Rural round-up

July 7, 2016

Need for young blood – Peter Burke:

The aging population in agriculture is working against New Zealand, says Lincoln University’s Jon Hickford.

Speaking to Rural News at the Careers in Agriculture hub at Fieldays, Hickford says this is a huge problem, compounded by NZ’s rapid urbanisation and disconnection from the agri sector.

The problem now is to find enough good young people to work in agriculture.

“The problem across the western world is that young people are entirely urbanised and don’t realise the job opportunities out there on the land. In the case of NZ, agri defines our existence as a country. . . 

Cheap food has high price:

A Lincoln University expert is warning of the cost of focusing on producing food cheaply.  

A report into European farming policy ‘Does the CAP still fit’, co-authored by Lincoln University Professor of Farm Management Alison Bailey, says there is overwhelming evidence at local, national and global levels that food systems need to change.  

The paper was for the Food Research Collaboration on the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which provides support to Europe’s farmers. . . 

Feds support stance on GMOs by 107 world-leading scientists:

As more than 100 world-leading and award-winning scientists voice their support of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Federated Farmers continues to endorse farmers’ rights to decide what technologies are used on their farms.

Federated Farmers’ spokesperson Katie Milne said it’s clear that the long-term stance opponents have against all GMO is well and truly outdated and lacks scientific scrutiny.

“Federated Farmers recognises GMOs can provide many positive benefits to farmers and it’s up to individual farmers to decide whether to use GMOs or not. We have a neutral stance on this.

“Through GMOs farmers could have cows without horns or have the ability to not breed calves, there are many positive animal welfare outcomes for the industry,” said Ms Milne. . . 

Feds unveil guide to local government excellence:

See full Federated Farmers Local Government Manifesto here.

A best-practice, practical and common-sense approach to governance has been unveiled by Federated Farmers at its national conference in Wellington today.

Federated Farmers’ Local Government spokesperson Katie Milne said this tri-annual guide promotes the latest thinking on how councils should be engaging with and providing services to farmers and other ratepayers.

“Farmers are some of the largest funders of local government and the sector most likely to be impacted by regulation developed and implemented by councils. “Farmers need level-headed councillors who prioritise real needs over the ‘nice to haves’. They also need to respect the considerable contributions from ratepayers,” said Ms Milne. . . 

Livestock and sustainability – challenges and opportunities for New Zealand:

Livestock may provide one-third of the value of global agricultural production, but it comes at a big cost for the planet. Livestock uses 80 per cent of the world’s agricultural land, putting pressure on water resources and biodiversity and emitting 14.5 per cent of the planet’s greenhouse gases.

The benefits, risk, trade-offs and consequences are complex and policy makers are always looking for guidance. Now, new guidelines have been developed by the Committee on World Food Security’s High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE). The Committee’s report Sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition: what roles for livestock? was launched last week at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome. . . 

UK referendum opens can of worms and some opportunities  – Allan Barber:

The referendum on EU membership produced a result nobody really expected and nearly half the voters didn’t want, but now everyone has to plan for an uncertain future. There have even been suggestions the exit might not happen, unless the Westminster Parliament passes the required motion to activate the start of the exit process. It’s not worth thinking about the implications for British democracy, if that were to happen.

In the immediate aftermath of the 23 June referendum there are only two certainties in a sea of uncertainty – the pound is worth a lot less than it was which will affect export receipts, but red meat access to the EU including the UK will not change for two years from the time the UK invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which sets the exit process officially in motion. . . 

Agriculture set for slow-down – OECD:

The latest 10-year outlook from the OECD warns the recent period of high agricultural commodity prices is most likely over.

The report, produced with the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said overall market growth was projected to slow and agricultural trade was expected to grow at less than half the rate of the previous decade.

The report – ‘OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2016-2025’ – said global agricultural trade was expected to grow by 1.8 percent per annum in volume during the next 10 years. . . 

Do possums howl at the moon?

Knowing if nocturnal pest mammals are more affected by the phases of the moon or by illumination could bring New Zealand one step closer to being pest free and save control agencies significant sums of money.

Lincoln UniversityEcology Master’s student Shannon Gilmore’s research into the effect lunar phases and illumination have on activity levels in possums, stoats, rats and mice is aimed at finding more effective and efficient means of targeting and managing these pests.

“It costs millions every year to control their populations,” says Shannon. “We’re waging a kind of war on pests. We need to discover their weaknesses. What trait do all four have in common that we can take advantage of? They are all nocturnal, and many nocturnal animals dramatically reduce their activity with the full moon, while others can become more active. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 4, 2016

Drought conditions in South Island continue:

The impact of ongoing dry conditions on the eastern South Island means the medium-scale drought classification will be extended until the end of the year, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Extra funding of up to $88,000 will go to drought recovery coordination and the five Rural Support Trusts in the area, with $30,000 of this going to the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust,” says Mr Guy.

The announcement was made by Mr Guy at a meeting with local farmers in North Canterbury today, his fifth visit to the region since April last year.

“This will mean the area has been in drought for nearly two years, since its initial classification on 12 February last year. This will be the longest period of time a classification of this type has lasted for.” . . 

Jobs and land galore in Kaitangata:

Kaitangata has a jobs problem perhaps unique among small New Zealand towns – there are too many.

There are only two people without jobs in the entire town of 800, but at least 100 vacancies waiting to be filled.

Three-bedroom standalone houses are now being offered for only $230,000. There are currently 30 sections available, with the houses being built to order.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan says they come with “stunning views out over the delta”. . . 

Past, present and future of the meat industry (part 3) – Allan Barber:

The future

There are two diametrically opposing views on the meat industry’s future outlook: either the world is short of protein and has an insatiable appetite for what we produce or meat will be replaced by artificial or synthetic proteins, much cheaper and easier to produce.I can’t predict just where on the continuum between these two extremes actual reality will settle or which direction the trend will move. But it’s probably worth hazarding a guess that the top end of the market will continue to prefer the real thing, produced and presented to a high quality, while the poor who are unable to afford much if anything will be happy to accept the cheaper, artificial version. It is also quite possible the increasingly global craze for fast food, especially hamburgers, could be met by synthetic beef, but here again there would be a premium end of the market demanding the real thing. . . 

MPs urged to back no-tillage farming – Alexa Cook:

An international soil scientist is urging the government to reduce carbon by promoting “no-tillage” farming to the primary sector.

The method is a way of growing crops or pasture from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage, which results in carbon being captured in the soil instead of released through ploughing.

Scientist John Baker met with Labour MPs this morning as part of his crusade to get the message across that New Zealand has the machinery and technology to transfer carbon into the soil and keep it there. . . 

Silver Fern Farms announces contract extension and new special meeting date – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms have issued two new media releases announcing a revised completion date for the contract with Shanghai Maling and a new date for the shareholder requisitioned meeting.

The revised date of 30th September for meeting the one remaining condition of the contract has been agreed in principle by both parties and is subject to agreement of both boards. SFF’s CEO Dean Hamilton said “We needed to allow more time to answer the further information requests from the OIO and to then provide sufficient time for the OIO and then Ministers to consider the application. We continue to believe that the investment will be approved given its substantial merits.”

“The agreement to the new date reflects positively on the ongoing commitment of both parties to the transaction.” . . 

  – Allan Barber:

ANZCO Foods has just released its annual result for the 15 month period ended 31 December which shows a reduced profit compared with its 12 month 2014 performance. Pre-tax net profit was $5.702 million ($7.128 million in 2014) while NPAT was $4.49 million, down more than 50% on the equivalent 2014 result which included part of the tax benefit from the 2012 loss.

Notable features of the result were a large increase in inventory and in current bank debt which can be partly explained by the purchase of the remaining 50% of Five Star Beef and the effect of the December quarter. However these factors do not seem to explain fully the extent of the increase. . . 

Super Fund swoops on Southland dairy farms – Mel Logan:

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF) is actively buying up dairy farms in Southland, clinching deals on seven properties with more to follow.

The new acquisitions come under a dark industry debt cloud and take the NZ Super Fund’s farm portfolio to 21, following two recent dairy purchases in Canterbury. 

NZSF says while the dairy sector faces some difficult short term challenges, it continues to have strong long-term potential. . . 

Fonterra Enhances Pre-Season Preparation:

A single-minded focus on effectiveness, efficiency and innovation across all aspects of Fonterra’s winter maintenance programme is delivering savings for the Co-operative as it gets match-fit for spring.

Director of NZ Manufacturing Mark Leslie said this “winter shut” period is an important time of year for manufacturing teams as all assets across Fonterra’s network of sites are fine-tuned to ensure they are ready for the season ahead.

“Each year we process around 18 billion litres of milk, with the bulk of this carried out in the spring months. The work we’re doing now will help us get match-fit for that peak period.” . . 

Fonterra Launches The Switch To Z Biodiesel:

Fonterra has taken another step forward in its commitment to environmental sustainability, today launching its switch to new Z biodiesel – as a foundation customer for the ZBioD fuel.

Fonterra and Z were joined by Minister of Energy and Resources Hon. Simon Bridges, Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne and other dignitaries today in celebrating the partnership at the Co-operative’s Edgecumbe site.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Global Operations, Robert Spurway said the shift to biodiesel is part of a move towards greater efficiency and sustainability across all operations, and helping Z make cleaner burning biofuel available in New Zealand. . . 

New Zealand Pork, Bacon and Ham Lovers Pay Attention!:

New Zealand pork, bacon and ham lovers pay attention – the ninth annual judging of the 100% New Zealand Pork, Bacon & Ham Competitions kicks of this Friday (1 July) in Wellington.

The Competitions celebrate New Zealand’s finest home-grown pork products and assist customers to identify and appreciate sustainable pork, bacon and ham which is PigCare™ Accredited*. The competitions support our pig farmers, who raise pork solely for New Zealanders.

This year an impressive 210 entries from butcheries nationwide will be scrutinized by an expert and independent panel of 34 judges comprising leading chefs, food connoisseurs and master butchers. The judges will blind-taste each entry to select New Zealand’s best pork, bacon and ham. . .  . . 


Rural round-up

July 1, 2016

Connecting all dairying women – Sally Rae:

When the decision was made to convert their Southland sheep farm to dairying, Katrina Thomas knew nothing about cows.

Undeterred, she decided to “jump in” and become regional group convener for the Dairy Women’s Network.

That way, she thought, she would learn.

It worked and Ms Thomas has now taken on a bigger role, as southern regional hub leader which incorporates Otago and Southland, as well as the fledgling Central Otago DWN branch. . . 

Winter feed pays dividends – Sally Rae:

Johnny Duncan’s fodder beet proved unbeatable in the Maniototo Young Farmers Club’s recent winter feed competition.

The competition attracted 50 entries and it was Mr Duncan’s crop that claimed the overall title.

A dinner, auction and prize-giving held at the Maniototo Stadium and attended by 140 people raised $20,000. . . 

What farming isn’t – Sarah Mock:

This past May, I spent more days in a Ram 1500 pickup on dirt roads than in my apartment. I had the incredible opportunity to traverse the American heartland for just over two weeks, seeking out interesting stories from some of America’s most progressive farmers. Since I moved to California just about a year ago, my view of the endless acres of black soil and satellite-straight rows of corn and soybeans has changed, but not in the way I expected.

Farming in the Midwest: farming for the farmer’s market as scuba diving : sky diving. Same basic direction, but otherwise, literally different elements.

We live in an Instagram-ready, organic cold-pressed hemp milk age. To us, the word “farm” brings to mind a rustic (yet modern) retreat where a cornucopia of lusciously crisp fruit and vegetables are picked daily by weathered hands (body optional) and perfectly clean eggs are laid in perfectly clean straw in reclaimed wood barns with just enough dust in the air to create a flawless #nofilter “eggstra” special post. . . 

Concerns over farmers’ mental helath:

Farmers in Northland are being urged to check on their neighbours as winter and financial stress tighten their grip in the dairy sector.

Federated Farmers president John Blackwell said there had been good turnouts at regular dinners organised to bring stressed farmers and their families together.

But he said those most in need of support may not be asking for it. . . 

Polish meat industry delegation in New Zealand – Allan Barber:

On Friday I attended a seminar, officially named a Congress, presented by a Polish delegation which was in New Zealand as part of a series of five exhibition events to promote ‘the taste of quality and tradition directly from Europe.’ A somewhat bizarre coincidence meant the event took place at exactly the same time as the votes were being counted in the British referendum which culminated in the decision to leave the EU.

The Auckland congress was the third in a series of five being held in different countries targeted for export development for Polish pork and beef products; the other target countries being South Africa, Singapore, Taiwan and Kazakhstan. This one was timed specifically to coincide with the Fine Food New Zealand 2016 held over the weekend at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds at which Polish frozen and refrigerated pork and beef products were available for tasting and evaluation by potential importers. . . 

Fertility increase in merinos

An improved lamb marking rate at a Wimmera Merino stud supports the breed’s key role in Australia’s modern sheep industry. 

Wallaloo Park Merinos, Marnoo, has recorded some of its best results since starting in 1979. Principal Trent Carter said figures across the board were substantially higher than average and showed success was achievable with good management, genetics and nutrition.  . . 


Rural round-up

June 30, 2016

Farmers on the cusp of unprecedented change:

KPMG’s Ian Proudfoot says significant change is coming to New Zealand’s primary sector and “farmers that ignore it do it at their peril”.

Mr Proudfoot was speaking this morning at Federated Farmers’ National Conference Meat and Fibre AGM.

The world was on the cusp of a fourth industrial revolution and this would mean thinking more globally.

Kiwi farmers who could tell their unique story would prevail as the global consumer became more discerning about what they eat and where it came from.

“There is a fusion happening where digital, physical and biotechnological products will redefine how we live and farm,” he said. . . 

Abandoning challenge, not my way – Rick Powdrell:

There is one thing in life that never changes. The moment you overcome one challenge, there is sure to be another. Once in a while a challenge crops up that might be easier to abandon, but that’s not my way.

You guessed it, that last reference is to the New Zealand red meat industry.

At our February meeting we discussed our role going forward. The emphasis was on continued dialogue with key players, notably Beef + Lamb, the Meat Industry Association, Meat Industry Excellence Group and other parties keen to engage.

There have been plenty of people willing to engage, some notable for their commercial self-interest, and others to talk about specific elements within the industry. All have relevant ideas and the passion and desire to see the industry move forward. But until key players come together with a common goal, the quantum shift required will not occur. . . 

Address to Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Group –  Andrew Hoggard:

Good morning colleagues, observers, media, and of course all the keyboard warriors and trolls waiting in anticipation.

Another season has gone by and whilst there are some positive noises out there around potential market improvements, the prices we all face are still below the break even point for many of us. The expectation is that the financial implications of this downturn will see us in pain for a few years to come.

Much of the commentary over the past few days has been around the Brexit, and the fallout from it. One might ask, what this means for New Zealand Dairy? It really is all up in the air at the moment, our exports presently to the UK are pretty minimal. . .

Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy:

Richard and Dianne clearly share a deep passion for their family’s show piece farm on the edge of Auckland city. Their beef breeding and sheep breeding and finishing operation runs 4820 stock units on 331ha (effective) with a pine woodlot established on 18.5ha and 15.3ha of regenerating native bush.

Richard and Dianne, who have three adult sons, have farmed the flat to easy-rolling property since the late 1970s.

They are pragmatic about protecting the environment for future generations. All waterways have been fenced, and large areas of raupo act as sediment traps to capture nutrients. Biodiversity corridors link the upper catchment areas to the bush, and bush remnants have been planted with native species such as kauri, rimu and pohutukawa.

Whenuanui runs 300 Angus breeding cows and a Coopworth ewe flock. Mixed-age ewes lambed at 162 percent last year, with hoggets achieving an impressive 129 percent. All lambs are sold prime under the “Kaipara Lamb” brand. . . 

Call out to Young New Zealanders to share in success of the booming apple industry:

New Zealand’s world leading apple industry is putting a call out to school leavers and graduates across the country to come share in its success.

Pipfruit New Zealand’s new capability development manager Erin Simpson has been charged with growing and retaining young people into Zealand’s apple and pear industry.

“New Zealand apples are leading the world, the industry is dynamic, innovative, and going places and so can young New Zealanders,” said Mr Simpson . . 

Bayer Marlborough Young Viticulturist of the Year 2016 announced:

Congratulations to Brenton O’Riley who became the Bayer Marlborough Young Viticulturist of the Year 2016 on Friday 24 June.

O’Riley has worked at Giesen Wines for the last few years as Viticultural Technician and credits his time and experience there as helping him gain some of the high level knowledge and skills required to win the competition. He is due to start a new job at Pernod Ricard in a grower liaison role at the beginning of next month.

This is the second time O’Riley has won the Marlborough competition, previously in 2014, so he will be even more determined this year to win the National Final taking place locally at Villa Maria in August. . . 

Irish approach may be better than New Zealand’s–  Allan Barber:

The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) 10 year strategy report named Foodwise 2025 contains a lot of the same features as MPI’s ambition to double agricultural exports over a similar timeframe.

As an agricultural producer Ireland also has many of the same characteristics as New Zealand: a rural economy based heavily on grass-fed production and produce from the sea, a small domestic market and heavy reliance on exports, an expanding dairy herd and an ageing farmer profile. The agri-food industry contributes a greater proportion of export revenue than non agri-food production which is equally true of New Zealand.

Obviously there are differences, notably the impact of the EU common agricultural policy on Irish farm incomes, the destination of exports, the lower efficiency and smaller scale of farms, and the variation of production volumes. . . 

NZ sheepmeat, tourism may be hardest hit by Brexit as pound weakens, market volatility jumps –  Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s sheepmeat exports and tourists from the UK may be the hardest hit from the Brexit with the most immediate impact likely to be on British tourists suddenly finding the spending power of the pound against the kiwi is the weakest in almost three years.

The European Union is the biggest market for New Zealand sheepmeat, taking $1.4 billion of product last year and almost half of that 228,000 tonnes of quota is taken by the UK. Total red meat exports to the EU amount to $2 billion, making it the single most valuable market. However, the biggest impact for New Zealand would be the UK’s loss of zero-tariff access for its own sheepmeat into Europe, where it currently sends 90 percent of production, leaving more in its domestic market. . . 


Rural round-up

June 27, 2016

Brexit has major implications for the New Zealand sheep and beef industry:

“We are concerned about the future of New Zealand’s sheep and beef exports to the UK and the EU following the UK’s vote to leave the EU,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association of New Zealand.

“Our sheep and beef trade to both the UK and EU are inextricably linked through quota access and both are likely to be affected,” said Sam McIvor, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The EU is New Zealand’s most valuable market for red meat and associated co-products, accounting for over NZ$2 billion in trade last year. . . 

Banks put heat on meat co-ops – Neal Wallace:

Banks appear to be running out of patience with meat company debt, asking both co-operatives to reduce their level of borrowing.

Both Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have confirmed they have been told by their banks to reduce seasonal and core debt, but Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said his board had decided to do that anyway.  

Late last month Alliance chief executive David Surveyor told shareholders at the Alliance Pure South Conference banks had sent a strong message to the co-operative to reduce debt. . . 

Changing world will suit our red meat sector – Allan Barber:

When sheep and beef farmers are questioning whether they will ever receive the returns they need, there is potentially considerable hope for the future. The changing demographics and spheres of global influence indicate a substantial change in the relative economic power of the markets with which we trade.

The ANZ Bank’s June report focuses on new horizons in Asia, highlighting the top six countries we already trade with, representing 80% of New Zealand’s bilateral trade with Asia, and a second division of up and coming prospects. The report’s focus on Asia means our trade with the rest of the world is excluded from the analysis, but it provides a timely reminder of the opportunities available in markets not previously seen as easy or possible to develop.

These opportunities are further underlined by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations held recently in Auckland involving 16 Asian countries which importantly include India. . . 

Dairy cow cull eases – Alan Williams:

Dairy cow cull numbers are finally reducing after spending most of the processing season in line with the high tallies of last year.  

Most people expected the cull to end early in the season but the numbers have only been falling since the end of May, week 33 of the killing season.

Going in to that week the tallies were down only 0.3% on the same time last year, at about 800,000; then the week itself was down 7% on last year and the companies have indicated the trend has continued. . . 

Silver Fern Farms seeks extension on Chinese deal :

Meat processing company Silver Fern Farms is seeking a time extension for official approval of its controversial deal with a Chinese company.

It also wants to defer a special meeting called by unhappy shareholders.

The joint venture with China’s biggest meat processor, Shanghai Maling, was approved by a majority of shareholders last October but still needs government and Overseas Investment Office approval. . .

Vineyards in growth mode – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s vineyard area could expand by as much as 7000ha during the next five years, an almost 20% boost to the present producing area.

The expansion was under way, with an estimated 1800ha of grapes in the ground coming into production by the 2018 vintage, ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report said.

Marlborough would remain the epicentre of the sector at 65%-70% of the growing area, with the next largest areas being Hawke’s Bay, Otago and Gisborne. . .


Rural round-up

June 8, 2016

 –  Allan Barber:

Introduction

I gave a presentation recently to a Beef + Lamb Field Day about the meat industry. I briefly reviewed the history of the industry, the impact of certain key events and the influence of politics leading up to the 1985 election. I then gave an appraisal of the present covering the last 30 years, post subsidies, when the sector had to modernise fast; and lastly I took a punt on predicting what might happen in the foreseeable future and how farmers and meat companies might have to adapt to survive and flourish.

For the purpose of presenting these thoughts to interested readers I have divided the presentation into three parts which will be published separately. The first part is a review of the first 100 years and how this period determined the structure of the industry. . .

 – Allan Barber:

Present

Today’s industry has many of the same characteristics as the mid 1980s, but a number of things have changed, mostly for the better.

In my opinion all parts of the meat industry (farmers, processors and exporters) have done a very good job of producing, processing and selling a vast range of products into a big range of markets. Since deregulation and subsidy removal, the sector has had to cope with a significant change in market demand while modernising farming methods and processing plants, achieving functional industrial relations and employment policies, developing more sophisticated products, improving packaging and coping with ever more stringent health and safety, hygiene and biosecurity compliance requirements. . . 

Measuring up – Gerard Hall :

Information is king and it’s turning grass and forages into dollars on Barnhill, an undeveloped hill block in Southland. Gerard Hall reports.

 The costs and benefits of growing feed on a northern Southland farm have come under close scrutiny.  

The decision to invest in pasture cages, monthly cuts and charting the results was an easy one for Guy and Vicki Goodeve who manage Barnhill, a 1019ha undeveloped hill block near Lumsden in Southland.  

Twelve homemade, one-square-metre cages range across six sites specifically chosen to accurately represent the three soil types, aspects (sun and shade), and altitudes on the farm. Each site is nine-metres square and includes a caged control area. The cages were all welded and netted for $1200. Farmer Glen McPhail is contracted to do the pasture cuts using a lawnmower. . . 

Heartland Bank warns dairy farm values could fall 40 percent from peak – Edwin Mitson:

Heartland Bank, the Auckland-based lender, has told investors it is monitoring the dairy sector “with close attention” at a presentation and has warned farm values could fall 40 percent from peak to trough if the downturn continues or worsens beyond current expectations.

Exposure to dairy farmers makes up 8 percent of its total lending book and 17 percent of its net receivables, which is the total money owed to the bank by customers minus amounts the bank accepts will never be repaid and has written off. . . 

NZ and EU agricultural partnership in Vanuatu:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced a new partnership between the European Union, New Zealand and the Government of Vanuatu, aimed supporting sustainable agricultural development.

“New Zealand and the EU have a strong track record of working together with Pacific Governments to deliver development gains,” Mr McCully says.

“The Partnership we have entered into today will see the EU and New Zealand providing support to Vanuatu’s agricultural sector, and it is a model for further cooperation between the EU and New Zealand in the region. . . 

Forestry contractors focused on new safety laws:

Leading forestry contractors are moving fast to ensure they understand and implement systems for meeting new health and safety laws brought in last month. Under the guidance of their industry association – the Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) – forest contractors are being encouraged to attend special workshops on the new legislation around health and safety in forestry workplaces. They have responded in greater numbers than ever before.

Ross Davis, President of FICA, says has they’ve seen a surge in contractor numbers attending new health and safety legislation workshops in Gisborne and Tokoroa. More are expected when the series of regional workshops goes to Balclutha on 16 June and up to Whangarei on 14 July. Contractors are turning out in droves for these events. . . 

5 Truths Every Farmer Needs to Speak – Uptown Farms:

A lot of what is happening in our world of farming is being driven by marketing that happens well after food leaves the farm. Labels are applied, misleading ads are run, misconceptions are often conveniently left to linger in our consumers’ minds.

The marketing done by the food industry is often not concerned with the facts and the common practice now seems to be to repeat these lies until they become truth by perception.

This puts farmers in a unique position. We can make the choice to stand up for fact and reason and sell our product based on its true qualities. . . 

The Search For Tastier Supermarket Tomatoes: A Tale In 3 Acts  – Daniel Charles:

One of my fondest childhood memories is of eating tomatoes. We picked them in the garden and ate them in sandwiches, sitting on a picnic table under the trees outside our house. That juicy, acidic taste is forever lodged in the pleasure centers of my brain.

For anyone with similar memories, supermarket tomatoes are bound to disappoint. Indeed, the classic supermarket tomato — hard, tasteless, sometimes mealy — has inspired countless bitter complaints.

Take a closer look at the tomato display in your local grocery store, though, and you’ll notice some big changes. . . 

Best snow in years – Mt Hutt to open with all lifts:

Canterbury’s Mt Hutt ski area is revelling in the white stuff – with a one-metre pre-season snow base being described as “the best in years”.

Two snowstorms in the past four days have delivered “wall-to-wall” snow across the mountain, leading ski area manager James McKenzie to declare that Mt Hutt is expected to open with all lifts operating on opening day (Friday June 10).

“A one-metre snow base is simply stunning and the best we’ve had pre-season since 2011,” he says.

“We’re so far ahead of where we usually are at this stage of the season, we’re planning to open with all lifts operating including the Triple Chair. . . 

Onus on Spreadmark companies to ensure vehicle certificates are valid:

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) is urging all spreading companies registered with Spreadmark – the industry guarantee programme – to check their vehicle certification status. The call from the Council follows an alert from auditors that companies registered with the Spreadmark scheme may, unknowingly, have trucks or aircraft with expired certificates.

Anders Crofoot, FQC Chairman, says the voluntary nature of the Spreadmark scheme means that companies may not necessarily receive an automatic test reminder and may not discover their vehicle certification is out of date until on or after it expires. . . 


Rural round-up

May 4, 2016

Frustrating waste of time and money, but it’s the price of democracy – Allan Barber:

The media release from Silver Fern Farms about the requisition for a special meeting to consider the resolution to form a partnership with Shanghai Maling reeks of the company’s frustration at what it sees as a complete waste of time. However, regardless of that frustration, the company has agreed to the requisition and will set a date for the meeting.

A group of 80 shareholders, led by John Shrimpton and Blair Gallagher, has passed the required 5% threshold to requisition the board to hold a special meeting in compliance with the Companies Act. Shrimpton cancelled a meeting with the board which he had arranged for 2nd May and which the board was keen to hold, so its members could learn and understand the purpose and legal justification of the requisition.

Not surprisingly the board sets out a list of very cogent reasons why it considers the requisition a waste of management time and resources, notably 67% of shareholders have already voted with 85% in favour of the deal, SFF would be in breach of contract if it pulled out and there would be no legal obligation on the company as a result of the special meeting. . . 

Females rule in the stud cattle world – Kate Taylor:

With a twinkle in his eye aimed at wife and daughter-in-law sitting at the table with him, David Thomson says “women rule the world” in his business… the cattle business.

“If I was buying a bull, I tried to make sure it had a good dam line behind it,” he says.

“On this rolling to steep limestone country, calves pick up a lot from their mothers, such as temperament and ability to walk. Chances are, if you have a toey cow she’ll have a toey calf and will be culled.” . . 

Rural Health issues brought to the Beehive:

Rural health issues will be brought to the Beehive this week during the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand’s’ (RHANZ) ‘RuralFest’ conference.

RHANZ, which is made up of 42 membership organisations, are gathering in Wellington for the inaugural RuralFest – to discuss and determine the top health and well-being issues facing rural communities.

Rural GP Dr Jo Scott-Jones says RuralFest is a flagship event for RHANZ, who represent a united voice from across multiple rural sector organisations. . . 

Pee could be the key to pest control -Conan Young

A Christchurch researcher may have found a way to dramatically increase the effectiveness of possum traps.

Poison remains the most effective means of controlling possums, but trapping is preferred near towns and cities. Photo: 123RF

At present the success rate for possum traps can be as low as 30 percent, but a new lure which replaces icing sugar with possum urine has increased the kill rate by as much as 25 percent.

Lure creator and Landcare Research scientist Janine Duckworth said possums spent more time at the traps set with urine and were more likely to trigger the trap. . . 

Farmers and cyclists – the dark side of social media – Marc Gasgoigne :

I’m a dairy farmer and I’m also a cyclist. Sometimes I wonder if I’m one of the most hated people in New Zealand.

Whenever dairy farming features in the news there are plenty of knockers queuing up to put the boot in, apparently we are the cause of many of the world’s problems, from global warming to polluting the rivers to abusing baby cows.

But now cyclists are featuring in the knocking machine. First there was the publican in Rangiora who banned cyclists wearing lycra from entering his premises, saying it was offensive to his patrons.

Then there was a Facebook post abusing cyclists, ironically on the NZ Farming page (NZ Farmer has no connection with NZ Farming).  . . 

Farm takeover! Planting GMO corn – Uptown Farms:

Two weeks ago, April 23, was the day I had been waiting for since I successfully coerced my farmer husband into letting me take over sixty acres! 

To read about #my60Acres from the start, go here and scroll down to the bottom!
 
It was finally planting day!   Picking the right time to plant involves a little bit of planning, some major guessing and hopefully some good luck!
 
Long before planting however I worked with Matt to figure out exactly what type of corn seed we would use. . . 


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