Rural round-up

August 22, 2018

Co-op directors getting harder to find: Farmlands chairman – Andrea Fox:

Attracting directors for cooperatives is getting harder the fewer there are and the bigger they get, says Farmlands chairman Lachie Johnstone as the $2 billion revenue rural services business kicks off director elections.

Three seats are up for election as two long-serving directors step down and a third, Silver Fern Farms chairman and Clutha farmer Rob Hewett by rotation seeks another term.

Leaving the top table this year are Marlborough-based Joe Ferraby, who has been a director more than 20 years, including his time on farm services company CRT which merged with Farmlands in 2013, and Bay of Plenty dairy farmer and orchardist David Jensen. . .

 

Wool protein could boost digestive health – Esther Taunton:

Work to find new uses for wool has revealed the fibre could have digestive health benefits.

AgResearch scientists have found adding wool proteins to the diets of domestic cats improved their digestive health and could potentially do the same for people. 

“There is a lot of work going on to discover new uses of wool to support the sheep industry in New Zealand,” said Jolon Dyer, AgResearch’s science group leader for food and bio-based products.

“The research is telling us that sheep wool has many useful attributes and one of those now appears to be proteins derived from the wool that could be used as a dietary supplement to improve digestion and nutrition, and therefore overall health.”    . . .

Finding a better way to achieve our sustainability goals on farm:

Charlotte Rutherford, Fonterra’s General Manager of Sustainable Dairying is always looking for new ways to support the Co-op’s farmers in achieving their sustainability goals.

This month, Fonterra marks the one-year anniversary of TIAKI – our sustainable dairying programme that helps farmers make their operations more environmentally compliant. In doing so we will also celebrate more than 1,000 Fonterra farmers who now have a tailored improvement plan to help address environmental risks on-farm. Achieving this wasn’t easy and while a significant amount of progress was made pre-Tiaki it often felt like we were trying push a rock uphill. We knew there had to be a better way. . .

eShepherd creates a virtual fence – Nicola Bell:

FARMERS across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and the UK will soon be using world-first virtual fencing technology.

The eShepherd technology by ­agritech start-up Agersens allows a farmer to create a virtual fence and remotely monitor, muster and move cattle, using a smart phone, tablet or computer.

Just like a traditional fence, a virtual fence is used to control the location of livestock and has huge potential for beef and dairy herds. . . 

Anti-meat message hurting poor countries – Shan Goodwin:

THE push to eat less meat in developed countries is posing threats to efforts to improve livestock production efficiency in poor countries, where there is no choice but to under-consume animal foods.

This message emerged from discussions among global livestock specialists at the Crawford Fund annual conference in Canberra this week around the need to reshape agriculture to address the increasingly competing needs of the hungry and the over-nourished and the finite resources of the environment.

Anti-livestock rhetoric missed some big points about the vital role of livestock in poorer countries, according to Dr Anna Okello, associate research program manager of livestock systems at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. . . 

Third of farmed fruit and veg deemed to ugly to sell:

More than a third of farmed fruit and vegetables never reaches supermarket shelves because it is misshapen or the wrong size, according to new research.

A University of Edinburgh study found more than 50 million tonnes of fruit and vegetables grown across Europe were discarded each year.

This was in part because they did not meet consumers’ expectations of how they should look.

The study was published in the Journal of Cleaner Production. . .


Rural round-up

August 19, 2018

Supreme Court issues victory for private land conservation:

The Supreme Court has delivered a historic decision to protect covenanted land against a land developer who bought the property with the intention of carving it up, developing on the beautiful and protected bush and then selling the land for profit.

QEII National Trust Acting CEO, Paul Kirby says “this is a victory for conservation on private land in New Zealand and a blow for those who think that they can overturn QEII legal protection of the land. The Supreme Court has reinforced that QEII covenants protect natural spaces against the people who buy a property to divide and develop the land. We are proud to have lead the fight to protect the land against this kind of development. . .

Foresters fear carbon auction’s implications – Richard Rennie:

Forest Owners Association president Peter Weir is troubled by Government proposals to use an auction system to allocate extra carbon units under a revised Emissions Trading Scheme.

The proposal is for a sealed-bid, single-round auction where bidders submit their bids simultaneously. 

Each bidder can submit multiple bids, ultimately creating a demand curve ranking all bids from highest to lowest. A clearing price is then determined, where supply and demand meet.

But Weir is concerned the proposal is going to cause more problems than it solves.

Fonterra pauses to take stock – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra dropped another bombshell with the appointment of an interim chief executive, Miles Hurrell, to take over immediately from departing Dutch dairy industry veteran Theo Spierings.

The internal promotion of Hurrell came as Fonterra’s directors reconsider the company’s direction of travel and its needs in a chief executive.

An external recruitment process, started in November last year, is suspended in the meantime, chairman John Monaghan said.

Hurrell has the right mix of talents and experience needed at this time and he will not be paid what former chairman John Wilson called the eye-watering salary and bonuses that Spierings received. . .

 

Sheep wool can help cats’ diet:

Proteins from wool can be added to the diets of animals to improve their health, AgResearch scientists have shown.

Researchers say the positive findings in the diets of domestic cats open up exciting possibilities for new uses of sheep wool to improve digestive health for a broader range of animals, and potentially human beings.

The findings have just been published in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Food & Function journal, and are available here . . 

NZ blister protection company, Walk On, names first CEO:

Walk On, the blister protection company known for its luxuriously soft Hyperfine merino wool product, has appointed Dr. Mark Davey as its first CEO.

Walk On Founder and Chairman Lucas Smith made the announcement as part of a 2018 initiative to carry the momentum of Walk On’s initial domestic success into international markets. Walk On recently secured a national distribution deal with outdoor and adventure sports multi-channel retailer Torpedo 7, and is also available in 10 retail stores nationally.

“Mark Davey’s experience as a New Zealand apparel innovator will be pivotal to the company as we embark on the next steps of the Walk On journey during our capital raise and international market development efforts,” remarked Lucas Smith. “Mark has experience with both, and we are excited to have him on board.”. . .

End of a family dynasty on Gunningbar Creek – Peter Austin:

A useful grazing block in the tightly-held Gunningbar Creek area north of Nyngan will go to auction later this month, ending nearly a century of ownership by the local Green family.

The 2668 hectare (6594ac) “Belarbone” has been listed for sale by Phil Wallace of Landmark Nyngan on behalf of Gavin and Jenny Green, who are selling in their lead-up to retirement.

Gavin took on the management of “Belarbone” in the early 1980s, at which stage it was an undeveloped block with no electricity connection, no buildings and no infrastructure. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 5, 2018

Lamb contracts top $8 – Annette Scott:

Months of speculation have been put to bed as $8 or more a kilogram for lamb is confirmed in new season pricing contracts.

While prices upwards of $8 are reserved for the upper-end of the market, not many are paying far below that level.

But easing market prices against new season farmgate prices are creating some bumps in the market, making some processors concerned about unrealistic expectations. . .

Weather, terrain rule the farm – Neal Wallace:

Otago’s Lambhill Station is remote, steep and exposed but through strategic investment and careful management it is achieving commendable levels of production. Neal Wallace met managers Chris and Lucy Thomson.

Lambhill Station does not try to be anything but a large-scale breeding property.

Managers Chris and Lucy Thomson know better than to try to supply prime stock, acutely aware the climate and terrain always have the last say.. .

Police smash avocado ring:

Police have arrested three people in relation to a spate of avocado thefts at rural addresses in Tauranga.

They say the arrests include an organised receiver who was purchasing avocados from burglary offenders.

A 63-year-old Tauranga man has been charged with two charges of receiving property and will appear in the Tauranga District Court this month.

A 23-year-old Tauranga man is facing two burglary charges and 27-year-old woman is facing three burglary charges. They will appear in Tauranga District Court in September. . . 

Nitrogen leaching under crops examined in study – Nicole Sharp:

Nitrogen leaching under crops is being examined at the Southern Dairy Hub by AgResearch.

Following the first season of the research farm, AgResearch senior scientist Ross Monaghan said the agency had started by measuring nitrogen leaching on the different fodder crops.

Under the new project, of running the farm as four farmlets, it was being measured under two crops – fodder beet and kale. . .

Secretive, high country owner offers station for sale with ski field -Chris Hutching:

A high country station and skifield in South Canterbury is on the market after a promised “world-class mountain bike trail” failed to eventuate.

Locals understand Lilydale, near Fairlie, is owned by US-born billionaire Ken Dart, and the trail of company ownership indicates they are correct.

Dart’s wealth is estimated at more than US$6 billion and his New Zealand interests include the Wairoa Gorge mountain bike park in Nelson. . . 

‘Bovis’ spread risk raised:

A Teviot Valley farmer is concerned about Transpower New Zealand’s vehicle movements on the area’s dairy and beef properties, which he says could spread the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

However, Transpower has assured farmers it has biosecurity management procedures and policies in place to mitigate any risks.

The company’s service contractors need to drive over properties to inspect high-voltage structures and they were out and about in the valley during the past couple of weeks. . . 

Q

 

Here are 6 ways GMOs benefit consumers – The Farmer’s Daughter US:

Genetically modified crops provide a lot of benefits for farmers, including less pesticide applications and increased yields. These benefits are why farmers choose to grow GMO crops, and also why the agricultural industry has generally accepted GMOs.

But what about consumers – are there any benefits for them?

Absolutely! Here are 6 ways that GMOs benefit consumers.

1. Keeps Bugs Out of Food

No one wants to eat wormy corn. I know this because I spent 26 years of my life selling sweet corn at my family’s roadside stand. People had all sorts of tricks to check whether an ear of corn had a worm in it. . . 


Rural round-up

July 27, 2018

Renewed calls for essential rural healthcare:

A petition calling on the Government to deliver for rural New Zealanders and provide essential healthcare for 600,000 rural New Zealanders has been tabled in Parliament by Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger.

“Rural New Zealanders remain frustrated with Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor’s failure to ensure vital health services are provided to rural New Zealand and are angry about the Government’s decision not to continue funding for the Rural Health Alliance. . .

’Best science since Rutherford split the atom’ – Sally Brooker:

New Zealand scientists are trialling genetically modified ryegrass they believe could revolutionise agriculture.

South Canterbury farmer, biotechnologist, and former Federated Farmers national president William Rolleston says it’s the best Kiwi science since Ernest Rutherford split the atom.

AgResearch has developed a ryegrass with high metabolisable energy (HME) that can grow up to 50% more quickly than conventional ryegrass, store more energy, be more drought-resistant, and produce up to 23% less methane. . .

Farmers keen to expand tech use – Toni Williams:

Electronic identification tags, scanning wands, weighing scales, farm business courses and drone use to check on animal welfare are all management tools used by Mt Somers deer farmers Duncan and Lorna Humm to improve, and add value, to their deer operation.

The young couple run a deer farm on a 43ha property, nestled near the foothills of the Southern Alps. Duncan isa fourth-generation farmer. The farm has been in his family since the mid-1960s, after his great grandparents moved from dairy farming near Kaikoura.

His parents, Christina and Bryan — now retired — ran sheep and cattle before diversifying a section of the property to deer in the 1990s. . . 

Making the leap from city to country:

Chloe Mackle was scared of the dark and anything that moved – but when she was challenged to try dairy farming, she decided to go for it.

Chloe Mackle After growing up in North Shore, Auckland, her first day on the job was a massive learning curve. “

All I knew was that my milk came in a bottle and my meat in a packet,” says Chloe. Now she is a farm manager and likes nothing better than working with cows and hanging out with her golden Labrador Nala . . .

Golden Shears on silver screen – Beckie Wilson:

Shearing a sheep is said to be one of the hardest jobs in the world, and that is what documentary director Jack Nicol hoped to prove in his new movie, She Shears.

Following the life of five female shearers gunning for glory at the Golden Shears, the portrayal of each woman is “quite delightful”, according to Masterton-based champion shearer Jills Angus Burney.

Angus Burney is one of the five whose story is told in the movie, produced by Miss Conception, which will be shown to the public for the first time next month at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

“Part of my role is the narrator, because I’m the old bag who retired,” she said. . .

Trade war chickens home to roost: Billions of pounds of meat fill US warehouses with nowhere to go:

More than 2.5 billion pounds of meat and poultry produced by US farmers have been stockpiled in cold-storage warehouses with the amount expected to grow further, according to the latest federal data.

Record production of beef, pork, poultry and turkey has become increasingly dependent on exports as US consumers cannot buy up the huge amount of meat. That would drive down prices for American consumers, restaurants and retailers. However, the recent import tariffs imposed by the country’s trade partners on the wide range of US goods, including agricultural produce, have slowed down sales of US meat and poultry abroad. . .


Rural round-up

July 21, 2018

Crop biotech 3.0: a farmer’s perspective – Craige Mackenzie:

Here in New Zealand, we did not participate in the GE Gene Revolution. Farmers like me see an advantage in making sure that we do not miss the next one. 

You’ve seen the statistics. Farmers around the world have planted and harvested billions of acres of genetically engineered crops. Not long ago, we used to talk about GMOs and conventional crops as if they belonged in different categories. Increasingly—and especially in North and South America—GMOs are the new conventional. They’ve become an ordinary part of agriculture. 

Some nations, of course have resisted the use of GMOs, starting with members of the European Union. New Zealand has taken its own wait-and-see approach, turning it into a sort of permanent delay. The science on GMOs safety to human health and our environment may be settled but my country has wanted to preserve its clean-green image in food production, in the belief that this gives us a competitive advantage as we market ourselves to the world.  . . 

Eradicating cattle disease M. bovis in New Zealand may be costly, even impossible, but we must try – Riachard Laven:

In May this year, the New Zealand government decided that it would attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a bacterial disease that affects cattle.

A phased eradication means that an additional 126,000 livestock will need to be culled, at an estimated cost of NZ$886 million.

Here’s what we know, what we don’t know and what’s at stake.

How do we know this is a new incursion?

M. bovis causes mastitis and arthritis in adult cattle and pneumonia in calves. It is found around the world, but New Zealand was one of the last disease-free countriesuntil the detection of infected cows on a dairy farm in July 2017.  . .

Career path judged correctly – Sally Rae:

Brooke Flett never intended a career in farming.

But now, settled on the family dairy farm at Scotts Gap in Southland, it was “working out all right”.

“Most of the time, I love it,” she laughed.

Miss Flett (26), who is chairwoman of Thornbury Young Farmers Club, was recently named Young Farmers national stock-judging champion.

She grew up on the farm and boarded at Southland Girls’ High School before studying at Victoria University for a bachelor of arts in education.

But it “never really clicked” and she did not pursue a career in that area. .

Farm sales and prices ease on year June but horticulture farms shine –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm sales fell 7 percent on the year in the three months to June and the median price per hectare was down 16.3 percent although horticulture farm prices continued to push higher, according to the Real Estate Institute.

Overall, 427 farms were sold in the three months ended June 30 from 459 farms in the same period a year earlier. Some 1,480 farms were sold in the year to June, down 17 percent on the year. . .

Software to keep containment’s out:

Fertiliser co-op Ballance will commercially launch a new farm environment planning tool, MitAgator, by spring.

Developed by Ballance and AgResearch, MitAgator measures the loss of four main farm contaminants — nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E. coli.

New Zealand-wide trials are pointing to a launch by late September. . .

Deer velvet looking good in Asia

Long-term prospects for NZ velvet in the major Asian markets are looking positive says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Asia manager Rhys Griffiths.

“There has been an explosion in consumer demand for consumer-ready velvet-based products in Korea. Ten years ago this product category didn’t even exist,” he says.

“In the past six months, 23 new velvet-based healthy food products have been launched in Korea; the majority of them using NZ velvet. . .

Importers snap up cheap U.S. soybeans as China stops buying – Karl Plume:

China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans, threatened for weeks and enacted Friday, have driven down prices and triggered a wave of bargain shopping by importers in other countries stocking up on cheap U.S. supplies, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.

Chinese buyers have so far this year accounted for just 17 percent of all advanced purchases of the fall U.S. soybean harvest – down from an average of 60 percent over the past decade, the analysis found. They are instead loading up on Brazilian soybeans, which now sell at a premium of up to $1.50 a bushel as U.S. soybean futures have fallen 17 percent over six weeks to about $8.50, their lowest level in nearly a decade. . .

The rise of soil carbon cowboys – Peter Byck:

Ranching is a rare occupation. Rarer still are the ranchers pioneering new ways to graze cattle, transforming their ranches and farms into vibrant ecosystems, producing black ink for their bank accounts and giving their incredibly robust animals a great life (with the exception of one bad day).

These new grazing methods have many names — mob grazing, managed intensive grazing, holistic management. Our group of scientists and ranchers call it Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) Grazing.  . .


Rural round-up

July 8, 2018

Sheep milk gains to be tested by AgResearch:

AgReseach senior scientist Dr Linda Samuelsson says results of the trial to test the benefits of sheep milk for human consumption should be available next year.

In what is believed to be a world first, AgResearch is about to begin a clinical trial to test the benefits of sheep milk for human digestion.

The trial, which will see AgResearch scientists working alongside those at the Auckland University’s Liggins Institute, with support from Spring Sheep Milk Co in the central North Island and Blue River Dairy in Southland, comes at a time of rapid growth for the dairy sheep industry in New Zealand . . 

Portable footwear cleaning station to help stop farm contamination – Gerald Piddock:

A Waikato couple have created what they believe might be the world’s first portable biosecurity system for footwear.

The Jacson Cube, whose name is derived from its creators – husband and wife team Jacqui Humm​ and Russell Knutson​ – is a portable cleaning station that is small enough to fit in the back of a ute.

“It’s a step up from your bucket and brush particularly for those people travelling from farm to farm,” Humm said.

The system took two years to create, and Humm said it was her husband who came up with the idea. . .

Dairy farmer’s passion for goats:

Dunsandel farmer Michael Woodward may be Federated Farmers North Canterbury dairy chairman but his real passion is the angora goats he inherited from his father John.

John Woodward, of Pukekohe, is a pioneer of the mohair industry: he set up its pool marketing system about 1982, is a board member of Mohair Producers NZ and now manages marketing of the North Island mohair clip.

Michael Woodward, meanwhile, is sharemilking on 300ha at Dunsandel with his wife Susie. . .

Hemp is not marijuana, it is a formidable vegetable, says social entrepreneur:

Social entrepreneur Michael Mayell is speaking out about the beneficial properties of hemp to help inform and inspire Kiwis to embrace new business opportunities around what he calls a ‘formidable vegetable’.

“Hemp is food, fibre and medicine. Hemp is cannabis without any of the psychoactive properties of its cousin marijuana and is fuelling an emerging market which is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors,” says Mayell, who started his food journey as founder of Cookie Time in 1983 and went on to found Nutrient Rescue, a social enterprise, in 2016 and the Drinkable Rivers in our Lifetime campaign. . .

Farmers encouraged to plan ahead by looking at green projects :

Farmers have been encouraged to plan ahead and look at green projects as the future of UK farming looks set to change.

Various grants and funding are on offer for farmers to encourage green growth, coupled with future government subsidies post-Brexit leaning towards environmental stewardship.

In recent debates regarding the future of farming subsidies, the government has strongly indicated that any future funding is likely to be based on farming practices that provide ‘public goods’. . . 

 

It’s time to “Join the Ag Revolution’ –

Agriculture is on the cusp of a revolution, with renewed enthusiasm fueling a transformation. 

Precision ag, increased production capabilities, and water-saving innovations are all reflective of an industry brimming with opportunity.

And now one of Australia’s rural heartlands is calling forth an agricultural army – a vibrant, skilled workforce to lead into the new age. 

‘Join the Ag Revolution’ is an initiative of Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association (GVIA), created to showcase and promote rural industries, and the passionate people behind them. . .


Rural round-up

June 30, 2018

Councils’ reliance on rating slammed as ‘abhorrent’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says councils need new ways to diversify their funding and the reliance on rating is “abhorrent” and needs addressing.

In her report to the rural lobby organisation’s national conference, Ms Milne said that would be particularly helpful for councils with a small rating base.

Central government must also make sure councils were reasonable in how they rated “and not bleed the public for projects which may never get off the ground or pet ideas that only serve the ideologies of the few rather than the many”.

“There is a belief we are all rich farmers but this is just a myth,” she said. . . 

Government negligent over PSA claim:

A landmark decision released by the High Court today has found that the Ministry of Primary Industries (formally MAF) was negligent in allowing the deadly PSA disease into New Zealand in 2009, which devastated the kiwifruit industry.
Kiwifruit Claim Chairman John Cameron said that it was also hugely significant for the kiwifruit industry and other primary industries that the Court also established that MPI owed a duty of care to kiwifruit growers when carrying out its biosecurity functions.
“We completely agree with the Judge when she says that the wrong to the 212 kiwifruit growers should be remedied. . .
Psa Litigation:
MPI has received the High Court’s decision on the long-running Psa litigation and we are now carefully considering its findings and implications for current and future biosecurity activities.
The 500 page document traverses events dating back 12 years, pre-dating the establishment of MPI, and requires a thorough examination. We cannot rush this process.
Once we have completed consideration of the judgment, a decision will be made on whether to appeal. That decision must be made by the Solicitor-General, not MPI.
Until then, we will be making no further comment. . .

Early winners are still leading – Hugh Stringleman:

Hugh Stringleman looks back on the initial decade of the Young Farmer Contest and catches up with some of those who took part.

Winning the Young Farmer Contest’s national honours opened many doors to farming success and primary industry leadership for champions from the first decade.

Between 1969 and 1978 competition was very keen among thousands of Young Farmers Club members nationwide to achieve a place in the four-man grand finals, as they were then.

Every member was encouraged to participate to build public speaking skills, increase their industry knowledge and try to progress through club, district, regional, island and grand finals. . . 

Fonterra says climate change policy shouldn’t reduce methane emissions to zero – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group said it supports a target aimed at mitigating and stabilising methane emissions, but not seeking to reduce them to zero, in its submission on the productivity commision draft report on transitioning to a low-emissions economy.

“Agricultural emissions make up approximately half of New Zealand’s emissions and we support policies being set to help transition agriculture to a low emissions economy,” it said in the recently published submission. Submissions on the commission’s draft report – presented in April – were open until June 8 and the commission aims to present a final report to the government by August. . . .

AgResearch purchases full ownership of Farmax:
AgResearch has taken full ownership of agricultural software company Farmax Ltd by acquiring the shares of Brownrigg Agriculture, and Phil Tither, of AgFirst.
Farmax has been operating for 15 years and has already been used to add value to more than 5000 farm businesses in New Zealand and overseas. The software is used by farmers and their advisors to analyse, monitor and review farm operations to determine the production and economic outcomes of various managerial options. . .

Gallagher’s takes supreme ExportNZ award:

Gallagher Group has taken out the supreme award for the 2018 Air New Zealand Cargo ExportNZ Awards for Auckland and Waikato regions.

Judges were impressed with the way the Hamilton-based business has become the leading technology company in animal management, security and fuel system industries over the past 80 years.

Founded in 1937, Gallagher’s was initially a 10-person business which designed and delivered New Zealand’s first electric fence solution. Today, it employs 1100 people across a global network of 10 countries through three business units. . . 

British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to deliver high quality food, says Michael Gove

NFU President Minette Batters has welcomed comments made by Michael Gove in his keynote speech at the NFU’s Summer Reception at the House of Commons on 25 June. 

Defra’s Secretary of State for food and the environment said he had ‘heard, received and understood’ the NFU’s call on government to uphold the high-quality produce that he said was a ‘hallmark of British agriculture’ in post-Brexit trade agreements.

He said that British farmers are ‘better equipped than anyone’ to fulfil the national and global demand for high-quality food. . .

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