Rural round-up

March 21, 2018

New strain of calicivirus released on the Taieri – Elena McPhee:

An important moment for farming in the Taieri area occurred last night, when the Otago Regional Council released the new strain of rabbit-killing calicivirus.

Clad in overalls and armed with a bucketful of contaminated carrots, council environmental officer for biosecurity Kirk Robertson released the virus RHDV1 K5 in the hills near Outram.

He had nine other sites to visit, and across the wider Otago region a team of six or seven people had been laying poisoned carrots in about 100 locations. . .

Struggle to find enough homes for Kaimanawa horses – Alexa Cook:

More than 200 Kaimanawa horses could be sent to slaughter following this year’s muster.

This year is expected to be one of the largest wild horse culls on record, with about 300 animals being mustered from the Waiouru Military Training Area.

The muster is carried out every two years, organised by the Department of Conservation and Kaimanawa Heritage Horses. . . 

Rodeo rider’s success dedicated to mother – Sally Rae:

When Jenny Atkinson won her record sixth national barrel racing title this month, it was a poignant moment.

Mrs Atkinson (44) dedicated the win at the national rodeo finals to her mother, Ann, Ashford, who died in July last year.

And she was delighted to have her father, Ron, in the crowd at Wanaka to watch her ride to victory. . . 

Software softens blow of M. bovis hit:

Good farm records have helped to relieve a South Island farming business of some of the effects of getting through a Mycoplasma bovis infection, reports FarmIQ Systems Ltd, a software company.

MPI placed a restricted place notice on two properties owned by Lone Star Farms in mid-January because they had infected calves. Lone Star was among the first non-dairy businesses identified with the disease.

“We brought in about 400 calves for rearing — 200 of them from a Southland property later found to have M. Bovis,” says Lone Star general manager Boyd Macdonald. “So we know exactly how it’s got here.” . . 

Dairying not all bad tourism not all good – Alistair Frizzell:

Is it fair that the New Zealand dairy industry is criticised while tourism is lauded?

Overseas income from tourism is now claimed to exceed the dairy industry’s export income.

Dairy farmers are accused of polluting not only our waterways but now also our air as a result of burning farm waste. Tourism is said to be ‘clean and green’, rapidly growing and promoting the best of NZ to the rest of the world.

Like many glib statements, the truth is often more complicated. . .

More digital adoption could fuel rural business boom – Gordon Davidson:

GREATER DIGITAL adoption in rural areas could add £12 to £26 billion a year to the UK economy, according to a new report.

Research by Rural England and Scotland’s Rural College, commissioned by Amazon, concluded that greater use of digital tools and services could deliver 4 to 8.8% of additional Gross Value Added per year for the rural economy, as annual business turnover in rural areas grew by at least £15 billion, with rural microbusiness and small-sized business seeing the greatest returns. . . 

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Rural round-up

March 7, 2018

Fonterra High Court gagging action triggers ‘Streisand effect’ :

Fonterra’s high court injunction is causing “the Streisand effect”, with Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders now anxious to know what is being kept from them, says Federated Farmers.

National dairy chairman Chris Lewis said his phone has rung constantly with inquiries since Fonterra late on Friday secured an injunction gagging former director Leonie Guiney and preventing a weekly publication publishing or using any “confidential” information it received from her.

The injunction also prevents other unnamed media, including the New Zealand Herald, from spreading any “confidential” information it may have received from Guiney. . .

 Industry commits $11.2m towards Mycoplasma operating costs _ Gerard Hutching:

DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ and the Meat Industry Association will pay $11.2 million towards the costs of combating the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The details of the financial contribution are yet to be worked out.

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said in funding of $85m for operational and compensation costs for the outbreak response, from July 1 last year to the end of the current financial year, was approved by Cabinet on Monday. In December last year, $10m was approved. . . 

M. bovis threat causes heifer competition cancellation –  Brittany Pickett:

Organisers have made the tough decision to drop a commercial dairy heifer competition to avoid the risk of spreading Mycoplasma bovis.

The Royal Agricultural Society-run dairy heifer competitions for Southland, Otago and Canterbury, as well as the South Island competition, which are run yearly through March and April, will not be held this year.

South Island competition convenor Merv Livingstone said the southern district of the agricultural society had made the tough call to cancel the competition because of the possible risk of further spreading the cow disease. . . 

M. bovis fears surround upcoming Gypsy Day – Alexa Cook:

 A Southland vet says farmers in the region are worried about the spread of the cattle disease when dairy herds are moved around on the upcoming Gypsy Day.

Gypsy Day is officially the first of June, and VetSouth director Mark Bryan said almost all the dairy cows in Southland, Otago, and Canterbury will be shifted to new properties for winter grazing or new sharemilking contracts. . .

Cardboard creativity pays dividends for Fonterra:

Fonterra has claimed an industry first with the launch of its ingenious packaging solution for high-quality milk fats, known as AMF. The solution is the first of its kind in the dairy industry.

Challenging the industry norm for storing the light-shy product in giant drums or in frozen packs, Fonterra has developed small 15L cardboard packs that are easily stackable and manoeuvrable and can be stored at room temperature. A butter alternative, AMF is an ingredient in many foods such as ice cream, confectionary and bakery goods. . . 

Rat traps set to save ‘modern day dinosaur’ frogs – Andrew McRae:

A network of self-resetting rat traps are being laid out in the Whareorino Forest in western King Country to help protect the Archey’s frog.

It is estimated that between 20 and 25,000 of the native frogs remain.

The Archey’s frog can only be found in the Whareorino Forest, Pureora Forest and on Coromandel Peninsular . .

 


Rural round-up

February 26, 2018

UK expert who identifies Mycoplasma bovis says farmer records of herds must improve – Gerald Piddock:

Richard Laven​ was in his office at Massey University in June last year when a South Island veterinarian called him, asking for advice on sick cows.

The cows had just calved and the veterinarian told the associate professor of animal health that they were suffering from mastitis and lameness and not responding to treatment.

Laven told the veterinarian it was the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis and advised they must ring the Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

Staffing, fall in optimism top farmer issues – Sally Brooker:

Farmer optimism has fallen for the first time in two years, the latest Farm Confidence Survey shows.

Releasing the findings of its mid-season survey last Thursday, Federated Farmers said the stand-out features were a marked drop in farmer optimism and growing concern about being able to recruit suitable staff.

The survey is commissioned by the federation and conducted by Research First in January and July each year. January’s responses came from 1070 farmers.

They included negative views of the economy and of farm profitability, production and spending. Debt levels had increased and fewer farms were debt-free. . . 

Immigration advisory workshop coming up:

Migrants across the rural sector will get a chance to learn about new immigration policy next month.

An immigration advisory workshop is planned for March 7, with the aim of benefiting people in the Waimate, Kurow and Morven areas.

The workshop will be attended by immigration adviser Jojan McLeod, of Immigration Waitaki, who will share her knowledge and advice.

Among the new immigration policy was a change to the minimum hourly rate for someone defined as a skilled worker.

That rate increased on January 15 to $20.65 per hour, which was an increase of 68c an hour. . . 

First Young Farmer contest for Wellington city – Alexa Cook:

A couple of hundred farmers have taken over Crawford Green in Wellington today for a Young Farmer competition, the first to ever be held in the capital.

It’s the Tarananki/Manawatu Young Farmer Regional Final, and the winner from today will go through to the grand final.

The eight contestants, who each came first or second at their district contest, had an exam on Friday night, then today are being put through their paces on Miramar’s Crawford Green, and this evening will also have to perform well in a quiz. . . 

Winner eyes field agronomy role – Annette Scott:

Canterbury young farmer Justin Inwood has won the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association’s annual scholarship.

Open to students studying in the agricultural field at Lincoln or Massey Universities, this year the organisation was swamped with applications.

The scholarship, which started in 2011, got just two applications from each institution in its first year. . . 

Farm to table: how blockchain technology will change the way you eat – Larry Myler:

Forget about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for a minute. The underlying technology is what I’m interested in. Blockchain is working its way into all aspects of B2B commerce, including our food chain.

Here’s the why and how of this latest expression of a technology that is bringing massive change, and benefit, to yet another industry.

According to the World Health Organization, 10% of us fall ill with a food-borne disease each year. Most of these diseases aren’t hard to prevent, but without clear and consistent oversight they remain prevalent. With the meteoric rise of the blockchain phenomenon, food commerce will soon get the shakeup it needs. . .

The wool Press: Tim Brown – Claire Inkson:

The Wool Press: Where we shine the spotlight on a Wool Product or Producer to celebrate wool as an environmentally friendly, innovative, humane and versatile natural fibre of now and the future. Today we talk to Tim Brown, former captain of the All Whites and founder of the worlds most comfortable shoes, Allbirds : The hugely popular runners and loungers made from New Zealand Merino.

1. What made you choose NZ Merino as a textile when you created All Birds?

We wanted to create the world’s most comfortable shoe so it made sense that we would use the world’s finest fibre to achieve that goal. In NZ Merino and their ZQ certification, we found a partner that is the gold standard in the delivery of sustainable and ethically sourced merino and we haven’t looked back since. . .

Wool is cool again and the prices are shear madness – Lucy Craymer:

Wool isn’t just for winter wear anymore, and its use in everything from shoes to underwear briefs is pushing prices of merino, the most popular type of wool fiber for clothes, to near-record highs.

Wool sneakers popular in Silicon Valley from startup Allbirds Inc. helped kick off a global trend. Brands from Adidas to Lululemon and Under Armour are selling wool apparel, touting the fiber’s soft feel and odor-resisting properties. Merino wool, named for a breed of sheep, is even being woven into shorts, tank tops and short-sleeve T-shirts.

Demand has helped drive up merino wool prices at a time when the sheep population in Australia and New Zealand, the world’s largest wool exporters, is near a 100-year low. Many sheep farmers here invested in converting their operations to dairy farming or higher-yielding crops after prices of wool collapsed in the 1990s. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 12, 2018

Retiring from farming not simple – Sally Rae:

Don’t leave it too late.

That’s the message from Rhodes Donald, from Polson Higgs Wealth Management in Dunedin, who has completed a study of retired farming couples.

He advised other farming couples to begin the process at least five years before they thought was the right time.

Now that his work was written up, it was ready to be distributed to anyone that was interested and he also wanted to speak about it to groups. . . 

Government warning: Farmers ignore concerns about meat at their peril – Madison Reidy:

Besieged by celebrity vegetarians, our agriculture industry is taking up the challenge of finding alternatives to old-style farmed meat. Madison Reidy investigates, in Part 2 of our three-week series.

Deep in the Rangitikei, Richard Morrison and his livestock seem safely tucked away from threats. But he, like all meat farmers, is being confronted by a laboratory-grown blight that he cannot fence out.

Bullish new companies are putting meat mimic products on supermarket shelves,  challenging one of New Zealand’s most valuable export industries and forcing farmers to rethink their future. The options are popularising a consumer movement away from slaughtered food, causing demand for beef and lamb to drop.

Owners of 150-year-old family farms like Morrison’s are shaking in their gumboots, hoping the world’s red-meat cravings will continue. . . 

Anzco chairman named to replace Sir Graeme Harrison – Brittany Pickett:

Kazuhiko (Sam) Misonou will take over as chairman of New Zealand food company Anzco Foods, replacing company founder Sir Graeme Harrison who is retiring from the board at the end of March.

Misonou joined the Anzco board in 2013 and brought with him international business experience. Previously he worked in beef processing and feedlot operations in Australia, had six years in the pork industry in the United States and worked extensively in the meat industry in Japan.

In 2016, Misonou became president of Yonekyu Inc., a Japanese meat production, marketing and sales company that was established in 1965. . . 

Otorohanga formula factory granted land consent – Alexa Cook:

A new $230 million dairy factory in King Country has been granted land consent despite local opposition.

report from the Otorohanga District Council last November said the factory should not go ahead because it would impact on the local ecology, landscape, and rural character.

However, after two months of deliberation the council has now granted Happy Valley Milk the land consent to build its infant formula factory.

Public submissions included concerns about the factory drawing too much water from the ground, and discharging stormwater, wastewater, and air pollution. . . 

Share offer opens for irrigators to invest in 100-year community water supply:

Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) has publicly released a Product Disclosure Statement for the Offer of Water Shares, which opened yesterday and is publicly available for irrigators on the Waimea Plains to consider.

The Product Disclosure Statement is an offer to buy water shares in WIL. Shareholders can enter into agreements that allow them to apply under the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) to affiliate an existing ground water or surface water permit for water provided by the Dam, once it’s built. Landowners will be able to apply for shares in WIL even if they don’t have an operative water permit, which would enable potential future water users to buy into the scheme. . . 

LIC proposes share restructure to reduce conflicts between farmers, investors – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Farmer-owned cooperative Livestock Improvement Corp’s board has released its suggested plan to merge its two share classes in a proposal the independent adviser described as relatively complicated but overall will deliver benefits.

LIC has two classes of shares: unlisted cooperative control shares and investment shares, which are listed on the NZX Alternative Market (NZAX). Chair Murray King said the current structure means cooperative shareholders have greater voting rights but limited exposure to the financial benefits, while investment shareholders can reap financial gains but have limited ability to influence the cooperative’s direction. . . 

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Enjoyment and stress of holding an A&P show – Allan Barber:

Auckland Anniversary Weekend Saturday saw the 151st Warkworth A&P Show held, as most years, in hot and sunny conditions, but at least this year there were no strong nor ’easterlies or a major blockage of State Highway 1, apart from the normal holiday weekend traffic queues. Not that this was of great concern as I drove to the Showgrounds at 6.15 to greet the gate officials who have the responsibility of admitting exhibitors and competitors early and taking money off the public who start to arrive any time after 8.30.

As chairman of the Warkworth A&P Society for the last few years – nobody else appears to be willing to put their hand up – I should be used to the frenetic lead up to the Show, which involves last minute trade exhibitors, arranging someone to mark out the show grounds which for the rest of the year are the Mahurangi Rugby pitches and making sure everything else is under control including money in the bank account to cover prizes. But this time was a bit different because Marjorie Blythen, our Secretary of more than 30 years, had retired after the 150th Show and, for all of us, it was a whole new challenge to remember critical things that previously appeared to happen automatically. Fortunately there is a good committee able to take responsibility for each section. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 3, 2018

Farmers band together for storm clean-up – Alexa Cook:

West Coast farmers are picking up the pieces after ex-cyclone Fehi left paddocks ruined, fences ripped out, and trees down.

The Westland dairy factory in Hokitika only has limited power and can’t process milk or pick it up from several parts of the region – including farms in Ikamatua and north, Runanga up to Karama, and Mount Hercules south.

Dairy farmer Rebecca Keoghan lives near Westport and manages seven Landcorp farms in the area. . . 

Events to offer advice to farmers – Sally Rae:

Various events and gatherings to help farmers coping with drought conditions have already been scheduled throughout Otago.

On Tuesday, the drought in Southland and parts of Otago was classified as a medium-scale adverse event.

That classification covered all of Southland, plus the Queenstown Lakes, Central Otago and Clutha districts and triggered additional funding of up to $130,000 for rural support trusts and industry groups to co-ordinate recovery support. . . 

Bull attack: ‘Pushed me into the ground, gored me a bit‘ – Phil Pennington:

A Hawke’s Bay farmer and his dogs have survived an attack by a half-tonne bull that flipped over his quad bike.

“One bull just broke out of the mob and snorted a couple of times, and you have that sense of dread that something’s not going to go right here,” said Robert Pattullo, 57, from his family farm at Puketitiri 15km west of Napier.

“He charged at the bike – I’d hopped off by that stage – completely flipped it over in one go. This is a 650-kilo bull against a probably 350-kilo bike.”

Friesian bulls were normally placid and he did not know what had set the animal off yesterday morning, Mr Patullo said. . .

Milk producer cuts forecast price:

Westland Milk Products has cut its forecast milk price back by more than 20 cents.

The co-operative is now expecting a price of between $6.20 and $6.50.

Fonterra’s farmgate forecast milk price is currently $6.40 kg/ms, and Synlait is forecasting $6.50.

Westland chair Pete Morrison said the drop in milk price was in line with other milk companies.

“We’re kind to all our stakeholders and we want to keep it as reliable and with as much integrity as possible … so we thought best to indicate that now. . . 

Rising milk price helps push Open Country annual revenue above $1B –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Open Country Dairy, New Zealand’s second-largest milk processor, generated more than $1 billion of revenue last year but payments for milk rose faster than receipts from customers and profit fell.

Profit was $23 million in the year ended Sept. 30 from about $62 million a year earlier, its accounts show. Sales rose 34 percent to $1.1 billion while cost of sales gained about 44 percent.

Open Country didn’t disclose volume figures in its public annual accounts but chair Laurie Margrain said it was up on a year ago.. . .

Beef + Lamb NZ to review investment in Sector Capability:

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is seeking farmers’ views on its Sector Capability Programme.

Richard Wakelin, B+LNZ’s General Manager Innovation, says the review will consider farmer investment through B+LNZ in the Sector Capability Programme overall and its various activities.

“The review will look at B+LNZ investment in the current portfolio of activities, how these activities align with farmer needs and perceptions, and how they provide value back to the sheep and beef sector.” . . 

Global demand for NZ kiwifruit creating regional growth opps:

The New Zealand kiwifruit sector is set for growth following 2017’s record season and new development opportunities across the country, according to the ANZ Kiwifruit Insights paper.

The sector has bounced back following the PSA crisis, helped by increasing global demand which saw kiwifruit sales rise by $694m from the 2015/16 – 2016/17 seasons.

“The success of the kiwifruit sector is remarkable. It has continued to invest in new varieties while staying connected to consumer demand and has worked hard to keep international markets alive,” said ANZ Managing Director for Commercial & Agri, Mark Hiddleston. . . 

New Zealand and India building stronger horticultural relationships:

A new partnership has been announced between New Zealand and the State of Himachal Pradesh under the Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development Project which targets smallholder farmers in northern India.

The Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Development project aims to be the start of a much broader relationship with New Zealand horticulture.

The New Zealand team, working on the project, includes scientists from Plant & Food Research, Agfirst Engineering, Fruition Horticulture and other New Zealand-based specialists with additional support from the New Zealand pipfruit industry body, New Zealand Apples & Pears and New Zealand Government agencies. . . 

The Woolmark Company and adidas present the Woolmark Performance Challenge:

The Woolmark Company and leading sports brand adidas have joined forces to launch a design competition focussing on the development of innovative, forward-thinking products for the performance industry. The Woolmark Performance Challenge is a new annual competition for tertiary students in Europe and North America and is set to kick-start the career of the eventual winner.

The competition provides an unrivalled opportunity for tertiary students to develop innovative new product applications within the sports and performance market, by applying the science and performance benefits of Australian Merino wool. . .


Rural round-up

January 25, 2018

Station faces $1m loss as big dry bites – Alexa Cook:

One of the country’s largest farming stations expects to lose about $1 million because of the harsh summer.

The 13,200-hectare Mount Linton Station in Southland has had about a quarter of its usual rainfall in the last year to date – 250 millimetres instead of more than 1000mm.

The lack of grass growth has forced the station to cull 25 percent of its 107,000 stock units.

General manager Ceri Lewis has worked on the station for 14 years and said the hot weather would hit the station hard this year. . .

Drought support events being run in Southland – Sally Rae:

Farmers and rural support professionals have been invited to attend free drought support events in Southland this week.

Organised by industry organisations, the events are being held in the Combined Sports Complex in Otautau tomorrow and the James Cumming Wing in Gore on Friday, both starting at 10.45am.

A drought committee was set up in Otago-Southland before Christmas, ready to spring into action if required, Beef + Lamb New Zealand southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross said. . . 

Sheep and beef sector welcomes the conclusion of the CPTPP:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) welcome the conclusion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) negotiations in Tokyo.

During the recent negotiations, officials resolved the outstanding issues and have agreed to meet in Chile to sign the agreement on 8 March.

Sam McIvor, chief executive of B+LNZ, said the conclusion of the agreement represents good news for sheep and beef farmers and all New Zealanders. . .

Demand for stags reflects deer farmer confidence:

Confidence in the future profitability of venison and velvet production has flowed through to the market for sire stags, with strong sales reported throughout the country, says Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ).

Breeders report a marked improvement on last year’s results. Although no stags broke the $100,000 mark, average prices were up strongly for most sales, several by more than 50 per cent. Overall clearance rates were 94 per cent, compared with 83 per cent last year. . .

Livestock Improvement Corp first-half profit drops 22% on cost of transforming business – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Livestock Improvement Corp posted a 22 percent slide in first-half profit as the farmer-owned herd genetics cooperative ramped up spending to overhaul its business, which it says is vulnerable to the same disruption other industries face.

Net profit fell to $14.9 million, or 51 cents per share, in the six months ended Nov. 30, from $19 million, or 65.3 cents, a year earlier, the Hamilton-based company said in a statement. . .

Industry has huge potential, cashmere producer says:

The country’s leading cashmere wool-fibre farmer wants to breathe new life into what he describes as a stagnant industry with huge potential.

David Shaw, who farms in Central Otago with his wife Robyn, said the cashmere industry in New Zealand was still cottage-style producing hundreds of kilogrammes of wool.

That was a far cry from the need to produce somewhere between five and 10 tonnes to be able to satisfy the local market and start competing internationally. . . 

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Does mainstream media help or hinder farming?

January 23, 2018

Key findings from Nuffield Scholar, Anna Jones’ report Help or Hinder?  How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public were:

The urban/rural disconnect is real, more so in Western and urbanised societies, and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.

Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, failing to differentiate between campaigners and informers and an over-reliance on too few sources with an overt political agenda. There is a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists.

Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, disproportionate defensiveness in the face of legitimate challenge, disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.

The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists. Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust.

Her full report is here.

Jones visited USA, Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, France and Belgium. Would her findings be very  different here?

New Zealand has some very good rural journalists in the print media including the Otago Daily Times’ Sally Rae; Stuff’s  Kate Taylor, Gerald  Piddock and Gerard Hutching; NZ Farming Weekly’s Neal Wallace, Annette Scott, Richard Rennie, Tim Fulton, Alan Williams; Pam Tipa and Nigel Malthus at Rural News and RNZ’s  Alexa Cook.

We also have a good variety of rural shows on radio and television.

Jamie Mackay does an excellent job of covering farming and wider rural issues on The Country as does Andy Thompson on The Muster.

Country Calendar seems to cover more lifestyle and alternative farmers now but still does very good work. Rural Delivery was always interesting but now it’s failed to get NZ on AIr funding probably won’t be back.

RNZ  has Country Life and its Friday night and early Saturday morning slots don’t matter so much when it’s easy to listen online at a time that suits better.

We are generally well served by rural media and rural journalists in general media.

The problem is other journalists outside rural media who don’t understand farming and wider rural issues.

They’re the ones who buy the anti-farming propaganda often wrapped in faux-green wrapping; the ones who pedal the emotion and don’t have the inclination or time to check the facts.

They’re the ones who serve farming and the wider rural community badly and undo much of the good rural media and journalists do.

 


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