Rural round-up

July 12, 2018

Dairy industry’s big challenge strategic reset – Keith Woodford:

There is great unease within the New Zealand dairy industry. Many farmers feel that the urban community plus a range of events have turned against them. Most are still proud to be dairy farmers but there is lots of stress and anxiety.  

This stress and anxiety is despite farmers receiving good prices for their milk in the last two years. This has followed two preceding years when most farmers made losses and some sharemilkers were wiped out.

Right now, there are some short-term worries with product prices dropping at the last dairy auction. This is creating uncertainty for the year ahead. But in the longer term, the outlook for dairy is actually very strong. . . 

Jayne Hrdlicka to take over as A2 managing director from July 16 –  Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co’s new managing director and chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka will start on July 16, replacing Geoff Babidge who had been in the role since 2010.

Babidge announced his plans to retire last year, having overseen the company while its shares jumped from around $1 at the end of 2015 to a then-record of $8.75 on the back of successive strong sales as the company’s infant formula attracted strong demand in China. The shares last closed at $11.40, and have gained 41 percent this year. . . 

Polarised views flowing from what some urban consumers say (loudly), and how they live their lives with the market signals they send to producers – Guy Trafford:

An interesting comparison can be drawn between the dairy industry in New Zealand and the coal industry in Australia. Both seem to have the ability to polarise groups and yet both countries economies are heavily reliant on them.

Coal prices have had a resurgence to over US$100 per tonne which is resulting in calls for increasing the amount exported from Australia. Currently, coal brings in about AU$58 bln, one of the major Australian exports.

Dairying in New Zealand holds a similar place and both hold about 30% of world trade. An observation noted while I am here in Australia is the diversity of commentary in the ‘mainstream media’. In Northern Queensland where coal mining appears to be held in very high regard, the major Cairns newspaper editorial seemed to typify the attitude of many. One piece leapt out which showed the gulf I believe exists between most Kiwis and certainly a section of Australians, “Environmental radicals sit in their West End homes with heating and air-conditioning, driving petrol-guzzling cars and generally in a way that generally consumes plenty of energy, most of it coming from fossil fuel sources”. . . 

Fonterra grants 86-year-old dairy industry pioneer’s sick-bed wish – Paul Mitchell:

A Kiwi dairy pioneer has been granted his one wish for his twilight years – the chance to see what his life’s work has led to in a modern processing plant. 

Palmerston North 86-year-old Don King’s work at the Diary Research Institute, now the Fonterra Research and Development Centre, in the decades after the 1950s helped lay the foundations and processes for modern dairy processing plants.

King, extremely ill and rest-home bound after a massive stroke, had one request – to see where it has all ended up.

And thanks to an old colleague, and the efforts of Fonterra staff, his wish has been granted.  . . 

Safety conference showcased forest floor successes:

A national forest safety conference in August will bring the latest practical solutions to the table for all contractors and forest managers to hear about and learn from. Following the challenges that this industry faced in 2013, it has responded with passion and commitment to new ways to embed safety culture into everyone’s mindset on the job. Also, over the past 5 years mechanical harvesting technologies have come a long way for keeping workers safe in logging, especially on steep slopes.

“Some of our most inspiring forestry safety specialists are those with hands-on experience in both crew culture and harvesting technologies. They have been out there doing it, earning the respect of their peers,” says Forest Industry Engineering Association spokesman, Gordon Thomson. . . 

Protecting people and animals from sharing disease – Agcarm:

On World Zoonoses Day, Agcarm reminds pet and livestock owners that good hygiene and vaccination is vital for protecting the health of people and animals.

Diseases such as Campylobacter, Leptospirosis and rabies are ’zoonotic’ and are transmissible between animals and humans. Research shows that 75 percent of all new human pathogens originate from animal sources.

Campylobacter, which is normally associated with eating undercooked chicken, can be associated with pets, especially dogs. Recent research shows that many dogs carry these bacteria without showing any signs of disease. Poor hygiene, such as not hand-washing before eating can spread the disease from dogs to people. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 15, 2017

Labour’s water plan ‘dangerous, deceitful’, says Marlborough grapegrower – Oliver Lewis:

A Marlborough grapegrower has blasted Labour’s irrigation policy as “dangerous” and “deceitful”.

Wine Marlborough deputy chairman Simon Bishell said it was populist electioneering that would “drive a deeper wedge between the rural and urban divide”.

The Caythorpe Family Estate grower said international wine markets were incredibly competitive and any extra charge would put New Zealand exporters at a disadvantage. . . 

Concern for Hawke’s Bay farmers, growers over “water tax” – Victoria White:

Concerned members of Hawke’s Bay primary sector have waded into the debate on a Labour Party proposal for a royalty on commercial water.

Yesterday Labour leader Jacinda Ardern revealed their freshwater policy, which included charging an unspecified royalty on commercial water, with the revenue going to local regional councils to be used to clean up rivers, lakes and streams.

This royalty would include water bottlers, and farmers taking water for irrigation schemes. . . 

Horticulture New Zealand Responds to Scaremongering Claims:

Reacting to claims yesterday from Labour’s water tax spokesperson David Parker that its level of “scaremongering around this would make Donald Trump blush”, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says this is a disappointing way to start a policy discussion about water and land use.

“Since Labour announced last week that it planned to tax fruit and vegetable growers’ use of water, I have been contacted by many of our growers asking that Horticulture New Zealand speak out about this tax and its direct impact on the cost of healthy food,” Chapman says.

“The tax confuses water users with water polluters – they are not one and the same – and implies that people on municipal water supply already pay for water, when in fact nobody pays for water. The costs they are talking about relate to the infrastructure required to source water. . .  

Positive perception important to farmers – Sally Rae:

Dean Rabbidge is an advocate for telling the good stories in farming.

Mr Rabbidge (32), a Glenham sheep, beef and dairy farmer, is intent on not only growing his own farming business, but also defending what he views as a “bad rap” that farming receives from some.

He recently became a trustee and member of the Three Rivers Catchment Group, which was established to engage with all sectors of the community and educate around the management of fresh water.

The group comprised about 12 trustees, who were all farmers and who wanted to engage with the community around water quality issues. The catalyst for its formation was Environment Southland’s proposed Water and Land Plan.

Mr Rabbidge encouraged people to “do the right thing” and showcase best management practice. He wanted to “get some good noise” out there with all the good stuff that was happening, he said. . . 

Understanding meat behind marketing – Sally Rae:

When it comes to marketing meat, Wayne Cameron is in the enviable position of having experienced first-hand all aspects of the chain — from producer to restaurateur.

Mr Cameron has been heavily involved with the Silere alpine origin merino meat brand  established six years ago.

Originally a joint venture between the New Zealand Merino Company and Silver Fern Farms,  SFF later withdrew from the venture and Alliance Group took it up.

Mr Cameron’s latest role is as marketing manager premium products at Alliance Group, overseeing not only Silere but also Te Mana lamb, and other yet-to-be launched products, including a beef label due to be rolled out soon. . . 

NZ sheep numbers decline at a slower annual pace as farmers rebuild flocks –  Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – The steady decline in New Zealand’s sheep numbers continued at a slower pace over the past year as farmers in some areas rebuilt their flocks following drought, natural disasters and the impact of facial eczema.

Sheep numbers reduced to an estimated 27.34 million as at June 30 from 27.58 million a year earlier, according to the latest survey from the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand. The annual 0.9 percent decline compares with last year’s 5.3 percent drop, and marks the fifth consecutive fall since 2012 when sheep numbers rose 0.4 percent. . . 

Farmers taking a hammering with One Plan, gorge closure :

“We won’t survive,” was Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis’ reaction to the Environment Court directed One Plan presented to Horizons Regional Council’s strategy and policy committee yesterday.

“The report is really scary,” Mrs Collis, an Eketahuna dairy farmer, said.

“We’ve seen the damage a loss of 30 per cent of business has meant to Woodville, with the close of State Highway 3 through the Manawatu Gorge. A drop in dairy farmer’s profit will be felt throughout our community,” she said. . . 

Otematata wetland project gets funding boost – Elena McPhee:

Volunteers are fencing, clearing willows, and planting 2200 native plants before spring for a wetlands restoration project at the head of Lake Aviemore. 

Another $15,000 has been granted for the conservation project as part of an ongoing Environment Canterbury initiative to fund biodiversity projects around the district. 

The Otematata Ratepayers Association received the grant from the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee to enhance another section of the 50 hectare Otematata Wetlands at the head of Lake Aviemore. 

The wetlands site is a popular recreation area, and is being restored by the community-led group.  . . 

Draft Report on Fonterra’s Base Milk Price Calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2016/17 dairy season.

The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which is set at $6.15 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2016/17 season just ended. The report does not cover the forecast 2017/18 price of $6.75 that Fonterra announced in July.

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

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said with the exception of the asset beta component of the cost of capital estimate, Fonterra’s calculation of the 2016/17 base milk price is consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of DIRA. . . 

Teacher resources bring primary industries into the classroom:

A new set of online resources will provide teachers with the information they need to help their students learn about New Zealand’s animal welfare, biosecurity and food systems, says Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston.

“The curriculum-linked resources are being rolled out so that teachers can help students to learn key knowledge and skills while also discovering how these key systems underpin the primary industries and play an important role in our economy, our environment and our way of life,” Ms Upston says. . . 

First female president of Agcarm:

Agcarm, the industry association which represents crop protection, animal health and rural supplier businesses, has appointed its first female president.

Dr Pauline Calvert heads the production animal business for MSD Animal Heath in New Zealand and was elected president at Agcarm’s annual meeting on July 27.

Under her presidency, Agcarm will continue to focus on promoting the responsible use of products, sustainable agriculture, environmental preservation, and sensible science-based regulation of crop protection and animal health products. . . 

Interesting Facts And Figures About The 2017 Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year National Final:

With the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year 2017 National Final looming closer (29th August 2017 at Villa Maria) the contestants are well into study mode, researching their projects, writing budgets, revising a wide range of subjects such as pests & diseases, soil nutrition, pruning, trellising and tractor skills to name but a few. Each of them is very determined to be this year’s winner.

Here are some interesting facts about the competition:

• 2017 will be the largest national final to date with SIX contestants . . 


Rural round-up

August 7, 2017

Community mourns farmer of the year – Ruby Harfield:

Farming and rugby communities are in shock after the sudden death of Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year Paul “Butch” Renton.

Mr Renton, who with wife of 27 years Marie accepted the 2017 Farmer of the Year title at the Hawke’s Bay Primary Sector Awards just four months ago, was found dead on Wednesday morning at Glenmore Station, the Mangatahi property west of Hastings on which he grew up. 

Police have said no foul play was involved and the matter has been referred to the coroner. . . 

The great food disruption: part 1 – Rosie Bosworth:

Milk without the cow, meatless burgers that bleed, chicken and shrimp made from plant matter, and now foie gras without a force-fed goose in sight. A new food revolution enabled by science and biotech is brewing and, if it succeeds, animals will have little to do with the future of food. For some, that future looks rosy, but, as Dr. Rosie Bosworth writes in part one of a series, the implications for New Zealand’s agricultural sector could be less than palatable. 

We humans love to romanticise things – and we particularly like to romanticise our food. When you think about that juicy burger at lunch, last night’s curry or this morning’s breakfast berry smoothie, it’s all too easy for us to imagine a happy cow called Daisy who spends her days roaming across lush rolling hills with her young nearby, leaping lambs, happy hens frolicking in the fields, and trusting, caring farmers, who lovingly ply their trade the old-fashioned way – tractor, straw hat and pitch fork in hand. . . 

Avocado thieves selling stolen fruit on black market:

Police have found small business owners in Bay of Plenty are purchasing stolen avocados, following a spate of orchard thefts in the region.

Police received nine reports of thefts in Western Bay of Plenty since May, and said there had been a number of avocado thefts in Tauranga to Katikati in the last month.

They had found that a number of retailers were accepting the stolen avocados to sell in-store. They urged store owners to support orchardists by only purchasing produce  from legitimate growers. . .

Blue Sky Meats posts $1.9M loss, signals review of unprofitable Gore beef plant –  Tina Morrison

 (BusinessDesk) – Blue Sky Meats, the Invercargill-based meat processor, posted a loss for the second year in a row and said the future of its unprofitable beef plant in Gore is under review.

The company reported a loss of $1.91 million, or 16.54 cents per share, in the 12 months ended March 31, from a loss of $1.96 million, or 16.98 cents, a year earlier, according to its annual report. Revenue slid 17 percent to $97.9 million. It won’t pay a dividend. . . 

Carbon budgets would provide ‘certainty’ for dairy sector:

DairyNZ has welcomed the release today of a report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, which recommends New Zealand approach climate change in a similar manner to the United Kingdom.

Dr Jan Wright recommends Government set up an independent Climate Change Commission to propose carbon budgets as stepping stones towards meeting greenhouse gas targets, which would provide certainty and transparency about how New Zealand climate change targets will be met..  .. . 

Australia gets closer to objective carcase measurement – Alan Barber:

In March I wrote about Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) plan to seek A$150 million from the Australian government to assist with the introduction of Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) objective carcase measurement (OCM) technology to all Australian meat plants. At that time neither the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) nor the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) were completely persuaded of the logic of committing the industry to such a large investment without further analysis and a robust business case.

The resulting review, performed by EY, has recommended that Australian meat processors and producers should go ahead with OCM projects in spite of a lack of consensus throughout the sector. The main finding confirms earlier studies which indicate significant benefits for both parts of the industry, if the technology is adopted. The review recommends AMPC and MLA to work together to achieve alignment between the two sectors which haven’t always agreed with each other. . . 

Farmers lift the lid on repro results:

It’s no secret that many New Zealand dairy farmers are struggling with herd reproduction and this is hurting their profitability. Yet there are some farmers out there achieving above-average repro results. What are they doing right?

Blake Korteweg: 78 percent six-week in-calf rate

Farm Facts
Location: Hedgehope, Southland

Farm size: 175ha (effective)
Herd size: 500 cows
Production: 203,000kg MS

When 50:50 sharemilker Blake Korteweg took over management of the family farm in South Otago from his father, the six-week in-calf rate was only 60 percent. Under his management, that’s climbed to 78 percent. The first change he made was to get mating down from 15 weeks to 11 weeks. . . 

Opening Agcarm conference – David Bennett:

 . .  Agricultural compounds and veterinary medicines, or ACVM, play an important role. Their use is essential to address animal welfare and to produce safe and suitable food we can sell with confidence in New Zealand and overseas.

Farmers and food producers around New Zealand depend on them to:
• improve the quantity and quality of their produce;
• keep people, animals and crops healthy; and
• reduce the spread of diseases, weeds, parasites and other pests. . . 

Planning is Key to Success in New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards:

The runners-up of the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year Award believe the earlier potential entrants begin preparing for the awards, the better, and they should be starting now.

Entries for the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Awards open in October, and Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos say gathering information and records takes time, and now is a good time to start this if they haven’t already. . . 

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Barbed wire, ruining farmers’ jeans since 1867.


Rural round-up

January 1, 2017

New Govt passing up prime opportunity for rural development:

The evidence this new Government will be no friend to farmers continues to stack up, National’s Primary Industry spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“During Question Time yesterday, I asked Regional Development Minister Shane Jones whether his $1 billion fund will support regional water storage and irrigation projects that can grow jobs and exports, and enhance the environment.

“Alarmingly, all he could say was that the final criteria for this fund is yet to be determined. . . 

Expanding global production set to increase competition in animal proteins sector in 2018:

Animal protein production is expected to expand around the world in 2018 increasing both trade competition and competition between different meat types, according to a new industry report from agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

Rabobank’s Global Outlook for animal protein in 2018 says production increases are likely in most regions with Brazil, China and the US expected to record particularly strong production growth. In New Zealand, beef and sheepmeat production is forecast to remain similar to 2017 levels.

The report says beef and pork will be the strongest contributors to global animal protein expansion – with global beef production projected to increase for a third consecutive year in 2018, and a further year of significant growth in pork production anticipated. . . 

CPTPP to the rescue – Allan Barber:

This is truly the age of acronyms – TPP morphed into TPP11 which has now added a couple of initials while actually shrinking in scope from its original intent. But unlikely as it has seemed at several points along its tortuous journey, the mother of all trade deals, or maybe now the stepmother, is still alive in spite of Trump’s and Trudeau’s unsubtle efforts to hijack it.

My major concern before the APEC meeting in Vietnam was the strong possibility the new government would withdraw from TPP11 as it sought to renegotiate the Investor State Dispute Settlement and foreign investment clauses, when all the other signatories were willing to accept them. I freely admit I was wrong to underestimate Labour’s commitment to free trade, while overestimating the influence of New Zealand First. In the lead up to the election all the signs pointed the opposite way, while the concession extracted by Winston Peters to pursue a trade agreement with Russia provided further evidence TPP and its successors may no longer be at the front of the queue. . . 

Beef + Lamb studies threat posed by alternative proteins, considers how to respond – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Beef + Lamb New Zealand is carrying out consumer research into alternative proteins in China and San Francisco in response to the rise of the rival products and wants to report back to the sector before the end of the year.

“What we have discovered is that for better or worse alternative protein is here. We are not seeing it as a replacement for now, but we are definitely seeing it as an alternative for certain types of consumers. The consumer research that we doing is to understand who those consumers are and what’s driving that behaviour,” Damien Cullinan, market innovation manager for Beef + Lamb, told BusinessDesk. . . 

New app to bring in water allowance sharing – Tracy Neal:

Farmers and growers in Marlborough will soon have use of an online tool that tells them how much water they can use on a given day.

The council is grappling with an increasing strain on water supplies, with projections for demand and the effects of climate change showing it is likely to get worse.

A new cloud-based digital system, from which users will be able to download information to a portable device, was presented to councillors at a meeting in Blenheim yesterday.

Gerald Hope of the council’s environment committee said the tool would allow real-time information that would lead to better use of water. . . 

New Zealand farmers and growers welcome EU glyphosate decision:

New Zealand farmers and growers welcome an EU majority decision backing a five-year extension to glyphosate’s licence, which was due to expire next month.

Glyphosate, a herbicide widely-used in agriculture and by gardeners, is “an efficient and cost-effective means to keeping our agricultural economy growing, our environment protected, and our country weed-free,” says Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross.

“The decision is good news for farmers as they won’t be forced to find an alternative solution for use on exports,” adds Ross. . . 

$21 million Government & dairy research collaboration to improve waterways:

The dairy sector welcomes the Government’s announcement today that it will invest alongside farmers in a seven-year $21 million research partnership that will boost the current effort to clean up rural waterways.

Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment, Dr Megan Woods, confirmed today MBIE will provide $8.4 million towards the project which aims to tackle the difficult nitrogen leaching question, nitrogen being one of the nutrients impacting water quality.

A further $11.5 million will be invested by dairy farmers through the levy they pay to DairyNZ, with additional funding support to make up the $21 million coming from CRV Ambreed and Fonterra. . . 

How NZ ag can stop getting beaten up –  St John Craner :

NZ Ag is always on the back foot. Despite the rhetoric from leaders in industry about how we need to tell our story better, we continue to be out-gunned by lobby groups like SAFE, PETA and Greenpeace. Whether it’s bobby calves, PKE, dirty dairying or most recently false free-range eggs, we’re always playing a defensive position that risks our social licence to operate.

NZ Ag could learn from those brands that have had the foresight and planning to build a strong equity. SouthWest airlines is a great example. When 9/11 occurred they were inundated with customers sending them cheques because they were worried about their viability. This was because their customer base had a fond affection for them and what they stood for: everyone has a democratic right to fly. When the botulism scare kicked in for Fonterra they found they had few friends. GSK’s Ribena got caught out after its false claims of Vitamin C was unearthed by two 14 year old school girls from Auckland. I doubt they’ve ever restored consumers’ trust. . .

NZ structural log prices rise to 24-year high, A-grade export logs hit record – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand structural log prices rose to the highest level in 24 years and A-grade export logs hit a record as local mills compete with the export market to secure supply for the domestic construction market amid strong demand from China.

The price for structural S1 logs increased to $130 a tonne this month, from $128 a tonne last month, marking the highest level since 1993, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. Export log prices lifted between $2-to-$5 a tonne for the majority of grades, with the price for A-Grade logs touching $128 a tonne, up from $127 a tonne last month and the highest level since AgriHQ began collecting the data in 2008.. . .

Jason Minkhorst to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients:

Senior Fonterra executive, Jason Minkhorst, has been confirmed as General Manager Sales for Ballance Agri-Nutrients, joining the farmer-owned Co-operative in early March 2018.

Jason is currently Director Farm Source Stores of Fonterra’s rural retail business, Farm Source, and has extensive commercial experience from more than 15 years in senior executive and governance roles in the dairy sector.

Ballance CEO, Mark Wynne, says Jason’s deep knowledge of agri-business and genuine passion for the primary sector will be hugely valuable as Ballance focuses on the changing needs of New Zealand farmers and growers – providing tailored nutrients and advisory services, backed by the best science and technology. . . 


Rural round-up

September 7, 2016

Techno-lucerne: getting the best out of bulls – Kate Taylor:

Driving into the sweeping park-like driveway of a Takapau farm, the last thing you think of is bulls. Kate Taylor found out why.

Nothing spells out spring more than lambs and daffodils.

You won’t find many woolly creatures on the Central Hawke’s Bay farm of Angus and Esther Mabin, apart from the ones keeping the grass down in the home paddock.

You will find daffodils though. Thousands of them planted across more than 8ha by Angus’ Mum Railene over 40 years and now sold as a fundraiser for CHB Plunket. Every September, giant-sized daffodil signs grace the side of SH2 south of Waipukurau and locals and visitors swarm to the farm known as Taniwha.

“It’s all hands on deck at this time of year. I tend to go and hide on the farm though… thistle spraying is a highly-productive occupation for me in September,” Angus laughs. . . 

Thinking Of Starting a Micro Dairy. Don’t Do It! – Milking on the Moove:

I’ve been selling milk from my micro dairy for over 1.5 years now. I started with 7 cows and I’m now milking 55 cows and selling milk all over Christchurch to some of the top cafe’s and restaurants.

I’m selling direct to the public as well and we are about to start supplying supermarkets too.

So things are going well. At least from the outside it looks successful.

Internally, it feels like a complete shit show in which I’m only just hanging on.

I now employ 2 full time staff and I literally work 14 hours a day 6 days a week. Which is exactly the opposite of what I set out to achieve. . . 

Marlborough companies ordered to remove grape byproduct – Mike Watson:

A Marlborough man with the goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable wine producer has again been ordered to remove a dump of grape byproduct after it leached into a waterway. 

Peter Yealands was handed an abatement notice by the Marlborough District Council to remove grape marc after thousands of tonnes were dumped on leased farmland on the eastern Wither Hills, south of Blenheim, during this year’s harvest.

He was previously issued an abatement notice by the council in 2014 for grape marc sites on six properties in Seddon. . . 

What happened when the apple dropped – Rob Mitchell:

Rob Mitchell talks to a scientist whose chance encounter with an apple took her into food science and engineering.

“A trail of serendipity.” That’s how Auckland academic Bryony James describes her career so far.

It’s a trail that began in Cornwall, England, and has taken her halfway round the world to an idyllic five-acre property in the Waitakere Ranges and a prominent role as deputy dean of the Faculty of Engineering in the city’s university.

Much to the benefit of the New Zealand dairy industry and the wider economy.

Between those two points the path has been diverted and redirected by a distaste for British politics, a chance meeting in a student pub,  an awkward coffee in a McDonald’s and the nudge of a Newtonian apple.

Let’s start in the pub.  . . 

Bee and agrichemical industry join to promote bee safety:

Agcarm and Apiculture New Zealand have announced the release of a campaign to increase awareness of the importance of keeping bees safe by using agrichemicals responsibly.

The campaign highlights the need for farmers and beekeepers to work together to manage the use of agrichemicals near hives. A flyer and poster have been produced on how to protect bees from unintended exposure to agrichemicals as well as tips on reducing risks to bees.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says “bees are extremely good pollinators of crops, so contribute substantially to New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar agricultural economy.” . . 

What’s up with my #60 Acres? Uptown Farms:

I  love the emails I have been getting asking about #My60Acres!  The summer has gotten away from me so before we get much closer to harvesting I wanted to share with you some more from the growing season!

If I had to describe this growing season in one word it would be “blessed”.  After the initial cold spell right after planting, we have had rain and temperatures that are ideal for growing corn – at least right here.  Some of our neighbors have had way too much rain – some as much as 10+ inches in 24 hours, and some of our neighbors are too dry.  But we have gotten very timely rains in manageable amounts.

Unfortunately, the corn prices are reflecting the good growing conditions much of the corn belt is experiencing and even with good yields it’s going to be a very hard season financially. . . 

Freshwater Salmon Industry Consolidates:

Queenstown-based Mount Cook Alpine Salmon (MCAS) has announced the purchase of South Canterbury salmon company, Aoraki Smokehouse Salmon Ltd.

Both companies operate Freshwater King Salmon farms on the South Canterbury hydro canals in the MacKenzie district.

MCAS has a current production of just over 1000 tonnes of salmon and Aoraki produces just under 600 tonnes of salmon a year.

“The purchase is a logical step in the growth of the business with the majority of MCAS production going to high-end overseas customers, while Aoraki’s production, particularly its sought-after smoked salmon products, is highly regarded in the domestic market,” says MCAS Chief Executive, David Cole. . . 

EPA grounds aerial spraying application:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has declined an application for the insecticide Exirel to be also used as an aerial spray to control stock crop pests.

DuPont Limited applied to extend the use of Exirel to allow aerial spraying over uneven terrain and during wet conditions. Exirel contains the active ingredient cyantraniliprole, and is already approved for ground-based use to control caterpillars and aphids in fodder brassica crops, such as turnips, swede, forage, rape and kale. . . 

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No farmers, no food, no future.


Glyphosate unlikely to cause cancer – EPA

August 15, 2016

Glyphosate,  is unlikely to cause cancer in people, according to a new safety review by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

It’s a herbicide widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, and one of the most common brands using it is Roundup which has been targeted by people and organisations opposed to sprays.

The report commissioned by the EPA concludes that based on the weight of evidence, ‘the broad-spectrum herbicide is unlikely to be carcinogenic and should not be classified as a mutagen or carcinogen under the HSNO Act’. This is the latest in a long line of technical and scientific reports by expert bodies and regulators confirming the safety of glyphosate.

Agcarm chief executive, Mark Ross says, “I urge our councils and communities to take heed of this report and rest assured that the use of glyphosate in our parks, gardens and play areas poses no threat to the health of our people, pets or children.

“Glyphosate is an efficient and cost-effective means to keeping our country weed-free, our agricultural economy growing, and our environment protected.”

Agcarm commends the EPA for conducting this review and addressing the concerns that the public has raised about the herbicide. The results help to curtail the fear-mongering around the use of crop protection products – which are among the most highly-regulated substances in the world.

Experts from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) recently concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.”

The European Food Safety Authority, an independent agency funded by the European Union, also concluded that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans”.

“I anticipate that we can put this matter to bed and continue to use a very practical, economic and safe solution – so we can keep our parks and gardens weed-free,” says Ross.

Glyphosate has recorded over 40 years of safe use and has been the subject of over 800 studies, all of which confirmed its safety. It continues to be rigorously tested by regulators in New Zealand and throughout the world, with more than 160 countries approving its safe use.

Unlikely to be carcinogenic  is unlikely to satisfy those most strongly opposed to glyphosate but there are few absolute certainties in these matters and it is virtually impossible to say anything is 100% safe. Even water, on which all life depends, can kill if ingested in sufficient quantities.

Agcarm is the industry association of companies which manufacture, distribute and sell products which include glyphosate and is not a disinterested party but the EPA is unbiased and bases its finding on research.

Its report is here and concludes that there is no convincing evidence of an association between glyphosate exposure and the development of cancer in humans. .


Rural round-up

August 3, 2016

DairyNZ: break-even cost pared back as farmers lift efficiency:

Industry body DairyNZ says the increased dividend and the maintained $4.25 per kg MS Fonterra Farmgate Milk Price is some good news for farmers with shares.

But another positive is also emerging – New Zealand dairy farmers have sharpened their systems and reduced costs through this sustained low milk price period.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says while the milk price will continue to keep pressure on farmers this season, the industry’s performance in cost-cutting on-farm means break-even costs have been reduced. . . 

TB Differential Levy:

New Zealand’s meat processors have for some years collected a single uniform biosecurity levy on beef and dairy cattle at meat processors to pay for the costs of TB eradication. Following a review undertaken last year, the Government and DairyNZ agreed that dairy farmers shall pay for a greater share of their share contribution to TB eradication via a differential levy paid on dairy cattle at meat processors.

Meat processors opposed this differential levy on dairy cattle at meat processing. Meat processors believe that it is contrary to good public policy for costs to be charged at the point of production where they do not arise – in this case, costs incurred by dairy farmers should have been met by a charge on their dairy production, rather than through a complex system of differentiating dairy and beef cattle at meat processing. . . 

Walker First Woman to Walk Away with Rural Real Estate Award:

Katie Walker accepts her award from Brennon Skipper (CEO of realestate.co.nz).

Taumarunui farmer Katie Walker, is the first woman to receive the coveted REINZ Rural Rising Star of the Year award.

Katie has made her mark, after her first year in the traditionally male dominated rural sector of the real estate industry. She joined the Property Brokers rural team three weeks after her second baby was born. “I had been in rural retail trade for years, left to have a family and wanted to come back to something more flexible,” she said.

“I went for the interview and I knew this was it.”

Independent travellers bring tourism dollar to new regions:

A new report into New Zealand’s tourism sector says travellers are looking to regional New Zealand for a more ‘authentic’ Kiwi experience.

In its latest report on the tourism sector, consumer behaviour analysts Marketview has looked at the spending patterns of tourists around the country, and Managing Director Stephen Bridle says the results mean good news for regional New Zealand.

“Our figures show confident, independent tourists want unique and authentic experiences centred on specific interests. Those here for cycling, golf, fishing and even shopping can find something uniquely Kiwi almost anywhere in the country.” . . 

Wood and carbon values boost forest interest:

Significant rises in New Zealand carbon prices and positive prospects for exported timber may signal a renaissance for forest plantings, with new opportunities for landowners and investors alike in coming years.

Since April the value of carbon prices in New Zealand have almost doubled to $18/tonne after languishing as low as $2.50 a tonne only two years ago.

Meantime log prices have remained relatively firm, sitting $15 a tonne above their five year average with some strong price signals over the past year coming from traditional markets including China and increasing market share to India and South Korea. As of May export values were up 6% in value on a year to year basis. . . 

Agcarm President Mark Christie to the 69th Agcarm Annual Conference:

New Zealand farmers and growers have been exporting food and fibre for over 150 years. Our primary industry export revenue is estimated to reach over $36.7 billion in the year ending June 2016.

Over this time innovation and research based science has allowed New Zealand farmers and growers to become world leaders in productivity and quality – with New Zealand well placed to help feed a growing global population.

These gains are increasingly at risk due to the politicising of science which is leading to its marginalisation. So arguing for sensible science is one of our industries greatest challenges. . . 

Production imminent at NZ’s first commercial scale biodiesel plant:

New Zealand’s first commercial-scale biodiesel plant today received its first delivery of inedible tallow, which enables the beginning of biodiesel production.

Z Energy’s $26 million biodiesel plant at Wiri, Auckland, is now in the commissioning phase and will start to produce high quality, sustainable biodiesel later this month. At the plant’s peak of production it will produce 20 million litres of biodiesel, which will be supplied as a biodiesel / mineral diesel blend to both commercial and retail customers across much of the upper half of the North Island.

Z’s General Manager of Supply and Distribution, David Binnie, said the delivery of tallow was a milestone which has been years in the making. . . 

Ten Year Milestone for Central Otago Wine Industry Ambassador Programme:

Telling the world about Central Otago’s wines and proving to people who sell those wines just how spectacular they are, is the job of Central Otago Pinot Noir Ltd (COPNL).

COPNL’s latest group of brand ambassadors flew out of Queenstown airport at the end of last week, marking the completion of COPNL’s tenth iconic ‘E’Sensual’ event.

E’Sensual has been part of the Central Otago wine industry’s event calendar each year since 2007, and is targeted at international and national wine specialists who enjoy a first-hand taste of what the region’s wine industry has to offer. The 2016 E’Sensual marked the tenth anniversary of the event and celebrated the 150th E’Sensual guest hosted in the region. . . 

PGG Wrightson says annual profit rose about 20%; shares gain –  Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson shares gained 4.5 percent after it said full-year profit rose about 20 percent and operating earnings beat guidance, which had already been upgraded on the strength of the horticulture and beef sectors.

The Christchurch-based company today said trading beat expectations “due to a variety of factors” and that operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation exceeded $68 million in the year ended June 30. Wrightson raised its earnings forecast in June, predicting ebitda of between $65 million and $68 million in the year, though down from $69.6 million in 2015. . . 


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