Rural round-up

December 13, 2019

Pressure on system affecting work visas- Brent Melville:

The measles epidemic in Samoa is affecting New Zealand’s primary sector in the wake of stricter screening regulations for seasonal workers.

Seasonal Solutions co-operative chief executive Helen Axby said pressure on the health systems in Samoa and across the Pacific Islands had contributed to ‘‘major delays’’ in getting workers through the system.

Ms Axby said it was not just the health systems in Samoa that were overloaded. . . 

Taking action rather than talking provided way forward – Alice Scott:

It seems somewhat contradictory to talk about mental health and how one can get through one’s demons without talking about it. Alice Scott talked to Laura Douglas about her mental health journey.

‘‘I didn’t talk about it, but I did something about it’’, is what Laura Douglas says got her through when she found herself deeply unhappy a few years ago while working in a high-paying corporate job in Auckland.

‘‘I was in such a dark place. I was away from all of the things that I loved: farming, hunting, fishing, animals … While I had a lot of belief in my abilities, I lacked self-confidence and self-love. I let men control my decision-making and I surrounded myself with people that enabled my unhealthy habits of self-destruction.’’ she said.

Talking about her issues with close friends and family was the last thing she wanted to do. . . 

Shearing the load: four women, 2000 lambs, one day – Suzanne McFadden:

A gang of four young Kiwi women are sharpening their combs and cutters to set a nine-hour world shearing record, as the call for a women’s shearing world title grows louder.

Counting sheep – it’s supposedly an age-old remedy for fighting insomnia and lulling yourself to sleep.

But the challenge facing Sarah Higgins – of counting off 500 sheep over nine hours – threatens to keep her awake at night for the next month.   . . 

Pig virus on the march – Sudesh Kissun:

A new report warns that a virus decimating parts of the global pork industry could spread to more countries next year.

Rabobank’s Global Animal Protein Outlook 2020 says frequent shipments of feed and live animals and the movement of people and equipment across borders will spread African swine fever (ASF).

However, Rabobank’s animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate doesn’t expect additional countries to experience the same level of impact as China and Vietnam. . . 

Forests must be in land rules – Glenys Christian:

Forestry should be more closely integrated into land use policy to dispel some of the negativity surrounding increased planting on pastoral land, former hill country farmer and forestry consultant Garth Cumberland says.

“More and more of the farming community are realising the good sense and profitability of forestry.

“Its improved prospects on marginal land could potentially compete with the returns from dairying.” . . 

The dark side of plant-based food – it’s more about money than you may thinkMartin Cohen and Frédéric Leroy:

If you were to believe newspapers and dietary advice leaflets, you’d probably think that doctors and nutritionists are the people guiding us through the thicket of what to believe when it comes to food. But food trends are far more political – and economically motivated – than it seems.

From ancient Rome, where Cura Annonae – the provision of bread to the citizens – was the central measure of good government, to 18th-century Britain, where the economist Adam Smith identified a link between wages and the price of corn, food has been at the centre of the economy. Politicians have long had their eye on food policy as a way to shape society.

That’s why tariffs and other trade restrictions on imported food and grain were enforced in Britain between 1815 and 1846. These “corn laws” enhanced the profits and political power of the landowners, at the cost of raising food prices and hampering growth in other economic sectors. . . 


Rural round-up

October 31, 2019

NZ aware of ASF threat – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s pork industry would be “decimated” if African swine fever (ASF) was to hit the country, New Zealand Pork chairman Eric Roy says.

Since China reported the first case of ASF just over a year ago, it has culled more than 131million pigs, or around 40% of the previous pig herd.

Some private sector estimates suggested the culling might have even been larger than official estimates, BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap said. 

NZ Pork was concerned the disease was spreading “quite rapidly” and was now in Timor-Leste, or East Timor, as it continued to move south from China. It has been confirmed in the Philippines and South Korea. . .

Kiwi vegan loonies are treasonous – Ryan Bridge:

How do you know there’s a vegan in the room? They’ll tell you.

It’s an old joke but a good one.

Vegans are like evangelical Bible Belt Christians from the United States. They want to ram their ideology down your throat at any chance they can get.

On Tuesday, you will hear in the news stories about a new survey of consumers. They will claim a third of Kiwis are on their way to becoming vegetarians or vegans. We’re all going green. 

But make no mistake, the percentage of Kiwis who are vegetarian or vegan remains at 3 percent. Yes, 97 percent of us are still into our meat and so we should be, especially in New Zealand. . .

Women elected to DairyNZ board – Pam Tipa:

Two Waikato dairy farmers were elected to DairyNZ’s board last week. Tracy Brown is a new member and Elaine Cook was re-elected at the annual general meeting in Hamilton on October 22.

They are two of five farmer-elected directors and three board-appointed directors who contribute to strategy and priorities on behalf of dairy farmers. DairyNZ now has a board of five women and three men.

Chair Jim van der Poel welcomed the directors and acknowledged their role in “playing a key part in setting the future direction of DairyNZ”. . .

A voice for telling rural stories – Alice Scott:

A strong desire to capture the essence of people and tell their stories  won a former West Otago woman the Rural Champion category at the NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards recently. Alice Scott reports.

Kate Taylor, who now lives in Hawke’s Bay, grew up in the small southern farming district of Dunrobin. 

She says entering the Rural Women business awards was a way for her to ”walk the talk” and share her story, as she has for so many years been preaching to the people she interviews.

Mrs Taylor is the youngest of four Rivett girls and grew up on her family’s sheep and beef farm known as The Glen. She attended Blue Mountain College, in Tapanui, and got her first job in Gore, at radio station 4ZG, then did a journalism course at Christchurch Polytechnic . .

NZ lamb exporters welcome Brexit deadline extension–  Maja Burry:

An extension to the Brexit deadline is being welcomed by New Zealand lamb exporters, who had been worried about possible disruptions to Christmas trade.

European Union leaders have agreed to extend Brexit until 31 January next year – meaning the UK will not leave as planned on Thursday. The bloc would also allow for a so-called “flextension” – meaning the UK could leave before the deadline if a deal was approved by Parliament.

The UK market is very important for chilled New Zealand lamb exports ahead of Christmas and there had been concerns from industry that the UK’s departure from the European Union during this period could present border delays and increased administrative costs. . . .

Deer farm for sale with tourism and hunting options :

An iconic Hawke’s Bay station founded on pioneering spirit and nurtured over 100 years by the same family is now on the market for the first time.

Historic Te Rangi Station, located 50 minutes north of Napier Airport is generating strong interest among farming circles as far afield as the South Island from potential buyers recognising the opportunities a deer fenced station of this scale and summer safe location offers. . .


Rural round-up

October 19, 2019

Act now on swine fever – Neal Wallace:

Dr Eric Neumann’s career takes him to animal disease hot spots throughout the world to advise officials and farmers on their response and to monitor severity and behaviour of disease outbreaks Neal Wallace talks to the epidemiologist.

The savagery of African swine fever was starkly illustrated to Kiwi epidemiologist Dr Eric Neumann when he visited a 1000-pig farm in Vietnam.

The fever’s presence had been confirmed in the housed piggery two weeks before his visit but by time he got there 600 animals had died and most of the survivors were sick. . .

Time to effect meaningful change – Dairyman:

Bashing Fonterra in the media is so prevalent it’s almost a national pastime; farmer shareholders keen to share that phone call they got from the chairman, commentators sticking the boot in at the behest of their dairy processor clients and any politician looking for some airtime will happily have a crack.

If the payout is low it’s due to the incompetence of directors and management, if the payout is high it’s because Fonterra is screwing the scrum and forcing their competitors to pay more for milk than it’s worth.

While there are legitimate criticisms to be levelled at the Co-op, and they’re not above scoring own goals in that department, it’s so easy that writing a column panning them is almost lazy. I make no secret that I’m a fan of Fonterra’s new direction; the honesty that is largely on display at shareholder meetings, the way they now engage with the government instead of the ‘Fortress Fonterra’ mentality of old and their willingness to show leadership and vision in areas that affect their farmers. . .

The NZ Government strategy to destroy the farming sector – Barbara McKenzie:

‘If sheep and beef farms convert to forestry on a nationwide scale at just half the rate that has occurred in Wairoa this last year, there will be no sheep and beef farms left by 2050’ (Neil Henderson, Gisborne farmer)

The agricultural sector is New Zealand’s largest industry, made up chiefly of  pastoral farming and horticulture.

The coalition government, however,  is implementing a strategy squarely aimed at replacing the farming sector with forestry.  The result will be depopulation of the countryside, the destruction of  our environment and our way of life, and sets us on the road to poverty. . . 

Leather exporters struggle in oversupplied market :

Leather exporters are grappling with record low prices for hides.

The agricultral insights group, AgriHQ, said strong beef production in Australia, Brazil and the US had meant that the cattle hide market was significantly oversupplied.

A senior analyst at AgriHQ, Mel Croad, said this oversupply, combined with the rise of much more convincing synthetic leather substitutes and a downturn in the manufacture of luxury leather goods meant global demand was very weak.

“In addition, the closure of some Chinese tanneries due to environmental concerns has narrowed down selling options for hides,” Ms Croad said. . .

 

Demand from farmers for SurePhos expected to exceed supply:

 Ballance Agri-Nutrients has produced a sustainable superphosphate product that is expected to displace traditional ‘Super’ fertiliser used by the majority of farmers – with clear environmental and productivity benefits.

SurePhosTM is expected to reduce phosphate losses by up to 75%, making a significant positive impact on the quality of waterways and, due to low water solubility, keeps nutrients in the soil system where they are available to plants.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman, David Peacocke, says SurePhosTM will be the choice of a new generation of farmers who have sustainability front-of-mind. . . 

I’m a farmer and a no-deal Brexit would put me out of business – Will Case:

Crashing out of the EU would not end uncertainty and would be a dark day for agriculture and food in Britain

Here in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside, the sun is out, our grass is growing and the sky is blue. Sheep are busily nibbling the pasture while cattle are basking in the summer warmth. These are perfect conditions for farming. The animals are content and the farmers are working hard.

Everything should be fine, but there is a big, dark cloud lurking on the horizon: the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. This is a threat to everything we do. The uncertainty around Brexit and the prospect of trade tariffs that would cripple our business is a real worry. The future direction of UK-produced food is simply unknown.

Will we be forced to adhere to ever higher standards, while our government allows food to be imported from countries where farmers adhere to welfare or other standards that would, rightly, be illegal on my farm? Will our politicians assure British farmers that they will avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit? . . 


Rural round-up

October 15, 2019

Liberated they sold the plough – Neal Wallace:

Mike Porter reckons he has re-educated himself how to farm in the last five years. Neal Wallace meets the South Canterbury arable farmer who is not afraid of change.

Mike Porter is a considered man.

His views and actions are more than opinions formed from spending too many hours behind the wheel of a tractor on his South Canterbury arable farm.

Porter has carefully considered and studied options to some of the big issues he faces on his 480ha arable and livestock farm at Lyalldale, which he runs with wife Lynne. . .

Stronger YFC, school links the goal – Yvonne O’Hara:

Otago-Southland territory manager Bridget (Biddy) Huddleston, of Alexandra, is keen to see closer ties between the New Zealand Young Farmers clubs, and schools.

”Nationally, we are going to increase our focus on Young Farmers clubs and the [school-based] TeenAg clubs,” she said.

”Moving forward, the challenge for us will be how we are going to structure that.”

She also wants to encourage a greater uptake of the organisation’s education ”Agrication” food production resources, which have been developed by NZYF and teachers, ticked off by NZQA and funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership for schools, which are designed to give pupils a greater awareness of food production. . .

Frost this spring has been ‘unrelenting’, say winegrowers – Maja Burry:

Winegrowers in some regions are reporting a turbulent start to the new grape growing season, with frost-fighting efforts already well up on last year.

ANZ rural economist Susan Kilsby said early varieties were budding which was causing some concern due to the recent cold snap.

“There certainly has been some concern around frost, certainly in the Wairarapa and Marlborough, so everyone’s been out fighting frost, [but] so far I’ve only heard of damage of small areas of some of the early season crops,” Ms Kilsby said. . . 

Held stock boost sheep numbers – Alan Williams:

South Island sheep numbers rose slightly in the latest June year but some of the gain was caused by higher numbers being carried over for processing between July and September.

In the North Island the sheep population was slightly lower on June 30 than a year earlier and also included plenty of carry-over trade lambs in the Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty due for processing, Beef + Lamb says its New Season Outlook.

Total sheep numbers were estimated at 27.4 million, with the North Island at 13.5m, down 92,000 or 0.7%. South Island numbers were 13.9m, up 1.4%. . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2018/19 dairy season.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s base milk price calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was calculated at $6.35 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2018/19 dairy season. The report does not cover the forecast 2019/20 price of $6.25-$7.25 that Fonterra announced in May.

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said this year’s review of the 2018/19 base milk price revealed no new major areas of concern. . . 

Medicinal cannabis company Rua Bioscience seeks experienced grower – Esther Taunton:

A Kiwi company is on the hunt for a green-thumbed project manager, preferably with cannabis growing experience.

Gisborne-based Rua Bioscience was the first local company to secure a license to cultivate medicinal cannabis and is now looking for someone to help grow its budding operation.

Advertised online this week, the cultivation project manager would “play a key role in setting up stage two of our cultivation and growing activities”.  . . 

China is breeding massive pigs that weigh more than a grand piano -Kristin Houser:

Pork Problems

A devastating outbreak of African swine fever has destroyed an estimated half of China’s pig population over the past year or so.

That’s a huge deal given that China consumes more pork than any other nation, so China’s government responded by urging farmers to increase pig production — and some have taken that to mean they should breed the biggest pigs we’ve seen this side of “Okja,” according to a new Bloomberg story.

Making Weight

Bloomberg notes that some Chinese farmers have managed to increase the typical average weight of their pigs at slaughter from 110 kilograms (242 pounds) up to 140 kilograms (308 pounds).

In the province of Jilin, meanwhile, farmers are trying to raise the pigs “as big as possible,” farmer Zhao Hailin told Bloomberg, with the goal being an average weight of 175 to 200 kilograms (385 to 440 pounds) as opposed to the typical 125 kilograms (275 pounds). . .


Rural round-up

October 11, 2019

Anger at slow compensation process –  Sally Rae:

”I think I would rather have cancer than Mycoplasma bovis.”

That was the hard-hitting opening line in a letter from North Otago farmer Kerry Dwyer, to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last month.

Mr Dwyer and his wife Rosie were among the first farmers affected by Mycoplasma bovis when their property was confirmed as having the bacterial cattle disease in August 2017.

It was in March last year that Mr Dwyer first publicly expressed fears over the compensation process.

Now, more than two years after having all their cattle slaughtered due to the disease, and a year after lodging their last compensation claim, they were still waiting for settlement.

But after the Otago Daily Times contacted MPI yesterday, a spokesman said director-general Ray Smith had requested an urgent review of the Dwyers’ claims and MPI would pay what was owing by the end of the week. . . 

Hurunui mayor blames public opinion for ‘unattainable’ water targets – Emma Dangerfield:

An outgoing North Canterbury mayor says “public opinion and impatience” are driving proposed water quality targets that will be impossible to meet.

Environment Minister David Parker last week released the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Management and the Government’s rewritten National Policy Statement, which aims to improve New Zealand’s waterways, crack down on farming practices and increase regulation. The plan includes a mandate for councils to have freshwater plans in place by 2025.

In a statement published on the Hurunui District Council’s website, mayor and farmer Winton Dalley said the Government was responding to the “huge pressure of public opinion and impatience with what in their view is … [a] lack of progress to return all water to a quality, which – in many cases – is unattainable.”

Water quality issues in the district were not only caused by rural and urban pollution, he said. . . 

Irrigation achievement celebrated:

The prosperity of the Mid Canterbury district stems from the 67km-long Rangitata diversion race (RDR), which started from humble beginnings with workers using picks, shovels and wooden wheelbarrows in its development at Klondyke, Mid Canterbury in 1937.

It has gone on to supply water to the district’s plains and helping to generate social and economic benefits to Mid Cantabrians, from the people on the land, to those in its towns and villages.

The engineering feat required for its development was celebrated with new signage provided by the Mid Canterbury RDR community and those connected to the system.

They included farmer and RDR Management Ltd (RDRML) chairman Richard Wilson, irrigation scheme representatives, members of the engineering fraternity and other invited guests such as ”RDR Kid” Viv Barrett (87), who, at age 5, lived with his family in the RDR camp at Ealing as his father Jim was the first RDR raceman. . . 

Teenager creates company to get high-speed network to rural communities – Rebecca Black:

A Whanganui teenager has big plans to get fibre internet speeds to rural customers.

Alex Stewart, 14, says rural communities are paying fibre prices for copper speeds and face a huge bill to get access to faster internet.

Stewart was staying at Turakina Beach, 20 minutes south of Whanganui, when he got talking to frustrated locals who had been in touch with a telecommunications company about getting cell phone coverage and better internet. . . 

Painting cows like zebras keep flies at bay – study – Angie Skerrett:

A new study suggests painting cows with zebra stripes could be the answer to the age-old problem of fly attacks on livestock, and bring economic and environmental benefits.

Biting flies are serious pests for livestock, which cause economic losses in animal production. 

However a new study by Japanese researchers and published in PLOS One found that black cows painted with zebra stripes are nearly 50 percent less likely to suffer from the bites.

Researchers used six Japanese Black cows with different paint designs in the study. . . 

African Swine Flu just a stone’s throw from Australia :

The deadly virus which has claimed one quarter of the world’s pig population is now perilously close to our northern border.

A disease that has wreaked havoc and caused mass devastation to the global pig population, has now spread from China to other parts of Asia, including the Philippines, North and South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and now Timor-Leste.

Outbreaks of African Swine Fever also continue to be reported in eastern Europe as the deadly spread shows no signs of slowing. ASF is reported to have already wiped out a quarter of the world’s pigs, and the risk of it infecting pigs in other countries in Asia and elsewhere remains a serious threat. The disease is known to kill about 80 percent of animals which become infected. . . 

 


Global pig fever alert

July 26, 2019

African Swine Fever has been declared a global pandemic by the World Organisation for Animal Health:

That is an international major event putting New Zealand’s $750 million commercial pork industry at risk, NZ Pork general manager David Baines said.

“It’s concerning. It isn’t going away. In fact, it’s got bigger,” Baines said.

NZ Pork, the Ministry for Primary Industries and AsureQuality have embarked on a nationwide education campaign to warn people keeping domestic pigs or coming into contact with feral pigs of the risks of the disease.

“The industry is taking the threat of the disease extremely seriously.

“Watching the disease spread through Europe and Asia demonstrates how devastating it could be if it reached NZ,” Baines said.

Though the disease has no effect on human health the only response is to cull infected herds. . .

While there have been no detections of the it in NZ, about 60% of pork consumed in NZ is imported from more than 25 countries including China, Poland and Belgium that are identified as having the fever.

The virus is exceptionally hardy and can survive almost indefinitely in frozen meat. 

It can also be carried on clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles. . .

It’s estimated pigs are kept on at least 5500 properties outside the commercial industry with an unknown number of animals.

“One of the things we’re really emphasising is the importance of not feeding untreated meat scraps to pigs,” Baines said.

“The major risk to our industry is that African swine fever gets into the lifestyle or para-commercial pig population through the feeding of untreated food scraps and from there into our commercial herd.”

In NZ it is illegal to feed meat to pigs unless it has been cooked at 100 degrees, essentially boiled, for one hour.

“This is a key biosecurity measure as African swine fever is a very hardy virus and can survive in pork products that might not have been cooked thoroughly as well as various types of processed pork products. 

“It can infect the pigs that eat them.” . . 

The pork industry has been calling for an end to imports of pork for years.

Until now that’s looked like a non-tariff barrier to protect the local industry from overseas competitors.

The risk of ASF provides a much stronger case for restricting imports on biosecurity grounds.


Rural round-up

July 18, 2019

Suggestions definitely off the agenda – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra will not retain 50c of the milk payout, as suggested by commentators, or change the way it sets the milk price as part of its business reset, chief financial officer Marc Rivers says.

It is confident it can address its debt issue and strengthen its balance sheet without those measures.

The reset is on track to meet its target of $800m this year while reduced spending will boost its profitability.

“We’re both tightening our belts and looking for savings but also looking at our investment portfolio,” Rivers said. . .

Speculators push lamb prices up – Neal Wallace:

Speculators have pushed North Island store lamb prices 35c/kg above the same time last year despite winter slaughter prices being similar to last year.

Affco’s recent $9/kg contract for prime lambs appears to have hyped the store market even though AgriHQ analyst Nicola Dennis says other meat companies are offering winter slaughter prices that mirror last year’s at about $7.50 to $7.80/kg.

The contract is available only in August to Affco clients who have been regular suppliers and applies only to stock processed at North Island plants. . .

Grower group still busy after 100 years – Pam Tipa:

A group of vegetable growers centred on Pukekohe in South Auckland say regulatory changes could be do-or-die for their growing enterprises.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) celebrated its 100th anniversary last year and vice president Kylie Faulkner says the advocacy role of the group is crucial.

“There are a lot of changes happening now with the Resource Management Act, the National Water Policy Statement and how the different councils are approaching those rules,” she told HortNews.  . . 

Vege growing nice addition to farming business – Peter Burke:

It’s easy to see what the small central North Island town of Ohakune is famous for. On the outskirts of the town is a huge carrot and a children’s play area based on this popular vegetable.

Peter Burke reports on a vegetable grower who has helped enhance the town’s great reputation.

Ron Frew started growing carrots in 1967, just after coming home to Ohakune from completing his university degree. Since then, he and his family have built up a huge farming business which includes growing carrots and potatoes.

They also have a dairy farm and a large sheep and beef property running 25,000 breeding ewes and 650 breeding cows.  . . 

Protein competition on the rise in China – Sally Rae:

Increased protein competition in China is being cited by Rabobank as something to watch as strong demand for beef from China drives up export returns.

In Rabobank’s latest Agribusiness Monthly report, animal protein and sustainability analyst Blake Holgate said the China Meat Association had announced the Chinese government would be expanding its sourcing of animal protein products in an attempt to replace the lost pork production that had resulted from the African Swine Fever outbreak.

That might include allowing imports of Indian buffalo and lifting the current ban on UK beef. There were also reports of an increase in the number of international meat facilities being accredited for export into China. . .

Why George Monibot is wrong – grazing livestock can save the world – L. Hunter Lovins:

George Monbiot’s recent criticism of Allan Savory’s theory that grazing livestock can reverse climate change ignores evidence that it’s already experiencing success

In his recent interview with Allan Savory, the high profile biologist and farmer who argues that properly managing grazing animals can counter climate chaos, George Monbiot reasonably asks for proof. Where I believe he strays into the unreasonable, is in asserting that there is none.

Savory’s argument, which counters popular conceptions, is that more livestock rather than fewer can help save the planet through a concept he calls “holistic management.” In brief, he contends that grazing livestock can reverse desertification and restore carbon to the soil, enhancing its biodiversity and countering climate change. Monbiot claims that this approach doesn’t work and in fact does more harm than good. But his assertions skip over the science and on the ground evidence that say otherwise. . .

 


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