Rural round-up

January 8, 2019

Concerns over farmers’ approach to financial wellbeing – Alan Wills:

Financial resilience of some businesses in our farming community is a real concern.

Alarm bells rang for me after a recent comment from a rural consultant was aired. He told me he was organising finance for some of his clients because Fonterra had re-adjusted the advance payment rate.

The payout prediction and the advanced payments are still based on $6-plus. . . 

Fears part of bumper apple crop could be lost :

New Zealand’s apple growers fear a bumper crop coupled with a shortage of workers could mean some of the summer harvest is lost.

The group New Zealand Apples and Pears, which represents the pip fruit industry, wants the government to step in and allow tourists to pick fruit without a working visa.

Group spokesperson Gary Jones said this could happen if the government declares a seasonal labour shortage in the country’s primary apple growing regions of Hawke’s Bay and Nelson.

This would allow overseas visitors in the country on tourist visas to work in the horticulture industry without obtaining the usual work permits. . . 

Will cheese become New Zealand’s next craft beer? – Kevin Jenkins:

I once read that before World War I, back before decades of blander mass production, New Zealand seed catalogues looked a lot more like they do in the 21st century, with much more variety. People were growing endive and cavolo nero, for example, and lots of interesting fruits.

But with one of the highest mortality rates among countries who participated in the war, followed by a deadly flu epidemic and then the Great Depression a decade later, it’s no wonder that from the 1920s New Zealand focused on survival … and therefore on potatoes, cabbages and the accursed mashed swede.

In parallel, better transport links and better refrigeration and mass production led to lots of our food industries consolidating. Local dairy factories progressively closed and companies combined until eventually Fonterra emerged as the behemoth it is today. Local breweries followed the same path until DB and Lion shared most of the market. Flour and bread, seafood, vegetables, canned fruit … all followed suit. . . 

Ideas coming thick and fast at RMPP Action Network :

Farmers are reported to have joined a Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group at Rangiwahia to upskill the people in their businesses and boost their profitability.

Eight farm businesses in northern Manawatu have joined the RMPP Action Network to learn from each other and various experts.

Murray Curtis, who hosted the action group’s third meeting, welcomes the opportunity to “be part of a group that gets you thinking and gives you ideas you can put into action on your farm”. . . 

Farmers urged not to forget TB:

Farmers, especially in the South Island, are being reminded that while Mycoplasma bovis has captured headlines, TB is a continuing problem in small pockets of the country.

Kevin Crews, head of disease management for OSPRI (manager of the TB-free programme) says outbreaks have spiked in the Strath-Taieri (Otago) area, with “niggles” in the last two to three years.

TB has been found in ferrets, pigs and possums in the area and work is underway to see whether it is related to the incidence in cattle herds. . . 

Pig rearing to return to rural school following vegan backlash

Keeping pigs on a rural Hampshire school farm to show children how food is produced is to return following vegan backlash which temporarily axed it.

The pigs are kept in Priestlands School grounds, in Lymington, and the practice of rearing them on-site seeks to educate the children where food comes from, and how it is made, from farm-to-fork.

But a petition spearheaded by a vegan campaign group in January sought to axe the scheme, and the school temporarily stopped rearing pigs for a short while to avoid vegan upset. . . 


Rural round-up

September 12, 2017

Every New Zealand has benefited from farming let’s not get divided – Alan Wills:

A couple of generations ago most New Zealanders had either come off a farm, had relations who were farming or knew people on the land.

We were a farming nation.

Everyone, including successive governments, understood this great country of ours was built on farming. Somehow this narrative has been lost over a relatively short period of time.

With diversification of our economy, urbanisation of our people, immigration and for a whole host of other reasons, farmers are now almost public enemy number one in the minds of some folk.

Certain political and environment groups are milking (no pun intended) that notion for all it’s worth. . . 

Rural-urban divide ‘encouraged’ by water tax policies – farmer – Alexa Cook:

Many political parties are using farmers as an easy target for emotive policies that appeal to urban people, a South Canterbury farmer says.

In the lead up to the election, RNZ Rural News is talking to farmers across New Zealand about what they think of the policies that have been put on the table.

Farming and environmental issues have been hot topics in the election lead up.

South Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Mark Adams, who is also the Federated Farmers president for the region, said farmers feel unfairly targeted. . .

Luddites are undermining society’s self confidence – Doug Edmeades:

 “Damn the dam,” I thought. This news from the Hawke’s Bay had me scurrying to my history books. Luddites, that’s what they are, these dam-stoppers. A bunch of thoughtless technophobes with an irrational fear of the future – “Stop the world I wanna get off.”

Luddites take their name from an early 19th century chap, probably mythical, called Ned Ludd. They were weavers whose skills were made redundant by the machines of the industrial revolution. They became activists and went on the rampage, smashing the new machinery that did their work better and at less cost.

From this experience an ideology has developed that believes progress is bad for society and probably the work of the devil. Today, Luddite simply means to be against technology. The Amish of the Midwest of America are Luddites when it comes to the internal combustion engine. . . 

Progress in high country issue: DOC – Sally Rae:

Progress is being made collectively to address the challenges in the high country, Department of Conservation partnerships manager Jeremy Severinsen says.

His comments followed a scathing attack on Doc by retired high country farmer Tim Scurr, now living in Wanaka, who said the high country had to be restored and replanted urgently.

Mr Scurr said he had grown up admiring the mountain tops of the high country “and all that they provide”, particularly water.

But management of those mountain tops had “fallen into the wrong people’s hands”.  They did not understand a balance of what was needed for sustainable land. Snow tussock  held snow back, shading and protecting, keeping the snow as long into the summer dry as conditions allowed, Mr Scurr said. . . 

2050 birdsong worth the wait – Mark Story:

It goes without saying that all that glitters, at this pre-election juncture, is not gold.

However, every time a public official suit mentions the initiative “Predator Free 2050” I get a warm feeling in the belly.

The traditional voter cornerstones of health, wealth and education seem to drift off into the ether when I sit and watch the kereru pair that this time each year feed silently in the plum tree at the dining room window.

The green-cloaked couple, dangerously oblivious to the threat my species poses, let me get to within a metre before branch hopping to a safer distance.

It’s true. The predator free goal is perhaps a tad aspirational. Many say it’s more about predator suppression than outright eradication. That could well be the reality. But I’m still excited by the push. . . 

Blame not all ours – farmers – Rebecca Nadge:

“It’s upsetting for farmers. We feel there’s a big divide between town and country – how did it get to this?” Matakanui Station owner Andrew Paterson lamented.

In response to Labour’s proposed water tax, Mr Paterson posted a video online challenging farmers around the country to test the water quality of streams on their properties. He said farmers were being unfairly blamed for poor water quality, but townspeople needed to take responsibility, too. . .

More offal to be processed:

Alliance Group is spending $1.7million at its Pukeuri and Lorneville plants in a bid to capture more value from its products.

The investment would improve the recovery of offal at Pukeuri,  with an upgrade of the beef pet food area and a new facility created to help boost the recovery of blood-based products for sale to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.

The blood products were used in the development of vaccines, cancer treatments and drugs to treat neurodegenerative, haematological and endocrine disorders. . . 

Tea-strainers help fight ‘Battle for Banded Rail’ – Kate Guthrie:

Tracey Murray, Trapping Field Officer for ‘Battle for the Banded Rail’  recently bought 150 mesh tea-strainers online, importing them from a manufacturer in China. So what does anyone do with 150 mesh tea-strainers?

Tracey handed them out to her volunteer trappers at a recent ‘Trapping Workshop’ get-together – and not because her volunteers enjoy a good ‘cuppa’.

“You put the bait inside the tea-strainer,” Tracey explains. “We aren’t targeting mice but mice have been taking our bait and don’t set off the trap. The mesh stops the mice getting it so we don’t have to keep replenishing it as often Using the mesh strainers also prevents wasps eating the baits over the summer months when they are also a problem.” . . 

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year nominations open 11 September:

Dairy Women’s Network is putting the call out for the next inspiring industry leader. Nominations open for the 2018 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Award on 11 September.

This is the seventh year for the prestigious award which celebrates the outstanding leadership of women in the business of dairy.

Dairy Women’s Network chair Cathy Brown says the network has a proud history of celebrating the success of women and leadership in the dairy industry. . .


Rural round-up

June 27, 2017

Colostrum vital part of successful calf rearing system – Sally Rae:

When it comes to rearing calves, Nicola Neal knows the challenges involved.

Mrs Neal and her husband Grant are sharemilking on the lower Waitaki Plains in North Otago and she also works part-time as a vet.

Her particular interest in rearing young stock has led the mother of two to launch a new venture this year.

The Aspiring Calf Company offers an advisory service to farming clients for setting up and managing robust, fail-safe systems for rearing great calves.

It was while she was studying veterinary science at Massey University that Mrs Neal met her husband, who was working for an animal health company. . . 

Rural folk with MS sort for study – Alexia Johnston:

Medical researchers are turning their attention to the rural sector to benefit people who have multiple sclerosis.

People living in rural South Canterbury, Otago and Southland who have the auto-immune condition multiple sclerosis (MS) are needed for the University of Otago School of Physiotherapy study.

The 24-week study combines two interventions for people with MS living in rural areas – web-based physio and Blue Prescription. . . 

Jan Wright an emblem of our nation’s maturity – Jon Morgan:

Jan Wright will be a hard act to follow. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s term is up shortly and we will miss her.

She and her staff have produced a series of landmark reports on important issues over the past 10 years, rigorous reports firmly centred on science that have cleared up misunderstandings and set out clearly what is at stake.

Farmers have a lot to thank her for. In her reports she has exposed a lot of the lies and half-truths around arguments on clean rivers and how to manage water quality, the use of 1080, agriculture’s contribution to climate change and the Emissions Trading Scheme and high country tenure. . . 

Sale of Angus bull raises $4500 for rescue helicopter – Sally Brooker:

A North Otago Angus stud has raised $4500 for the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Fossil Creek, run by Neil and Rose Sanderson and Blair and Jane Smith, held its annual on-farm bull sale at Ngapara last week. One lot in its catalogue was sold to help the rescue chopper that has been a life-saver in the district several times in the past four years.

Thanks to strong bidding and awareness of the charitable cause, the bull sold for $4500 to the Cameron family of Wainui Station, on the northern side of the Waitaki River. . . 

Annual tackles food sustainability – Hugh Stringleman:

Massey University’s second Land and Food Annual asks Can New Zealand Feed the World Sustainably?

Its editor Professor Claire Massey and some contributors say we can’t, for a variety of reasons based on perceived lack of sustainability in farming practices, especially water quality.

However, by the end of the book there are enough wise words to re-address the proposition and answer yes instead of no. . . 

What Next? Futurists can take their cricket meat – I’m milking cows until I’m 130 – Lyn Webster:

I watched the ‘What Next’ TV programme with Nigel Latta, John Campbell and a team of ‘futurists’. They were making calls on how life in New Zealand will look in 2037.

I have never felt so happy that I will be dead or close to it by then.

They foresaw a world where jobs as we know them will be taken over by robots. We will all be whizzing around skyping each other from driverless cars and off to a ‘cricket’ (insect) restaurant to eat our daily protein.

Currently, I am driving around in a 1993 Honda Ascot which failed its warrant because of the horn. Now I can’t register it because it’s so old that getting the horn fixed has turned into a big drama. . . 

Planning, returns and looming stresses make feeding 9 billion people a challenge – Ryan O’Sullivan:

 I was fortunate to be part of a relatively small group of eight Nuffield scholars, of diverse farming backgrounds, who visited countries on the Brazil Global Focus Program (GFP).

Countries visited were well developed or mostly developed in terms of their economies and agricultural industries and included Brazil, Mexico, United States, Ireland, France and New Zealand.

One of the key benefits I believe the GFP offers is the context it gives of the global agri-food business and therefore the perspective around New Zealand as a producer and marketer.  As one large scale US milk producer put it “New Zealand is small and cute” – which is pretty hard to argue with.  . . 

It’s time to rethink debate around water quality and weed out the emotion – Alan Wills:

Anyone with an opinion or agenda about water quality has received plenty of media play of late.

We regularly hear about “dirty dairying”, “industrial dairy farming” and just the other day I heard someone on breakfast television talking about “rivers of milk.”

There are no rivers of milk.

Some of the debate is constructive but much of it is narrowly focused, emotional and politically driven. There seems to be no appreciation of the bigger picture. . . 


Rural round-up

April 7, 2014

Understanding Fonterra gets even harder – Pattrick Smellie:

Ask anyone with half an eye on the New Zealand economy what’s leading its current recovery and they’ll tell you two things.

First: the Canterbury rebuild.

And second: the extraordinary boom in both the price and volume of dairy industry exports.

The dairy boom being what it is, you’d think the country’s only multi-national company with global scale, Fonterra, would have produced a stonking half-year profit result last week.

Not so.. .

Pukeuri meatworks still waiting for China go-ahead – Daniel Birchfield:

A resolution to the ongoing certification issue surrounding Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant looks no closer to being resolved.

The plant’s certification for China was suspended by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in July, after incorrectly labelled product was shipped to China.

Alliance Group general manager of processing, Kerry Stevens, said at this stage there was “no change” to the current situation.

Stevens declined to comment on how the issue at Pukeuri was affecting Timaru’s Smithfield plant in terms of staffing. . .

Farmers walk the environmental talk – Alan Wills:

. . . In a nut shell farming has a great future in New Zealand. We have our challenges but the long term future in my opinion is better than just good.

Why? We are naturally good farmers.  We have the climate and water availability in some areas to take the vagrancies out of seasonal production.  Globally this is called the ‘pastoral sweet spot’ and there aren’t too many countries in the world in it.

We have very good infrastructure here and abroad to effectively market what we produce. We have very focused research and development supporting us to stay on the front foot.  Politically, our Westminister type democracy provides stability and stability begets confidence.  I can think of one country that is like our twin except for politics and policies that shoots its economy in the foot.  Here, nothing is going to fall over by revolution or in a coup. 

Finally, we can produce food products in particular that the rest of developing world wants.

All of these attributes are vital in any successful production and marketing process. . .

If the IPCC backs adaptation, political parties should too:

The release of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report’s chapter on Australasia, reinforces science, research and water storage are fundamental to New Zealand’s adaptive response.

“The IPCC report contains both good and bad news for the New Zealand farm system and New Zealand as a whole,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President, who has recently returned from the World Farmers Organisation’s General-Assembly.

“The report predicts that New Zealand will likely become drier in the northeast of the South Island as well as the east and north of the North Island.  On the other side of the ledger, it will likely become wetter in the south of the South Island. 

“This will change pest pressure and biosecurity risks and the effectiveness of biocontrols. . .

Tikorangi dairy farm takes top Taranaki award:

A TIKORANGI dairy farming operation is the inaugural winner of the 2014 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

It was described by judges as an outstanding example of best dairying practise.

The region’s first Supreme title was presented to Gavin and Oliver Faull, Faull Farms, and their sharemilkers, Tony and Loie Penwarden, at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards ceremony on April 3. . .

Precision farmers feature of Fert and Lime Conference:

THE WORD improvisation can conjure images of ad hoc solutions and a slightly less than professional approach, but when it comes to precision agriculture, it’s not a dirty word: in fact, it’s exactly what’s needed, says one of New Zealand’s leading academics on the subject.

 Out of necessity, New Zealand farmers have become inherently good at improvising over the years and that background will stand them in good stead with the growing array of precision farming techniques becoming available, says Professor of Precision Agriculture at Massey University Ian Yule. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

May 24, 2013

Agribusiness Innovation and Growth 2013:

New Zealand’s agritech sector is a $3 billion industry, generating export sales in excess of $700 million a year. Top players in the sector are gathering in Hamilton on the night before Fieldays for a mini-symposium on agribusiness and innovation. It’s a Universities New Zealand event, hosted by the University of Waikato on behalf of the University Commercialisation Offices of NZ (UCONZ), and it’s open to the public by online registration.

The keynote speakers will be the Minister for Economic Development Hon Steven Joyce, Wayne McNee, Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries, and Fonterra Nutrition’s Managing Director Sarah Kennedy. . .

Fieldays Innovations Centre brings to life Kiwi can-do attitude:

The Fieldays Innovation Centre Competition is the perfect forum for inventors to introduce their primary industry themed, ‘homegrown’ designs to a local and global audience.

By creating an opportunity for inventors to showcase their designs and prototypes, which are then critiqued by key industry leaders, it’s the ideal way for Kiwis to get past the first, crucial step to gaining commercial success in New Zealand and beyond.

With a serious prize pool available for inventors in the following categories; Grassroots, Launch NZ and International (covering local and global, individual and company entrants), they must wow judges to be in with a chance of winning financial and mentoring support. The goal: to establish their invention across local and global territories and gain commercial success. . . .

Fertiliser Company Helps Curb Pollution in Rural Red Zone:

A group of South Island farmers have rallied together to improve their environmental practises and protect their land and waterways.

Environment Canterbury (ECAN) has declared the Upper Waitaki region a red zone because the nutrient levels in the Ahuriri River are too high.

At a farm field day organised by fertiliser and lime company,Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd, ECAN told farmers in the Ahuriri Valley that the community wants to see clean water in local rivers and streams and farmers need to better manage their nutrient application. . .

‘Farmy Army’s’ John Hartnell Honoured:

John Hartnell, the driving force behind Federated Farmers’ ‘Farmy Army’, received the New Zealand Order of Merit today.

Following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, John organised farmers from around the region, now coined the ‘Farmy Army’, to assist in clearing liquefaction, delivering food parcels and providing general assistance to vulnerable families.

“It is a real honour to be recognised in this way by the Governor General, I am truly humbled,” says John. . .

Exports to China back on track:

Federated Farmers is hugely relieved the meat export impasse in China has been resolved, but believes New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) need to take a hard look in the mirror.

“Can we say thank you to the Minister, our trade officials and the Chinese authorities for solving a big problem,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President and its trade spokesperson.

“China is our largest market for lamb by volume and in the first quarter of 2013, surpassed Britain in terms of value for the first time ever. This is what was at stake so it is embarrassing to discover the fault lay here in New Zealand.

“It feels as if we have been ankle-tapped by a member of our own team. . .

MIE secures farmer mandate for meat industry reform:

A week after meetings in Te Kuiti and Gisborne, Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) has secured a farmer mandate to pursue a value and growing meat industry.

“Having concluded a series of meetings from Gore to Gisborne, MIE now has the confidence to push forward with red meat industry reform,” says Richard Young, Meat Industry Excellence chairman.

“Farmers realise there must be change in our industry if we are to arrest the loss of farms and farmers to other land uses, like dairying and these days, forestry. The only way you achieve this is to make red meat an attractive commercial proposition.

“That is why all industry stakeholders need to be part of the positive change our industry is desperately crying out for. Something MIE is here to champion. . .

New president for Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo:

Following Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo Annual General Meeting, Alan Wills has been elected provincial president following the retirement of Neil Heather.

“What Neil has done over the past few years will be a hard act to follow but I shall give it my best,” says Alan Wills, Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo provincial president.

“The positive contribution made by Federated Farmers and Neil is exemplified by the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective. Known as the Otorua Accord, this was signed in February between Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Te Arawa and our councils. . .

New Technology to Boost Sustainable Fisheries Research:

 Deep sea technology that will provide some of the world’s most accurate and useful marine sustainability research is being launched today.

In a world-first, New Zealand fishing company Sealord has invested more than $750,000 in a new multi-frequency Acoustic Optical System (AOS).

At an event on-board Thomas Harrison, prior to the vessel taking the new equipment on its first sea-trial, Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy launched the new AOS which will provide a boost to the science that contributes to New Zealand’s world recognised Quota Management System. . .

Dollar Pushes up Local Wool Prices:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the local market lifted significantly for the 10,400 bales on offer at the South Island sale this week. The weakening NZ dollar, particularly against the US dollar which was down 4.97 percent compared to the last sale on 9th May and the weighted currency indicator down 3.91 percent was the principal market influence. This was supported by recent strong purchasing interest and a seasonal limited wool supply.

Mr Dawson advises that a nominal offering of Mid Micron Fleece were firm to 3 percent dearer. . .


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