Rural round-up

19/10/2022

Has He Waka hit the rocks? – Peter Burke :

The Government’s proposal to deal with agricultural emissions has stunned many rural communities who warn that it will decimate them and replace sheep and beef farms with pine trees.

Under the proposal, the Government states its intent to reduce emissions by 10% by 2030 and that farmers will start paying for their emissions by 2025.

But according to Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard, this plan put up by government will cause massive economic and social consequences in rural communities. He says the plan would see sheep and beef production drop by up to 20% and dairy by 5%, costing NZ $3 billion.

“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut wrenching to think we have a proposal by the Government that rips the heart out of the work we have done and to the families who farm the land. Feds is deeply unimpressed with the Government,” he says. . .

Our climate policy is confused and flawed – Allan Barber:

There’s an argument for rebuilding it from the bottom up, without Kyoto-era flaws.

Two reputable climate change scientists, Adrian Macey and David Frame, have recently published a five-part series of articles in BusinessDesk.co.nz which seriously questions the government’s climate change targets and policy. Macey is New Zealand’s first climate change ambassador and an adjunct professor at the NZ Climate Change Research Centre at Victoria University, and Frame is the centre’s director, which gives their opinions serious credibility.

At the same time Simon Upton, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has issued a report that confirms the inappropriateness of planting huge swathes of pine forests to offset methane emissions and a note that questions the rationale for treating long-lived greenhouse gases and biogenic methane differently. He asks why fossil fuel emitters to buy carbon credits as offsets, while livestock methane emitters are not. Forests remove carbon dioxide, not methane, from the atmosphere, but Upton argues it should logically be possible for forestry to be used as an offset against warming in general, including methane. He also warned about the impossibility of planting enough trees to solve the warming problem.

In his report he states: “Reducing livestock methane emissions could have real economic and social impacts on people and ways of life. A fine balance needs to be struck between having regard to economic and social dislocation and finding a position that New Zealand can defend in international climate change negotiations, while remaining competitive in global food markets with growing consumer demand for low-emissions products.”  . . 

The shifting ground beneath farmers’ feet – Tony Benny :

Much has changed the position of farming in New Zealand society since 1973, when the sector lost its privileged access to a large and lucrative market.

“That cued up a series of crises that got worse and worse, culminating in 1984 with Rogernomics and really the first moment in the colonial history of New Zealand where a government decisively turned its back on farming. Things have never quite been the same,” Otago University’s Professor Hugh Campbell, an expert in the sociology of agriculture, told the Embracing Urban Agriculture hosted by Lincoln University’s B Linc Innovation centre.

He listed a series of fractures over the past 40 years or so that changed how urban and rural New Zealand relate, starting with a series of food scares in Europe including the Chernobyl disaster and Mad Cow Disease, which shook consumers’ confidence in food safety.

Consumers were also shaken by biosecurity issues including rabbits and the illegal release of calicivirus in an effort to control them, as well as the PSA virus that hit kiwifruit growers. . . 

New median wage to hit farmers in the pocket – Jessica Marshall:

Moves by the Government to raise the wage threshold for migrant workers have some farmers up in arms.

Last week, Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced that a new median wage of $29.66 per hour would be adopted into the immigration system from 27 February next year.

“The Government is focused on moving New Zealand to a higher wage economy, increasing the skill level of migrant workers, and encouraging employers to offer competitive wages and improve career pathways for New Zealanders,” Wood said.

“Updating the median wage thresholds regularly is necessary to ensure the Government is delivering on its immigration rebalance goals and that existing policy settings are maintained in line with market changes.” . . 

Southern women recognised in NZI Awards  :

Southern women feature as category award winners in this year’s NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business awards.

Jody Drysdale, from Balfour, who won the innovation category, is behind Hopefield Hemp, with her husband Blair. The couple decided on hemp after looking for ways to diversify their farming operation to include a value-add, direct-to-consumer product.

Hopefield Hemp grows, harvests, presses and markets hemp seed oil. It is small batch pressed and is available in bottles and capsules. In response to one of her children experiencing skin irritation, Mrs Drysdale researched and developed a recipe to make a soothing cream using her hemp seed oil and Hopefield Hemp’s skin care range was launched.

Serena Lyders, from Whānau Consultancy Services, Tokanui, won the rural champion category. Passionate about the shearing industry, she is a sixth generation member of a shearing family and the industry and the people in it were close to her heart. . . 

New project to help farmers gain regenerative agriculture certification :

Interest in food produced using regenerative practices is gaining momentum across the globe – and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is backing a project to help more New Zealand sheep and beef farmers capture this premium market.

MPI has committed $142,480 over two years through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund towards the $356,200 project with Lean Meats Limited (trading as Atkins Ranch). It aims to scale up the number of verified lamb producers that meet the regenerative certification requirements of the US Savory Institute’s Land to Market Programme.

New Zealand-owned company Atkins Ranch has been a partner of the Land to Market Programme since 2019. It sells premium grass-fed lamb into the US market and has supply contracts across five regions of New Zealand. The company has been piloting regenerative farming practices since 2019 with a core group of 23 farmers, and this is now expanding to more than 70 farms.

“I see regenerative agriculture as leaving the land in a better state for future generations,” says Atkins Ranch chief executive officer Pat Maher. . . 

Fonterra announces new sustainable finance framework :

As part of Fonterra’s commitment to sustainability and implementation of its strategy, the Co-operative has today released its Sustainable Finance Framework (Framework). This Framework aligns Fonterra’s funding strategy with its sustainability ambitions and reflects the evolving preferences of lenders and debt investors in this area.

Fonterra’s Framework outlines how the Co-operative intends to issue and manage any sustainable debt, which could include Green Bonds and Sustainability-Linked Bonds and Loans. The Framework has been developed with Joint Sustainability Co-ordinators HSBC and Westpac NZ and has been independently verified by ISS Corporate Solutions confirming alignment with globally agreed sustainable finance principles.

“This new Framework is a step on our sustainable financing journey – aligning with our Co-operative’s broader sustainability ambitions,” says Simon Till, Fonterra Director Capital Markets.

“Over the next decade we intend to significantly increase our investment in sustainability-related activities and assets throughout our supply chain to both mitigate environmental risks and continue to differentiate our New Zealand milk. By FY30 we intend to invest around NZ$1 billion in reducing carbon emissions and improving water efficiency and treatment at our manufacturing sites. In doing so, we will be taking significant steps towards our aspiration to be Net Zero by 2050 and we plan to align our funding with this approach.” . . 


Rural round-up

15/08/2022

Slow down! – Dairy News:

The latest Federated Farmers survey of farmer confidence paints a worrying picture.

Of the 1,200 surveyed, 47% consider current economic conditions to be bad — down 55.6 points since January when a net 7.8% considered conditions to be good. A net 80% expect general economic conditions to get worse — up 16.9 points for the same period.

The survey conducted last month showed production expectations have dropped into negative territory for the first time since its inception in 2009.

The message from farmers to the Government is clear, ‘slow down on new regulations’. . . 

Fears that Three Waters could pit hort against urban needs – Business Desk:

The horticulture industry is worried that Three Waters reforms will direct entities to secure the cheapest water supply for urban areas at the expense of food security.

The reforms in the Water Services Entities Bill would establish four water service entities that will take fresh water, wastewater and stormwater functions off local government. It recently came under fire from the auditor-general for being weak on public accountability.

Horticulture NZ spokesperson Michelle Sands told Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee that most horticulture is situated near urban areas and therefore shares water catchments with urban communities.

In its written submission, Horticulture NZ says over 80% of vegetable production is consumed in NZ, with much of the export crop heading for the Pacific Islands. Many fruit crops are also grown for domestic consumption. . .

Ideology out of control as policy decided on the hoof – Allan Barber:

Pastoral farming is coming under continual pressure from all sides.

It seems as though another piece of bureaucratic ideology directed at the agricultural sector emerges every week. 

The latest one, at least at the time of writing, is the recently amended National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB), and more specifically the proposed classification of Significant Natural Areas (SNA) under the legislation. 

Not content with this, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and Minister of Economic Development Stuart Nash are now reconsidering their previous decision to drop exotic forests from the permanent category of the Emissions Trading Scheme, saying these are now “unlikely” to be excluded.  . .

Don’t point the finger at farmers – Glenys Christian:

Farmers should not focus on the negative but sort out some red flags for the industry. Glenys Christian reports.

New Zealand agriculture does not need to be turned on its head, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive, Dr Alison Stewart told the recent Primary Industries Summit in Auckland.

But anyone watching television and scrolling through social media would get the impression it was “totally stuffed”.

“Why doesn’t NZ like what we’re doing in agriculture at the moment?,” she asked. It went back to the 1980s when Government deregulation and reforms “threw everyone up in the air” meaning a survive-or-die choice was faced. So farmers intensified their focus and efficiency of scale and transitioned away from mixed farming. The results were silos of intensive monocultures, where “dairying bubbled up to the surface”. . .

Crooks in the back blocks – Lynda Gray :

Rural crime is an increasing problem as more people struggle financially and illicit drug dealing becomes more widespread, Lynda Gray reports.

The increase in the incidence and frequency of known and suspected rural crime is borne out by last year’s Federated Farmers survey. The 2021 survey answered by 1200 Feds members showed more than half (52%) of the respondents had experienced or suspected they had been the target of rural crime.

That’s a 10% increase from the previous survey in 2016. Over the same period the frequency of rural crime increased with 37% reporting two or more incidents compared to 22% in 2016.

The stats will come as no surprise but raises the questions of what’s driving it, and what steps farmers can take to keep livestock, property and themselves safe from criminal harm. . .

Kiwi firm’s wool filters blast off into space :

A New Zealand wool product will be making its way into space later this month, as part of NASA’s mission to the moon.

An Orion spacecraft will launch on an unmanned test flight on 30 August ahead of scheduled manned missions.

On board for the ride will be Kiwi company Lanaco’s filters made from New Zealand sheep wool.

Lanaco founder Nick Davenport said it was the same technology as in the company’s personal protective equipment, face masks and home air purifiers. . .


Rural round-up

03/10/2020

Project will identify marketing potential of regenerative agriculture – Allan Barber:

Earlier this year before lockdown B+LNZ announced its intention to conduct research into consumer attitudes to red meat produced using regenerative agriculture practices. This project has now been bolstered by an injection of financial support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and the involvement of the wine industry’s Bragato Research Institute which is keen to discover any potential for improving vineyard management, as well as evolving brand messaging across the wine industry.

B+LNZ’s purpose in conducting the research is to discover what RA, and as a result, the food produced from it mean to consumers in three major markets for our beef, lamb and venison. The research will explore the attitudes of consumers, retailers and experts in the USA, UK and Germany to identify how or if it can be defined in the New Zealand context, whether it can produce a premium and, just as relevant, what it implies for producers. An essential objective will be to determine how far current farming practice in this country conforms to the perception of RA in each of these markets. . . 

Ballance shareholders elect new director:

Dani Darke, one of six candidates vying for a spot on Ballance Agri-Nutrients Board of Directors, was announced as the successful North Ward candidate at the 2020 Annual shareholders meeting (AGM).

Andrew Morrison was also re-elected uncontested for the South Island Ward.

Newly elected Chair, Duncan Coull, congratulated Dani and Andrew, at last nights (30 September 2020) AGM. For the first time Shareholders were able to attend and participate in the AGM virtually and in person.

There are nine Ballance Directors, three independently appointed and six elected from North and South Island wards. . . 

Political panel webinar addresses rural health crisis:

On Tuesday evening, spokespeople from the four biggest political parties took part in the Rural Health Political Panel Webinar, convened by the Rural General Practice Network (the Network) and Mobile Health to address the crisis facing rural health and inequitable health outcomes for rural people, especially Māori. The webinar has been recorded and is available here.

The focus of the webinar was to give each Party the opportunity to respond to the Network’s Rural Health Election Manifesto and its three focus areas: workforce development, sustainable funding, and digital/connectivity.

There was a positive consensus from all four parties that rural health is important, and all indicated commitment to a rural health plan. . . 

Lifestyle blocks link town and country:

Despite the level of uncertainty Covid-19 has injected into everyday life globally, the New Zealand property market continues to remain strong and no more so than for rural lifestyle blocks.

Latest real estate data indicates just how strong this market has been for the past few tumultuous months. Sales for the three months to the end of August are up a massive 44 percent on the same period last year, at 2,354 properties sold. This marks the busiest sales period for over five years in the lifestyle block market.

Meantime year to date sales prove this is more than a blip, with the 7,298 properties sold to the end of August up six percent on last year. . . 

New research conducted by Lund University together with Tetra Pak presents four plausible scenarios for the future of the dairy industry​:

Tetra Pak and the Lund University School of Economics and Management have recently completed a joint study that presents four plausible scenarios for the future of the dairy industry. The study analyses six key global markets to examine the critical uncertainties of social environmental forces and technological transitions that could shift the dairy landscape in the next ten years.

Frederik Wellendorph, Vice President Business Unit Liquid Food, Tetra Pak said: “The Food & Beverage sector will undergo an enormous transformation over the next decade, with the dairy industry feeling this most acutely. Clearly, many challenges lie ahead – but there are plenty of opportunities for manufacturers too. The key to success in the new landscape will be in embracing flexibility and proactively responding to the wave of disruptive changes.”

Dr. Christian Koch, Lund University School of Economics and Management, said: “The global dairy industry is at the very heart of the global food transformation, and the contours of this transition are already starting to take shape. . . 


Rural round-up

13/09/2020

Millions in farmer income put at risk with open-ended review – Animal Genetics Trade Association:

Widened Terms of Reference and a longer timeframe for review of the safety of live animal transportation may lose the industry, and the nation, close to $200 million.

“The safe shipping of people and animals to their destinations is hugely important to our trade. We support this part of the review and need to learn how whatever happened to the ship can be prevented in future exports.

“However, a necessary review of ship safety following a maritime disaster has inexplicably morphed into an unnecessary wider review into the welfare of animals. “

The review may require cancellation of the close to $200 million in contracts between now and December. . . 

Tomato shortage follows lockdown:

Tomato prices rose 38 percent in August 2020 to a weighted average price of $13.65 per kilo, an all-time high, Stats NZ said today.

A shortage of tomatoes due to COVID-19 uncertainty caused higher than normal prices.

“About 40–50 percent of tomatoes are sold to independent grocers, cafes, and restaurants, which were unable to open during COVID alert levels 3 and 4 in April,” consumer prices manager Nicola Growden said.

“Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, many growers delayed or reduced replanting tomato crops at this time. . . 

Former chairman highlights Trust’s conservation role – David Hill:

The QEII National Trust’s work with farmers is “living proof” that agricultural production and conservation can coexist on farm, James Guild says.

The Canterbury high country farmer stepped down as chairman of the trust earlier this year after serving the maximum term of nine years, or three terms of three years.

In that time, Mr Guild has seen the organisation grow to support more than 190,000ha of covenant land, about the size of Rakiura Stewart Island or Molesworth Station, near Hanmer Springs.

“We take on two new covenants a week, or about 120 a year. At one stage it was 300 a year and there’s still a lot of demand, but we’ve had a refocus towards quality,” he said. . . 

Decades of dietary advice misguided – Allan Barber:

For at least the last 40 years international health guidelines have recommended minimising intake of saturated fats contained in red meat, dairy, cocoa and palm oil in a mistaken attempt to improve public health, particularly in first world countries. Heart disease skyrocketed to become the leading cause of death by 1950 and scientists hypothesised the cause to be dietary fat, particularly the saturated variety.

Although there have been sceptics who did not believe this apparently irrefutable scientific conclusion, they have been unable to inspire a rational debate of the facts, because the hypothesis was adopted by public health institutions (WHO, FDA, American Heart Association and others) before it had been properly tested. Any attempt to challenge them resulted in public reactions of anger and accusations of sacrilege, remembering this was many years before the internet and social media enabled the instant spread of online vitriol. As is the case today, the problem was compounded by the media taking a position and refusing to present the counterargument.

I have been interested in this topic for quite some time because I believe red meat and dairy are unfairly vilified, while personally I have neither an increase in cholesterol nor a heightened risk of heart disease. Suddenly last week I received an article from The Australian entitled “How dairy and fat could save your life” and I was also lent The Big Fat Surprise – Why butter, meat and cheese belong in a healthy diet, an authoritative book based on thousands of scientific studies and hundreds of interviews by New York author and journalist Nina Teicholz .. . 

Scholarship timing ‘perfect’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Maggie Ruddenklau received her $1500 tertiary scholarship from the Upper Clutha A&P Society last year, at exactly the right time.

It paid for her new laptop following the demise of her old one.

“I had my laptop for a few years and the same time as I heard about winning the scholarship it stopped working.

“At university a laptop is your most prized possession so it worked out really perfect.” . . 

CropX acquires Regen to grow global footprint and give farmers unmatched in-soil insights:

CropX, a global soil sensing and agricultural analytics leader, today announced the acquisition of New Zealand-based Regen, a leading provider of cloud-based, precision effluent and irrigation decision support tools. Current Regen customers now have access to CropX’s unmatched combination of in-soil data and advanced farm management analytics and automation tools.

“The importance of understanding soil health and what is happening beneath the ground is finally coming into the spotlight. This acquisition will help us further build our on-farm irrigation, effluent and nutrient management product lineup as we lead the market in delivering accurate in-soil insights,” said CropX CEO Tomer Tzach.  . . 


Rural round-up

31/08/2020

Millions of tonnes of food at risk without foreign contractors farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Farmers stand to lose $110 million if and 27 million tonnes of food could go to waste if the Government does not allow at least 200 skilled heavy machine operators into the country, a new survey from rural contractors shows.

Contracting firms were desperate to get border exemptions for hundreds of heavy machine operators from overseas to carry out harvesting, hay baling and slurry removal, Rural Contractors chief executive Roger Parton said.

“There are huge implications for the farmers concerned and resulting shortages of feed for animals, especially if climatic events occur,” Parton said.

The survey showed 8200 farmers and 57 contracting firms around the country relied on foreign seasonal labour between October and March. Workers were usually recruited from the Britan and Ireland. . . 

Meat industry continues to do superb job – Allan Barber:

The return of community transmission underlines the excellent performance of the whole meat industry since Covid 19 reached New Zealand nearly six months ago in March. Farmers, transport and logistics operators, sale yards, exporters and domestic processors have all combined to ensure the health and safety of participants, while meeting the demands of customers, with only a minimal number of temporary plant closures. This contrasts markedly with experience overseas in countries such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia and Germany with admittedly a much higher incidence of coronavirus outbreaks in the rest of the world than here.

In April seven major American meat facilities shut down with cold storage inventories of beef, pork and poultry equivalent to two weeks of total production and almost half of Canada’s beef processing capacity was halted after Cargill’s closure and a slowdown by JBS in Alberta. A feature of the interruption to processing in the USA was the great difficulty for farmers to get their stock processed, accompanied by a surge in retail pricing which reflected positively in processor margins, while livestock prices plummeted. . . 

A glimmer of hope for New Zealand strong wool – David Anderson:

A Lincoln-based wool products company believes it offers a glimmer of hope against the increasing negativity currently saturating New Zealand’s strong wool industry.

Keraplast Manufacturing processes strong wool into natural keratin proteins for the booming global nutraceuticals market. Keratin is an essential component of hair, finger and toenails, and skin. The company sells its keratin products as an ingredient for use in health (wound treatment), and skin, hair and nail beauty products world-wide.

Keraplast general manager Paul Sapsford says a recent innovation involves a bioactive keratin product that’s taken in tablet or drink form to “supercharge” the body’s production of collagen, promoting wrinkle reduction and supporting hair follicle and nail strength. . . 

RMPP Action Network extended:

The Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network programme has been extended until early next year.

The RMPP Action Network is an initiative to support farmers to develop the confidence to turn ideas into action on-farm. It’s made up of farmer action groups of seven to nine farm businesses. 

Action groups are farmer-led and supported by trained facilitators to guide a group and help identify experts who can share new knowledge and ideas needed to achieve their goals . .

Autogrow releases public API to empower growers:

Autogrow has released a public API (Application Programming Interface) allowing connectivity between their Folium sensor network and other farm sensor data.

“Growers currently feel frustrated by not having systems that speak to each other. And the truth is that, until other large industry players also provide public APIs, growers are always going to be constrained in what they can do with their data. But we’re leading the charge,” explains Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Morgan.

“We know that many growers use CSV exports like Microsoft Excel, which can be slow, labour-intensive and requires a lot of manipulation to get benefit. . . 

Biochar and zinc application can improve wheat grown in certain soils:

Researchers from The University of Western Australia’s Institute of Agriculture and Sultan Qaboos University in Oman have found that the combined application of biochar and zinc can mitigate stress in wheat caused by the heavy metal cadmium.

Cadmium reduces the growth, yield, and zinc concentration in wheat grain due to oxidative stress. Its accumulation in soil can cause significant health risks to humans if it is introduced into the food chain via crops. 

The study, published in Chemosphere, is the first to show that the combined application of biochar and zinc to cadmium-contaminated soil improved both yield and grain zinc concentration, and reduced cadmium concentrations in grain. . . 


Rural round-up

19/08/2020

COVID-19: Time for a rethink on priorities – Doug Edmeades:

The Government needs to put environmental goals on the back burner whilst managing debt from COVID-19, according to Dr Doug Edmeades.

New Zealand’s Government has spent about $50-odd billion to-date to counteract the ravages of the COVID virus.

It is an enormous debt. Somehow, someday, we must repay it. But how?

Unfortunately, our tourism industry is also a casualty of the virus. This leaves agriculture as the only industry large enough to muscle-down this debt over time. . . 

Ruminant methane under the spotlight:

For over 20 years New Zealand’s farmers have been unfairly harangued and vilified for their animal’s ruminant methane emissions and a new farming group says it wants to set the record straight.

A recently established organization named “FARM”, which stands for Facts About Ruminant Methane, has been set up by concerned farmers and scientists to present the facts about ruminant methane to challenge unjustified, unscientific emissions reduction requirements imposed by the Government.

FARM says the politics is running away from commonsense and science with current climate policy based on flawed input data about ruminant methane’s impact. . . 

Long way from being out of the woods yet – Allan Barber:

The sense of calm and normality pervading the country for over three months has been shattered by the latest cases of community transmission the country. Until today New Zealanders have been going about their everyday lives, most of them still with jobs and being paid, at least until the wage subsidy ends, while the major concerns appeared to be what Judith’s raised eyebrows say, which political poll is closer to reality, and how many more people would break out of quarantine. Suddenly the media has a lot more than the election to get its teeth into.

Cars have been selling faster than ever, house prices remain steady, people have been able to eat out and travel round the country, enjoying local tourism experiences instead of flying round the world, and agricultural export prices have held up reasonably well. It seemed at first glance as if all was right in our little corner of the world. But the latest events have proved this may just be the calm before the storm which could be brewing in any number of different ways. While optimism is great, it would be as well to anticipate some of the risks facing New Zealand and ensure there are strategies to manage them. . . 

Fonterra confirms appointment of Teh-han Chow:

Fonterra is pleased to confirm the appointment of Teh-han Chow to the role of Chief Executive Officer, Greater China.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says since December 2019, Teh-han has been at the helm in an acting capacity, overseeing the Co-op’s overall Greater China business, including Ingredients, Foodservice, Consumer Brands and China Farms.

“He’s made an impressive contribution. It’s certainly not been a steady-state. Teh-han has been responsible for implementation of our new strategy across the Greater China business, and over the course of this calendar year, has shown outstanding resilience, resourcefulness and empathy in getting his team and our China business through the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 global pandemic. . . 

Growing Food Through COVID-19 – Nutrient Services Essential (again) :

As farming gears up for a busy spring, farm nutrient provider Ravensdown has been given the green light as an essential service as it was during previous levels 3 and 4.

Back in autumn, farmers were catching up on fertiliser and feed as they tried to recover from a crippling drought. A potentially COVID-disrupted spring places different demands on the farm nutrient and environmental experts as soil tests, fertiliser recommendations, nutrient budgets and farm environmental plans need to be generated.

“Our network will be operating as before ensuring the essential nutrients remain available as farmers grow the food for people and livestock,” said Bryan Inch General Manager Customer Relationships. “The team of on-farm advisors will try to do what they can remotely, but unlike the last lockdown, on really important occasions they will need to visit a farm. Of course, they will check ahead and comply with the relevant government advice around safe interaction.” . . 

Derecho: Assessing damage – Rob Swoboda:

Across a wide swath of central and eastern Iowa, people are dealing with the heartbreaking aftermath of a rare derecho windstorm that has turned what was looking like a big corn and soybean crop into deep losses for many farmers.

The Aug. 10 storm flattened cornfields and destroyed or damaged barns, machine sheds, livestock buildings, grain bins, and homes. Central and eastern Iowa were hit by winds up to 100 mph. A derecho is an inland hurricane with ferocious straight-line winds and varying amounts of rain.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig traveled the area to get a firsthand look at the damage, listening to farmers and other folks affected. He held a phone conference with reporters Aug. 12 after viewing fields in central and west-central Iowa. . . 


Rural round-up

02/08/2020

Country’s backbone performs:

New Zealand’s primary sector has added steel to the country’s economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recently released report.

Economic and research firm NZIER latest Insight report – released last week – says the livestock, forestry and horticulture sector have performed well over the lockdown period and as the Covid-19 crisis has continued overseas.

“Our land-based industries have proven themselves to be exceptionally resilient, particularly when it comes to trade” says Chris Nixon, NZIER principal economist and lead author of the report.

Farmstrong: fill the fountain not the drain – Trish Rankin:

Juggling farm work and family responsibilities is a challenge many rural women face.

Taranaki sharemilker and 2019 Dairy Woman of the Year winner Trish Rankin and her husband Glen run a 460-cow sharemilking operation near Manaia. 

Life’s plenty busy for the couple, they’re also raising four kids aged 15, 13, 9 and 7.

“I generally work about four days a week on-farm over the season just to give people days off but obviously in calving and higher-intensity times I’m full-time on-farm.  . . 

From cockpit to farm :

When COVID-19 ground his eight-year career as a pilot for Air New Zealand to a sudden halt, Henry Lambert decided to turn it into an opportunity for a complete change – to farming.

His story has been featured as a positive example of COVID career pivots on the six o’clock news, but the father-of-two is no stranger to dairy. He grew up around his grandfather’s and uncles’ dairy farms and while he was flying planes, a career on the land had always been in the back of his mind. So, when the pandemic started to hit the aviation industry, it seemed like the perfect time to change gears.

The dairy industry’s crying out for skilled workers, so Henry hoped by creating a CV and posting it on the Farm Source website, he’d get to give farming a crack.

“I always thought I’d like to have a go one day, so when I was presented with this unique opportunity, it seemed like a good fit.”. . .

Time for sector to find united voice – Allan Barber:

Several organisations with an interest in the future of our agricultural sector have come out with strategies or visions for what needs to be done to find New Zealand’s place in the sun. One such report produced by the Primary Sector Council has been sponsored, one could say hijacked, by the government, and converted by MPI into a set of financial and environmental targets. Another is the result of independent research and consultation. Ideally either the government will engage with the primary sector to agree the best policy settings the industry believes necessary to meet these ambitious targets, rather than insisting on following the plan it commissioned to meet its own priorities.

The coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming Election have to some extent provided a distraction from the pace of environmental change, but nobody should be under any illusion – this will undoubtedly accelerate when a new government is in power which at the moment looks like a Labour/Greens coalition without the NZ First handbrake being needed to govern. There is a small window for the primary sector to argue for its preferred future direction. . . 

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. . . 

New crops offer opportunities :

Six ‘star’ crops – soy, hemp, chickpeas, oats, buckwheat and quinoa – could represent new opportunities for New Zealand farmers.

According to the Specialty Grains & Pulses Report produced by an Our Land and Water National Science Challenge research programme, Next Generation Systems, locally grown grains and pulses like soy, chickpeas and quinoa are being explored by local researchers and growers. In the report, researchers looked at the opportunities presented by new and different plant crops in the grain and pulses families. From a long list of 22 possible grains and pulses, the research team narrowed their focus down to six ‘star’ crops they think have the most potential for New Zealand farmers. These are soy, hemp, chickpeas, oats, buckwheat and quinoa. 


Rural round-up

17/07/2020

Government’s food and fibre reset lacks a core – Keith Woodford:

The Government’s new food and fibre reset document is PR aspirational fluff. The hard work remains to be done

On July 7 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern released the Government’s document “Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential”. The associated  press release  from the Beehive says that it provides a 10-year roadmap for the food and fibre industries’.

At the same function where this report was released, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor released a companion document from his Primary Sector Council of chosen industry leaders.  That document is also titled “Fit for a Better World” but lacks the title extension about ‘accelerating our economic potential’.   This second document is indeed a different document, singing from the same song-sheet, but with considerably different material. Very confusing indeed!

My focus here is on the Government’s version of the report because this is the one that has been signed off by Cabinet. Minsters in attendance at the release also included Stuart Nash and Shane Jones. . . 

Concerns for shearing as overseas workers can’t get in – Susan Murray:

New Zealand’s traditional shearing routines could be thrown into disarray this summer if overseas shearers can’t get into the country.

The New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association said, nationally, at least two million sheep are shorn by international shearers.

The vice president, Carolyn Clegg, said farmers may have to re-design their shearing plans to avoid animal welfare issues, and it could have business implications too.

She said some lambs may not get shorn, or ewes may just get crutched, rather than fully shorn.

Taste Pure Nature one year on – Allan Barber:

A little over a year since the launch of the Taste Pure Nature country of origin brand in California, Beef + Lamb’s GM Market Development, Nick Beeby, is thrilled with the evolution of the programme. At the start a small number of meat exporters were supportive of what Beeby concedes was initially seen as a B+LNZ initiative, but 15 months later success in targeting specific consumer groups and expansion of the scheme into China have brought increased industry commitment. TPN is now viewed positively as a sector-led strategy and the meat exporters have injected huge momentum and drive in support.

Original participants included Lamb Company shareholders, Alliance, ANZCO and Silver Fern Farms, and Atkins Ranch and First Light, two exporters which stood to benefit from the tightly targeted digital strategy directed at the Conscious Foodie consumer segment in California. The initial strategy was to raise awareness and increase the preference for New Zealand grass fed, naturally raised and anti-biotic free red meat, and importantly to point consumers to where they can buy it. These strategic objectives remain the same. . . 

Craggy Range Winery staff celebrate being among World’s Best Vineyards – Shannon Johnstone:

Craggy Range Winery staff celebrated with, well, a glass of lunchtime wine, as they found they were sitting at number 17 among the World’s Best Vineyards.

This year, the winery placed among some of the world’s most respected wineries such as France’s Mouton Rothschild & Château Margaux, Italy’s Antinori, the United States Opus One and Australia’s Penfold.

It is one of two New Zealand wineries to make the list alongside Rippon in Central Otago.

Craggy Range director Mary-Jeanne Peabody said they were “thrilled” to have been recognised. Last year they placed 11th. . . 

HoneyLab does licensing deal with US company:–  Andrew McRae:

Health product company HoneyLab is to sell seven of its products in North America through a licensing agreement with American company Taro Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.

The agreement covers the sale of its kanuka honey products for the treatment of cold-sores, rosacea and acne, a bee venom-based cosmetic range and a product for joint and muscle pain.

Taro will be able to make and sell these licenced products in the US, Canada and Israel and they will be on shelves in stores sometime in 2021. . .

ASB appoints Ben Speedy as Rural General Manager:

ASB is pleased to announce that Ben Speedy has been appointed to the bank’s leadership team in the role of general manager, Rural.

Speedy joins ASB from his previous role as New Zealand Country Manager for Core Logic International.

Speedy grew up on a farm and started his career with BNZ after graduating from Massey University with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Farm Management and Rural Valuation, and Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (Marketing).

As an Agribusiness Graduate he worked his way up to become Senior Agribusiness Manager in Hawke’s Bay. . . 


Rural round-up

16/07/2020

Government tinkering with the ETS only gives the fossil fuel industry a get out of jail free card – Corina Jordan:

The recent tinkering with the flawed Emissions Trading Scheme will mean little to many New Zealanders.

But the outcome will. That’s because the proposed changes won’t address climate change issues, but will lead to large-scale land use change, with a devastating impact on our landscape and continue to allow fossil fuel industry a get-out-of-jail free card.

These policy and economic instruments that sit within the Climate Change Response Act and the Emissions Trading Reform Bill allow fossil fuel emitters unlimited ability to offset their pollution by planting trees.

The pastoral industry is effectively being asked to pick up the tab for other industries’ pollution and we have seen a major increase in the sale of sheep and beef farms into forestry in the last year. . . 

NZ wood ad ‘implies farmers are dumb’ if they don’t embrace forestry – Esther Taunton:

Sheep and beef farmers are up in arms over an advertisement which they say implies they’re stupid if they don’t plant trees on their land.

The NZ Wood advertisement, screened on TVNZ One on Sunday night, opens with footage of a smoking chimney, gridlocked traffic and melting ice.

“The time to stop runaway global warming is running out,” a voiceover says. . . 

 

Falling co-product prices prompt changes – Allan Barber:

The sale of Wallace Group’s tanning, rendering and composting operations in the Waikato, Northland and Manawatu is the latest step in the consolidation process of what is often termed the fifth quarter of the meat industry. Since it began in the late nineteenth century the industry has had to invest significant capital in facilities which were not just designed to process animals for meat production, but also to dispose of the parts of the carcase left over from its primary purpose, otherwise known as by-products or more politely co-products.  

 Co-products include hides and pelts, tallow, meat and bone meal, tripe, tendons, blood and intestines for sausage casings and more recently medical applications. Apart from meal and tallow their market value has really suffered in recent years, the worst effects being experienced in the leather industry which has seen prices for hides and, more particularly, pelts lose much of their value. Wool on pelts have minimal value, while shorn pelts are now negative or are going straight to landfill, while hide prices, especially for cull cow and bull, have been affected by changes in fashion and consumer preference for non-animal products. Wool which used to have a comparable value to the meat return has unfortunately declined to the point where it is now shorn more for animal health than profit reasons. . . 

Regulation risks hindering innovation – Allan Barber:

The fast pace of regulatory change by the government poses a challenge for farmers trying to earn their social licence to operate.

The Emissions Trading Reform Bill and the proposed Essential Freshwater Policy are the two latest examples of regulation which are set to be introduced into law before the Election and will inevitably impose serious costs or penalties on farmers as currently drafted Some provisions run counter to good, common sense farming practices, and the ETR has the potential to side swipe the sheep and beef sector, as it incentivises the conversion of sheep and beef farms into forestry.

Representative organisations, Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, are working hard on behalf of their members to mitigate the most heavy-handed aspects of the regulation, while at the same time providing farmers with information and tools to enhance on farm environmental performance in line with the comprehensive set of commitments made last year. . . 

Just when you thought wheat yields couldn’t improve :

Ashburton arable farmer Eric Watson has taken out the Guinness World Record for the Highest wheat yield for the second time, beating his former record crop density by 607 kilograms per hectare.

Mr Watson, who farms with his wife, Maxine, at Wakanui, produced an incredible 17.398 tonnes per hectare wheat crop, beating his previous record crop grown in 2017 that delivered 16.791 tonnes of wheat per hectare.

On average, irrigated wheat yields in New Zealand produce about 12 tonnes per hectare, demonstrating how remarkable the latest record is as an achievement admired by the wider industry, and providing insights into innovations for future growth.

Mr Watson was thrilled with the result as he strove to continually improve and make advancements to his yields and farming operation. . . 

Campaign champions farmers’ work in boosting bees:

A week-long initiative has commenced today looking to champion the work done on farms to provide habitat for bees and other pollinators.

Bees’ Needs Week, taking place from 13 to 19 July, is an annual event coordinated by Defra working alongside farming and conservation groups.

Bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in food production and agriculture, and are also vital to wider ecosystems in the UK.

Scientists say pollinators contribute the equivalent of more than £500m a year to British agriculture and food production, by improving crop quality and quantity. . .


Rural round-up

27/05/2020

Dairy farmers will be in the vanguard of NZ’s economic recovery – but it looks like they shouldn’t count on much govt help – Point of Order:

NZ’s  dairy  industry  has  a   clear  role  to  play  as  one  of  the   country’s saviours in the  battle to recover  from the global impact of the  Covid-19 pandemic — even if there is  little evidence  that ministers  in the coalition government recognise  its  importance.

The industry, as  it has  done so  often  before,  will  just have to  do  it on  its own.

Luckily, the giant co-op,  Fonterra,   has  stabilised,  after racking up a  massive  $600m  loss  last year and there’s  a refreshed sense  of  where the  dairy industry  stands  in the  economy’s  hierarchy,  as  other pillars (tourism, international  education, air transport, construction)  tumble  over the  pandemic precipice.  Morale  at  the   grassroots  level  is  rising  again. . . 

Rushed log legislation deserves the chop:

Federated Farmers and the Forest Owners Association are joining forces to condemn the Log Brokers Bill as a Trojan horse to potentially force farmers and foresters to subsidise local processing industries from reduced export earnings.

The unwarranted rush over the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill risks unintended consequences, including retaliatory action by nations we trade with, Federated Farmers forestry spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

The period for consultation is tighter than even the emergency actions on high-powered automatic firearms spurred by the Christchurch mosque attacks. . . 

Agility and innovation essential for meat exporters – Allan Barber:

The days of bemoaning our meat exporters’ lack of flexibility when everything was exported as frozen carcases are now a distant memory. Even the days of growing the profitable chilled lamb business without upsetting the EU authorities are receding into the distant past, as meat marketers cope with the complexities of marketing to previously time poor, technologically sophisticated consumers around the world now living in lockdown without ready access to restaurants.

AFFCO Group Sales and Marketing Manager, Mark de Lautour, sees the Covid-19 pandemic as a critical point in time which will result in a permanent shift in buying habits, placing huge emphasis on further processing capacity and weight ranging capability. He sees online as a distinct buying channel where consumers will not seek individually branded products, but a home solution delivered to the door. A local example of this trend is Auckland based Hyper Meat which offers three meat packs for home delivery at different price points, all at specific weights, as well as a range of wines and other beverages. . . .

Irrigation NZ congratulates David Bennett:

IrrigationNZ wishes to congratulate David Bennett as he takes on the agricultural portfolio for the National Party.

The announcement came today as new National Party Leader, Todd Muller, revealed the line-up of the new look National Party caucus.

Mr Bennett takes over from Mr Muller, who was previously in the role. . .

Never let a good crisis go to waste: How our food sector can save NZ’s economy – Rosie Bosworth:

The world will always need food, and New Zealand is enviably positioned to capitalise on this, writes future foods expert Rosie Bosworth – but we need to take a few big steps first. 

It’s a bittersweet moment for New Zealand. As a nation we’ve collectively worked hard to successfully flatten the curve (for now). But for many Kiwi businesses and industries, the economic aftermath of Covid-19 has not been pretty. As with many countries, there have been winners and losers. With some of New Zealand’s top export-earning industries – like international tourism and education, which contribute $16.2 and $5.1 billion respectively to our GDP – having been effectively decommissioned in the wake of Covid, New Zealand must now focus on its other economic heavyweights to help even up the balance sheets.

Now more than ever, our thriving agriculture and food and beverage sectors will be key economic lifelines for the country and crucial points of job creation for hundreds, if not thousands, of Covid-displaced New Zealanders hungry for work. Why? Because the world will always need food. Natural, honest, trusted products that New Zealand is enviably positioned to produce better than any other nation on the planet. Especially in a Covid world, where consumers globally are increasingly seeking immune-boosting, healthy and sustainable products. . . 

Next generation focused on improving dairy reproduction – Samantha Townsend:

When the Yarringtons’ ancestors built their farm with their bare hands the biggest technology at the time was horse and cart.

Six generations later, Rod and his wife Natasha, began using semex AI24 collar systems in February – real time information and reproductive performance technology to improve heat detection and in-calf rates. 

“Getting our cows back in calf was one of our biggest inefficiencies because with just the two of us on the farm, it was hard to be everywhere,” Mrs Yarrington said. . .

 


Rural round-up

08/05/2020

Concern farmers’ wellbeing affected: –  David Hill:

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro is concerned for the wellbeing of farmers as they negotiate the ongoing effects of a dry season and the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said last month’s rain was “a great morale booster” for farmers in the drought-affected area in North Canterbury.

“Since that rain four weeks ago, things went pretty quiet. But it’s just a pity we haven’t had a follow-up rain and we really need a good warm follow-up rain, particularly for the farmers from Waipara north to get some growth before winter.

“It’s starting to get dry and cold in that northern part, but other than that it’s business as usual. . . 

Farmers need to be heard not patronised:

The Government’s drought recovery advice fund announced today is merely a drop in the bucket for supporting farmers affected by drought, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“The fund is specifically for providing affected farmers with recovery and planning advice, but does not contribute to farmers’ rising feed costs or general business costs.

“Most farmers already know what is needed to help their business recover and it is insulting for the Government to tell them they simply need to seek more advice to get through the drought. . . 

Rural GPs not just another business – Peter Burke:

Rural General Practice Network chair Dr Fiona Bolden is disappointed that the Government is treating rural general practices the same as any other business in the community.

Bolden told Rural News that rural GPs were expecting to get two payments from the Government to assist them financially.

However, she says while they had received the first payment, Cabinet vetoed the second payment – just days before it was expected to be paid.  . .

Differing responses to wage subsidy scheme – Allan Barber:

The country’s meat processors have followed two distinctly different paths in response to the government’s wage subsidy scheme which is available to all businesses for 12 weeks, providing they can substantiate a 30% drop in revenue during the period. Silver Fern Farms, Alliance, ANZCO, Taylor Preston and Blue Sky Meats have all claimed the subsidy to varying extents, whereas AFFCO, Greenlea and Wilson Hellaby have decided it is not justified or necessary, at least partly on ethical grounds.

The contrast in approach has already been commented on by independent economist, Cameron Bagrie, who has slammed the two largest claimants, SFF which has claimed $43 million and Alliance $34 million, for taking advantage of taxpayer funding when they are classified as an essential business, operating in lockdown. Equally Bagrie complimented those companies not making a claim because they were getting on with business as usual. Speaking to The Country’s Jamie Mackay, he said “the wage subsidy is out there to support businesses that are getting clobbered, that are effectively in lockdown.”

I am not convinced this interpretation is either totally fair or even correct. Both SFF’s Simon Limmer and Alliance’s CEO David Surveyor are clear the wage subsidy is not a company entitlement, but is paid directly to various categories of employees: firstly it maintains standard wage rates at normal processing speeds despite the 30-50% reduction to meet distance requirements, it retains those who would have to have been terminated seasonally, and it is used to pay those who cannot work e.g. because of age,  compromised immunity or family circumstances. . .

Community to the rescue for harvest – Toni Williams:

CharRees Vineyard owners Charlie and Esma Hill put a call out on social media for help to harvest during lockdown.

They were so overwhelmed by community response, including some from Christchurch, they had to turn people away.

The lockdown harvest, approved by Ministry for Primary Industries as essential for food and beverage production, attracted about 20 people from Ashburton and Methven — many who had never harvested grapes before — to put their hands up to help.

The pickers worked alongside family members of the couple and vineyard workers to pick the first of three annual grape harvests. . . 

Red meat exports top $1 billion in March 2020, a first for monthly exports:

The monthly value of New Zealand red meat and co-product exports topped $1 billion for the first time, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Total exports reached $1.1 billion in March 2020, an increase of 12 per cent on March 2019.

While overall exports to China for the month of March were down by nine per cent compared to last March as a result of COVID-19, exports to all other major markets increased, demonstrating the agility and resilience of the New Zealand red meat sector. . . 

Time to take ag reform out of the “too hard basket” – Fiona Simson:

Regional Australia is well placed to be the engine that powers Australia’s COVID-19 recovery. The bush has done this before, with strong exports helping keep recession at bay during the Global Financial Crisis.

And, after a challenging period of drought, bushfires and floods, widespread rainfall has seen the fortunes of farmers begin to improve. Agriculture is ready and raring to grow.

As we dare to cast an eye to the world post-COVID-19, now is the opportune time to consider the changes agriculture and regional Australia needs to best contribute to the recovery task. . . 


Rural round-up

30/04/2020

Farmers ask government to align domestic, international emissions target – Eric Fryberg:

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change.

Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb said it did not make sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

Domestically, the government has legislated a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, compared with a short-lived gas like methane. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists reflect depth and diversity in the industry:

Three woman contributing to the dairy industry in very different ways are this year’s finalists in the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Ngai Tahu Farming Technical Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch, Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay are all in the running for the prestigious dairy award managed by the Dairy Women’s Network being announced early next month.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said all three finalists came from such different directions and perspectives which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand. . . 

Ag exports a ‘godsend’ – Pam Tipa:

Primary product prices will fall further this year but remain at reasonable levels before some improvement in 2021, according to BNZ senior economist Doug Steel.

However, the falls – so far this year – have not been as much as might have been expected, he says.

“The defensive qualities of NZ’s food-heavy export mix may well be a Godsend for the economy as a whole during the current turmoil. If nothing else, it is easy to imagine a new-found appreciation for where our food comes from,” Steel told Rural News. . .

Ritchie instrumental in driving positive change for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

Tim Ritchie came into the Meat Industry Association as CEO at the end of 2007, initially intended to be for an 18 month period, and retired earlier this month over 12 years later. His first task was the planned merger of the processor representative organisation with Meat & Wool, the forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, which was strongly promoted by Keith Cooper, then CEO of Silver Fern Farms, and Meat & Wool chairman, Mike Petersen.

The merger was doomed to fail after dissension among the processors, some of which failed to see how the two organisations, one a member funded trade association and the other a farmer levy funded body, could possibly work as one. History has clearly shown the logic behind the eventual outcome which has seen MIA and B+LNZ each carving out a clearly defined role to the ultimate benefit of the red meat sector. . . 

Cautious optimism over apple exports – Peter Burke:

NZ Apples and Pears says while it’s early days yet, apple export volumes for this year are only slightly behind last year.

Alan Pollard, chief executive of NZ Apples and Pears, says so far there has only been 25% harvested, but the signs are encouraging and he’s cautiously optimistic.

He’s predicting that it may be a reasonable year, but not a great year. . .

An historic month:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 less farm sales (-15.1%) for the three months ended March 2020 than for the three months ended March 2019. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months ended March 2020, compared to 329 farm sales for the three months ended February 2020 (-14.6%), and 331 farm sales for the three months ended March 2019. 1,216 farms were sold in the year to March 2020, 15.9% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2019, with 32.6% less Dairy farms, 14.3% less Grazing farms, 26.1% less Finishing farms and 14.1% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2020 was $21,130 compared to $23,383 recorded for three months ended March 2019 (-9.6%). The median price per hectare increased 2.7% compared to February 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

10/04/2020

Fonterra is on the front foot in the safety business, making ethanol for keeping our hands clean – Point of Order:

A   report  on  the  NZ Farmer  segment  of   Stuff  caught  the eye of  Point of  Order.  It  led  off  with a  quote   from respected  economist  Cameron  Bagrie.

“Thank God for farmers….They’ve felt beaten up over the past couple of years, well, thank God agriculture is still the backbone of NZ.The story of the farming sector at the moment is looking relatively good compared to what we are seeing across a lot of the other sectors.Yes, we are seeing pressure on commodity prices, but the bottom line is the world has got to eat.“

It’s a   theme  which  Point of  Order  has  canvassed in  several   posts  over the past  fortnight as the  coronavirus  pandemic has  devastated  other  key sectors of the economy,  including  tourism and hospitality.

On  March  26 the contention was:  . . 

Is the Mycoplasma bovis eradication campaign on track? – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand’s Mycoplasma bovis eradication campaign has now been running for almost three years, with no decline in the number of farms newly detected as being infected. Can the disease be stamped out?

It is now more than five months since I last wrote about Mycoplasma bovis in late October 2019. Since then, another 44 farms have gone positive, bringing the total to 245 farms since the disease was discovered in July 2017. All of these farms have been required to slaughter their herds. There are 31 farms where that process is still ongoing.

During this latest five-month period, farms infected with Mycoplasma bovis have been identified at the average rate of two per week. This is slightly higher than the overall average rate of 1.75 farms confirmed per week since the disease was first discovered in July 2017. . .

Meat industry performing well under level 4 – Allan Barber:

Processing is under severe constraints during the lockdown, although, as an essential service, meat companies are working hard to feed New Zealanders and service key export markets. In a newsletter to staff and suppliers, AFFCO states that processing restrictions on maintaining a minimum distance between employees means sheepmeat capacity is running at 50% of normal and beef capacity is close to 65%. This of course comes at the peak of the season, exacerbated by drought in several regions, particularly the top half of the North Island.

Because meat companies aren’t entitled to government wage subsidies, they have set up schemes to look after employees whose earnings would be adversely affected, either by an inability to work for reasons of age or dependants or the reduced volume throughput. In AFFCO’s case, employees are paid their full production bonus based on numbers processed before the Level 4 lockdown, while those unable to work receive a company funded support package of $585 gross per week for an initial four week period. . .

Pandemic kills off Israel agritech move :

The Covid-19 crisis has killed off a planned expansion of New Zealand agritech into Israel.

Farmer-owned co-operative, Livestock Improvement Corporation, had planned to buy a 50 percent stake in an Israeli company, Afimilk. 

The deal would have cost $US70 million, and was supported by the LIC board.

But when the matter was put to LIC shareholders, 70.30 percent of shares voted against the proposal, 27.56 percent voted for the proposal and 2.14 percent abstained. . . 

Livestock sales open on Trade Me:

Trade Me has announced today that livestock sales and livestock feed sales will be permitted while New Zealand is at COVID-19 alert level 4 after concerns were raised about animal welfare during lockdown.

Head of Marketplace Lisa Stewart said Trade Me had worked with both Federated Farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to understand this issue. “With typical public livestock sales closed due to the lockdown, farmers are restricted in how they sell their livestock at this busy time of year. . .

The naked farmer is ‘living the dream’ – Sally Rae:

It was a cheeky idea.

Archie Kennedy was drenching sheep on the first day of lockdown when he whipped off his clothes and suggested his wife, Lucy, take a photograph.

He posted it on Facebook and the response was so overwhelming that he decided to do a naked farmer post every day of the four-week lockdown.

Whether mustering on horseback or putting the rams out, routine rural tasks have been documented in his birthday suit. . .

Risk is constant, but agriculture is in the box seat – Daniel Pedersen:

CONTINUED positive sentiment for farmland, widespread rain and agriculture’s natural agility to supply people’s needs is spurring confidence across the state, says Rural Bank NSW regional manager for agribusiness Tony Williams.

“We’re off to a fantastic start to the season,” he said.

“Properties are still changing hands,” he said, adding that while social distancing had changed the way properties were inspected, the coronavirus outbreak certainly hadn’t stalled investment. . .


Rural round-up

01/04/2020

Hope from the high country – Philip Todhunter:

Covid-19? It’s like opening your front door and finding two metres of snow on the ground just after you’d put all your new fencing in.

The fences have been wrecked. You look at the damage, you shake your head, and then you get on with managing your way through it.

In the back of your mind, you know that spring will come, the tonnes of snow will melt, and the grass will grow again.

Farmers are an optimistic bunch. We’re used to things going in cycles: weather patterns, commodity prices, market demand … but we also know that sometimes the wheel doesn’t turn the whole way round, sometimes the change is permanent. . . 

Coronavirus: can the economy recover – Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor:

The economic ride down is likely to be sharp and steep. But when consumers eventually emerge from lockdown, what will the recovery look like? Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor investigate.

Weighing sheep in a yard in the brown foothills of North Canterbury’s Hundalee Hills, Ben Ensor is an unlikely soldier on the frontline of New Zealand’s economic recovery.

As the country prepared to shut down, to stop the spread of coronavirus, the sheep and beef farmer was separating merino stock under the shadow of rustic woolshed. Hooves beat up clouds of dust, as his farm dog herded them into a race.

With 6000 sheep, and around 500 cattle, Ensor can’t close down. Like nurses, doctors, pharmacists and supermarket staff, farming and cropping have been deemed “essential“. . .

Kiwifruit taste test goes south :

Kiwifruit growers will not be paid for their fruit’s taste profile this season after the country’s only testing facility dropped the test.

Eurofins Bay of Plenty is the country’s only testing facility for the drymatter component of kiwifruit, which gives growers and Zespri a direct indication of the fruit’s taste profile.  

The lab now tests only for residues in fruit, leaving post-harvest processors grappling with how to evaluate fruit quality. . .

Keep calm, carry on – Colin Williscroft:

The Government is well aware of farming’s importance and is doing everything it can to ensure the primary sector continues to operate as close to normal as possible, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

“Farming has been the backbone of New Zealand and that will that continue long into the future,” O’Connor says.

Cabinet understands the role farming plays in the economy, along with the need to maintain farming systems subject to seasonal and biological cycles, including the lifecycle of animals and grass growth, restrictions other businesses around the country are not subject to. . .

Meat industry in better shape today to cope with downturn – Allan Barber:

When I started to trawl through possible topics to write about this week, I had the bright idea it might be worth asking meat processors what contingency plans they have in place in case an employee, more particularly one on the processing floor, tests positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus. So far my research suggests it’s not yet an issue that has received a great deal of consideration by many companies, although it’s certainly on their radar.

In an update to farmers, Silver Fern Farms states its position as “The reality is that an outbreak, or the understandable precautionary response of our people, is likely to see an impact on our processing capacity in coming weeks. It is realistic to expect that with a workforce of 7000 we will at least have precautionary isolation within our workforce. We have processes in place to ensure that, should this occur, it can be managed. We are working on the various contingent options and will keep you updated should there be any disruption to processing.” . . 

Coronavirus: George Eustice applauds farmers as ‘hidden heroes’ :

Defra Secretary George Eustice has labelled farmers ‘hidden heroes’ for keeping food on the nation’s plates during the Covid-19 crisis.

In an open letter to the food and farming industry, Mr Eustice paid tribute to ‘all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed.’

The statement described farmers’ response so far as ‘extraordinary’ and thanked those involved in food production on behalf of the country.

“In the face of what is perhaps the greatest health challenge this country has faced in our lifetime, I want to pay tribute to all those who are working around the clock to keep the nation fed,” he said. . .  

 


Rural round-up

03/08/2019

NZ Centre for Political Research: A sacrificial lamb – Dr Muriel Newman:

The PM’s plan is to put so much pressure on farmers that she will drive them out of business, just as occurred in the coal industry, and oil and gas.

In a speech to state sector workers and children in Melbourne, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described a period of economic turmoil in New Zealand: “Starting in 1984, through to the 1990s, we removed regulations that were said to hamper business, slashed subsidies, transformed the tax system, dramatically cut public spending … “

She questioned whether the reforms were really necessary, then added, “I was a child back then, but I remember clearly how society changed. I remember nothing of Rogernomics of course — I was five. But I do remember the human face.”. . .

Allan Barber challenges Shane Jones to consider the unintended consequences of his headlong rush into forestry, as well as to disclose where all these logs or added value timber will be sold – Allan Barber:

There’s an irony about the combination of the Provincial Growth Fund funded one billion trees programme, sheep and beef land being sold without needing Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval for conversion to forestry, the sharp fall in Chinese log prices, and Shane Jones ranting about log traders being intoxicated by high prices.

According to Jones, these log traders should have supported the domestic timber processing industry, although it’s not immediately obvious how domestic sales would have compensated for log exports to China which exceeded $3 billion over 12 months.

The history of tree planting, well before it was seen as essential for meeting greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) targets, is no different from any other commodity. After an exciting start too much of anything inevitably provokes indigestion; think oil, dairy, sheep meat, wool, angora, alpacas, logs – you name it, there is always a cycle; the world may even turn away from New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc one day. China features strongly as a market which has a habit of dominating purchasing patterns, driving prices up before turning the tap off, although this was more of an issue when the state rigidly controlled all purchasing. . . 

Growers slam ‘very clunky’ process for claiming fuel tax rebates – Maja Burry:

Some growers say they are being left out of pocket by Auckland’s regional fuel tax because there is no simple way to claim back for on-farm vehicles and machinery.

The 11.5 cents-a-litre regional fuel tax was introduced last July to fund transport projects around the region. It is expected to raise $1.5 billion over the next 10 years.

A rebate system, overseen by the Transport Agency, is meant to help growers and farmers claim back for on-farm vehicles and machinery.

Brendan Balle of Pukekohe-based Balle Brothers helps run a family-owned market garden business which employs about 300 staff. . . 

Northland dairy farmers win top milk award for fifth year running –  Susan Botting:

Producing top-of-the-line milk from 6000-plus dairy herd milkings over five years has earned Far North dairy farmers Terrence and Suzanne Brocx a dairy industry acknowledgement.

The Puketi couple have this year won a Fonterra award acknowledging their top-of-the-line milk production — for a fifth consecutive year.

Milk from the 2018-19 dairy season on their Puketi and Ohaeawai farms has this winter been awarded a Fonterra gold standard “grade-free” quality award, adding to four previous annual awards of the same type. This means all of the milk produced on their two farms since 2014 has reached the dairy co-operative’s highest gold standard quality standards. . . 

Stink bug warning to importers:

Biosecurity New Zealand has sent a stark message to shippers, agents, and importers that imported cargo must meet new rules intended to keep brown marmorated stink bugs out of New Zealand.

“The importing industry needs to be aware that high-risk cargo that hasn’t been treated before arrival will not be allowed to come ashore in most instances,” says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Paul Hallett.

“The aim is to keep out a highly invasive pest that could devastate New Zealand’s horticulture industry if it established here.” 

Biosecurity New Zealand formally issued new import rules on 22 July. They require off-shore treatment of imported vehicles, machinery, and parts from 33 identified risk countries, and all sea containers from Italy during the stink bug season.

In the past, only uncontainerised vehicle cargo from risk countries required treatment before arriving in New Zealand. . . 

Hunters have their sites on a shareholding in a stunning high country shooting and fishing station:

Avid big-game hunters and trout anglers are being lined up as potential shareholders in a remote South Island high country partnership on the market for sale.

Shares are being sold in the land and buildings at the Miners Creek high-country station some 13 kilometres west of the Central Otago township of Ettrick.

The 513-hectare freehold property is located on the Mount Benger Range adjacent to the Department of Conservation’s Mount Benger Reserve. Combined, the two landholdings are home to red stags on its stark hills and brown trout in its pristine rivers. . . 


Rural round-up

12/07/2019

Rotten reality: Apples still on trees in July a visual reminder of Hawke’s Bay picking struggles :

Fruit hanging on trees well into a cold and frosty Hawke’s Bay winter provides a visual reminder of the struggle growers had finding pickers over the last season.

New Zealand Apples and Pears CEO Alan Pollard said it was the third year in a row a labour shortage had been declared in Hawke’s Bay, and it was time to have a conversation about solving the issue.

“We can’t continue to have an annual conversation which is what we’ve been doing in the past, we’ve got to have much more long-term solutions. . .

Winston Peters wonders why he doesn’t get a thank you from farmers – Hamish Rutherford:

No one provides a defence of the New Zealand Government quite like Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

Over the course of nearly two years in Government, senior Labour Party Ministers have adopted an increasingly conciliatory approach to critics, while, if anything, Peters becomes more cantankerous.  . . .

Sheep and beef on farm inflation reaches 3 percent:

Sheep and beef farm input prices rose twice as fast as consumer price inflation in the year to March 2019 with on-farm inflation at 3.0 percent, according to the latest Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Economic Service Sheep and Beef On-Farm Inflation Report.

The report identifies annual changes in the prices of goods and services purchased by New Zealand sheep and beef farms. The overall on-farm inflation rate is determined by weighting the changes in prices for individual input categories by their proportion of total farm expenditure.

B+LNZ Economic Service’s Chief Economist Andrew Burtt says the biggest three expenditure categories – shearing expenses; fertiliser, lime, and seeds; and council rates – contributed substantially to the 3.0 percent rate of on-farm inflation. . .

ANZCO confident no repeat of horror year – Allan Barber:

ANZCO’s 2018 pre-tax loss of $38 million was the worst result in the company’s history. The exporter has traditionally posted a profit, even in difficult years for the meat industry which has always had a chequered history, so it is critical to assess what went wrong and, more important, how to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

None of the largest meat companies that publish their annual results, Silver Fern Farms, Alliance and ANZCO, enjoyed a great year, but contrary to its previous performances relative to its competitors, ANZCO had the worst of it by a considerable margin. Analysis of the figures shows record income more than offset by expenses and finance costs; the obvious questions for CEO Peter Conley are what is going to change and how is 2019 tracking? . . .

Alternative protein startups: let’s get the facts straight about livestock’s carbon footprint – Lauren Manning:

The impact of the meat industry on the environment, particularly relating to greenhouse gas emissions, has become common knowledge among consumers and is increasingly a feature of mainstream media headlines today.

Arguably starting when the Food and Agriculture Organization released a paper entitled Livestock’s Long Shadow in 2006, the anti-meat movement moved on from focusing on concerns about the humane treatment of animals to its environmental footprint. . . 

Inaugural Ground Spread Awards recognise  innovation, skill and excellence:

The inaugural winners of the New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) awards were announced this week at the organisation’s 63rd annual conference, ‘Technology the Enabler’, in Taupo.

The NZGFA Innovation Award (sponsored by Trucks & Trailers) was presented to Canterbury’s Ron Smith of R&R Haulage Ltd for his detailed research into testing bout widths against product quality. . .


Rural round-up

30/03/2019

Farmers share tax reform fears but don’t back beneficiary bashing – Jennifer Eder:

Farmers say they are not worried about becoming the Government’s “ATMs” for beneficiary payments through tax reform, as a regional representative has claimed.

But they are anxious about proposed taxes and suspected Federated Farmers Marlborough president Phillip Neal was speaking out of frustration when he described beneficiaries as “useless”.

Neal made the comments in a newsletter earlier this month, saying a series of taxes proposed last month including a capital gains tax, emissions tax, water tax, and fertiliser tax were unfairly targeting farmers. . . 

Finding the balance between long and short term – Allan Barber:

Every business has to find an appropriate balance between long and short term planning and farming is no exception. But, given farmers are very capable of planning and implementing their annual farm strategy, the long term offers the greater challenge. Forward planning involves a high degree of risk assessment, because decisions must take into account several critical factors over which the farmer has little or no control.

Four obvious areas are government policy, climate effect, changing consumer attitudes and market access. A business can seek advice on all these from industry bodies, consultants, accountants, economists and lawyers, but in the end the buck stops with the farmer who must assess every factor which affects farm policy and performance without any certainty about the decisions being more right than wrong.  . . 

2019 Canterbury-North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winner in the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards aims to look after his people, pasture, cows and environment through sustainable best practices and increase profit through innovative business culture.

Ruwan Wijayasena was announced winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year competition at the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Wigram Airforce Museum. The other major winners were Matt Redmond, who was named the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Nicola Blowey, the 2019 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year. . . 

Result of QEII National Trust 2019 Director elections:

Members of the QEII National Trust have elected Donna Field and Graham Mourie to serve as Directors on the QEII Board. Both candidates will serve a three-year term, effective immediately.

“We are pleased to welcome Donna Field back to the Board and Graham Mourie as a new director” said James Guild, Chairperson of QEII National Trust.

Donna Field has been re-elected to serve a second term on the Board. Her background includes resource management, director of Cleardale Station, a sheep and beef property in Rakaia Gorge and retiring chair of the Whitcombe Landcare group. . . 

Approval sought for new fungicide:

Public submissions have opened on an application to manufacture a fungicide in New Zealand for use in the control of a disease which affects wheat.

Dow AgroSciences (NZ) Ltd is seeking approval to manufacture GF-3308, for control of speckled leaf blotch (Septoria tritici) and also to suppress brown leaf rust (Puccinia triticina).

The applicant proposes that GF-3308 would be applied by ground-based and aerial broadcast spray methods. . . 

Good time to check plans for winter crops and grazing:

Winter grazing practices have improved over the past few years, but Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will continue to monitor livestock farms and their land use practices this winter.

Poor performers are now more in the minority says the Regional Council’s Central Catchment Manager, Brendan Powell.

“Many people aren’t aware that farmers are already well into their planning and operations ahead of winter, with winter crops in the ground and growing. The approach they take with their grazing management of crops and stock is an important part of good farming practices,” says Mr Powell. . . 


Rural round-up

17/01/2019

Dairy farmers leading charge to clean up water – Tim Mackle:

In the past week, I’ve opened two newspapers to two cartoons that constitute a cheap shot at dairy farming, both frustrating and offending the dairy farmers of New Zealand.

One cartoon portrayed a dairy cow polluting the sea, and the other showed dairy cows polluting a river.

My wish for 2019 is that all New Zealanders, cartoonists and media, are up with the play on what is actually happening on dairy farms before they make comment. . . 

Raspberry grower takes delight in ripening crop – Sally Brooker:

The canes at Matsinger’s Berry Farm are ”blazing with raspberries”, owner Leanne Matsinger says.

The family property at Peebles, in the lower Waitaki Valley, has been growing the sought-after fruit for about 30 years. Mrs Matsinger took over the business after her husband, Simon, died at the age of 45, nine years ago.

She said if this was her first season at the helm she might have been dismayed, but now she was ”more educated” about the fluctuations that occurred due to the climate. . . 

Alliance beefs up black stilts’ diet – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group might have customers in 65 countries but a group of long-legged consumers living in Twizel are among the most unusual.

Each week, ox hearts from Alliance plants are frozen and sent to the Smithfield plant, where they are put through a very specific process to meet requirements for the Department of Conservation’s captive breeding programme for endangered black stilts (kaki).

The hearts are thawed and trimmed of excess fat, then minced, refrozen and cut into blocks for delivery to the programme. . . 

Hemp deal to spin green yarn – Annette Scott:

A new strategic partnership between New Zealand Yarn and Hemp NZ is set to be the catalyst for market-leading hemp fibre processing.

It will lead development of innovative products developed from hemp yarn, wool and hemp blends and non-woven hemp products.

NZ Yarn is owned by Carrfields Primary Wool (CPW) and independent investors including farmers, wool growers and others passionate about the wool industry and showcasing NZ wool yarn on a global scale.  . . 

That was 2018 – now for 2019 – Allan Barber:

2018 is over and it’s now timely to look at how many of last year’s key challenges will continue into the New Year.

From a New Zealand domestic perspective the attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis has had the biggest impact on farming, most of it focused on the relatively small number of properties forced to cull their entire herd, some of it directed at those properties under surveillance or Notice of Direction, and some of it on the agricultural service industry, including meat processors, cartage contractors, stock agents and saleyards, as well as calf clubs and A&P shows.

Following calving MPI is optimistic the disease may have been eradicated which would be the first time any country has achieved such an outcome. However it is still too early to say with complete confidence the hitherto impossible has been achieved. 2019 will almost certainly be the year we know for sure, one way or the other. . . 

 

94-year-old ‘shepherding legend’ scoops prestigious award

A 94-year-old ‘shepherding legend’ has scooped an award dedicated to recognising farmers who make a significant contribution to farming in the Inner Hebrides.

Hill farmer Sandy McKirdy, from Dalmally in Bute, is this year’s recipient of the Stalwart award, presented annually by NFU Scotland.

The award was created in 2016 in recognition and memory two Inner Hebrides farmers, Bert Leitch and Lachlan MacLean, who passed away in 2015. . . 

Global timber and wood products market update:

Declining trade of softwood lumber, plummeting lumber prices in the US and slowing wood demand in China were some of the biggest international lumber developments in the 3Q/18, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly.

WRQ – 31 Years of Global Wood Price Reporting

Global Softwood Lumber Trade

Global trade of softwood lumber from January through September 2018 was down 2.5% as compared to the same period last year. China, Japan, the United Kingdom and the MENA region reduced their imports, while the US and continental Europe have imported more lumber this year than in 2017. . .


Rural round-up

21/12/2018

Taratahi agri training operator in interim liquidation – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre has been placed into interim liquidation at the request of its board of trustees as declining student numbers saw its funding drop faster than it could cut costs.

The High Court yesterday appointed David Ruscoe and Russell Moore of Grant Thornton as interim liquidators after the board sought to protect the position of its staff, students, creditors and other stakeholders, the accounting firm said.

Taratahi is a private training establishment, employing 250 staff, and educating 2,850 students this year. It owns and manages eight farms across the country. . . 

IrrigationNZ welcomes new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ has appointed Elizabeth Soal as its new Chief Executive.

“IrrigationNZ has recently adopted a new strategy which focuses on creating an environment for the responsible use of water for food production. As part of the strategy we will be focusing on advocacy, encouraging innovation through sharing ideas and adopting new technology, developing a robust information base, bringing the irrigation sector, researchers and decision makers together to make better decisions for our future and creating world‑leading irrigation standards,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Board Chair.

“Elizabeth has a strong background in water management, law and policy and she will help contribute to all of these goals but she is particularly well qualified to contribute to national discussions as we seek to achieve solutions to complex issues around water allocation which result in good outcomes for both communities and the environment.” . . 

Feds welcome new IrrigationNZ chief executive:

Federated Farmers welcomes Elizabeth Soal as the new chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand.

Federated Farmers maintains an excellent working relationship with Irrigation New Zealand,” Feds water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Elizabeth has the credentials and background, including her strategy and policy work for the Waitaki Irrigators Collective, to help ensure INZ continues its excellent work.” . .

Federated Farmers disputes E Coli claims – Eric Frykberg:

There is no proof that E. Coli found in three Canterbury rivers came from cows, according to Federated Farmers.

Research commissioned by Fish and Game found dangerous pathogens in three Canterbury rivers – the Ashley, Selwyn and Rangitata.

Fish and Game insisted the cause was leaching from dairy farms.

But Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said the problem could be caused by wildlife, or human activity, as well as from animals. . . 

Research suggests we should take a harder look at the benefits of organic foods – Point of Order:

The Green Party’s food policy may need revisiting, in the light of research published in the past week.

The policy was introduced in May 2017 by Green Party MP Mojo Mathers, who lost her list place in Parliament at the general election.

How we produce, distribute and consume food is of critical importance to growing resilient healthy communities, minimising our ecological footprint and maintaining a
stable economy, she said.  That’s why food policy lies at the heart of Green policy. . . 

Reflections on the year that was – Allan Barber:

From a New Zealand domestic perspective the attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis has had the biggest impact on farming, most of it focused on the relatively small number of properties forced to cull their entire herd, some of it directed at those properties under surveillance or Notice of Direction, and some of it on the agricultural service industry, including meat processors, cartage contractors, stock agents and saleyards, as well as calf clubs and A&P shows.

MPI is cautiously optimistic the disease can be eradicated which would be the first time any country has achieved such an outcome. However there is still plenty of water to flow under the bridge before anyone can say with confidence that the hitherto impossible has been achieved. 2019 will almost certainly be the year we know for certain, one way or the other. . . 

Guy Trafford finishes 2018 with a GDT review, news of a new Fish & Game river survey, calling out plant-based-milk, and an update on the MPB eradication – Guy Trafford:

An ever so slight increase in the Global Dairy Trade price for whole milk powder with a +0.3% lift. It may not put much of a smile on farmers faces but at least it is a not a drop.

Overall the GDT went up by +1.7% with both butter and cheddar making gains with lifts of +4.9% and +2.2% respectively so not such a poor result. With this now being the second – be they small – lift in a row and we have to go back almost 12 months before we had a repeat of two consecutive sales lifting. Dairy Futures had predicted a higher 3% lift in WMP for this period and with volumes sold down 0.7% on the previous sale, which was also down, the remainder of the season still looks precarious. The next sale is on the 2nd of January 2019. . . 

New captain for 2019 Meat Blacks:

One of the final jobs of 2018 is to take a look at the 2019 Meat Blacks team that will lead the sector next year.

There haven’t been too many adjustments to make, though the sector has had a couple of big retirements from the leadership, lock Sir Graeme Harrison (ANZCO) and number eight James Parsons (B+LNZ Ltd) have departed this year. Linesman Martyn Dunne also retired from MPI and has been replaced by Ray Smith, fresh from Corrections (Ed: appropriately!).

As a result, we have a new captain Murray Taggart (Alliance), promoted from vice-captain, and new vice-captain Tony Egan (Greenlea Premier Meats) to lead the team. . . 

T&G Global profit dented by cheaper tomatoes, small grape harvest  – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – T&G Global says its annual profit will more than halve this year after cheaper tomatoes and a weather-affected grape harvest in Peru dented earnings.

Net profit will be $8-10 million this calendar year, down from $22.6 million in 2017, it said in a statement.

Lower tomato prices affected T&G’s covered crops unit while its Peru grapes division dealt with a smaller harvest, it said. . .


Rural round-up

27/10/2018

Power prices heading north for the summer – Richard Rennie:

 Farmers looking to renew electricity contracts are being cautioned to expect a shock from new prices as the power industry faces tightening supply conditions amid strong demand from South Island irrigators for electricity.

Ruralco Energy general manager Tracey Gordon is dealing almost daily with co-operative farmer shareholders seeking advice as their electricity contracts come to an end and new ones are being set.

While electricity companies are renegotiating contracts with existing customers, those seeking new supply arrangements might find it more difficult to get on board. . .

Large-scale Canterbury irrigation project in new hands:

 An irrigation company has bought the resource consents for the large-scale Hurunui Water Project.

Shareholders on the Hurunui Water Project have voted unanimously to sell the council consents to Amuri Irrigation Company.

Amuri Irrigation chairperson David Croft said the company was aware of a strong desire for irrigation to be delivered to farmers south of the Hurunui River in north Canterbury. . . 

Agritourism witha  touch of southern hospitality – Tess Brunton:

Southland farmers have started looking for greener pasture – and tourist dollars – by welcoming visitors onto their working properties.

 It’s a niche market now, but there are hopes the region could become a mecca for agritourism.

Venture Southland has been running agritourism information workshops across the region this week, attracting more than one hundred people over four sessions.

Velvet prospects sound:

The velvet market during the 2018-19 season is expected to be reasonably stable, with consumption in Asia increasing in line with production growth in New Zealand.

Apart from a brief downward dip in prices two years ago, driven by uncertainty about regulatory changes in China, NZ velvet production and prices have increased for eight years. . .


Meat companies only have themselves to blame if meat prices are too high – Allan Barber:

 Seven years ago, the last time lamb prices were as high as they have been for the last 12 months, overseas customers suddenly decided enough was enough and turned off the tap, causing a sharp drop in price which reached its low point of less than $4.50 per kilo more than a year later. The difference this time appears to be a more gradual climb and a longer peak with no sign yet of a repeat collapse.

The other significant difference is the emergence of China as a key market, whereas in 2012 the traditional markets of UK, EU and USA had to bear the impact of selling to their consumers a product which had effectively priced itself off the market. Today the spread of market demand means more of the lamb carcase can be sold at a higher price; although this doesn’t mean there isn’t some risk of another collapse, there are greater signs of sustainability. . .

Why cows are getting a bad rap in lab-grown meat debate – Alison Van Eenennaam:

A battle royal is brewing over what to call animal cells grown in cell culture for food. Should it be in-vitro meat, cellular meat, cultured meat or fermented meat? What about animal-free meat, slaughter-free meat, artificial meat, synthetic meat, zombie meat, lab-grown meat, non-meat or artificial muscle proteins?

Then there is the polarizing “fake” versus “clean” meat framing that boils this complex topic down to a simple good versus bad dichotomy. The opposite of fake is of course the ambiguous but desirous “natural.” And modeled after “clean” energy, “clean” meat is by inference superior to its alternative, which must logically be “dirty” meat.

See the whole picture here.


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