Rural round-up

08/09/2021

A shepherd’s warning – Wayne Langford:

Pink sky in the morning is a shepherds warning, but today I’d like to give a little warning of my own.

This time last year in New Zealand we had five deaths on farm. That’s five families that are absolutely heartbroken this year as they are forced to relive the tragic events that struck their families and wider communities last year.

I implore you to please be safe right now, everyone’s getting tired and slow. Please think about safety on the farm, on your bike – wear your helmet. It is easy to get busy and forget, but we simply have to stop and think about it. . .

Govt secretive on Groundswell correspondence:

It is really disappointing to see that Prime Minister has not fronted up and engaged with Groundswell NZ following their nationwide protests in July, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Joseph Mooney says.

“The Groundswell protests sent a clear and direct message to the Government that rural communities are fed up with its unrealistic and impractical approach to a range of important issues. An estimated 60,000 people lined the streets of 57 towns and cities across the country in one of New Zealand’s biggest ever protests and they shouldn’t be ignored.

“I was at Groundswell NZ’s protest in Gore alongside Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson, who founded the group in the Southland Electorate. I have been in regular contact since and I met them when they presented a petition seeking to amend the National Policy Statement For Freshwater Management to the Environment Select Committee in Wellington last month. . . 

Why no response Prime Minister?:

“When some 60,000 people converge on towns and cities around New Zealand, in protest at government proposals and regulations, a response from the Prime Minister is a reasonable expectation.

“Or even one from her ministers,” says National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“We are a week shy of two months since July 16’s Howl of Protest and organisers still haven’t heard from anyone running this country.

“Now the PM’s office is refusing to release any information — letters, emails, documents and/or advisories concerning Groundswell to or from her office, her deputy’s, or the ministers of Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change — to a media outlet making the request under the Official Information Act.” . . 

Here’s why you should take a farmer out for lunch – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Lockdown has brought the essentials of life to the fore again – family and food. People rushed to their home base. People already at home base rushed to the supermarket. This time perishables topped the list – broccoli, bananas, milk, avocado, butter.

Food matters

Food producers, processors and distributors are essential workers, once again, with the ongoing debate about supermarket chains staying open while independent outlets are closed. For the independents, the issue is survival. Margins are slim. It is often because their products are less expensive that people go to them for purchases.

Farmers and growers are feeling the pressures of slim margins, too. Countrylife on April 20 highlighted concerns. The interviewer was pleased that dairy prices are high; the farmer pointed out that costs have increased. The data support his case. Input prices increased 4.3 per cent for the year to June for dairy farmers and 3.4 per cent for the primary sector as a whole. . . 

Research shows dairy cows can be part of the solution to nitrogen leaching:

New Lincoln University Pastoral Livestock Production Lab research, is defining how to get the maximum benefit from cows predisposed to urinate nitrogen (N), resulting in less leaching to the waterway.

PhD student Cameron Marshall, has just published two new articles in top scientific journals as part of his doctoral thesis, showing that what cows with phenotypically lower milk urea N eat, and how they eat, is important to reducing their environmental impact.

He said inefficient N use from pastoral dairy production systems has resulted in concern regarding environmental degradation.

“This is a result of excessive urinary N leaching into waterways and nitrous oxide emissions from urination patches into the atmosphere. . .

Busy time for family farming together – Alice Scott:

Last week, as the nation took a deep breath and ventured down the well-trodden path of lockdown 2.0, newborn animals were none the wiser and the work still needed to be done.

Like many around Southland and Otago, Clinton-based calf-rearer Laura Allan is right in the thick of calf feeding and with 2-year-old Otis, 6-year-old Freddy and 8-year-old Juno at foot, she concedes homeschooling is a little “looser” this time around.

Mrs Allan and her husband James rear 50 to 60 beef calves each season and graze 150 rising 2yr-old dairy cows on their 80ha farm. Mr Allan is also a topdressing pilot and at this time of year they are like “ships in the night”, as he leaves early and gets home late.

“James usually gets up early and shifts a break fence in the dark before he leaves, to ease the pressure a bit,” she said. . . 

Help a retired working dog find its forever home :

If you have a working dog that needs to be retired, Retired Working Dogs NZ (RWD) can help. RWD is a charity re-homing retired working dogs throughout New Zealand into forever homes.

The charity, set up in 2012, have re-homed more than 634 working dogs who are either at retirement age or aren’t cut out to be working on farm anymore.

“Retired working dogs make great pets for families. Many of them have been trained with basic commands and are often trusted around stock, other animals, and children,” says Natalie Smith.

The charity works with the SPCA, vet clinics, and farmers to find, advertise, and re-home dogs. . .

NZ’s first homegrown out milk company launches ‘1% fund’ supporting Kiwi farmers to grow more oats:

Otis, the first New Zealand oat milk made from homegrown oats, will now be available to buy nationwide thanks to a new supply deal inked with Countdown. The deal will see Otis cartons lining shelves around the country in Countdown, New World, Farro and Moore Wilson, and its online store.

The announcement coincides with the company’s launch of its 1% Fund today.

The 1% Fund is an initiative by Otis to help diversify farming by supporting New Zealand farmers to grow oats.

“Otis wants to help Kiwi farmers lead the way in farming for the 21st century – a way of farming that’s more diverse, more plant-based and one that works in harmony with nature, not against it,” says Otis co-founder Chris Wilkie. . . 


Rural round-up

02/09/2021

How dairy farmers can look after their mental health during lockdown – Sam Owen:

Dairy farmers may be essential workers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean “business as usual” when it comes to mental health during lockdown. Waikato dairy farmer Sam Owen offers practical advice on how to look after family, friends, staff and yourself.

Murphy’s Law – after dodging a bit of a bullet in 2020, Covid has now reared its ugly head during one of the busiest times on farm.

Luckily, there are so many ways we can look after not only ourselves, but our staff and others in our rural communities as well.

We all know that keeping good mental health during the spring period is critical. But what does that actually look like in practice? . . 

Keep in contact with each other’ – Peter Burke:

Keep connecting. That’s the message to farmers from the chair of the Rural Support Trust, Neil Bateup.

He told Dairy News that since lockdown the trust probably haven’t had as many requests as they normally get, but the trust is still there to help.

He says because of the Covid lockdown they won’t go out to a farm unless it’s an emergency but people can still do things by phone.

An issue that has cropped up, and one that is hard to deal with, is when farm staff change jobs and problems arise. Bateup says the best they can do is refer individuals to MPI or Federated Farmers, who can help deal with contractual matters. . .

Escalating women leaders :

”To be a good leader, you have to first know your ‘why,’” says Ravensdown shareholder and Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme graduate Donna Cram.

For me it is to connect people across agricultural communities using values-based communication to empower collaboration.”

Donna, a dairy farmer at Wylan Dene farm near Awatuna in South Taranaki, was one of 14 women chosen by AWDT to take part in their annual Escalator programme. It gives women in the food and fibre sector the mindsets, skills and connections to lead, govern and inspire.

Donna says the experience has helped her understand more about her own leadership qualities. . . 

Lip Gloss and Gumboots:

While some people are attracted to the more solitary parts of a rural working life, many farming women seek out others going through the same experiences, according to Ravensdown shareholder Jo Hay.

“Farming can be a pretty lonely lifestyle. It’s important for women in agriculture to have a supportive group where they can discuss their experiences and bring their ideas to life.”

Jo Hay and husband Ross have operated a family sheep and beef farm in Herbert, 20 minutes south of Oamaru since 2006. Jo was a teacher in Oamaru for 6 years before returning to farm life after the birth of their first child.

That’s when she took part in the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) “Understanding Your Farming Business” course. . .

Helping farmers find ‘aha’ moments – Alice Scott:

Helping farmers find their “aha moments” was Steven Nichol’s reason for choosing to step away from the day-to-day rigours of running his own farm and set up a farm consultancy business.

Mr Nichol grew up on the family farm at Clarks Junction and, in 2007, he was able to farm a portion of the family property as a stand-alone economic unit.

“I reflect back on those early years; all the things I wish I knew then that I know now. The thing that always used to bug me was finding ways to create a farming system that would produce consistently good results.”

A season could be impacted in many ways and Mr Nichol said it was learning how to measure those variables in order to make “proactive decisions” rather than “reactive moves”. . . 

‘It’s not the cow, it’s the how’: why a long-time vegetarian became beef’s biggest champion – Patrick Barkham:

Nicolette Hahn Niman was an environmental lawyer who became a cattle rancher, and didn’t eat meat for 33 years. For both the ecosystem and human health, she argues, it’s how animals are farmed that matters.

After refusing to eat meat for 33 years, Nicolette Hahn Niman bit tentatively into a beefburger two years ago. She had become a vegetarian because she was concerned about animal welfare and the environmental cost of meat. Unlike most vegetarians, she had experience of the dire conditions on factory farms during her career as an environmental lawyer campaigning against pollution caused by industrial meat production in the US. Then she married a farmer.

Hahn Niman’s journey from vegetarian activist to cattle rancher to writing a book called Defending Beef may be driven by love, but it is also informed by a lawyerly desire to stick up for small farmers besieged by the growing ethical and environmental clamour against meat. The burger turned out to be an unexpectedly delicious brief pleasure, but it was the 18 years working on the ranch alongside the man who grilled it – and raised the cow – her husband, Bill Niman, that inspired her. . . 


Rural round-up

07/08/2021

Independent research highlights need for limits on forestry offsetting for fossil fuel emitters:

New independent research confirms a significant amount of sheep and beef farmland has been converted to forestry, underlining the need for limits on carbon offsetting. It also busts myths about trees going on ‘unproductive’ land and reinforces Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s view that the integration of forestry on farms is a better way of managing our landscapes and meeting climate change targets.

The study by BakerAg, commissioned by B+LNZ, reveals there has been a significant increase in the amount of farmland sold into forestry, driven in large part by an increase in the carbon price.  

The report was unable to identify exactly how much of the sheep and beef farmland sold into forestry was intended for pure carbon farming but based on examination of the land titles, it is estimated that about 26,550 hectares of the 77,800 hectares of whole farms sold into forestry since 2017 were to carbon only entities (about 34 percent of the whole farm sales). 

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said the report shows that in 2017, 3,965 hectares of whole sheep and beef farms were sold into forestry; this increased to 20,227 ha in 2018; 36,824 ha in 2019. It declined to 16,764 hectares in 2020 (most likely as a result of COVID-19) but rural intelligence suggests it has regathered momentum this year and moved into new regions, threatening rural communities.   . . 

Opinion divided on climate change advice – Colin Williscroft:

Rural groups generally wanted the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to pull back on some of its recommendations to the Government on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets, while many in urban areas thought the targets were not ambitious enough.

The commission received more than 15,400 submissions on the draft advice it released in February, with less than 40 made in hard copy format.

About 900 of the total number of submissions, which were recently made public, were from organisations, with just under 40 from iwi/Māori and the remainder from individuals.

Four organisations provided template submissions sent to the commission’s email address, with members of those groups sending in templated submissions multiple times. . . 

Finally we will have some cohesion – Shawn McAvinue:

The time for two wool companies to merge is now, Eastern Southland sheep farmer Mark Copland says.

A change is needed because the “ridiculously low” price for strong wool is driving him to use the fribs and dag wool as fertiliser.

“I felt it was better value as fertiliser than selling the stuff.”

In November, about 2100 farmers will be eligible to vote on a proposed merger between grower-owned export and marketing company Wools of New Zealand and Primary Wool Co-operative to form a fully integrated supply chain business. . . 

Trials look at the rattling of fewer dags :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics’ Low Input Sheep Progeny Trial is identifying the genetics that will futureproof this country’s sheep industry. In part one of this two-part series, we take a look at how the trial is set up and the focus on dags.

As consumers are increasingly demanding meat produced with minimal inputs and intervention, B+LNZ Genetics’ Low Input Sheep Progeny Trial aims to identify environmentally-efficient sheep that perform without docking, drenching or dagging.

Run on Orari Gorge Station – a 4,500ha hill country farm in South Canterbury – the trial is testing the genetics put forward by 16 future-focused sheep breeders.

The property is the ideal testing ground for genetics. Orari Station is 75% tussock country, 15% lower hill with only 10% flats. Average annual rainfall is 1,200mm. Owner Robert Peacock says it is wet more than it is dry, so worms are a constant challenge. . . 

Looking back on a life full of rich memories – Alice Scott:

The year is hazy and just what rugby match it was, Sutton farmer Donny Tisdall can’t quite recall, but the day itself has been etched in his memory ever since.

Mr Tisdall, along with mates Tony Markham and Davie Murdoch and brother Larry Tisdall, were horseback cantering down Dunedin’s Forbury Rd, each with a beer in hand and grinning like Cheshire cats. Earlier that day they had been part of a Speight’s Southern Man promotion.

Atop their horses and fitted out in oilskin jackets and hats, they had led a parade of university Scarfies from the Octagon to Carisbrook Stadium where they circulated around the ground, still on horseback, throwing Crunchie bars and T-shirts into an exuberant sell-out crowd.

“We then took off through the city, cantering down the middle of the road, back to Forbury Raceway where the horses were being kept overnight. We got picked up and taken back to the game, where we were treated like royalty for the rest of the night,” Mr Tisdall recalls. . .

Let cows enjoy the taste of grass – Shan Goodwin:

Since biblical times, societies have wrestled with the apparent juxtaposition of treating animals well and ensuring they have a good life at the same time as raising them for food.

Today, that quandary is at the crux of some of the most pertinent issues in the livestock production space, from efforts to garner government support for banning certain sectors to attempts to market animal protein alternatives.

Little wonder then that an Australian Tedx Talk featuring a former country veterinarian turned academic with a PhD in animal welfare on the topic of what makes cows happy has garnered plenty of interest.

Associate professor David Beggs, from the University of Melbourne’s veterinary school, titled his July talk from Warrnambool “Do Cows Think Grass Tastes Good?” . . 


Rural round-up

02/08/2021

Dairy farmers sell: ‘We didn’t feel proud to be farmers anymore’ – Carmen Hall:

”Staring down” a $700,000 barrel of compliance, regulation and other costs proved to be the last straw for Welcome Bay dairy farmer Andrew McLeod.

In May 2020, he sold up and walked away from dairying and a farm that had been in his family for more than 50 years.

He’s not alone.

Farming leaders say the ”family farm is struggling to survive” amid an ”avalanche of regulations” and syndicates motivated by ”money”. . .

Precious memories of daughter, grandson – Alice Scott:

In the wake of the report on the death of Dunback farmer Nadine Thomlinson and her son Angus, Alice Scott talks to Nadine’s mother, Ann Restieaux.

Even when Nadine Tomlinson was young, she relished the physical nature of farming. She was a down-to-earth Southern girl; shy as a youngster who came out of her shell when she went to boarding school.

Her mother, Ann Restieaux, recalled her and her sister drenching lambs for their dad, Alex, while still at primary school.

“Alex would just trickle the lambs up to them and they chipped away. Nadine loved it. She was full speed ahead, she set incredibly high standards for herself and as a mother she achieved so much in her day because she just got up earlier if she needed to.” . . 

Farmers feeding thousands of Kiwis through Meat the Need:

Through the Meat the Need charity, farmers have provided more than 408,783 meals from over 883 donations in just one year. Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) talks to co-founder Siobhan O’Malley to reflect on a successful year and what’s next for the charity.

Since its inception early last year, Meat the Need has provided over 408,783 meals from over 883 donations to vulnerable people. The charity is nationwide and works to supply foodbanks with much-needed meat which is donated by farmers and processed and packaged with the help of Silver Fern Farms.

The charity was founded by South Island based farmers, Siobhan O’Malley of Pukeko Pastures and Wayne Langford, also known as the YOLO farmer. Together they discovered that while there was a need for such as organisation, there was never anyone connecting willing farmers and community foodbank together to create a regular supply chain. . .

The wahine winemaker hunting for a sense of place – Charlotte Muru-Lanning:

With few Māori in the winemaking industry, and even fewer Māori women, Jannine Rickards is a rare breed. Charlotte Muru-Lanning visits her in Wairarapa.

An eye-catching bone hei matau adorns Jannine Rickard’s neck.

A fishhook symbolic of journeys that are interwoven into journeys, it’s been worn for the last 20 years, since her parents gifted it to her on her 21st birthday.

Those unexpected twists and turns that have unfurled along the way have coloured her own journey, which has brought her to where she is now, making wine in the Wairarapa.

There are just a handful of female Māori winemakers in the country, so, like her own small-batch wine, Rickards is something of a rare breed. . .

Testing efforts to keep family farm – Shawn McAvinue:

South Otago “primary school sweethearts” David and Ailsa Mackie have kept their farm in the family for more than 100 years.

The Mackie family run sheep, beef and deer on their 500ha farm Kuriwao Downs at Clinton, about 40km east of Gore.

Mrs Mackie (80) has never lived anywhere else. She was a girl when she met her future husband at Clinton School. He was a year older than her.

The couple raised five children on the farm — Brent, Copland, Jane, Rachel and Arthur. . . 

Craft and the love of learning kept this couple up late at night

Eric and Lois Muller have always loved timber and lace and the proof is in their home, which they completed themselves and which looks out on paddocks of tropical pasture. Here grows Santa Gertrudis/Hereford cross cattle, along the southern slopes of the Border Ranges at Rukenvale near Kyogle.

The interior glows with timber hues contrasted by velvet curtains backed by fine white lace and all up the presentation shows devotion to craft.

“As a kid I was self taught,” recalled 92 year Eric. “As a 12 year old I did woodwork one day a fortnight at the rural technology school at Boonah, Qld.

I went to lots of different schools in the depression. My father was a share farmer and worked wherever he could.” . . 


Rural round-up

16/05/2021

Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund growth threat to farmer control even if they can’t vote: Chairman’ – Andrea Fox:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund does not have voting rights in New Zealand’s biggest business, but it does have influence, which is a form of control, says chairman Peter McBride.

“The greater the size of the fund, the greater the level of influence it can bring to bear on the co-operative’s leadership.”

Fonterra farmer-shareholders and unitholders had different ideas about risk and value, he said. . . 

Nominations for rural business awards open:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) and insurance company NZI have launched the NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards for 2021.

RWNZ national president Gill Naylor says the awards are an opportunity to showcase the creativity and innovation of rural women entrepreneurs and the support they provide rural communities.

“Many small businesses have faced significant challenges as a result of the pandemic. This makes the opportunity to recognise and celebrate the resilience of women-owned and operated rural businesses all the more important. . .

Do animals need a varied diet – Jacqueline Rowarth:

A “varied diet” is in response to food availability and an attempt to restrain our own inclinations to indulge. Imposing this recent and muddled human concept on animals is inappropriate, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

Children like lollies. Not always, but generally. Sweet-free aisles at the supermarket are in place to avoid trouble.

Watch what happens at a children’s party and the energy foods will be eaten first – icecream, cake, chips. Not always, but generally.

In adulthood, doughnuts are a popular choice to meet the need, and research involving bagels has shown that the most popular choice has the combination of sugar for instant energy and fat for long-term calorie maximisation. . . 

Dedication behind trialling success – Alice Scott:

Next week, Greenvale will come alive as it plays host to the New Zealand Sheep Dog Trials. Alice Scott talked to keen triallist Scott Hunter as he prepares for a big week.

Dog trialling. The keen enthusiast will chew through quite a few diesel kilometres in the ute, consume a few cups of coffee while waiting for their run and sometimes, for those who hang around long enough, may enjoy a cold beverage later on. Just the one.

For those just starting out and with a partner or young family — it will also likely mean preparing said loved ones for the impending days or (God willing) weekends of absence, all the while seasoned wives tend to happily nod as they hatch out their own weekend of matrimonial bliss.

Scott Hunter’s name is often seen up on the leaderboard at many club trials around Otago and Southland. He has competed at 10 Island championships and 10 New Zealand championships. At 2019’s South Island championships in Hanmer Springs, he came away with two third placings. . . 

Farmers discuss the benefits of Southdowns – Shawn McAvinue:

A tour of Southern farms running Southdown sheep featured discussions about hogget lambing and the traits of the breed farmers must “protect at all costs”.

About 40 people from throughout the country attended the Southdown Sheep Society of New Zealand’s national southern tour last week.

Tour stops included Don Murray’s Riverside stud in Waitahuna, about 10km southeast of Lawrence. Southern Southdown Breeders Club member Roger Keach, of Waihola, started proceedings by quizzing the visitors.

“Who played at two test matches — All Blacks and New Zealand Kiwis — on the same day in Auckland in 1946?” Visitors pondered the question as Mr Murray introduced himself and talked about his system breeding Southdowns on his 550ha farm. . . 

 

Essential oil “without peer” offers bright future in spite of production challenges – Jamie Brown:

The quietly performing Aussie native lemon myrtle produces oil and dried leaf suitable for high-end culinary and medicinal purposes. Right now an eager global market is clamouring for more.

Newly formed Myrtle Trading Company purchased a farm at Wyrallah near Lismore with an existing orchard and now is in the process of expanding production and is keen to work with local farmers interested in producing lemon myrtle leaf. This week they hosted a training program, in conjunction with Ballina based North Coast Community College.

Students paid to study – and to plant trees – learning about organic methods of farming that include controlling the troublesome myrtle rust – a fungus that spots the leaves and reduces growth, marking them visually but not affecting the plant’s citronol-rich quality. . . 


Rural round-up

13/05/2021

Fonterra floats deep reform – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra may be reformed with farmer-only shares of lower value and a share standard reduced by one-for-four in the preferred new capital structure.

Six months of consultation have begun on options to change the structure to give farmers greater financial flexibility.

If a general agreement emerges, shareholders could vote on a new structure at the November annual meeting where 75% majority approval would be required.

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (FSF), the mirror market which sets the value of supply shares, has been temporarily capped in size and may disappear in the future. . . 

Water to transform mid-north – Huigh Stringleman:

The first community water storage and irrigation scheme to be built in Northland for more than 30 years is taking shape on higher ground northeast of Kaikohe.

Diggers and earthmovers are about to begin the footings of an earth dam to define Matawii reservoir, which will be filled by rainfall from streams and drains in the small catchment when the flow rate is above median.

Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust (TTTWT) is building the dam to retain 750,000 cubic metres of water when full on 18ha of former dairy farm off State Highway 12 near Ngāwhā Springs, in the region locals call the Mid-North.

It will then build the infrastructure to distribute the water to private and corporate users in the district, including augmenting the Kaikohe town water supply. . .

50 years in shearing shed enough – Alice Scott:

Owen Rowland might have just celebrated his retirement after 50 years in the shearing shed — but he’s quick to point out he only did 49 on the handpiece.

Shearing is in the Rowland family blood. His father and uncle both shore their way into farm ownership, buying land at Enfield.

He can recall as a young fellow heading off to sit an exam at school.

“My uncle yelled out to not take too long so I could get back into the shearing shed, so I just went in, signed my name on the sheet and walked out again. And I have been shearing ever since.”   . . .

Merino shears found looking forward to 60th anniversary – Jared Morgan:

The New Zealand Merino Shears turns 60 in October and front and centre at the celebrations will be one of its founders.

The Alexandra man is the last of three, the late Brent Gow and the late Fred McSkimming, who “started the thing”.

He had, in part, been inspired by the exploits of Godfrey Bowen whom a British newspaper described as “shearing with the grace of [Rudolph] Nureyev’s dancing”.

Now aged 94, Mr Dreckow remembers being less impressed . . 

Lands of lonlieness the unbearable pressure of farm life – Nadine Porter:

Young farmworkers continue to be disproportionately represented in farm suicide figures despite higher awareness of mental health issues. A Stuff investigation by NADINE PORTER considers whether the isolation of farm life can exacerbate problems in vulnerable young men.

By the time Mark (not his real name) attempted to end his life, his farm job had all but consumed him.

Grafting 15 hours most days on an isolated West Coast property as a dairy farm manager and then as a contract milker, he had little time to deal with the thoughts in his head.

Employing staff, handling costs and organising day to day management of the farm was part of the plan to get ahead financially, but it also led to him becoming self-absorbed and distant from his wife and children. . . 

We’re on track to set a record for global record consumption – Dan Blaustein-Rejto and Alex Smith:

Bill Gates made headlines earlier this year for saying that “all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef” in an interview with MIT Technology Review about the release of his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. Although he recognized the political difficulty of telling Americans they can’t eat any more red meat, Gates said he sees real potential in plant-based alternatives from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.

Nevertheless, the world is expected to eat more meat in 2021 than ever before. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization projects that global meat consumption will rise by more than 1% this year. The fastest growth will occur in low- and middle-income countries, where incomes are steadily climbing. . .


Rural round-up

12/12/2020

Freshwater reforms may stifle farm profitability by 83% per year – report  :

Farm profitability across the Ashburton District is expected to decline 83 percent per year due to the government’s freshwater reforms, a new report states.

The changes are aimed at improving the quality of waterways and include new rules for winter grazing, nitrogen pollution and farm intensification.

The desktop report, requested by the council, notes dairy farming takes place on nearly a third of the district’s agricultural land and would be the hardest hit financially.

“The regulations will challenge existing farming systems with a number of established farm practices needing to change, and new technology and innovation adoption will be required.” . . 

‘We’ve been given a real wake up call’ – Alice Scott:

Will Halliday says he acts much the same as a farmer on a drafting gate when new proposals and ideas come across his desk.

“In terms of biosecurity and animal welfare, there is a lot to keep ahead of when it comes to New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry. The expectations of our trade partners are very high. For me it’s keeping an eye on the horizon and making sure the demands and regulations put forward are achievable in real world situations.”

Part of the “drafting” process involves consultation with the
B+LNZ farmer councils.

“Talking to our people on the ground that are actually out there doing it and discussing what will work and what won’t. . .

Sheep farming runs in the blood – Mary-Jo Tohill:

The Robertsons were not meant to continue sheep farming.

In 1998, the West Otago couple were advised to go dairying. It would be more lucrative. But it was the dual-purpose Romney all the way to the bank.

“The accountant thought we were crazy,” fourth generation sheep farmer Blair Robertson said.

“We sacked the accountant and got a new one.”

Borrowing to buy the family farm at Waikoikoi between Tapanui and Gore has meant huge debt servicing and it has been a tough grind for the past 20 years, but they are living their particular dream. . . 

A life’s work of plant breeding – Richard Rennie:

Ten years after the kiwifruit sector was all but wiped out by Psa, Te Puke plant breeder Russell Lowe takes some humble satisfaction knowing his work brought it back from the brink to become the country’s highest value horticultural crop.

Lowe has been part of Plant & Food’s kiwifruit breeding programme at Te Puke for 30-plus years and while just retired, he continues to keep a watching brief on how future breeding work is coming along.

Today’s world-leading kiwifruit breeding facility is a far cry from the wooden bungalow, maize crops and pile of orchard posts that greeted him and his wife when they arrived in the early 1970s. 

He had got the position after completing a major in chemistry at Canterbury and building an interest in horticulture while working in the Horotane Valley over the holidays. That had been followed by a stint at the then DSIR Research orchard in Appleby in the Tasman district as a horticultural technician. . . 

Proudly sponsoring Surfing for Farmers since 2018:

Our Kiwi farmers and growers leave everything they have on the field, they give their all to support New Zealand’s economy and ensure we have access to the very best food and beverage. However, this does take a toll on their wellbeing and mental health. Helping farmers and growers take care of their mental health is as important to Ballance Agri-Nutrients as the health and safety of our own team, that’s why we are a founding partner of the Surfing for Farmers programme.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of New Zealand farmers is an important topic,” says Jason Minkhorst, GM Sales, Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

“When you consider all the factors that farmers deal with on a daily bases such as working remotely, animal welfare, financial pressure, consumer demands, media and lobby group commentary, long hours and weather events like drought, it is easy to understand why mental health is an issue in rural New Zealand. . . 

Network 10 signs Rabobank to help Farm to Fork cooking show

Agribusiness lender Rabobank is partnering with Network 10’s television cooking show Farm to Fork.

The bank – a global specialist in food and agribusiness and one of the leading providers of Australia agricultural financial services – has joined with Network 10 and Farm to Fork’s producers Dual Entertainment as a partner in season two of the television program.

The show, which airs nationally on weekday afternoons, aims to help inform Australians how to eat and live well.

The program aims to inspire viewers to not only cook at home but also have a better appreciation of where and how their food is grown. . . 


Rural round-up

04/11/2020

MPs push for crop workers–  Alexia Johnston and Jared Morgan:

Central Otago’s MPs have weighed in on the pending labour shortage in the horticulture and viticulture sectors.

In a joint statement, Southland MP Joseph Mooney and Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean say it does not make sense that people are being allowed into New Zealand to work on movies, fishing boats or to play sport, but not to work in orchards or vineyards at what is a critical time.

Last month, an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases were attributed to Russian and Ukrainian fishers who were recruited to support New Zealand’s beleaguered fishing industry.

That led to a cluster of cases in Christchurch’s Sudima Hotel, managed isolation facility, with cases there still recorded yesterday.  . . 

From waste to wetland:

We wanted to improve the farm and do our bit for the environment” is Manawatu farmer Grant Bell’s response when he’s asked why he converted 4ha of his property into an impressive wetland.

Grant and his family farm 525 cows on their 150ha (effective) property on the outskirts of Palmerston North. The farm has been in his family for 25 years and this is his eighth season running the dairy operation.

Farmers like Grant are champions of sustainability and he says creating the wetland made perfect sense.

“It was a wasted area of the farm with wetter, less productive ends of paddocks. Five years ago we developed a 2.5ha area and in the last two years we have extended it so it’s now about 4ha.” . . 

Fonterra’s latest Sustainability Report shows most encouraging progress to date:

Fonterra has achieved its most encouraging sustainability results since starting its annual reporting four years ago, but the Co-op is staying focused on what still needs to be done to reach its long-term targets.

“The progress we’ve made this year towards our three interconnected goals of healthy people, a healthy environment and a healthy business show that our strategy and customer-led operating model are delivering,” says CEO Miles Hurrell, following the release of Fonterra’s 2020 Sustainability Report today.

“We’re proud of what our people have achieved, especially in the face of COVID-19, and want to thank farmers and employees for their support and hard work.” . . 

Move over rock ‘n’ roll – here’s farm music – Robin Martin:

Move over rock ‘n’ roll, forget hip hop and so long soul.

The new scene emerging out of rural New Zealand is Farm Music – people hitting bits of scrap found in the shed, garage or out in the paddock.

The mental health project debuts on stage at Reset 2020 Arts Festival in Taranaki on Sunday.

Farm Music producer Sally Barnett said the idea for the project came to her while volunteering at the Taranaki Retreat – a suicide prevention initiative set up on a rural property southwest of New Plymouth. . . 

Toil and frugality paved way for ownership – Alice Scott:

From growing up in the city to farming in Tuapeka West; Alice Scott talks to a couple about their own unique journey into farm ownership.

Allan Casse got his first taste for farming as a boy in his school holidays.

He was born and raised in Auckland city and his mother, who grew up on a farm, would take him out to the countryside.

“The outdoors appealed right from the beginning. I just loved it. It’s where I knew I wanted to be.”

He then moved to the South Island as a 17-year-old and worked in a fruit and vegetable market for two years before going to university and qualifying as a teacher. . . 

‘Kiss the Ground’ review: regenerating hope for the climate – Natalia Winkelman:

An optimistic climate documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson argues for the healing power of soil, which could offer a solution to the climate crisis.

The actor Woody Harrelson narrates the documentary “Kiss the Ground,” a frenetic but ultimately persuasive and optimistic plan to counter the climate crisis. Streaming on Netflix, the film makes a case for the healing power of soil, arguing that its capacity to sequester carbon could be the key to reversing the effects of climate change.

Directed by Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell, whose credits include other socially conscious documentaries such as “The Big Fix” and “Pump,” “Kiss the Ground” takes a wide-ranging approach. The film begins by examining how tilling and the use of pesticides have led to soil erosion, and then traces the damage done to our ecology, health and climate. The filmmakers find a solution in regenerative farming, an ethical practice designed to restore degraded lands and facilitate carbon drawdown. . . 


Rural round-up

10/09/2020

It’s been a great year for the dairy industry – now let’s see what it has done for Fonterra’s books – Point of Order:

Despite  the  turmoil  inflicted  on  global markets,  NZ’s  dairy  industry  turned  in  a  phenomenal performance   for  the  2019-20 season,   with  export  earnings   $709m  ahead of  the  previous  year.  

And  though  the  global  market  is  finely  balanced  at  present,  the  prospect  is  that  the  industry  could  again  be  ahead  of the  pack  in  the  current  season.

Dairy farmers    deserve  the  plaudits  of  the   rest  of  the  country,  even   though  the  present   government    has  gone  out  of its  way  to   clobber  the industry  with  tough  freshwater regulations  designed to  satisfy  “dirty dairying”   critics,  despite the most polluted water  often being  found in  city and town waterways  and harbours.  . . 

Horticultural industry pushes for extended visas for workers

The horticultural sector is calling for its guest workers to be next in line to have their visa restrictions eased.

Visitors and temporary migrants trapped in this country by the restrictions on travel will now have their visas extended to give them more time to organise flights home.

But Horticulture NZ chief executive Mike Chapman said these changes did little to help people working in the horticultural and wine sectors.

He said the sector was coming up to a busy time. . . 

The immigration breakthrough that wasn’t– Dileepa Fonseka :

Lobby groups thought they’d succeeded in their mission to let skilled workers who had been stranded overseas get back into the country – but they were wrong

A press release from primary industry lobby groups had to be retracted on Friday after an announcement they had expected on a way for overseas temporary migrants to return to New Zealand never materialised.

DairyNZ and Federated Farmers released – then retracted – a press statement welcoming back the temporary workers ‘locked out’ of the country, after the Government instead announced a visa extension for people here on visitor visas. . . 

Plea to lock up dogs at night after lambs killed – Gus Patterson:

Maheno farmer Doug Brown is urging people to lock up their dogs at night after 12 of his lambs were killed earlier this week.

The attacks on the nights of August 30 and 31 caused fatal injuries to several lambs, as well as mis-mothering and scattering the recently-born stock.

Some lambs were found three paddocks away from their mothers.

“It’s annoying. You work long hours at lambing time and could do without this,” Mr Brown said. . . 

Working off-farm best for rural mum – Alice Scott:

Waitahuna’s Bridget Tweed still cringes when she recalls her first job interview after what had been four years as a stay-at-home mum with pre-schooler twins, a toddler and a baby.

“I stumbled my way through the entire interview. I just wasn’t used to talking to adults anymore. The whole interview was just terrible.”

She got home and after some thought decided to call the manager.

“I said I felt the interview hadn’t gone too great and I hadn’t given a true reflection of myself. The manager actually agreed it wasn’t the greatest interview, but I rattled off a few things and I must’ve said the right thing because I got the job,” she said laughing. . . 

Bargains in the bin may bring buyers out – Bruce McLeish,:

As anticipated, the wool market struggled again last week and prices dropped by 37 cents a kilogram – or 5.5 per cent – in US Dollar terms.

A weaker US Dollar continued to make life difficult for growers and exporters as the Australian Dollar briefly cracked the US0.74 cents level during the week.

Understandably, 20 per cent of the offering was passed in – with many growers unwilling to accept these prices. . . 


Rural round-up

23/07/2020

Synthetic products ‘kick int he guts’ – Alice Scott:

When it comes to supporting the New Zealand wool industry, East Otago sheep and beef farmer Georgie McGregor reckons there needs to be a new hashtag started for synthetic apparel: #senditback.

“The big farm retailers not only stock synthetic clothing and hats but they also run these promotions and send what is essentially a plastic bush shirt to us for buying a certain product in bulk.

“It’s one thing to stock this cheap synthetic product, but to give it away to farmers who are out there every day trying to make part of their living out of wool, well it’s a kick in the guts really.

“I just think we should all start sending back this plastic stuff they give us and make it their problem. If we don’t say anything, nothing will change,” she said. . . 

No place for Tom, Dick or Harry :

Migrants are a critical and valued part of dairying in New Zealand, filling skills shortages on farms when there aren’t enough local workers available.

The sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas (18% of total sector employees) and another 1500 on resident visas (mostly employees but some employers).

The NZ Government, like other governments around the world, is facing a growing unemployment queue thanks to Covid-19. They are under pressure to employ locals. But it isn’t as simple.

All those out-of-work Queenstown baristas are hardly likely to give up and move sticks to the Waikato, don an apron and start milking cows.

Cost control the biggest influence for farmers in latest survey – Gerald Piddock:

DairyNZ’s latest economic survey reveals that cost control continues to be a key driver for New Zealand dairy farmers as the industry faces ongoing challenges in both production and profitability.

The survey for the 2018-2019 year showed that operating profit per hectare for owner-operators was $2154. This is down on the previous year’s total of $2238, but above the average for the previous decade of $1696, DairyNZ principal economist Dr Graeme Doole said.

 Dr Doole says that volatility will remain a significant challenge for farmers to manage.

Feed continues to be a farmers largest expenditure area at 28.5% of total expenditure. It has been farmers’ expenses category since 2007-2008. . . 

Five southern farmers grade-free for 10 years – Yvonne O’Hara:

Five Fonterra suppliers have earned blocks of cheese and plaques as recognition for being grade free for 10 years or more, for the past season.

Thirty-four suppliers nationwide earned the plaque, five of whom are in Otago and Southland.

In addition to the Weir family, of Inch Clutha, there are the Chalmers family of Kaitangata, the Morrisons, of Kaitangata, the Rutter/Hannah families, of Kaka Point, and the Cricketts of Otautau. . . 

Bees to help elephants and tribes thrive in Africa: a powerful new partnership to help save the wild:

Comvita, New Zealand’s largest producer of UMF Mānuka honey, has today announced a new multi-year partnership with wildlife charity Saving the Wild, which will see the two organisations work together on global projects to help protect ‘nature in need’.

As the major Sponsorship Partner of Saving the Wild, Comvita will be acting upon its founding values, with the mission to connect people to nature at the heart of the partnership.

Established in 1974, Comvita and came to life in a counter-culture movement built on respect for nature and humankind. Saving the Wild was founded in 2014 by Jamie Joseph, with a mission to protect endangered African wildlife and ultimately the priceless biodiversity of the planet. . . 

Livestock birth-management companies for sale provide fertile opportunities for new owners:

Two livestock birth-management firms enabling New Zealand farmers to be among the most productive primary producers in the world has been placed on the market for sale.

Cattle pregnancy testing company Ultra-Scan was established in 1994 to examine the fertility rate of pregnant cows. Ultra-Scan now has 20 franchises throughout New Zealand – with 14 in the North Island and six in the South Island. The majority of the company’s North Island franchise operations are located in the Greater Waikato and King Country districts.

While initially founded to deliver cow gestation scanning services, Ultra-Scan’s service offering has subsequently gone on to include similar pregnancy tests for sheep, deer and goats, as well as the de-horning of young calves aged between four days and 10 weeks of age – in a Ministry for Primary Industry-approved practice known as ‘disbudding’ on calves – as well as DNA sampling, electronic calf tagging for identification, and teat removal. . . 


Rural round-up

19/07/2020

Early mornings shear joy – Sally Rae:

It was shearing time on the Strachan family’s sheep and beef farm at Awamoko, in North Otago, and Sid was helping pen up when he was not busy shearing at his own stand.

He had been there since 7am and, by late morning, he reckoned his tally was about 8200 — which might have been a slight exaggeration, but there was no doubting his infectious enthusiasm and work ethic.

Sid might only be 6 years old but he has been interested in shearing from an even younger age and spends a full day in the woolshed whenever he can.

He had two very clear ambitions: to buy North Otago shearing contractor Phil Cleland’s business — “he said I can do it when I’m 13” — and to win the Golden Shears. . .

Wool revival coming – Annette Scott:

South Island farmer Kate Acland says the Government’s report on the wool industry is a chance for the sector to come together and realise its potential.

The Vision and Action for the wool sector put together by the Government-appointed wool industry Project Action Group suggests New Zealand is on the cusp of a natural fibre renaissance being led by more environmentally and socially conscious consumers. 

A new approach is needed to seize the opportunity and turn things around.

The report recommends the appointment of an executive officer and establishment of a wool sector governance group to oversee development of an investment case. . . 

A Fonterra of wool is necessary – Annette Scott:

The wool industry needs a real plan to be profitable and the Government’s vision and action report for wool has failed to deliver, according to some industry leaders.

While the report is a step in the right direction a concrete plan is needed to lift the industry from its doldrums, National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests chairman Craig Smith said.

“It’s a report that tells us what we know, the wool industry in general is in a really bad place.

“What needs to happen very quickly now is another report with a clearly defined strategy then we can put some structure around that strategy,” Smith said. . . 

Nappies in plan to revive wool – Colin Williscroft:

Using New Zealand strong wool to produce biodegradable disposal nappies for a multi-billion dollar global market is gaining traction as a new avenue for farmers desperate to find new places to sell their product, with multinational companies showing interest in NZ technology.

As part of the recent launch of the strong wool sector’s plan for the future Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said Wellington-based company Woolchemy will get $80,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industry’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund.

Woolchemy co-founder and chief executive Derelee Potroz-Smith says the money will pay for a commercial trial of technology that enables wool to replace petroleum-derived textiles in consumer hygiene products, adding significant value to the raw material produced by NZ strong wool farmers. . . 

Still work to be done after diagnosis – Alice Scott:

Like many typical Otago blokes, Scott Clearwater (41) shrugged off his headaches, too busy on his Goodwood sheep and beef farm to see a doctor.

But as Covid-19 cases petered and the country went into Level 2, Mr Clearwater’s headaches got worse.

“He was writhing around on the floor one night and that’s when I said, ‘Enough’s enough, you need to get to a doctor’,” his wife, Joy Clearwater, said.

Since that May 29 GP visit, the family’s life has been turned upside down. . . 

Socially acceptable cows of the future could be within reach – Hannah Powe:

As animal health and husbandry becomes a hot topic in the agriculture industry, DairyBio research scientists have identified the traits needed to breed the socially acceptable cow of the future.

During the Genetics Australia 2020 Virtual Series, Agriculture Victoria principal research scientist and leader of DairyBio, Professor Jennie Pryce said there were five keys areas needed to breed the socially acceptable cow.

“They need to be resource efficient, have a low environmental footprint and low methane emissions, and traits consistent with high standards of animal welfare such as good health and fertility (polled and longevity),” Prof Pryce said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/03/2020

Essentially we are struggling – Sarah Perriam:

It’s a nice feeling to be essential huh?

But, farming in New Zealand is facing the perfect storm of challenges, which makes it hard to provide that essential service.

This week in Sarah’s Country we talk to to Lochie Macgillivray from the Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group who talks about the layers of mounting situations that the region’s farmers face from movement control with M bovis and the TB outbreak, water and feed storage issues and livestock returned from processors due to Covid-19 – all while being in drought.  . . 

Rural businesses carrying on – Annette Scott:

Being there for farmers is what Ruralco is about, chief executive Rob Sharkie says.

“And that means through all times where at all possible, the good and the not so good. 

“It’s about looking after our backyarders. That’s what we are set up to do.”

On the first day of the level three covid-19 Ruralco had 900 people through the doors.

“Nine hundred customers in one day is very busy but it wasn’t panic buying, it was the uncertainty. . . 

Covid-19: Farmer lobby’s strength on display :

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says COVID-19 has highlighted the strength of the farmer lobby. “

It shows the strength of Federated Farmers that we’re being looked to as the ‘go to’ source of advice and conduit of essential information to the agriculture sector during Covid-19,” she told Feds members in an email last night.

“We’ve found answers to pretty much every question our members have fired at us over the last week or two and it’s all summarised on our website and in the regular advisories we’ve emailed.” . . 

Food sector to continue as normal: Professor – Alice Scott:

It is business as usual for farmers around the country, despite Covid-19.

Emeritus Prof Frank Griffin says that as the nation scrambles to contain the virus, the food sector will continue as normal.

Prof Griffin has spent a career in animal health research.

He also has a strong interest in New Zealand’s food production systems and he is director of Agriculture at Otago (Ag@Otago), an initiative launched in 2016, involving more than 60 Otago researchers with active interests in agriculture. . . 

New associate director for Beef + Lamb board:

Wairarapa farmer Kate Wyeth has been appointed this year’s associate director on the Beef + Lamb New Zealand board.

Wyeth, who alongside her husband James, farms a 380ha sheep and beef farm in the Northern Wairarapa has a background in farm consultancy with BakerAg and is a facilitator on the Agri-Women’s Development Trust and chairperson on the Opaki School Board of Trustees.

She says she is excited by the opportunity to learn from and contribute to c’s governance team. . . 

Badge ‘just a tremendous honour’ – Toni Williams:

“It’s just a tremendous honour,” Women’s Institutes stalwart Jude Vaughan, the unsuspecting recipient of a WI Good Service Badge, said.

Mrs Vaughan was completely taken aback when presented with the award at the Mid Canterbury Federation of WI’s annual general meeting after a secret nomination of her peers at Lowcliffe WI.

“It just blows you away, it’s not for me, it’s for the organisation. The acknowledgement from your peers, that means so much,” she said.

In nominating Mrs Vaughan, members of Lowcliffe WI said: “She is very proactive member wanting to spread the WI word and fly our banner when possible. . . 


Rural round-up

13/12/2019

Pressure on system affecting work visas- Brent Melville:

The measles epidemic in Samoa is affecting New Zealand’s primary sector in the wake of stricter screening regulations for seasonal workers.

Seasonal Solutions co-operative chief executive Helen Axby said pressure on the health systems in Samoa and across the Pacific Islands had contributed to ‘‘major delays’’ in getting workers through the system.

Ms Axby said it was not just the health systems in Samoa that were overloaded. . . 

Taking action rather than talking provided way forward – Alice Scott:

It seems somewhat contradictory to talk about mental health and how one can get through one’s demons without talking about it. Alice Scott talked to Laura Douglas about her mental health journey.

‘‘I didn’t talk about it, but I did something about it’’, is what Laura Douglas says got her through when she found herself deeply unhappy a few years ago while working in a high-paying corporate job in Auckland.

‘‘I was in such a dark place. I was away from all of the things that I loved: farming, hunting, fishing, animals … While I had a lot of belief in my abilities, I lacked self-confidence and self-love. I let men control my decision-making and I surrounded myself with people that enabled my unhealthy habits of self-destruction.’’ she said.

Talking about her issues with close friends and family was the last thing she wanted to do. . . 

Shearing the load: four women, 2000 lambs, one day – Suzanne McFadden:

A gang of four young Kiwi women are sharpening their combs and cutters to set a nine-hour world shearing record, as the call for a women’s shearing world title grows louder.

Counting sheep – it’s supposedly an age-old remedy for fighting insomnia and lulling yourself to sleep.

But the challenge facing Sarah Higgins – of counting off 500 sheep over nine hours – threatens to keep her awake at night for the next month.   . . 

Pig virus on the march – Sudesh Kissun:

A new report warns that a virus decimating parts of the global pork industry could spread to more countries next year.

Rabobank’s Global Animal Protein Outlook 2020 says frequent shipments of feed and live animals and the movement of people and equipment across borders will spread African swine fever (ASF).

However, Rabobank’s animal proteins analyst Blake Holgate doesn’t expect additional countries to experience the same level of impact as China and Vietnam. . . 

Forests must be in land rules – Glenys Christian:

Forestry should be more closely integrated into land use policy to dispel some of the negativity surrounding increased planting on pastoral land, former hill country farmer and forestry consultant Garth Cumberland says.

“More and more of the farming community are realising the good sense and profitability of forestry.

“Its improved prospects on marginal land could potentially compete with the returns from dairying.” . . 

The dark side of plant-based food – it’s more about money than you may thinkMartin Cohen and Frédéric Leroy:

If you were to believe newspapers and dietary advice leaflets, you’d probably think that doctors and nutritionists are the people guiding us through the thicket of what to believe when it comes to food. But food trends are far more political – and economically motivated – than it seems.

From ancient Rome, where Cura Annonae – the provision of bread to the citizens – was the central measure of good government, to 18th-century Britain, where the economist Adam Smith identified a link between wages and the price of corn, food has been at the centre of the economy. Politicians have long had their eye on food policy as a way to shape society.

That’s why tariffs and other trade restrictions on imported food and grain were enforced in Britain between 1815 and 1846. These “corn laws” enhanced the profits and political power of the landowners, at the cost of raising food prices and hampering growth in other economic sectors. . . 


Rural round-up

15/11/2019

Talking key on young farmers’ road home – Alice Scott:

The pressures of the modern world are taking their toll on the mental state of the country’s young people. Alice Scott talks to a young rural lad who has been through it and come out the other side.

Ticking along in his tractor at 11kmh, Harry Railton is drilling the last of the 100ha of oats for the next season, the ryecorn paddocks are up next and then that will be him for the season, as far as tractor work goes.

We establish that his location, in Tekapo, is somewhat outside the Southern Rural Life delivery zone, but, he agrees, it doesn’t matter; battling one’s own inner demons is a universal issue and one that is becoming more important to talk about as the modern world becomes just too much to take for some . .

National and Freshwater November 2019 – Elbow Deep:

I was less than enthusiastic at the thought of attending National MP Todd Muller’s water meeting in Ashburton last month. This wasn’t through any fault of Muller, National’s spokesperson for agriculture, but rather his party’s approach to the raft of challenges farmers are currently facing.

National’s proxies have been advocating for public protest both openly on social media and behind closed doors with industry groups. Protest was a disaster for farmers at the last election and, no matter how good it may have been for the National Party, I still don’t see it as a constructive or useful tool.

Another reason for my antipathy was the recent policy announcement coming from the National Party leaders; the dog whistling has been so loud my Labradors are in a constant state of confusion. Even if there was evidence unvaccinated children of solo mums had caused the measles outbreak in Auckland, and there isn’t, cutting the benefits of those parents still wouldn’t have prevented it. . . .

Political parties and GMOs: we all need to move on – Grant Jacobs:

Recently more than 150 post-graduate students and young scientists presented an open letter to the Green Party via The Spinoff, encouraging them to reconsider their position on genetic modification. Their target is tackling climate change issues.[1]

Can any party continue to be dismissive about genetic modification (GM) contributing to better agriculture?

We all want safe food, and the environment and climate change are important issues to tackle. New varieties can contribute, including those developed using GM. . . .

Couple’s jersey venture promoting wool:

Two years ago, Lawrence farmers Julie and Murray Hellewell decided to seize the day and find their own answer to the dire state of New Zealand’s strong wool industry.

”We just got sick of seeing people not wearing wool. Everyone is going on about doing something about the state of the wool industry but no-one ever actually does anything. We just decided we might as well have a go ourselves,” Mr Hellewell said.

The Hellewells teamed up with wool buyer John Milne of Balclutha’s Ken Milne Wools to establish contacts in the wool sector. All of the fleece is from the Hellewell’s Perendale lamb flock; at 30 microns, the lamb fleece is used for the outer shell of the jersey and lined inside with New Zealand merino wool which is supplied through the knitwear factory. . . .

Dairy sheep open day draws huge crowd– Mark Daniel:

300 plus rurals turned up at the fifth annual Spring Sheep Co open day at Matangi near Hamilton.

The high turnout was little surprise with New Zealand’s bovine dairy industry under the pump. Pushing the message ‘Discover New Zealand’s Gentlest Milk’, building on advantages for those struggling to digest cow milk, the presenters talked the audience through Spring Sheep’s journey so far.

That journey centred around bringing together aspects like the NZ production environment, building a scaleable supply chain, understanding the needs of consumers and new product development. . .

Red meat ‘most perfect food’ for humans, closely followed by milk – Abi Kay:

Red meat is the ‘most perfect food’ for humans, closely followed by milk, according to a leading nutrition expert.

Professor Robert Pickard, emeritus professor of neurobiology at Cardiff University, said the agricultural industry had been ‘the butt of an enormous journalistic effort to sell copy by producing totally indefensible headlines’ about red meat causing cancer.

Prof Pickard also hit out at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) report which claimed processed meats ‘definitely’ cause cancer and lean red meat ‘probably’ causes cancer. . .


Rural round-up

12/11/2019

‘Huge gaps” in environmental data – Colin Williscroft:

Shortcomings in New Zealand’s environmental reporting system undermine rules designed to protect the environment, a new report says.

A review of the reporting system Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton identifies huge gaps in data and knowledge and calls for concerted action to improve the system.

He says the data gaps, along with inconsistent data collection and analysis, make it hard to construct a clear national picture of the state of the environment – and whether it is getting better or worse. . . 

Fonterra confident of making progress – Sally Rae:

While there are more big strategic decisions ahead for Fonterra this year, chairman John Monaghan is “very confident” in the progress the co-operative is making.

Addressing yesterday’s annual meeting, Mr Monaghan said the 2019 financial year was a year of significant challenges and change within the co-operative, as it continued to fundamentally change its culture and strategy.

It was another tough year of significant change for farmers which included the Government’s policy announcements on climate change and freshwater, the effect the Reserve Bank’s proposal to tighten capital reserve rules had on banks’ willingness to lend, and the response to Mycoplasma bovis.

Fonterra’s decision not to pay a dividend and significantly impair a number of assets was a surprise to many farmer shareholders. . . 

Underpass creates safer stock route – Alice Scott:

In 1930, Jim MacDonald’s father was one of many stock drovers on what is now State Highway 87 to take sheep through from Waipori to the Waipiata saleyards; he would pick up different station mobs on horseback with a couple of heading dogs.

These days the MacDonald family require three staff, high-visibility vests for people and dogs and flashing hazard lights on the top of their utes, and that is just to get the stock across the road.

This year Mr MacDonald said the time had come to install a stock underpass as it was no longer safe to cross stock over State Highway 87.

“We’ve had a few dogs go under the wheel of a vehicle and the logistics have just become very difficult. The road just seems to get busier and busier. . . 

Seized fruit tree cutting imports stoush: Nursery owners meet with MPI – Eric Frykberg:

Nursery owners are meeting officials of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in Wellington to try to resolve a continuing stand off over seized cuttings of new varieties of fruit trees.

They have said the Ministry overstated the case when it said progress was being made to resolve the matter, and many claims were still outstanding.

The problem began 16 months ago with the dramatic seizure of 48,000 fruit tree cuttings by officials from MPI. . . 

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations:

Horticulture New Zealand has welcomed the successful conclusion of the RCEP negotiations, saying trade agreements are critical to the ongoing success of export industries like horticulture. 

‘Last year, New Zealand exported more than $3.6 billion to 128 different export markets,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘This year, that figure is expected to grow by a further 3.8 percent.  Such high levels of growth can only be achieved if export trading conditions are supportive, and barriers to entry are reduced constantly.’  . . 

Successful conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations welcomed by Onions New Zealand:

Onions New Zealand welcomes the successful conclusion of the RCEP negotiations, saying trade agreements like these underpin the success of the New Zealand onion sector.

‘The RCEP covers trade among New Zealand and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries, except India.  That is, half the world’s population,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘Without reduced tariffs and clear trading arrangements, it is extremely difficult to export from the bottom of the world to larger economies like Asia and Australia. 

‘Agreements like these mean more onions can be exported with the higher returns going directly back into regional New Zealand communities. . . 


Rural round-up

08/11/2019

Muller: Labour wants ag gone – Annette Scott:

The Government does not see agribusiness as part of the future of New Zealand’s economy, National Party agriculture spokesman Todd Muller says.

And the freshwater reforms are potentially damaging to the rural community, he told about 200 people at a meeting in Ashburton.

He is wary of new rules without factoring in the potential economic impact.

“You can only get sustainable, enduring outcomes if farmers can see a way they can farm to their limits.

“Economic, social and environmental implications are all perspectives that need to be in communications.

“That’s why we are pushing back very hard and will do if we are in government after September next year.”   . . 

Fonterra wants change to water rules – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra wants the Government to remove suggested maximum required levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in streams.

In its submission on the Government’s Action of Healthy Waterways proposal, Fonterra says it “strongly opposes” some of the maximum required levels for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP).

Farm Source Group director Richard Allen says the discussion document does not contain sufficient economic analysis to justify the proposed bottom line values.

Fonterra believes that in-stream bottom lines should only be used where there is a direct link to the outcomes sought. . .

‘Some mud needs to be thrown’ – farmer at Fonterra AGM :

Fonterra shareholders are frustrated and want accountability after turbulent times for the country’s biggest enterprise.

About 200 farmers gathered in Invercargill for the dairy giant’s annual general meeting.

The co-op recently posted a $605 million loss for the last financial year, and didn’t pay dividends to shareholders.

Farmer shareholders acknowledged that today was going to be tough for Fonterra’s leaders during an Q and A session. . .

Breeders boost eating quality – Neal Wallace:

Breeders are responding to customers’ desires and positioning the sheep farmers for the day when processors start grading meat for its eating qualities. Neal Wallace reports.

Meat processors don’t recognise eating quality yet but a group of ram breeders is preparing for when they do.

Andrew Tripp from Nithdale Station in Southland is involved in the South Island genomic calibration project, which uses DNA testing to let breeders predict terminal sire rams likely to produce offspring with meat that has superior qualities of tenderness and juiciness.

Other partners in the project include Beef + Lamb Genetics, Pamu, AgResearch, Focus Genetics, Kelso, the Premier Suftex group, the Southern Suffolk group and Beltex NZ. . . 

A blaze of yellow – Nigel Malthus:

Several thousand hectares of South Island farmland is a blaze of yellow as the annual rapeseed crop welcomes the spring.

Cropping farmer Warren Darling is one whose display regularly wows the public, since his farm straddles State Highway One just south of Timaru. His 120ha of rape is at “peak flower” and he expects to harvest at the end of January.

Darling has been growing the crop for about 12 years, along with wheat and barley.

He is now also trying sunflowers, beans and industrial hemp, in an effort to find compatible crops to move to a four-year rotation. . .

Busy music career gathers speed – Alice Scott:

Farmer’s wife, teacher, mother of twin boys, fledgling musician and all while recovering from brain surgery … it’s fair to say Casey Evans hasn’t been taking things easy over the last few years.

Casey moved to husband Rhys’ family farm near Owaka just under three years ago and things have been moving rapidly since, as her country music career begins to gain momentum and she is about to set off on a Somewhere Back Road music tour, raising funds to produce her first solo album.

It is just over a year since Casey underwent surgery to extend the size of her skull and release the pressure on her cerebellum and brain stem tissue which was pushing against the hole at base of her skull. For years Casey said she has experienced chronic fatigue and headaches which she attributed to “a few too many” horse falls. Being pregnant with twins, the symptoms compounded and Casey blacked out.

“It was then they did a scan and diagnosed the problem.” . . 

EcoScapes: Stunning views, mental massages and the country’s coolest cinema – Brook Sabin:

I’ve come up with a great concept: the mental massage.

Let me explain. It’s a crazy time to be a human: we’re bombarded with so much information, we’re expected to do more than ever, and we’re all feeling, well, a little bit tired. 

So, you’ll like this next bit: it’s time for a mental massage. I’m talking about a little holiday that slows the heartbeat. That relaxes the muscles. That gives your brain a break. 

And, boy, I think I’ve found it. 

It’s a luxury pod in the mountains, where you can sit back in bed and stare at the Southern Alps. And with the flick of a button, the room transforms into the country’s coolest cinema – all to enjoy with just one other person. . . 


Rural round-up

31/10/2019

NZ aware of ASF threat – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s pork industry would be “decimated” if African swine fever (ASF) was to hit the country, New Zealand Pork chairman Eric Roy says.

Since China reported the first case of ASF just over a year ago, it has culled more than 131million pigs, or around 40% of the previous pig herd.

Some private sector estimates suggested the culling might have even been larger than official estimates, BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap said. 

NZ Pork was concerned the disease was spreading “quite rapidly” and was now in Timor-Leste, or East Timor, as it continued to move south from China. It has been confirmed in the Philippines and South Korea. . .

Kiwi vegan loonies are treasonous – Ryan Bridge:

How do you know there’s a vegan in the room? They’ll tell you.

It’s an old joke but a good one.

Vegans are like evangelical Bible Belt Christians from the United States. They want to ram their ideology down your throat at any chance they can get.

On Tuesday, you will hear in the news stories about a new survey of consumers. They will claim a third of Kiwis are on their way to becoming vegetarians or vegans. We’re all going green. 

But make no mistake, the percentage of Kiwis who are vegetarian or vegan remains at 3 percent. Yes, 97 percent of us are still into our meat and so we should be, especially in New Zealand. . .

Women elected to DairyNZ board – Pam Tipa:

Two Waikato dairy farmers were elected to DairyNZ’s board last week. Tracy Brown is a new member and Elaine Cook was re-elected at the annual general meeting in Hamilton on October 22.

They are two of five farmer-elected directors and three board-appointed directors who contribute to strategy and priorities on behalf of dairy farmers. DairyNZ now has a board of five women and three men.

Chair Jim van der Poel welcomed the directors and acknowledged their role in “playing a key part in setting the future direction of DairyNZ”. . .

A voice for telling rural stories – Alice Scott:

A strong desire to capture the essence of people and tell their stories  won a former West Otago woman the Rural Champion category at the NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards recently. Alice Scott reports.

Kate Taylor, who now lives in Hawke’s Bay, grew up in the small southern farming district of Dunrobin. 

She says entering the Rural Women business awards was a way for her to ”walk the talk” and share her story, as she has for so many years been preaching to the people she interviews.

Mrs Taylor is the youngest of four Rivett girls and grew up on her family’s sheep and beef farm known as The Glen. She attended Blue Mountain College, in Tapanui, and got her first job in Gore, at radio station 4ZG, then did a journalism course at Christchurch Polytechnic . .

NZ lamb exporters welcome Brexit deadline extension–  Maja Burry:

An extension to the Brexit deadline is being welcomed by New Zealand lamb exporters, who had been worried about possible disruptions to Christmas trade.

European Union leaders have agreed to extend Brexit until 31 January next year – meaning the UK will not leave as planned on Thursday. The bloc would also allow for a so-called “flextension” – meaning the UK could leave before the deadline if a deal was approved by Parliament.

The UK market is very important for chilled New Zealand lamb exports ahead of Christmas and there had been concerns from industry that the UK’s departure from the European Union during this period could present border delays and increased administrative costs. . . .

Deer farm for sale with tourism and hunting options :

An iconic Hawke’s Bay station founded on pioneering spirit and nurtured over 100 years by the same family is now on the market for the first time.

Historic Te Rangi Station, located 50 minutes north of Napier Airport is generating strong interest among farming circles as far afield as the South Island from potential buyers recognising the opportunities a deer fenced station of this scale and summer safe location offers. . .


%d bloggers like this: