Rural round-up

October 9, 2019

Extinction Rebellion should unglue their hands and reach out for the potential of gene editing technologies – Point of Order:

History was being made (we  were  told  by  mainstream media)  when  170,000  New Zealanders  took to  the streets to  demand  decisive  action  against  climate  change.  It capped a  week in which the  16-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg dressed down a  summit in New York of world leaders:

“We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth”.

That  apocalyptic   vision  was  clearly  shared  by  many young  New Zealanders: one Wellington student called on the government immediately to  cull the   country’s entire  dairy herd.

So   what   has   happened in the  fortnight  since? . .

Water rules’ outcome predetermined – Alan Emerson:

I joined more than 400 local farmers at the Ministry for the Environment consultation meeting in Carterton. 

In addition it was streamed to Federated Farmers members. It was an interesting experience.

The meeting started with MfE staff telling Wairarapa rivers are in good shape. 

They then went on to outline all the expenses to be foisted on us even though our rivers are, in their words, in good shape.

We were then told we need to manage our emotions and to be respectful of other attendees.

I’d suggest it’s not easy to manage your emotions when you are getting considerable costs foisted on you for no good reason. . . 

Kiwi clarity inspires import – Samantha Tennent:

Being a foreigner in a strange land is no barrier to progression in the dairy industry for one young woman from England. Samantha Tennent reports.

Nicola Blowey is the manager on 575-cow farm at Fairlie.

She was also the 2019 national winner of the Dairy Trainee of the Year at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

She has found consistency and clarity across the NZ dairy sector compared to the diversity in Britain where farmers use grass in some way across their systems.

“Back home discussions don’t have the same clarity,” Blowey says. . .

Meat company still in limbo – Brent Melville:

About 160 seasonal workers at Oamaru Meats Ltd (OML) are entering their fourth week off the job after the meat processor shut down the majority of its processing on September 13.

The unplanned closure followed the suspension of its access to China beef markets.

The North Otago company, owned by Chinese company BX Foods, said it had been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Chinese authorities to get more information.

OML director Richard Thorp, who had described the shut-down as a “temporary break in production”, said the plant had continued and about 20 staff had been retained for “non-China” processing. . .. 

Pioneer of Central Otago winemaking still in the business – Yvonne O’Hara:

Reverend Samuel Marsden did not know it, but when he planted the first grapevines in Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, on September 25, 1819, he was indirectly introducing an industry that is now earning Central Otago millions of export dollars.

Frenchman Jean Desire Feraud introduced wine grapes into Central Otago in 1864 at Clyde, as did Alexandra businessman Thomas Oliver in the same decade.

They were also indirectly responsible for the modern vibrant wine industry in Central Otago.

There are now 135 wineries and 32 grape growers, producing wines that attract global accolades.

There is 1884ha planted in vineyards, of which 1502ha is planted in pinot noir, and last season the region produced 11,868 tonnes of wine grapes, New Zealand Wine Growers says. . . 

Minnesota farmers diversify into hemp production to stay viable – Lucy Kinbacher:

An American farming family are among a host of Minnesota growers taking up new hemp crops as prices for corn and soybeans tumble.

The Peterson family of Sever and Sharon, along with their son Aaron and his wife Nicola, operate about 445 hectares growing everything from corn, soybeans, pumpkins and apple trees, and are no strangers to business restructure.

Traditionally a truck garden vegetable farm in the early 20th century, they went on to dabble in wholesale production throughout the US and central Canada, roadside retail stores and even established Sever’s Corn Maze for added income. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 29, 2019

Meetings show farm frustration – Colin Williscroft:

High farmer turnouts at meetings trying to explain the Government’s freshwater proposals show the degree of frustration the sector is feeling, Central Hawke’s Bay farmer Sam Robinson says.

Robinson, who attended a meeting a meeting in Napier that attracted 300 to 400 farmers and growers said he and just about everyone else there do not disagree with the proposals’ objectives. It is the approach causing frustration among farmers.

Frustration was also the overwhelming feeling at a meeting in Carterton, targeted specifically at farmers and growers, Farmers Weekly columnist Alan Emerson said. . .

Fonterra faces painful reality – Stephen Bell:

Fonterra has confirmed a farmgate milk price of $6.35/kg MS for last season while recording a net loss after tax of $605 million, an improvement on the forecast loss of up to $675m.

It had sales revenue of $20.1 billion, down 2% with operating expenses of $2.3b, down 7% and capital spending of $600m, down 30%.

Th co-op is reshuffling its management team with its global operations chief operating officer Robert Spurway the only casualty. Fonterra said he chose to leave to return to directly running a company.

Chief executive Miles Hurrell said 2019 was incredibly tough for the co-op but also the year Fonterra made decisions to set it up for future success. . .

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell: ,I knew 100% what I was getting in to’ :

Financial results media scrum over, two interviews with journalists down and a swag more scheduled, Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell’s baby face is starting to take on some harder edges.

It’s been a marathon couple of months leading to Thursday’s formal presentation of the dairy cooperative’s grim annual results, tempered only slightly by the simultaneous unveiling of a bright and shiny new business strategy.

There are only so many times a man can smile while saying “mea culpa New Zealand”. . .

From city to country: Award-winning shepherd kicks career goals.

It’s a brisk winter’s night as Kristy Roa and her teammates jog onto a floodlit sports field in Gisborne.

The 20-year-old shepherd heads for the nearest goal, pulling on a clean set of goalkeeper’s gloves as she goes.

A whistle sounds and it’s not long before a muddy soccer ball is hurtling towards the left corner of the goal. . .

Farmers look after rare mudfish – Toni Williams:

Arable farmer Ian Mackenzie and his wife Diana, opened their Eiffelton property in Mid Canterbury to Foundation for Arable Research’s Women In Arable group, to have a close up look at how farming and environmental protection can work hand in hand.

Mr Mackenzie, a third generation farmer on the Akaunui Farm site, spoke about the efforts to help protect the endangered mudfish which live in the farm’s Purakaunui Creek.

The Mackenzies, even after more than 25 years dealing with mudfish on farm, were still learning about the rare breed, as there were few people who knew a lot about them. . .

Dubbo to host life facilitator Viv Adcock who can talk to animals including livestock – Lucy Kinbacher:

A life facilitator who says she can talk to animals will visit Dubbo in October to offer livestock producers an opportunity to better understand their animals needs.

Sunshine Coast based woman Viv Adcock will visit the property of Merino sheep breeders, the Coddington family, from October 11 to 13 to talk to their animals about a range of topics including nutrition, handling and welfare. Her work is based on building a connection with animals, along with using body language, to perceive an animal’s behaviour.

Ms Adcock said often failure to fall pregnant, lack of production or low yields for either meat or fleece were signals of bigger problems. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2019

Drought bites crops in Tasman with little respite forecast for growers – Katy Jones:

Growers are battling to keep crops alive on the Waimea Plains as the drought continues to bite in Tasman district, with no sign of a significant break in the prolonged dry spell.

Irrigators this week saw the amount of water they were allowed to take from catchments on the plains cut by 50 per cent, as the Waimea River dropped to its lowest level for this time of year since the “Big Dry” in 2001.

High winds at the end of last month compounded growers’ woes, further drying out land already parched by a lack of rain and high temperatures. . . 

Court to decide official location of a riverbank – Eric Frykberg:

Where does the bed of a river end and adjacent farmland begin? That is not an easy question to answer, when dealing with braided rivers that often change course.

However, the Court of Appeal will now get the chance to decide the official location of a riverbank.

The problem began in 2017 when a farmer was prosecuted for doing earthworks in the bed of the Selwyn River, in mid Canterbury.

Although he pleaded guilty, the case gave rise to debate about how wide a braided river actually was.

The District Court sided with Environment Canterbury and ruled a river was as big as the area covered by the river’s waters at their fullest flow. . .

Ravensdown CEO agrees farmers have sometimes applied too much fertiliser – Gerard Hutching:

Fertiliser company Ravensdown says it is trying to persuade farmers to use less nitrogen and concedes that in the past too much has been applied “in some cases.”

However it has recently developed new products which result in less nitrogen being lost to the atmosphere or leaching into the soil where it ends up in waterways.

Greenpeace has demanded the Government ban chemical nitrogen because it claims it causes river pollution. It has created billboards accusing Ravensdown and its competitor Ballance Agri-Nutrients of polluting rivers. . . 

Group ignores fertiliser facts – Alan Emerson:

Driving out of Auckland I saw a huge billboard with the message: Ravensdown and Ballance pollute rivers.

How can that be, I thought, but then I noted the billboard was put there by Greenpeace and Greenpeace never lets the facts get in the way of its prejudices.

Starting at the top, the two fertiliser companies don’t pollute rivers, they sell fertilisers, so factually it is wrong.

According to my dictionary pollute means contaminate with poisonous or harmful substances or to make morally corrupt or to desecrate.

How, then, can Ravensdown and Ballance pollute? . . 

Change constant in 50-year career – Ken Muir:

When you have worked for more than 50 years in the rural sector, change is a constant and for Andrew Welsh, an agribusiness manager at Rabobank in Southland, this has included everything from the model of car he was supplied with to the way he communicates with co-workers and his clients.

Mr Welsh said farming was in his DNA.

”My great grandparents farmed in South Otago and Opotiki, and going further back than that our relatives had farmed in County Durham before coming out to Hawkes Bay.”

He started in the industry at the bottom, he said.

”When I started at Wright Stephenson’s in Gore in 1968 as an office junior, I was everybody’s general dogsbody.” . . 

 

Halter targets April launch date

Kiwi agritech start-up Halter expects to commercially launch its unique GPS-enabled cow collars in April.

“We have just finished setting up our production line in China and we have had our first collars off the line come back,” chief executive and founder Craig Piggott told the Young Farmers conference.

“We are targeting April as our commercial launch. It’s all happening very quickly.”

Auckland-based Halter has developed the collar, which allows cows to be guided around a farm using a smartphone app. . . 


Rural round-up

April 24, 2015

100 years 100 horses unites community:

The tale behind this Saturday’s 20km trek by 100 horses and riders to honour their Anzac war dead has galvanised rural communities around Waikari, north Canterbury, even after the worst drought for 60 years.

On Anzac Day, a spectacular remembrance called ‘100 Years, 100 Horses’, assisted by a Fonterra Grass Roots Fund donation, will see 100 riders in formation – many of them dressed in replica gear from World War I. They will pay tribute, not just to the fallen, but to the community spirit behind the Canterbury Mounted Rifles.

Fonterra’s Grass Roots Fund was touched by the story of the Rifles, part of the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade which left Lyttelton in 1914 for the conflict in Turkey with just under 2000 men and over 2000 horses. The north Canterbury townships of the Hurunui district – Waikari, Hurunui, Mason Flats, Peaks and Hawarden – provided 187 of the riders, 42 of whom did not return. . .

Landowners ease path to Tinui Cross, NZ’s first Anzac memorial  – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers and landowners in the Tinui district of the Wairarapa have been “superb” over the creation of a walkway across their land to the historic Tinui Anzac Cross.

The first Anzac memorial built in New Zealand, the cross was built in 1916 on top of Mount Maunsell, or Tinui Taipo as it is known locally.

It has long been a tradition for locals to walk the three kilometres from the Tinui cemetery to the cross on Anzac Day, but in recent years numbers have grown.

Chairman of the Tinui Parish Anzac Trust, Alan Emerson, said the Trust had wanted to establish informal access to the cross for a number of years, and a route through Tinui Forest Park and a neighbouring farm belonging to Mike and Lesley Hodgins proved most suitable. . . .

Dealing weeds a crushing blow – Time Cronshaw:

Frustrated by weeds infiltrating his crops Aussie farmer Ray Harrington borrowed coal mining technology to come up with an invention turning heads internationally, writes Tim Cronshaw.

Crushing was the final C option that farmer-inventor Ray Harrington turned to for eliminating persistent weeds on his Western Australia farm.

“I knew we would have to do something different to stave off the impending (herbicide) resistance and knew what was coming. That is why I decided to build in my mind what I dubbed as as the Big C project. We knew the chaff (coming from the header) when we harvested crops contained 98 per cent of the weed seeds and I had to catch the chaff, cart it, cook it, crush it or cremate it and that was the project in my head.” . . .

Bees show taste for toxic pesticides – study:

A New Zealand bee scientist says new international research that shows bees may be getting hooked on some types of pesticides, only paints part of a wider picture.

A study published in the science journal Nature this week shows bees prefer food laced with neonicotinoids in lab tests undertaken at Newcastle University.

Neonicotinoids are long-lasting insecticides which are primarily used to coat the seeds of plants, making them toxic to all insects when they grow.

There is international debate on whether bees are affected by them. . .

Horticulture production exceeds $7 billion:

Plant & Food Research is a New Zealand-based science company providing research and development that adds value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products.

New Zealand’s horticultural production has exceeded $7 billion for the first time, according to the latest edition of the industry statistics publication Fresh Facts. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 5, 2014

Bogged in bureaucracy – Alan Emerson:

The fact that a farmer has so far spent upwards of $3 million trying to get through a pile of red tape and actually farm is criminal and an indictment on our democratic process.

Mackenzie farmer, Kees Zeestraten, wants to irrigate to run a dairy operation there.

Some of the objections are in the believe it or not category.

For example Zeestraten has rejigged his operation so that the irrigators aren’t visible from either Lake Ohau or the Ohau road.

It seems to me that someone is being incredibly precious. . .

Whatever happened to the importance of the fifth quarter? – Allan Barber:

There has long been a belief in the crucial importance of the meat industry’s fifth quarter to profitability. This somewhat obscure term refers to the co-products which contribute an essential revenue component over and above the value of the meat.

Every industry has its own version of the fifth quarter, but the combination of pelt or hide, intestines, tallow and meat and bone meal, especially when global demand for all co-products is high, makes a disproportionately large contribution to meat company profits.

Yet when I read the press release from Silver Fern Farms about the sale of the hide processing unit to Lowe Corporation and the supplier newsletter, not forgetting my phone conversation with Keith Cooper, I got a completely different impression. . . .

Repeat droughts cause kumara crisis – John Anthony:

Kumara chips have been in short supply for the second year in a row because of consecutive droughts in New Zealand’s kumara growing capital.

Kumara growers in Northland’s Kaipara region, where most of New Zealand’s kumara are harvested, say three consecutive summers of drought have affected crops.

Delta Kumara general manager Locky Wilson said yields from the current crops being harvested were not great.

“It’s definitely not going to be an oversupply.” . .

Making the best from our changing climate – Willy Leferink:

Do you know the number of insured disasters actually fell 44 percent last year?  Apparently hailstorms in Germany and France led to US$3.8 billion worth of insured damages, the most ever, so maybe we need to start worrying about “global hail.”

Swiss Re, the World’s number two insurer, is worried that disasters are getting ever costlier.  It warns, “Urbanisation, the clustering of properties and commercial activity and migration to high-risk areas such as coast and flood plains need to be closely monitored.” Since we seem to be putting all of our urban eggs into Auckland’s basket, maybe spreading development to Timaru makes more sense.

So is a changing climate, which may see low lying cities flooded, worse than the world running out of food?  The two could run together but instead of going all Eeyore about the future we need to adapt.

Adapting to change has been a part of farming ever since someone decided to domesticate animals instead of expending lots of energy hunting them.  Those pioneers also started planting crops allowing settled communities to form.  . .

Water management changes needed – Andrew Curtis:

We have reached a crossroads for water management in New Zealand.

Depending on which way we turn we’ll drive our agriculture-based economy forward at pace, continue on the incremental pathway or potentially go backwards.

To realise greater prosperity through increased primary exports changes are required urgently on water management. . .

 

Farm manager eyes ownership – Diane Bishop:

Southland is the land of opportunity for Jared Crawford.

The former plumber and his wife Sara moved from the Waikato to Southland two years ago to further their career in the dairy industry.

They landed a job managing an 800-cow operation at Waimumu last season, but the chance to progress to a first-year conversion at Riversdale was too good to pass up. . . 


Rural round-up

February 5, 2013

ECann Rakaia River recommendation accepted:

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says the Government has accepted Environment Canterbury’s recommendation to change the water conservation order that covers the Rakaia River.

The change will allow TrustPower to release water from Lake Coleridge for irrigation when the river is low, increasing the reliability of the water supply.

“Environment Canterbury’s report and recommendation is a good example of both environmental considerations and the needs of the farming community being taken into account,” Mr Brownlee says. . .

Why wash clean linen in public – Alan Emerson:

Farming is certainly in the mainstream media. 

Most outlets are covering the DCD saga and they weren’t helped by some woolly statements from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Fonterra.

I thought the two fertiliser co-operatives, Ballance and Ravensdown, handled the issue well, with their media releases being factual and unemotive. Both withdrew their DCD product and that, in my opinion, should have been the end of the story.

The issue is simple – DCD is safe. It has been around since the 1920s and used in its current form since 1981 and that is the problem.

Because it isn’t a new product but an adaption of an existing chemical, it is not classified under the international Codex Alimentarium. For that reason there is no minimum or maximum allowable level.

The problem is technical and procedural – it is not a chemical or health issue. Googling DCD you can identify all the many countries using it. You can also read glowing references about the product’s ability to increase yields in tomatoes, wheat, barley, rice and grass. . .

Lessons learned on managing perception – Alan Williams:

THE DCD issue has thrown up some lessons on how to manage market perceptions when the debate gets away from the science, Ministry for Primary Industries deputy director general (Standards) Carol Barnao says.

MPI’s risk assessment team discovered quickly there were no food safety concerns from traces of DCD found in whole milk powder, but the time taken for action was seen by some people as too slow and the presence of an unexpected compound was linked with tainted food in some markets.

More than three months passed between Fonterra’s product testing and the withdrawal from the market of the fertilisers containing DCD.

If there had been food safety concerns action would have happened much sooner, Barnao said.

Working groups were set up as soon as MPI was alerted in early November but it took time to complete the testing methodology and the why, when, and how of what happened, she said. . .

Happy to break new ground – Hannah Lynch:

Primary industries might be getting a new minister, but it’s in the associate role where a woman will be getting to make a mark for the first time. Hannah Lynch reports from Parliament.

The first woman appointed to a ministerial role in agriculture is not afraid of bringing a touch of femininity to the job, revealing she wears high-heeled boots on the family farm. 

Jo Goodhew has just been made Associate Primary Industries Minister in a Cabinet reshuffle that elevated the previous associate, Nathan Guy, into the main role.

“It is exciting but it is part of the general trend we are seeing where women who have the right skills are doing anything,” Goodhew said. 

“Women are going into roles that were previously held by men but now it’s just recognition that if you have got the skills it doesn’t matter what gender you are.”  . . .

MyFarm expanding to sheep and beef farms – Hugh Stringleman:

MyFarm intends to use its farm ownership syndication model for sheep and beef farms as well as dairy farms.

It put together one sheep and beef farm syndicate in 2010, for Kaiangaroa farm east of Taihape, and during this year will offer several more.

MyFarm director Andrew Watters would not specify the locations but gave parameters for the suitable properties and regions.

They would be mainly sheep-breeding and lamb-finishing properties, with beef cattle only additional. . .

Farmers Preparing to Steak Their Claim :

Farmers across the country are selecting their entries for the 2013 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin.

The competition to find the country’s most tender and tasty steak is entering its 11th year and is keenly contested nationwide.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion, says the competition is taken very seriously and winning has become a badge of honour.

“The Steak of Origin rewards farmers for their efforts and showcases the skill in the New Zealand beef farming industry,” says Champion. . .

Freshman Sire Highlights Final Day of Karaka 2013:

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2013 National Yearling Sales Series has drawn to a close today at Karaka with the final 212 yearlings of the Festival Sale concluding a bumper seven days of selling that has seen a total of 1021 lots traded for $72,387,700.

For the third day in a row Westbury Stud’s first season sire Swiss Ace (Secret Savings) provided the top price of the day, this time it was the colt at Lot 1353 from the four-time winning Stravinsky mare Poetic Music bought by Rogerson Bloodstock for $95,000.
1353 web
Top lot of the day the Swiss Ace colt (Lot 1353) purchased by Rogerson Bloodstock for $95,000

“He was the nicest horse here today and he proved that because he was the top lot of the day.

http://www.fwplus.co.nz/article/alternative-view-why-wash-clean-linen-in-public?p=6


Rural round-up

July 17, 2012

Philanthropist meat industry pioneer dies:

Hawke’s Bay businessman and philanthropist Graeme Lowe has died after a 15-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. 

    His family said he died peacefully at his Havelock North home yesterday, surrounded by close family members, including wife Jenny, son Andy, and daughters Sarah Whyte and Kate Stace. 

    Andy Lowe said his 77-year-old father had lived his life to the full. 

    “We have lost a great husband, father, mentor and friend,” the son said. “He has touched the lives of so many, from all walks of life.” 

    A pioneer of the modern meat industry, Mr Lowe led Lowe Corporation from its inception in 1964. . .

PGP delivers on Government growth plan:

Primary Industries Minister David Carter has welcomed today’s announcement of a major investment partnership for New Zealand’s export beef sector.

The Government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) is to fund half of a $23.7 million programme led by Brownrigg Agriculture and Firstlight Foods to produce high-value marbled beef for premium markets.

“The Government’s total investment so far of more than quarter of a billion dollars in PGP programmes demonstrates its firm commitment to boosting economic growth through primary sector research and innovation,” says Mr Carter. . .

Tapping into the halal economy – Richard Meadows:

The Muslim slaughtermen turns the stunned sheep to face Mecca, offering a prayer to Allah as he slits its throat and leaves the carcass to bleed out. 

    This bloody image is the face of halal in New Zealand, but business leaders will have to move past it if they want a piece of the largely untapped $2.3 trillion halal economy globally. 

    “Halal is not about ritual slaughtering of animals,” said Jamil Bidin, chief executive of Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation. . .

German Festival-Goers Flock to Eat New Zealand Lamb and Venison:

New Zealand lamb and venison were in such hot demand at Northern Europe’s biggest summer festival, the organisers had to get in extra chefs to satisfy the hungry queues.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Deer Industry New Zealand were invited to take part in this year’s Kieler Woche celebrations – the first time in the festival’s 130-year history New Zealand has been represented at the international market.

The market in Kiel’s picturesque main square is at the hub of more than 2,000 sports and cultural events which attract around three million visitors annually to a city with a population not much bigger than Hamilton’s. . .

Lifestylers to set rural rates – Alan Emerson:

I didn’t realise that New Zealand had a National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis but we do.

It is part of the University of Waikato in Hamilton. Its Professor of Population Economics is Dr Jacques Poot who has an impressive list of qualifications and is extremely approachable.

He gave a talk at the recent Fieldays at Mystery Creek and the news is largely bad for the rural sector and the family farm. I was surprised the talk didn’t receive more media coverage than it did.

Basically over the next 20 years the rural population will shrink and get older. . .

Move to NZ life-changing – Sally Rae:

Animal scientist Bruno Santos has no regrets about a    life-changing decision to move from Brazil to Dunedin.   

 Mr Santos, who moved to the city in February to work for  consultancy and new venture development company, AbacusBio,      was joined by his wife, Renata, and their two young childre last month.

He is no stranger to AbacusBio, having collaborated with the  company on business development and technical projects in Brazil. . .

New Zealand wine – a glass half-full:

A weather-affected 2012 New Zealand wine harvest has reduced bulging stocks and driven a small but significant lift in Marlborough sauvignon blanc (MSB) grape prices. This is leading many in the industry to once again “view the proverbial glass as half full rather than half empty” when it comes to New Zealand wine, according to a new industry report. In its Wine Quarterly Q2: New Zealand wine – a glass half full, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says an unseasonably cool and in some parts rain-affected 2012 New Zealand wine harvest of 269,000 tonnes (down 18 per cent on 2011) has reduced the high stock levels that had fuelled a surge in bulk wine exports and private label brands in recent years. . .


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