Rural round-up

May 20, 2019

Focused on fixing the Zero Carbon Bill – Sam McIvor:

Sheep and beef farmers are on the frontline in dealing with the impacts of climate change and we’ve been ahead of the ball in responding to it.

That’s why we’ve publicly said the government’s Zero Carbon Bill is far from perfect, and we’ve been telling the government that things need to change in order to ensure that the bill treats all sectors of the economy equitably and justly in responding to climate change.

We’ve put together a comprehensive factsheet on the Zero Carbon Bill that I encourage you to read, as it’s vital that farmers understand why getting this bill fixed is so important for our sector.
There’s elements of the Zero Carbon Bill we do support, as they’re sensible and based in sound science:  . . .

Farmers air frustrations over climate change blame – Abbey Palmer:

Tension lay heavy in a room full of farmers this week, many of them feeling as though the whole country had been pointing the finger at them.

Climate change initiated an emotive response at the Southland Federated Farmers annual meeting at the Invercargill Working Men’s Club on Wednesday.

An attendee said he could no longer turn on the TV or radio without facing backlash from the public for being a farmer.

Federated Farmers member Stuart Collie said it seemed Parliament was encouraging the public to “attack” the farming and agricultural industries for the state of the environment. . .

More notices issued in Southland in relation to bovis – Blair Jackson:

The Ministry of Primary Industries say 22 Southland farms have been given notices of direction relating to Mycoplasma bovis in the past two weeks.

MPI regional recovery manager Richard McPhail said 22 more farmers now had restricted movement of cattle from their properties.

The news was announced at the Federated Farmers Southland AGM in Invercargill on Wednesday. . . 

Dairy with a delicate touch – Gerhard Uys:

The business of milking sheep is all about happy, skipping and jumping sheep for Felicity Cameron and at her Waikato dairy the welfare of her sheep seems to be paying off. Gerhard Uys reports.

If ever there was a Jill of all trades who ended up master of one, Felicity Cameron is it.

Cameron grew up in a Hawke’s Bay farming family. From a young age she took every opportunity to gain farming experience from family members and friends who also made a living from the land.

At 17 she began dairy farming full time. . .

Summerfruit NZ plans big spend for industry growth – Yvonne O’Hara:

Summerfruit New Zealand (SNZ) is planning to spend nearly $17 million during the next seven years to grow the summerfruit industry.

SNZ board chairman Tim Jones, of Cromwell, said the strategy was designed to move the industry forward as well as make money.

Two consultation meetings with growers and other industry stakeholders were held in Alexandra and Napier last week to outline its Sensational Summerfruit:A bold plan for growth programme and ask for feedback. . .

Bay of Plenty animal feed company Fiber Fresh Feeds in receivership:

A Bay of Plenty animal feed company which employs about 45 people has gone into receivership.

Fiber Fresh Feeds is based in Reporoa and has developed high-performance animal feed formulas, predominantly for horse and calf feed.

The company has more than 30 years’ experience in the field, receivers from financial advisory firm KordaMentha said in a statement.

It sells both within New Zealand, and to Japan, Australia and the Middle East. . .

Farm launches therapeutic horse meditation sessions

A Cumbrian hill farm has launched workshops that offer visitors meditation and therapy sessions with horses.

According to the farm, visitors can ‘escape for the day’ to an environment where the ‘stresses of the modern world are stripped away’.

Each retreat begins with a session of yoga, followed by meditation with the horses. . .


Rural round-up

May 9, 2019

Farmer beats depression by finding joy in everyday moments – Heather Chalmers:

Wayne Langford appeared to have his life sorted.  

He was in his early-30s married to wife Tyler and the father of three boys, with a successful farming business and leadership roles

However, something wasn’t right.

To use a farming metaphor his brain had “cooked itself” like a tractor engine.

The big get bigger in American agriculture – Keith Woodford:

Every five years the USDA undertakes a census of American agriculture. The latest survey has just come out in recent weeks. The big message is that the big are getting bigger.

Aligned to this message is that family farms continue to decline. This is particularly the case in dairy. However, it is also the case in cropping, where the new generation of prospective family farmers prefers the urban life, but does not necessarily want to sell the land. So leasing of land is huge, particularly in the cropping heartland of the Midwest.

In total there are over two million American farmers. Seventy-five percent of the production comes from five percent of the farmers. More than half of American farms are cash-flow negative. The average age of American farmers is now 57.5 years, up 1.3 years in the last five years. . . 

Strengths and challenges facing Heartland communities:

AgResearch social scientist, Dr Margaret Brown and Dr Bill Kaye-Blake, director at PricewaterhouseCoopers discuss  the findings from a decade of research into the resilience of rural communities and the role it has in helping settlements to prosper. Around 20 percent of New Zealanders live rurally, but the decisions made about them are predominantly decided by from urban people – so there is a lot of room for a disconnect between the countryside and the policy makers. The results have been published in the book, Heartland Strong – How rural New Zealand can change and thrive. . .

A2 milk keeps flowing and growing:

A2 Milk Company’s sales show no sign of slowing as nine-month revenues reached $938 million, a 42% lift on the corresponding period last year.

Sales growth has continued in nutritional products and liquid milk, building on record market share in the first half of the June 2019 year, the company said in a presentation to a Macquarie Australia investment conference in Singapore.

The nine months runs to March 31. . . 

Young viticulturist shortlisted for international wine award:

Nick Paulin from Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates (AONZ) has been shortlisted for the new international ‘Future 50’ awards.

Launched this year by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) & the International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) their goal is to “unearth the industry’s up and coming talent” and recognize fifty top young professionals.

They have teamed up to create “a unique, global platform to champion the young people shaping the future of our industry”. .  .

Forestry investors log in to substantial pine plantation:

A large maturing pine forest on Auckland City’s metropolitan boundary which is ready for harvesting in the near future has been placed on the market for sale.

The 135-hectare block is located at the lower foothills of the Hunua Ranges some 50 kilometres south-east of Auckland City. Owned by the current proprietor for past 50 years, the forest was planted between 1993 and 2000 in a mix of lusitanica and radiata pine varieties.

The freehold land and forest at Stevens Road are now being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Counties, with tenders closing at 2pm on June 6. The forestry plantation encompasses six individual land titles which are all zoned rural under Auckland Council’s land usage plan. . . 


Rural round-up

March 31, 2019

We cannot take food supply for granted – Neal Wallace:

News the Government will protect elite soils is welcome but by no means signals the resolution of broader challenges facing land use and the productive sector.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1As reported in Farmers Weekly’s Land Squeeze series, the Ministry for the Environment has started the process of preparing a national policy statement for high-value soils, which will be finalised after consultation later this year.

That protection is needed because urban sprawl and lifestyle blocks swallow up to 100,000 hectares a year including Auckland paving 10,500 hectares of high-quality soil in the last 35 years.

Domestic food demand will only increase as New Zealand’s population is expected to hit five million in 2020 and 5.5m in 2025 while demand will also rise from an ever-expanding global population. . . 

Spud family name’s on the packet – Tim Fulton:

James Bowan grows potatoes for a nationwide paddock-to-packet potato chip brand.  Nearly a decade after the business started he’s still happiest in the paddock. Tim Fulton reports.

The Bowan family farms more than 600ha at Orari in South Canterbury. Down the road at industrial Washdyke, in the slipstream of Timaru, the family also runs the Heartland chips processing plant.

Fallgate Farm includes 250-odd hectares of spuds, 320ha of combinable cereals,150ha of grass seed and a few other bits and pieces, especially seeds.

It adds up to a lot of business from farm to shop shelf but James isn’t bothered with the trappings of corporate hierarchy. . . 

Action groups following different paths – Sally Rae:

More than 900 farmers have signed up to the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network to help make their farming businesses more productive and profitable.

Each of the Action Groups involved chose a different pathway in the search for solutions to the challenges they faced.

Four action groups in the Milton and Lawrence districts had a lot in common, both in their origins and their goals.

They grew out of two large discussion groups of sheep and beef farmers running in these areas for several years before the RMPP programme kicked into action.

The common link between all four was Simon Glennie, a sheep, beef and deer farming consultant with AbacusBio. . . 

Fonterra’s new management team gives hope – Sudesh Kissun:

Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven is happy to see Fonterra back in the black.

He hopes that changes heralded by the new management team signal the start of “some green shoots” for the co-op.

“As a Fonterra farmer I am happy to see that they have posted a net profit and I am happy with some of the rhetoric from board and management about the consolidation of the business,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Support for biosecurity levy:

A big majority of 1794 submissions received by DairyNZ on the biosecurity response levy were supportive.

Sixty-one percent of submissions from farmers backed DairyNZ managing the levy on their behalf and raising the maximum cap to 3.9 cents/kgMS. That totalled 1088 supportive submissions and 706 against.

“We appreciated the candid conversations and the opportunity to discuss not just the proposed levy, but also DairyNZ more widely,” DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says in a letter to farmers. . . 

Win proves area’s wine can age well: manager:

Wild Earth Wines’ success at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards earlier this month proves Central Otago wines can age gracefully, marketing and sales manager Elbert Jolink says.

The boutique winery in Cromwell won the Best Pinot Noir trophy of the show during the formal awards dinner in Auckland on March 9.

Mount Pisa winery Ata Mara won both a gold medal and the Red Badge Security Champion Riesling trophy for its Central Otago 2018 Riesling. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 12, 2019

It’s all about the bloodline – Luke Chivers:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Harry and Kate de Lautour are dedicated to bloodline but it isn’t just about their ancestry. Luke Chivers reports.

From  the crack of dawn to the close of day sheep and beef farmer Harry de Lautour is set on challenging his animals for the betterment of their health.

The 31-year-old from Flemington has a long-standing connection with the primary sector, sheep genetics and performance recording.  

Growing up in rural New Zealand instilled that passion.

“I grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Hawke’s Bay and absolutely loved it,” he says. . . 

Auckland wants to protect productive soils – Neal Wallace:

In the next 30 years up to a million new houses could be built in Auckland on designated land that excludes elite and prime soils.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The city’s rural-urban boundary provides an urban edge with 15,000ha – equivalent to twice the urban area of Hamilton – of rural land identified for future urban expansion, Auckland City Council urban growth and housing director Penny Pirrit said.

In addition, land in Auckland’s existing urban area has space for another 240,000 houses.

Supplying infrastructure for that degree of expansion is estimated to cost $20 billion over 30 years.

When the council was formed in 2010 one of its first roles was to plan for future residential and industrial growth. . . 

Good start to grape harvest – Simon Hartley:

Central Otago’s grape harvest is well under way and recent dry conditions are having barely any effect, Central Otago Winegrowers Association past president James Dicey says.

Harvesting started late last month, mainly of sparkling grape varieties and other varieties are due to start soon, through to mid-to-late March.

While Australia’s wine sector has been devastated by its hottest summer on record and drought, Central Otago has not been similarly hit, despite the past summer in New Zealand having been recorded as one of the hottest on record. . . 

Wilding pines are ‘a blanket of green like a marching army over a landscape’ – Georgie Ormond:

It looks like a harmless Christmas tree but Pinus Contorta is wreaking havoc on the landscape in some parts of New Zealand.

Tragically, Contorta was originally planted in the central North Island for conservation, to help stabilise the alpine scree slopes, and for forestry.

Fifty years later it’s an insidious wilding pine that is taking over the Central Plateau.

Craig Davey from Horizons Regional Council says that’s because Contorta has the lightest seed of all our pinus species. . . 

Finding satisfaction in contrary conditions – Mike Weddell:

The end of the fishing season is not far away but it does not seem long since it started, so we need to make the most of it.

Conditions have been great for fishing recently and it seems like not much will change in the short term.

My last two outings were scorchers, bright sun and little wind which, combined with clear water, were great days.

Reading traditional fly-fishing books, they mostly state that these are the worst conditions for fishing – but in my experience, the contrary is true.

Some of my best days ever have been on hot sunny days. . . 

‘Head in the sand’ approach outdated – Richard Kohne:

There is a fine line between a consumer fad and a long-term structural shift in a way of thinking, but most people in food production would agree that the Australian consumers’ focus on sustainability is here to stay.

This means a “head in the sand” approach is well and truly off the table. In fact, most producers are well aware of the risk they take when delaying their response to such a shift in thinking, and so are now looking for a way to meet this consumer desire. 

Few might appreciate however, that responding to this desire for sustainable produce could in fact make them more profitable. . . 


Rural round-up

March 2, 2019

Proposed water tax a ‘burden’ on low-water  regions – Stuart Smith:

The proposed new water tax that was announced as part of a swathe of other new taxes potentially facing Kiwis will disproportionally impact on low-rainfall regions like Marlborough.

There are eight new taxes in Michael Cullen’s proposal: the Capital Gains Tax (CGT), tax on vacant residential land, agriculture tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, environmental footprint tax, natural capital tax and a waste tax.

Much has been said about the CGT but the suggested water tax, too, would impact all Kiwis negatively and in particular our farmers, horticulturalists and wine growers in low-rainfall areas. . . 

Partnerships between men and women are critical for farming success – Bonnie Flaws:

With many farms run by married couples, the role of women in farming is a critical one, a female dairy farmer says.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a former dairy woman of the year, said male farmers could see everyday how women contribute to the business, and they respect that.

“I would say the percentage of women in farming is at least 50 per cent. Nearly every farming business has a partnership that has historically not been seen. But they’ve always been there.” . . 

Studies smoke out fire behaviour – Richard Rennie:

The risk of summer fires is a constant farmers and foresters learn to live with. But the Port Hills fire in 2017 and the Nelson fire last month have brought a human threat to wildfires many Kiwis thought was confined to Australia and North America. With wildfires now affecting rural and urban people Richard Rennie spoke to Scion rural fire researcher Dr Tara Strand about how we are getting smarter at understanding rural fires.

A TEAM of Scion researchers is part of a 27-year history of research into New Zealand’s rural fires, a quiet brigade of climate experts and fire analysts whose job is to help make rural firefighters’ jobs more effective and safer. . .

Grape yield under threat – Joanna Grigg:

Marlborough is experiencing a hydrological drought.

Lack of rain in the mountain catchment has left the Wairau River low, Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsdworth said.

And summer storage capacity on the plains has been found wanting as a result. January rain of 18mm was soon sucked up by 30C plus temperatures in February.  . .

Matamata to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final :

A Waharoa dairy farmer is facing fierce competition in her quest to be named the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Sophia Clark will take on seven other contestants in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final in Matamata next month.

It will be the 30-year-old’s fourth attempt at clinching a coveted spot in the national final. . .

Scott St John leaves Fonterra Fund manager’s board as units hit record  low – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra director and veteran capital markets executive Scott St John has left the board of the shareholder fund’s manager, the same day the units plunged to a new low.

A notice to the Companies Office last night noted St John ceased being a director of FSF Management Co, the manager of the dual-listed Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which gives investors exposure to the cooperative’s earnings stream. He is still a director of Fonterra. . .


Rural round-up

February 22, 2019

Guy Trafford assesses how the Tax Working Group report would change signals to farmers, and how they are likely to respond – Guy Trafford:

Given the signals that have been coming out from the Tax Working Group over the last few months there haven’t been too many surprises as to what was revealed today. That may, probably will, come after the politicians have had their play with it.

From a farming perspective there are some pluses and minuses.

Succession planning
The roll over clause is attractive, but liable to alter land/business selling behaviour. It is only available as a succession tool in the event of the assets being passed on after the death. It is then made a liability in the event of the next generation deciding to sell at which point the value goes back to 2021 or whenever the older generation first took over the land. . . 

Grass on the A2 side of the dairy fence is looking greener – and the profits plusher – Point of Order:

The  contrasting   fortunes of  Fonterra  and  A2 Milk came into the  spotlight   this  week,  after the  latter  reported a  startling 55%  rise in  half-year net profit  to  $152m.  Fonterra  shareholders will be ruefelly recalling  their  company’s  performance last year  when  it  reported its  first-ever  net  loss  of  $196m.

A2 Milk  shareholders  are  marching to a  very  different  tune.  Despite  one market  analyst  reckoning its share price had  become over-priced, buyers  pushed  it up  by  more than  a dollar to  $13.95  as they absorbed  news  of   strong sales growth in all key product segments – infant formula, liquid milk and milk powders. . . 

Fatty milk Jersey cows in demand – Yvonne O’Hara:

”Fat is back” and no longer the ”ogre” it used to be, and that is good news for Jerseys as they have a higher fat content relative to protein than many other breeds.

DairyNZ’s New Zealand Animal Evaluation Unit (NZAEL) released its annual Economic Values (EV) index last week to reflect the increased global demand for high fat dairy products, compared to protein.

Economic Values is an estimate of a trait’s value to a dairy farmer’s production and profitability and contributes to cattle breeding worth (BW). . . 

LIC welcomes Fonterra’s a2 announcement:

The farmer-owned co-operative, which breeds up to 80% of the national dairy herd, says this increase in supply matches the demand it has experienced for its A2 genetics and testing services.

Last year, the co-operative introduced dedicated A2 bull teams and extended its test offering in anticipation of Fonterra’s next move with The a2 Milk Company.

LIC’s General Manager NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis, who is also a Fonterra shareholder and farm owner, comments:

Fonterra scours world for $800m cash injection – Hugh Stringleman:

Where in the world will Fonterra get $800 million to reduce its debt while returning to profitability and making enough money to pay a good dividend on the $6 billion dairy farmers have invested in the co-operative? Hugh Stringleman looks for answers.

March 20 looms as the next milestone in Fonterra’s return to financial health and wellbeing when it declares first-half results for the 2019 year.

It will also say where asset sales, joint ventures and partnerships will be made or amended to improve the balance sheet. . .

Kiwifruit sector front-foots campaign to find pickers:

The kiwifruit industry is pulling out all the stops to make sure the 2019 harvest, which starts mid-March, isn’t short of workers – ensuring that quality Zespri kiwifruit is sent to overseas customers in premium condition.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says the amount of green and gold kiwifruit on the vines is forecast to be even higher than last year’s harvest, meaning around 18,000 workers will be needed. “Last year, the harvest was at least 1,200 workers short at the peak – we don’t want a repeat of that.” . . 

Central Districts Field Days has something for everyone:

More than 26,000 people are expected to flock to Manfeild in Feilding this month for New Zealand’s largest regional agricultural event, Central Districts Field Days.

Now in its 26th year, the 2019 event has plenty to offer all – from farmers and foodies to tech heads and townies.

“We’re really excited about this year’s event,” says Stuff Events & Sponsorship Director David Blackwell. “There are a record number of exhibitors and we have some great new areas and activities that are sure to make this year’s Central Districts Field Days a community event to remember.” . . 

Give it a go” – Bay or Plenty Young Grower of the Year  :

Alex Ashe, a technical advisor at Farmlands Te Puna, was named Bay of Plenty’s Young Fruit Grower for 2019 at an awards dinner in Tauranga last night.

The practical competition took place last Saturday, 9 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 future disruptors to horticulture at the gala dinner last night. . .

Wine survey reveals profit, innovation and price on the up :

For only the third time in the history of the annual survey, all five winery tiers featured profitable results in 2018

Survey results indicate a positive correlation between innovation and financial performance.

2018 saw a 1.8 percent lift in average prices received by Kiwi wineries. . .

Veganism is on the rise, but experts say the cons of the diet outweigh the pros – Martin Cohen and Frederic Leroy:

After decades in which the number of people choosing to cut out meat from their diet has steadily increased, 2019 is set to be the year the world changes the way that it eats. Or at least, that’s the ambitious aim of a major campaign under the umbrella of an organisation simply called EAT. The core message is to discourage meat and dairy, seen as part of an “over-consumption of protein” – and specifically to target consumption of beef.

The push comes at a time when consumer behaviour already seems to be shifting. In the three years following 2014, according to research firm GlobalData, there was a six-fold increase in people identifying as vegans in the US, a huge rise – albeit from a very low base. It’s a similar story in the UK, where the number of vegans has increased by 350 per cent, compared to a decade ago, at least according to research commissioned by the Vegan Society. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 14, 2019

Irrigation goes high-tech to preserve Christchurch aquifer – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers irrigating just north of Christchurch are using the latest technology to ensure not a drop is wasted.

Preserving water quality is also front of mind as the land they irrigate is geographically linked to an ancient, slow moving aquifer which also supplies domestic drinking water to the city’s residents. 

In the first project of its type in New Zealand, the latest in digital technology has been rolled out to Waimakariri Irrigation’s farmer-shareholders, taking the guesswork out of irrigating.   . . 

Challenge ahead for smaller wineries – Simon Hartley:

A caution has been thrown out to New Zealand’s smaller, domestic market wineries which might be finding it more difficult gaining access to distribution channels.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said the industry in New Zealand had grown substantially in recent decades.

“The industry is heavily concentrated in Marlborough, which specialises in sauvignon blanc production”, about three-quarters of the country’s wine production, by value, she said.

The New Zealand winemaking industry has an annual turnover of $2.5 billion and wine exports have doubled in the past decade to $1.7 billion per year, becoming the country’s sixth largest export by commodity. . . 

New opportunities for agri-food:

Changes being driven by computer scientists in the agri-food sector are providing new opportunities for Kiwi farmers.

The disruption, which is changing what we eat, was the focus of the KPMG farm enterprise specialist Julia Jones’ keynote speech at the Young Farmers Conference.

“There’s a restaurant in Boston with a robotic kitchen,” she said.

Spyce is a world-first and was created by four robotics-obsessed engineers who wanted healthy food at a reasonable price. . . 

Students experience agriculture – Richard Smith:

Kotara Kikuchi, a second-year student at Tono Ryokuho High School, an agricultural school, is on a home stay with three other boys from his school to do farming.

Kikuchi wants to experience agriculture, however, “I want to be a fisherman after graduating from high school”.

Fellow schoolmate Tokiya Ogasawara, 16, hasn’t decided what he wants to be. 

“But there’s nothing outside agriculture that I want to do,” he said. . . 

Agtech is not going to be a road to riches – here’s why – Glen Herud:

Agtech is quite trendy in New Zealand at the moment. But it’s unlikely to be a road to riches for those involved.

I would caution any entrepreneur from developing a tech solution for farmers.

No doubt, technology will change how agriculture is conducted. Just as it is changing all aspects of our lives.

But that doesn’t mean you can actually make any money out of developing some fancy technology solution for farmers. . . 

Joint call made to end non-stun slaughter in UK

The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have joined forces to call on the government to repeal a legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning.

Both groups say slaughtering without pre-stunning causes ‘unnecessary pain and suffering’.

The latest figures from 2017/18 reveal that over 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned first – more than three animals slaughtered every second on average. . . 


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