, but strict conditions apply as the country moves to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Some Marlborough people have noticed the hundreds of workers travelling to work in vineyards all over the district, and have questioned whether this was safe in the current climate. . . 


Rural round-up

March 18, 2020

Be quick for worker visas :

Dairy farmers relying on migrant labour for the new milking season should get their visa paperwork in early because of expected delays caused by coronavirus.

The disease continues to spread around the globe. In the Philippines, which the dairy industry relies on as a pool of labour, there were 33 confirmed cases the past week with president Rodrigo Duterte declaring a public health emergency on March 10.

Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis said while he appreciates it is an evolving issue, delays in processing visas have big implications for the workers’ families as well as the wider dairy industry heading into calving in July and August. . .

National Fieldays won’t be going ahead in June – Business Desk and Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand’s National Fieldays – billed as the largest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere – won’t be going ahead in June due to the covid-19 outbreak.

“As this is an unprecedented environment we request the time between now and March 31 to present our loyal and longstanding exhibitors and stakeholders with potential options for preserving this event,” Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation said in an email to stakeholders. . .

‘Mystical product’ casts a spell on Wine Master to be – Tracy Neal:

A Marlborough wine maker is about to become one of only a few hundred Masters of Wine in the world, and one of a handful in New Zealand.

Sophie Parker-Thomson, who is general manager of Blank Canvas Wines she co-owns with her husband Matt Thomson, has the finish line in sight on years of intensive study.

She is now just a few ticks away from joining a league of people fewer in number than have qualified to go into space. . .

Marlborough winery aiming to be herbicide-free by 2025 :

The technical director of a major Marlborough winery says the tide is turning on the use of herbicides in European viticulture and agriculture.

Jim White of Cloudy Bay Wines said the movement was not as strident here in New Zealand, but it was coming, and they wanted to be ahead of the game.

The company is now running trials in its aim to be herbicide-free by 2025, after Winepress reported its parent company Moet Hennessy said its Champagne would have no herbicide by the end of the year. . . 

2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners have found success through their ability to look at the ‘big picture’ and aim to be the employer of choice in the Hauraki district.

Brendan and Tessa Hopson were named the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the Karaka Pavilion on Thursday night and won $11,470 in prizes and six merit awards. The other major winners were the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year Daniel Colgan, and the 2020 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Crystal Scown. . .

Winners of 2020 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards use past experiences to move forward:

The 2020 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners believe the strength of their fourth-generation pure Jersey herd is their biggest asset and believe it will create further value to their business in the coming years.

Simon and Natasha Wilkes were named the 2020 Taranaki Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards dinner held at the TSB Hub in Hawera on Saturday night and won $11,746 in prizes and three merit awards. The other major winners were the 2020 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year Branden Darlow, and the 2020 Taranaki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Sam Dodd. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 11, 2020

Quarry opposition raises the question; is grape growing next? – Brendon Burns:

Given I do some work for the quarry sector nationally – hereby declared – I have to date totally refrained from any public comment or submission on the Simcox quarry resource consent renewal in Omaka Valley where I am a resident.

I also don’t particularly wish to alienate neighbours in my community but the various articles in recent days prompt me to write because there has been little aired publicly to provide any contrast to what’s being said.

My wife and I have owned land here since 2001, so we are not recent arrivals. Mind you, the quarry was here long before most of us arrived, which might suggest it has some rights to continue. . .

Coronavirus: Harvest will happen, says Wine Marlborough boss – Sophie Trigger:

Coronavirus could have “major” implications for this year’s harvest, with concerns screening processes, travel restrictions and quarantine requirements could leave a hole in the vintage workforce.

Marlborough’s harvest season is dependent on foreign workers, and more than 1000 skilled workers are expected to arrive in the region this time of year.

But some have been delayed by quarantine requirements or have been unable to travel at all due to the risk of a coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak. . . 

New Zealand dairy supplier ready for resumption of work in China:

New Zealand supplier of dairy product said Monday it is ready for the resumption of work in China, with Mark Pulman, CEO of Green Valley Distribution manufacturing fresh milk for Theland emphasizing his optimistic outlook towards China’s consumption market trend on Monday.

As positive signs are emerging continuously in China’s battle against the COVID-19 outbreak, the country is expanding business operations with a precise approach that attaches different priorities to regions considering their health conditions. Milk New Zealand Dairy company resumed the work of supply chain and sales operation functions in most regions of China gradually.

Mark Pulman suggested the firms allocated at the upstream of the supply chain should be given business resumption priorities, such as dairy manufacture that produce basic raw materials. . .

Golden Shears original Ian ‘Snow’ Harrison back in action :

Age may have been one difference for octogenarian shearer Ian Harrison as he shore at the 60th Golden Shears today.

But another was that the result didn’t matter to the 86-year-old sole-survivor of the first of the famous Golden shears Open finals from 1961.

Barely troubled by his one-sheep appearance back on the stage in Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium, he was more interested in catching-up with old friends, and wasn’t troubled by the fact he’d have to wait till morning to find-out the official result. . . 

Not sure which is worse, drought or paradise ducks – Julie Paton:

Did I say it was dry last month? What was I thinking? Without so much as a drop of rain for around six weeks the definition of dry has taken on a new meaning. A few drops fell last week but you could practically count them on one hand.

They hit the ground and sizzled into nothingness without doing any good. In fact, those few drops probably just tickled the dormant facial eczema spores sitting on the shrivelled grass into sitting up and thinking it’s time to party.

It often seems to be the way – with an approaching high payout, something ghastly happens. Usually a drought, but sometimes the entire world economy falls apart. This time we have a drought plus the threat of a global pandemic as a bonus extra. . . 

Calving in sync with nature – Paul Brown:

It wasn’t too long ago that February and March were our busiest and most stressful months on the ranch. Like most other ranchers in the area, it was calving season for us. For years we calved during this time of year because it was “normal.” The argument is that the calves would be bigger in the fall once they were weaned and sold on the commodity market. Although this argument is true, it comes with detrimental costs in the form of stress, increased death loss, lack of sleep, and very hard work.

Calving during late winter/early spring required a lot of work for us. As you know, the weather can be quite variable from sub zero temperatures and blizzards to 40 degrees and rain. Therefore, cattle had to be constantly watched, pens had to be bedded with fresh straw and cleaned regularly and expecting mothers would have to be cycled through the calving barn as they calved. . . 


Rural round-up

February 15, 2020

No sense – Rural News:

How can you be green when you are in the red?

That is the very question many rural communities and farmers around the country should be asking the Government.

Its proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – dropped just before Christmas with a very truncated submission period – has all the hallmarks of the Government looking like it is consulting; when it has already made up its mind.

In submissions to the parliamentary select committee on environment, which is overseeing the ETS changes, Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) highlighted the lack of any robust analysis of socio-economic impacts of the ETS amendment to farming and rural communities. . .

New law won’t solve money woes – Colin Williscroft:

Reluctance by some farmers to make tough decisions based on their balance sheets is becoming the elephant in the room in some farming circles, Feilding-based BakerAg farm consultant Gary Massicks says.

The situation is not one that has happened overnight but changing influences such as banking policy, pressure exacerbated by social media, new environmental demands and regulations and increasingly irregular weather patterns are changing the world farmers operate in so they need to adapt.

Massicks has spoken to his peers around the country and though the problem is not widespread it exists. . .

New Zealand wine exports continue their steady growth going into the new decade

New Zealand wineries are continuing their steady growth on the world stage, driven largely by the famed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. According to NZWine.com, the wine industry recorded its 24th consecutive year of export growth in 2019.

This figure puts New Zealand on track to hit a $2 billion target for 2020, driven largely by an explosion of popularity in the United States and Europe. There are about 500 wineries in New Zealand, the bulk of whom produce Marlborough Sauvignon as their primary wine. . .

Zespri reveals sustainability commitments:

Zespri reveals sustainability commitments including move to 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025

Zespri, the world’s leading marketer of kiwifruit, has announced a new commitment to make all of its packaging 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The announcement is one of a suite of sustainability commitments shared today with growers, consumers and suppliers at the New Zealand kiwifruit industry’s marquee conference – Momentum 2020: Standing Up and Standing Out. . . .

Meaty increases push up annual food prices:

Higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish contributed to a 3.5 percent increase in food prices for the year ended January 2020, the largest annual rise in food prices in over eight years, Stats NZ said today.

“Meat, poultry, and fish prices have increased 6.0 percent in the year. Restaurant and ready-to-eat meals increased 3.4 percent, while fruit and vegetable prices were up 2.7 percent,” consumer prices manager Sarah Johnson said.

“Both beef mince and blade steak prices reached all-time highs in January, while bacon and lamb prices have increased sharply in the past 12 months. Decreased pork production in China during 2019 has increased export demand for New Zealand meat products, pushing prices up.” . .

 

“I can’t imagine myself anywhere but horticulture”, Bay of Plenty Young Grower Of The Year:

Melissa van den Heuvel, an Industry Systems Associate at NZ Avocado, has been named Bay of Plenty’s Young Grower for 2020 at an awards dinner in Tauranga.

The competition took place last Saturday, 8 February, at Te Puke Showgrounds, where the eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful orchard in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition discussing ‘how can we as growers be better members of the wider community’ at the gala dinner on Wednesday night.

Melissa also excelled in individual challenges, including the Horticultural Biosecurity challenge and Avocado Tree Planting challenge, and especially impressed judges with her speech on passing knowledge to future generations. . .


Rural round-up

February 6, 2020

Significant risks highlighted in ETS reform bill:

Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) today warned the Government’s proposed reforms to the Emissions Trading Scheme risk accelerating the conversion of productive pasture land into forestry.

The lack of any restriction on how much carbon dioxide can be offset using forestry carbon credits and the lack of any robust analysis of socio-economic impacts of the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading Reform) Amendment Bill will have major unintended consequences for farmers and regional New Zealand.

All three organisations have expressed concerns about the Bill in submissions to the Environment select committee. . .

Foreign funds talk to farmers – Nigel Stirling:

As many as 10 foreign funds are talking to large-scale farmers about refinancing loans the big banks want rid of, farm debt adviser Scott Wishart says.

Sydney-based Merricks Capital was the first foreign investment fund to break ranks with a $140m refinancing of dairy farmer Van Leeuwen Group in December.

The money manager said it is targeting $2 billion out of $10b in farming loans it believes the Australian-owned banks want off their balance sheets in the next five years.

After years of strong lending growth the Australian banks are reassessing their involvement in the New Zealand market after the Reserve Bank doubled the amount of capital they must hold against their loans. . . 

Cereal crops deluged:

Chris Dillon was 10 days away from harvesting 280ha of cereal crops when the Mataura River burst its banks and flooded his Ardlussa farm north of Gore on Tuesday.

He estimates about 1000ha of cereal crops on eight farms beside the river are under water,

His wheat, barley and peas were exceptional this year.

Provided the water drops quickly he can salvage some crop while insurance will cover a percentage of the production cost of the wheat only. . . 

New Zealand wine exports soar :

In 2019 there was an 8% increase in New Zealand wine exports, with total export value now reaching a record $1.86 billion according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

The USA continues to be New Zealand wine’s largest market with nearly $600 million in exports.

The non-stop increase in international demand is testament to the premium reputation of New Zealand wine, especially in its major markets where the country remains either the highest or second highest priced wine category in the USA, UK, and Canada. . . 

Consortium led by Lynker Analytics awarded government contract to identify New Zealand forest loss using Artificial Intelligence:

Wellington technology start-up Lynker Analytics has been selected by the Ministry for the Environment (the Ministry) to lead a consortium including UAV Mapping NZ and Carbon Forest Services to inventory the extent of forest loss in New Zealand during 2017 and 2018.

Each year 40,000 – 50,000 hectares of forest is harvested in New Zealand as part of normal forestry land use activity. Most of this forest area is replanted, however a small but significant area is deforested and converted to another land use. Deforestation is an important form of land-use change from a greenhouse gas perspective. The Ministry assesses deforestation in New Zealand every two years to meet international reporting obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. . .

Presbyterian Support Central funds support farming students, youth camps and community events

Presbyterian Support Central has distributed more than $170,000 from its Ann Sinclair Trust and James Gibb Fund this year.

Ann Sinclair Trust

Administered by Presbyterian Support Central, the Ann Sinclair Trust provides financial assistance to farming, agriculture, horticulture, orcharding and animal husbandry students. . .


Rural round-up

November 18, 2019

Fortitude in face of loss bears fruit – Sally Rae:

A North Otago berry fruit business has grown to be the largest producer of strawberries in the South Island. Business and rural editor Sally Rae speaks to the remarkable driving force behind the operation.

If strawberry plants came in pink, then Leanne Matsinger would probably place a bulk order.

For the North Otago berryfruit grower is particularly fond of the hue and, when she bought a new tractor, she even asked if it was possible to get it in that colour.

Sadly it was not, and when she heads out at 2am with the floodlights blazing to go spraying in the still of the night, it is on a conventionally coloured workhorse.

Wind the clock back to 2010, and Mrs Matsinger did not know how to drive a tractor. Nor how to grow strawberries. . . 

Barns have big footprints :

In a New Zealand first new research from Lincoln University doctoral researcher Hafiz Muhammad Abrar Ilyas is estimating the carbon footprints of pastoral or grass-based and barn dairy systems based on their energy consumption.

This study was done on 50 conventional dairy farms in Canterbury – 43 pastoral and seven barn systems.

Hafiz said the difference between the two systems indicates the barn system has an 18% higher carbon footprint than the pastoral system per hectare of farm area and 11% higher footprint per tonne of milksolids. . . 

Off like a Rockit

The CEO of the company that grows and sells New Zealand’s tiny Rockit apple says no-one expected the apple to be so popular.

“It’s blown away everybody’s expectations, which is terrific,” Rockit’s Austin Mortimer says.

Listen duration19:51 

He says Rockit is the only miniature apple available globally.

“My understanding was when it (the apple) was offered to the big players none of them would touch it because they just didn’t think there was value in a small apples.”

There is.

Rockit apples are now returning about $150,000 per hectare to growers. . . 

Ida Valley wool makes good show – Alan Williams:

Fine wool prices might be below last year’s levels but they still made the sale screen at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch good viewing for Central Otago farmer Jock McNally.

He watched as his 15 to 17 microns Merino wool sold for up to $17.50/kg greasy at the annual live auction on Thursday.

“The prices are still reasonable, still above the averages of the last few years and I’m happy with the sale,” he said. . . 

Boer goat meat to grace Korea tables – Yvonne O’Hara:

Two tonnes of Central Otago Boer goat meat was shipped from New Zealand recently to appear on the menus of three planned specialist restaurants in Korea.

The shipment was organised by Alexandra-based New Zealand Premium Goat Meat Ltd (NZPGM), which is run by John Cockcroft, of Clyde, and Dougal Laidlaw, of Alexandra.

The first new restaurant, called Cabra’s Kitchen (cabra is Spanish for goat), will specialise in meals made using New Zealand Boer goat, as well as New Zealand beef and lamb and Central Otago wine. . . 

NZ 2019 Young Horticulturist announced

Simon Gourley of Domaine Thomson Wines is the 2019 Young Horticulturist of the Year.

From Central Otago, Simon (28) represented the NZ Winegrowers sector at the competition, which celebrates excellence in people aged under 30, employed in the horticulture industry.

It’s the second consecutive year the Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) title has been won by a viticulturist. Last year’s winner was Annabel Bulk, who is also from Central Otago. . .


Rural round-up

October 9, 2019

Extinction Rebellion should unglue their hands and reach out for the potential of gene editing technologies – Point of Order:

History was being made (we  were  told  by  mainstream media)  when  170,000  New Zealanders  took to  the streets to  demand  decisive  action  against  climate  change.  It capped a  week in which the  16-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg dressed down a  summit in New York of world leaders:

“We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth”.

That  apocalyptic   vision  was  clearly  shared  by  many young  New Zealanders: one Wellington student called on the government immediately to  cull the   country’s entire  dairy herd.

So   what   has   happened in the  fortnight  since? . .

Water rules’ outcome predetermined – Alan Emerson:

I joined more than 400 local farmers at the Ministry for the Environment consultation meeting in Carterton. 

In addition it was streamed to Federated Farmers members. It was an interesting experience.

The meeting started with MfE staff telling Wairarapa rivers are in good shape. 

They then went on to outline all the expenses to be foisted on us even though our rivers are, in their words, in good shape.

We were then told we need to manage our emotions and to be respectful of other attendees.

I’d suggest it’s not easy to manage your emotions when you are getting considerable costs foisted on you for no good reason. . . 

Kiwi clarity inspires import – Samantha Tennent:

Being a foreigner in a strange land is no barrier to progression in the dairy industry for one young woman from England. Samantha Tennent reports.

Nicola Blowey is the manager on 575-cow farm at Fairlie.

She was also the 2019 national winner of the Dairy Trainee of the Year at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

She has found consistency and clarity across the NZ dairy sector compared to the diversity in Britain where farmers use grass in some way across their systems.

“Back home discussions don’t have the same clarity,” Blowey says. . .

Meat company still in limbo – Brent Melville:

About 160 seasonal workers at Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) are entering their fourth week off the job after the meat processor shut down the majority of its processing on September 13.

The unplanned closure followed the suspension of its access to China beef markets.

The North Otago company, owned by Chinese company BX Foods, said it had been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Chinese authorities to get more information.

OML director Richard Thorp, who had described the shut-down as a “temporary break in production”, said the plant had continued and about 20 staff had been retained for “non-China” processing. . .. 

Pioneer of Central Otago winemaking still in the business – Yvonne O’Hara:

Reverend Samuel Marsden did not know it, but when he planted the first grapevines in Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, on September 25, 1819, he was indirectly introducing an industry that is now earning Central Otago millions of export dollars.

Frenchman Jean Desire Feraud introduced wine grapes into Central Otago in 1864 at Clyde, as did Alexandra businessman Thomas Oliver in the same decade.

They were also indirectly responsible for the modern vibrant wine industry in Central Otago.

There are now 135 wineries and 32 grape growers, producing wines that attract global accolades.

There is 1884ha planted in vineyards, of which 1502ha is planted in pinot noir, and last season the region produced 11,868 tonnes of wine grapes, New Zealand Wine Growers says. . . 

Minnesota farmers diversify into hemp production to stay viable – Lucy Kinbacher:

An American farming family are among a host of Minnesota growers taking up new hemp crops as prices for corn and soybeans tumble.

The Peterson family of Sever and Sharon, along with their son Aaron and his wife Nicola, operate about 445 hectares growing everything from corn, soybeans, pumpkins and apple trees, and are no strangers to business restructure.

Traditionally a truck garden vegetable farm in the early 20th century, they went on to dabble in wholesale production throughout the US and central Canada, roadside retail stores and even established Sever’s Corn Maze for added income. . . 

 


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