Rural round-up

April 25, 2014

Food Safety Assurance Advisory Council established:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today a Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council is being set up to provide independent advice to the government on issues relating to food safety.

Establishing this council is one of the 29 recommendations of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident, released in December last year.

“At the moment there is no independent group that looks at the whole of New Zealand’s food safety and assurance system and is able to provide high-level independent advice and risk analysis,” Ms Kaye says.

“This council is being set up to do this and will report to the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). It will provide a valuable sounding board for new ideas and contribute to raising consumer and market confidence in New Zealand’s food. . .

Memorandum to restore Waiapu catchment signed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Jo Goodhew today announced a collaborative partnership to restore the Waiapu catchment in the Gisborne District.

“The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between MPI, Te Runanganui O Ngāti Porou and Gisborne District Council demonstrates a long term commitment to work together and with landowners to address the erosion control problems in the catchment.

“The Waiapu River has the highest suspended sediment yield of any river in New Zealand and one of the highest in the world. If nothing is done, erosion and sedimentation could double by 2050.

“This is a great example of this Government working together with iwi and local councils to invest in and develop our regions. This long-term partnership will create significant environmental, cultural, social and economic benefits for iwi and the local community,” says Mr Guy. . .

Otago landowners help control TB through levy:

Consultation with Otago landowners over the levy for the region’s bovine tuberculosis (TB) control programme has gathered positive responses.

TBfree Otago Committee Chairman Ross Beckingsale said through the levy and a grant from the Otago Regional Council, landowners will fund around 10 per cent of the $7.5 million TB control programme to be implemented in the region.

The remainder comes from the farming sector and central government.

The 2014/2015 programme will consist of about one million hectares of pest control, mainly ground-based possum trapping, and a single aerial operation in difficult terrain. There will also be work assessing the possum populations and surveillance of pests to detect if TB is present in wild animal populations. . .

Earnscleugh Orchard Supreme Winner of Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

An industry leading Central Otago orchard with a long term sustainability focus has won the Supreme title in the 2014 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Wayne McIntosh, manager of Earnscleugh-based McIntosh Orchard Ltd, received the Supreme award at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 11. He also collected the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the WaterForce Integrated Management Award.

BFEA judges said the 64ha pip and stonefruit operation is a business at the forefront of its industry, describing it as a top producing orchard with “a vision and strategy to promote the Otago region and to be recognised nationally and internationally”. . .

How to lose an argument on food and agriculture topics – Agriculture Proud:

A few weeks back, I shared several lessons learned while sticking my neck out and engaging in discussions centered around food and agriculture topics. Today, I share a few lessons learned by failure; sometimes my own.

  1. Assuming science will give us all the answers; it only gives us some of the answers. Pick a topic, any topic. Chances are you can find “scientists” on either side of the issue. Many people in the general public do not trust science or believe it can be bought-off. Often times, questions may be more about the ethics than the science.
  2. Using economics as the justification for all of our practices. If you own a business or depend on something for your livelihood, chances are who know what makes sound economic sense. “Of course we treat our cows well or they wouldn’t produce for us,” probably doesn’t convey the right message to a non-farm consumer. Making more money and welfare of animals/environment doesn’t always go hand in hand.
  3. Assuming that you have to speak up in defense of all agricultural practices. Chances are you don’t have experience in all areas, you’ll get backed into a corner and lose all credibility. Also, not all practices are defensible. (Read more) Wait, why are we waiting to play defense? . . .

Resistance better than resilience – Jamie-Lee Oldfield:

DRY conditions have meant lower than usual worm egg counts in sheep throughout summer, but recent rainfall and warm temperatures could see a rapid rate of infection.

However, those producers focusing on resistance, rather than resilience, may be better off this season.

Veterinary Health Research lab manager Rad Nielsen said while the worm season will potentially be less severe than normal because of the drought, he has seen high counts in recent weeks, and producers should be cautious not to “get caught out”. . .

  “Agriculture, science …. And stuff like that”… A New Blog – Pasture to Profit:

“Agriculture,science and stuff like that” is a new blog created by AgResearch scientist Jill Walcroft as part of an action research project investigating the ins and outs of science communication with social media.

Worth exploring and discussing, especially science to do with land. I feel that sometimes science is not very accessible. So I’ve given myself a challenge, “can I present the stories in such a way that people’s eyes don’t glaze over after the first sentence”. I am also keen to understand the reasons scientists may or may not see social media as a good avenue for communicating their scientific findings, and to hopefully find ways of enabling scientists to uptake up these technologies with some confidence.

Summer shade for cool cows – Agriculture, science . . . and stuff like that:

A study investigating the impacts of shade on the wellbeing of cattle came up with some ‘cool’ stuff, really cool for the cattle that is.

AgResearch scientist, Keith Betteridge, started his science career at the Kaikohe Regional Station of DSIR Grasslands. When he arrived in the far north, he couldn’t understand why the land had not been cleared of trees and scrub. Conversely, when he returned to the Manawatu 12 years later, he could not understand why so many farmers had cut down nearly every tree on their farm. That shift in his perception about what makes an attractive and healthy landscape has sunk in deep and made the study he carried out recently seem very logical.

At a recent beef farmer discussion group an argument was put forward, that if cattle are under shade then they aren’t eating and therefore might be slower to fatten and this might lead to a loss of income. Since there was little science data to support or dispel this argument, AgResearch was asked to undertake a short experiment to provide some hard facts. . .


Rural round-up

January 14, 2014

 Three vie for award’s top spot:

A Northland woman among three finalists for the 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year Award is helping train other women to take on leadership roles in agricultural organisations.

Whangarei farm accountant and 2013 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards supreme award winner Charmaine O’Shea is vying for the Dairy Woman of the Year Award with Waikato veterinarian Joyce Voogt and Hauraki Plains farmer Julie Pirie. They were individually interviewed by a judging panel consisting of Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board chairwoman Michelle Wilson, Global Women managing director Faye Langdon, Fonterra leadership and talent director Janette Rosanowski, DairyNZ strategy and investment portfolio manager Jenny Jago and 2012 Dairy Woman of the Year award winner Barbara Kuriger. This year’s winner will be announced at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Hamilton on March 19. . . .

Irrigation nominations sought:

Entries close at the end of this month for IrrigationNZ’s ‘Innovation in Irrigation Award’ in association with Aqualinc. The prestigious award, which comes with a $2500 prize, celebrates, encourages and promotes innovation within New Zealand’s irrigation industry.

Previous recipients include the North Otago Irrigation Company in 2012 for its ground-breaking Environmental Farm Plans which guide shareholders in good management practice for irrigation, riparian, soil, fertiliser and effluent use.

Fielding-based Precision Irrigation won the award in 2010 for its variable rate irrigation systems which more effectively target water application through the use of GPS. . .

The impact the dairying ‘revolution’ is having on New Zealand, the consequences, and the prospects – Rodney Dickens:

There is nothing new about the current high dairy export prices in that the current levels are similar to earlier peak levels in 2007/08 and 2010/11.

The left chart below shows the ANZ dairy commodity price indices measured in NZD terms and world price terms.

The much higher world prices than NZD prices in recent years reflect the negative impact of the high NZD.

In world price terms current prices are well above the levels that existed prior to 2007, with this related to a large extent to increased Chinese demand that was revealed in a Raving that looked at the massive impact China is having on a wide range of NZ commodity exports and tourism. Based on the 7 January Fonterra auction results, dairy product prices in USD terms remained high (right chart). . . .

Why should farmers and ranchers invest time in advocacy? – Agriculture Proud:

Last week, I posted an article from Forbes that is very accusatory of modern global agriculture. It’s like a laundry list of activist claims used demonize modern agriculture practices. We could spend time angrily responding to articles like this, but defensively reacting to accusations like this aren’t getting us very far. Hence my emphasis on the importance of being PROactive in reaching out, answering questions, and sharing our story with audiences willing to listen.

Part of that proactive response includes farmers, ranchers and members of the agriculture community investing time in reaching out and engaging. Often when I propose this investment to various ranchers groups across the country, I get either a blank stare or a response similar to this: . . .

Top ram’s DNA revived 30 years on – Sally Rae:

Offspring of a Romney ram, owned by Otago stud breeder David Robertson, will go through the sale ring in Gore tomorrow.

Aurora 105-84 might be long gone, but his genetics live on three decades later, thanks to what was initially a practice exercise in artificial insemination for Mr Robertson’s veterinary surgeon son.

Mr Robertson, who farms at Palmerston and is a third-generation stud-breeder, admitted it was an unusual situation. . . .

International year of family farming kicks off in Australia:

The National Farmers’ Federation and its members have hailed the start of the new year, encouraging all Australians to join with them in celebrating the International Year of Family Farming during 2014.

NFF President Brent Finlay, a family farmer from south east Queensland, said family farms remain the heart and soul of agriculture in Australia.

“Ninety nine percent of Australian farms are family owned and operated – and this year, the United Nations-declared International Year of Family Farming, gives us the opportunity to celebrate the enormous contribution these farmers make,” Mr Finlay said. . .


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