Rural round-up

September 9, 2018

Make jobs attractive to youth – Neal Wallace:

Farmers need to change their approach to employment conditions to encourage more people to work for them, Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis says.

Low regional unemployment is making staff recruitment more challenging but there are already fewer people choosing agricultural careers.

To be competitive farmers need to consider more than just pay but also rosters, hours of work, housing, the workplace environment, pressure of the job and ensure they meet their legal payroll and time-recording obligations. . .

Annual results will put Fonterra under microscope – Sally Rae:

Scrutiny from farmers is expected next week when new chairman John Monaghan and recently appointed interim chief executive Miles Hurrell front Fonterra’s 2017-18 annual results presentation.

While commodity price fluctuations were “part and parcel” of the reality of being a dairy farmer, grumblings about Fonterra’s corporate performance have been growing, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said.

From an historical perspective, prices remained at relatively robust levels and, at $6.50, most farmers would be in positive cashflow territory. . . 

FENZ urges caution on controlled burns – John Gibb:

Large, controlled burn fires at Northburn Station, near Cromwell, produced huge smoke clouds on several days this week, but burned without any problems, Fire and Emergency New Zealand said.

Otago principal chief rural fire officer Graeme Still, of Dunedin, said permitted fires at Northburn had produced large clouds of smoke on Monday, Wednesday and yesterday, but finished without incident.

Fire conditions were suitable at Northburn, partly because remaining snowpack restricted any potential fire spread, he said yesterday. . . 

Wool recovery continues – Alan Williams:

Wool prices made another step forward at Thursday’s Napier sale, building on the gains of a fortnight earlier.

After a disappointing start to the season prices have lifted in the last few weeks and strong wools in the 35-37 microns range were up by another 4% to 5%, PGG Wrightson’s North Island auctioneer Steven Fussell said.

Second-shear wools were mostly up by similar margins on a fortnight earlier with good style 2 to 3 inch fibre length ahead about 7%. . .

On the farm: our guide to what’s been happening rurally:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

North Island-Te Ika-a-Māui

The week finished off much better than it started in Northland. Mid-week the Far North town of Kaitaia had its second 13 degree day of winter – that’s chilly for them. A cold southerly is blasting through and apparently farmers are “right up against it” for pasture. Any strongly kikuyu dominant sward is very slow growing; rye grass is going okay but patches of it are few and far between on most farms. . . 

Fruit exports boost wholesale trade in June quarter:

Fruit exports drove wholesale trade sales up in the June 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

The seasonally adjusted total sales value for wholesale trade rose 2.6 percent in the June 2018 quarter, following a modest 0.3 percent rise in the March 2018 quarter.

Five of the six wholesaling industries had sales rises in the June 2018 quarter. The largest industry increase was in grocery, liquor, and tobacco wholesaling, which was up 3.0 percent ($236 million). . . 

Deer milk hits the spot as finalist in NZ Food Awards:

Pāmu’s deer milk is on the awards stage again with today’s announcement that it is a finalist in two categories in this year’s New Zealand Food Awards.

The NZ Food Awards have been a highlight of the food sector for over 30 years and aim to demonstrate innovation, creativity and excellence in the food industry in New Zealand. . .

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Rural round-up

September 8, 2018

Action groups are still growing – Neal Wallace:

More than 700 farm businesses have joined Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Network Groups with more than half them in three regions.

Most groups have been formed in Waikato-Bay of Plenty with 133, Canterbury 118 and Otago 114.

The top five areas of interest are animal performance, financial management, business planning, feed management and pasture management. . . 

Plant protein not a threat :

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer is not overly concerned about the threat of plant-based meat substitutes.

Limmer’s transition from chief operating officer of Zespri to chief executive of Silver Fern Farms has been seamless.

He notes protein consumption is growing worldwide and NZ is not going to be able to supply the world. NZ doesn’t need to be everything to every consumer, he says. . .

More than $22m loss for Norhtland dairy farmers as Fonterra slashes forecast milk price – Imran Ali:

Income for Northland dairy farmers will reduce by $22.5 million under Fonterra’s revised forecast payout for next season.

The dairy giant revised its 2018/19 forecast farmgate milk price from $7 per kg/MS to $6.75 per kgMS this week in response to stronger milk supply from the world’s key dairy producing countries.

Northland’s 1030 dairy farms supply about 90 million kg/MS each year. A payout of $7 as earlier announced would have fetched them $630m but $6.75 per kg/MS would earn $607.5m— down $22.5m. . .

Tea from an unlikely source – Mark Daniel:

Best known as the dairy capital of New Zealand, Waikato can also claim to be the nation’s home of tea. 

The Zealong Tea Estate, just north of Hamilton, is NZ’s only commercial tea grower.

The Zealong story starts in 1996, when Vincent Chen noticed the region’s abundant camellia bushes — the same Camellia sinensis that is used to produce white, green, black and oolong teas.  . .

Ballance to reinvest its surplus – Alan Williams:

For the first time in four years Ballance Agri-Nutrients has surplus earnings to reinvest in the business after the rebate payment to farmer shareholders.

The fertiliser co-operative has confirmed a bottom-line profit of $9.19 million for the year ended May 31.  

The rebate took $56.8m though only $39.4m was paid in cash with the balance allocated for new shares, further helping the cash position, the annual report said. . .

Crowdfunding saves a Jamberoo family from losing its livelihood – Rebecca Fist:

A drought-striken Jamberoo dairy farmer reached out for help, and found relief through his neighbour and drought funding campaigner Jason Maloney.

Jamberoo Road farmer Michael Harris has been working 12 hours a day, seven days a week to keep the dairy running, take care of his pregnant partner Natalie Fava, and put food on the table for their three children, and his brother living with a disability, Randall.

For months, Michael watched the prospect of keeping the family farm diminish before his eyes, like the grass on his land. . .


Rural round-up

July 25, 2018

Consistent performer helps others – Hugh Stringleman:

The Cookson family are at the true heart of Northland’s beef finishing industry beside State Highway 1 at Kawakawa and consistently producing carcaseweight yield and financial results well above the provincial average. Their pursuit of knowledge from hosting trials and research projects energises the Cooksons and draws hundreds of farmers to their field days. Hugh Stringleman went along.

Former New Zealand Spearfishing champion and international representative Geff Cookson has an impressive record in the water and on the land.

He has hit target after target and inspired many fishers and farmers over a lifetime of sports activities and on the Kawakawa hill country home farm he took over from his father in 1970.. .

Farm sales quiet but resilient – Alan Williams:

The rural real estate market remained resilient through the quiet June trading period, especially for drystock farms even though prices were lower overall.

Despite a positive pricing outlook for most sectors, the Mycoplasma bovis virus is a worry in dairy and beef farming zones and early spring is likely to be a test for the Government and industry animal eradication programme, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said. 

Sales turnover was lower for the three months to the end of June compared to the three months to the end of May, with 32 fewer sales. . .

1080 drop to kill rabbits – Tom Kitchin:

A Manuherikia Valley farmer is making a last-ditch effort to rid his land of rabbits by dropping 1080 for the first time in three decades.

Ophir farmer Sam Leask, who owns the Booth Rd farm, said it was the first time a 1080 drop had been done on  his land in about 30 years.

“The rabbits have just got away … I’ve never seen rabbits like this in my life. It’s just got out to the stage that there’s so many rabbits we have to go back to the old methods. We hate to have to drop 1080 but we have no other choice.”

He had used pindone pellets, and completed shooting day and night but wanted something more effective . .

Mutual aid helps us survive winter – Bryan Gibson:

A mate of mine posted a picture on Instagram last night of the first three calves born on her dairy farm. For her, and for countless other dairy farmers around New Zealand, it has begun.

Calving is an intense period for dairy farmers. There are long hours, late night outings, sleep deprivation and bad weather to contend with. Of course, most farming families also have children to attend to, households to run and cows to milk again.

There were new lambs in the fields on my drive to work this morning too, a reminder this time of year is equally as stressful for sheep and beef farmers who are nurturing this abundance of new life. . .

Grape harvest up; season warmest in decades – Tom Kitchin:

The weather for this year’s Central Otago wine vintage was the warmest since 1956 and tonnage was up, on trend with the rest of the country.

A statement from New Zealand Winegrowers said New Zealand benefited from ”a warm summer” and 419,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested in the country’s vintage this year.

This was up 6% on the 2017 tonnage, but still lower than first anticipated, due to an early start to the season. . .

What are the challenges facing modern farming around the world? – Mary Boote:

Kenya is on the brink of embracing biotechnology in agriculture. On the brink. Now I’m ready to say something new. We’ve been on the brink for too long.”

These words, offered by Gilbert arap Bor, a Kenyan smallholder farmer and lecturer at the Catholic University of East Africa- Eldoret, illustrate the frustration shared by many farmers -smallholder and large across Kenya and much of the African and Asian continents. With the safety of GE crops confirmed and supported by scientists, approved by every regulatory agency around the world, based on thousands of reports and 21 years of data, why does the war regarding the safety of these often life-changing crops continue to rage?

Have no doubt: The impacts of this ‘war’ are real, and they challenge farmers in the developing and developed countries around the world. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 31, 2018

‘We’d better off if we had it’ – Sally Rae:

Southland farmer John Young reckons he would be in a better position if his cattle had Mycoplasma bovis.

With a contract for 1000 calves cancelled by Ngai Tahu Farming, he described himself as a ”by-product” of the disease saying there was no recognition for those in similar situations.

Left short of feed and likely to take a massive financial hit, he was perplexed by the iwi’s motivation as he felt he had done everything to mitigate any concerns.

”We’d be better off if we had it. We would know where we’re at [and could] set a plan and work around it. It would be acknowledged we had it, we’d be compensated. The way we are at the moment, we don’t know where we stand,” he said. . . 

Farmer provides positive advice on coping – Sally Rae:

Argentinian-born Leo Bensegues came to New Zealand with only $700 and the desire for a good life.

Fast forward 16 and a-half years and he has a wife, Maite, and a family and his own business, sharemilking at Morven in the Waimate district.

Last August, that good life was interrupted by confirmation there was Mycoplasma bovis in the couple’s herd.

Their 950 cows and 222 young stock were one of the first herds to be culled, although they had 200 heifers which had not been affected by the disease.

Yesterday, Mr Bensegues declined to talk about how he felt seeing those animals dispatched to slaughter, saying that was ”in the past” and they had to focus on the future.

They were starting over again and he had a message for other farmers affected by this week’s announcement of a massive cull of animals in a bid to eradicate the disease.

They had to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries, rather than against it, and they had to stay positive. . . 

‘Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on  milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . .

 Business case for cattle disease plan kept secret from public – Andrea Fox:

The cost-benefit analysis behind the $886 million government-agriculture sector decision to try to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is being kept secret from taxpayers picking up most of the bill.

A Herald request to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for a copy of the cost-benefit analysis is being treated by MPI as an Official Information Act request, which normally means waiting nearly a month for a response, with no guarantee of full disclosure.

When the Herald tried to clarify that the cost-benefit analysis was not being made public, and if so, who had access to it, the response from an MPI spokesman was: “This has been part of the decision-making process so the decision makers have had access to this information.” . .

Live deer capture: ‘a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive’, says pioneer– Heather Chalmers:

Recalling the pioneering live deer capture days, veterans like Bryan Bassett-Smith get a gleam in their eyes.

In the 1970s the emphasis changed from killing deer as a feral pest to wanting to capture and keep deer alive for a fledging farming industry. Deer farming made live recovery more profitable than hunting; there were fortunes to be made and adventures to have.

These were the days before clipboards, hi-vis vests and health and safety regulations.

Bassett-Smith didn’t fly helicopters himself. “I was a guy that jumped out and used the tranquilliser gun.

READ MORE: Deer farmer recalls days of live capture derring-do

“It was a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive” he says, referring to the casualties and fatalities from helicopter crashes. “Sadly, there were a few too many funerals,” he told deer industry conference delegates during a visit to Mesopotamia Station in the South Canterbury high country, a property actively involved in live deer recovery. . . 

Distribution deal for Mastatest– Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based veterinary diagnostics company Mastaplex has secured a national distribution partnership with AgriHealth for its bovine mastitis diagnostic products.

Company founder and inventor Olaf Bork said Mastatest  was an on-farm or veterinary clinic-based bovine mastitis test which generated results within 24 hours, enabling dairy farmers to select specific antibiotic treatments recommended by their veterinarian once target bacteria had been identified.

The early  growth-stage company, which is based at the University of Otago’s Centre for Innovation, was also negotiating with a European distributor and  seeking an alliance in the United States, he said. . . 

Rural health must be integral in health services review:

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network today welcomed an announcement of a comprehensive review of health services in New Zealand.

The NZRGPN is the national network representing the staff of rural medical practices across New Zealand.

“A comprehensive review of the delivery of health and disability services is timely,” said NZRGPN Chief Executive Dalton Kelly. “This review must be comprehensive and wide-ranging, taking into account the full range of communities and health service providers across New Zealand. . .

Tough year hits Anzco profits – Alan Williams:

A difficult year in beef procurement and processing caused a big fall in profit for Anzco Foods.

Intense competition for stock and uneven livestock flows increased costs while consumer market prices were just steady, chief executive Peter Conley said.

Anzco’s pre-tax profit fell to just $1.8 million in the year ended December 31, from $17m a year earlier. Because the group’s international trade offices are required to pay tax in the countries they’re based in, overall group tax took up $1.7m of the earnings, leaving an after-tax operating profit of $100,000, down from $12m previously. . . 

How a routine day on the farm turned into a pig’s dinner – Joyce Wyllie:

Sometimes routine jobs on a routine day take a less routine turn.

With Jock away at dog trials, I walked to the kennels one evening to run and feed the remainder of his team left at home.

It’s a familiar routine of letting energetic dogs off for enthusiastic exercise, feeding pellets to pigs and shutting the team up with their tea.

It was drizzling as I opened the doors and let animated animals race off for time out and toilet. Pushing the feed shed door open to get pig tucker revealed a four-legged super surprise. . . 

Hounding the horehound weed:

Two moths may be imported to combat the horehound weed, which a recent survey estimates to cost New Zealand dryland farmers almost $7 million per year.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering an application from a collective of affected farmers – the Horehound Biocontrol Group – to introduce the horehound plume moth and horehound clearwing moth to attack this invasive weed, and is calling for public submissions. The application is supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ sustainable farming fund. . .


Rural round-up

May 20, 2018

Too stoned to work – Pam Tipa:

Substance abuse problems, timekeeping and the attitude of young people entering workforce must be addressed for the future of the horticulture industry, says Vegetables NZ Inc. chairman Andre de Bruin.

The Dargaville kumara grower says the industry relies on a core of good “fantastic seasonal workers” but that core is not coming through in the younger generation. There is an occasional “gem” but they are getting much harder to find.

As de Bruin spoke to Rural News he could see five seasonal workers sitting in a vehicle either stoned or drunk when they should have been at work. . .

LINZ to ‘open up’ with new high country advisory group – Tom Kitchen:

Land Information New Zealand has announced the creation of a high country advisory group to help make better decisions for New Zealand’s high country regions.

Speaking at this year’s Federated Farmers High Country Conference in Cromwell yesterday, Linz  deputy chief executive Crown property Jerome Sheppard said Linz needed the group because of the complications and debates around the tenure review process and the influx of tourists in the country.

“We’re wanting to open up our shop a wee bit more so you can see what’s going on … we think debate needs to happen”. . . 

Wool prices cause disbelief – Alan Williams:

Buyers clearly had orders to fill as prices increased again at Thursday’s Napier wool sale.

The volumes rose on the floor as buyers tried to outbid each other, PGG Wrightson North Island auctioneer Steve Fussell said. 

There was some disbelief about some of the price gains.

Buyers were especially keen on very good style, new, second-shear wool with prices 6% to 7% up on the May 3 sale in Napier. . .

Present can make not a bad future :

Venison could become the next kiwifruit but getting there will be a tough mountain to climb, Primary Sector Council chairman Lain Jager says.

Speaking at the Deer Industry conference in Timaru Jager, the former Zespri chief executive, compared the deer industry model to the highly successful kiwifruit industry, looking at whether venison could become the next kiwifruit.

The two have a lot in common but venison lags on several counts. . .

Rural News Group ‘here to stay’:

Independently-owned Rural News Group says its newspapers will continue to serve the primary sector.

The company is not part of the closures and sell-offs announced this week by Fairfax and NZX. Rural News Group publishes leading national publications – Rural News, Dairy News and NZ Winegrower; it also provides daily news updates on www.ruralnewsgroup.co.nz.

“We are a strongly independent and New Zealand owned and are here to stay,” says Rural News Group general manager Adam Fricker. . .

Twice the talent; bumper crop of winners from Young Vegetable Grower:

For the first time in the competition’s history, there are two winners of the Young Vegetable Grower of the Year competition: Esteban Ibanez and Gurjant Singh.

The day-long competition in Christchurch saw entrants compete in a series of practical and theoretical challenges designed to test the skills needed to run a successful vegetable growing business, from pest identification to forklift proficiency.

Currently working as a production agronomist for Leaderbrand South Island and with a Bachelor in Agriculture, 30 year old Esteban is all about growing vegetables, and hopes that this win will be a step towards networking with people who share his same goals and ideals. . . 


Rural round-up

May 18, 2018

Wild West meat market – Ruby Nyika:

Complaints about food being sold illegally on social media and Trade Me have almost doubled over the past three years.

Illegal online meat sales alone nearly tripled, the Ministry for Primary Industries says. 

It’s a way to offload excess home kill and for buyers to shave dollars off meat costs, Tauwhare Home Kills owner Trevor Brunton said. 

But selling unlicensed meat – raw or cooked – online is illegal, and home-kill meat is particularly risky. . . 

Changes may lead to unforeseen problems – Pam Tipa:

Imposing changes on farming without considering wider issues such as economic and community impacts could cause unforeseen problems out ahead, says Robyn Dynes, science impact leader, AgResearch.

He was referring to Minister for the Environment David Parker saying nutrient limits may be used to reduce cow numbers.

Dynes says requirements or targets for reducing nutrient losses on farms are nothing new in many regions; most farmers are already moving that way. . . 

Good surge in strong wool prices heartening – Alan WIlliams:

Wool prices made a major advance at Thursday’s Christchurch wool sale, on large volume.

Prices remain at a low ebb but the move was heartening following gradual recent improvement, PGG Wrightson’s South Island sale manager Dave Burridge said.

The wool pipeline was moving through international markets without any stockpiles building up and a weaker NZ dollar, just below US$0.70, helped underpin the solid demand from a full gallery of buyers. . .

Farmers are suffering – Peter Burke:

Farmers and farm staff are overworked and some are facing chronic exhaustion.

That’s the view of Joyce Brown who runs StayWell – volunteer nurses who attend farm events to offer health checks to farmers.

Brown says this problem stems partly from the average age of a dairy farmer being about 58 and a drystock farm about 68. 

But it’s not only older people who are affected, she says.  . . 

New marketing initiatives – getting social :

New Zealand Winegrowers’ marketing team have launched a number of new initiatives to help promote the story of New Zealand wine.

Global Marketing Director Chris Yorke tells Tessa Nicholson about them.

Utilising digital and social media 

For many this is a strange new world of marketing yet it is one of the most important tools in the box for New Zealand Winegrowers and wineries alike. Which is why, Chris Yorke says, they are undertaking tests across all the major NZW activities in an effort to help the industry. . .

The future of food – Shan Lynch:

Today’s technology is rushing into one of the last traditional industries: agriculture.

A field largely still unaffected by the technological revolution, farming is ripe for change as need couples with opportunity.

“We’ve seen a wave of technology impact our information industries,” says Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Haim Mendelson. “Now we see another big wave of technology reshaping our traditional industries, and certainly agriculture is one of the most basic ones.” . . 


Rural round-up

March 18, 2018

Camp manager returns to roots – Philip Chandler:

Managing Camp Glenorchy, which officially opened on Tuesday, is like coming full circle for Peter Kerr.

The 58-year-old’s stellar hotel career had its humble beginnings in Queenstown.

Dunedin-raised, he got to know the resort because his parents had a holiday home in Hallenstein St.

He had plans to go farming after leaving school, but a car accident – not his worst, as it turned out – put paid to that.

After two months in hospital he shifted to Queenstown and to subsidise his skiing, which he had fallen in love with, started working at the Frankton Motor Hotel as a trainee manager. . . 

$160m Kiwi cannabis export deal to US – Madison Reidy:

New Zealand’s only large scale medicinal cannabis grower has inked a $160 million conditional deal to supply a United States manufacturer. 

Under the deal Ruatoria-based Hikurangi Cannabis will send three tonnes of cannabidiol extracts, THC extracts and whole cannabis flowers to Seattle-based cannabis brokerage company Rhizo Sciences next year and up to 12 tonnes by 2021.

Hikurangi has a crop of 5000 plants. Rhizo also has suppliers in Africa, Europe, Australia and North America. . . 

Rabbit hunt postponed due to rabbit virus release

Alexandra’s annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt has been postponed so the newly released K5 rabbit virus has time to work.

The first batches of the virus were released in Central Otago this week at two sites monitored by Landcare Research.

Hunt convener Dave Ramsay, of the Alexandra Lions’ Club, said because there were so many rabbits in the district, the organising committee decided it was necessary to support the introduction of the virus by not holding the hunt, which attracts hundreds of people from across the country.

“We made the decision to see this thing [the virus] work,” Mr Ramsay said.. . 

Old season wool overflow is selling well – Alan Williams:

Large volumes of last season’s crossbred wool are coming out of storage as farmers decide it’s time to meet the market.

That wind-change in sentiment has put pressure on auction values in February and March, but prices, while still low, have crept up slightly at some of the Napier and Christchurch sales, PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

The older wool has been coming to market along with the latest wool shorn over the same two months and volumes have been about 15% to 20% higher than usual for this time of year and well ahead of the levels forecast by brokers, forcing meetings to work out how to cope with the extra.” . . 

Farm tick coming – Stephen Bell:

An assurance programme to guarantee New Zealand farm products’ environmental and sustainability credentials to the world is being developed by the Ministry of Primary Industries, Labour MP Kieran McAnulty told the Future Farming conference in Palmerston North.

And from now on all Government decisions, no matter what portfolios they relate to, will have to pass a rural-proofing test to assess their impact on provincial people and their communites, McAnulty, speaking of behalf of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor, said.

The Government is also reviewing the Biosecuruity Act and plans to enhance the protection of the primary sector by allocating enough resources to protect the country from future incursions. . . 

Manawatū farmer unveils gumboot cleaning device at Central Districts Field Days – Sam Kilmister:

There’s a famous New Zealand folk song that asks “if it weren’t for your gumboots, where would ya be?”. 

It’s a question that Manawatū farmer Ivan Wildbore could put his own spin on as punters stopped by his site at the Central Districts Field Days in Feilding on Friday – if it weren’t for clean gumboots, where would you be? 

The Feilding entrepeneur unveiled the Yuk-Off at the agricultural expo this week, a boot washer he designed that even Fred Dagg would be proud of.  . . 


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