Rural round-up

March 7, 2020

Farm confidence – already bruised by the effects of drought – becomes a victim of Covid-19 – Point of Order:

As the country’s  front-line export  sector,  NZ agriculture  is  bearing  the brunt of the global  trade slowdown.  ANZ Bank’s chief  economist  Sharon Zollner says  the  human and  economic damage from the  Covid-19 outbreak is taking a  heavy toll on sentiment in the agriculture  sector.

“Our  best  hope is that the  disruption proves  short-lived but there is not   question the export-oriented  sector is  reeling”.

Authorities   such  as  Keith Woodford  believe NZ, as well as most of the world,  will head into recession.  Woodford contends the key issue becomes rapid support for those who lose their employment.

He  sees  a  “considerable  risk” that the government and Reserve Bank will use the wrong macro tools. . .

The problem with vegans and climate change – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Veganism is a distraction from the major climate change issues of increase in population and lifestyle, including travel, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

Farmers cannot grow whatever food they like.

This is contrary to ongoing statements in the media, from, for instance the Vegan Society.

Quite apart from the legal restraints to do with type of crop and chemicals that can be used, there are temperature, rainfall, soil and topographical constraints. . .

Court to rule on M Bovis compo – Annette Scott:

The Mycoplasma bovis compensation battle has ramped up following a High Court ruling it is allowed to decide what farmers can be repaid for.

In October last year lawyer Grant Cameron sought a judicial review, on behalf of the van Leeuwen farming group, of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ compensation system.

The van Leeuwens, the first to have the cattle disease confirmed in New Zealand, claim they have been left $3million out of pocket. . . 

Future fails to make present – Neal Wallace:

The present has caught up with AgResearch’s Future Footprint plans which are now a thing of the past. It is now going it alone at Lincoln but collaborating with Massey University in Palmerston North and will keep its centres at Ruakura and Invermay. Neal Wallace reports.

AGRESEARCH has abandoned elements of its Future Footprint proposal begun eight years ago and will keep its four national campuses but expand two.

The original plan was to severely downsize its Invermay campus near Dunedin and Ruakura in Hamilton with the focus on centres at Lincoln and Palmerston North.

Acting chief executive Tony Hickmott says the plan now is to retain all four sites and construct new buildings at Palmerston North, which is under way, and Lincoln. . . 

Magic tonic needed to open wallets – Pam Tipa:

Rain is the magic tonic in the farming community, says Northland based AgFirst consultant Tafi Manjala.

But without it the sentiment going into the Northland Field Days from the farming community will likely to be “cautious”, he says.

“When it is raining and things are going well people are more buoyant and positive about the future,” Manjala told Rural News.

“They feel more confident about things, they can justify to themselves why they can have some discretionary expenditure at the field days. . . 

Agrifeeds invests in increased precision blending and storage:

Agrifeeds have started the new decade in a strong position, having invested significantly in new blending and storage facilities to help increase their nutritional offer to customers.

Following the opening late last year of two new storage facilities in New Plymouth and Marsden Point in Northland, two new blending operations have also been built in each location. . .


Rural round-up

January 1, 2020

South Waikato dairy farmer recognised in New Year honours – Gerald Piddock:

Championing the rights of sharemilkers has seen Tony Wilding recognised in the New Years honours list.

The dairy farmer, who farms at Okoroire in South Waikato, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his work in the dairy industry and the community.

He said his initial reaction when he found out was disbelief. Once it sunk in, he began to realise how special it was.

“I”m pretty delighted and particularly my family who have seen me doing such a lot of stuff that was unpaid for in a lot of areas.” . .

Prices strong, farmers low – report – David Anderson:

Despite generally strong commodity prices, farmer confidence remains at near record lows, according to the latest Agri Focus report from ANZ Bank.

“Confidence at the farm level remains subdued despite returns being near record levels,” the bank’s December 2019 report says.

“Farmers remain concerned as to how future environmental legislation will impact the profitability of their business.”

It adds that dairy land values are also under pressure for the same reason.  . .

LAND CHAMPION: Wool fashions farming’s future– Hugh Stringleman:

New Zealand Merino chief executive John Brakenridge has seen the future of the primary sector and pioneered many of its elements well in advance of most farmers, their processors and exporters.

Few people in NZ can claim the transformation of a primary industry through their life’s work and fewer still have taken the principles uncovered beyond their home industry for the betterment of the sector.

All that has been done by Brakenridge’s ideas, enthusiasm, business relationships and persistence.

The forging of long-term supply contracts between wool growers and apparel brands like . . 

Going green makes money – Jenny Ling:

A Northland farming family is adding value and creating extra income by supplying milk in glass bottles direct to customers. Jenny Ling reports.

Far North sharemilkers Gav Hogarth and Jody Hansen knew they needed a plan B when Fonterra announced a forecast milk payout with a three in front of it.

The couple had been milking their herd of pedigree Jerseys on a conventional, twice-daily milking system for five years at their Kawakawa farm when the dairy co-operative dropped the milk payout from $4.15 a kilogram of milksolids to $3.90 in early 2016. 

“At $3 you’re not making any money and farming is not sustainable at that level,” Gav says.

“The options were either I went back to work or we would have to borrow money to feed the cows,” Jody says. . . 

Contract milking offers opportunities – Pam Tipa:

Contract milking is a good introduction to self-employment, says Northland AgFirst consultant Kim Robinson.

Her advice to young people wanting to go 50/50 sharemilking is, to do one year of contracting milking first.

“Contract milking teaches people how to become self-employed, to run their own businesses . .

Global wardrobe study:

Our wardrobes are growing, which comes as no surprise given fibre production for clothing and the amount of clothes produced, is on the rise. But, like most things in life, we have options. Consumers have the power to choose what they wear and this choice can ultimately have a huge impact on what designers, brands and retailers produce.

For many, it may come as a surprise that our love for clothing is putting a strain on the environment. And with phrases such as “climate crisis” becoming the new normal, it’s time for individuals to pay attention to everyday habits. One small action, as insignificant as it may seem, can cumulatively have enormous impact. From wearing our clothes for longer, doing laundry less frequently, or paying attention to what our clothes are actually made of, consumers have the power to make a difference and influence brands’ business decisions.

This report examines consumer wardrobe and laundry behaviours, offering solutions to help reduce our impact on the environment every day. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 12, 2019

Flawed policies will bite future growth, Federated Farmers warns:

Before giving thought to splurging funds from the surplus, Finance Minister Grant Robertson should check on the effects some of his colleagues’ policies are having on the economy, Federated Farmers says.

“The warning signs are there as growth in provincial economies slows – predominantly because of a significant drop in farmer confidence, not any fall in product prices.  As any economist knows, a drop in provincial growth will flow through to hit national growth,” Feds commerce and trade spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

There have been media reports that the sharp fall in log prices is hitting employment in regions such as Northland and the East Coast and sentiment in key dairy regions such as the Waikato, Taranaki, Manawatu and Southland is fragile due to concerns about government policy. . . 

Farmers welcome trade envoy appointment:

Farmers are welcoming the appointment of Tararua farmer Mel Poulton to the position of Special Agricultural Trade Envoy for New Zealand.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says Poulton will be “a great representative of New Zealand farming”.

“She has a very good appreciation of the importance of trade to New Zealand and to the primary sector.

“Mel can also handle a dog around a hillside better than any man I’ve ever watched, which should be an indication of the patience and skill she will bring to wrangling with international free trade agreements and getting good deals for New Zealand.” . . 

Banking on gumboot move :

It’s a change of scenery, customer and supply chain for Skellerup’s incoming agri division head, Hayley Gourley.

The high profile former chief of Rabobank’s New Zealand operations has been with Skellerup, the owner of the iconic Red Band gumboot, for just under a month.

The Christchurch company was an instant switch for Gourley (nee Moynihan), whose presence at Rabobank gave the Dutch owned, global bank a Kiwi identity and voice in the agri industry.

At Skellerup she is managing a range of products and people, enjoying the initial feel of working for a national “household name,” she says. . . 

Scholarships address need for farming apprentices:

Scholarships address need for farming and horticulture apprentices

Primary ITO is responding to the urgent need for skilled workers in agriculture and horticulture by launching a scholarship programme for apprentice fees.

Applications for the scholarships are open for October and November and will cover fees for the whole duration of the apprenticeship programmes, which generally take 2-3 years. . . 

Carrot prices down to seven year low:

Carrots are the cheapest they have been in seven years, while prices for capsicums, tomatoes, and cucumbers are falling sharply as spring arrives, Stats NZ said today.

This has been partly offset by a spike in courgette and broccoli prices, leaving overall fruit and vegetable prices down just 1.9 percent in September.

“Fruit and vegetable prices typically fall in September as the warmer weather arrives and more stock begins to hit the shelves,” consumer prices manager Sarah Johnson said. . .

French farmers blockade roads in protest against ‘agri bashing’:

Angry French farmers blockaded major roads in the country yesterday over fears that ‘agri bashing’ is increasingly becoming the norm.

Protests occurred on Tuesday (8 October) as farmers become more and more concerned with the media’s representation of the industry.

Unions FNSEA and Jeunes Agriculteurs (Young Farmers), which organised the blockades, called on members to use tractors to bring traffic to a standstill. . . 

 


Hug a farmer

August 20, 2019

Jill Thorp says farmers have had enough of being told they are to blame for climate change:

If you leave your car running in the garage overnight and sleep next to it, you’ll be dead in the morning. If you put five cows, five sheep and five pigs in the garage overnight and sleep next to them, you will warm and alive. We need to get real about the effects of these gases.

We also need to take the nutrient value into account. Running cars produce no nutrients, raising animals provides nutritious food. Most of New Zealand’s is exported and feeds about 40 million people, nearly 10 times the country’s population.

Not my words, but those of a New Zealand farmer, tired of being continuously blamed for global warming. I also learnt recently that depending on the time of day and year, there are 8,000 to 20,000 planes mid flight at any given moment. Yet the accusatory finger of blame for rising temperatures, extreme weather and flooding seems to be pointed firmly in the direction of farmers.

Producing food is necessary, how many of those flights could be called necessary?

I’m tired of being told we as farmers are responsible for so much damage, that it is us that must cease our environmentally destructive ways. What short memories the general public seem to have. Have we not fed a nation for generations, even during times of crisis?

Without the labours of farmers, the country would have been starved into submission during the First World War, but still the criticism rains down on us.

As hill farmers we are told to re-wet the uplands, block up the drains and gullies to prevent flooding. But when that bucket becomes full, that sponge saturated, where will the water go then? . . 

This is the view of an English farmer and her anger is shared by farmers all over the world, not least in New Zealand. We’re the only country where the government is proposing to tax emissions from farm animals and Politik warns of more to come:

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones is warning that dairy farmers may find themselves struggling when they have to meet new Government environmental requirements likely to be unveiled within the next few weeks. . . 

{David} Parker is proposing a National Environmental Standard on freshwater which is essentially a regulation which local Councils must enforce, usually through their planning process.

Speaking in Northland a week ago he said the Government would shortly set clearer and stronger national direction for councils on freshwater standards.

The standard is expected to set nitrate discharge limits for farms.

It is expected these will be expressed in such a way as to make it all but impossible to convert non-dairy land to dairying from now on. . . 

Will these standards apply only to farming? What about the many councils with inferior storm water and sewerage systems that allow regular pollution of waterways?

Federated Farmers asks why are we only talking about farming?

New data from Statistics New Zealand makes it clear every sector of our society, including families, need to lift their game on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s just as we’ve been saying for years on the topic of water quality, we’re all in this together and we’ll solve it by everyone doing their bit,” Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

Stats NZ’s “Environmental-economic accounts” shows that emissions from households, mainly from their transport use decisions, jumped 19.3% in the decade to 2017, outstripping both growth in the population and emissions by industry.

Farmers produce food, most of which is exported which brings many benefits to New Zealand. I doubt much of the household transport had more than a personal benefit.

The nation’s total emissions decreased by 0.9% between 2007 and 2017, with greenhouse gases emitted by agriculture dropping at a rate of 0.1% each year.  These small reductions came during a decade when agriculture’s contribution to GDP grew at a rate of 1.8%, indicating increased production efficiency.

Growth in dairy emissions was offset by reductions by sheep, beef and grain farming.

“New Zealand has an unusual emissions profile worldwide because we rely so much on our primary industries to earn our living in the world.  However, carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, not methane from animals, is the real climate change culprit and instead of expecting farmers to do all the heavy lifting, it’s time for every New Zealander to look at their lifestyles and choices, particularly in terms of transport,” Hoggard says.

“Planting out thousands of hectares of productive farmland with pine trees isn’t a long-term and sustainable answer to the problem.”

The right tree in the right place for the right reason is a good policy.

Subsidising forestry to incentivise planting pines on productive farmland is bad policy with a high economic, environmental and social cost.

Climate alarmists and other critics of farming are quick to criticise. They conveniently overlook the positive contribution farmers make to the environment, for example nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s native vegetation is on sheep and beef farms:

A report from the University of Canterbury has revealed that 24 per cent of New Zealand’s native vegetation cover (approximately 2.8 million hectares) is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms. This is the largest amount of native vegetation present outside of public conservation land.

The report also estimates that 1.4 million hectares of New Zealand’s native forest is on sheep and beef farms and is likely playing a vital, but often unheralded role in supporting biodiversity and carbon sequestration.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) CEO Sam McIvor says, “This is a great acknowledgement for our farmers and the work they’re doing as stewards of the land. I hear sheep and beef farmers talking every day about what they’re doing on farm to support biodiversity and it’s great we now have evidence to back up their passionate voices”.

The report, commissioned by B+LNZ, was undertaken by Professor David Norton from the University of Canterbury’s School of Forestry. Supported by Auckland University of Technology staff, the report used satellite imagery to assess the amount of native vegetation, focusing on native forest, occurring on sheep and beef farms in New Zealand.

“The 2.8 million hectares of native vegetation on sheep and beef farms are critical for biodiversity conservation on farms and for landscape-level biodiversity outcomes,” says Professor Norton.

This finding is particularly important in places where there is little native cover remaining, like those in lower altitudes, on more gentle slopes, and in drier regions,” says Professor Norton.

B+LNZ’s Sam McIvor says, “The environment is a cornerstone for our sector and underpins everything that we do at Beef + Lamb New Zealand. This report helps highlight not only the role sheep and beef farms currently play in contributing to New Zealand’s biodiversity, but will also help us identify opportunities to build on this as a sector”.

The report is also relevant to the proposed zero carbon legislation. While further research is needed, the 1.4 million hectares of native forest will be sequestering carbon and most of this is unlikely to be counted in the current Emissions Trading Scheme. Further research is now being undertaken to measure the potential of this native forest to sequester carbon, and this work will help inform B+LNZ’s and farmers’ input into the Zero Carbon Bill.

Along with surveying the extent of native vegetation, the report highlights that New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector is potentially unique globally in terms of the amount of native forest on its land.

The release of this report is one of the first steps for B+LNZ in implementing its environment strategy, which aims for clean freshwater around farms, for the sector to be carbon neutral by 2050, for sheep and beef farms to provide habitats that support thriving biodiversity, and to support healthy productive soils.

New Zealand farmers are recognised around the world as the most efficient producers of food but like prophets are too often not appreciated at home.

National’s Primary Industry spokesman Todd Muller is leading the charge to move from condemning farmers to celebrating them.

It is time to call out the deliberate narrative, being fuelled by this Government that our agriculture sector, and the farming families that underpin it, are climate and environmental villains.

It started over a decade ago with the dirty dairying campaign and has now widened to include all our animal food producing sectors.

These voices are no longer at the extreme of our community debate but rather at the centre of our government.

At the core of their belief is that our future world cannot sustain animal food production and we should start weaning ourselves off the animal protein diet in order to improve our health and environment. . . 

We need to move the conversation from condemnation to celebration.

The fact is that New Zealand’s farming systems are extremely efficient, and we lead the way in producing high quality products within a low emissions profile.

And we do it without subsidies.

Our environmental footprint is improving as technology is matched by our farmers’ ever willingness to adapt, change and innovate.

Our primary sector understands our reputation as a safe producer of food must be underpinned by sustainable farming practices.

They accept change is a constant, in fact global leadership in food production demands it, but surely it is reasonable to ask that the society in which we produce it to quietly applaud our efforts, rather than rushing to find an example of failure in one of our 23,000 farms and dressing it up as typical.

Tarring all farmers with the dirty brush a very few deserve is unfair and unjustified.

Of course, too much meat can be detrimental, and clearly plant-based foods are essential for a balanced diet. But the health benefits of including meat and dairy in your diet are well documented and a balanced diet must be encouraged.

A recent briefing from MPI’s Chief Science Advisor into the EAT-Lancet Commission report showed that many of the reports condemning meat and dairy production are using generalisations regarding the environmental footprint of farming, and are not taking New Zealand’s superior farming systems into consideration.

Globally, the concerns around red meat production stems from the intensive feedlot industry that can house tens of thousands of animals at each site, and require excessive amounts of water and grain to maintain their systems.

New Zealand farms are overwhelmingly pasture based. Our farming systems are not comparable in the least to a feedlot system.

It’s neither fair, nor accurate,to paint us with the brush that tars far less efficient producers in other countries.

It’s telling that we can produce enough food to feed 40 million people globally and are still the most carbon efficient producer in the world based on output of food compared to emissions produced.

A glass of New Zealand milk can be shipped to the next most efficient country (Ireland) to be consumed there, and it still has a lower carbon footprint than an equivalent Irish glass of milk.

This shows how ahead of the curve we really are. The UK Guardian responded to the recent climate change report by declaring – ‘Eat more NZ Lamb’. This seems to be lost in the ninth floor of the Beehive. . . 

New Zealand is at the forefront of efficient food production, and therefore if we’re to lower our global emissions we should be leading the way, not constraining ourselves and diminishing our output.

The world needs more food produced efficiently as we do it, not less.

One final reality check – 56 per cent of New Zealand’s exports are food.

New Zealand is a little country at the bottom of the world that needs to produce stuff to survive.

Every time we buy pharmaceuticals, cars or computers from the rest of the world we need to pay for it by selling them something. As a country with a small population but a large natural resource base, this tends to be food and materials, minerals or tourism.

This is a very important point that those who pull farming down miss. Farming isn’t something farmers do for their own sakes. They do it to produce the food the world wants and pays for which in turn pays for the imports we don’t, and often can’t, produce ourselves.

This Government has already shown a recklessness when it comes to our oil, gas and mining sectors.

Let’s not allow them to take the same approach to our farmers. Our standard of living depends on it.

A Labour government led us into the ag-sag of the 1980s. Some might argue about the way forcing us to face the real world without subsidies was done, but no good farmer wants them back because farming, and New Zealand are better without them.

That can’t be said about the current poor policies.  Farmers are deeply afraid that the anti-farming policies of this Labour-led government will create another ag-sag, the effects of which will be harsher and far longer-lasting than last century’s.

Anyone who thinks that’s okay should remember that most farmers managed to hang onto their farms during the ag-sag, it was the businesses which serviced and supplied them where jobs were lost and which often failed. The impact of that moved from the country to towns and then cities.

Farming is a handy scapegoat for people taking a political and bureaucratic response to environmental challenges rather than a scientific one but it’s still a major contributor to New Zealand’s economic and social fabric.

That’s why Proud To Be A Farmer was set up a few years ago:

[It]is a campaign aimed at raising the positive profile of agriculture, raising the morale of Farmers and reminding the rural community and the agriculture sector, and indeed New Zealand as a whole, that we have much to be proud of in the Farming industry. We tell the good stories of New Zealand Agriculture, providing much needed balance, and inspiring people to take Pride in their Farms and Farmers.

More recently, Ag Proud NZ was set up on Facebook to focus on good farming practices and the mental health of farmers.

Yesterday Jesse Mulligan interviewed the managing director of AGFIRST, James Allen, on the rising costs of farming .

In response to a question on what people could do to help, he said hug a farmer.

The vast majority of New Zealanders probably don’t know any farmers well enough to hug them, but all should look behind the emotion and false claims that are damning the industry and as Muller says, move from condemnation to celebration.

 

 


Rural round-up

July 24, 2019

No way yet to measure emissions – Neal Wallace:

It is impossible to measure greenhouse gas emissions on individual farms and it appears modelling will be used to calculate tax bills when farm-level obligations are imposed from 2025.

Scientists are still working to develop technology and systems but earlier this year AgFirst economist Phil Journeaux and AgResearch scientist Cecile de Klein delivered a paper to New Zealand Agricultural Climate Change Conference saying it is impossible to measure farm level emissions.

The Interim Climate Change Committee and the Government both say farmers should pay for emissions from 2025 but the development of simple, cheap and credible technology to calculate those obligations still seems far off. . . 

Climate change – how can five per cent be a pass rate for farmers emissions deal? – Mike Hosking:

If talk was hot air then this Government would need to be part of the Emissions Trading Scheme and being paying large penalties for destroying the planet.

The deal has been struck, sort of, whereby agriculture gets dragged into our Emissions Trading Scheme. That’s the good news, if you think making business more expensive by piling on more costs is good news.

The rest of the news is that farmers will escape paying 95 per cent of the charges, which means they will pay, for example, 0.01 cents per kilo of milk solids. In other words having them in isn’t a lot different to not having them in, if in fact what you want to do is achieve something as opposed to making a lot of noise about it. . . 

Collective impact: how working together benefits the environment– Agrigate:

‘What are you doing!?’ Trish exclaimed to friends who failed to put bottles in the recycling bin at a dinner party she was hosting. This was the lightbulb moment which kickstarted her passion for change – to educate farmers on the importance of working together, to create a better environment.

South Taranaki farmer, Trish Rankin, was recently named the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year. This award is significant, as it recognises the work she is doing beyond her own farm gate to make an impact in the wider industry.

Trish is not afraid to take on a challenge. She’s completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, focusing on how a circular economy model can be extended to New Zealand dairy farms – all while juggling her roles as mother, farm assistant and CEO, teacher and Chair of the Taranaki Dairy Enviro Leader Group. . .

Mycoplasma bovis Biosecurity Response Levy set for dairy farmers:

This week, dairy farmers nationwide will receive information from DairyNZ about the Biosecurity Response Levy being set at 2.9 cents per kilogram of milksolids for the 2019-20 year. The levy will be collected by dairy supply companies from 1 September 2019.

“We consulted with our farmers earlier this year about increasing the biosecurity response levy cap to 3.9c/kg milksolids in order to pay our share of the M. bovis response,” says DairyNZ Chief Executive, Dr Tim Mackle.  We listened to the feedback our farmers gave us and made sure there was a strong farmer voice around the table.

“The 2.9c/kg milksolids is obviously less that than the 3.9c/kg milksolids cap we put in place. This reflects our conversations with farmers, plus the work we’ve been doing with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to develop the terms of payback in the operational agreement we have negotiated. . . 

Survey reveals our appetite for eating insects:

When it comes to eating insects, New Zealanders like them crunchy and if given a choice would opt to eat a black field cricket before other creepy-crawlies, according to a new AgResearch report that explores the nation’s appetite for insects.

The Crown Research Institute surveyed 1300 New Zealanders to assess which native insects respondents would be most likely to consume to test the market potential for each insect as a product. The survey found participants are more likely to eat – given the choice – black field cricket nymphs and locust nymphs, followed by mānuka beetle and then huhu beetle grubs.

For the record, participants said they would least like to consume porina caterpillars and wax moth larvae, which suggests we are more open to eating “crunchier” insects, as opposed to the softer “squishier” insects, reinforcing that texture is an important factor influencing decisions to consume insects. . . 

Grasslands more reliable carbon sinks than trees – Kat Kerlin:

Forests have long served as a critical carbon sink, consuming about a quarter of the carbon dioxide pollution produced by humans worldwide. But decades of fire suppression, warming temperatures and drought have increased wildfire risks — turning California’s forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources.

A study from the University of California, Davis, found that grasslands and rangelands are more resilient carbon sinks than forests in 21st century California. As such, the study indicates they should be given opportunities in the state’s cap-and-and trade market, which is designed to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. . .


Rural round-up

June 10, 2019

Tell your story don’t dump data – Annette Scott:

Farm environment plans, while not yet mandatory, offer a unique opportunity for the high country, AgFirst environmental consultant Erica van Reenen says.

Talking to the high country farmers’ conference in Blenheim van Reenen acknowledged they are challenged with climate and market vulnerability.

They are also challenged to get up with the game and communicate in the same space as their urban counterparts.

That means telling their farming stories where urban people tell their stories – in social media circles.   . . 

Adrian and Pauline Ball of Dennley Farms from Waikato Announced as new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing:

Adrian and Pauline Ball, owners and operators of Dennley Farms Ltd, are the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The announcement was made at tonight’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards National Sustainability Showcase at Claudelands in Hamilton. The Ballance Farm Environment Awards celebrate and promote sustainable farming and growing practices.

Dennley Farms’ strong environmental, social and economic sustainability was a stand-out for the National Judging Panel. The business’ tagline is ‘creating value inside the farm gate,’ and the farm team is active in the creation of meaningful industry change and driven to improve consumer perception of the sector. . .

Grass-fed message won’t sell NZ products but health benefits could – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s “clean, green, grass-fed” message isn’t unique and exporters should instead focus on the nutritional benefits of their food products, Andy Elliot says.

Elliot spent much of last year studying the business models of New Zealand producers and exporters as part of the Nuffield agricultural scholarship programme.

He says that in order to get more value from existing production, the country needs to find a way to stand out in the increasingly competitive global market. . . 

Wool bonanza – Annette Scott:

Increased international demand for fine wool is putting Kiwi wool within reach of becoming a $2 billion industry.

New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge said if half NZ’s crossbred wool clip shifts into higher-value fine wool contracts the economic upside will be as high as $2b.

Increased international demand for fine wool could spell profit for sheep farmers with wool giving kiwifruit and wine a real run for their money in terms of exports, he said.

There is a future in wool for farmers and for NZ, he said.

“Which is great news for fine wool producers and farmers considering transitioning into it.” . . 

NZ grower the first to use compostable stickers on its apples :

A Hawke’s Bay apple grower says it is the first in the Southern Hemisphere to use compostable stickers on its apples.

The organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand, planned to roll out more compostable stickers next year after a successful trial.

The new sticker meets regulations for direct food contact and breaks down when put in an industrial compost, according to the company’s organic supply manager Heidi Stiefel.

Ms Stiefel said they supplied apples labelled with those stickers to a European customer and some New Zealand supermarkets this year. . . 

Carbon neutral livestock production — consumers want it and farmers say it is achievable – Angus Verley, Aneeta Bhole, Tyne Logan and Lydia Burton:

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) believes a zero carbon footprint nationally — considered by some the holy grail for the red meat industry — is possible by 2030.

It is a target that has the backing of some of the industry’s leading farmers, and the demand for projects is on the rise.

Climate Friendly, a carbon farming project developer, said the policy was a “hotbed of action”. . . 


Rural round-up

January 9, 2019

Chucks empire lays golden egg – Bryan Gibson:

For many in business 1987 was a bad year but for Max Bryant it was the beginning of something special.

Under pressure from the bank over a kiwifruit development that hadn’t panned out Bryant decided to build a chicken shed at home in Halcombe, the small Manawatu settlement where he lived.

Thirty years later he has sold the company, Proten, for $400 million.

Bryant estimates about $60m of that will stay with shareholders in the district, who were ground-floor investors.

He admits Proten has come a long way since that first shed was built out the back. . . 

A new wave of stress relief – Luke Chivers:

The Gisborne farming community is testing the waters this summer and seeing how surfing can be used as a way to let off steam.

Staff at AgFirst have created a programme dubbed Surfing for Farmers to help rural communities reduce stress and it works, AgFirst consultant and programme founder Stephen Thomson said.

“When you get off the farm and into the water it’s like taking a plunge into another world.

“For an hour or two you forget about everything else.” . . 

It’s time to look at soil health – Dr Han Eerens:

Spare a thought for soil — arguably our most underappreciated natural resource.

Globally, 95% of the food we consume comes from the earth. Soil serves as the earth’s largest natural water filter helping supply the world with fresh, clean water. Additionally, one-quarter of the world’s biodiversity — including millions of microbes which are key to the success of today’s antibiotics — are found in soil. Yet despite all this our soil is being destroyed at a rapid rate. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis eradication is far from done and dusted – Keith Woodford:

There is a widespread belief in both the rural and urban communities that Mycoplasma bovis is well on the way to being eradicated from New Zealand. My response here is that there is a still a long way to travel before any declarations of success are appropriate.

In December, Prime Minister Ardern, no doubt choosing her words carefully and based on official advice, talked of ‘substantial progress’.  However, the broader tone of both MPI and DairyNZ messaging has led to parts of the media and then the general public taking a further step and concluding that the battle is almost over. . . .

A career in dairy might be more different than you think

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer of Farm Source and Global Operations, Robert Spurway, says a career in dairy doesn’t necessarily mean milking cows.

According to Primary ITO chief executive Dr. Linda Sissons, one in five applicants for their new dairy apprenticeship programme are from Auckland. The programme, in partnership with Federated Farmers, is responding to the need for an estimated 17, 000 new workers by 2025. It will encourage more smart, innovative and ambitious people – including those from urban centres – to consider a career on a dairy farm.

This is great news because with increasing animal welfare, environment, and compliance requirements, number 8 wire will only go so far. Today, our farmers need to be everything from agronomists, environmental scientists, veterinarians to high-tech experts. . . .

New Wanaka A&P Show campaign explores what it means to be “local”:

The Wanaka A&P Show today launches a timely campaign about the sense of community and what it means to be a local in Wanaka.

The ‘Call Me Local’ campaign is a tongue-in-cheek inquiry into the tricky question of ‘how long does a person have to live in Wanaka before they’re considered a local?’

Correspondingly, Wanaka is experiencing significant growth, development and change – leading residents to prioritise the sense of ‘community’ even more. The Wanaka A&P Show campaign acknowledges this to remind people about the importance of being part of a community. . . .


Rural round-up

November 18, 2018

Farming by consent – Neal Wallace:

The long-held notion of a right to farm is under threat as the list of farming activities requiring resource consent grows amid warnings it will expand further once the Government releases a new National Policy Statement for Fresh Water.

Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers president Michael Salvesen says while regulation will differ to reflect regional environments, the list of activities requiring consent will only grow.

“I think it’s pretty inevitable.” . . 

How much land can your cows buy? – Hugh Stringleman:

The affordability of farm ownership for sharemilkers has taken a turn for the better and there might be elements of a buyers’ market, Federated Farmers sharemilkers chairman Richard McIntyre says.

Figures from DairyNZ on the 2017-18 season, as graphed by James Allen of AgFirst Waikato, show the number of cows needed to buy a hectare of dairy land is just over 20.

That has improved from 23 cows the previous season.

For the Fonterra share requirement an intending farm buyer has to add the value of three more cows at the market price of $1600/cow. . . 

Six commitments to improve waterway continue to drive action:

One year on from the launch of an ambitious plan to help rebuild the health of New Zealand’s waterways, Fonterra is showing progress with more Sustainable Dairy Advisors on the ground and actions taking place across the country.

In November 2017, Fonterra announced six commitments to help protect and restore water quality in New Zealand.

“Fresh water is such an important topic for New Zealanders so we want to keep people regularly updated on our commitments and be open about our progress,” says Carolyn Mortland, Fonterra’s Director of Sustainability. . . 

Year round promotions entrench NZ venison in Europe:

The northern European autumn and winter ‘game season’ remains a key market for NZ venison, even with the industry’s success in building year-round venison demand in other markets. The region is also breaking with tradition and slowly developing a taste for venison as a summer grilling item.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) venison marketing manager Nick Taylor says exports of NZ venison to northern Europe for the 2018 game season are expected to be worth about $70 million, about 35 per cent of total venison exports.

“Because of successful market diversification, the percentage is well down on what we were seeing 10 years ago, but the northern European game season remains and is likely to remain one of our most important markets,” he says. . . 

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q4: Building deeper consumer relationships priority in increasingly crowded market:

Building deeper relationships with consumers is becoming a priority for the wine industry in an increasingly crowded market, according to insights from a recent US industry symposium in California.

Rabobank’s latest Global Wine Quarterly says the Wine Industry Financial Symposium, in Napa, heard rising competition at retail level and declining traffic at tasting rooms was seeing US wineries focus on developing deeper, stickier relationships with consumers. The report says a growing number of software packages and services were becoming available to help wineries identify and target their ideal consumers, with a strong future seen for these. . . 

Decline in wine consumption impacting NZ industry :

While five million glasses of New Zealand wine are consumed around the world every day, consumption in some key markets is actually declining and the industry is starting to see the impact, says wine writer Michael Cooper.

Michael, who launches his 27th annual wine guide today (New Zealand Wines 2019: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide, published by Upstart Press), has noticed how trends in alcohol consumption are having a flow-on effect for Kiwi vineyards and wine exports.

“In the UK, a key export market for NZ wine, nearly 30 per cent of people aged 16 to 25 now avoid all alcoholic beverages, including wine,” says Michael. “The only age group which is drinking more wine is the oldest – those in the 65-plus category. There are clear signs of a similar pattern in New Zealand. I see many people in their 20s who either don’t drink at all or only very occasionally.” . . 

Productive avocado orchard in sought-after Northland location placed on the market for sale:

A medium sized and well-established avocado orchard in the heart of Whangarei’s foremost avocado growing district has been placed on the market for sale.

The 6.5-hectare property at Maungatapere on the western outskirts of Whangarei sits in a valley which was once a dairy and beef farming strong-hold, but is now Northland’s most concentrated conglomeration of avocado and kiwifruit orchards due to the location’s deep fertile volcanic soil base. . . 


Rural round-up

October 29, 2018

Carbon cost shock – Richard Rennie:

Huge costs in New Zealand’s zero carbon goals that could set the country back more than a trillion dollars have been side-lined in Government calculations, seasoned rural economist Phil Journeaux says.

He calculates the policy will costing the NZ economy more than a trillion dollars by 2050 and shave billions a year off income.

AgFirst agricultural economist Journeaux said he has become increasingly alarmed about a failure to acknowledge what the aspirations to lower carbon emissions will really mean in economic terms to not only the rural economy but to all NZ.

Journeaux spent much of his career as an economist with the Primary Industries Ministry. . . 

Meaty topics for Fonterra meeting – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra farmer-shareholders have good reasons to make their way to the Lichfield processing site in South Waikato for the annual meeting of the co-operative on November 8.

Top of the list for interest will be updates from chairman John Monaghan and interim chief executive Miles Hurrell on the searching review of all Fonterra’s investments, major assets, joint ventures and partnerships.

That was promised and began after Fonterra announced its first-ever loss in mid-September, for the 2017-18 financial year.

Word on the future of its Beingmate shareholding and distribution agreement and the China Farms operation will be keenly anticipated. . . 

West Coast farmers doing it tough, as payout lags behind competitors

Farmers on the West Coast have had the lowest payout in the country for four years.  West Coast reporter JOANNE CARROLL talks to those doing it tough and what Westland Milk Products is doing to close the gap.

When Kokatahi farmer Terry Sheridan began in the dairy industry 42 years ago he didn’t expect to be still getting up at 4am to milk cows when he was 72.

“[Years ago] when farmers were at the end of their career, they sold up and bought a house off farm, had some money left over to do world trips. Now in Westland, you leave with nothing. Absolutely nothing. We can’t even afford a contract milker today. That’s why I’m out there. And I don’t get a day off. You don’t expect this at our age,” he said.  . . 

New methane emissions metric proposed for climate change policy:

A new paper published today has outlined a better way to think about how methane and other gases contribute to greenhouse gas emissions budgets. This is an important step towards evaluating the warming from methane emissions when developing strategies to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Current climate change policy suggests a ‘one size fits all’ approach to dealing with emissions,” says Professor Dave Frame, head of the Climate Change Research Institute at Victoria University of Wellington.  “But there are two distinct types of emissions, and to properly address climate change and create fair and accurate climate change policy we must treat these two groups differently.”

The two types of emissions that contribute to climate change can be divided into ‘long-lived’ and ‘short-lived’ pollutants. . . 

NZ meat trade to Europe and UK faces potential logjam – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand’s valuable lamb exports to the United Kingdom and Europe could get caught up in a major traffic snarl-up this Easter.

The UK is due to exit from the EU on March 29, just three weeks before Easter when volumes of Kiwi lamb jump 10 times for the festive season.

But New Zealand’s red meat sector Brexit representative Jeff Grant said the uncertainty over what sort of a deal the UK negotiates threatens the smooth flow of trade into the United Kingdom and Europe. . . 

Bull biosecurity at breeding time:

 As another cattle breeding season gets underway, farmers are being reminded to follow best-practice biosecurity management to protect their dairy and beef herds from Mycoplasma bovis.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand General Manager South Island John Ladley says farmers should ensure any bulls they use this season are from a known source and have up-to-date animal health and NAIT records.

Bulls should have been quarantined after purchase and any animal health issues dealt with before they are mixed with home stock. . .


Rural round-up

January 12, 2018

Fast track expansion for Ashley Clinton dairy farmers Andy and Robbie Hunt – Kate Taylor:

A Central Hawke’s Bay couple are proud to be dairy farming and love the lifestyle it provides. Kate Taylor pays them a visit.

A pair of small pink gumboots kick the dust on the laneway as cows wander from their paddock to the milking shed. Three-year-old Annabelle has had enough of the hot summer day.

Bringing in the cows is often a family affair at White Stag – one of three properties farmed by Andy and Robbie Hunt in Central Hawke’s Bay – but today, in the middle of the school holidays, it’s big brothers William, 8, and Ben, 6, doing the work. Andy and Robbie have been on this property since Annabelle was a baby – she was just a couple of weeks old when they had the roof shout for the new shed.

“It’s been a busy few years,” Robbie says, laughing. . .

Quite revolution in hill country farming:

GISBORNE, Wairoa and East Coast hill country farmers are leading the country as innovators and are in great shape to take on the challenges of 2018.

AgFirst agribusiness consultant Peter Andrew says sheep and cattle hill farmers here have progressed to become some of the best in New Zealand.

Gisborne will get to show off some of this country’s best sheep and beef operations when the region hosts Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual meeting for the first time on March 22. . .

Feds’ Hoggard urges farmers to pay backpackers regular rates – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says farmers should pay backpackers market rates if they want to keep a handy pool of casual labour and avoid volunteer workers.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled an organic farm near Christchurch breached worker rights by paying them $120 a week plus providing food and lodging irrespective of the hours worked, and claiming they were volunteers after a Labour Inspectorate investigation. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said in a statement that thousands of people had been exploited at the farm, working up to 40 hours a week and often as hired out labour at a profit for Robinwood Farms director and shareholder Julia Osselton. . . 

Canterbury farmer joins DairyNZ board:

This year, Canterbury farmer Colin Glass also joined DairyNZ’s Board of Directors as its newest recruit.

The farm owner and Dairy Holdings chief executive joined DairyNZ’s Board in October 2017. Colin is particularly passionate about dairy farmers connecting with the wider community and showcasing the great work being done on farms.

“We have had a massive refocus on what is important to the sector – the new dairy strategy highlights the need for us to have vibrant, profitable businesses and communities,” says Colin. “But that has to be done in a sustainable way that plays on New Zealand’s competitive advantage. . .

Vigilance needed to prevent further spread of Mycoplasma:

National Party Spokesperson for Biosecurity Barbara Kuriger is calling on farmers to be vigilant in light of recent Mycoplasma Bovis incursions to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“The discovery of Mycoplasma Bovis in Ashburton is a strong reminder to our rural communities that we need to be increasingly watchful and report concerns to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) if there are any suspicions of a further spread of the disease,” Ms Kuriger says.

“We cannot be complacent in any rural areas. The recent confirmation in Ashburton follows cases last year in Hastings, North Otago and the Winton District. . .

New Nutrient Management Tool for Reducing Nitrogen Leaching:

Wintermax Triticale – a new nutrient management tool for reducing nitrogen leaching.

Plant Research (NZ) Ltd in collaboration with Grasslanz Technology have developed a unique nutrient management tool in the for of a winter active triticale variety named wintermax.

Nutrient losses to waterways can occur from rainwater either moving organic matter, sediment and nutrients from land surfaces into surface waters, or leaching of nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium and sulphur, through soil into groundwater. . . 

Is the merino stud model fit for the future? – Robert Herrmann:

It’s many years since stud breeders of jersey bulls, landrace pigs and rhode island red roosters presented their prized stock at the various capital city Royal Shows to assess breeding potential. Today, these industries rely on data & science to identify the best sires to breed for the growing commercial demand for milk, pork and chicken.

Performance recording has replaced show judging.
There is still a role for the show ring, principally for the committed lovers of breeds to showcase their stock. However, the pragmatic farmer of today needs proof or at least confidence that the decisions around sire purchase align with the breeding objectives of their business.

This makes sense, it is not the pampered, prepared and perfumed animal in the show ring that matters; it is the progeny that must perform under commercial conditions that is important. Lipstick on the pig simply won’t do now. . . 


Rural round-up

August 10, 2016

Dairy downturn has a $1.3b impact on Waikato/Bay of Plenty farmers – Gerald Piddock:

The dairy slump has ripped more than a billion out of Waikato and Bay of Plenty farmers’ pockets, new figures show.

Farm consultancy group AgFirst’s 2016 Financial Survey shows the average dairy farmer’s net cash income was down $273,000 last season.

When multiplied by the region’s 4800 dairy farms, that’s $1.3b in lost income.

The big question was how much longer farmers could maintain the current situation where they had drastically reduced expenditure, AgFirst consultant Phil Journeaux said. . . 

Wintry blast hits farmers hard – Matt Shand:

The milking shed has frozen shut at Taharua Valley Farm as 200 dairy cows huddle together waiting for the problem to be fixed.

At 783 metres above sea level, the 2000-cow PenXing Group Milk New Zealand farm is one of the hardest hit by the recent snowstorm. Just over 100 metres lower in Taupo, the snow was a fun novelty. But here it is causing serious challenges. 

There is no such thing as time off for farmers and farmhands. Hot water and heaters are used to help thaw the shed out so it can hopefully milk animals tonight.  . . 

The snow has come again – Keith Woodford:

Every year we all talk about the weather and how fickle it is.  This year is no different. In most parts of the country, June and July were unseasonably warm.  Where I am in Canterbury, winter grass growth has possibly been higher than ever before.  Grass covers at the start of August were excellent.

In contrast, last year was one of the coldest winters on record, with many South Island farms getting no net growth in June and July.   That year, there was a string of southerlies, whereas this year warm winds were blowing over the Alps. . . 

MPI investigators target alleged unregulated meat sales:

A team of Ministry for Primary Industries investigators today executed a search warrant at an alleged unregulated meat premises in Turangi.

This was the culmination of a six month undercover operation involving the purchase of considerable quantities of venison, lamb and pork products from a local Turangi man.

The man is now being spoken to by MPI investigators in relation to the alleged sale of meat from an unregulated premises.

MPI Compliance Operations Manager, Gary Orr, says a decision will be made shortly as to whether charges will be laid under the Animal Products Act. . . 

Profit jumps for New Zealand’s leading fresh produce exporter :

Turners & Growers Global has posted an 89 percent gain in first-half profit driven by sales from new and existing businesses and a one-time gain from the sale of its crate hire unit.

The fruit marketer is controlled by Germany’s BayWa but is Auckland based. Their product base includes apples, pears, mandarins, coconuts and kiwifruit.

T&G profit rose to $22.7 million, or 18.2 cents a share in the six months ended June 30, from $12m, or 9.8 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose 14 percent to $423m. . . 

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council to get clearer mandate – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, which represents farmer interests in the world’s biggest dairy exporter, is poised for a refreshed mandate with clearer guidelines on how it interacts with the milk processor.

The council and Fonterra Cooperative Group are seeking feedback from farmers on a series of proposals to update the group’s governance to make the council’s role clearer, explain how it works with Fonterra’s board and management, and improve communication with farmer shareholders. Farmers are expected to vote on any changes to the council’s governance at a special meeting in mid-October. . . 

One of the worlds’ most respected wine consultants appointed to NZ’s boutique vineyard Chateau Waimarama:

After an extensive international search, award winning boutique vineyard Chateau Waimarama, has lured leading Bordeaux wine consultant Ludwig Vanneron half way across the world to be its wine specialist.

Ludwig Vannerons’ stellar career has seen him work in prestigious and major wine areas of Bordeaux, managing the winemaking process in estates from small chateau Bordeaux appellation properties to great classified growths. . . 


Rural round-up

July 19, 2016

Tool for easy environment planning – Rebecca Harper:

Onfarm environmental planning has just got easier with the launch of a new cloud-based software programme, AgFirst Landbase.

AgFirst consultant Erica van Reenen developed the programme in conjunction with FarmIQ after being asked time and again whether an online tool to help with land and environment planning existed – it didn’t, until now.

Using van Reenen’s knowledge and FarmIQ’s information technology capability was a perfect match. . .

Greenpeace’s deadly war on science – Bjorn Lomborg:

Is Greenpeace committing a crime against humanity?

A letter from 110 Nobel laureates suggests as much. It urges the environmental group to drop its campaign against genetically modified foods, particularly so-called “Golden Rice,” which could help prevent millions of deaths in the developing world.

Calling GMOs food “Frankenfood” is a brilliant scare-mongering term, heavily promoted by Greenpeace. But it has no basis in reality. . . 

Let’s not leave Silver Fern Farms stranded – Stephen Jacks:

As I take time to consider my vote in the upcoming Silver Fern Farms special general meeting on the 50-50 joint venture with Shanghai Maling, my thoughts are around what the future may look like either way.

What we know is that the challenges facing farmers are large.  The challenges of profitably negotiating our way through the physical, climatic, financial and market vagaries appear to be amplified of late.   I don’t envisage the scale of excellence and adaptation required to survive and thrive to diminish anytime soon.

We have a choice before us: To join with Shanghai Maling or not.  . . 

School paddocks nurture future farmers – Rob Tipa:

Senior pupils of Waitaki Boys’ High School’s primary production course see their future in farming, so attending one of the country’s few schools with its own farm is a definite attraction.

Seven out of 10 senior students who spoke to the NZ Farmer were boarders at Waitaki, mostly from sheep and beef farming families from around Fairlie, Methven, Mayfield, Millers Flat and the West Coast.

Waitaki Boys has a proud history and reputation as a fine school but several students said the school farm was a key factor that brought them to boarding school in Oamaru. . .

How we are innovating our way to cheaper land prices – James Pethokoukis:

They aren’t making any more land, at least on this planet. But technology is, in effect, increasing the long-term supply of land. Robert Shiller:

This 20th-century miracle in agricultural science greatly improved crop yields per acre. From the standpoint of farm output, there was no need for new land. This revolution involved the discovery by Fritz Haber of a cheap process to produce ammonia for fertilizer at the beginning of the century and the discovery of new high-yield strains of wheat by Norman E. Borlaug at midcentury. Both men won Nobel Prizes for their work. These innovations permitted multiplication of yields per acre and very likely saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation worldwide. . . 

Leading exporter sets benchmark for food safety and brand protection:

New Zealand’s largest vertically-integrated grower, packer and exporter of twenty-five per cent of this country’s apples has taken a bold step to scientifically guarantee the integrity of its produce.

Mr. Apple has signed a three year contract with Dunedin-based Oritain to combat what has become a proliferation of food fraud in the export industry, and safeguard the security of its supply-chain.

Mr. Apple CEO Andrew van Workum says that having his apples 100% traceable from orchard to store is a lynchpin of the Mr. Apple brand, and adds critical value to the relationship it has with growers, suppliers and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 11, 2016

Sharemilking remains a viable career path – new report:

Sharemilking as a career path is alive and well, according to a report recently released on progression in the dairy industry.

The DairyNZ and Federated Farmers-resourced Dairy Progression Pathways report, undertaken by AgFirst, explores the latest trends and statistics relating to sharemilking and examines the issues created by milk price volatility.

Federated Farmers sharemilker farm owners’ section chairperson Tony Wilding says the report shows opportunities for progression still exist but the career pathways have been changing and will continue to do so. . . 

Feds pleased Ruataniwha gets another green light:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in Hawke’s Bay has another green light with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) confirming its intention to invest in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

HBRC today approved its $80million investment with a 7-2 vote, agreeing that all four of the conditions required for investment had been met.

The investment follows more than 190 Signed Water User Agreements in support of the scheme. . . 

Cost cutting blamed for lepto increase – Glenys Christian:

An increase in leptospirosis cases in Northland has been blamed on dairy farmers’ efforts to cut costs in a low-payout year.

While no cases were reported last year, the Medical Officer of Health has reported seven confirmed cases so far this year in the region with another under investigation.

Malcolm Fuller, Federated Farmers’ field officer for Northland, Auckland and Hauraki-Coromandel told the Auckland federation’s executive meeting he had heard of two northern farmers who were not vaccinating their herds this year.

“They can’t afford to get the vet in,” he said. . .

Support To Increase Voluntary Wool Contribution By 0.5c Gains Momentum:

Last month, one of New Zealand’s major wool growers and trustee for the Campaign for Wool (CFW), Renata Apatu of Ngamatea Station, front–footed an increase in contribution to the CFW’s activities by making an immediate commitment to up his contribution to 1c/kg, an increase of 0.5c, and challenging others to do the same.

Wright Wool Ltd, Kells Wool Ltd and Fred Tate Wools Ltd have accepted the challenge, increasing their contribution to 1c/kg also. They are now challenging others to join them, especially the bigger players who could really affect a positive increase.

“Having directly witnessed what the wool industry gets out of the activities of the CFW, an additional 0.5c/kg is one of the best returns on investment I have made,” says Mr Renata Apatu. . . 

Southland backs $250m Hollyford Highway:

The Southland District Council has unanimously backed the proposed Haast-Hollyford Highway going forward for government approval.

The controversial 130km toll road, planned by a private company, would pass through the Fiordland National Park. It is expected to cost $250 million.

The road has the support of all four West Coast councils and many local people, but needed Southland’s backing to proceed.

After a short discussion this afternoon, all councillors voted to support the project going into both the regional and national land transport programmes, to be investigated and assessed further. . . 

Shocks versus structural change is the big dairy question – Keith Woodford:

Right now, the focus of almost every New Zealand dairy farmer is on survival. It is a time when cash is king.

In the short run, it is all about turning cash inputs into milk. There can be no argument that this means using all available grass, but it also means not having hungry cows. Each farmer will find his or her way of achieving this. It may be through decreased stock numbers or it may be through appropriate supplementation to match feed deficits. In times like these, it is more important to travel the chosen path efficiently rather than to jump wildly from one path to the other.

Despite the focus on survival, it is also a good time to be thinking strategically. At the industry level, have we got it right?  In regard to what we are currently experiencing, how much of it is from one-off shocks and how much is due to structural change within global markets. . . 

The launch of The Snow Farmer ignites Cardrona’s spirit of fun – Beattie’s Book Blog:

John and Mary Lee (below right) have been at the heart of life in Cardrona for decades, establishing a world famous ski facility and saving the iconic Cardrona Hotel from dereliction. The importance of community has been integral to the Lees’ vision, their activities and adventures, significantly underpinning the local economy. Small wonder then, that the local community should gather in force to celebrate the launch of The Snow Farmer, penned by Otago Daily Times agribusiness reporter Sally Rae, at two very special events.

The first and official book launch was held at the Cardrona Alpine Resort, which the Lees hosted along with Paper Plus Wanaka. The infectious happiness of the Cardrona staff set the perfect scene, with Sally remarking that “it was like watching the characters in the book come to life.” The Lees neighbour Ed Taylor MC’d, skilfully recounting past incidents and keeping everything humming along nicely. Friend Shaun Gilbertson rather colourfully related past tales and Lyall Cocks spoke on behalf of the local council, praising John’s efforts and foresight. John responded with gratitude to Sally Rae and photographer Stephen Jaquiery for so expertly telling and illustrating his life story. John said that they were wonderful to work with and have put life into the story. He also thanks everyone who gave their time to tell their story and helped to enhance the book. . .

You can listen to Kim Hill’s interview with the Lees here. (Thanks Freddy for pointing me to this).

  Crossroads Wines to move winemaking to Marlborough:

The Crossroads Winery, in Hawke’s Bay, celebrates 25 years of quality winemaking in New Zealand. A large part of Crossroads’ success has come from its boutique, hand-crafted winemaking and small parcel sourcing within the Hawke’s Bay. In 2011, Yealands Family Wines acquired the winery and vineyards and continued to focus on the small lot, hand crafted winemaking strategy as they looked to grow the brand globally.

Yealands Family Wines was established in August of 2008 as the world’s first winery to be carboNZerocertTM since inception. Over the past 8 years, the Yealands Estate Winery has grown and developed into a state of the art winery and vineyard in Marlborough New Zealand, focused on high quality winemaking and site specific sourcing throughout the Seaview Estate Vineyard, and both the Awatere and Wairau Valleys in Marlborough. . . 

Changes to Milk NZ:

Milk New Zealand today announced that Andy Macleod, CEO of the Pengxin New Zealand Farm Group, has resigned with effect from 8 July 2016.

Milk New Zealand oversees the management of 16 farms located in the Central North Island and 13 in the Canterbury region.

Macleod joined Pengxin New Zealand Farm Group in 2013 and Terry Lee, Managing Director of Milk New Zealand, said the company valued and appreciated his contribution to the business and wished him well for the future. . . 


Rural round-up

February 22, 2016

‘Dryland specialists — not victims’ – Sally  Rae:

Coping with dry conditions on Otago farms and the ongoing implications is about taking action, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Soul-destroying. That is how Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Pat Macaulay describes living through drought.

Mrs Macaulay, of North Taieri, knows first-hand exactly what it feels like, having farmed in the Strath Taieri where drought was a regular occurrence. . .

Bank on bright side but farmers sombre – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers are facing another tough year but a ‘‘generally strong year” is being picked by Rabobank for most other sectors.

Solid demand in key offshore markets, recent progress in export development and generally tight global supply was likely to bring another good year for producers of beef, wool and horticultural products, food and agribusiness research general manager Tim Hunt said.

While beef prices had lost some ground in recent months, they remained well above multi-year average levels and were expected to receive support from a generally tight global market. .  .

Farmers look for exit as prices crunch – Gerald Piddock & Aaron Leaman:

More dairy farmers are looking to shut the family farm gate, some after generations on the land, as the milk price slump pushes rural households to breaking point.

A DairyNZ and AgFirst report on farm ownership pathways out in April is expected to show farm ownership stretching further out of reach of many  as growing numbers look for a managed exit from an increasingly unprofitable and stressful industry.

The looming dairy exodus has prompted a warning that some of the country’s best and brightest will be lost to a sector once considered the backbone of the New Zealand economy.  . . 

Lamb prices better than expected – Sally Rae:

Prices at last week’s Omarama lamb sale were stronger than anticipated, considering schedule pricing, agents say.

More than 70 buyers from throughout the South Island registered for the sale, which comprised a total yarding of just over 12,000 lambs.

The average price for PGG Wrightson’s offering of 7000 lambs was $54, up $8 or $9 on last year’s sale.

Tara Hills achieved the top price for merino wethers at $68, while prices ranged from $66-$31.50. Tara Hills also topped the merino ewe lambs, at $58.50, with prices ranging from $52-$24. . . 

Taranaki avocado shortage blamed on freak weather – Christopher Reive:

Freak storms caused by climate change are being blamed for a poor avocado harvest causing shortages around the country.

Taranaki avocado grower Steve Wright has an orchard of 230 avocado trees near Urenui, north of New Plymouth, and said while the fruit generally ran in a cycle of good crop-bad crop, this season had been particularly bad.

“It’s not just a mild wind that comes through, they come through and they just hammer your place and what happens is, because the avos hang on a stem, they just twist around and break,” Wright said. . . 

First Grand Finalist Confirmed In FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Jake Thomson is the first Grand Finalist to be named in the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

The 27 year old from Whangarei who manages a Dairy Farm took first place at the Northern Regional Final in Pukekohe on Saturday 20 February.

Mr Thomson went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from FMG, Massey University, Ravensdown, Median Energy, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, STIHL and Vodafone. He also won the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge, Meridian Energy Agri-Knowledge Challenge and the Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge . . .

Farm Takeover!  The dirt on raising GMO corn: The Land – Uptown Farms:

“Tell your story!”  Anyone in the agriculture industry has been hearing it!  It is important and I’m the first to boast how much I love to tell my story.
 
But, if I am honest, I’m usually telling my husband’s story. He’s the farmer.
 
Well not this year!  Matt is sliding over into the buddy seat and turning me loose on my very own 60 acres!  And I’m taking you along for the ride by detailing the entire process of raising corn right here, all season long!

When it comes to land, farmers generally talk in acres.  One acre is 43,560 square feet – roughly the size of a football field. 
 
The first step for any crop farmer is the most obvious (and most expensive) one – find some land. . .


Rural round-up

February 12, 2015

Farmers trading risks with barns, study shows:

Investing in a wintering barn may feel good for the farmer but it won’t necessarily be profitable, according to a DairyNZ study.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman and AgFirst consultant Phil Journeaux, presented the interim results of the study to a conference in Rotorua today, indicating that the jury is still out on whether investing in a wintering barn is a good financial or environmental move.

The paper presented to the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society’s annual (AARES) conference is based on analysis of a selection of five South Island farms with free stall barns. . .

Safer Farms a personal responsibility:

Speech by Peter Jex-Blake, Federated Farmers Gisborne/Wairoa provincial president to the SaferFarms launch at Wairakaia Station, Muriwai

First of all I would like to congratulate WorkSafe on the Safer Farms initiative. Improving farmer awareness and understanding of risks involved, along with education on how these risks can be minimised and or managed, is a far more effective approach than dishing out heavy handed fines which are totally disproportionate to the offence committed, and create much antagonism towards the regulators.

By nature, farmers are individuals who strongly believe in personal responsibility rather than having ‘big brother’ telling them what to do, and have an inherent intolerance for bureaucracy and attending to endless compliance documents. Family farms are still the backbone of the New Zealand economy, and often are run solely by family members. Farmers do what they do because they enjoy the lifestyle the business provides. It enables the family to be involved in the business. It is a challenging, demanding and complex business, so attending to increasing compliance and filling out of forms is not something that most farmers enthuse over, and does take away some of the enjoyment factor. . .

Biosecurity officials go to war over bug:

Biosecurity officials are raising a bit of a stink about a voracious bug that could cause havoc with fruit and vegetable crops if it gets loose here.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has scaled up treatment requirements for vehicles and machinery coming from the United States because of more frequent discoveries of the brown marmorated stink bug on these imports.

The stink bug originated in Asia, notably China, Japan, and Korea but has now invaded the United States where it is causing huge losses to crops. . .

China-NZ Customs work to enhance trade:

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says New Zealand and China Customs authorities are a step closer to establishing a system to enhance trade assurance and facilitation under the New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement.

Ms Wagner and NZ Customs officials met with the Vice Minister of the General Administration of China Customs Mr Sun Yibiao and his delegation in Auckland today to discuss facilitating trade and combating drug trafficking.

“Trade with China is critical to our economy, and it’s important that traders’ documents meet our trade partners’ standards to ensure exports travel smoothly,” Ms Wagner says. . .

 

Julio’s first day of farming – Julian Lee:

Campbell Live reporter Julian Lee – also known as Julio – wanted to find out what it was really like to be a dairy farmer.

So he left the office for the day and stayed on the Downings’ Farm in Morrinsville and did an actual shift on the job.

Everyone in the Campbell Live office was so impressed by Julio’s first day as a dairy farmer, that we’ve decided to turn it in to a series: Have you got a job for Julio? . . .

Merino fashion brand PERRIAM expands with the launch of Little PERRIAM:

Little PERRIAM, the exciting, fresh new babies and children’s merino clothing label by Wanaka fashion designer Christina Perriam, launches online and in select retail outlets today.

Today’s release of the first Little PERRIAM range follows the successful launch of Christina’s new luxury lifestyle merino fashion brand PERRIAM, which took place in Tarras in October 2014.

Little PERRIAM replaces Christina’s hugely popular babies and children’s label Suprino Bambino as she continues to deliver her new brand’s overall vision. With similar design elements to Suprino Bambino, like fun prints, bold colours, touches of Liberty fabrics and on-trend designs, the Winter 2015 range of Little PERRIAM is expected to continue to be a hit with parents and kids.

 

Leading real estate company strengthens leadership of its rural division:

Bayleys Real Estate has strengthened its countrywide rural division – with the appointment of Simon Anderson to head up the company’s rural marketing and sales activities nationally in the newly created role of national country manager.

Mr Anderson has been involved with the company’s rural activities for 13 years as the regional rural manager for the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Taranaki regions.

Based out of Bayleys’ Tauranga office, Mr Anderson will take on a strategic role to expand the agency’s national and international marketing of rural properties – ranging from horticulture, sheep and beef, forestry and viticulture sites, through to agricultural and dairying blocks. . .

 

 

 


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