Rural round-up

07/11/2022

A considered refutation of the farm emissions tax and the ETS – Alastair Boyce :

Like many New Zealanders I was bewildered by the Jacinda Ardern government media announcement to tax farmers as the primary tool toward meeting Emission Trading Scheme targets. It seemed anathema to me, and I sought alternative perspectives and a reality and fact check.

By chance perspective presented themselves in the form of farming and forestry friends with conservation, hunting and fishing experience. These guys go all the way back to Rob Muldoon and ‘Think Big’. This group have lived and breathed New Zealand’s mountains, bush, streams, rivers, sea, forests and fields.

In the following discourse I have taken the liberty of paraphrasing, interspersing commentary with documentary narrative recorded in notes from our conversations and discussions.

The Discourse

This is referred to as “the water story”. In relation to the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) the government is providing scant consideration of this valuable resource. Carbon forestry uses considerably more water than farming and in perpetuity (i.e., forever). Hydro electricity generation and efficient farming irrigation are permanent losers. . . 

Feds say farmers just fed up :

Federated Farmers is clear that farmers should carry out winter grazing in a responsible manner and in no way encourages farmers to break the law. But when pathways are limited and full of roadblocks, people simply become frustrated says Federated Farmers Winter Grazing spokesperson Colin Hurst.

For the last two years, the Government has promised that farmers wanting to undertake winter grazing would have three Pathways available to them, Permitted Activity Pathway, a Certified Farm Plan Pathway, and a Resource Consent Pathway. In March 2021 Ministers O’Connor and Parker, and April 2021 Minister O’Connor promised that the farm plan pathway would be available in 2022 ready for the 2023 winter.

“Despite these promises, the alternative farm plan pathway is not available and is not expected to be ready for some time”.

This ultimately leaves thousands of farmers requiring a resource consent to comply with rules. Ministers have delayed the Winter Grazing regulations twice in recognition of the alternative farm plan pathway was not ready. Federated Farmers called for the regulations to be delayed until the farm plan pathway was available to farmers to avoid the enormous consent burden on councils and farmers. . . 

Farm expenditure and inflation set to impact profit margins :

Despite a positive forecast for global sheepmeat and beef demand, an increase in farm expenditure and inflation could significantly reduce farmers’ profit margins.

That’s according to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) New Season Outlook 2022-23 report.

B+LNZ chief economist Andrew Burtt says that with high market prices for sheepmeat and beef globally, and a low NZ dollar, farmgate prices are relatively strong for sheep and beef farmers.

He says beef cattle pricing in particular will drive revenue for the season. . . 

New Zealand’s top butchers announced :

The results are now in from the National Butchery Awards which took place today at the Due Drop Events Centre, in Auckland.

Brad Gillespie from New World Rototuna in Hamilton has won the prestigious Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year title and Rhys Tamanui from Waipawa Butchery in Hawkes Bay was crowned ANZCO Foods Butcher Apprentice of the Year. The Black Gloves – a team made up of butchers from Australia – claimed victory at the Pure South Master Butcher Teams’ Challenge.

Brad says he is beside himself with his win. “The talent was outstanding today and to take out the win is just amazing. I am always keen to do my business proud so to finally tick off winning the Pact Packaging Young Butcher of the Year is incredible.”

Finalists were chosen from four regional competitions held during September in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, involving over 40 competitors. The final six included wild card entries in each category and with knives sharpened and bandsaws humming, competitors put on a spectacular battle of the butchers while friends and family looked on. . . 

Alun Kilby crowned 2022 Young Winemaker of the the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco in Marlborough for becoming the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year.

Alun, 28, is Production Winemaker at Marisco. He has worked in the New Zealand wine industry for 13 years from Auckland to Central Otago before settling in Marlborough and is thrilled to take out this prestigious title. He is passionate and driven and says he is committed to continuously improving the way we make wine and distribute it to the world.

Congratulations also to Georgia Mehlhopt from Greystone for coming second. Georgia is the first person from North Canterbury to compete in the National Final and did herself and her region proud.

Four talented young winemakers from around the country competed on Thursday 3 November at Kim Crawford winery in Blenheim. The other contestants were Douw Grobler from Trinity Hill in Hawke’s Bay and Eliana Leal from Amisfield in Central Otago. . . 

 

Intelligent farm robot :

The world population will hit 10 billion around the year 2050. We must use our farmland efficiently in order to feed everyone, and one solution is to employ autonomous robots. 

One of these robots is an “intelligent sharpshooter” that can distinguish crops from weeds — and then it shoots them with the appropriate treatment. Because of such high precision, the robot uses 95% less chemicals than traditional sprayers.

The robot also scans the entire farm and is able to geolocate each plant accurately within centimeters.


Rural round-up

31/10/2022

Farmers count the cost of government regulation – Rachael Kelly:

The rate of change coming at the agriculture industry and the cost of complying with it keeps fourth generation farmer Ben Dooley awake at night.

Dooley is adamant he doesn’t want to come across as a whinging farmer, and he’s keen to do what he can to improve his 250ha sheep farm and the environment.

He is the fourth generation on his family farm at Mimihau, south-east of Gore, but he fears his sons may not be the fifth.

“There’s so much regulation coming at us and costs just keep going up. I wonder whether it will get to the point where it’s not possible to make a living here and then there won’t be farm left here for them to take over,’’ he says. . . 

Key methane technologies misfire – Keith Woodford:

Methane technology breakthroughs cannot stop cannot ruminants from doing what comes naturally

Reducing methane production from pastoral agriculture lies at the heart of efforts to make pastoral agriculture more climate friendly. If only sheep and cattle could be made to stop producing methane!

Here I look at the challenges of making this happen. Unfortunately, those challenges are not easily solved. It is a lot harder than the uninitiated might think.

This is not just an issue for farmers. It is also an issue for all New Zealanders, given that almost half our exports come from pastoral agriculture – currently more than $32 billion per annum.  According to MPI, approximately 82 percent of all exports come from primary industries once timber, fish, horticulture and wine are included. . . 

Land plan in the firing line – Lois Williams :

A regional council head who wants to spare ratepayers the inconvenience of statutory land rules is ready to abandon a Local Government Commission-mandated planning document

Three million dollars and three years of work by West Coast councils will be down the drain if regional council head Allan Birchfield has his way.

The Greymouth gold miner was reinstalled as chair by a unanimous vote at the first meeting of the new-look and all-male council this week. 

High on his to-do list is the scrapping of the recently notified Te Tai o Poutini plan that coast councils and planners have been labouring over amid much angst since 2019.

Farm sales drop by almost 40 percent compared to previous year :

Just released real estate data shows a massive slump in farm sales in the three months to September compared with the same period last year.

There were nearly 109 fewer sales – that is a 39 percent drop compared with 2021, and a 53 percent drop when compared with 2020.

Real Estate Institute rural spokesperson Brian Peacocke said the median price also fell nearly 4 percent, down to $23,080 a hectare, compared with $30,890 recorded for the three months ended September 2021.

He said the sales drop was worse than usual for this time of year – which was a generally slower time – and a few factors were at play including inflation and emissions tax. . . 

They don’t care about non-Maori farmers – John Porter:

A new government report to Cabinet, yet again, states Maori are going to be disadvantaged! This time it is Maori farmers.

The Maori Party’s Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said an agriculture emissions pricing system disadvantages Maori-owned beef and sheep farms.

Why, Debbie? Are Maori farmers the only farmers going to be negatively impacted by an agriculture emissions pricing system? Are Maori farmers the only farmers practising regenerative and value-add farming?
I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated with the continual lack of objectivity in pronouncements by the Maori Party. . .

 

New Zealand wine export value hits all-time high :

The value of New Zealand wine in international markets is stronger than ever, with exports for 12 months to September at an all-time high of $2.03 billion, up 6% from the previous year. USA ($727 million) and Canada ($157 million) are at new record levels. The total value increase of 6% is due to a rise in value per litre, with volume for the 12 months to September decreasing 4% from a year ago.

The month of September 2022 has set a new export record of $287 million, this being the first time the export value has exceeded $¼ billion in any month.

“Record export value in September proves that our customers continue to appreciate the exceptional flavours, commitment to quality and sustainability of New Zealand wines, particularly in key international markets such as North America. Consumers around the world select a bottle of New Zealand wine off the shelf as they know it is a premium and unique product that they can trust,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

05/10/2022

Government ban is cancellation over collaboration :

A future National Government will review today’s law change banning live cattle exports, National’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“Despite National’s opposition, Parliament has today passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill into law, banning the export of live animals by sea from April next year.

“As New Zealanders grapple with a cost of living crisis made worse by the Labour Government, today’s decision signals more economic pain for farmers and consumers.

“An Infometrics Economic Impact Report says this ban will reduce New Zealand’s gross domestic product by $472 million and cost export cattle breeders between $49,000 and $116,000 per farm, every year. . . .

Live cattle export ban a golden opportunity missed for NZ ag – Nicola Grigg:

New Zealand has been robbed of an opportunity to shape welfare standards in the global trade of live animals, with the upcoming passage of a law that will end exports from this country as of April next year.

Once again, we have before us another example of a government that prefers a cancel culture, rather than a constructive culture. This ban came about on the back of the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 in 2019, in which two New Zealanders died.

That was a tragedy, and I do acknowledge those families involved.

But the livestock trade will continue whether or not New Zealand is part of it. Now, unfortunately, other countries with less rigorous animal welfare standards will make up for the gap in the market as New Zealand withdraws. . . 

 

Another record payout for Tatua’s 101 farmer shareholders –  Point of Order:

It  is  only  a star on the  horizon for  the  bulk  of  dairy  farmers — but  this is  what  they  may  aspire  to.  How  about  a  payout of  $11.30kg/MS?

That’s what the 101 farmer-shareholders in  the Waikato  specialist-product-co-op  Tatua  will receive — a  record — for the 2021-22 year.  Tatua will still retain close to $20m  to reinvest in the business.

Tatua  has reported group earnings equivalent to $12.65kg before retentions for the year ended July 31. This was up on the previous year’s earnings of  $10.43kg and was achieved in spite of Covid-related disruption and shipping issues.

The company said group income was $444m ($395m the  previous year), with earnings available for payout of $186m. Retentions were equivalent to $1.35/kg. . . 

Why keeping tabs of Tata suggests O’Connor should be quickening the pace in push for an FTA with India – Point of Order:

Among the many issues related to the performance of the export sector and how the Government might further help it is the case for negotiating a  trade deal with India.

Australia has secured a free trade deal with  what  is  the  planet’s  fifth-biggest economy.

In contrast, Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor says concluding a free trade agreement between NZ and India “is not a realistic short-term prospect”.

Intensive negotiations were held between India and NZ in the context of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA negotiations, especially in 2018 and 2019, before India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations in November 2019. . . 

Pasture-raised advantage New Zealand :

New Zealand scientists have conducted a ground-breaking research programme to explore the differences between pasture-raised beef with grain fed beef and alternative proteins.

Most of the global research around the nutritional, environmental and health impacts of producing and consuming red meat have been based on grain-finished cattle.

However, New Zealand specialises in free-range, grass-fed farming without antibiotics and hormones. Not only are the farming styles different, but so too is our pasture-raised meat.

Researchers, scientists, dietitians and nutritionists from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland recognised that difference and have undertaken a ground-breaking new research programme that compared pasture-raised beef and lamb against grain-finished and protein alternatives – products like plant-based alternatives. . . .

 

 

 

New research to future-proof New Zealand’s wine sector :

A new experimental vineyard in Blenheim will help enhance the supply of quality grapes for New Zealand’s wine sector into the future.

The new Experimental Future Vineyard facility, based at the New Zealand Wine Centre – Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa, will provide a unique resource for research into wine grape production. Operated by Plant & Food Research, the Experimental Future Vineyard will support productivity and quality aspirations of the New Zealand wine sector by developing new growing practices with improved environmental outcomes.

The new facility will be based within a 600m2 shelter, allowing researchers to control the vineyard environment and build knowledge that will ensure the wine sector is prepared for future challenges. The facility will enable research to be conducted within the vine and beneath the soil, and allow researchers to control aspects of the environment such as soil type and temperature and water availability.

“We’re excited to be a part of Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa,” says Dr Damian Martin, Science Group Leader Viticulture and Oenology at Plant & Food Research. “We know climate change will add to challenges facing wine production in New Zealand, with warmer days and more insect pests and diseases able to establish here. We also know that consumer expectations will continue to evolve, with increased focus on sustainability credentials. Being able to understand how best to grow excellent grapes that allow winemakers to meet their environmental, financial and societal requirements will ensure our wine sector can continue to grow.” . . 


Rural round-up

29/09/2022

We don’t want farmers to break the law :

The Government’s winter grazing regime is becoming increasingly confusing for farmers as D-Day looms to have consents in place, warns Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ

The Government has been slow to implement freshwater farm plans, forcing farmers into an expensive consent process, while councils nationwide are struggling with the consenting burden.

This has left farmers at risk of breaking the law as planting for winter crops needs to take place in late spring, says Federated Farmers National Board spokesperson, Water and Environment, Colin Hurst. 

“We’ve been told by the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries and various regional councils that ‘it’s ok’ and nothing will happen if farmers get planting, even though they’d be at risk of breaking the law.” . . 

Have your say on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructure) Amendment Bill:

The Primary Production Committee is seeking public submissions on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment Bill. This bill would enable Fonterra to implement a new capital structure.

The bill would amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 to allow Fonterra’s unit fund to be partially and permanently delinked. Fonterra’s ability to limit the size of the unit fund would be specifically excluded from conduct that could be considered illegal.

The bill also seeks to improve the transparency, and strengthens the Commerce Commission’s oversight of Fonterra’s base milk price-setting arrangements. It would also support liquidity in trade of Fonterra shares. . . 

Non-food corps are eating our food – Deepak K Ray:

The world’s farmers grow crops for food as well as other uses. Those other uses are threatening to crowd out our chance to feed the world’s hungry, writes Deepak K Ray.

It’s sometimes bandied about that enough food is grown globally to feed everyone now and into the future. Undernourishment is ‘just a distribution challenge’. And it’s mostly true: enough kilojoules do and will be harvested in just the top 10 global crops, which account for more than 80 percent of all calories. We will grow an extra 14,000 trillion kilocalories (around 59,000 trillion kilojoules) by 2030.

But while distribution is certainly one challenge, under the hood things are not so simple; all harvested crops are not for direct food consumption.

Crops are often consumed with little to no processing, such as apples from the tree and tortillas made from the flour of a wheat or maize crop. But there are another six reasons crops are grown: animal feed (for dairy, eggs and meat production); the food processing industry (think high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil and modified starch); exports (to countries that can pay); industrial use (think ethanol, bio-diesel, bagasse, bio-plastics, and pharmaceuticals); seeds; and then there are crop losses. These last two categories are relatively small, though in the 2010s crop losses were still relatively high in Africa. . . 

The fragile magic of highly productive land – Emile Donovan:

Not all land is created equal.

Some – which we call ‘highly productive land’ – is, as it says on the tin, highly productive.

That means it’s much more flexible than other types of land: you can grow many different types of fruit or vegetables on it; you can adapt it for other types of farming, all with minimal input from farmers.

Aotearoa puts its highly productive land to good use: in breadbaskets, like Pukekohe, we grow food that feeds New Zealanders, and is exported around the world.  . . 

More seasonal workers welcome :

BusinessNZ welcomes the Government’s announcement of another 3000 places for seasonal workers to help ease workforce pressure, and would like to see the same done for more sectors.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Kirk Hope says this afternoon’s announcement is a good start.

“Hopefully by recognising the urgent need for more workers in the horticultural sector, the Government is also open to considering the shortages New Zealand is currently facing across all sectors and at all levels of employment.

“The global war for talent has resulted in a very competitive international environment and New Zealand businesses are looking to source skills from the New Zealand labour market where that is possible. . . 

Increased RSE cap will help wine industry meet seasonal work peaks :

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes the announcement today that the Government has increased the RSE cap to 19,000, providing 3000 additional places.

“The availability of skilled seasonal workers continues to be a critical concern for many growers and wineries. The announcement today will help the New Zealand wine industry to plan with more certainty to meet seasonal work peaks, and ensure we can continue to make premium quality wine. This decision will benefit Pacific workers, their families, and our wine regions,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“There are very clear requirements for all accredited employers regarding accommodation, and pastoral care. As an industry we expect these are upheld, as a minimum. It is a privilege to have this scheme, to enable our industry to meet our seasonal work peaks, and RSE employees must be provided with fair and ethical working conditions – anything less is unacceptable.”

“This increase recognises the Government’s confidence in the scheme, and the confidence they have in the primary industries to get this right, and give RSE workers the experience they deserve. This is a responsibility that will not be taken lightly.” . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2022

Research set to improve safety over calving – Bronwyn Wilson:

Research into sprain and strain injuries over calving has identified some simple ways farmers can reduce injuries on dairy farms.

The three-year DairyNZ project, funded in partnership with ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention programme, is researching the causes of sprains and strains on dairy farms – and developing practical solutions to reduce injuries.

“Around 40 percent of injuries on dairy farms are sprains and strains, with the highest risk from August to October. As calving progresses, fatigue can set in and increase injuries,” says DairyNZ senior scientist and research lead, Dr Callum Eastwood.

As part of the Reducing Sprains and Strains project, 370 farmers were surveyed on how they managed health and safety, and whether injuries had occurred. . .

Mycoplasma bovis Mid Canterbury update – enhanced biosecurity measures in the Wakanui area :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, alongside DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is a partner in the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) eradication programme.

The M. bovis programme is now targeting the remaining known pocket of confirmed infection with depopulation starting on a mid-Canterbury feedlot in Wakanui and strict new biosecurity measures for the surrounding area.

Although further detections across the country are possible in future, the only properties known to have infected cattle are located in this small area, where there are three Confirmed Properties, including the feedlot.

M. bovis is known to be most commonly spread via direct contact between infected and uninfected cattle. However, despite recent thorough investigations, the programme has been unable to confirm the pathway(s) by which disease has been spreading in this area. . .

Gisborne drone spraying trial deemed a success – Hamish Barwick:

Gisborne based vegetable grower LeaderBrand recently trialled the use of drones for spraying at its Makauri Farm with positive results.   

LeaderBrand research agronomist Chris Lambert said the trial took place over three months during winter, an ideal time as the ground was too wet to operate a tractor on.

“We wanted to manage our weeds in winter. Rather than spray over a wide area, which is a big waste of chemicals, the drone was able to target weed clumps.”  

He said the advantage of drones is that they don’t compact soil like tractors do and they’re also more agile than helicopters. . . 

High-tech strawberry farm aims high in Foxton – Country Life:

Slip behind a bee-proof mesh curtain in an old Foxton factory building and a sweet surprise awaits.

“Welcome to our secret laboratory,” Matthew Keltie says.

Under the bluish glow of the high-tech lights, pops of red catch the eye.

A bee buzzes past and quiet music overlays the faint gurgle of nutrients swishing through tubes. . . 

Meryn Whitehead wins 2022 Young Grower of the Year national final :

Meryn Whitehead, a 28-year-old supervisor at Vailima Orchards, has won the national title of 2022 Young Grower of the Year, held in Nelson.

“It is a real privilege to be named the winner of this year’s competition, especially given the impressive talent on display,” says Meryn.

Meryn was one of six contestants that vied for the grand title in a series of practical and theoretical horticulture modules across two-days. The competition encourages young people to take up a career in horticulture as well as celebrating their success in the industry.

Despite being Meryn’s second year entering the competition, she says the experience has been nonetheless valuable. . . 

Proposed Bill would support wine tourism in New Zealand :

New Zealand Winegrowers is thrilled the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill, proposed by Stuart Smith MP, has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today.

New Zealand Winegrowers has had longstanding concerns about aspects of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act as they apply to winery cellar doors. This Bill would help to address some of our key concerns for wineries.

We congratulate Stuart Smith MP on having this Bill drawn from the ballot. As the Member of Parliament for New Zealand’s largest wine region, he understands first-hand the importance of this proposal.

Winery cellar doors are an important part of wine tourism, yet the current legislation does not permit wineries holding an off-licence to charge for tastings. “The current legislation is out of date,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “It either forces wineries to give wine away for free, or forces them to go through significant cost and time to acquire and maintain a separate on-licence.” . . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2022

Too many famers still stuck in connectivity ‘slow lane’ :

Coverage, reliability and speed of mobile and internet services for many farming families and businesses are treading water, if not going backwards, the 2022 Federated Farmers Rural Connectivity Survey shows.

More than half of the nearly 1,200 farmers who responded to the survey report internet download speeds at or less than what could be considered a bare minimum (20 megabytes per second/Mbps) and those who said their mobile phone service had declined in the last 12 months jumped from 20% to 32%.

“For a sector that underpins the lion’s share of New Zealand’s export earnings, and one where productivity gains and reporting requirements are increasingly aligned with used of technology, apps and devices, this is really concerning,” Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesperson Richard McIntyre says.

“It’s a given that it’s easier and more profitable to deliver high standards of mobile and broadband to urban areas. But rural families and farm businesses – who due to remoteness and road travel times can really benefit from strong on-line connectivity access – must not be left behind.” . . 

Why does everyone want to work on a farm? – Brianna Mcilraith:

Job-hunters might be looking for a lifestyle and career change on the farm, if Trade Me data is anything to go by.

The site said agricultural jobs were the most-viewed listings last month.

The top five job listings were for South Island agriculture, fishing and forestry roles, and of the 100 most-viewed listings in August, more than half (55%) were in those categories.

Trade Me Jobs sales director Matt Tolich said 18 of the most popular listings were for shepherds and a further nine for stock managers. . . 

Biosecurity Bill passes first reading :

An opposition member’s bill boosting penalties for biosecurity breaches has passed its first reading with near unanimous support.

In the name of National MP Jacqui Dean, the bill is aimed at deterring incoming visitors from bringing in illegal biosecurity items such as fruit or other food.

The Increased Penalties for Breach of Biosecurity Bill would double the existing penalty from $1000 to $2000, upon conviction.

It would also increase the on-the-spot fine for a false declaration from $400 to $1000. . . 

Frontline biosecurity ranks bolstered :

Biosecurity New Zealand has welcomed 17 new quarantine officers to help protect Aotearoa’s borders from invasive pests and diseases.

Eleven officers graduated on Friday after completing an intensive 10-week training programme. They will work at frontline border locations in Auckland to ensure international travellers and imported goods comply with New Zealand’s strict biosecurity rules. The other six new officers have joined Biosecurity New Zealand’s border teams in Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.

The graduates will bolster Biosecurity New Zealand’s frontline ranks as international passenger traffic begins to gather pace following the reopening of borders, says Mike Inglis, Northern Regional Commissioner, Biosecurity New Zealand.

He says Biosecurity New Zealand will have recruited nearly 60 new quarantine officers by the end of this year. There are plans to recruit a further 20 Auckland officers in early 2023. . . 

Alun Kilby from Marisco wins Marlborough 2022 Young Winemaker of the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco, who came became the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year. The competition was held on 21st September at MRC and the winners were announced at the Awards Dinner the same evening

Alun, 28, was thrilled to take out the title and the judges commented on his broad range of knowledge and skills as he scored consistently well across all sections.

Congratulations also goes to Thomas Jordaan from Vavasour who came second and to Ruby McManaway from Yealands who came third.

For the first time, there were ten contestants competing in the Marlborough regional competition. “It’s exciting to see how many aspiring Young Winemakers want to stretch themselves and start making a name for themselves” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Mick Ahern wins HortNZ’s Industry Service Award for 2022 :

Horticulture industry stalwart, Mick (Michael) Ahern, has won the Horticulture New Zealand Industry Service Award for 2022.

‘Mick has contributed to the development of New Zealand’s horticulture industry for more than 40 years,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Mick is known for his common sense and ability – after everyone else has exhausted themselves with talking – to sum up the situation and provide wise counsel, while pointing to the best if not only way forward.’

Mick started out in the 70s as a university student writing a case study on the kiwifruit industry’s development. That lead to roles in the then fledgeling, kiwifruit export industry. . . 

Miriana Stephens wins Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022:

Horticulture industry leader, Miriana Stephens has won the Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022.

‘Miriana is shaping the future of the horticulture industry by example,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘She is a director of Wakatū Incorporation, which grows apples, kiwifruit and pears in its Motueka Orchards under the business, Kono.

‘To Miriana, business is not just commercial – it involves being a kaitiaki of the whenua and moana, as well as being commercially responsible.’ . . 


Rural round-up

23/09/2022

Plant and pollute or right tree, right place for the right purpose? – 50 Shades of Green:

We acknowledge with gratitude the latest comments from the Climate Change Commission. That the ETS allows companies to “plant and pollute” and needs reform. These comments are consistent with 50 Shades of Green long running assertions that indeed, the ETS needs a good overhaul.

We continue to ask the Government. Please pause before the Sheep and Beef sector is challenged out of existence. [1]

What has happened under current policy settings? Instead of driving a change in behaviour, at source, the opposite has resulted in our valuable breeding country, the top of the supply chain, used as a proxy, relying too heavily on planting trees to absorb polluters’ carbon dioxide emissions.

While the government takes its time reviewing the ETS, our issue is they have happily ignored our valid and vindicated concerns. Uncritically relying too heavily on what we can only assume is official advice and not acknowledging the devastating effects on New Zealand Hill country constantly put to them. The recent additional sales confirmed, and in the pipeline of more valuable stations lost from the sector that produces c$10b in receipts for the country are gone for good. Sweeping rural communities away in their path. . . 

Huge gains for industry in 50 years of deer farming science :

From a noxious pest that should be exterminated to livestock providing high value products to the world, the deer industry in New Zealand has come a long way in 50 years – and the research that made it possible is now being celebrated.

An event next week at AgResearch’s Invermay campus near Dunedin will mark 50 years of deer farming science at the site by AgResearch and its predecessor organisations, always in close partnership with the deer industry and farmers. The half century of research has included major advances in understanding of deer nutrition, health, behaviour and genetics, and in development of products such as venison, velvet and milk that are exported around the world.

“Fifty years ago, researcher Ken Drew and veterinarian Les Porter thought it might be a good idea to put some science in behind the newly emerging deer farming industry,” says AgResearch’s programme leader for Deer Science for Success, Jamie Ward.

“With incredible backing by early industry participants, innovation, positivity, and fantastic researchers, Invermay became synonymous with the evolution of the New Zealand deer farming industry and earned an international reputation for its science and research output.” . . 

How CH4 Global is turning seaweed into fodder for farm ruminants – and hopes to cool the climate – Point of Order:

Big  strides  are  being  made in the  development  of  a  seaweed-based   product  which,  it  is  claimed,  reduces  methane  emissions in ruminant animals  by up  to 90%.

The product, which its champions say could resolve New Zealand’s climate change threat  from  methane emissions  in  the nation’s  dairy  herd, has  been sold  for  the  first  time—-to  an  Australian customer.

It has been made by CH4 Global™, Inc., a company which says it is

”… on an urgent mission to address climate change by providing our seaweed-based Asparagopsis products to farmers worldwide so they can dramatically reduce the methane emissions of their livestock and realize significant value in the process.” . . 

Trading trees for cows – Nikki Mandow:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is to report next month on offsetting short-lived methane emissions from livestock by planting fast-growing forests – a bid to address two of NZ’s most vexed climate problems simultaneously

Dr Rod Carr says markets – in this case the Emissions Trading Scheme – have an important part to play sending signals about the real costs of greenhouse gas emissions.

But speaking at the Climate Change & Business Conference this week, the Climate Change Commission chair warns the “plant and pollute” nature of the present trading scheme, where companies can buy their way towards net carbon zero using forestry plantings as offsets, risks allowing them to get away with not reducing their actual carbon emissions.

That’s why New Zealand needs new solutions – and just across Wellington, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is exploring one such. . . 

Volatility and vulnerability in the rural sector :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were -126 fewer farm sales (-38.2%) for the three months ended August 2022 than for the three months ended August 2021. Overall, there were 204 farm sales in the three months ended August 2022, compared to 255 farm sales for the three months ended July 2022 (-20%), and 330 farm sales for the three months ended August 2021.

1,545 farms were sold in the year to August 2022 — 278 fewer than were sold in the year to August 2021, with 2.6% more Dairy farms, 25.2% fewer Dairy Support, 21.5% fewer Grazing farms, 13.9% fewer Finishing farms and 17.5% fewer Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to August 2022 was $25,690 compared to $27,170 recorded for the three months ended August 2021 (-5.4%). The median price per hectare decreased by 6.5% compared to July 2022.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index decreased 8.3% in the three months to August 2022 compared to the three months to July 2022. Compared to the three months ending August 2021 the REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 3.6%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location, and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . .

Bill drawn to help cellar-door wine tasting:

A law change that will help streamline the process required for wineries to sell samples at the cellar door has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today, MP for Kaikoura and National’s Viticulture spokesperson Stuart Smith says.

“The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill will plug an important gap in the old legislation so that winery cellar doors can now charge visitors for wine samples without having to secure a separate on-license and all the costs associated with that.

“While this may be a small change, it will make a big difference to New Zealand’s wineries.

“This Bill has been drawn at an opportune time as wineries have faced significant costs and reduced production as a result of the pandemic. This regulatory change will ensure that they can provide cellar door services without the unnecessary extra red-tape. . .

 

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ entries open October 1st:

With just over a week until entries open in the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional programmes are gathering in Rotorua for the annual conference to learn how to deliver over 48 events and numerous judging days..

General Manager Robin Congdon says the conference is an opportunity for the many volunteers from around the country to come together after a busy winter season.

“The conference will be a busy few days, ensuring everyone knows what’s required to deliver the dynamic programme and bring them up to speed on this year’s changes made to the Share Farmer category judging process,” he says.

“The Exec have reviewed extensive feedback on last year’s changes to the Dairy Manager and Dairy Trainee categories, which was overwhelmingly positive. . .


Rural round-up

23/08/2022

Regulations repeatedly failing ‘practicality test’ – Andrew Hoggard:

Federated Farmers has given repeated warnings to government that aspects of the 2020 ‘Essential Freshwater’ regulations are unworkable. Frustratingly, officials have treated us as lobbyists and viewed our concerns as simply coming from a point of self-interest rather than recognising we seek workable and lasting solutions.

But it is becoming increasingly apparent that all the problems we identified are coming to fruition.

First cab off the rank was the N fertiliser reporting deadline of 31 July 2022. This is where all the dairy farmers are supposed to report back to their regional council that they haven’t exceeded the 190kg per hectare nitrogen cap. The vast majority of dairy farmers never use more than this anyway, and we are already reporting all this stuff back through their dairy companies but hey let’s do the job a second time because what else do we have going on at this time of year….Actually, make that the third time because Stats NZ would also like to know how much fertiliser I applied.

Federated Farmers opposed this regulation because it wasn’t scientific and it targeted dairy farmers over other users of fertiliser. But at the end of the day, it is a pretty simple regulation. We would have thought it would be pretty easy to implement. . . .

Sector praised after challenging times – Tim Cronshaw:

A farming leader says the way the red meat sector has got through unprecedented times in sheep and beef farming is an “unsung hero” story.

Agricultural exports made $52 billion and contributed 82% of export revenues despite a line-up of challenges since Covid-19 arrived.

About 300 delegates attending the Red Meat Sector Conference in Christchurch heard that they’d faced an increase in government policies, regulations and consumer attitudes around Climate Change.

“I’m really proud of how we’ve navigated these Covid challenges and I’m really proud we’ve collectively navigated these policy challenges,” Beef+Lamb NZ chairman Andrew Morrison said.

“We’ve come together as a red meat sector and an agricultural sector.” . . 

Glimmer of hope in draft Tasman stock control bylaw  – Hamish Barwick:

Federated Farmers has a glimmer of hope that the Tasman District Council is listening to its concerns about the council’s Draft Stock Control and Droving Bylaw.

Farmers in the Nelson and Golden Bay area’s feel the Bylaw is unworkable as it would require mobs of livestock to be held 50m back from the roads, before going onto the road, in an attempt to stop stock defecating on roads. . . 

The Bylaw would also require permits which would capture virtually all road droving within consent application processes, so the Council can gather information on stock droving.

In addition, there are wrongly placed rules citing the need for compliance with Resource Management Act (RMA) freshwater management policy and regulations when the Tasman Regional Resource Management Plan doesn’t allow the Council to use bylaws in its implementation methods on Freshwater Management. . . 

Young winegrowers heading to Burgundy :

The best young talent from Central Otago is going to one of best wine-producing areas in the world.

After a two-year pause on travel, the Central Otago Winegrowers’ Association (Cowa) is once again sending young winegrowers to France’s Burgundy area.

The six young winegrowers are part of the Central Otago Burgundy exchange stagiaires (interns), which is back on its feet.

This will be the largest group that has headed to Burgundy since the exchange was first established in 2006. . . 

Seeka announces result for the six months to 30 June 2022 :

Listed New Zealand produce company Seeka, reports its unaudited interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2022.

– $49.4m EBITDA – up 5.3% on six months to June 2021, (previous corresponding period (pcp))
– $21.5m NPAT – up 4.3% on pcp

Seeka has announced its results with a backdrop of Covid-19, adverse weather events, extreme labour shortages, machine commissioning delays, shipping disruption, lower fruit yields and poor quality. It has been a tough six months and the company has hunkered down, toughed it out and focussed on the immediate job of optimising its operations and results in a volatile environment with significant inflationary pressure and geopolitical events affecting key markets.

The company has focussed on core business having completed the acquisition and integration of OPAC, Orangewood and NZ Fruits in the last twelve months. . . 

The most damaging farm products are not regenerative beef & lamb, George Monbiot  – Meg Chatham:

It’s half-baked, over-simplifications of nature’s complexity and our increasing disconnection from the rest of the living world.

I was recently made aware of this article by author, George Monbiot, damning organic, pasture-fed beef and lamb as the world’s most damaging farm products.

This statement alone reveals a misunderstanding of global ecology and an ignorance of how essential livestock is to 1.3 billion people.

First, let’s address the sweeping assumption that all animal impact causes a negative impact around the world. . . 


Rural round-up

05/08/2022

Foot-and-mouth – the stock disease that could inflict a huge economic cost on our economy if Biosecurity defences fail – Point of Order:

Ray Smith,  director-general  of  the  Ministry for Primary Industries,  sent  a  shiver  through  the  NZ  China  Summit in Auckland  when  he  warned  that  foot-and-mouth  disease  getting  into NZ   would  be  a  “scary”  and  a “gigantic thing”.

The  highly  contagious  disease has  been  sweeping  through Indonesia  and  since  it  was  first discovered  in  May  429,000 cases   have  been  identified    through  24   provinces  including Bali,  a  popular  holiday  destination  for many  New  Zealanders.

Indonesia  is  struggling  to  bring the  disease under  control, underlining  what  a problem  it  could  be  for NZ’s  main  export  industries.

The disease, which could cost the country billions of dollars and more than 100,000 jobs if it ran rampant among our livestock, is causing major concern in South Asia. After  the disease was discovered in Bali fragments of the virus that cause the disease have also been found in meat products entering Australia from Indonesia, creating fresh concerns about the possibility of it arriving in New Zealand.  . . . 

Red meat sector defies global supply chain issues :

New Zealand exported red meat worth $1.1 billion during June despite the ongoing global supply chain issues affecting sheepmeat and beef volumes, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The 15 per cent increase in value compared to June 2021 was largely driven by beef exports, particularly to China. Although the total volume of beef exports was down seven per cent, the overall value was up 23 per cent to $504 million. The value of beef exports to China was up 39 per cent to $217m.

The overall volume of sheepmeat exported was largely unchanged compared to last June, at 32,470 tonnes, with value up 15 per cent to $398m. Volumes of chilled sheepmeat exports, however, continued to drop, down 31 per cent to 2,253 tonnes.

Sheepmeat exports to China saw a drop in both volume (21 per cent) and value (31 per cent) compared to the same period last year, but this was offset for by increases in exports to other major sheepmeat markets. . . 

Wool supply concern prompts Bremworth to consider contracting farmers –  Sally Murphy:

Carpet company Bremworth is looking at the option of providing farmers with long-term contracts to secure supply.

Strong wool prices have been subdued for years now – which has led many farmers to leave their wool in their sheds in the hope they will be able to get better prices in the future.

Bremworth chief executive Greg Smith said it has been a challenging time for farmers so the company wanted to provide more security to them while ensuring a secure supply of wool.

“The foundation of our businesses is 100 percent strong wool and at the moment, the strong wool industry is under enormous pressure because of prices. It’s a commodity which is not being valued as much as it has been in the past. . . 

Farmers, there’s plenty to celebrate:

“Despite yesterday’s Federated Farmers Confidence Survey results, there are many positives for the agricultural and horticultural sectors right now,” says National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

The survey conducted last month showed production expectations have dropped into negative territory for the first time since its inception in 2009.

Of the 1200 surveyed, 47% consider current economic conditions to be bad — down 55.6 points since January, when a net 7.8% considered conditions to be good. A net 80% expect general economic conditions to get worse — up 16.9 points for the same period.

“These results are mood driven by what is coming at them driven by other factors outside their control like the Government’s fiscal policy. But the biggest culprit is compliance, mounting regulation, economic, business, environment costs and debt. . . 

Wool stations put a new spin on teaching children :

A project that educates children about wool will see its 25,000th student pass through its wool sheds this month.

As part of the Wool in Schools programme, schools can request one of two 20-foot shipping containers that have been converted into wool sheds to visit, so primary students can learn about wool and how it is used.

The half-hour experience involves interactive stations where children learn about wool processes and the different uses and benefits of wool and can even have a go at weaving on a mini loom.

The programme is run by the Campaign for Wool NZ, which aims to raise awareness about the uses and benefits of wool. . . 

NZ Winegrowers announce Fellows for 2022 :

The New Zealand wine industry has recognised the service and dedication of industry icons Dominic Pecchenino, Jim and Rose Delegat, Clive Paton and Phyll Pattie, and Chris Howell, by inducting them as Fellows of New Zealand Winegrowers.

The Fellows award recognises individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand wine industry.

“The Roll of Fellows honours the modern pioneers of the New Zealand wine industry. We wholeheartedly thank Dominic, Jim, Rose, Clive, Phyll and Chris for their years of service, and their role in shaping the New Zealand wine industry to be what it is today,” says Clive Jones, Chair of New Zealand Winegrowers.

All the 2022 Fellows have worked over many decades for the “betterment of the wine industry,” says Clive. “The work of these individuals enables a small industry like ours to punch above our weight on the world stage, and we thank them for their efforts.” . . 


Rural round-up

14/07/2022

PM misleading in EU trade deal claims :

This morning, the Prime Minister said that the Free Trade Agreement we signed with the European Union was “arguably one of the best dairy deals that anyone has had with the EU”. This isn’t arguable; it’s just false, National’s Trade & Export Growth spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“Not only is this incorrect, but this deal isn’t close to the best. The UK has complete tariff elimination on dairy and meat, Canada has complete tariff elimination and can still use the name Feta, and the Mercosur trade agreement has better combined outcomes for dairy and meat than New Zealand.

“This comes after revelations that the Government had told negotiators weeks before the agreement was signed to stop pushing for commercially meaningful access for dairy and meat, and to simply do better than the status quo.

“This is incredibly infuriating and shows that the Prime Minister went to Europe to sign a deal irrespective of the outcome for dairy and meat. The EU knew this and offered us very little in return. . . 

Feds urges extreme vigilance on FMD:

As Biosecurity New Zealand continues to closely monitor the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Indonesia, Federated Farmers is urging holiday makers to also be extremely vigilant.

“Travel restrictions have eased and many families are keen to escape our winter for some sun overseas. But if FMD reached our shores it would be devastating for agriculture and our economy,” Federated Farmers vice-president and biosecurity spokesperson Wayne Langford says.

“The FMD virus can live on footwear for 48 hours. Before returning to New Zealand please, please clean your shoes and jandals, or better still, buy cheap footwear while on holiday and dispose of them before you leave, and abide by the one week stand-down before visiting a farm here.”

Indonesia reported two outbreaks of FMD to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on May 9th, after being free from it for 30 years. . . 

Farmers asked to go back to school :

Farmers across the country are being asked to go back to school as a part of a new educational programme for children called Farmer Time.

The initiative, which originates from the UK, links farmers with primary and intermediate school children through virtual classroom sessions using video call technology.

Students regularly chat live with their matched farmer, gaining an understanding of farming across the seasons and providing real-world examples of what they’re learning during the school year.

Kit Arkwright, CEO of Beef + Lamb Inc, which is driving the initiative, is keen to see food producers from all sectors get involved. . . .

South Canterbury dairy farms sell for more than $70 million :

Two South Canterbury dairy farms as part of a portfolio have been sold for more than $70 million in one of the country’s largest ever rural transactions.

The portfolio, Ellis Lea, was made up of two large dairy farms – Grandview Farm, which covers 420ha and Lamorna, which covers 524ha – as well as Collett Farm, a support block covering 249ha.

It was purchased by an unnamed New Zealand-based investor.

Colliers rural advisor George Morris, who negotiated the sale alongside Mark Parry, said such was the scale of the portfolio, it was unlikely a local buyer would purchase it. . . 

Dairy Companies Association to welcome new chair :

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is set to welcome Matt Bolger as its new Independent Chair upon the retirement of Malcolm Bailey from the role on 16 August 2022.

DCANZ provides an important mechanism for dairy manufacturing and exporting companies to work together and speak with one voice on pre-competitive matters of importance to the New Zealand dairy industry. The DCANZ Executive Committee, comprising CEO’s and senior executives of the Associations’ 13 member companies, is pleased to have Matt coming on board.

Matt will bring an important independent perspective and deep knowledge of the New Zealand and global dairy industry to the role. He is the current Pro Vice Chancellor of the Waikato Management School at the University of Waikato and held a variety of New Zealand and internationally based roles with Fonterra Co-operative Group between 2002-2020.

In welcoming Matt to this role in August, DCANZ will farewell Malcolm Bailey who has Chaired the Association since 2008. . . .

Giesen Wines win big at 2022 International Wine Challenge:

Giesen has been awarded the Champion Trophy for Champion Organic Wine at the International Wine Challenge. The 2019 Clayvin Single Vineyard Syrah is from the renowned Clayvin Vineyard in Southern Valleys, Marlborough, a vineyard that has historically set the standard for premium wines from the region.

The recent trophy win adds to the haul for this spectacular wine. It has already won the Marlborough Syrah Trophy and 1 x gold medal, with 96 points awarded at the 2022 International Wine Challenge. Across a global field, there were only 22 Champion Wine Trophies awarded.

Described by the judges as “Fragrant, lifted aromas of spice, violets, plump ripe blackberries and black pepper. The palate is elegant and quite rich with fine tannins, polished damson fruit and black cherries with a suggestion of bacon on the finish.”

Giesen Group Chief Winemaker, Duncan Shouler said, “we’re delighted to have won this prestigious international award for our Clayvin Organic Syrah. The Clayvin vineyard is an important part of our company DNA and enables us to create some very special organic wines, which will continue to evolve over the next decade.” . . .

 


Rural round-up

29/06/2022

Hobson’s Choice – Rural News:

One of the most recognised lines from the classic TV show Hill Street Blues was the send out by Sgt Stan Jablonski – “Let’s do it to them, before they do it to us”.

Sgt Jablonski’s famous catch cry comes to mind with the release of the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) proposal to Government. This advocates the system the primary sector wants adopted in respect to reducing on-farm agricultural emissions and sequestering carbon.

HWEN is made up of 14 primary sector groups – including Māori agribusiness. It was set up in 2019 in a bid to stop the Governmnet lumping agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). HWEN’s recently released alternative approach is the farming sector’s answer to the Government’s ridiculous proposition of dumping agriculture into the ETS. In other words: ‘Let’s do it to them; before they do it to us’!

In reality, the Government gave the primary sector a Hobson’s Choice: either it gets plonked into the ETS or it comes up with a tax on production itself. Industry leaders were right to take the option of trying to produce a solution itself. . . 

Weaker Japanese yen a spoiler as orchid sales rebound – Kim Moodie:

Things are looking up for orchid growers, with the flower export market rebounding strongly after being brought to its knees during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

New Zealand’s flower export industry is worth about $20 million a year. Most of that is made up of cymbidium orchids, hydrangeas and peonies.

Covid-19 lockdowns forced the industry to shift into survival mode, but the head of NZ Bloom, the country’s largest flower exporter, said the industry rebounded with sizeable payoffs for growers last year.

Managing director David Ballard told RNZ growers were getting strong prices, but international demand for orchids was mixed. . . 

Rural and provincial councils call on government to better align reforms :

New Zealand’s Rural and Provincial Councils are calling on the Government to slow reforms.

The message comes after all 50 Rural and Provincial Councils’ Mayors, Chairs, chief executives and some of their councillors met for the first time this year during a two-day forum run by Local Government NZ (LGNZ) in Wellington late last week.

The forum heard from politicians from both sides of the House who acknowledged the current pressures on the sector.

Mayor Alex Walker, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, and Mayor Gary Kircher, Waitaki District Council, are the Chairs of LGNZ’s Rural and Provincial Councils. . . 

Farm sale volumes ease but results remain robust :

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 fewer farm sales (-11.0%) for the three months ended May 2022 than for the three months ended May 2021. Overall, there were 403 farm sales in the three months ended May 2022, compared to 450 farm sales for the three months ended April 2022 (-10.4%), and 453 farm sales for the three months ended May 2021.

1,697 farms were sold in the year to May 2022, 130 fewer than were sold in the year to May 2021, with 11.9% more Dairy farms, 33.6% fewer Dairy Support, 12.9% fewer Grazing farms, 4.1% fewer Finishing farms and 15.2% fewer Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to May 2022 was $29,760 compared to $28,190 recorded for three months ended May 2021 (+5.6%). The median price per hectare increased 3.9% compared to April 2022.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 1% in the three months to May 2022 compared to the three months to April 2022. Compared to the three months ending May 2021 the REINZ All Farm Price Index increased 31.4%. The REINZ All Farm Price Index adjusts for differences in farm size, location, and farming type, unlike the median price per hectare, which does not adjust for these factors. . . 

Ben McNab wins delayed 2021 Young Winemaker of the Year competition :

Congratulations to Ben McNab from Palliser Estate in Wairarapa who became the 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker. The 2021 National Final was postponed several times due to the pandemic but finally went ahead on 22nd June 2022 at Amisfield winery in the Pisa Ranges near Cromwell, Central Otago.

The other two finalists Jordan Moores Valli in Central Otago and Peter Russell from Matua in Marlborough also excelled themselves with Peter Russell winning the Fruitfed Supplies Speeches and Jordan winning the Villa Maria-Indevin Wine Judging section. All three were delighted and relieved the competition could finally go ahead.

This was the very first time the Young Winemaker National Final has been held in Central Otago and also the very first time someone from Wairarapa has won the prestigious competition. Originally planned as a spring then summer competition, it eventually took place in winter with the snowcapped mountains adding a dramatic backdrop for the day. The finalists undertook a wide range of challenges covering everything needed to be a top winemaker. This included laboratory skills, wine industry knowledge, CAPEX, wine judging and an interview. They also had to prepare and deliver a presentation entitled “What can the wine industry do to reach carbon zero by 2050?” They offered the judges some very well thought out suggestions and plans. . . 

Rural farm with residential subdivision potential at scale is placed on the market for sale :

A substantial farm block overlooking an 18-hole golf course on the outskirts of a prosperous and ever-expanding coastal town – and identified for potential large scale residential property development – has been placed on the market for sale.

The approximately 188-hectare farm is situated on the south-eastern boundary of Thames – the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. The northern portion of the existing dairying unit sits alongside Thames Golf Club, while the property’s western boundary has an extensive road frontage onto one of Thames’ main arterial routes linking it with the Hauraki Plains.

The land sits between various residential, lifestyle and commercial zonings, and is currently zoned for rural use under the Thames-Coromandel District Council plan. However, there is an existing council consent in place permitting the two-staged development of the golf course boundary land into nine large lifestyle-sized residential sections.

In addition, the Thames-Coromandel District Council has also identified the address should be rezoned for future medium density housing under its long-term Thames and Surrounds Spatial Plan – to sustain not only the area’s growing population, but also to address the current shortage of new build houses in the locale. . . 


Rural round-up

23/06/2022

New Zealand red meat sector representatives travel to EU ahead of crunch trade talks :

New Zealand red meat sector leaders head to Brussels this week as negotiations between the European Union and New Zealand for a Free Trade Agreement enter a critical stage.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva and Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor will be supporting New Zealand trade negotiators during the talks, which are being held just days before an end of June deadline to conclude an Agreement in Principle.

“Negotiations are coming to a crunch and this trip to Brussels highlights just how important these discussions are to New Zealand’s red meat sector,” says Ms Karapeeva.

“New Zealand has been a longstanding and trusted trade partner of the EU and our companies have been providing consumers with safe, nutritious and high quality product for decades. . . 

Biosecurity has taken the overall  #1 spot in New Zealand :

It will surprise nobody that for the twleth year in a row, world-class biosecurity has taken the overall #1 spot in the annual KPMG agribusiness industry leader’s priority survey, BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries suggest total exports of food and fibre products for the year to the end of June 2022 will reach a record $52.2 billion, up 9 percent on 2021.

“The growth comes from the dairy, horticulture, red meat, and forestry sectors, all delivering improved export returns.

“For others, the starting point was the disconnect between prices, profitability, and the green fields across most of New Zealand along with the uncertainty many farmers are feeling. . . 

Technology key to dairy’s future – Country Life:

Toilet trained cows may very well be peeing to order by 2032, agritech entrepreneur Craig Piggott says.

Well, in defined places on the farm, that is, and as a way of keeping dairy farming environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Technology around toilet training is one of the “threads” exercising the minds of Piggott’s team at Halter after the start-up’s phenomenal success using “cowgorithms” to farm dairy cows.

“If you can train a cow to move left and right … move them around a farm, then why can’t you train them to urinate in a shed?” he asks. . . 

Farmers shape a high value, high protein, low emissions future after meat and dairy – Jonathan Milne:

Government and industry investment could seed a new plant-based protein industry important to New Zealand’s survival on the global food market, according to a PwC report today

Jade Gray describes himself as a fourth-generation grocer. He’s worked on beef farms and in meat processing plants and butchers’ stores in Canterbury and China. He’s run a pizza restaurant. He knows about food – and he’s convinced there’s no real future in meat.

“I speak with a lot of farmers, I get heckled by mates and by strangers. It’s all good, it’s part of a good, fair and democratic society. But we’ve seen what happened to the wool sector in the past three decades, and we can’t allow that to happen to meat or dairy. We need to learn from that very harsh lesson.”

He argues we need to start turning over our paddocks to high-protein plants such as peas and fava beans. “We can create a whole new revenue stream for protein. The bonus is that brings more resilience. Or we can pitch ourselves against a major disruption that’s looking more and more likely in the next 10 to 20 years.” . . 

Lifeless market for meatless meat – Chloe Sorvino:

Ross Mackay and Eliott Kessas emigrated from Scotland with a dream. The longtime vegans founded Daring Foods, a meatless chicken-nugget startup, with the aim of reducing unhealthy meat consumption and creating more climate-friendly foods. At first, it caught on. Daring’s nuggets secured shelf space in Sprouts stores, Whole Foods and some Albertsons and Target locations.

Then came the big money. In October 2021, the Los Angeles-based brand, not yet two years old, raised $65 million at a valuation of more than $300 million. Investors included D1 Capital Partners, a hedge fund that’s backed companies such as Instacart, as well as DJ Steve Aoki and tennis superstar Naomi Osaka. All told, Daring has raised more than $120 million.

Less than a year later, however, the bottom is falling out. There are more than 100 plant-based chicken-nugget companies, many of them with products similar in taste and texture. To break out from the pack, Daring hired newlyweds Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker to take photos eating the faux nuggets while wearing lingerie. It was unclear whether the result — 1.2 million likes on Kardashian’s post; 5 million on a video Daring posted — was enough to goose sales. There’s simply too many brands struggling for space on supermarket shelves, and the rare chefs who adopt meatless products for their restaurants are reluctant to keep unpopular items on the menu. Consumers are ruthlessly weeding out the market while investors tread lightly now that money is more expensive than it’s been for a decade. . .

2022 harvest will help restore depleted New Zealand wine stocks :

New Zealand grape growers and wineries are breathing a sigh of relief following an improved vintage in 2022 that will help the industry rebuild stocks and sales, reports New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Going into vintage, wineries urgently needed a larger harvest as strong demand and smaller than expected crops in recent years had led to a significant shortage of New Zealand wine. That shortage has caused total New Zealand wine sales to fall 14% from the peak achieved in January 2021, even as wineries supported sales by drawing on stocks which are now at rock-bottom levels,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

In the domestic market, the same shortage has led to sales of New Zealand wine falling to their lowest level since 2004.

“There is no doubt we urgently needed an improved harvest this year after cool weather and frosts impacted Vintage 2021. The main challenge this year was COVID-19, which greatly complicated harvest logistics with Omicron rampant throughout New Zealand just as harvest began. This created additional pressure at a time many producers were already under pressure due to labour shortages,” says Mr Gregan. . . 

YILI scoops global innovation awards :

Global dairy giant Yili has scooped the innovation category at the 15th Global Dairy Congress in Laval, France.

Yili, which operates two dairy companies in New Zealand, and its subsidiary Ausnutria topped the tally for most awards at the World Dairy Innovation Awards held simultaneously with the Congress.

The awards were for packaging design, infant nutrition, intolerance-friendly dairy products, ice cream, cheese, and dairy snacks.

The judges noted that: “Yili have their finger on the pulse when it comes to identifying gaps in the market and creating brilliant innovative products that both taste and look great while simultaneously serving a purpose.” . . 


Rural round-up

10/06/2022

Dairy prices are rising again but the movement of Fonterra share prices not so cheery for farmers, prompts buy-back plan – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s  dairy   farmers, who  will be  receiving  a  record  payout from  most of  the processing  companies  they have  supplied in the 2021-22 season,  will be  relieved that the  average price rose  again at the latest Fonterra auction, snapping five consecutive falls.

While  demand  from the  China  market  remained relatively weak, other regions stepped in to take up the slack. The GDT price index rose 1.5% to 1359 (the first increase since the March 1 auction when the index hit a record 1593}, a  level  well  above  recent  seasons.

Covid-19 lockdowns in China have disrupted supply chains and weighed on dairy markets, with North Asian buyers recording their fourth-smallest volume of whole milk powder at the latest auction.

NZX dairy insights manager Stuart Davison said South-east Asia took the largest volume of both milk powders, purchasing well over half the total whole milk powder sold, which was the biggest proportion of all, while also purchasing the largest volume of skim milk powder. . .

NZL raising capital to buy two Southland farms -:

New Zealand Rural Land Company (NZL) is tapping shareholders for $20.4 million to fund the acquisition of two dairy farms in Southland.

The company is raising the capital through a rights offer, meaning eligible shareholders would have the right to purchase 1 new share for every 5 shares they own.

The proceeds would help fund NZL’s acquisition of the Argyle Downs Farm (546ha) and Greenhill Farm (366ha) in Southland.

They would have new tenants with initial terms of 11 years and 10 years respectively and would include consumer price index-linked rent reviews. . . 

 

Feds relieved by common sense rural water recommendations :

Federated Farmers sees positives in the report released this week by the Rural Supplies Technical Working Group on water services, in particular rejection of inflexible ‘one size fits all’ approaches to rural supplies.

“Many of the findings raised by the group look sound,” president Andrew Hoggard said.

“The report appears to be a tiny sliver of common sense in amongst a pile of water policy decision-making we are struggling to explain to our members.”

The technical working group chaired by Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan has recommended all council-owned mixed-use rural supplies should transfer to the new water services entities because they will have the people, resources and expertise to operate these schemes into the future. . . 

Brothers hunt our biggest trees – Rose O’Connor:

Identical twin brothers, Phil and Kevin Barker, love trees. Especially big ones – they’ve made it their mission to find New Zealand’s biggest native trees.

New Zealand may be a relatively young country, but there are huge trees still standing in our native forests that once had moa browsing at their base, and giant pouākai (Haast’s eagle) resting in their crown. Since childhood, twin brothers Phil and Kevin Barker have been going into the bush on a quest to find New Zealand’s biggest rimu, matai and kahikatea and to celebrate their ancient grandeur.

Kevin is a science teacher in Auckland, and Philip spent 30 years as a police officer. These days, he runs a motel in Hokitika. Their shared passion for native trees, which began in childhood, still burns undimmed in both of them. “Some of the biggest trees are well over a thousand years old,” Phil told Frank Film with obvious awe. “It’s so great to see them, and there’s just such a majesty to them.”

After hours of whacking through the dense bush and finding a forest giant, the pair will commence the serious business of measurement and comparison. They use three measures – the girth, the height, and the spread of the crown at the summit of the tree. “That’s what makes a champion tree. A combination of those three things,” says Kevin. . . 

 

NZHIA ihemp Discovery & Investment tour 2022 :

The New Zealand Hemp Industries Association, the industry organisation dedicated to the promotion and economic growth of industrial hemp in NZ, has been awarded AGMARDT funds to undertake a network building and capability development project.

The objective is to develop collaborative regional networks to allow scalable expansion of this emerging industry across a variety of sectors by offering information and expertise that will inspire “light bulb” moments.

To achieve this network, of connected community-based individuals and businesses, the NZHIA are conducting a nationwide roadshow “The NZHIA iHemp Discovery & Investment Tour 2022”.

The Tour will promote the iHemp industry to key stakeholders and end users in the farming, food fibre and health sectors, including Māori/Iwi based groups, entrepreneurs, investors, and the R&D communities, throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, to encourage their interest and participation in the iHemp industry. . . 

Increased excise means higher prices for wineries and consumers:

Excise on wine is set for its biggest increase in 30 years, following the government’s decision to lift excise by 6.9% from 1 July says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Like every business, wineries are already facing big cost increases, so there is no way the excise increase can be absorbed by them. This excise increase will need to be passed on to consumers.”

The increased excise tax will most strongly impact the 300 members of New Zealand Winegrowers who only produce wine for New Zealanders to drink. . . 


Rural round-up

08/04/2022

He Waka Eke Noa is now the main game in rural politics – Keith Woodford:

 Rural industry leaders are caught between unhappy farmers and unhappy ministers as they try to find a pathway through the GHG dilemma

The biggest game in rural politics for many years is being played out right now. On one side are some key Government Ministers saying that they are not impressed by current He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) proposals for greenhouse-gas levies being calculated at the level of individual farms. Their strong preference is that levies, at least initially, should be at processor level and passed down to farmers from there.

On the other side are what is probably a majority of farmers, whose preference would be for no levies at all, but who grudgingly support farm-level levies as definitely preferable to processor levies, and even more preferable than the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).  Further out to the side, there is another group of farmers who would like to stop any HWEN negotiations. This group, or at least some of them, are still arguing for no levies at all.

Stuck right in the middle are the 11 mainstream industry organisations, with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb taking a leading role, and getting hammered from both sides. . . 

Labour failing kiwi exporters :

Kiwi exporters will miss out while Australians get ahead after their Government signed a free trade agreement with India, National’s Trade and Export Growth Spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“India and Australia have just signed a free trade agreement that would give 85 per cent of Australia’s exports tariff-free access to the Indian market, including lamb and wool, with wines and certain fruits having lower tariffs.

“Meanwhile, the New Zealand Government has made zero progress on a trade agreement with India, making Kiwis the poor cousins to Australia yet again.

“Our wine industry has to pay a 150 per cent tariff to get into India, while Australians now only pay 50 per cent. New Zealand’s lamb exporters currently pay 30 per cent to sell in India, and Australia now pays nothing. . . 

Bridging the divide between the health sector and rural NZ :

World Health Day brings an opportunity to reflect on the unique challenges rural communities face in accessing healthcare, infrastructure, and services essential to their overall wellness.

Dr Garry Nixon, head of rural section of the Department of General Practice and Rural Health at Otago University and doctor in Central Otago, says access to health services is a significant challenge rural communities are up against.

“Distance is a barrier and rural people don’t get the same access to specialist care. Providing good and accessible healthcare in rural areas means doing things differently to the way they are done in town – not simply providing scaled down versions of urban healthcare.”

Another major issue impacting the health and wellness of rural communities is the severe shortage of doctors and other health professionals in rural areas. . . 

Beautiful story behind award-winning Hawke’s Bay cheese producer  – Afternoons:

One of the big winners in this week’s NZ Cheese Awards was the Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay cheesery.

But Hōhepa, which was established in the 1950s, is a cheese producer unlike any other. It’s part of a charitable organisation that offers home-life care for people with intellectual disabilities.

Artisan cheesemakers work very closely with Hōhepa residents on many aspects of dairy farming and cheesemaking, manager Carl Storey told Jesse Mulligan.

“We have about 180 people that we support with various intellectual disabilities. They work on the farm, milking the cows, tending some of the livestock, they will help us in the cheesery – they make the cheese with us.” . . 

Agrichemical dangers addressed with New Zealand-first technology :

The health of agricultural workers exposed to harmful airborne chemicals is in the spotlight, with one company introducing New Zealand-first technology to limit exposure and help meet the need for increased protection.

A Massey University study found agricultural workers have the highest incidence of leukaemia of all New Zealand occupation groups, likely because of their exposure to chemicals[1]; and there are reports of vineyard workers refusing to operate tractor sprayers due to potential health risks. These can include cancer and respiratory disease.

Canterbury-based company Landlogic Ltd, which supplies New Zealand’s primary sector with machinery and technology, has introduced a new cab air filtration system to the market in a bid to increase worker safety.

The system is manufactured by Freshfilter, a world-leading manufacturer of cab overpressure systems designed to meet strict European standards. It is the first time the technology has been available in New Zealand. . . 

 

Green diesel restriction put silage season at risk – Tamara Fitzpatrick:

Farmers may be “at risk” of not getting their silage cut this year as many contractors are facing quantity restrictions when buying green diesel.

“Deliveries are restricted, there’s no doubt about it,” said Michael Moroney, CEO at Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI). “We are getting anecdotal evidence from some of our members that they are facing delivery restrictions.”

It comes after the FCI called on the Government last week to “ring fence” 200 million litres of green diesel in preparation for silage season.

“I talked to one contractor who needs 10,000L of fuel to get crops in over the next 10 days, but has only been given 1,500L,” said TD Colm Burke in the Dáil last Thursday. . . 


Rural roundup

04/04/2022

Food crisis coming farming leader warns – Tim Cronshaw:

The price of diesel has gone up so much that it cost Valetta grain farmer David Clark $4000 to fill up his combine harvester.

By the time he had finished harvesting a milling wheat crop that night it was empty and needed filling again.

A full tank only cost him $1700 last year.

Mr Clark said there was no alternative, but to pass on the extra cost to shoppers who would have to pay more for their bread. . . 

Surfing for Farmers hits the right spot – Nick Brook:

A nationwide initiative supporting farmers’ mental and physical health was a roaring success in its first season at Kaka Point in South Otago.

Surfing For Farmers (SFF) was launched in Gisborne in 2018 by Stephen Thomson after seeing how pressure on the rural sector was hurting farmers at an alarming rate.

The programme now operates at 18 beaches throughout New Zealand.

‘‘As much as we love this industry, the stress of the job can get on top of you. . . 

Govt drought support doesn’t go far enough – Simmonds

Invercargill MP Penny Simmonds says the Government’s declaration of a drought in Southland is big on talk, but small on funding support.

Yesterday, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced the current drought condition in the Southland, Clutha and Queenstown Lakes districts as a medium-scale adverse event.

The adverse event classification unlocks up to $100,000 in Government funding to support farmers and growers until October 2022, O’Connor says.

“The drought coupled with pandemic disruption to meat processing has contributed to added strain on people. . . 

Looking for the perfect peanut – Country Life:

Can New Zealand grow peanuts suitable for peanut butter?

To find out, eight peanut varieties are currently being trialled in Northland and one looks particularly promising…

A text of GPS coordinates leads Country Life to a paddock of peanuts in the Far North. It can’t be spotted from the road.

“It’s by design,” laughs Greg Hall from the Whangārei development agency Northland Inc. “It stops people ripping off our peanuts.” . . 

The roots go deep at Wanaka vineyard – Cosmo Kentish-Barnes:

Rippon winemaker Nick Mills looks across his family vineyard on the western flank of the Upper Clutha Basin, overlooking Lake Wānaka.

He says the land has its own spirit that he feels strongly.

Asked by Country Life to elaborate, he puts it like this:

“This land is about belonging, connections, love, family, team, voice, being blessed to be a place that grows grapes… that can talk with warmth and accuracy to this beautiful place.” . . 

Taking Stock: No shearers? – the wool industry hits a dilemma – Stephen Burns:

There have been many issues which have threatened the existence of the wool industry during the past 200 years when Merino sheep have been bred in Australia.

Some have been divisive to the point of pitting neighbour against neighbour, family against family – think of the troubles to introduce a Reserve Price Scheme in the early 1960’s or think again about the rancorous attempts to introduce wide combs.

Each were a cause of much heartache and dispute at the time but wide combs are now so readily accepted, it is a wonder so much time was sweated in denying their use.

That the Reserve Price Scheme eventually came undone only caused great financial pain to the many woolgrowers who continued to breed Merino sheep for their fleeces only to see them added to the wool stockpile until that accumulation was eventually sold. . . 


Rural round-up

31/03/2022

Practical and powerful resources growing great workplaces in food & fibre sectors :

Farmer Hamish Murray knows first-hand what it feels like to be short of the resources needed to create a great workplace. In 2014/2015, he and his family’s high-country sheep and beef farm suffered from one of Marlborough’s toughest droughts.

“My cup was empty; I had nothing left to give. When I reached emotional breaking point, it was obvious that to be successful at leading others, I needed to look at myself first. Soft skills aren’t a typical priority on-farm, but they matter the most if you want to attract, train and retain the best team.”

Hamish embarked on a series of coaching courses, mentoring and a Nuffield scholarship. Empowered by his new-found skills and knowledge, he then shared what he had learnt with his team.

“I worked out what I can control or change, and what I can’t. I learnt how to ask better and more open questions. We created a team, not a hierarchy. Accessing some very practical and powerful resources, improved my wellbeing, grew our staff’s self-awareness, and made our family business a better place to work.” . . 

Farmers stressed as Southland’s ‘green drought’ unlikely to break soon – Rachael Kelly:

John Smart looks out the window in the morning, sees the clear blue sky, and thinks it is going to be ‘’another crap day”.

He says he has never seen conditions so dry in his 30 years of farming in Southland, and he is worried that if rain does not fall soon, farmers are going to move from being ‘’stressed to really struggling’’.

“I’ve seen it dry before, but this is different. There’s no wind drying anything, and it’s staying warm even late into the evening.’’

Only 6mm of rain has fallen this month on the farm he is managing just outside Invercargill. . . 

Lack of staff, bad weather and Covid-19 creating challenges for wine harvest – Piers Fuller:

Ripe grapes don’t like the rain, and east coast vineyards are doing their best to get their harvests in before bacteria and mould takes hold.

After a hot summer the grape crops were in great shape, but heavy rains in February and March, and labour shortages are causing headaches for some wineries, particularly in Wairarapa.

Pip Goodwin of Martinborough’s Palliser Estate said it was “all hands to the deck” as they rushed to get their harvest in this year before the grapes were too “compromised”.

“It was a very challenging harvest. The fruit got a little bit compromised by the rain, and then we had no pickers.” . .

Race to beat ute tax – Neal Wallace:

Attempts to beat the ute tax, which comes into force on April 1, have been hampered by supply issues delays.

Vehicle retailers reported exceptional interest as potential purchasers try to beat the levy and replace their utilities, but supply issues have caused delivery delays of up to six months for some models.

The Clean Vehicle Act imposes a levy on high carbon-emitting vehicles, with the money used to rebate or subsidise the purchase cost of new electric vehicles (EVs).

Implementation has already been delayed from January 1 due to covid. . . 

Hunters advised not to release deer into new regions :

Ahead of the hunting season kicking off in earnest, OSPRI and farmers are asking hunters to think again if they are considering illegally releasing and relocating deer into new areas.

Deer hunters can unintentionally spread bovine TB by moving/releasing deer from one area to another area. Over the years OSPRI has worked hard to eradicate TB in possums from large areas of New Zealand. This work can all be undone by the reintroduction of TB infected deer with the potential of spill back of infection into the possum population.

Waikato farmer Leith Chick says Sika deer from the Central North Island in particular, pose a threat of infecting others if they are released in TB free areas.

“Farmers who are getting deer released onto their land should be aware that they are exposing themselves to the risk of bringing TB to their farm,” says Leith. . . 

Comvita partners with Save the Kiwi to help safeguard taonga species :

Comvita has partnered with conservation organisation, Save the Kiwi, in a significant sponsorship agreement that will ultimately provide more safe habitat for the iconic birds across the North Island.

Starting with Makino Station, home to one of Comvita’s mānuka forests in the lush Manawatu-Whanganui region where kiwi already reside, the ambition is that over time Comvita’s properties will become kiwi-safe habitats.

The partnership will see the implementation of predator management plans on land managed by Comvita that will enhance biodiversity and provide kiwi safe habitats to help the endangered population and other native flora and fauna thrive.

Save the Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey says partnering with Comvita is a new and exciting approach for kiwi conservation. . . 

 


Rural round-up

25/03/2022

RUC reduction brings no relief for farm machinery users – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to cut road user charges (RUC) by 36% for three months is cold comfort for contractors and farmers using off-road vehicles that will not qualify for the exemption, Federated Farmers says.

The cut, which will take place from late April to late July, is in response to the spike in global fuel prices. Transport Minister Michael Wood said the change was to support the road transport industry.

For the arable industry, the reduction in charges is too late for this season, with much of the harvest already completed apart from harvesting maize grain, Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

On Williams’ own farm, fuel costs for the three months during peak harvest had almost doubled from $4000-$7000 a month in 2020 to $8000-$9500 a month this year. . . 

Omicron: ‘major impact’ on staff shortages as apple picking peaks  – Tom Kitchin:

Some orchardists say Covid-19 is running rampant through their harvest fields.

It is peak apple harvest time across the country – and Omicron is not showing any signs of slowing down in the two busiest apple harvest regions – Hawke’s Bay and Nelson-Tasman.

Hawke’s Bay grows over 4700 hectares of apples and Nelson-Tasman is second with about 2400.

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrower’s Association chair Brydon Nisbett also runs his own 16-hectare two-orchard apple operation. . . 

Bacteria corralled for quality food outcomes – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann admits he has a dream to see a charcuterie of uniquely New Zealand meats and salamis, along with fermented dairy and plant products on the market someday soon. Richard Rennie spoke to him on how his and his team’s work on fermented foods will make that a reality.

Over the past four and a half years AgResearch’s Fermented Foods research team has managed to slice through tens of thousands of evolved bacterial strains to find those with traits most suited to enhancing the flavour and texture of meat, dairy, and plant fermented food types.

The tool that has enabled them to accelerate the natural process of genetic change, which would otherwise have been an almost impossibly time-consuming and frustrating process, has been a high-throughput robotics handling and assaying (screening) platform, developed by AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann and his team. 

“The platform’s technology allows us to take bacteria, subject them to rapid genetic evolution using sources such as UV light and then identify those evolved variants which exhibit a positive change towards the desired traits,” Altermann said.  . . 

Awakiki Ridges owners clearing out for retirement – Shawn McAvinue:

A couple of teenage sweethearts are looking forward to retirement on their sheep and beef farm in South Otago.

Howie and Marion Gardner (both 66) will hold a clearing sale on their farm Awakiki Ridges in Puerua Valley tomorrow.

Awakiki Ridges has come a long way since his parents, Clyde (now 93) and his late mother, Beth, bought the land and started developing it in the mid-1960s.

The property was once considered “the worst bit of dirt in South Otago,” Mr Gardner said. . . 

Sharing enthusiasm for red meat sector – Shawn McAvinue:

Maniototo man Dean Sinnamon’s new job allows him to pursue his passion for the red meat sector.

Mr Sinnamon, of Oturehua, started in a new role at Beef + Lamb New Zealand in January this year.

His job title is Central South Island South extension manager.

“It’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?” . . 

China tariffs causes Victorian harvest to tank Annabelle Cleeland:

The 2.1-billion litres of unsold Australian wine sitting in storage is wreaking havoc on Victoria’s grape harvest this season, as a storage shortage forces growers to leave grapes on vines.

Last year the nation’s wine exports plummeted $860 million, or 30 per cent, due to China’s crippling tariffs on bottled Australian wine.

China’s anti-dumping duty introduced the last march of up to 218pc for containers of two litres or less, and is set to remain in place for five years.

It has been a blow for the industry with Australia’s wine exports the lowest in nearly two decades, as the volume of wine sent overseas dropped 17pc to 619-million litres in 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

07/03/2022

Growers wary of Russia-Ukraine conflict – Annette Scott:

Cropping farmers are wrapping up one of the worst harvests they’ve seen.

Coupled with the threat of the long-term implications of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, things can’t get much worse, United Wheatgrowers chair and Mid Canterbury cropping farmer Brian Leadley said.  

“It’s got beyond urgent for many crops, the damage is done now, particularly for cereals and cut grasses,” Leadley said.

“The weather hasn’t played its part right back from flowering time in December, covid has created logistics issues and now we have the added confusion of the Russia-Ukraine war – both that are large and strong grain growing nations. . . 

Nervous final push ahead for Marlborough wine vintage – Morgane Solignac:

This year’s Marlborough wine vintage is shaping up to be a good one, but pressure is high as the industry navigates Covid, a labour crunch and Mother Nature.

Marlborough contractor Alapa Vineyard Services owner Alan Wilkinson usually employs 250 seasonal workers, but he is 60 per cent down this year with only 100 staff.

“We were supposed to get 22 Samoan workers last November, but they only just arrived last week,” he said.

“Last year we had 70 Thai workers but 20 of them have returned home over the last four months for various reasons. . . 

Diversity for sustainability – Hugh Stringleman:

Concern for the soil structure after summer maize cropping with conventional tillage has led Northland dairy farmers Adam and Laura Cullen to introduce multi-species cover crops over the prior winter and use direct drilling where possible. They are only beginning to see the benefits of this regenerative approach, they told Hugh Stringleman.

Adam Cullen, of Ararua in the Kaipara District, has rediscovered his enthusiasm for agriculture and applies his curiosity to finding new ways of dairying better, says his wife Laura.

The change of mindset prioritises improving the environment and the farm resources rather than constantly driving for production.

But the Cullens are not following a formula or prescription, rather being adaptive to their circumstances and farming conditions. . . 

 

Art for farming’s sake – Peter Burke:

A warning from his wife not to hang around the house and get under her feet when he retires has prompted a Feilding-based farmer to launch himself into a new and successful career – as an artist, painting rural scenes.

Seventy-three year-old Graham Christensen was brought up on a farm and as a youngster helped with shearing and the like before eventually doing a degree at Lincoln University.

His first job was with the old MAF where he managed the sheep breeding programme on Mana Island, near Wellington. . .

2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards open for entries :

The search has begun to find Aotearoa New Zealand’s most exceptional primary sector employers.

Entries have opened for the 2022 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards, which are run by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT).

“The Awards provide the opportunity to recognise and celebrate outstanding employers across the primary sector that may otherwise fly under the radar,” said MPI’s director of investment, skills and performance Cheyne Gillooly.

“The sector has been resilient throughout the pandemic and the hard mahi of farmers, growers and processors is leading our export-led recovery from COVID-19. . . 

Death by red meat is unsubstantiated – Frank Frank Mitloehner:

One might expect that a major breakthrough delivered by a well-respected organization – especially when the breakthrough seriously overrides a conclusion drawn merely two years earlier – to be backed by cold, hard facts. And yet, they are woefully absent from a Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) that calls unprocessed red meat an unconditional health risk.

The 2019 report points to a 36-fold higher estimate of deaths attributable to unprocessed red meat consumption than what is outlined in GBD’s 2017 study. In other words, any amount of red meat intake can lead to serious health complications, particularly cancer. The claim is made all the more shocking by the fact that GBD’s previous report assigns relatively low death risk to animal-sourced foods.

Prof. Alice V. Stanton, a world-renowned physician who specializes in the study of pharmacy and biomedical sciences at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is cautioning us not to buy in. After a period of intense work with a team of researchers, that included Stanton, Frédéric Leroy, Christopher Elliott, Neil Mann, Patrick Wall and Stefaan De Smet, their take on GBD’s no-red-meat-ever cry was published in the well-regarded Lancet Feb. 25. The GBD study fails to clarify how it came to its conclusions, Stanton says. 

The GBD report isn’t the only time meat has been castigated. A 2015 study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) tried its best to link meat with certain types of cancer, namely colorectal cancer. The organization eventually released the full scientific basis of its finding, confirming just how weak the evidence linking meat and colorectal cancer is. Amidst confusion, the World Health Organization (WHO) – the parent organization of IARC – came forward to deflate IARC’s claim and reassure the public that meat should be consumed in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet. . . 


Rural round-up

04/03/2022

Farmers short changed by Labour yet again :

Labour needs to explain why it is severely restricting the number of dairy farm workers allowed into the country for no apparent reason, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford and Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger say.

“Last year the dairy sector requested border exceptions for 1500 international dairy workers that were urgently needed for this year’s calving season,” Ms Stanford says.

“But the Government only granted 300, meaning this crucial sector will be short staffed and overworked for yet another season.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, but farmers have had enough of the constant roadblocks from this Labour Government – this time in the refusal to grant border exceptions for urgently-needed workers.” . .

NZ-UK FTA ‘significant boost’ for farmers – Sally Rae:

The signing of a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom represents a “significant boost” for New Zealand farmers and exporters, the Meat Industry Association says.

Lamb and beef would eventually be allowed quota- and tariff-free access for the first time in decades, it said.

Under the FTA, New Zealand’s beef and sheepmeat exports to the UK would be fully liberalised over time, with no duties from the 16th year after the deal came into force following ratification by both countries.

During this time, beef and sheepmeat would be subject to duty-free transitional quotas, the quota for New Zealand beef rising in annual instalments from a starting point of 12,000 tonnes until it reaches 60,000 metric tonnes in year 15, after which it would be duty- and tariff-free. . . 

Businesses concerned over Gisborne’s kiwifruit ‘rates grab’ – Nikki Mandow:

The district councils attempt to treat kiwifruit licences as rateable land improvements will have wide-reaching affects on other businesses.

Kiwifruit grower Tim Tietjen didn’t know the Gisborne District Council would be doubling the rates bill for his property until he read about it in the local paper.

In a radical shift from previous rating policy, the council had decided licences for the SunGold or G3 variety of gold kiwifruit – licences Tietjen and his fellow growers buy from kiwifruit marketer Zespri – would now be counted as land improvements and billed accordingly.

Instead of his property having a rated value of $2.8 million, it was now calculated at $4.1 million. . . 

Build a resilient farm business with bloody good tips from DWN and DairyNZ :

Dairy Women’s Network are helping current and future farm owners and teams to future-proof their businesses with a webinar series on How to Build a Bloody Good Business, funded by DairyNZ.

Run between the 7th and the 10th of March, the online webinar series will look at the qualities of a resilient business and strategies that can be implemented to protect your current or future business from the unknown; how to increase the resilience of your team when considering the current talent shortage; and the role that different systems and technology can play in building a healthy and successful business.

Speakers from ASB, Xero, Figured and McIntyre Dick and Partners (part of NZ CA Group Limited) will discuss and answer questions on how great financial business systems will help your business thrive, led by people and strategy specialist Lee Astridge from No8HR. . .

NZ wine industry welcomes UK free trade agreement :

New Zealand Winegrowers is pleased with today’s announcement that New Zealand has signed a historic free trade deal with the United Kingdom.

“The agreement is very positive for the New Zealand wine industry. This will help remove technical barriers to trade, and minimise burdens from certification and labelling requirements. It will also support future growth in the market, and encourage exporters to focus on the UK,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Carbon neutral sheep and beef farm on the market for sale for the first time in 100 years:

A substantial highly developed sheep and beef breeding and finishing farm which has been continuously owned by members of the founder’s family for the past 100-years has been placed on the market for sale.

The 1,038-hectare property known as Te Maire at Flemington just south of Waipukurau in Southern Hawke’s Bay was established in 1920 by S.A. Robinson Senior who purchased 203-hectares following the splitting up of Tourere Station.

Over the ensuing decades, Robinson’s sons, and their sons, added to the property – buying neighbouring blocks with their associated infrastructure, and expanding Te Maire to its current size which is subdivided into some 222 paddocks.

Generations of the Robinson family have taken an environmental approach to Te Maire’s expansion – always conscious of balancing ecological aspects with improving productivity. . . 


Rural round-up

22/02/2022

Scenery is what ‘makes’ it for young shepherd – Sally Rae:

Life is no trial for young North Otago shepherd Mikayla Cooper.

Miss Cooper (23) has embraced living and working in the high country, where she reckons it is the scenery that “makes it”.

She works at Dome Hills Station, a large-scale sheep and beef property near Danseys Pass farmed by the Douglas family.

It was a much larger and more extensive property than her home farm at Raglan, where her family moved to from Te Kauwhata at the end of her year 8 studies, Miss Cooper said. . . 

From mother to daughter a smooth transition – Country Life:

After single-handedly running Rees Valley Station for nearly 20 years, Iris Scott was more than happy to hand over the reins to her daughter Kate.

The 18,000-hectare property at the head of Lake Wakatipu is home to about 5000 merino sheep and 200 cattle.

When Iris’ husband died in 1992, Iris decided to carry on farming the land that had been in the Scott family for more than 100 years. She was also running a vet practice in Glenorchy.

She admits it was a great relief to her when her daughter Kate finally expressed an interest in taking over the farm. . . 

Demand strong as $1b wine grape harvest gets underway :

The first grapes of the 2022 vintage have been harvested, with ongoing international demand and low stock levels meaning that winemakers are hoping for a significantly larger harvest this year.

“The 2021 harvest, while of exceptional quality, was 19% smaller than the previous year. Over the past 12 months this has forced wineries to draw down on stocks to maintain their place in market. New Zealand wine sales for 2021 were 324 million litres, meaning they were 48 million litres more than was actually produced in the 2021 vintage. This stock drawdown highlights that we desperately need a bigger harvest in 2022, to replenish cellars, and help satisfy international demand,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Over the past 12 months many New Zealand wineries have faced tough decisions over who they can supply in their key markets, and the ongoing increase in international demand has placed huge strain on already depleted stocks. For some wineries, there has been quite simply just not enough wine to go around,” says Philip. . . 

Drop in infant formula sales hits A2 Milk’s bottom line :

Specialty dairy company A2 Milk’s bottom line has been halved, as it continues to face significant disruption to its infant formula sales in China.

KEY NUMBERS:

(for the six months ended 31 December 2021 vs year ago)

  • Net profit: $59.6 million vs $120m
  • Revenue: $660.5m vs $677m
  • Underlying earnings: $97.5m vs $178.5m
  • Dividend: no dividend vs 12 cps

A2 Milk chief executive David Bortolussi said despite challenging market conditions in China and volatility caused by the pandemic, it was making good progress to stabilise the business. . . 

Strong demand for solution to urea price spike and regulations :

This season’s record urea prices, coupled with nutrient cap regulations, have seen a lift in the number of dairy farmers changing their fertiliser programmes to lower their nitrogen footprint and costs.

Donaghys Managing Director Jeremy Silva says the company is working at capacity to keep up with renewed demand for their N-Boost nitrogen booster product. Donaghys N-Boost is a proven addition to a fertiliser programme that helps maintain production, while lowering urea application.

“It’s one of the few options out there that can help farmers maintain or lift production off lower nitrogen inputs.”

“We’ve seen the dual impact of high urea pricing and regulations on N come together. The result has been a wave of dairy farmers turning to foliar applications of urea. When N-Boost is added they can cut back their application rates this way to get under the N-cap, and they’re finding they can cut their urea bill and protect their dry matter production.” . . 

Pāmu announces solid half year result:

Pāmu (Landcorp Farming Limited) has announced a net profit after tax (“NPAT”) of $41 million for the half-year ended 31 December 2021.

Pāmu’s EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and revaluations), which is its preferred financial measure, was $16 million compared to $14 million in the half-year to December 2020.

Chairman Warren Parker said the result was particularly gratifying as the company managed the ongoing impact of Covid.

“Covid has continued to disrupt our people, which on top of ongoing labour shortages, extreme weather events on the West Coast and in the Manawatu and logistics, processing and availability of farm supplies, has made for a challenging half year,” Dr Parker said. . . 


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