Rural round-up

November 24, 2019

Canterbury farmers fearing as much as an 80 percent crop loss from hailstorm – Kaysha Brownlie:

Canterbury farmers are scrambling to salvage what was spared from hail the size of eggs which pummelled Canterbury this week.

Some of them are fearing as much as an 80 percent crop loss after two severe storms battered the region.

Insurers said they’ve received hundreds of claims after the egg-sized hail and driving rain caused extensive damage. . . .

Fowl under fire for pollution – Neal Wallace:

Southland dairy farmers have become more compliant with their resource consent conditions with the rate of significant non-compliance last year falling from 1.9% to 1.8%.

In the 2018-19 year council staff inspected 783 dairy effluent discharge consents either on-site or by air and found 634 fully compliant, 139 graded as low risk or moderately non-compliant and 10, or 1.8%, as significantly non-compliant.

The previous year 922 sites were inspected, some more than twice, and 17, or 1.9%, were found to be significantly non-compliant.

The council’s regulatory committee chairman Neville Cook said the improvement shows farmers are aware of their responsibilities and are doing something about it. . . .

Landcorp subsidiary sued for hundreds of thousands by Australian sheep farmers – Gerard Hutching:

An Australian farming couple is suing Landcorp subsidiary Focus Genetics for hundreds of thousands of dollars because they cannot access their sheep genetics data.

The Wellington High Court recently conducted an urgent hearing over whether Damien and Kirsten Croser, fourth generation farmers from South Australia, could access some of the data for this season’s mating.

The urgent hearing is separate to an application to sue Focus Genetics. Originally the Crosers said they would sue for $1.9 million, but their claim has been reduced to an undisclosed sum. . .

Profitable year leaves Alliance in strong position – Brent Melville:

Alliance group has doubled profits to $20.7 million and will pay its farmer shareholders a $9 million fillip for the year to September.

The country’s largest processor and exporter of sheep and lamb products, yesterday reported turnover of $1.7 billion, largely on the back of record demand and prices from China.

Alliance chairman Murray Taggart, said the increase in profit was pleasing and reflected the co-operative’s drive to maximise operational efficiency and focus on capturing greater market value. .

 

 

Wool stains could stop processing  – Alan WIlliams:

Dye-stained wool unsuitable for scouring could be problem for years because of the high volume being stored, New Zealand Woolscouring chief executive Nigel Hales says.

“We’d only be guessing how much wool there is out there but feedback from field reps is that every motorbike they see has a can of spray on it.”

The dye stains in wool cannot be scoured out and a lot of wool is now not being scoured at all though Hales said the amount is not material given the overall volumes. . .

How Dean Foods’ bankruptcy is a ‘warning sign’ to the milk industry – Lillianna Byington:

Wrestling with debt and struggling to adjust to consumer demands, ​America’s largest dairy producer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week.

Analysts told Food Dive this news didn’t come as a shock. A number of factors led to Dean Foods’ decline, including dropping fluid milk consumption, rising competition from private label and milk alternatives, and a complex company history with M&A gone wrong and financial missteps from which it never quite recovered. 

These factors culminated in a decline in revenues that led to the company’s bankruptcy filing​ after several CEOs failed to achieve the task of turning around the troubled business. Experts and analysts say what happened to Dean can serve as a cautionary tale to other businesses in the space.

 


Rural round-up

November 18, 2019

Fortitude in face of loss bears fruit – Sally Rae:

A North Otago berry fruit business has grown to be the largest producer of strawberries in the South Island. Business and rural editor Sally Rae speaks to the remarkable driving force behind the operation.

If strawberry plants came in pink, then Leanne Matsinger would probably place a bulk order.

For the North Otago berryfruit grower is particularly fond of the hue and, when she bought a new tractor, she even asked if it was possible to get it in that colour.

Sadly it was not, and when she heads out at 2am with the floodlights blazing to go spraying in the still of the night, it is on a conventionally coloured workhorse.

Wind the clock back to 2010, and Mrs Matsinger did not know how to drive a tractor. Nor how to grow strawberries. . . 

Barns have big footprints :

In a New Zealand first new research from Lincoln University doctoral researcher Hafiz Muhammad Abrar Ilyas is estimating the carbon footprints of pastoral or grass-based and barn dairy systems based on their energy consumption.

This study was done on 50 conventional dairy farms in Canterbury – 43 pastoral and seven barn systems.

Hafiz said the difference between the two systems indicates the barn system has an 18% higher carbon footprint than the pastoral system per hectare of farm area and 11% higher footprint per tonne of milksolids. . . 

Off like a Rockit

The CEO of the company that grows and sells New Zealand’s tiny Rockit apple says no-one expected the apple to be so popular.

“It’s blown away everybody’s expectations, which is terrific,” Rockit’s Austin Mortimer says.

Listen duration19:51 

He says Rockit is the only miniature apple available globally.

“My understanding was when it (the apple) was offered to the big players none of them would touch it because they just didn’t think there was value in a small apples.”

There is.

Rockit apples are now returning about $150,000 per hectare to growers. . . 

Ida Valley wool makes good show – Alan Williams:

Fine wool prices might be below last year’s levels but they still made the sale screen at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch good viewing for Central Otago farmer Jock McNally.

He watched as his 15 to 17 microns Merino wool sold for up to $17.50/kg greasy at the annual live auction on Thursday.

“The prices are still reasonable, still above the averages of the last few years and I’m happy with the sale,” he said. . . 

Boer goat meat to grace Korea tables – Yvonne O’Hara:

Two tonnes of Central Otago Boer goat meat was shipped from New Zealand recently to appear on the menus of three planned specialist restaurants in Korea.

The shipment was organised by Alexandra-based New Zealand Premium Goat Meat Ltd (NZPGM), which is run by John Cockcroft, of Clyde, and Dougal Laidlaw, of Alexandra.

The first new restaurant, called Cabra’s Kitchen (cabra is Spanish for goat), will specialise in meals made using New Zealand Boer goat, as well as New Zealand beef and lamb and Central Otago wine. . . 

NZ 2019 Young Horticulturist announced

Simon Gourley of Domaine Thomson Wines is the 2019 Young Horticulturist of the Year.

From Central Otago, Simon (28) represented the NZ Winegrowers sector at the competition, which celebrates excellence in people aged under 30, employed in the horticulture industry.

It’s the second consecutive year the Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) title has been won by a viticulturist. Last year’s winner was Annabel Bulk, who is also from Central Otago. . .


Rural round-up

November 7, 2019

Canterbury farmer fears sheep and beef property might be turned into forest – Gerard Hutching:

Waimate sheep and beef farmer David Gardner is “gobsmacked” a government policy might see his property sold to an overseas investor and converted into pine trees.

Having reached retirement age, Gardner is looking to sell his 800-hectare Melford Hills farm, about 50 kilometres south of Timaru. He would prefer it remains as it is, but the likely buyer is a forest investor.

In fact he’s already spurned an offer that would see some of the property continue as a farm, and the balance as forestry. . .

Less fat on meat income – Alan Williams:

Scott Technology revenues have jumped in the last year but its automated equipment for meat processing plants played a lesser role.

Revenue from meat processing work for the year ended August 31 was $34.5 million, down from $45m a year earlier, as total revenue from the world-wide activities rose to $225m from $181.8m.

Some of the bigger overseas projects have been challenging and while the operating earnings were higher, at $20m from $19.3m, the after-tax profit fell to $8.6m from $10.77m.

Dunedin-based Scott Tech warned of those challenges in early July and chairman Stuart McLauchlan and managing director Chris Hopkins said the projects are now nearing completion. . .

Kea attack sheep in low numbers, study finds – Will Harvie:

Kea attacks on sheep have been measured for the first time.

About 0.5 per cent of sheep at five South Island high country farms were attacked by the alpine parrots, according to just published research by wildlife scientist and kea specialist Clio Reid and colleagues.

It was the first time “kea strike”, as these attacks are known, has been quantified, she said.

“This study showed that kea strike on sheep was occurring at a low prevalence on the high country farms surveyed. The wounds identified were survivable.” . .

NZ River Awards 2019 River Story finalist: Wharekopae River, Gisborne :

Cawthron is proud to be running the 2019 New Zealand River Awards. As part of the celebration, the River Story Award category sponsored by the Ministry for the Environment recognises interesting and compelling stories about individuals, businesses and communities working to improve the health of our rivers.

Each year Cawthron receives River Story entries that are representative of our collective desire to improve New Zealand waterways. The stories are inspirational projects that involve community collaboration, science and innovative ways to address freshwater-related challenges.

This year, eight stories were selected as finalists and from these, the judges have selected the top three. The work being done to restore Rere’s Wharekopae River catchment is our second story. . .

With the walls closing in, regenerative farming is a way forward for agriculture – Daniel Eb:

A quiet revolution is growing on New Zealand farms. As debates on water and emissions grind on, a new group of farmers are showing us the way forward – regenerating the land, and themselves, writes Daniel Eb.  

Mum has a saying: when you’re boxed into a corner, move the walls. It’s a reference to the two-sided nature of crisis – that in difficulty lies opportunity.

New Zealand agriculture is not in a crisis, but we all feel the tension rising. They’re a tough bunch, our farmers, but this wave of anger and pain in response to new freshwater and emissions proposals is a clear indication that they’re hurting. A recent morning radio show turned into a public, cathartic release for many Kiwi farmers who just wanted to be heard.

There’s a pervading sense that farming as we know it is under threat – that the walls are closing in. This is a global issue. Australian farmers are losing the fight against historic drought. American farmers are struggling, battling record flooding, reckless trade policy and the breakdown of the family farm way of life. Dutch farmers recently blocked motorways in protest against environmental reforms; some Kiwi farmers have called for the same. . .

Narrandera grower Nathan Heckendorf credits water saving product for reviving crop – Lucy Kinbacher:

A NARRANDERA grower has turned his harvest prospects around and retrieved up to 2.5 tonnes a hectare from his barley crop thanks largely to a water saving organic fertiliser.

Nathan Heckendorf, Top Reeds, Sandigo, was very skeptical when he heard about a product that could hold twice its weight in water and eliminate loss of water to a crop from evaporation or frosts.

Operating a 1600 hectare property, Mr Heckendorf planted 150ha of canola from April 20, 200ha of barley from May 10 and 1000ha of wheat from May 15, along with a summer crop of 70ha of maize. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 29, 2019

How the freshwater plan could ruin my town – Dani Darke:

King Country sheep and beef farmer Dani Darke says her community is under threat if the government’s Essential Water policy passes into law.

Nestled in the heart of the King Country, the settlement of Aria embodies the richness of community spirit that is associated with heartland New Zealand.

With a population of 300 and a bustling CBD of 68, it is a place where everyone knows your name.

The Cosmopolitan Club acts as the community hub. Here age is irrelevant and 70-plus year olds socialise with 18-year-olds. We have thriving squash and tennis clubs and a primary school boasting a role of 50. . .

Farmers only lukewarm on plan :

Farmer and new Environment Canterbury councillor Ian Mackenzie is cautious in his enthusiasm for the Government’s about-turn on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In a world-first government-industry partnership the Government has backed down on taxing farmers and brokered a deal with the agricultural sector to manage and mitigate on-farm emissions.

It will avoid farmers being included in the ETS if they can commit to a new sector-led plan.

“Clearly, this is good news but it doesn’t necessarily send me skipping across the spring green paddocks with joy,” Mackenzie, an Ashburton cropping and livestock farmer, said. He was also Federated Farmers environment spokesman and a member of the Land and Water Forum. . .

MIA big guns next up in China – Alan Williams:

It follows a successful visit by a smaller technical team in late September that made clear NZ’s keenness to partner with the Chinese industry to help modernise and improve supply chain systems, including cold store infrastructure, the association’s trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva said. . .

 

Synlait Milk buys Canterbury’s Dairyworks :

Synlait Milk is buying Canterbury’s Dairyworks for $112 million as part of its push into the consumer market.

The speciality milk producer said Dairyworks was a good fit for its everyday dairy strategy, and complemented the recent purchase of cheese manufacturer Talbot Forest.

Dairyworks supplied New Zealand with almost half of its cheese, a quarter of its butter, as well as milk powder and Deep South ice-cream. . .

90-year-old Northland Kiwifruit farmer feeding the world – Susan Botting:

Northland grower Zela Charlton, 90, enjoys feeding the world from her Glenbervie kiwifruit orchard.

“My reward is feeding the people of the world. Even if it’s a bit of a luxury, kiwifruit is a very nourishing food,” Charlton said.

The nonagenarian loves kiwifruit – both green and gold.

“You can’t imagine what a perfectly ripe kiwifruit taken straight off the vine tastes like – it’s out of this world.” . . 

Win for prime agrcultural land – Mitchel Clapham:

NSW Farmers has lobbied long and hard to protect our prime agricultural land and water resources in the face of increased mining and CSG activity.

On May 1, 2012, NSW Farmers spearheaded the ‘Protect our Land and Water Rally’ in Macquarie Street, joining with many other organisations like the CWA to galvanise support for local food and fibre production.

In response, the state government developed a Strategic Regional Land Use Policy and Gateway process, which was supposed to map and protect Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL), which comprises only 3 per cent of NSW. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 26, 2019

The deal’s done – Bryan Gibson:

Farmers now control their emissions destiny but industry leaders warn the hard work starts here.

The Government has adopted He Waka Eke Noa – the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment, which Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Andrew Morrison said is a good outcome for farmers.

“I hope farmers understand the importance of today,” he said.

“This is a piece of work that empowers us as a sector to put the tools in place to measure the mitigations, the sequestrations against our liabilities. 

“That’s our goal and that will drive the right behaviours.”

But now the office work is done the farm work will start. . .

Water policy stymies green work :

Hill-Country farmers will be deterred from doing environmental protection and enhancement because of limits put on land use by the proposed Essential Freshwater policies, Tararua farmers Simon and Trudy Hales say.

They believe restrictions on farmers’ ability to realise the productive potential of their land will stymie investment in environmental protection.

The couple, this year’s Supreme Award winners in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region Ballance Farm Environment Awards, estimate over the past four years they have spent about $120,000 on environmental protection on their 970ha, 819ha effective, hill country farm. . .

Taranaki farming couple reap benefit after lifetime of responsible land management – Mike Watson:

When Norton and Coral Moller decided to plant trees on a bare coastal dairy farm south of New Plymouth, the response from neighbours was disbelief.

Nearly 50 years later the retired Oakura couple are reaping the benefits.

Last month they were among 17 Taranaki Environment Award winners, for environmental leadership in dairying. . .

New Zealand’s anti-science GMO laws need to change to tackle climate change – Mia Sutherland:

If this coalition government is serious about tackling climate change and ensuring future generations are left with a prosperous planet, GMO law reform must be considered.

A poignant aspect of making a difference to New Zealand’s carbon emissions is discontinuing ‘business as usual’, meaning that the lifestyles we have founded and the way our society operates now needs to change. It’s not sustainable, and doesn’t promise the 170,000 people who took to the streets on September 27 or their children an inhabitable future.

We need to be exploring new methods, changing the way we think, and reevaluating ideas we have while taking into consideration the increasingly fast development of science. We need to reform the law about genetically modified organisms. . .

Kiwifruit pushes onto dairy land – Alan WIlliams:

Two properties destined for conversion to kiwifruit are among the few dairy farms being sold.

The farms are in the Pukehina area, east of the main kiwifruit zone at Te Puke in Bay of Plenty.

It is fringe kiwifruit land away from the main post-harvest infrastructure and indications are the buyers are already in the industry with the knowledge to make the bare-land investment, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.  . .

More Trades Academy places good news for primary sector:

The announcement of up to 4000 more trades training places in schools will help meet demand from students to learn about farming and horticulture, Primary ITO chief executive Nigel Philpott says.

The Government will fund 2000 more Trades Academy places, where secondary students combine full-time study with experience in the workplace, as well as up to 2000 Gateway places, where students have job placements along with classroom learning. The Trades Academies are across a number of sectors.

Primary ITO currently has New Zealand’s biggest Trades Academy, with approximately 830 students, and Mr Philpott says schools have asked for nearly 1100 Trades Academy places for next year. . .

Genetic engineering, CRISPR and food: What the ‘revolution’ will bring in the near future – Steven Cerier:

Humankind is on the verge of a genetic revolution that holds great promise and potential. It will change the ways food is grown, medicine is produced, animals are altered and will give rise to new ways of producing plastics, biofuels and chemicals.

Many object to the genetic revolution, insisting we should not be ‘playing God’ by tinkering with the building blocks of life; we should leave the genie in the bottle. This is the view held by many opponents of GMO foods But few transformative scientific advances are widely embraced at first. Once a discovery has been made and its impact widely felt it is impossible to stop despite the pleas of doubters and critics concerned about potential unintended consequences. Otherwise, science would not have experienced great leaps throughout history­­—and we would still be living a primitive existence


Rural round-up

October 21, 2019

Awards help farmers put spotlight on environmental progress:

It’s never been more important for farmers to showcase to fellow New Zealanders the work they’re doing to lighten their environmental footprint, Federated Farmers says.

“We’re in the middle of a national debate on the best regulatory settings to help drive improved water quality in our rivers and lakes.  Some of the talk might drive an impression that we’re in some sort of downward environmental spiral, when the truth is many farmers up and down the nation are putting in huge amounts of sustainability and biodiversity enhancement work,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Deadlines for the 2019 Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Horizons, Wellington and Waikato have already passed, but it’s not too late for farmers in eight other regions around New Zealand. . .

Shearing costs eat wool cheques  – Alan WIlliams:

A fourth straight year of poor strong-wool prices lies ahead for sheep farmers.

After the increase in shearing charges in 2018-19 Beef+Lamb has estimated that combined with continuing abnormally low strong-wool prices that in the North Island, where nearly all the wool clip is crossbred, shearing costs take up 90% of farm wool receipts.

Until the start of the downturn four years ago shearing costs typically accounted for just 45% of wool returns. . . .

Fewer cows produce more milk – Neal Wallace:

An emerging approach to dairying might let farmers obey environment rules while maintaining or growing milk production.

The farm system change project has found farmers can run fewer but higher-performing cows while maintaining or growing milk supply.

It is done by accurately managing costs, feed quality and quantity to maintain cow condition, which results in a more efficient farm and conversion of feed by cows. . .

Seaweed feed could reduce cattle greenhouse gases :

 

The Cawthron Institute will receive $100,000 from the Government, to help it turn a native red seaweed into a greenhouse gas-busting cattle feed supplement.

The money comes from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and was announced by the Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister during a visit to the Nelson-based research institute today. . .

Chicken virus can be eradicated MPI says  – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries believes its is possible to eradicate a chicken virus that was recently detected here.

Last month MPI reported routine industry testing at two Otago egg farms owned by Mainland Poultry had identified the likely presence of Infectious Bursal Disease type one.

The virus can affect the immune system of young chickens but doesn’t pose any risk to human health. . .

‘Hyperactive’ 80-yr-old vet Jakob Malmo retires to run two dairy farms – Marion MacDonald:

Jakob Malmo says he’s too old to be lying in the mud delivering a calf so Gippsland’s legendary dairy vet has retired at 80 – to run two large dairy farms with his new wife, Jean.

Admitting others have described him as ‘hyperactive’, Dr Malmo is not one to sit still.

The achievements across his 58-year veterinary career are so many, it’s hard to know where to start but the man himself was most proud of the Melbourne University Rural Veterinary Unit he and Professor Doug Blood established in Maffra. . .


Rural round-up

October 15, 2019

Liberated they sold the plough – Neal Wallace:

Mike Porter reckons he has re-educated himself how to farm in the last five years. Neal Wallace meets the South Canterbury arable farmer who is not afraid of change.

Mike Porter is a considered man.

His views and actions are more than opinions formed from spending too many hours behind the wheel of a tractor on his South Canterbury arable farm.

Porter has carefully considered and studied options to some of the big issues he faces on his 480ha arable and livestock farm at Lyalldale, which he runs with wife Lynne. . .

Stronger YFC, school links the goal – Yvonne O’Hara:

Otago-Southland territory manager Bridget (Biddy) Huddleston, of Alexandra, is keen to see closer ties between the New Zealand Young Farmers clubs, and schools.

”Nationally, we are going to increase our focus on Young Farmers clubs and the [school-based] TeenAg clubs,” she said.

”Moving forward, the challenge for us will be how we are going to structure that.”

She also wants to encourage a greater uptake of the organisation’s education ”Agrication” food production resources, which have been developed by NZYF and teachers, ticked off by NZQA and funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership for schools, which are designed to give pupils a greater awareness of food production. . .

Frost this spring has been ‘unrelenting’, say winegrowers – Maja Burry:

Winegrowers in some regions are reporting a turbulent start to the new grape growing season, with frost-fighting efforts already well up on last year.

ANZ rural economist Susan Kilsby said early varieties were budding which was causing some concern due to the recent cold snap.

“There certainly has been some concern around frost, certainly in the Wairarapa and Marlborough, so everyone’s been out fighting frost, [but] so far I’ve only heard of damage of small areas of some of the early season crops,” Ms Kilsby said. . . 

Held stock boost sheep numbers – Alan Williams:

South Island sheep numbers rose slightly in the latest June year but some of the gain was caused by higher numbers being carried over for processing between July and September.

In the North Island the sheep population was slightly lower on June 30 than a year earlier and also included plenty of carry-over trade lambs in the Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty due for processing, Beef + Lamb says its New Season Outlook.

Total sheep numbers were estimated at 27.4 million, with the North Island at 13.5m, down 92,000 or 0.7%. South Island numbers were 13.9m, up 1.4%. . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2018/19 dairy season.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s base milk price calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was calculated at $6.35 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2018/19 dairy season. The report does not cover the forecast 2019/20 price of $6.25-$7.25 that Fonterra announced in May.

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said this year’s review of the 2018/19 base milk price revealed no new major areas of concern. . . 

Medicinal cannabis company Rua Bioscience seeks experienced grower – Esther Taunton:

A Kiwi company is on the hunt for a green-thumbed project manager, preferably with cannabis growing experience.

Gisborne-based Rua Bioscience was the first local company to secure a license to cultivate medicinal cannabis and is now looking for someone to help grow its budding operation.

Advertised online this week, the cultivation project manager would “play a key role in setting up stage two of our cultivation and growing activities”.  . . 

China is breeding massive pigs that weigh more than a grand piano -Kristin Houser:

Pork Problems

A devastating outbreak of African swine fever has destroyed an estimated half of China’s pig population over the past year or so.

That’s a huge deal given that China consumes more pork than any other nation, so China’s government responded by urging farmers to increase pig production — and some have taken that to mean they should breed the biggest pigs we’ve seen this side of “Okja,” according to a new Bloomberg story.

Making Weight

Bloomberg notes that some Chinese farmers have managed to increase the typical average weight of their pigs at slaughter from 110 kilograms (242 pounds) up to 140 kilograms (308 pounds).

In the province of Jilin, meanwhile, farmers are trying to raise the pigs “as big as possible,” farmer Zhao Hailin told Bloomberg, with the goal being an average weight of 175 to 200 kilograms (385 to 440 pounds) as opposed to the typical 125 kilograms (275 pounds). . .


Rural round-up

September 28, 2019

Sustainability sparks new role :

A 4400ha central Hawkes Bay dairy farming operation is taking sustainability so seriously it has created a senior role specifically to oversee its environmental planning.

The Waipukurau-based BEL Group operates nine dairy farms, milks 9440 cows and employs 70 fulltime staff and has appointed Robert Barry in a new position as its sustainability lead.

Barry’s brief is to look after 16 farm environmental plans and nine dairy effluent consents to work towards a more sustainable future. . . 

Alliance is aiming for the top – Alan Williams:

Alliance has signalled a more aggressive stance on moving up the value chain and a nationwide footprint, including possible North Island expansion.

The Southland-based, farmer-owned co-operative is now targeting a top one or two market share across all its processing species of lamb, beef and venison, chief executive David Surveyor says.

The caveat is that North Island expansion will be attempted only if it will add value to all existing shareholders, Surveyor told about 50 shareholder-suppliers at Rotherham in North Canterbury at the group’s first new season roadshow.

Alliance is the biggest lamb processor and strong in venison but is only fifth or sixth biggest in beef processing and will need a major North Island presence, from one beef plant now in Levin, to be a top-two operator.  . . 

Farm has traffic lights for pooh :

Otago dairy farmers Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells have traffic lights on their farm.

It’s nothing to do with congestion – at least not of the car variety. The Wells’ traffic lights are designed to deal with one of the biggest challenges facing many dairy farmers: effluent.

In the ongoing effort to improve water quality up and down the country, efficient effluent systems are needed to manage the risk of effluent reaching waterways. . . 

Farmers give thumbs up:

Fonterra’s new strategy and honesty are a hit with its dairy farmers despite the massive balance sheet losses and the lack of a dividend for the past 18 months.

Farmers and marketers have welcomed the scaled back and more realistic strategy with triple-bottom line reporting targets, chief among them sustainable earnings and a good return on capital.

Golden Bay Fonterra supplier and Federated Farmers national dairy vice-chairman Wayne Langford echoed many shareholders’ support for their co-operative’s plans to down-size and refocus on New Zealand milk supply while still smarting over the massive losses.

Southland farmer Don Moore, of McNab, had some unease about the ambition of the previous strategy but is more comfortable with the new version and its more modest goals. . . 

Fonterra strategy positive but light on detail – Jarden :

Dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group’s intent and direction is good but lacking in detail, says Jarden research analyst Arie Dekker.

Fonterra yesterday unveiled a new strategy that puts greater emphasis on extracting value rather than pursuing volume. Key elements include bringing the focus squarely back to New Zealand and a pull-back from its consumer brands.

“We are disappointed by the lack of detail accompanying Fonterra’s strategic reveal,” Dekker said in a note to clients . . 

 

Farmers make the case for pasture-raised animals with Pro-Pasture Fridays campaign :

When you think of a farm, do you imagine cattle grazing on rich, green pasture grass and chickens pecking around in the dirt, looking for bugs? Do you envision lambs bounding around on legs like springs and pigs rooting through the soil and rolling in cool, delicious mud?

The reality is that scenes like this are rare exceptions, not the norm. Animals are typically raised in crowded conditions in closed-in barns called CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). They’re fed a diet of “mash — a blend of cereal grains that can include corn, barley, sorghum or wheat,” according to

by Oregon writer Lynne Curry. Because of the crowded conditions in the CAFOs and the need to maximize growth, Curry writes that cattle “receive daily doses of additives that improve digestion and are injected with slow-release pellets of synthetic estrogen that can add up to 40 extra pounds.” . . 


Rural round-up

September 23, 2019

Growers warn of jobs losses unless immigration decision comes soon – Esther Taunton:

Thousands of Kiwi jobs could be lost unless the immigration minister moves quickly to approve overseas workers, strawberry growers say.

Cabinet is expected on Monday to decide how many additional seasonal workers will be allowed into New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. The scheme sets the number of workers that can come into the country on a short-term visa, to work in the horticulture and viticulture industries. Growers are frustrated at the late stage of the year the decision is made.

Waikato-based Strawberry Fields was staring down the barrel of a “tragic” season, managing director Darien McFadden said.      . .

Farmer lobbying for river protection after collecting 400kg of rubbish from it – Katie Todd:

A Hororata farmer is lobbying for better protection of the Selwyn riverbed, after plucking more than 400 kilograms of rubbish from it in a few hours.

Deane Parker said the trailer-load he and his sons gathered on an afternoon in late August included an “amazing” amount of RTD bottles, along with computer monitors, furniture, plastic and household items.

He’d been concerned by the amount of rubbish building up around the end of Hawkin’s Road, which backs onto the river, and said Canterbury Regional Council quickly and gratefully collected his haul. . .

Generational timing a spark of hope – Alan Williams:

Indications the Government will allow a generation for freshwater improvement work to reach required levels gave hope to farmers in Timaru on Thursday night.

The devil will be in the detail but the comment from Environment Minister David Parker pointed to a more realistic time frame and away from short-term thinking, Fairlie farmer Mark Adams said after the meeting.

“If we can stop the degradation now and have 30 years or 25 to 30 years to get our water back to 1990s levels that’s very important and pragmatic.”

The longer time frame means farmers can play round with it more and have discretion to tinker. . .

Manawatū ram breeder Kevin Nesdale rewarded for a hard life’s work – Sam Kilmister:

A former Manawatū rugby player has been lauded for his life of accomplishments off the rugby paddock.

Kevin Nesdale holds the record for playing 63 consecutive 80-minute games for Manawatū, but it’s his global success in another field that was celebrated at a community awards ceremony on Thursday.

Nesdale, also known as KJ, became the largest ram breeder in New Zealand and genetics from his Kimbolton farm are sold around the world.

Born into a family with seven brothers, Nesdale says he could just about could shear a sheep before he could walk.  . .

 

Plenty of California eyes on Taste Pure – Alan Williams:

Most California people tuning in to Beef + Lamb’s Taste Pure Nature promotional video are watching it to the end.

The figure of just over 50% is double the industry average and exciting progress, Red Meat Project global manager Michael Wan said.

In six months more than five million views were counted.

Anecdotal evidence is the combination of the video, extensive digital advertising, social media and use of influencers to boost in-store promotions are proving useful for the brand partners, though actual sale details aren’t available, Wan said. . .

World’s first farm incubator launched :

An initiative of Cultivate Farms, Cultivator matches the next generation of aspiring farmers with farm investors to own and operate a farm together.

Sam Marwood, Cultivate Farms Managing Director says Cultivator has a farm investor ready to back the best aspiring farmer to co-own a farm with them.

“The Cultivate Farms team have met with hundreds of aspiring farmers whose dreams of owning and running their own farm have been squashed, because they don’t have access to the millions of dollars needed to buy a farm,” Sam said. . . 


Rural round-up

September 22, 2019

So farmers and businesses have ‘nothing to fear’ according to Ardern? – Henry Armstrong:

When the debate on a Capital Gains Tax was in full swing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was widely quoted as assuring farmers and small business owners that if a CGT were to be introduced, they had nothing to fear.

The productive sector and indeed most New Zealanders, quickly saw through this disingenuous claim and made their views known. The Ardern-led government quickly dropped that proposal-at least for now.

It seems the Ardern-led government learned nothing in the process. . . 

Under-siege farmers must engage – Alan Williams:

Sheep and beef farmers are under pressure on several regulatory fronts but still need to engage in the process, South Canterbury farming leader Mark Adams says.

“It’s really important that individual farmers get into this arena that they’re not comfortable in to convey their views and situations to the people making the decisions. 

“Those people need to hear from farmers on the ground.” . . 

Partnerships build success – Colin Williscroft:

Hard work, careful planning and a strong business focus helped George and Luce Williams win the 2019 Wairarapa Sheep and Beef Farm Business of the Year Award but, as the Tinui couple told Colin Williscroft, it’s been a team effort.

Well used to analysing their on-farm performance George and Luce Williams are forever grateful to the many other businesses that contribute to their farm’s smooth operation.

The Williams run Grassendale Genetics, a 1570ha (1040ha effective) farm on challenging hill country on Wairarapa’s east coast.

Though the location might be seen by some as isolated the couple have tapped into a community of talented rural and urban people to help build the strength of their business. . .

Award winners encourage entrants – Yvonne O’Hara:

Simon and Hilary Vallely are passionate about dairying.

They encourage those with a similar enthusiasm to enter the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ Southland/Otago regional competition. Entries open on October 1.

The couple, who won the 2018 Southland/Otago regional Share Farmers of the Year competition, are 50/50 sharemilkers near Gore with 490 cows and have a 210,000kgMS target. They also have bought land to raise beef animals as an investment.

The Vallelys recently became the new regional managers for the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, taking over the role from Darren Stenning. . .

‘Geogastronomy Club’ plan on menu – Hamish Maclean:

A forthcoming “Geogastronomy Club” proposal will outline what club members will need to commit to and what the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust can offer as benefits in return.

Waitaki District Council spokeswoman Lisa Heinz said a steering group would draft the proposal based on discussions at June “geogastronomy” workshops in Oamaru.

“The current mission is to tell our story through the sense of taste about how our land, soil, water and local artisanal creativity make Waitaki produce unique,” she said. . .

Time to grow the farmer not just the farm? – St John Cramer:

We talk a lot about capital gains but it’s time we spoke about the human capital of our farmers. Our farmers are resilient, hard-working, resourceful people who do the best with what they have but is this hard work ethic getting in the way of the working smarter ethic?

Farming isn’t getting any easier so we need to become smarter because sitting still isn’t going to work.

The level of complexity and compliance farmers now face can be cognitively challenging for anyone. . . .

Study: White Oak Pastures’ beef reduces atmospheric carbon:

Will Harris is many things to many people. To chefs and foodies, he is a legendary farmer producing some of the world’s best pasture-raised meats infused with the terroir of south Georgia. To athletes, body-hackers, and health-conscious consumers, he is the owner of White Oak Pastures, which ships humanely-raised, non-GMO, grassfed proteins to their doorsteps. To the communities surrounding Bluffton, Georgia, he is one of the last good ole’ boys and the largest private employer in the county. To his colleagues in agriculture, he’s a renegade and an inspiration. But Will Harris’ legacy might turn out to be something else entirely. He may be remembered as the cattleman who figured out how to enlist cows in future generations’ struggle to reverse climate change. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 12, 2019

Nurture our nature workers – Dr Tom Mulholland:

Over the past 20 years I have had the pleasure and privilege of working as a doctor in rural communities and, more recently, in my mobile ambulance. From D’Urville Island to the Chathams, Kaitāia to Bluff on remote sheep stations and arable farms I have seen how farmers toil and, more recently, boil at the ever-increasing pressure put on them.

None was more evident than on a recent trip to a remote valley that must be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It was picture-perfect, completely surrounded by snow-capped mountains under a crisp blue sky and with gurgling azure rivers. The air was clean and, with not a person or car in sight, it was the antithesis of urban life. I relaxed instantly as I  took in  the vista,  my lungs filling with mountain air.

However, the humans trying to  make a living in this stunning but harsh environment are far from relaxed. Scanning ewes, compliance and pastoral chores dealing with stakeholders, and the ever-increasing demands of conservation and people’s opinion make it an even tougher life. . .

Taming the black dog – Luke Chivers:

In the past year 685 people died by suicide. But the number of Kiwis affected by those deaths is almost immeasurable. Elle Perriam, 22, knows what it’s like to lose a loved one. She spoke to Luke Chivers.

The last memory Elle Perriam has of her boyfriend Will is of him laughing, making jokes and creating plans for the weekend.

Days later, he died by suicide. He was just 21.

It was a loss that came out of the blue for everyone who knew him, with aftershocks of grief and loss that rippled from his immediate family and through the wider community. . . 

Struggling youth ‘didn’t want to be judged‘ – Sally Brooker and Gus Patterson:

If Sam Robinson had his way, talking about your feelings would be a school subject.

The 29-year-old who grew up on a farm near Methven is itching to get his message across to mental health professionals and educators, as well as the rural people he spoke to during the recent Will to Live Speak Up tour.

Sam joined Will to Live founder Elle Perriam on the tour of 17 towns throughout the country.

Agricultural worker Elle established Will to Live last year to boost awareness of rural mental health issues after her boyfriend, shepherd Will Gregory, took his own life.

Sam told the Kurow gathering he had battled depression since 2008 but kept it to himself for a long time. That just compounded it.

”I was head boy, in the First XV and First XI – on the outside it looked like I had it all. . . 

Sustainability audits are next – Alan Williams:

Beef farmers will increasingly have to prove their farming systems meet sustainability rules, Rabobank says in its latest quarterly report.

The last 12 months has seen a noticeable step-up in the number and variety of mostly market-led initiatives as beef production comes under more scrutiny over the impact on animals and environment.

The impetus is coming from food retailers, food service companies, processors and producers in response to the changing dynamics, it said. 

And the pace of change will increase further. . . 

Fifty farms to take action:

New nitrogen-reducing project protecting waterways in Canterbury has nationwide relevance.

In the next two years, it is hoped 50 Canterbury dairy farms will be playing a leading role in some key research to further reduce nitrogen leaching into waterways.

Along with all the work dairy farmers are doing to look after their waterways, farmers nationally will be able to follow the project, called Meeting a Sustainable Future, which will focus on how farmers in Hinds and Selwyn can meet nitrogen loss limits and maintain profitable businesses under the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The project will build on sustainable farming initiatives many farmers have already begun and an official project launch event was held recently on a Canterbury dairy farm.

Under the LWRP, Selwyn farmers must reduce nitrogen losses by 30 per cent by 2022 and in Hinds by 15 per cent by 2025, 25 per cent by 2030 and 36 per cent by 2035. . . 

Hawke’s Bay: Rockit apple’s China store takeover earns top accolade :

Innovative Hawke’s Bay apple company Rockit Global Limited has received top international honours at the Asia Fruit Logistica Expo 2019.

The company, recognised across the world for its miniature Rockit apple variety, went home with the Asia Fruit Award for Marketing Campaign of the Year from the Hong Kong event last week.

The company’s general manager global marketing Sandi Boyden said it was a huge thrill to have been acknowledged for the impact Rockit has had within Asia’s fresh fruit and vegetable sector, principally in China, which now accounts for around 50 per cent of Rockit’s global sales. . . 

Kempsey high school students go on farm for work placement –  Samantha Townsend:

At a time when dairy farmers are faced with low milk prices and high input costs due to the ongoing drought – there is a ray of hope.

High schools students at Kempsey are opting to do work placement on farms including dairies where they see first-hand where their food comes from.

According to 2019 figures from Education Minister Sarah Mitchell’s office there are 3835 year 11 and 12 enrollments for agriculture, 1903 for marine studies (including aquaculture) and 2727 studying primary industries. . . 


Rural round-up

July 25, 2019

Federated Farmers has questions over firearms register:

Misgivings about the practicality and cost of a firearms register is likely to dominate feedback from rural areas on the second round of proposed Arms Act amendments, Federated Farmers says.

The proposals feature a range of tighter controls on firearms ownership and licensing and Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson Miles Anderson anticipates support for many aspects of the changes.

“When firearms are used irresponsibly or illegally in New Zealand, it is often farmers who suffer the consequences through the theft of livestock, poaching of wild animals or the risks of dangerous behaviour. Hopefully some of these proposed changes will help to prevent that,” Anderson said. . . 

The environment comes first – Andrew Stewart:

Running a big station with 3500 owners is a big challenge. But Parengarega Station’s new farm manager Kathryne Easton is adding to the task, with her vision of starting with the environment then working back to the farm with her best-use-of-land philosophy at the same time as coping with pest, pasture and weather issues. She told Andrew Stewart her 
environmental and biosecurity plans include not just the farm but the entire Far North.

It’s fair to say many Kiwis forget how far the country stretches north past Auckland. 

The reality is they can travel another six hours before reaching the tip of New Zealand at Cape Reinga and the further north they go the more diverse and challenging the land becomes. 

Just half an hour south of the Cape lies Parengarenga Station, a diverse, nearly 6000-hectare operation that stretches between both coasts of the country.  . . 

Banks’ caution stymies farm sales – Alan Williams:

Farm sales are at their lowest in the last four to six years, Real Estate Institute figures show.

Turnover for the three months to the end of June was down 24.6% on the corresponding period a year earlier and down 15.3% on the three-month period to the end of May.

The latest June tally was 322, compared with 380 in the May period and 427 for June last year.

The non-dairy farming sector is holding value more strongly than the dairy sector, the institute’s rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

Its All Farm Price Index showed a 2.4% rise from May to June and for the year the gain was 7.3%.  . . 

LIC annual result reflects performance, profitability turnaround :

Livestock Improvement Corporation (NZX: LIC) (LIC) announces its financial results for the year ending 31 May 2019.

Reporting a significant increase in profitability, as well as new records in strength of balance sheet, operating cash flow, and total revenue, the co-op will return $15.6 million in dividend to shareholders. This fully imputed dividend equates to 10.98 cents per share and represents a yield of 12.2% based on the current share price of 90 cents. This dividend is up from 1.71 cents last year and is the largest dividend the co-op has paid since 2013.

Board chair Murray King said the result was in line with expectations and reflects a turnaround in the co-operative’s performance and profitability. . . 

Feeding 10 Billion People Will Require Genetically Modified Food – Deena Shanker:

Like it or not, genetic modification is going to be an important tool to feed the planet’s growing population.

If we want to feed 10 billion people by 2050, in a world beset by rising temperatures and scarcer water supplies, we will need to dramatically change the way we produce food. Increased public investment in technologies like genetic engineering is a vital piece of that, according to a report published Wednesday by the World Resources Institute.

Not only must crops be more productive, but the agricultural challenges of climate change—including disease, pests and periods of both drought and flooding—mean they must be more resilient as well. . . 

Future drought fund passes final hurdle in senate – Mike Foley:

After delaying the vote and criticising the policy, federal Labor has provided the necessary support to pass the federal government’s Future Drought Fund through parliament.

The Bill to enact the the Coalition’s rural showpiece policy made its way through the Lower House last night, and today Labor has agreed to approve the legislation in the Senate.

With seed funding of $3.9 billion, the drought fund would grow to $5b by 2030. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 2, 2019

Wearing wool is better for skin than synthetics -Heather Chalmers:

Wearing natural fibres like wool is not only better for the environment, but also your skin health, research shows.

AgResearch bio-product and fibre technology science team leader Stewart Collie said wool was the world’s most sophisticated fibre in terms of its structure and composition. “These give the wool fibre its amazing functionality.”

For the skin health project, AgResearch created special garments that had the upper back portion split in two, with one half made from wool and the other polyester. . . 

Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

Primary Teacher and passionate environmentalist Trish Rankin from Taranaki is the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year.

The prestigious dairy award was announced the Allflex Dairy Women’s Network’s conference gala awards dinner in Christchurch this evening.

The other finalists were Kylie Leonard who farms north of Taupo, Julie Pirie from Ngatea in the Waikato and Southlander Emma Hammond. . . 

Dung beetle role in protecting waterways – Jono Edwards:

Dung beetles could provide the helping hand the region needs for disposing of farm faeces and protecting waterways, Otago Regional councillor Andrew Noone says.

Cr Noone said he was first introduced to the use of the bugs for managing animal waste on farms by a member of the public.

He is now pushing for the council to investigate their usefulness and potentially bring in subsidies for their wider introduction in Otago.

The beetles create small balls out of the manure and bury them in the ground which helps it to break down. . . 

High country steers the stars – Alan Williams:

Weaner steers sold very strongly at the annual Coalgate high-country calf sale in Canterbury on Wednesday.

A lot of calves sold for moe than $3.70/kg and up to just over $4 as buyers sought high-quality offerings from farm stations that have built excellent reputations.

“It’s our best steer sale so far,” Hazlett Rural general manager Ed Marfell said.

It was also one of the last sales of the weaner season in Canterbury and buyers decided they were better to pay up rather than risk missing out.

“We’ve got these renowned stations, great reputations and repeat buyers keep coming back,” Marfell said. . . 

Studs join in for bull walk:

Bull buyers are being promised value, variety and volume at next week’s King Country Big Bull Walk.

“That’s our tagline. We’re a big area and we’re telling buyers from outside King Country that if they come to our sales they will find something that suits them,” co-ordinator Tracey Neal said.

The walk is a series of open days on stud farms on May 6, 7 and 9 ahead of the on-farm sales in the last week of May. Neal reports good interest.

About 500 rising two-year bulls will be shown at18 studs taking part and about 330 of them will be offered at the on-farm sales held by 13 of the studs. The other studs will sell their bulls in the paddock or through sale yards.  . . 

Shift to managing individual sheep – Yvonne O’Hara:

There is a global shift to managing sheep at an individual level rather than a flock level, Lincoln University’s Professor in Animal Breeding and Genetics Jon Hickford says.

Prof Hickford said EID tags and scanner technology allowed the recording of an individual animal’s performance and production values throughout its life.

The technology would be a useful tool to improve overall production for commercial flocks, he said.

”Rather than having a flock of nameless individuals, every sheep has their own identity.” . . 

Water prices are ‘selling farmers down the river’ – Tony Wright:

Another day’s heartless sun is sinking to the horizon, not a cloud in the sky, and Mick Clark’s nuggety body is throwing a long shadow over his parched land north of Deniliquin.

The feedlot that not so long ago held 1000 fat lambs is empty. There is no crop planted on the property that has been in his family’s hands for three generations.

“I’ve parked all the farm equipment up in the sheds and I’ve gone and got myself a job driving a tractor for a bloke,” he says.

Mick Clark has made a vow.

“So far as I’m concerned, the supermarket shelves in the city can go empty,” he says. “I’m not going to spend $600 a megalitre of water to keep farming just to go broke.” . . 

Science shows Kiwi cows have the edge on their US cousins – Glen Herud:

Did you know that New Zealand cows are smarter than American cows?

That’s a potentially defamatory statement but if I ever get sued by a litigious group of American dairy farmers or their cows, I think I’d have the proof to defend myself in court.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 75 per cent of US calves are raised in individual pens or hutches.

The calves are separated from their mothers and put into a little pen with a shelter at one end and milk teat or bucket at the other end. They spend their first eight weeks in this pen by themselves until weaning. . . 


Rural round-up

April 21, 2019

Meat bonanza – Alan Williams:

Hang on for the ride, New Zealand – the African swine fever disaster breaking down pork supply in China is creating a huge opening for sheep meat and beef producers, special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen says.

The Chinese need for protein will push up both demand and thus prices there and for other customers. 

Pork is easily the number one meat protein in China and research indicating the swine fever impact could create an 8.2 million tonnes gap in total protein supply there this year.  . .

MPI raises restrictions on farms to stop spread of Mycoplasma bovis – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers will need to brace themselves for a surge in the number of properties that cannot move stock off their farms as officials grapple with controlling the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said 300 farmers who had high risk animals move on to their properties would be contacted, of whom 250 would have notices of direction placed on them. . .

Exploring potential of dairy sheep, goats – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Sheep and Goat Dairy Project (SGDP) is to hold a workshop in Invercargill tomorrow to explore the potential for dairy sheep and dairy goats as an alternative income stream for farmers and others along the supply chain.

The national Provincial Growth Fund-funded project was launched in January and will continue until March 2020.

Project leader John Morgan, who is also the manager of the New Zealand Food Innovation Network (Fin) at Lincoln University, said there had been pockets of interest and activity to do with sheep and goat milk in the past. . .

Truly outstanding in their fields – Peter Burke:

The East Coast of the North Island features prominently in this year’s Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award for Sheep and Beef.

Two of the three men work on farms on the East Coast, the others in the South Island.

The three finalists were selected from entrants NZ-wide: 

Outbreak delays bee project – Yvonne O’Hara:

The Southern Beekeepers discussion group has completed the first two rounds of sampling southern beehives at sites in Mosgiel and Lake Hawea for the American Foulbrood (AFB) research project, Clean Hive.

However, a major AFB outbreak in the North Island is keeping the laboratory they are using busy with samples, so the results have been delayed.

The sampling is part of the beekeeping industry’s research project to trial three different methods to detect the disease in hives before symptoms become visible or clinical. . .

Celebrating women in agriculture – Sonita Chandar:

Words spoken during a panel discussion at the Women of Influence Forum in 2016 struck a chord with Chelsea Millar from Grass Roots Media.

The panel consisting of several high-profile women from various sectors was discussing how women don’t get enough recognition for their work, whether it be equality, pay parity or so on.

“It struck me that this was true in the agriculture sector,” Millar says. . .

s


Rural round-up

April 4, 2019

Beef and lamb campaign chases conscious foodies – Alan Williams:

Up to 16 million conscious foodies in California are the target of a major new beef and lamb marketing project.

The aim is to make New Zealand top-of-mind for a group passionate about the idea of grass-fed red meat and wanting to know where it comes from.

After months of research Taste Pure Nature was launched in California on March 20 and straight away there were 151 automatic pick-ups on the multi-media release, providing potentially millions of potential impressions among individual consumers, Beef + Lamb NZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

‘Devastated’ Northland mānuka honey producers seek chemical markers definition review from MPI – Lois Williams:

The legal definition of mānuka honey could change, if new evidence shows the chemical makeup of the honey is different in Northland, MPI says.

Far North honey producers say the Ministry of Primary Industries’ regulatory definition, published a year ago, excludes up to 50 percent of their honey, based on just one chemical marker – even in areas where the bees have nothing but mānuka to feed on.

About 80 beekeepers and honey producers from Auckland to Kaitaia turned out to challenge MPI scientists at a hui yesterday at Ōtiria marae, near Kaikohe.

They believe the definition established to protect New Zealand’s mānuka brand overseas fails to take into account regional variations in the chemical makeup of the honey. . . 

Diversified and innovative Whangarei orchard wins Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A Whangarei family growing raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and green and gold kiwifruit have won the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Malley family of Patrick and his wife Rebecca and their children Austin, 4, and Eloise, 1, and Patrick’s parents Dermott and Linzi own and operate their diversified horticulture business, Maungatapere Berries, just outside Whangarei.

Raspberries are the biggest berry crop, processed through a packhouse on the orchard, and sold domestically under their own Maungatapere Berries brand along with blackberries, and blueberries under the Eureka brand. Kiwifruit canopy extends over 16.25ha, including 3.36ha of Gold 3 under cover, to target high-taste, high-production, early season fruit. . . 

Diversity and tolerance – now is the time –  Karen Williams:

Federated Farmers arable sector chairwoman Karen Williams says it is time for bold leadership.

With the traumatic events in Christchurch front of mind it has been hard to focus on topics worthy of commentary when so many of our daily tribulations seem comparatively insignificant.

This atrocity is beyond belief.

It has severely affected the Christchurch community, stunned and saddened New Zealand and sent shock waves around the globe. 

Is there something we can take out of this that will at least in some small way add value to a grieving country?

I believe there is. . . 

Australian snail farmer struggling to keep up with demand

Snails, ants and even fried cockroaches are increasingly popping up on Australian menus, as people seek more environmentally friendly meat.

However, with extreme weather and increased popularity, Australian snail farmers are struggling to meet demand.

Claudia Ait-Touati is a not-for-profit snail farmer in Coonalpyn, about 150 km south-east of Adelaide. . . 

Another pea weevil free year needed in the Wairarapa:

The current Biosecurity New Zealand ban on pea growing in the Wairarapa is knocking down the pea weevil population, but another pea weevil free year is needed to be confident of eradication.

The pest was first discovered in the Wairarapa in 2016 and has been subject to an eradication programme since then.

“Our trapping programme did not find any pea weevils in the 2018 surveillance, which is a promising result after the discovery of just 15 the previous season, says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Dr Cath Duthie. . . 

Kiwifruit orchard with growth potential for sale:

One of closest commercial kiwifruit orchards to Auckland’s urban boundary – with potential to treble its production capacity – been placed on the market for sale.

Known as MacLachlan Orchard, the 12.2-hectare property at 90 Mullins Road in Ardmore is planted on flat land, and is forecast to produce some 42,000 trays of fruit in the current season.

The orchard’s 3.3 canopy hectares of productive land comprises some 2.29-canopy hectares of the Hayward green kiwifruit variety and 1.07 canopy hectares of the G3 gold kiwifruit strain picked off vines which were grafted some six years ago. . . 


Rural round-up

April 3, 2019

Westland Co-operative Dairy demise is self-inflicted – Keith Woodford:

The approaching demise of Westland Co-operative Dairy (trading as Westland Milk Products) has come as a surprise to many people.  It should not have done so.  At the very least, either a partial sale or major joint venture has been inevitable for some years. Survival as a co-operative is now impossible.

Most of the people I talk to think the sale to Chinese company Yili is a very bad idea. West Coasters do not like it. Even Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor is of that opinion. And if a sale really is necessary, then the common perspective seems to be that it should be a local company.

In response, I say ‘dream on’. . . 

Taratahi owes creditors $31 million – Neal Wallace:

Employees will get what they are owed but nearly 1200 unsecured creditors will have to wait to see if they will be paid any of the $15.8 million they are owed following December’s collapse of the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre.

An interim report by liquidators Grant Thornton says the sale of livestock will cover preferential creditors, employees, who are owed $2m, and Inland Revenue, owed $655,000, but there is no indication on the fate of other creditors.

Taratahi’s 518ha Mangarata farm is being readied for sale, over which Westpac has a secured mortgage, along stock, plant and shares. . . 

Crop work went like clockwork – Alan Williams:

Cropping demonstrations across cultivation, drilling, harvesting, balage and silage proceeded without a hitch at the South Island Agricultural Field Days at Kirwee in Canterbury.

Twelve or so hectares can sound like a lot of land area but with several different crops being grown on adjacent strips and some machinery being 10 metres wide there’s not a lot of margin for error.

It helps that each crop and activity is worked at separate times but there’s still a lot of planning and a lot of people to organise. . . 

Forestry sales at record high – reports – Eric Frykberg:

New evidence is emerging of a booming forestry sector.

It follows last month’s report from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) showing 2018 forestry sales at a record high.

Since then, the Seattle based think tank Wood Resource Quarterly has highlighted New Zealand’s role in growing imports of logs by China.

Wood Resource Quarterly said the Chinese took a total of 40 million cubic metres of lumber through their ports last year.

That was over a third more than just three years earlier. . .

Cushing family’s H&G to buy 2.2% Wrightson stake from Agria – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The Cushing family’s H&G vehicle has agreed to buy a 2.2 percent stake in rural services firm PGG Wrightson from Agria Corp. for $8.3 million.

H&G has agreed to pay 49 cents a share for 17 million Wrightson shares, matching Friday’s closing price. Agria owns 351.6 million shares, or 46.6 percent of the rural services firm, having divested a 7.2 percent holding in December when Ngāi Tahu Capital withdrew from a seven-year pooling arrangement with Agria and Chinese agribusiness New Hope International. . . 

Record number of beekeepers have their say in latest check:

Almost a half of the country’s registered beekeepers have taken part in an annual survey to understand bee health, losses and beekeeping practice.

More than 3,600 beekeepers completed the 2018 Colony Loss Survey, which was carried out on behalf of Biosecurity New Zealand by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.

“The numbers of beekeepers participating in the self-reporting survey represents 47 per cent of New Zealand’s registered beekeepers and 42 per cent of registered colonies,” says Biosecurity New Zealand’s biosecurity surveillance and incursion (aquatic and environment health) manager, Dr Michael Taylor. . . 

Miscanthus – a carbon negative crop:

Most annually harvested crops require a lot of activity to get them established, grown and harvested. They need cultivation of the soil, weed control, planting, fertiliser, harvesting, sometimes waste disposal, packing and loading on a truck. Most of them need all that every year. In many cases, there is further cultivation, planting and cutting of a cover crop during the off season as well. Again, every year!

Miscanthus on the other hand needs cultivation, planting and weed control – once in at least 15 years – perhaps 25 years – plus harvesting and loading on a truck every year from year 2 onwards. There is also no waste to be disposed of with Miscanthus. There is no need to cultivate the soil again, no need for ongoing weed control, no need to replant, no need for fertiliser in most cases.  . . 


Rural round-up

April 2, 2019

ClearTech an effluent game-changer – Alan Williams:

Ravensdown says its new ClearTech dairy effluent treatment system will allow two-thirds of the water used to wash farm milking yards each day to be recycled.

It removes up to 99% of E coli and phosphorus from the raw effluent water and cuts nitrogen concentration by about 70%.

ClearTech’s promise, based on Lincoln University dairy farm results, convinced the judges at the South Island Agricultural Field Days to make Ravensdown the Agri Innovation Award winner.

“It’s a privilege for us to achieve this and the culmination of our partnership with Lincoln,” Ravensdown’s ClearTech product manager Carl Ahlfeld said.  . . 

Value of apparel wool surges – Sally Rae:

A new era of profitability is being heralded for mid-micron wool growers.

Despite mid-micron wool being labelled in the McKinsey report of 2000 as having a bleak future, the outlook is looking bright.

New Smartwool contracts have just been released at prices that had not been achieved before, the New Zealand Merino Company said.

South Otago farmer Stephen Jack, who has developed a dual-purpose sheep, described it as “exciting times” in the sheep industry. . . 

Distillery dreams see daylight – Sally Rae:

Young Wade Watson might not know it yet but he is going to have a heck of a 21st birthday party.

The nearly two-month-old infant already has an oak barrel of whisky bearing his name, maturing nicely at Lammermoor Distillery in the Paerau Valley.

The distillery has been established by Wade’s grandparents, John and Susie Elliot, who farm the 5200ha Lammermoor Station. . . 

Definition of lamb now officially changed in export legislation – Kristen Frost:

Australia’s new definition of lamb is on track to take effect from July 1 this year with legislative changes this week registered by the Australian Government.

The move means Australian farmers will be able to sell more lamb with the definition matching our competitors in export legislation.

The new definition is ‘young sheep under 12 months of age or which do not have any permanent incisor teeth in wear’. . . 

Silver Fern Farms cites tough sheep market in profit slide – Gavan Evans:

 (BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms says poor trading in its sheep meat business contributed to a 62 percent decline in full-year profit.

Sales in 2018 rose 9 percent to $2.4 billion but net profit fell to $5.8 million from $15.4 million in the 2017 calendar year. The year-earlier figure was reduced by $10.2 million of one-off costs, mostly related to the closure of the firm’s Fairton processing plant near Ashburton.

While the Dunedin-based company had achieved a “back-to-back profit”, chief executive Simon Limmer stated said the level of profitability was not good enough. . . 

Coastal livestock farm with private airstrip up for sale :

The biggest farm within the Gisborne/Wairoa/Northern Hawkes Bay region to come on the market in the past five years is up for sale.

Tunanui Station at Opoutama sitting on the Mahia Peninsula – which separates Poverty Bay in the north from Hawke’s Bay to the south – is a 2,058-hectare property which comes complete with its own private airstrip. . . .


Rural round-up

March 18, 2019

Dairy industry riding to rescue as property boom economy falters – Liam Dann:

It looks like New Zealand’s dairy sector is riding to the economic rescue – again.

Given the aspirations we have to transform and diversify the economy, that’s almost a bit disappointing.

But right now I’ll take it – and so should the Government. . . 

Shania effect swallows farmland:

It is called the Shania effect, named after the Canadian singer-songwriter who in 2004 with her then husband Mutt Lange, paid $21.5 million for Motatapu and Mt Soho Stations in Otago’s lakes district.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The marriage subsequently split and Lange kept ownership of the properties before adding Glencoe and Coronet Peak Stations, taking his holding to more than 53,000ha of pastoral land from Glendhu Bay near Wanaka to Coronet Peak near Queenstown.

He later invested heavily in environmentally sympathetic development that removed reliance on livestock farming.

That included spending $1.6 million over three years controlling wilding pines, weeds and pests, planting river margins and fencing waterways and sensitive shrublands. .

Rabobank head strongly linked with land, South – Sally Rae:

Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris has always had a connection with farming – and the South.

While not choosing to pursue a career in hands-on farming, the way it worked out meant he had that “absolute connection” and focus on agriculture, he said during a visit to Dunedin last week.

He might not get back to the South that often but when he did get the opportunity to drive through his old haunts, it was a reminder of what it was “all about”, he said.

Born in Tapanui, where his father was a stock agent, Mr Charteris grew up in West Otago, South Otago and Southland. . . 

Raukumara Conservation Park, the dying forest – Michael Neilson:

A bare forest floor, erosion, slips and no birdsong explain the state of the once-flourishing Raukumara Conservation Park. And experts say there might be less than 10 years to save it. Michael Neilson reports.

Standing in the middle of the Raukumara Conservation Park should be one of those picture perfect, 100% Pure New Zealand moments.

The birdsong should be deafening, rich with raucous kākā, chirping tūī and kōkako.

The forest floor should be lush, with new trees rising up and filling the gaps in the canopy. . . 

We’re doing it wrong – Alan Williams:

Exporters are sitting on a gold mine but failing to sell their provenance story overseas, British grocery expert Rob Ward says.

They need to cash in on sensory perception and the Love Triangle.

“New Zealand is incredibly good at what it does but not enough people know about it,” Ward, a United Kingdom grocery data and analytics expert has been told people at Agri-food Week in Palmerston North.

Lamb is a prime example of how the NZ message can be improved. . . 

Rise of women in agriculture an encouraging sign – Robbie Sefton:

Of all the various ways that humanity has devised for splitting itself into tribes, gender tribes are surely the most pointless. 

Men and women are undoubtedly capable of widely differing viewpoints, and are perfectly capable of exasperating each other, but we are literally nothing without each other.

That’s why it’s been wonderfully encouraging to watch the rise of women in agriculture over the past few decades. 

What was once an industry wholly associated with blokes (at least on the surface) is rapidly becoming one that, in terms of participation, is pretty gender-equal. . . 


Rural round-up

January 25, 2019

UK agreement ensures status quo for exporters  – Sally Rae:

The signing of a veterinary agreement between the United Kingdom and New Zealand will provide reassurance to farmers and exporters, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor says.

Uncertainty has prevailed in the red meat sector since the Brexit vote in 2016. The UK accounted for $560million worth of the sector’s exports, dominated by sheepmeat which represented 85% of that total.

In a joint statement with Beef + Lamb, Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said the signing of the agreement, together with recent advice from the UK about the acceptance of EU health certificates post-March 29, meant the sector was assured existing regulations would remain the same. . .

Elers’ life wrapped up in wool – Alan Williams:

 Tina Elers is working seven days a week but is still finding time to improve her fitness ahead of the World Shearing Championship in France later this year. She also found time to talk to Alan Williams about her busy life.

Thirty years into her wool-classing career Tina Elers is as busy as ever and very motivated.

When some might think it is time to slow down she’s working a seven-day week around Southland, weather permitting, and doing extra fitness work. . .

Milk production record possible – Sally Rae:

 Milk production is on track to set a record this season as the risk of drought derailing it continues to recede.

Earlier in the season, an increasing chance of an El Nino weather pattern this summer was raised and the expectation was the associated dry conditions could crimp production later in the season.

Yesterday, ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said relatively healthy soil moisture levels suggested production should “kick on” over the next few months. . .

Surplus research farm gets the chop– Annette Scott:

More than 70 years of agriculture history will go under the hammer when AgResearch sells its Mid Canterbury research farm next month.

Bought in 1946 to provide local research into the use of border-dyke irrigation with long-term fertiliser trials started in the 1950s, the Winchmore research farm has contributed to more than 500 science publications.

But AgResearch has called time on its 72 years. . .

Farmer living the dream on Ponui island :

Living on an island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf has its perks for sheep and beef farmer George Watson.

The 26-year-old works on one of three farms on Ponui Island, which lies southeast of Waiheke Island.

The picturesque island has rolling grass-covered hills, pockets of bush and sheltered bays with white sandy beaches.

Agria rep to step down as Wrightson chair by June 26 – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson says current chair Joo Hai Lee will step down before June 28 but that the board will continue its governance review in the meantime.

Lee represents Wrightson’s former majority shareholder, Singapore-registered Agria, and took over as chair in early November after Agria principal Alan Lai abruptly resigned the day before the scheduled annual shareholders’ meeting.

Wrightson says in a statement that the board “will provide an update in the near future regarding the outcomes of the review and the chair’s appointment.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 13, 2019

No rescue for Taratahi :

A rescue package for the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was rejected by the Government last year, which left the national training provider no option but to face liquidation.

The Farmers Weekly has been told the package consisted of cost savings, a restructured business and courses, the planned sale of the 518ha Mangarata farm in the Wairarapa, a $6 million working capital cash injection and moratorium on refunding over payments to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

Last year the Government spent nearly $100m bailing out Unitec, Whitireia and Tai Poutini polytechnics. . .

The vegans are coming, so Kiwi farmers need to give us something to believe in – Daniel Eb:

Environmental limits, changing tastes and a redefined social licence are driving consumers away from animal proteins. In part two of a series on the rise of veganism, Daniel Eb looks at what New Zealand must do to get on board.

There is a sense of impending transformation ahead for agriculture in New Zealand. The world’s richest consumers – New Zealand’s target market – want products that speak to their identity. They are increasingly perceiving value in terms of experience, and are less willing to tolerate our production-first model. In short, they want something to believe in. In the second part of this series on veganism I outline a way forward, an opportunity to re-imagine our value as food producers and our impact on the world. . .

Postive start for wool sales – Alan Williams:

The calendar 2019 wool sales season in the South Island started brightly, with indications of business being written in China, and helped by lower volumes.

Crossbred prices remain at depressed levels and there are still issues to be faced, but the positive start was refreshing, with finer crossbred wools up to 6% dearer at Christchurch on Thursday, and strong wools up to 2% better, PGG Wrightson’s South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

The small volumes of new season’s lambs’ wool were keenly sought after, with prices well ahead.  . .

Meet the couple at No.1 State Highway, Far(thest) North – David Fisher:

At the point in the road where there is little left of State Highway 1, you’ll find Herb and Colleen Subritzky.

In the evenings they sit on the deck of their home, overlooking the road – New Zealand’s longest road stretching more than 2000km from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the south – nursing cold beers and listening to birds filling the silence of the Far North.

All day, buses and cars race by their home to cover those final few kilometres to Cape Reinga. At 6pm, the main parking area shuts and the flow reverses, dwindles then stops. From then until morning, it must be one of the quietest stretches of road in the country. . . 

Eight vie for Otago/Southland FMG Young Farmer title – Sudesh Kissun:

Two former workmates at the iconic Mount Linton Station are set to clash in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest.

Jacob Mackie and Allen Gregory, who are both 25, will go head to head in the Otago/Southland regional final in Milton next month.

“I can’t wait. I really enjoy the challenge of competing. It pushes your boundaries and makes you work on your weaknesses,” said Allen. . . 

Farmer credits his dog with fighting off attacking steer – Kristin Edge:

Johnny Bell reckons his little dog, Jade, saved his life by fighting off a steer that bowled the veteran farmer and was attacking him on the ground.

The canine companion then ran along the road to get help for her wounded master who had been knocked unconscious. Bell’s front teeth had been smashed out, his right eye severely bruised as was his ribs and legs.

What was not immediately evident was the Northland farmer was suffering a brain bleed. . .


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