Rural round-up

March 27, 2020

Farming must step up, sector heads say – Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s lockdown over Covid-19 is an opportunity for the agricultural sector ‘‘to step up and remind our country how great we are’’, Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie says.

The farm supplies co-operative has been identified as an essential service and will remain open, although customers have to call or email orders first, and a contactless collection process will then be arranged.

Yesterday, Mr Reidie said the world would still need to be fed and New Zealand was very well placed in terms of the quantity and quality of its produce .

‘‘Provided we can get things on boats … we should keep on keeping on. That’s got to be the ambition,’’ he said.

It was a reminder of the importance of landowners, farmers and orchardists. . . 

Kiwi Jack Raharuhi takes the crown in top Australasian award:

Jack Raharuhi from Pāmu Farms in Westport, and Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer of the Year 2016, has been crowned the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award winner.

Raharuhi, 27 years old, is the Buller Dairy Group Operations Manager for Pāmu, where he oversees 4 dairy farms and a machinery syndicate at Cape Foulwind, and Health and Safety leadership for 10 dairy farms. He is also Chair of the West Coast Focus Farm Trust, and heavily involved with training and mentoring staff as part of the West Coast 2IC Development Programme.

The annual Award, regarded as a prestigious badge of honour by the agribusiness industry, recognises and supports talented young individuals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. It was launched in 2014 in memory of Australian beef industry leader Zanda McDonald, who died aged 41 after an accident at his Queensland property in 2013. . . 

Carrying on farming and consider grain options for stock feed:

Farmers can carry on doing what they do best – putting high quality food on people’s tables and earning export revenue – with confirmation direct from the Prime Minister that they are an ‘Essential Service’ that can continue operating under the Covid-19 lockdown from midnight Wednesday.

Services associated with the primary sector, including food processors, diagnostics, farm suppliers, freight and trucking can also go about their business, while taking all practical steps to limit people to people contact.

This confirmation they are vital to helping the nation survive the virus crisis will be a relief and reason for pride for many farmers and workers in those associated industries. But for some, there remains a pressing concern – the drought, and how to feed stock. . . 

Dairy Trainee of the Year spots all go to women :

Women won all three placings in the West Coast-Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year competition.

The awards were presented at the West Coast Events Centre in Shantytown on Tuesday last week.

Alexis Wells won the trainee section, Dallas Bradley was second and Stephanie Gray claimed third place.

Ms Wells (21) is a farm assistant on a 307ha, 670-cow Pamu Farms of New Zealand property in Reefton. She is studying level 4 husbandry and feeding with Primary ITO and said she was proud to have made it to the dairy awards finals three years in a row. Her goal is to the win the national title. . . 

Pandemic postpones DoC predator control – David Williams:

The Conservation Department will halt operations to kill bird-eating pests during the four-week national shutdown. David Williams reports

Pest control operations to protect rare and vulnerable native species are about to cease.

The Department of Conservation will halt all biodiversity work during the upcoming four-week national shutdown, director-general Lou Sanson confirms.

“We debated that seriously but when we heard the Prime Minister [on Monday], and we understood the seriousness of the lockdown, the number one focus for New Zealand is to stop people moving, and that means all our biodiversity work stops, our construction work stops. About the only things we’ll be doing is the operation of sewerage schemes, search and rescue, and fire.”

(DoC acts as the local council, providing utilities like drinking water and sewerage schemes, in places like Aoraki/Mt Cook Village.) . . 

Exports rise as dairy gains while logs and fish fall:

Total goods exports increased in the February 2020 month due to an increase in the value of dairy products, Stats NZ said today.

The total value of meat exports was little changed, but higher quantities were exported to the United States instead of China.

The increase in total good exports was despite falls in exports of logs and fish, particularly to China, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The value of total goods exports rose by $212 million (4.5 percent) from February 2019 to reach $4.9 billion in February 2020. . . 


Beyond the Top End

June 26, 2015

The theme for this year’s PPP’s 10th  conference was Beyond the Top End.

This was chosen because it was held in Darwin in Australia’s top end,  but the conference also aimed to:

 . . . explore just how we extend ourselves – in business and in our personal lives. We’ll take a look at how we push through the boundaries, hurdle over the barriers and go beyond where others have gone before. And we’ll ask (and hopefully answer) the question of ‘what does it take?’.

It did all that and more.

Chatham House rules applied which enabled everyone to speak freely but constrains what I can report. However, I can say it gave us the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers who educated, entertained, informed and inspired us all.

We also visited the world’s newest meat plant and an outback station which gave those of us from other places an insight into the challenges which face those farming in the Northern Territory – crocodiles, dingoes, distance, dust,  drought, floods . . .

We had plenty of opportunity to network and learn from each other too.

An undoubted highlight of the conference was the presentation of the inaugural Zanda McDonald Award.

This honours its namesake, an Australian agri-business leader who died in an accident on his farm aged just 41.

Nominees were expected to demonstrate similar leadership and visionary characteristics to the late Zanda McDonald, including respect, passion, innovation, motivation, dedication, determination, curiosity, a strong work ethic and a desire to improve their industry.

The three finalists were:

* Emma Hegarty who grew up on a merino property in Queensland. She has worked in animal nutrition, and is a Beef Extension Officer with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. She also teaches agriculture at her local school, received a UNE Young Distinguished Alumni Award and was listed as one of the 100 most influential women in Australian Agri-business.

* Athol New who is the farm business manager for Purata at Dunsandel Dairies. He is responsible for 4000 cows on two farms with four sheds. He was a regional finalist for the ANZ Young farmer competition this year.

* Luke Wright who is manager of Orr Lake Elk in Quebec, specialising in genetics for antler production. He was manager of Landcorp Farming’s Stuart Farm, a 3000ha deer, sheep and beef property. He and his partner own a small deer farm near Te Anau.

All finalists gave polished presentations which showed how difficult a job the judges must have had to choose the winner.

It was Emma who won and was presented with a bronze award trophy, $1,000 cash, a place on the 2016 Rabobank Farm Managers’ program and an expenses-paid tailored mentoring package.

Rabobank also gave places on the Farm Managers’ programme to Athol and Luke.

You can listen to Shane McManaway, chief executive of Allflex Australasia, speaking to Jamie Mackay about the conference here and Ben Russell GM of Rabobank NZ also spoke of the conference in his interview with Jamie here .

The conference brought together 137 farmers and agri-business professionals from Australia and New Zealand.

We found we had shared concerns for the importance of animal welfare, food safety, recruitment and retention of staff, encouraging young people to consider agri-business careers, environmental protection and enhancement, bridging the rural-urban divide . . .

We also learned about different challenges Australian farmers face. One station in Queensland is in its third year of drought and has received only 65mls of rain this year. On top of that its plagued by wild dogs which kill stock and kangaroos which eat pasture.

This helped us appreciate the gentler conditions at home, even if it was a little harder to wake up to a frost this morning than it had been to wake up to 30 degrees in Darwin.


Rural round-up

April 14, 2013

Zanda Award of agricultural leadership:

The Platinum Primary Producers Group (PPP) announced at its Brisbane conference they will establish an annual award in memory of Australian cattle icon Zanda McDonald.

McDonald was a founding member of the PPP Group, a forum where top agricultural leaders in dairy, sheep and beef industries from across Australasia unite to speak candidly about what is happening in agriculture.

PPP Group chairman and Wairarapa farmer Shane McManaway who established the PPP Group dedicated the conference to McDonald.

He said the Zanda McDonald Award for Excellence in Agriculture will select a winner from Australasia based on the qualities that McDonald possessed – leadership, courage, innovation, inspiration, and dedication and commitment to the agriculture industry. . .

Agriculture drives labour productivity since 2008 recession:

During 2008–11, labour productivity in the agriculture industry increased 3.4 percent a year, Statistics New Zealand said today. Agriculture was the main contributor to labour productivity in the measured sector, which increased 0.5 percent.

“Agriculture output has increased across the 2008 to 2011 period, showing a recovery from the severe drought of 2008,” national accounts manager Rachael Milicich said. “Throughout this period, labour inputs have shown little change, resulting in rising labour productivity for the industry.”

Other industries that made a significant contribution to labour productivity were finance and insurance services, up 2.7 percent, and information media and telecommunications, up 4.3 percent. . .

New appointment to NZ Meat Board:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has today announced the appointment of international trade specialist George Rutherford to the New Zealand Meat Board.

The 10-member Meat Board is a statutory body which works to get the best possible ongoing returns from New Zealand’s quota markets.

“Mr Rutherford has dedicated most of his 37-year career to furthering New Zealand’s agricultural trade interests. He has served extensively with the Ministry for Primary Industries and its predecessors.

“Mr Rutherford is a former lead negotiator for New Zealand at the World Trade Organisation, and has played a significant role in trade negotiations with China and the Asia Pacific Region. He has particular expertise on European Union issues, and in the resolution of trade disputes. . .

Co-op or company – dairy firms cover the range – Jamie Gray:

Fonterra’s not-so-little brother, Westland Milk, has no plans to substantially alter the co-operative model under which it operates, and it appears its farmer members like it that way.

Westland, one of New Zealand’s top 100 businesses with turnover of more than $530 million, processes about 4 per cent of the country’s dairy supply.

Since the advent of Trading Among Farmers (TAF), there’s been a trickle of Fonterra farmers – mostly from Canterbury – coming over to Westland. . .

Innovator plugs agri-tech careers – Ben Chapman-Smith:

Young people need to start considering New Zealand’s thriving but often overlooked agricultural technology sector as a viable, well-paid career option, says Waikato-based innovator Gallagher.

The animal management company has long been one of New Zealand’s most well-known brands among farmers and has ranked in the top 10 of the TIN100 survey of New Zealand’s leading technology companies for the past three years.

Currently celebrating its 75th year, the firm’s electric fence, animal weighing, and electronic identification systems can be found on farms all over the world.

Yet many Kiwis failed to recognise the importance of agri-tech to the national economy, both as a creator of jobs and an improver of farm efficiency, said Matt Macfie, international business development manager. . .

Big dry shows risk of investing in agriculture – Iona McCarthy:

Capital growth has always been an important factor in successful dairy farm investment, but it would be unwise for investors to assume land prices always go up.

The drought ravaging many parts of the country is just one example of the business risks farmers need to consider when buying dairy land.

Accounting for such risks is essential and purchase decisions should really be made on the ability of the farm to generate an income stream, rather than a reliance on future capital growth. . .

 


Still seeking support for two good causes

March 17, 2011

David Farrar and Cameron Slater are still seeking support for their bid to bid for the No sign which a failed politician used to confirm answers to such questions as could he be trusted? and was he telling the truth?.

Helping them will support two good causes:

 The more we get, the more likely it is we will win – plus the more money gets raised for families of those who died in Christchurch. It’s a win-win.

As I originally said, if the framed sign is won by Whale and me, we will ensure it turns up to as many of Winston’s meetings as possible. It will be wonderful. We’ll just have someone silently holding it up at the wave back of the room – no need to heckle or interject – it will be a silent reminder to people about how he lied to the media and the public repeatedly.

After the election, our intention is to then permanently loan it to the Backbencher pub opposite Parliament, where it can be displayed permanently – along with a statement providing context for it.

If you’re willing to help,  e-mail David with your pledge.

While on the subject of fundraisers, the $33,000 bid from  the AllFlex Platinum Primary Producers Group was topped up to $40,000 and won Colin Meads’ No 8 jersey which was auctioned on the Farming Show.

Jamie Mackay interviewed Sir Colin about that on Tuesday and Allflex CE Shane McManaway yesterday.

The APPPG intend to auction the jersey again next year and use the proceeds for charity.


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