Rural round-up

07/04/2021

Horticulture collapse fears unless Pacific Island workers allowed in – Shawn McAvinue:

A group of Teviot Valley orchardists is calling for the Government to allow more Pacific Islanders to return to the region to fill a labour shortage before the horticulture industry “collapses”.

Darlings Fruit owner Stephen Darling, of Ettrick, said the apple harvest season runs from the end of February to mid May.

He had only about 60% of the 65 pickers and packhouse staff required for the season on his family’s about 90ha of orchard blocks in the valley.

Consequently, apples would rot on the ground this season, he said. . .

Plan change mooted to limit carbon farming – Ashley Smyth:

Attempts are being made by the Waitaki District Council to rein in carbon farming, following public concern over a recent farm sale.

A report presented at a council meeting on Tuesday, suggested a district plan change under the Resource Management Act.

This would allow the council to move independently of the tight timeframe set by the release of the draft district plan review.

It is expected some new areas of outstanding natural landscape, significant natural areas, geological sites and visual amenity landscapes will be included in the plan. . .

Native planting project hoped to protect Tolaga Bay from logging debris–  Maja Burry:

Every time heavy rains hits Uawa – Tolaga Bay, a sense of nervousness washes over the community that a fresh delivery of forestry slash could be brought down from the hillsides.

After years of discussions, it’s hoped a native planting project announced by the area’s largest forestry operation will help protect homes, waterways and coastlines.

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s 10 largest freehold forest plantations, has announced a 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The programme will see permanent native plantings established in parts of the 35,000 hectare estate which are unsuitable for timber plantation. . .

Horticulture industry can help New Zealand reduce emissions and grow the economy:

The horticulture industry is well placed to help New Zealand reduce its emissions while also enabling the economy to grow, Horticulture New Zealand says. 

‘Our fruit and vegetable growing industry is already environmentally responsible as well as being one of the most efficient in the world,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘In our submission to the Climate Change Commission, we pointed out that horticulture is now producing more food from less land, using fewer inputs like fertiliser and water. 

‘Covid has seen demand for healthy food increase, across the world.  This increase puts horticulture in a win/win situation.  Land-use change to horticulture will reduce emissions from the agriculture sector, while the extra production will find ready markets, overseas and locally.’ . . .

Fonterra completes sale of two China farms:

Fonterra has today completed the sale of its two wholly owned China farming hubs in Ying and Yutian

As announced in October 2020, the sale of the farms to Inner Mongolia Youran Dairy Co., Ltd (Youran) was subject to anti-trust clearance and other regulatory approvals in China. These approvals have now been received.

The transaction proceeds comprise the original sale price of NZD $513 million plus NZD $39 million in settlement adjustments, giving cash proceeds of NZD $552 million*.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the completion of the sale is an important milestone for Fonterra following its strategic refresh. . .

Treating soil a little differently could help it store a lot of carbon – Natasha Geiling:

Climate change is a massive problem with the potential to completely reshape the world, both literally (with rising sea levels and melting glaciers) and figuratively (with the way we grow food, or the way that we handle allergies). And while the consequences caused by climate change could be huge, the solutions — transitioning to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, or geoengineering — can often seem equally daunting.

But what if something as simple as the dirt under your feet could help mitigate some of the worst of climate change? The Earth’s soils contain a lot of carbon, and helping to manage and restore them could be a key way to help tackle climate change, according to a recent study in Nature.

Soils are already huge stores of carbon, and improved management can make them even bigger

The study, published by a group of international scientists, suggests that using “soil-smart” techniques for soil management could sequester as much as four-fifths of the annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels. These techniques include planting crops with deep roots, which help keep soil intact and encourage the growth of microbial communities that help trap soil carbon, and using charcoal-based composts. The study also calls for a wider adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques — things like no-till farming, which involves growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil and has been shown to potentially help soil retain carbon, and organic agriculture, which also has shown some promise in restoring and maintaining soil health. . .


Rural round-up

20/03/2021

NZ apple volumes fall: millions will be lost in exports:

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI), the industry association representing all apple, pear and nashi growers in New Zealand, has released an updated crop estimate for 2021.

In January, the industry was forecasting a gross national crop of 558,672 metric tonnes, 5% down on the 2020 harvest. The export share of the gross crop was forecast to be 374,751 metric tonnes (20.8 million cartons), 7% down on 2020, reflecting a shortage of available labour and significant hail events in the Nelson and Central Otago regions.

“As we near peak harvest, it has become increasingly clear that we will not achieve those initial forecasts”, NZAPI CEO Alan Pollard said. . .

Hort industry wants workers not workshops :

“What a slap in the face to the horticulture and viticulture sectors today’s $350,000 ‘wellbeing support package’ is as they face losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” says ACT Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron and Immigration spokesperson James McDowall.

“These people don’t need workshops, they need workers,” says Mr Cameron.

“To get this pitiful news in a week when it’s become clear that Hawke’s Bay is short of thousands of workers and estimates its apple losses alone will run to between $100 and $200 million this year is just sickening.

“The Government doesn’t seem to understand the lifecycle of plants, having rationalised that a sector that had ‘had it good’ for a number of years could suck up one rotten harvest. . . 

Immigration NZ overturns decision on sheep scanners’ work visas – Riley Kennedy:

Immigration New Zealand has given the green light to 11 foreign sheep scanners to help New Zealand farmers.

Sheep scanning happens around April and May and is the pregnancy test for ewes due to give birth this coming spring.

It comes after the scanners’ applications for critical worker visas were previously denied, however, an Immigration NZ spokesperson said it recently received new information about the availability of sheep scanners in New Zealand.

The department then informed employers who had applied for workers and had been declined, that their requests would be reconsidered. . .

Make sureyou have a grazing contract in time for winter:

The Winter Grazing Action Group (WGAG) is stressing to farmers the importance of having grazing contracts in place for the coming season.

The group was set up by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last year in response to a report from the Winter Grazing Taskforce, which made 11 recommendations to help ensure that animal welfare became a key part of all winter grazing decisions in the pastoral supply chain.

He said the action group’s job was to recommend ways to improve animal welfare following what he called “a lot of concern about managing winter grazing for cattle, sheep, and deer across the country”. The group’s 15 members represent industry organisations, government, vets, farmers, and other rural professionals. It is supported in its work by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

WGAG Chair, Lindsay Burton said the group was keen to emphasise the need for grazing contracts for livestock when grazed off farm to make sure health, nutrition and welfare needs are understood and managed especially during periods of greater risk like winter. . . 

MPI seeks feedback on new organic regime:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is seeking feedback on proposed regulations for organic primary sector products.

“The proposals set out the details of the proposed regime for organic food, beverages, and plant and animal products,” said Fiona Duncan, director of food skills and science policy.

The proposals outline the processes that would apply to businesses marketing organic products. Producers and processors of organic primary products, as well as importers, exporters and domestic-focused businesses, will be interested in how these proposals could apply to them.

“With these proposals, consumers would be better able to tell which products are organic and make more informed choices about what they buy,” said Ms Duncan. . . 

 

Harness the power of earthworms – Paul Reed Hepperly:

When moist, practically all soils from tundra to lowland tropics support the activity of earthworms. Largely unseen, earthworms are a diverse, powerful workforce with the capacity to transform soil into fertile ground.

Found in 27 families, more than 700 genera and greater than 7,000 species, earthworms vary from about 1 inch to 2 yards long. Their living mass outweighs all other animal life forms in global soils. Although we may view earthworms as being both prolific and productive, do we fully appreciate our human capability to favor their beneficial efforts as allies allowing farms and gardens to flourish? I think not.

Earthworms’ powerful activities include promoting favorable soil structure, increasing biological diversity, improving soil function, balancing nutrients needed by plants and animals and optimizing living soil. . . 


Rural round-up

09/03/2021

IrrigationNZ seeks protection for small rural drinking water users :

IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning says that the Government’s Water Services Bill will collectively cost rural drinking water users upwards of $16 million.

IrrigationNZ has submitted feedback on the Water Services Bill this week to seek protection of small drinking water users in rural areas.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the intent of the three waters reform, and absolutely want to ensure rural communities have access to clean drinking water and not have another Hastings issue happen again, but there are a number of small individual farm owners and water users, which are being unintentionally captured by the Bill” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning.

She says the submission explains, through case studies, how an alternative pathway can be sought for farmers and water users that still delivers on the intent of the Government’s bill.” . . .

Tourist spot water stoush – farmers cop unfair blame at Bridal Veil Falls – Lawrence Gullery:

Farmers are being blamed for contaminating a popular Waikato waterfall even though a test suggests the water is safe to swim in.

Signs at Wairēinga Bridal Veil Falls blame farmland run-off for “cloudy” water at the falls, despite a Whaingaroa Harbour Care project that appears to have dramatically improved water quality in the last decade.

But, as thousands of tourists troop past the sign at the popular summer spot, the Department of Conservation said the signs would remain until its own review and water quality tests were completed.

Federated Farmers said the department needs to “get off its high horse” and acknowledge it’s taken too long to review the water quality issues at the falls . . 

Lifting leadership skills of co-op leaders – Sudesh Kissun:

Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ) has expanded its governance training offering this year.

It says this is in response to the need for ensuring New Zealand’s cooperative shareholder governors (who often sit across multiple boards) have the right skill sets to be effective.

There are two courses specifically tailored to the co-operative model for aspiring / future directors:

A one-day introduction programme hosted by Westlake Governance. .

Better butter set to boom – Tom Bailey:

Beset by food fads and bad science, butter’s reputation is enjoying a sustained resurgence. Southern Pasture’s new senior vice president and general manager of post farmgate operations Tom Bailey explains why boutique butter is set to boom.

There’s no doubt butter is back. Since 2014, global demand for butter has increased at around 7% per annum.

Prices have hit multiple new highs and dairy farmers in key markets are turning to Jersey cows for their higher fat milk. It marks the reversal of a trend long driven by poor health advice and cheap convenience.

Butter’s boom to bust to boom. . . 

Q&A: Sandra Matthews on attending B+LNZ’s Annual Meeting & Showcase :

We talk to Sandra Matthews, a sheep and beef farmer from Gisborne about her takeaways from attending previous B+LNZ Annual Meetings ahead of the 2021 Annual Meeting & Showcase in Invercargill on 21 March.

Sandra, who sits on Beef + lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Eastern North Island Farmer Council, has attended B+LNZ’s Annual Meetings & Showcases since 2018 in the Gisborne region and then virtually ever since.

Sandra, why do you think it’s important to attend B+LNZ’s Annual Meeting & Showcases?

“It’s a great way to be kept up to date on what B+LNZ’s doing and what they’re working on in the future. . . 

Grass-fed Welsh lamb packed with protein:

Initial findings from recent analysis of PGI Welsh Lamb has revealed that meat from lambs reared on grass contain higher levels of protein-based amino acids and other nutritional benefits.

As part of the second year of testing on a major research project looking at the eating quality of Welsh Lamb, the most recent scientific analysis highlighted the presence of high amounts of amino acids which make up proteins, beneficial fats and minerals.

The Welsh Lamb Meat Quality Project looks at factors that affect variation in meat quality, as part of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) five-year, three-project, Red Meat Development Programme that seeks to help Welsh farming prepare for an increasingly competitive global marketplace. . . 


Rural round-up

18/02/2021

Blubbering start – Rural News editorial:

Climate Change Commission chair Rod Carr’s foolish and ham-fisted comment comparing NZ’s farming sector to the country’s defunct whaling industry was an appalling way for him to kick off the consultation period of his organisation’s draft carbon emissions budget.

It is a pity Carr has now blotted his copybook with farmers.

When appointed Climate Commission chair last year, he sounded much more reasonable and measured—even telling the Newsroom website:

“In the agricultural sector, there is no or little denial of climate change…In the agricultural sector there is a growing awareness of the need for change, but also a concern about what is the nature of the change that is needed. I think the agricultural sector is highly innovative, I don’t think they’re in denial. For my money, New Zealand should be substantially increasing its investment in agriculture research.” . . 

The making of a world record :

Gore shearer Megan Whitehead recently set a new women’s world shearing record by clipping 661 lambs in nine hours. A remarkable achievement for a 24-year-old who has only been shearing four years. Farmstrong caught up with her the next day to find out how she did it.

How are you feeling today?

I feel quite normal really. I don’t feel too bad, I’m a little bit tight in some of my muscles but overall, I’m feeling pretty good. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet to be honest. It’s a relief.

Why did you get into shearing?

I love the physical side of shearing and the competitive side, too. In shearing, you get paid on how hard you want to work. I get a lot of satisfaction from pleasing the farmers and leaving work every day after reaching my targets. It’s very satisfying. It’s also fun racing people every day. I love that side of it. . . 

Game changing irrigation system – Sudesh Kissun:

A team of Feilding-based software engineers has helped mastermind a game-changing irrigation prototype that diagnoses its own operating faults and can launch a drone to manage crops at leaf level.

Lindsay, which produces the Zimmatic brand of pivot irrigators, has introduced the concept of the world’s first ‘smart pivot’ to its markets around the globe.

Now, they are inviting New Zealand farmers and irrigation industry colleagues to give feedback so the product can be tailored to their needs. The smart pivot is a new category of mechanised irrigation that moves beyond traditional water application and management to a wide array of crop and machine health capabilities, while also delivering proven water and energy savings.. . .

Born in the USA – Mike Bland:

American-bred and city-raised, he came all the way to the King Country to find his dream job. Mike Bland reports.

Before arriving in New Zealand eight years ago Alex Petrucci, a 30-year-old economics graduate who grew up on the outskirts of Chicago, knew only a little bit about New Zealand and its agriculture.

His father worked for the American Farmland Trust, which employed Kiwi consultants for advice on pasture management. But Alex’s practical skills were limited when he took on his first job milking cows in Reporoa, Waikato.

A year later he met future wife Bronwyn, who was shepherding on Highlands Station, near Rotorua. . . 

Shine a light on Max T – Alex lond:

She had heard about it before, but passed it up. Now Alex Lond is a convert to the Max T method.

Everybody’s talking about it – and I just couldn’t get my head around it. The Max T (maximum milking time) method is becoming more and more popular in and around the Waikato, and I wanted to know why?

After hearing about it from a friend after he won Sharemilker of the Year back in 2018, I somewhat dismissed it as an idea only needed by farmers who didn’t enjoy milking their cows. However, after attending a discussion group last week with a focus on executing the Max T method in herringbone sheds, I have seen it in a whole new light.

I have always enjoyed milking, seeing it as an opportunity to plan my day in the mornings (in my head) and as the final job for the day (most of the time). I am fortunate that milking is not a long, drawn-out affair on my farm. I milk 350 cows through a 29ASHB shed, with recently installed in-shed feeding meaning that the cow flow is always excellent, both in and out of the shed, and the longest milking time this season has been 3 ½ hours from cups-on to taking my boots off for breakfast. . . 

HECS-style loan will encourage more carbon farmers: Menzies Research Centre report – Jamieson Murphy;

THE government could encourage more farmers to take advantage of carbon farming, helping both their bottom dollar and the nation’s emission reduction goals, with a HECS-style loan, a report says.

The policy paper by the Liberal-aligned Menzies Research Centre argues increasing soil carbon within the agricultural sector was a no-brainer, with financial, environmental and climatic dividends.

The report – From the ground up: Unleashing the potential of soil – suggested several practical steps the federal government could take immediately, which could potentially deliver soil carbon gains in a single season

It recommends funding soil carbon baseline measurements through an income-contingent loan scheme, similar to university student HECS loans, which students only have to repay once their wage hits a certain threshold. . . 


Rural round-up

14/02/2021

Stoush brews between Environment Minister and farmers over freshwater rules – Rachael Kelly:

A stoush is brewing between Southland farmers and Environment Minister David Parker over the Government’s new freshwater rules.

About 94 per cent of farmers that registered to attend a meeting hosted by farming advocate group Groundswell to discuss the freshwater regulations indicated they would not pay their Environment Southland rates in protest against the new freshwater rules introduced by the Government last year.

The group also polled farmers on holding more tractor protests and not applying for resource consents, and which has prompted Parker to again remind Southland farmers that ‘’no one is above the law’’. . . 

Almost half vehicle related deaths on farms could be avoided if seatbelts were used :

WorkSafe is advising farmers to buckle up after an analysis of vehicle-related fatalities found that nearly half those that occur on farm could have been avoided if a seatbelt was being used.

The data analysis, completed by WorkSafe New Zealand, revealed that not wearing seatbelts while on the job was the largest single factor contributing to fatal work-related accidents.

The data analysis coincides with the launch of a new side-by-side vehicle simulator which will spend the next six months travelling New Zealand’s agricultural Fieldays and featuring in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. . . 

Rural contractors say red tape obstructing access to overseas workers – Sally Round and Riley Kennedy:

The rural contracting industry says red tape means they can’t make the most of some overseas workers who’ve been allowed into the country.

Last year, with borders restricted due to Covid-19, the government granted more than 200 critical worker visas to machinery operators to help with the summer harvest.

Rural Contractors New Zealand chief executive Roger Parton said just under 200 came in and the season had progressed reasonably well.

However he said there had been some bureaucratic issues which meant some workers had not been allowed to move to another employer. . .

New Zealand Merino Company launches apparel industry’s first 100% regenerative wool platform:

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and global Merino wool apparel and footwear brands Allbirds®, icebreaker®, and Smartwool® announced they are working collectively with 167 sheep growers to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform that represents 2.4 million acres (more than one million hectares) in New Zealand. They are doing their part to tackle the impact of the global fashion industry, which is responsible for 10% of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

“We are on a journey of continuous improvement that recognises and celebrates progress over perfection. Through our industry-leading carbon footprint work with our leading brand partners, and with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries, we know on-farm emissions represent approximately 60% of the emissions associated with woollen products and are our biggest opportunity to lower our impacts,” says John Brakenridge, NZM CEO. “ZQRX is an important and necessary evolution of our ethical wool program, ZQ. Through the adoption of regenerative practices that both store more carbon and emit less, we could reduce our on-farm emissions down to zero.” . . 

Small steps boost biodiversity vision:

Farmers discovered that there are many ways to protect and enhance mahinga kai and biodiversity values while visiting Waimak Farm in Eyreton last week.

The 612-hectare farm includes the largest remaining kanuka stand in North Canterbury and due to its important biodiversity values this area is being protected by farm managers Richard and Susan Pearse.

Richard says the kanuka stand provides an important seed source and seedlings have been taken from the area to try and recreate a similar ecosystem in other dryland areas. He is aiming to plant approximately 1000 native trees per year throughout the entire farm. . . 

Farm environment plans optimised on digital platform:

The government’s fresh-water regulations are close to being fully in place, and most in the primary sector acknowledge regardless of which government is in power, the rules will by and large remain in play. Included within them is the need for all farms to complete a farm environment plan (FEP), identifying the farm business’s land management units and how environmental risk within them will be managed and mitigated.

Ideally, farmers want to take ownership of their FEP. They know their farm best, they know its limitations and challenges, and how to work sustainably within them. More often than not, it is simply a case they hold this in their heads, rather than on any formal plan template.

But FEPs have to be more than a compliance driven “box ticking” exercise, and need to deliver real benefits not only to the environment, but to farmers’ profitability, given the time and commitment required to complete them. . . 

 


Rural round-up

02/03/2020

Global study to benchmark farms – Annette Scott:

A global study of regenerative agriculture is under way to identify chances to extract more value from sheep and beef exports.

Beef + Lamb is doing the study to understand the similarities and difference of regenerative agriculture to NZ farming practices.

The study will look at the opportunities for farmers and include a global consumer perspective to understand what potential there is for red meat exports.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said with increasing interest in regenerative agriculture here and abroad, sheep and beef farmers want to lead in that space.  . . 

The wool industry is still facing challenges – Pam Tipa:

The wool industry continues to face challenges with depressed wool prices for a third year in a row, says Primary Wool Cooperative chair Janette Osborne. 

“Combined with increased shearing and associated costs this now means a net loss on wool for many farmers,” she says in the co-op’s annual report

“We are also seeing an overall gradual decline in total wool volumes with both lambs and ewes going to the works woolly and lower grade oddments including dags being used on farm for environmental work.” . . 

Meat Businesswomen to address World Meat Conference:

Global networking group, Meat Business Women are stepping onto the world stage as they accept an invitation to speak at the World Meat Congress (WMC) in Cancun, Mexico on June 12. 

Touted as the most influential and informative event on the global meat industry calendar, the WMC brings together approximately 1,000 international delegates to discuss issues and trends affecting meat and livestock organisation which are fundamental for sector outlook. 

Meat Business Women Chair, Laura Ryan says she’s delighted with the opportunity to speak directly about the group’s goals to an audience that can instigate change.  . . 

History has a habit of repeating itself – St John Craner:

NZ Ag yet again faces a number of fronts. Plant-based food, trade wars, geopolitical tensions, coronavirus, commodity cycles and climate. Yet we have options. We can diversify our markets.

China’s coronavirus is highlighting the need for us to ensure we’re not over-reliant on one market. Maybe China is the easy option? Either way they say: “when you choose easy life can be hard, when you choose hard life can be easy”.

There are many other countries in South East Asia (49 to be precise) who want our world-class produce like India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Lao, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar. These countries’ economies are predicted to grow faster than China due to their own growing middle class who are earning higher incomes.  . . 

Farm societies have common issues – Ben Hancock:

This is the fifth and final in a series of articles written by the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars. This week Beef + Lamb insight and strategy analyst Ben Hancock looks at the possibility of farmers generating energy while combating climate change and being easier on the environment.

Farming the world over, as much as the context, production and scale vary, shows, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

After nearly six months on the road of my Nuffield journey I was struck by the similarities across continents and farming systems. 

So many of the issues we face in New Zealand can be translated to our counterparts around the world.  . . 

Elderly UK farmers should be paid to retire, says Minister :

UK Environment Secretary, George Eustice has an unusual solution to improving the environment: paying farmers to retire.

Speaking at the National Farmers’ Union’s 2020 Conference this week, Eustice said that some veteran farmers are ‘standing in the way of change’, reports The Telegraph.

He said that paying veteran farmers a lump sum would enable them to ‘retire with dignity’. . .


Rural round-up

19/12/2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly – 2019 in review:

As we approach another year’s end we again highlight our annual review of 2019 in the primary sector as seen by Rural News’ editorial team.

THE GOOD

Good messaging award: Dairy Women’s Network’s new chief executive Jules Benton for her clear, confident and articulate communication of the network’s aims and aspirations, but in a real and down-to-earth manner.

Celebrating success: A lot of excellent events and conferences this year with a focus on celebrating the success of old and young people. The Massey Ag students’ dinner is a great example of this where some very smart future leaders come to the fore. The same for the Ahuwhenua Awards where Maori agri success is also celebrated in style. Feds, HortNZ and the dairy industry and others all did their bit to show NZ that the ag sector is well placed for the future.  . .

Phosphate vital, industry says – Brent Melville:

With the recent spotlight on importation of phosphate sourced in the Western Sahara into New Zealand, Brent Melville takes a closer look at the phosphate issue and why we rely on it for our food production.

Blocking  the importation of phosphate into New Zealand could have a $10 billion knock-on effect into the country’s food production and export sector, the fertiliser industry says.

The industry, dominated by the farmer co-operative duopoly of Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, said without access to phosphate rock, rural production would fall by “at least” 50%.

Phosphate rock is the key ingredient in the country’s production of superphosphate, used primarily as a nutrient by sheep and beef and dairy farmers to boost phosphorus and sulphur levels in the soil. . . 

Land champion: it’s hard to find time to retire – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers high country champion Bob Douglas has contributed to the smooth running of South Island high country farming businesses for 25 years but next year his visits to the back of beyond will be as a tourist. He talked to Annette Scott about his high country office.

Endless dedication to Federated Farmers high country business will come to an end for Bob Douglas in the next few weeks.

By the end of January the South Canterbury Feds stalwart will be waking each morning to a new life.

“And it will be one that will now mean when I go to the high country it will be as a tourist,” Bob said. . . 

Migrant workers worth the effort :

Waikato farmer and Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says employing migrant workers isn’t always easy but is worth the investment.

Experience has shown me what works best. I could talk about this for hours but I will summarise some of the lessons here.

Employing migrants is not the cheap option for New Zealand dairy farmers. In fact, generally, it will cost you more but it is worth it in the long run.

Firstly, you might need some professional help dealing with Immigration NZ once you’ve found a migrant worker to employ. That will generally cost you $1600-$2000. Visa fees cost about $500 . . 

Routine border checks detect unwanted fruit disease:

Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended fresh melon imports from Queensland following a border detection of an unwanted fruit disease.

Biosecurity New Zealand detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) following routine border testing on Friday of a consignment of watermelons from Queensland Australia, says Peter Thomson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s plants and pathways director.

CGMMV does not pose a risk to human health. It affects cucurbit fruit, including watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin. . . 

EPA’s Annual Report on aerial use of 1080 released:

The 2018 report on the aerial use of 1080 for pest control provides greater detail than previous years, giving more information on operations and research.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Annual Report on the aerial use of 1080 during 2018 shows a near halving of activity compared with the previous year, in terms of both the number of operations and total area treated.

There were 29 operations covering 441,000 hectares of land, compared with 50 operations across 877,000 hectares in 2017. This was due to the Department of Conservation (DOC) using less 1080, as there were no mast events in New Zealand’s forests. Heavy seed fall seasons (known as masts) drive rat populations up, threatening native species. . . 


Rural round-up

11/12/2019

Carbon neutrality requires permanent forests not production forests – Keith Woodford:

In recent months I have been writing about land-use transformation that will be driven increasingly by carbon trading. If New Zealand is to approach net-zero carbon, then it can only be achieved by a combination of modified lifestyles plus new technologies that either don’t yet exist or are yet to be commercialised. Even with all of these things, it will still require lots of forest plantings to offset carbon emissions from elsewhere in the economy.

A key point underlying the recent articles I have written is that the implications for rural-landscape change have been under-estimated and poorly communicated. A key thrust of this current article is that it is only by permanent forests rather than multiple-rotations of production forests that the march of the pine trees across the landscape can be managed. . .

Fonterra finds an ally – Elbow Deep:

I recently found myself in a pub with a group of people I’d only just met, and for reasons that still remain unclear found myself waxing lyrical about the myriad shortcomings of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). I was as eloquent and convincing as only a man on his fifth pint can be, and when I finally paused for breath to consider whether I’d missed any crucial points, the woman next to me fixed me with a cool stare and asked “Is that your opinion or Fonterra’s?”

Less than a week later I was online watching DIRA submissions to the Primary Production Select Committee and saw National MP Amy Adams ask Federated Farmer’s Dairy Chair Chris Lewis almost exactly the same question. Why, Adams wanted to know, should the Select Committee take any notice of a Federated Farmers submission. “I’m just trying to understand,” Adams said, “how you ensure that it isn’t effectively the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council by another name.”
Was Lewis voicing Fed’s opinion or that of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Council’s?

Therein lies the problem for the Committee of MPs, how do they cut through the obviously self-serving nature of every submission and arrive at the decision of what’s best? . . 

Merino brand plan global from the start – Sally Rae:

The International Wool Textile Organisation held its Wool Round Table in Queenstown recently, 19 years since its last event in New Zealand. Since 1930, IWTO has represented the collective interests of the global wool trade. Business and rural editor Sally Rae attended one of the days.

Hamish Acland has always seen things a little differently.

That came about from the environment he grew up in — an entrepreneurial Canterbury farming family — and has been a trait that he has followed. That was particularly evident with the founding of merino clothing brand Mons Royale.

Ten years on, and Mons Royale now has 700 retail stockists globally, offices in Innsbruck, Vancouver and Wanaka and 50 staff. It has recently opened its first pop-up retail store in Rees St, Queenstown. . . 

Dairy Environment Leaders are embracing change:

The DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders have concluded their 7th Annual farmer-led forum in Wellington and are returning to their individual communities optimistic about the future of dairy farming and energized to drive positive change, says DEL Chairwoman Tracy Brown.

“This year’s theme was about embracing change and supporting communities’ which we strongly believe are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other” Mrs Brown said.

“Farmers are demonstrating a real willingness to embrace change, and New Zealanders need to see that willingness and support our rural communities and famers on their journey to a more sustainable future. We are all in this together and we all want the same thing at the end of the day. . . 

Big bucks to perk up farmers – Neal Wallace:

An injection of up to $9 million in 23 Southland catchment groups should also help improve the wellbeing of farmers.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced the funding at a Thriving Southland function at Five Rivers in northern Southland in what is the first region-wide extension project funded by the $229m Sustainable Land Use package.

Thriving Southland chairman Ewen Mathieson says the project will help farmers reduce their environmental footprint by paying for experts to provide them with advice and guidance.

Enhancing or extending the catchment group model will also provide a social outlet for farmers that should enhance their wellness in an era when they are becoming increasingly isolated. . .

Grasslands more reliable carbon sinks than trees – Kat Kerlin:

Forests have long served as a critical carbon sink, consuming about a quarter of the carbon dioxide pollution produced by humans worldwide. But decades of fire suppression, warming temperatures and drought have increased wildfire risks — turning California’s forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources.

A study from the University of California, Davis, found that grasslands and rangelands are more resilient carbon sinks than forests in 21st century California. As such, the study indicates they should be given opportunities in the state’s cap-and-and trade market, which is designed to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. 

The findings, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, could inform similar carbon offset efforts around the globe, particularly those in semi-arid environments, which cover about 40 percent of the planet .. . 


Rural round-up

24/11/2019

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

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

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

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

Fowl under fire for pollution – Neal Wallace:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Profitable year leaves Alliance in strong position – Brent Melville:

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

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

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

 

 

Wool stains could stop processing  – Alan WIlliams:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

05/10/2019

Reform plans created in silos – Colin Williscroft:

Environmental changes farmers are being forced to deal with were developed separately rather than in conjunction, Beef + Lamb environmental policy leader Corina Jordan says.

At the B+LNZ environment issues roadshow stop in Feilding Jordan said a lot of the work the proposed changes are based on was done in silos, with little or no thought about how they might affect each other or of the cumulative affect of everything happening at once.

“The full impact of the suite has not been considered,” she said.

“That’s not just at a farm level but also a community level.”

Proposals already announced as part of the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill and essential freshwater package will soon be added to by a new biodiversity strategy.

Jordan said it looks like, when coming up with some of the proposals, the experiences of other countries trying to deal with the same problems have not been taken into account either. . . 

Farmers fear the unknown over freshwater water plans – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers are worried about proposed water policy changes, but their concerns are largely based on a fear of the unknown, says Northland dairy farmer Andrew Booth.

In recent weeks social media has been rife with comments from on-edge farmers, and small town halls packed to the rafters as officials have been quizzed over the proposals.

Environment Minister David Parker released them last month, saying the health and wellbeing of water would be put first when making decisions, “providing for essential human needs, such as drinking water, will be second, and all other uses will follow”. . . 

Farmers see authentic strategy – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s farmers have decried the bad results of 2019 while approving the transparency and logic of the strategy reset, co-operative affairs managing director Mike Cronin says.

Speaking after three of the shareholder roadshow meetings in the South Island he said farmers welcomed the new strategy as authentic and self-explanatory and, therefore, convincing.

“Some want more detail on how we got here but the overall impression is that the strategy is back to basics, co-operative, New Zealand milk and all those good things.” . . 

International wool award for Kiwi:

One of New Zealand’s longest-serving champions for New Zealand wool, John Dawson, has been awarded the prestigious International Wool Trade Co-operation Award.

The award was presented at the 31st Nanjing Wool Market Convention at Qufu in Shandong Province, China.

John Dawson is chief executive of New Zealand Wool Services International and chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests.

He was one of just six global wool industry leaders to receive the award and the only New Zealander. . . 

Texel stud happy with Scottish influence – Yvonne O’Hara:

The second crop of lambs on the ground from Scottish genetics are looking good, Texel stud breeder and farmer Brent Busby says.

”They came out with a kilt,” he said.

He and wife Heather own the Cromarty Texel Stud and run 110 pedigree registered Texel ewes on 20ha at Myross Bush, Invercargill, with a further 15ha leased.

”We have finished lambing early and have 170% tailed, (including a set of quads)” he said.

Mrs Busby said they imported semen from Scottish studs in 2018 and inseminated 18 ewes. . .

Sheep farmers ‘astonished’ over live export ban proposal :

Sheep farmers have highlighted their ‘astonishment’ over the government’s proposal to put in a place a live export ban once the UK leaves the EU.

Defra Secretary Theresa Villiers is proposing a ban on live exports of farm animals, stating that livestock should only be slaughtered at their most local abattoir.

A consultation will be created to gather opinion on the controversial proposal.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has already criticised the plan, saying that it ‘exposes a serious lack of knowledge’ of how the industry works.

The group adds that there is an ‘absence of awareness’ of transport related welfare research. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/07/2019

AFB spread prompts burning of hives – Laura Smith:

Watching bees burn would have to be one of the most difficult things a beekeeper could do – it is also an experience more Southland apiarists will have to face.

It is the consequence of the spread of destructive bee-killing disease American foulbrood (AFB).

Southland commercial beekeeper Geoff Scott said ignorance was a major contributor to the disease spreading.

”And we’re doing it – it’s us beekeepers doing it.” . .

Hinewai revival worth every cent – Tim Fulton:

Hinewai Reserve was once dismissed as a fantasy of fools and dreamers. 

Now, as the 1250ha native sanctuary on Banks Peninsula flourishes it has about $1m of carbon credits plus income from a walking track and public donations.

But Hugh Wilson’s neighbours let rip when his plans for Hinewai Reserve became clear. . .

Possum is scourge of farm and forest: – Nick Hancox:

Managing disease in farmed cattle and deer is one stream of the TBfree programme’s work. It underpins the value and reputation of the meat and milk New Zealand exports.

The other essential work the programme manages is possum control — taking and keeping numbers down at a level where disease can’t keep cycling in wildlife.

That possum control work has two big benefits for New Zealand: eradicating bovine TB to protect the primary sector while supporting the goals of the predator-free movement.
The TBfree programme managed by OSPRI aligns with programmes designed to protect and defend New Zealand’s biodiversity and environmental health, such as the Department of Conservation’s Battle for Our Birds and Predator Free 2050. . .

Ploughman straight on to Minnesota – Chris Tobin:

”You don’t go to the Olympic Games and wear someone else’s track shoes and you don’t go to a Formula race in someone else’s car.”

Champion ploughman Bob Mehrtens is explaining his approach to the upcoming world ploughing championships at Baudette, Minnesota.

After placing eighth in Germany last year and second in Kenya in the reversible section of the world championships, he is aiming for gold this time round in the United States. . .

Avocado prices plunge as new season starts – Esther Taunton:

Avocado fans, rejoice – you can now buy two for less than the cost of a flat white.

Supplies of the popular toast topping have surged and those who have struggled through the avo off-season can again feast on the fruit.

On Thursday avocados were were selling for $2.70 each or two for $5 at Countdown supermarkets around the country. . .

Boarding school allowances – rural families deserve better – Ann Thompson:

The cost of sending children to boarding school is placing a big burden on rural employees, and it’s well past time a change was made to make the boarding allowance system fairer, writes Federated Farmers policy adviser Ann Thompson.

Over the past few years Federated Farmers has made requests to both the National and Labour-led governments to increase the Access Barrier Boarding Allowance.

This allowance is provided for pupils who live so far away from school that boarding school is the only realistic option.

As at June 2019, the Access Barrier Boarding Allowance was $3200 per annum while the Multiple Barriers Boarding Allowance was $7500 (plus $500 for pastoral care). . .


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