Rural round-up

27/07/2020

Pandemic fall-out weighs heavily on farmer confidence:

Spurred by COVID-19 repercussions, farmer confidence in economic conditions has slumped to the lowest level since 2009, the Federated Farmers July Farm Confidence Survey shows.

Responses from 1,725 farmers saw a net 28.6% of them rate current economic conditions as bad, a 53-point drop on the January survey when a net 24.6% considered them to be good.

“It’s pretty grim looking forward as well,” Feds President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

A net 58.7% of the farmers who responded expect general economic conditions to worsen over the next 12 months, a 17-point reduction on our survey six months ago when a net 41.5% expected them to worsen. . .

Let’s see how the milk flows – and to whom – after DIRA changes are included in a deluge of new laws – Point of Order:

Latest from the Beehive

While the news media have been preoccupied with matters such as the resignation of a National MP and sacking of a Labour minister in recent days, Parliament has been getting on with legislating.  It has passed a tanker-load of bills, since we last posted a Beehive Bulletin, including legislation that government the economically vital dairy industry and Fonterra’s role in it.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill amends legislation passed almost 20 years ago to enable the creation of Fonterra and promote the efficient operation of dairy markets in New Zealand.

But the dairy sector has changed considerably since 2001 and the amendments made to “this very aged legislation” ensure this regulatory regime puts the sector in the best possible position in a post-COVID world, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said. . .

Farmers farming for today, thinking about tomorrow – Hugh Collins:

Environmental care and protection is a topic never far from the forefront of public and media discourse.

And more often than not the farming sector finds itself in the firing line over carbon emissions and pollution.

Yet Paul Edwards believes the vast majority of farmers have always been good custodians of the land.

“They are doing their best to look after their environmental footprint on the land and to make it sustainable for future generations,” he said. . . 

Warm dry conditions help shape up kūmara: – Carol Stiles:

Cooks will have to peel fewer gnarly kūmara this year thanks to a very unusual growing season.

Country Life producer Carol Stiles was in the kūmara capital recently and called in to see Andre de Bruin,  who has been growing kūmara around Dargaville for 25 years.

This season has been one out of the box for kūmara growers like Andre de Bruin.

It has resulted in an “absolutely stunning” crop, largely due to the heat and the big dry in the North.

He says the season has been one of the most interesting kūmara growers have ever had – from the extraordinary drought to the lessons of the Covid lockdown.

“The drought early on was very stressful,” he says. . . 

Support for flood-affected farmers:

Heavy rain affecting parts of Northland over the weekend is another blow to farmers recovering from the recent drought.

To support farmer decision-making as they deal with silt-damaged pastures, hungry stock and damaged infrastructure, Beef + lamb New Zealand has put together flood-specific management resources.

These include a list of immediate priorities and action plans, how to deal with silt, health and safety and guidelines for volunteers working on farm post-flood.

Veronica Gillett, Extension Manager for Northern North Island says recent rainfall in Northland has been powerful and destructive. . .

Implementing a holistic grazing plan  –  Annelie Coleman:

Sandy Speedy is regarded as one of the pioneers of holistic beef cattle production in South Africa. Annelie Coleman visited him and his daughter, Jennifer, on their cattle ranch between Vryburg and Kuruman to learn more about their ‘wagon wheel’ grazing system.

The Speedy family’s journey towards holistic grazing management started in the 1960s. At the time, the likes of botanist John Acocks, and red meat producer, Len Howell, were championing the counter-intuitive claim that grazing in South Africa was deteriorating because of overgrazing and under-stocking.

“Farmer’s Weekly at the time was filled with correspondence debating the validity, or otherwise, of the claim,” recalls Sandy Speedy.

It was at this time that Rhodesian (now Zimbabwe) grassland specialist, Allan Savory, entered the discussion, and gave it new impetus with his concept of holistic grazing management. . . 


Rural round-up

18/07/2019

Suggestions definitely off the agenda – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra will not retain 50c of the milk payout, as suggested by commentators, or change the way it sets the milk price as part of its business reset, chief financial officer Marc Rivers says.

It is confident it can address its debt issue and strengthen its balance sheet without those measures.

The reset is on track to meet its target of $800m this year while reduced spending will boost its profitability.

“We’re both tightening our belts and looking for savings but also looking at our investment portfolio,” Rivers said. . .

Speculators push lamb prices up – Neal Wallace:

Speculators have pushed North Island store lamb prices 35c/kg above the same time last year despite winter slaughter prices being similar to last year.

Affco’s recent $9/kg contract for prime lambs appears to have hyped the store market even though AgriHQ analyst Nicola Dennis says other meat companies are offering winter slaughter prices that mirror last year’s at about $7.50 to $7.80/kg.

The contract is available only in August to Affco clients who have been regular suppliers and applies only to stock processed at North Island plants. . .

Grower group still busy after 100 years – Pam Tipa:

A group of vegetable growers centred on Pukekohe in South Auckland say regulatory changes could be do-or-die for their growing enterprises.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) celebrated its 100th anniversary last year and vice president Kylie Faulkner says the advocacy role of the group is crucial.

“There are a lot of changes happening now with the Resource Management Act, the National Water Policy Statement and how the different councils are approaching those rules,” she told HortNews.  . . 

Vege growing nice addition to farming business – Peter Burke:

It’s easy to see what the small central North Island town of Ohakune is famous for. On the outskirts of the town is a huge carrot and a children’s play area based on this popular vegetable.

Peter Burke reports on a vegetable grower who has helped enhance the town’s great reputation.

Ron Frew started growing carrots in 1967, just after coming home to Ohakune from completing his university degree. Since then, he and his family have built up a huge farming business which includes growing carrots and potatoes.

They also have a dairy farm and a large sheep and beef property running 25,000 breeding ewes and 650 breeding cows.  . . 

Protein competition on the rise in China – Sally Rae:

Increased protein competition in China is being cited by Rabobank as something to watch as strong demand for beef from China drives up export returns.

In Rabobank’s latest Agribusiness Monthly report, animal protein and sustainability analyst Blake Holgate said the China Meat Association had announced the Chinese government would be expanding its sourcing of animal protein products in an attempt to replace the lost pork production that had resulted from the African Swine Fever outbreak.

That might include allowing imports of Indian buffalo and lifting the current ban on UK beef. There were also reports of an increase in the number of international meat facilities being accredited for export into China. . .

Why George Monibot is wrong – grazing livestock can save the world – L. Hunter Lovins:

George Monbiot’s recent criticism of Allan Savory’s theory that grazing livestock can reverse climate change ignores evidence that it’s already experiencing success

In his recent interview with Allan Savory, the high profile biologist and farmer who argues that properly managing grazing animals can counter climate chaos, George Monbiot reasonably asks for proof. Where I believe he strays into the unreasonable, is in asserting that there is none.

Savory’s argument, which counters popular conceptions, is that more livestock rather than fewer can help save the planet through a concept he calls “holistic management.” In brief, he contends that grazing livestock can reverse desertification and restore carbon to the soil, enhancing its biodiversity and countering climate change. Monbiot claims that this approach doesn’t work and in fact does more harm than good. But his assertions skip over the science and on the ground evidence that say otherwise. . .

 


Rural round-up

22/03/2019

Staff shortages impacting on rural health – Peter Burke:

The health of rural business people – including farmers, orchardists and health facilities — is being affected because they cannot get sufficient good staff and must work longer hours to compensate.

So says rural health professional Professor Jane Mills, pro vice-chancellor of the College of Health at Massey University. She was raised on a farm in Australia and has extensively researched rural health issues.

She told Rural News that the staff shortage in rural areas is forcing many people to work extra hours beyond what is reasonable and that their work/life balance is out of sync, resulting in physical or mental health issues. . . 

Inhibitor can solve methane issue – Neal Wallace:

News the world’s first methane inhibitor for livestock will be released in New Zealand later this year has been greeted by scientists as evidence technology can solve our greenhouse gas problem.

Dutch company DSM has developed 3-NOP, a feed additive that inhibits a methane producing micro-organism in the rumen, reducing emissions by about 30% while also being safe for animals and consumers.

However, the effet stops within a few hours of feeding so it must be ingested regularly. . . 

Brexit: Should I stay or should I go now? – Stephanie Honey:

Just over a week before the Brexit deadline, the UK faces the prospect of a lengthy delay – but equally, the possibility of a “no-deal” Brexit looms larger than ever.  It is hard to predict which of these two extremes we may see next Friday.   In anticipation of no-deal, however, the UK has released a new temporary post-Brexit tariff schedule.  While most imports would be duty-free, sensitive agriculture products, including New Zealand exports of lamb, beef and dairy, would still face barriers.

If anything, the roadmap to Brexit is less clear than it was even at the start of this week.  (See our last blog here.)  The Parliamentary process has descended into chaos after “meaningful vote 3” was disallowed, under which PM May’s Withdrawal Agreement would have come back again to the House to attempt to clear the path for an orderly Brexit.   All eyes are now on Brussels.  The European Council meets on Thursday and will consider an extension – although this would need to have a clear purpose to satisfy EU member states. . . 

School and Trust boost farming – Neal Wallace:

Students at Wairarapa College are to get more farm training and career opportunities following an initiative with a Masterton community trust.

The Masterton Trust Lands Trust has provided 14ha next to the college for agricultural training for 64 years but is taking it a step further by establishing an advisory panel of local industry leaders to provide advice and expertise for the course.

More than 330 years nine to 13 students, a third of the roll, are studying agriculture this year and trust chairman Karl Taucher says the advisory panel will ensure teaching and skills developed on the farm are in line with what the industry needs. . . 

Cows are turning desert back into grassland by acting like bison – Sara Burrows:

The Savory Institute is transforming 40 million acres of desert back into grassland by “rewilding” cows and other domesticated grazing animals

Two thirds of the land on Earth is now desert or in the process of becoming desert, according to world-renowned ecologist and environmentalist Allan Savory.

If you know anything about deserts, you know that’s not good news, as neither humans nor many other species can survive very well in them.

Responsible for the collapse of many civilizations and now threatening us globally, Savory says humanity has never understood the causes of desertification. But the fact that it began around 10,000 years ago and has accelerated dramatically in the last 200 gives us a clue, he says. . . 

Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate Frank M. Mitloehner:

As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences. . . 


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