Rural round-up

May 9, 2020

Build more and be damned! – David Anderson:

Water storage is one of the keys to helping rebuild NZ’s economy in the wake of COVID-19, says Ian Proudfoot, KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness.

This was the message he gave to Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee on the opportunities our food and fibre industries have to lead our national economic recovery.

“We have long been the developed nation with the greatest reliance on growing and selling biological products to the world to pay for our schools, roads and hospitals,” he explained.

“Now, more than ever, the industry recognises it needs to step forward to ensure that our country is able to maintain the living standards we have become accustomed to.” . . 

Drought relief ‘too little too late’ Hawke’s Bay farmer – Robin Martin:

A Hawke’s Bay farmer says the government’s latest drought relief package – a $500,000 fund for advisory services – is a “drop in the ocean” and won’t go far to alleviating struggling farmers’ problems.

Extremely dry conditions have hit much of the North Island and parts of the South Island in recent months and in some areas, including Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay, the situation remains dire.

Grant Charteris farms deer and beef cattle at Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay.

He said today’s relief package was a case of “too little too late”. . .

Telephone diplomacy to fight protectionism – Peter Burke:

Rising protectionism is one of the major concerns of New Zealand exporters in the light of COVID-19.

NZ’s chief trade negotiator, Vangelis Vitalis, told Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee that as a result of COVID, many countries will resort to protecting their own economies. NZ exporters fear this will make it much harder for them.

Vitalis says exporters are also concerned about the logistics of getting goods to market, but they have praised the work done by MFAT, NZTE and MPI in keeping freight lines open. . . 

New farm safety initiative aims to empower women to effect change :

A new farm safety initiative aims to rally rural women to help save injuries and lives on New Zealand farms.

Action group Safer Farms has partnered with Australian woman Alex Thomas to bring the #PlantASeedForSafety Project to New Zealand.

The project profiles women from all parts of rural industries and communities who are making positive and practical improvements to the health, safety and wellbeing of those around them.

With the message “save a life, listen to your wife”, it aims to raise the voices of rural women and boost their confidence in their ability to influence change and to inspire others to make safer, healthier choices. . .

Quinoa growers urged to band together and take on the world – Nigel Malthus:

One of New Zealand’s very few quinoa growers is calling on his colleagues to band together to help market their product.

Andrew Currie, who farms near Methven in inland Canterbury, believes he is one of only three commercial quinoa growers in the country. He’s the only one in the South Island and the only one with a breeding programme of golden, white, red and black quinoa varieties.

He told Rural News if there is any good to come out of the current COVID-19 emergency, it may be renewed support for locally grown produce. Currie says the post-lockdown environment will be very different.

“New Zealand farming will be the strength of our economy. Some people will need to change occupation to more rural orientated jobs.”  . .

Ag’s critical role in post-COVID recovery a unique opportunity – Michael Guerin:

Although Australia is weathering the COVID-19 storm better than almost any other nation, there is no doubt that it has dealt us a sickening blow.

And the worst is definitely still to come, as the long-term economic, employment and social effects become apparent.

However, out of the tragedy emerges a unique opportunity for Australian agriculture to lead the country out of the COVID-19 doldrums.

The NFF’s “Don’t panic. Aussie farmers have your back” campaign was highly successful in reassuring the public that our robust industry would ensure the country could feed itself.. . 


Rural round-up

March 12, 2020

Southern Dairy Hub to trial new winter practices for better animal welfare – Damian Rowe:

Cows being able to sit on biodegradable mats instead of mud will be trialled in a bid to improve their health during winter grazing.

Southern Dairy Hub staff with the help of scientists, engineers and rural professionals have teamed up to create concepts on how to improve the farm facilities for winter grazing.

Winter grazing techniques were put under the spotlight last year after a nationwide anti-grazing campaign highlighted some Southland cows standing in mud, and prompted the agricultural minister Damian O’Connor to set up a taskforce in response. . .

From the Ridge: our farms are already regenerative – Steve Wyn-Harris:

There is a bit of wheel reinvention going on.

No, that’s not quite the metaphor that I’m looking for. How about teaching granny to suck eggs? Something like that.

Regenerative agriculture is all the rage, the answer to all our ills.

Really? . . 

Developing leaders for tomorrow:

Last month, 21 developing dairy industry leaders started Fonterra’s year-long Governance Development Programme, with two days of presentations and discussions at Fonterra’s head office in Auckland.

Now into its 15th year, the programme is an intensive year-long commitment built around a series of workshops, distance learning modules and coaching. It exists to help identify and develop governance acumen in future rural leaders. Being custom designed in conjunction with Massey Business School to be specific to the cooperative context, it is unique in New Zealand. Attended predominantly by Fonterra farmer shareholders and herd-owning sharemilkers it is also open to members of other New Zealand cooperatives such as LIC, Silver Fern Farms and Foodstuffs.  . .

Connecting to grassroots New Zealand -Fiona Windle:

It wasn’t a typical Sunday for my family.  We packed a lunch, extra layers and headed an hour south from our home in suburbia Napier for an opportunity to see what goes on behind a farm gate as part of the inaugural nationwide Open Farms day. 

On arriving at Mangarara Station in Central Hawke’s Bay’s Elsthorpe, we followed the signs down a long windy driveway where we and other families were warmly welcomed from our hosts, Greg and Rachel Hart at their guest Eco Lodge.  Nestled in front of the farm lake, among rolling hills and native trees, it was a picturesque and peaceful setting, which had you immediately feeling relaxed, with a sense of belonging. . . 

Keep stock off harvested hemp:

Feeding hemp to livestock is strictly forbidden and as well as contravening the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act, doing so could put New Zealand’s red meat exports in jeopardy.

Matt Ward, B+LNZ General Manager North Island, says according to the Ministry for Primary Industries, hemp or hemp products used as animal feed are regulated under the ACVM Act 1997 and are classed as agricultural compounds.

It is an offence to use any ACVM that is not authorized and there are no hemp products authorized for use in livestock in New Zealand. . .

New 500,000 tonne market on offer as India opens its doors for Aussie malt barley – Gregor Heard:

AUSTRALIAN exporters could be sending malt barley to India as soon as April after the Indian government removed a critical phytosanitary requirement that acted as a roadblock to sales to the subcontinental nation.

It paves the way for a market industry insiders suggest could easily see Australian trade to Indian in excess of 500,000 tonnes in the near term, rising to up to a million tonnes with time to forge closer relationships.

Based on current malt barley prices, the cost of preparing the grain for export and sea freight sales of that volume would mean a windfall of in excess of $180 million for the Australian barley industry based on current Australian port prices of $280/t. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 9, 2019

Why are farmers treated differently?:

For all the protestations of affection and respect, dairy farmers seem to be in a class of their own when it comes to the non-negotiability of their environmental responsibilities.

That was made very clear once again last week when the Ministry for Primary Industries announced that it would not be prosecuting anyone over the deaths of potentially hundreds of long-finned eels, which were removed from their habitat and dumped by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council workers. The dead and dying eels were discovered by a Napier resident, encased in tonnes of mud that had been dumped on the banks of the Moteo River in February. A video that went viral on Facebook prompted the MPI to investigate, and the council downed tools while it undertook its own review.

Eight months later the MPI said it had insufficient evidence to charge anyone. . .

Zero Carbon Bill a mixed bag for farmers:

DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle is describing the Zero Carbon Bill as a ‘mixed bag’ for farmers, while urging all political parties to work together to find consensus on a pathway forward.

“The agricultural sector has engaged positively and constructively in this process over the past 18 months to help craft a piece of legislation that is both consistent with a 1.5-degree pathway and fair for farmers” Dr Mackle said.

“We support the key architecture in the Bill. This includes the establishment of an Independent Climate Change Commission, carbon budgeting and, in particular, a split gas approach that recognises methane is different to other greenhouse gasses”.

The key point of contention remains the methane reduction targets. . .

Farm moves cut gas and nitrates – Richard Rennie:

On-Farm solutions to lower nitrates and, by default, nitrous oxide gases are also a good way to ensure farming holds up to public scrutiny, farm environment consultant Alison Dewes says.

There is a strong social-licence angle in pursuing environmental efforts on water quality and greenhouse gases.

Farmers being seen to be making efforts across both areas will only aid farming’s continuing acceptability to society, regardless of the science dynamic.

“It really has to pass the front page test now,” Dewes said.  . . 

Family tradition reflected in win – Yvonne O’Hara:

Julie Skedgwell, (16), of Tuatapere, got a hug from her mum and a dinner out after becoming reserve champion in a national dairy judging competition in Hastings recently – despite being extremely nervous.

The James Hargest College pupil is a fourth generation Jersey stud breeder, with her own stud, the Mount Brook Stud.

Sister Alannah (17) also has her own Elms Lake Stud.

Julie and farm worker Lisa Bonenkamp (22) who works for Waikaka Genetics, near Gore, represented the New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society’s southern district at the New Zealand Royal A&P Show, hosted by the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society in Hastings on October 23 to 25. . .

Alex Malcolm: The 9-year-old on a mission to eradicate catfishLeah Tebbutt:

Pesky catfish have grown to record numbers in Rotorua lakes over the past two years but one 9-year-old is making a record number of catches.

Alex Malcolm has been hunting the whiskered fish since “the end of term one” and can tell you the exact number he has caught over the short space of time.

“556,” he said with a grin wider than a Cheshire Cat.

“I’m not giving it up anytime soon because it is something I can do in my own time. I like being out on the lake.” . .

“Plants good, meat bad” is too simplistic when tackling climate change – Hannah Thomas-Peter:

Last week I wrote about the environmental impact of the global meat and dairy industries. It made quite a few people cross, particularly British farmers, who felt unfairly maligned.

National Farmers’ Union Vice President Stuart Roberts asked if we could have a conversation about it all, and so that’s what we did. He made a series of illuminating points, and our exchange left me with a lot of questions about the nature of fairness and competition under the pressure of the climate crisis.

Mr Roberts started with a broad argument: “People have drawn this conclusion that meat is bad, plants are good, and therefore we should all stop eating meat. It over simplifies a tremendously complicated issue.” . . 


Rural round-up

August 17, 2019

Gas measures bring cost cuts – Neal Wallace:

Winton dairy farmer Dean Alexander stumbled into the world of measuring carbon emissions.

Ironically, he had just spent more than $500,000 on resource consent and infrastructure to increase cow numbers when he realised the expansion meant an increase in his greenhouse gas emissions.

Alexander told the recent Dunedin meeting of the Ministry for the Environment’s Action and Agricultural Emissions public consultation he realised he needed to learn more about climate change.

From that research he concluded it is a real and looming threat, there is no silver bullet and farmers need to start reducing their emissions now.

“You need to do little things well and it is about starting now,” he says. . . 

Farmer who beat debt and depression on a mission to help :

A New Zealand farmer has told how he battled an eight-year drought and mental health issues to become one of the country’s top beef and sheep producers.

After years of spiralling debts and depression, Doug Avery turned his 2,400ha farm into one of New Zealand’s most successful farming enterprises.

It has been a long struggle, but he has since received widespread acclaim for his approach to farming, the environment and mental wellbeing. . . 

Book shares the shearers’ stories – Chris Tobin:

The success of an earlier book on drovers has prompted Timaru author Ruth Entwistle Low to write another, this time on shearers.

The Shearers: New Zealand Legends was launched in Timaru last week following on from her successful On the Hoof: The Untold Story of Drovers in New Zealand.

”It was a risk for my publishers taking on the drovers’ book,” she said.

”It’s a niche subject but the book sold well and was on the New Zealand best seller non-fiction lists for six weeks, which was pretty satisfying.”

That prompted the realisation that there was sufficient interest to warrant another similar book.

”When the dust settled on the first one, Penguin came back and said: ‘Do you want to write a book on shearers?’.” . . 

Minette Batters: Brexit has been “a face-slapping moment” for farming – Julian Baggini:

Minette Batters could not have chosen a more difficult time to become the first female president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU). “Things could go massively wrong and it could decimate the industry,” she tells me at the NFU’s London headquarters. “It could destroy lives and livelihoods and families, and that is in the back of my mind at all times.”

The threat comes from a chaotic Brexit, which she has been fighting from the moment of her election in February last year. Her warning is grave: “If the government does forget about agriculture, if they do flood us with cheap ingredients that would be illegal for us to produce here, it would make what happened to coal and steel look like a walk in the park.”

Batters says Brexit has been “a face-slapping moment” for farming. Along with the climate emergency, it has forced the industry to think hard about sustainable agriculture. . . 

Plant-based meat substitutes drive headlines, beef drives sales :

Meat and poultry consumption is expected to hit record highs this year.¹ However, the news about animal proteins’ popularity has been overshadowed by recent headlines generated by plant-based meat substitutes, with national foodservice distribution deals and IPOs garnering attention in both trade and mainstream media. It is important to look beyond the headlines to put these next-generation meat substitutes, as well as the claims made by the companies producing these products, in context with sales numbers and consumer perceptions, as well as environmental and nutritional facts. While some of the companies behind plant-based meat substitutes aim to replace animal proteins, in 2018 beef was the most valuable protein at retail.²

Sales data reveals that last year consumers purchased 14 billion pounds of beef compared with 700,000 pounds of beef substitutes in both retail and foodservice. That is, beef substitutes comprised half of a percent of the overall market in pounds.³  . . 

Cannasouth harvests 1st crop of medicinal research cannabis:

Cannasouth has harvested its first crop of medicinal research cannabis from its purpose-built growing facility in Hamilton.

Cannasouth founders Mark Lucas and Nic Foreman have been growing industrial hemp varieties outdoors since 2002. However, this harvest is significant because of the high THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol) and CBD (cannabidiol) content of the plants, which are grown indoors under tight security.

Until now, Cannasouth has been conducting its research using raw high-grade THC-rich cannabis flower from the Netherlands – imported under a special licence from the Ministry of Health. . . 


Rural round-up

July 19, 2019

Warnings China won’t need logs forever :

There are warnings China won’t need New Zealand’s logs forever.

The profitability of the government’s billion trees programme is being called into question as the price of “A” grade logs falls from about 140 US dollars a tonne to 110.

CEO of forestry investor Red Stag Group Marty Verry told Heather du Plessis Allan if we’re only selling to China, eventually it won’t be worth it to chop down the trees.

“We are not the only country with a billion trees policy, and they are all targeting China. Its unrealistic to expect the demand will be there in 25 to 30 years time.” . . 

Burnout on road to success – Anne Lee:

Southland sharemilker Michael Prankerd had days when he was paralysed by fear and found himself suffering from burnout. He shared his story at SIDE and Anne Lee talked to him about how endurance running and widening the number of metrics he measures success by has helped turn that around. Photos: Megan Graham

On the outside sharemilker Michael Prankerd has always been a high achieving gogetter, ticking off progression milestones in a successful business.

But on the inside it was a different story – three years ago there was a whole different
monologue going on in his head. Michael was slowly sliding into a state where he couldn’t see joy in life and was becoming paralysed by fear and anxiety.

He was burning out. . .

Working smarter not harder :

When Jana Hocken first moved to a New Zealand dairy farm, she couldn’t believe the inefficiencies she saw.

Jana’s a business consultant who has spent her career stream-lining processes in manufacturing, defence, healthcare, rail, IT, mining and finance.

She worked for Toyota which developed what is known internationally as ‘lean manufacturing’ – systems to cut waste, cut costs and improve efficiency. . . 

MPI gives calf days go ahead – Riley Kennedy:

School calf days can go ahead this year, but with strict guidelines, the Primary Industries Ministry has decided.

“Calf club is part and parcel of rural life and I know people are looking forward to parading their pet animals from the farm,” Mycoplasma bovis eradication director Geoff Gwyn said in a letter to teachers and students.

“But because M bovis is now in New Zealand we’re asking everyone to be extra careful when our calves get close to other calves.” . .

No new coal boilers for Fonterra:

Fonterra is shaving eleven years off its coal target, as it announces a new commitment to reduce its reliance on coal.

This commitment is the latest in a series of targets the Co-operative has set as it looks to embed sustainability at the heart of everything it does.

These targets include: . .

How no deal Brexitwill devastate farming in UK – NFU president Minette Batter

HAVING spent the last two days at the Great Yorkshire Show and speaking to farmers from across the county, it’s impossible not to be impressed by their passion for their work – in an area renowned for its rolling countryside, superb food and plain speaking.

We’ve talked about everything from climate change to food waste, but of course Brexit has been a constant theme and it is abundantly clear that Britain’s rural areas are at a crossroads.

  • We know the farming industry will be most affected by Brexit, and we now face an array of possible outcomes that could result in either a thriving food and farming sector post-Brexit, or the decimation of Britain’s ability to feed itself. .

Would you like a hat with your tea?

English-born Jo Watson was so homesick for a a tea room she opened one in the middle of her home in rural Taranaki. There you’ll find crocheted blankets for knees, knitting needles to pick up, eight types of scones and crazy hats to wear.

Before Jo Watson opened her tearoom in the small Taranaki village of Urenui, she did plenty of market research – devouring as many cream teas as she could on a trip home to the UK.

Urenui is a half-hour drive north of New Plymouth and has a mix of baches and permanent homes and a strong farming base. . .


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