Rural round-up

18/01/2021

Mobile black spots: Meet the Kiwis with worse mobile coverage than the developing world – Tom Dillane:

Teresa Wyndham-Smith remembers with a laugh when it first dawned on her that mobile coverage was better in West Africa than the West Coast of New Zealand.

That was five years of signal silence ago.

The 57-year-old writer and journalist returned to her home country after a decade in Ghana, and plonked herself down in Te Miko, a settlement on the 1000-plus kms of mobile black spots along New Zealand highways.

“I’m originally from Wellington but I was living in Ghana in West Africa for 10 years before I moved to the Coast,” Wyndham-Smith said. . . 

SWAG ready to tackle 2021 – Annette Scott:

The Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool industry out of the doldrums, has kick started the new year on a positive footing.

Since putting the call out in November for financial support, industry contributions have now reached more than $500,000.

SWAG, established and incorporated late last year, is targeting a $3 million working budget to fund identified opportunities that will increase the demand and value of NZ produced strong wool.

The company aims to raise $700,000, matched with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) funding, will secure a total operational budget of about $3m. . . 

From liquid gold to price crash : NZ’s honey hangover – Jane Phare:

Mānuka honey producers have been reaping the profits from selling pots of gold in recent years but now there’s a glut of non-manuka varieties as beekeepers stockpile, hoping prices will recover. New Zealand has more than 918,000 beehives, and Jane Phare looks at why the country is oozing with honey and why Kiwis looked for something less expensive to spread on their bread.

It was always a Kiwi staple, honey on toast in the morning, a spoonful to help the medicine go down. It was sweet, yummy and affordable.

Then, the so-called magical health benefits of mānuka honey became known worldwide causing export sales to take off. As the mānuka honey story reached fever pitch, so did the prices. Honey producers were earning upwards of $100 a kilo, selling little pots of dark golden nectar. . . 

Alliance partners with children’s charity :

Alliance Group will become an official partner of Ronald McDonald House South Island, the independent charitable trust providing free accommodation and support to families who need to travel to Christchurch and Invercargill for their children’s medical treatment.

The partnership will see the co-operative provide support for the Ronald McDonald House major 2021 fundraiser – the annual Supper Club events in Christchurch, Queenstown and Invercargill – and donate meat for a range of events throughout the year.

Alliance will also play a key role in the charity’s Host a Roast month in July – when people are encouraged to host a roast, brunch or lunch and invite friends and colleagues to attend for a $20 donation to support the Ronald McDonald House programmes.

“Ronald McDonald House is very close to the hearts of many of our people, our farmer shareholders and the wider community,” Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said. . . 

 

New Alps2Ocean leg opens to rave reviews – Doug Sail:

A new $1.2 million section of the Alps2Ocean cycle trail has proved a hit with holidaymakers as they discover rarely seen South Island scenery.

The 16-kilometre section from Sailors Cutting to the top of the Benmore Dam in the Waitaki Lakes region follows the Ahuriri arm of Lake Benmore serving up sights that users have raved about since it opened on December 18.

Among the more than 7000 cyclists and pedestrians to have tried the track so far was Stuffphotographer John Bisset who has previously completed the four sections from the start in Aoraki/Mt Cook through to Omarama.

“It was an awesome ride with great vistas. . .

America’s biggest owner of farmland is now Bill Gates – Ariel Shapiro:

Bill Gates, the fourth richest person in the world and a self-described nerd who is known for his early programming skills rather than his love of the outdoors, has been quietly snatching up 242,000 acres of farmland across the U.S. — enough to make him the top private farmland owner in America.

After years of reports that he was purchasing agricultural land in places like Florida and Washington, The Land Report revealed that Gates, who has a net worth of nearly $121 billion according to Forbes, has built up a massive farmland portfolio spanning 18 states. His largest holdings are in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres) and Nebraska (20,588 acres). Additionally, he has a stake in 25,750 acres of transitional land on the west side of Phoenix, Arizona, which is being developed as a new suburb.

According to The Land Report’s research, the land is held directly and through third-party entities by Cascade Investments, Gates’ personal investment vehicle. Cascade’s other investments include food-safety company Ecolab, used-car retailer Vroom and Canadian National Railway.  . . 


Rural round-up

29/12/2020

How to avoid harm on the farm – Rowena Duncum:

I’ve always loved rural New Zealand.

Growing up beside a farm, I’d spend hours hanging over the back fence talking to the animals or across the road in the other direction, feeding grass and carrots to the rescued horses in the SPCA paddock.

Some of my happiest memories of childhood holidays are visiting family on their farms around the country. It’s a rite of passage growing up in Aotearoa. As I reached adulthood and became a farmer myself, I loved being on the other side of the fence – hosting friends and family as they came to visit, bringing their own budding farmers to see the animals or milking. . . 

Alliance Group to repay wage subsidy in full :

Invercargill-based Alliance Group has chosen to return the balance of the Covid-19 wage subsidy to the Government.The farmer-owned meat processor had already repaid $21 million of the $34m wage subsidy and will return the balance, it said.

“From the outset, Alliance has been clear we would only use the wage subsidy in the way it was intended by government and our previous repayments reflect this commitment,” chairman Murray Taggart said in a statement.

“Following the filing of our company accounts last month, the Alliance board believes the co-operative is in a position to repay the remaining balance,” he said. . .

A2 Milk hopes to expand production at Southland plant :

A2 Milk is a step closer to taking a controlling stake in Mataura Valley Milk, but says it will be at least a couple of years before it starts making profits.

ATM disclosed its intentions in August and has now entered binding agreements to buy a 75 percent stake in the Southland based infant formula maker.

The move is part of ATM’s plans to diversify its production and broaden its range of products.

“MVM provides a unique opportunity to acquire a new world class nutritional products manufacturing capability in New Zealand, alongside a highly respected China state owned enterprise in China Animal Husbandry Group (CAHG),” A2 Milk chief executive Geoff Babidge said. . .

M. bovis eradication going to plan but still work to do:

Significant progress has been made in driving down the numbers of farms affected by Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).


We’re on track to achieve eradication, but there’s still a lot of hard work ahead of us. We expect to find more infected herds as we actively look for those final pockets of infection, so we all need to remain vigilant.

As Programme partners, MPI, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand are working together to support affected farmers through this eradication programme. . .

Detector dogs could sniff out AFB and save beekeepers millions of dollars:

Training dogs to sniff out the highly infectious bacterial disease American Foulbrood (AFB) in beehives could save New Zealand’s beekeeping industry several million dollars a year.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is contributing $50,000 through Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) towards the one-year, $95,000 project.

The project aims to develop a scientific methodology for training detection dogs to reliably detect AFB, by creating a ‘scent picture’ of the disease. . . 

Blurred lines between animal welfare and animal ethics – Shan Goodwin:

ONE of the key elements of animal welfare science commonly misunderstood is that it is the animal’s perception of its conditions that counts, not those of humans.

So says one of the country’s leading experts in the field, Warrnambool veterinarian and senior lecturer in cattle medicine at Melbourne University Dr David Beggs.

The differences between animal welfare and animal ethics – and where the biggest challenges to livestock production may lay with the latter – was explored by Dr Beggs in a recent episode of the RawAg podcast produced by southern seedstock operation Te Mania Angus. . .


Rural round-up

20/12/2020

Why banning RSE workers here won’t improve wages for local agricultural workers – Eric Crampton:

They thought banning migrant farm labour would boost wages for native-born farm workers. They were wrong. And New Zealand may be getting ready to repeat their mistake.

On December 31, 1964, the United States ended the bracero agreements between the US and Mexico, after two years of tightened restrictions. The agreements, which began in 1942, regulated the movement of lower-skilled migrant labour – particularly for seasonal agricultural work. By the early 1960s, about half a million Mexican farm workers migrated to American farms for seasonal agricultural work on contracts lasting from six weeks to six months.

The Kennedy administration believed that the bracero agreements reduced American farm labour wages. It also did not help that the senior commissioner in the Department of Labour investigation of the bracero programme was a eugenicist who believed Mexicans were genetically inferior. . .

How $2 a punnet of strawberries is bad for kiwi growers

A punnet of strawberries for $2 at the supermarket may be a bargain for consumers, but it’s “particularly painful” for Kiwi growers, Michael Ahern says.

“Growers are not happy at all, in fact some of them are opening up their gardens to pick-your-own early to find some way to gain recovery by keeping costs down,” Ahern, who is executive manager for Strawberry Growers New Zealand, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“That’s not the way they want to do it – but they’re professional growers and they want normal, orthodox channels to market on a weekly basis.”

“They’re big boys and girls and they can suck it up to a certain extent – but this one is particularly painful.” . .

Agility key to Alliance success board chair says – Louise Steyl:

Agility is Alliance Group’s biggest strength as it battles trade issues around the world, board chairman Murray Taggart says.

Apart from the obvious impacts of Covid-19, issues like Great Britain exiting the European Union posed potential export risks, he said.

“Trade relationships always wax and wane.”

But the Chinese market remained the meat processing co-operative’s most important market. . .

A gut feeling backed by science – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Sheep breeding has become a science, and with technology and stock management, these three elements have combined in the sheep breeder of today.

For South Otago farmer Garth Shaw, it began with the Coopworth, the result of crossing the Romney and Border Leicester, developed at Lincoln College as a dual-purpose breed in 1950.

The Shaws began farming at Wharetoa, which means strong house in Maori, near Clydevale in 1966. They started breeding Coopworth rams in 1975.

“We have always run a commercial flock alongside our stud flock and have used the commercial flock to benchmark as new breeds and markets become available and also to test our genetic progress within a commercial setting,” Mr Shaw said. . . 

Shift from town to country rewarding:

Nicky Tily works with up to 4000 pigs — and loves every minute of it.

Ms Tily (23), who grew up in urban Christchurch and worked in the food service sector, is now a junior stockperson.

“Pigs are so intelligent. I enjoy everything about the job.”

She had always liked the idea of working with animals or on a farm and considered a career in vet nursing. However, having completed a six-month course, gaining a National Certificate in Animal Husbandry, she decided against vet nursing.

Her first job in the farming sector was with Mapua stud at Southbridge, which included a sheep stud, dairy grazing, cropping and a 120 sow outdoor piggery. She enjoyed all of the work, but particularly working with the pigs. . . 

Picking a poinsettia – Heather Barnes:

Poinsettias may traditionally be red, but as I learned on a recent visit to Homewood Nursery and Garden Center, these holiday decorating staples come in many colors.

Unlike many flowering shrubs (yes, poinsettia is a shrub), their color doesn’t come from the flowers.  The colorful part is a bract, or modified leaf.  

I have a cat who loves to eat plants, so I’ve never bought poinsettias because I thought they were poisonous.  I thought wrong. The American Veterianary Medical Assocaition says they can cause a skin irriation but rates them a lower risk than other holiday plants. While people shouldn’t eat them either, Poison Control says the plant “can be irritating but it is not fatal if eaten.”  The sap can cause a skin rash on people wo are allergic to latex, since both have some of the same proteins. . .

 


Rural round-up

19/12/2020

Open letter to Prime Minister Ardern re Immigration NZ border exemption confusion– Julie South:

Dear Prime Minister (and Minister Faafoi & Ms Standford)

Open Letter:  clarification sought on rationale used for border exemption denials for health care workers

I’m writing this Open Letter with the hope you’ll be able to answer my questions because it appears no one else in your government is able to.

There are quite a few questions in this letter, so to make it easy for you, I’ve highlighted them in blue.  I’ve also provided some background information to give you context.

I’m hoping you can help me because my colleagues and I are struggling to understand the rationale applied by Immigration New Zealand (INZ) in recent border exemption denials for the health care workers I specialise in finding jobs for. . . 

Shares in a2 tumble as company slashes forecast – Catherine Harris:

Shares in dairy company a2 have plunged more than 20 per cent on Friday as the company slashed its forecast to reflect a longer than expected recovery in its some of its selling channels.

The glamour stock’s share price fell more than 23 per cent to $10.78 in late afternoon trading, after a2 downgraded its revenue forecast for the first half to $670 million, and between $1.40 billion to $1.55b for the full year.

That was well down on 2020’s stellar full year revenue of $1.73b, and its September guidance of $1.8b to $1.9b, with $725m to $775m for the first half. . . 

A new lease on life – Neal Wallace:

Torrid life experiences proved to be Lindsay Wright’s apprenticeship for work with the Rural Support Trust in Southland. Neal Wallace talks to the former Wendonside farmer about the scratches and bruises that life has served up to him.

Lindsay Wright agonised for months about what to do with his fourth-generation family farm.

The uncertainty was adding to his depression but in the end, the decision only took a few minutes to make once he started working with a counsellor to address his health issues.

She asked him three questions: Did he want to stay as he was? Did he want to sell it? Did he want to employ a manager? . . 

Alliance demonstrates agility in tough year:

Shareholders at the Alliance Group Annual Meeting this week were told the cooperative showed agility in an unprecedented year as a result of Covid-19 and adverse weather events.

Last month, Alliance Group announced an underlying profit of $27.4 million.

Adjusted for a one-off event of ‘donning and doffing’, the annual profit result was $7.5 million before tax.

The red meat co-operative achieved a record turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

Lawyers called in over 119 year old mistake – David Williams:

Officials want to exclude a reserve from a Crown pastoral lease, which might spark a court battle, David Williams reports

When Lukas Travnicek flew over Canterbury’s Mt White Station he’d done his research.

The Czech Republic native, and New Zealand resident, knew the average rainfall of the Crown pastoral lease property, which borders the Arthur’s Pass National Park, and factored its 40,000 hectares (about a quarter of Stewart Island) into his development plans, should he buy it.

“I saw it from the chopper, the very first time and they didn’t want me to land because they said that it would be disturbing for the manager and you’re not sure if you really want to buy it. But I made the pilot land.” . . 

Govt must listen to farmers on freshwater rules:

The Government must listen to feedback from farmers on its freshwater rules,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

Stuff reports that the Southland Advisory Group has recommended pugging rules and resowing dates be scrapped from the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

“ACT has said from the outset that the rules are impractical and will seriously impact on production.

Last week, an Economic Impact Report on Land and Water Management in the Ashburton District suggested the rules would reduce farm profitability by 83 percent a year. . . 

The mystery of Tekapo’s disappearing lupins: Who killed the social media star? – Brook Sabin:

It’s one of New Zealand’s most iconic shots: Lake Tekapo, the mountains and a bright glow of purple. You probably know what purple I’m talking about. Yes, the “L” word – “lupins”.

Mackenzie Country is known around the world for its lupins; before Covid-19 Lake Tekapo would often have traffic jams around lupin hotspots.

The trouble is, when some strike that perfect Instagram pose – little do they know they’re actually frolicking among weeds.

Lupinus polyphyllus (which to be fair, sounds like the plant equivalent of an STI) is commonly known as the russel lupin, or just “that purple Instagram flower”. It is the weed equivalent of 1080; opinions are bitterly divided. . . 


Rural round-up

26/11/2020

Pandemic pressure affects export supply chain – Richard Rennie:

Exporters can expect frustrating delays for container deliveries port schedules over the peak of the export season, as logistics and trucking companies struggle with supply chain bottlenecks.

National Road Carriers Association chief executive David Aitken says his members are experiencing unprecedented delays at container depots and ports, with trucks queueing for several hours before collecting their container load.

“There are capacity issues right now, with ships sometimes running 10-12 days behind schedule; I do not think they are taking as many voyages in and out,” he said. 

“The vehicle booking system (for container exchange) is simply unable to keep up. We have trucking companies that now have to give two to three days’ notice for container collection.” . . 

Convinced wool’s worth investing in – Sally Rae:

Bruce Abbott acknowledges he has got a lot out of the wool industry and, conversely, he always felt he should put something back.

Mr Abbott (74) retires at the end of this year as executive officer of the New Zealand Wool Classers Association. He will still keep his hand in an industry in which his involvement has spanned 60 years.

Established in 2006, NZWCA was established to promote the interests of its wool classer, grader and woolhandler members. It also welcomed participation of people working in other parts of the wool value chain.

Mr Abbott, who lives in Mosgiel, was on the board of NZWCA for four years before being appointed executive officer, a role he has held for six years. . .

PINZ Awards presented in Wellington:

The primary industry’s ‘Leadership Award’ was presented last night to Southland drystock farmer Bernadette Hunt at Te Papa in Wellington.

The Primary Industries awards are in their second year and aim to recognise and celebrate achievement within New Zealand’s most valuable industry.

Bernadette’s award recognised her commitment to advocating for farming, particularly given her efforts to highlight the challenges farmers face nationwide measuring up to the government’s new freshwater regulations.

“Bernadette has the rare combination of having a clear vision of what’s right and wrong, being able to articulate a strong message and bring others on the journey. She absolutely leads by example,” Federated Farmers chief executive Terry Copeland said. . . 

Decision on pay affects Alliance – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s annual result includes a $19.9million provision for back-paying employees for the time spent putting on and removing work-related protective gear and clothing.

In May last year, the Court of Appeal declined an appeal from meat industry employers against an Employment Court decision that ruled “donning and doffing” was “work”.

That decision meant workers would be paid for the time they spent preparing to go to and from rest and meal breaks, including taking off and cleaning their safety equipment and going through complex hygiene processes.

In a statement announcing the annual result yesterday, Alliance Group said a proposal to resolve those claims was subject to ratification by the New Zealand Meat Workers Union. . .

The dog and ram run :

Grizz, the huntaway, is not fond of being touched.

Which doesn’t make veterinarian Tara Gower’s job easy.

Grizz is one of hundreds of working dogs that, at this time of year, are visited for an annual check-up.

Tara says it makes sense for the vet to travel to the dogs. . .

New Zealand Rural Land Company to list on NZX stock market:

The recently formed New Zealand Rural Land Company is planning to list on the NZX stock market later next month with an initial public offer of shares.

The company is looking to raise between $75 million and $150m, and follows a private capital-raising for wholesale investors in June and July.

The company plans to invest in rural land, without direct exposure to agricultural operations and commodity price volatility.

It is offering between 60 and 120 million shares at an issue price of $1.25 each. . .


Rural round-up

22/11/2020

Woodchips to help solve nitrogen problem – Peter Burke:

Preventing nitrogen getting into waterways is high on the priority list for many farmers and growers.

There is no silver bullet because farms are different and what works on one property won’t work on another.

Peter Burke recently went along to a field day where a solution using innovative drainage technology, which is based on good science and with minimal cost to the farmer, is being trialled.

The setting is Waitatapia Station near Bulls in the Manawatu.

Weka could be the key to solve NZ’s pest problems –

Could weka be a key to helping deal with NZ’s pest problem? A new study shows weka eat rodents, rabbits and even stoats, helping to suppress population numbers and protect other wildlife.

Lead author of the study and post-doctoral researcher for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, Dr Jo Carpenter, told Midday Report: “We were interested in whether weka could be able to help New Zealand out in controlling these invasive mammalian pests”.

Those involved reviewed scientific studies to find out about what weka ate to see if they had eaten invasive mammals.

“What we found was yes, there are quite a few studies that have found weka eating rodents, rats and mice and also quite commonly rabbits but also even stoats as well, which is pretty phenomenal.” . . 

Alliance puts in good performance despite Covid-19 :

Meat co-op Alliance Group announced an underlying profit of $27.4 million for 2020. Adjusted for one-off events, the annual profit result was $7.5 million before tax.

The co-operative achieved a turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

New Zealand’s only 100% farmer-owned major red meat co-operative achieved a record turnover of $1.8 billion for the year ending 30 September 2020.

Murray Taggart, chair of Alliance Group, said it is a good performance for the company given the disruption and volatility in global markets due to Covid-19.

Biosecurity champions recognised at 2020 awards night:

The winners of the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, announced last night at a ceremony in Wellington, represent some of Aotearoa’s most outstanding efforts to protect our unique environment from pests and diseases.

The awards recognise organisations, volunteers, businesses, iwi, hapū, government, and tamariki around the country who are contributing to biosecurity – in our bush, our oceans and waterways, and in our backyards.

Taking out top honours with the supreme award was Miraka, a Taupō-based dairy company that has created an extensive course educating their suppliers about biosecurity risks in the dairy industry from cow to bottle. 

The winners include people at the forefront of a wide variety of exceptional and innovative biosecurity-related projects, from those who have been trapping possums to protect our native birds, to learning about marine pests.  . . .

Buyers keep up with bumper crops AIMI survey shows:

With total grain production for the 2019/20 season well up over one million tonnes, it’s great to see that willing growers are finding willing buyers, Federated Farmers Arable Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, says.

According to the just-released October Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) report, cereal grain production (wheat, barley and oats) for the season totaled an estimated 881,800 tonnes, and maize grain 181,800 tonnes, for a total of 1,063,600 tonnes.

Unsold stocks of grain, across all six crops are estimated to have reduced by 50 percent between 1 July and October 10.

Even when compared to the same time last year, unsold stocks across all six crops are pretty much unchanged, with an increase in the unsold stocks of milling and feed wheat (57,600 tonnes, up by 18,600 tonnes) offset by a decrease in unsold stocks of malting and feed barley (38,700 tonnes, down by 18,900 tonnes), Brian said. . . 

New methane maths could take the heat off cows – Georgie Smith:

Oxford University researchers are pushing for a new method of measuring greenhouse gas emissions and their warming impact.

Myles Allen, Ph.D., a professor of Geosystem Science and head of the Climate Dynamics Group at Oxford Martin, University of Oxford, has a beef with how the impact of methane emissions on global warming is wrongly calculated — and then misconstrued to blame livestock for climate change.

He and his Oxford Martin colleagues have proposed a new metric called GWP* (global warming potential – star), which focuses on the warming effects of the different gases, rather than their rate of emissions. The current mischaracterization of methane’s impact on warming, Allen told The Daily Churn, ignores the “white elephant” in the room — fossil fuel-based carbon dioxide emissions. This in turn could lead to misguided policies that inaccurately target animal agriculture.

“If we all turn vegetarian, but we don’t do anything about fossil fuel emissions, in five years we’ll be in exactly the same position we were before,” Allen says of rising global temperatures. But “we’re vegetarians.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/11/2020

50 Shades of Green disappointed James Shaw retains Climate Change portfolio:

The conservation group 50 Shades of Green is disappointed that James Shaw has retained his climate change portfolio.

“While we have nothing against Mr Shaw personally, we believe the portfolio needs a fresh perspective,” 50 Shades of Green chair Any Scott said.

“We can’t keep doing what we’re doing and planting good farmland in trees while we extol the virtue of protecting and increasing our biodiversity.

“It’s nothing more than a feel-good factor and will achieve nothing positive. We’ll continue to pollute, and the climate will continue to get warmer. . . 

China has vowed to cut its reliance on foreign food imports. What could that mean for NZ agricultural exports? – James Fyfe:

With China vowing to cut its reliance on foreign food imports in the coming years, experts say while New Zealand exporters shouldn’t start worrying just yet, they should start thinking ahead and not put all their eggs in one basket.

Leaders from the world’s second-biggest economy met earlier this week to lay out a five-year plan for the country. Among the priorities identified was to have a “lower reliance on foreign suppliers for strategic products such as food, energy, semiconductors and other key technologies,” the Associated Press reported.

With China a massive buyer of New Zealand agricultural exports, more self-reliance could have a direct impact on farmers and growers here.

Trade expert Charles Finny, a former senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, says China is an “enormously important market” for New Zealand, twice the size of our next-largest market, Australia.  . . 

Alliance weathers the year’s many challenges – Sally Rae:

It is more important than ever for Alliance Group to invest in Southland in the wake of uncertainty over the future of Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, chief executive David Surveyor says.

The company was committed to Southland and it had spent significant money at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, in the last couple of years, Mr Surveyor said.

That included spending $12.5million to install the latest processing technology — including new generation primal cutters, middles and fores technology — a major engine room upgrade, and reconfiguration of its venison plant so it could also process beef . . 

New Zealand’s little-told Far North wild horses story :

In 2012 Kelly Wilson’s family saved 12 Kaimanawa horses from slaughter and then two years later they had their TV  show Keeping up with the Kaimanawas when they successfully tamed another 12.

Kelly appeared on the TV series with her sisters, Vicky and Amanda, and has also written four best-selling books about horses.

An adventurer who “loves anything to do with an adrenalin rush”, she enjoys ice climbing, scuba diving and snow boarding wherever she is in the world.

“But a lot of my time now is invested into wild horses and both photographing them in the wild and then taming them first-hand and then writing the books about them.”   . . 

Swings and roundabouts – in defence of animal source foods :

Back in 1994, 5 + A Day kicked off in a bid to increase New Zealanders intake of fruit and vegetables, as those working in health and nutrition understood the benefits to our nations’ health of increasing the intake of these foods. Zip to 2020, and it feels like the pendulum has swung completely in favour of plant-based foods and the messaging we’re receiving almost daily, including from non-nutrition experts, media and influencers advocate following a plant-based only diet. What has happened to balance? When did people start perceiving animal foods as being bad for our health? Why does it have to be either-or?

It seems the religion of old is out the door in favour of belonging and identifying with a food camp, whether it be vegan, plant-based whole food, carnivore, flexitarian, keto or paleo, and it seems there are some people who sit in judgement of those who don’t adhere to their food religion. However, the food agnostics amongst us don’t want to jump on this bandwagon, and quietly prefer to not put a label on it, and simply follow a balanced diet. 

Back in 1994, 5 + A Day kicked off in a bid to increase New Zealanders intake of fruit and vegetables, as those working in health and nutrition understood the benefits to our nations’ health of increasing the intake of these foods. Zip to 2020, and it feels like the pendulum has swung completely in favour of plant-based foods and the messaging we’re receiving almost daily, including from non-nutrition experts, media and influencers advocate following a plant-based only diet. What has happened to balance? When did people start perceiving animal foods as being bad for our health? Why does it have to be either-or? . . .

Mountain Blue Orchards grows from farm and nursery to a globally integrated business – Michelle Hespe:

With the NSW Farmer of the Year awards cancelled for 2020, The Land and The Farmer look back at the past decade of inspiring winners to see how they’ve adapted to current times, as well as what the competition has meant to them.

Ridley Bell of Mountain Blue Orchards is considered the grandfather of Australia’s blueberry industry.

By becoming the 2010 NSW Farmer of the Year he feels he was also put on the map for other farmers and for the horticulture industry in general.

“The awards opened up whole series of different networks and supports,” he says. . .


Rural round-up

18/10/2020

Farmers have form filling issues with sustainability :

Controversial new rules to clean up streams and rivers have fired up election debates and brought an angry backlash from farmers, who say it will cost them tens of thousands of dollars – and won’t make the waterways cleaner. 

Today The Detail visits Chris Lewis at his 500-hectare dairy and dry stock farm in Pukeatua, on the border of Waikato and King Country, to find out what the freshwater regulations mean to him and to look at the work he’s done to tackle environmental damage.

The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater largely came into force last month. Rules on intensive winter grazing have been put back to May next year, and regulations on stockholding areas other than feedlots and application of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to pastoral land will be in force next July. . . 

Zespri on alert over mystery disease killing Italian kiwifruit – Esther Taunton:

Zespri is on alert over a mystery disease sweeping through Italian kiwifruit crops and leaving scientists baffled.

The disease, which growers call “moria” or “die-off”, begins in the roots of kiwifruit vines, which blacken and rot.

The leaves then wither and drop, leaving fruit exposed to the sun, and the vines dry up and die within two years.

According to The Guardian, the disease broke out near the Italian city of Verona in 2012 and hasaffected up to 84 per cent of vines in some places. . . 

New genetics company created by farmers – Gerald Piddock:

A group of farmers have created a new company to challenge the status quo of how genetics are delivered to the New Zealand dairy industry.

Called Matriarch Genetics Ltd, after the maternal bloodlines that bull breeders contribute to the national herd, its objective is to accelerate the genetic gain and genetic diversity of dairy animals.

Spokesperson Kevin Clark says it was born out of a combination of frustration and opportunity.

Dairy bull breeders were frustrated at the decline in the number of bull genetics companies were accepting into their programmes over recent years. . . 

Dunedin firm to build $12.5m boning system – Jacob McSweeny:

Scott Technology has won a multimillion-dollar contract to build an X-ray lamb boning system for Alliance Group’s plant near Invercargill.

The deal was announced yesterday morning to the NZX and is being lauded as a boost for the local economy in a difficult time.

The technology — worth $12.5million — will be developed at Scott’s Dunedin offices over the next 10 months.

It uses X-ray and vision technology to get more accurate cuts while also removing workers at Alliance’s Lorneville plant from being at the forefront of “heavy primal cutting activities,” thus making it safer for them. . . 

Southern scholarship recipients address red-meat opportunities – Yvonne O’Hara:
Silver Fern Farms has announced its  Pasture to Plate youth scholarship recipients for 2020, adding two additional scholarships on top of the six usually offered. That move was to strengthen its support for the industry through the challenges presented by Covid-19, chief executive Simon Limmer said. Southern Rural Life reporter Yvonne O’Hara speaks to the three southern recipients — Imogen Brankin, Leora Werner and Dan Ryan. The other successful applicants were Jack Monckton, Harry Hawkins, Joe Ward, Jazmine Burgess and Sam Phipps.

Scholarship and lamb for the flat

Now that Dan Ryan has been named as a Silver Fern Farms’ Pasture to Plate scholarship recipient, he is going to have to make good on what he promised to spend the money on.

Mr Ryan is in his final year of a commerce degree at Lincoln University, majoring in supply chain management, global business and marketing. . . 

IWSC awards New Zealand’s only gold medal wine to te Pa Family Vineyards 2020 rosé:

International Wine & Spirits Competition judges call te Pa 2020 Rosé ‘A perfect benchmark for the style’

te Pa Family Vineyards, the independently owned, Maori winery in Marlborough, is celebrating after winning the country’s only gold medal for wine, across all New Zealand wine categories, at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, based in the UK.

The winery’s te Pa 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé was awarded the only gold medal and the highest score (95 points) for a New Zealand wine in the fiercely competitive category.

Founder and owner of te Pa, Haysley MacDonald, who’s family lineage and history goes back to some of the earliest Maori arrivals to New Zealand, around 800 years ago, says he is delighted with the result and is proud to represent the New Zealand wine community on the world stage. . . 


Rural round-up

09/10/2020

Tractors take to Gore streets as farmers protest freshwater rules – Rachael Kelly:

Southland farmers have made their feelings about the Government’s new freshwater rules known by clogging Gore’s main street with tractors.

More than 100 machines and some bulk sowers were driven through the town in protest of new rules for farmers, which the Government introduced in September with the aim of improving freshwater quality.

And as the big machines convoyed down the street, many shoppers stopped to watch, and other drivers tooted their horns in support.

It was the first major protest after Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young called on farmers to boycott the new rules in August. . . 

 

 

 

Balance needed between regulation and innovation – Warwick Catto:

 In recent years, New Zealand’s farmers have found themselves subject to increasingly strict rules and regulations.

These are mainly in terms of how they operate, enforced as a key part of our nation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contamination in our waterways. 

A quick review of the environmental policies announced so far by some of our key political parties, ahead of the election on October 17, suggests that further, harsher restrictions are likely. 

There’s no doubt that our agricultural sector has a vitally important part to play in New Zealand’s response to these key environmental challenges, and overwhelmingly, farmers are more than willing to adapt to meet the standards required of them.  . . 

Spotlight on vet shortage :

While the primary sector has been hailed as a saviour of the New Zealand economy during covid restrictions, a critical shortage of veterinarians and its impact on the primary sector just doesn’t seem to be viewed as important or sexy enough to see border restrictions streamlined.

“We’re led to the conclusion that veterinarians are just not viewed as important, or as sexy as other parts of the economy such as film making, which have seen wholesale exemptions created,” New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) chief executive Kevin Bryant says.

“This is surprising given veterinarians’ essential worker status during lockdown.

“We also understand that exemptions have been granted to build golf courses, build or repair racetracks and for shearers. Surely, veterinarians are at least as important in supporting the economic functioning of the country. . . 

Headwaters sheep ‘definitely superior‘ –

‘‘Being part of The Omega Lamb Project really gives you the best of both worlds,’’ North Otago farmer Ben Douglas says.

Mr Douglas and wife Sarah, and his parents, David and Cindy, farm 6000ha Dome Hills Station, near Danseys Pass.

‘‘My father tried various breeds in the past but we’ve found the Headwaters sheep is definitely superior for our type of farming. We’re very happy with their resilience and their performance. Then you have a whole other side, with the special qualities of the Omega lambs, the omega 3, the good intramuscular fats and the exceptional flavour and texture,’’ he said.

The 100% Headwaters flock was already established at Dome Hills when Mr Douglas returned to the station six years ago, following his university studies and then a banking career in New Zealand and London. . . 

It’s all kosher – Taggart –  David Anderson:

Farmer-owned cooperative Alliance Group says it has already returned $17 million of the $34.3 million it claimed from the Covid-19 wage subsidy.

In a statement to Rural News, Alliance chairman Murray Taggart said the co-op had been “open and upfront” about the wage subsidy.

“We have been in ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Social Development about the application of the subsidy and stated from the outset that we would return any funds not used to pay people. In line with that commitment, we have returned $17 million of the subsidy.”

Taggart said the company’s application for the wage subsidy was supported and endorsed by the New Zealand Meat Workers Union. . .

Soil carbon influences climate, farm productivity– Professor Louis Schipper:

In the first of three articles about soil carbon, Prof Louis Schipper from the University of Waikato explains why soil carbon matters to farmers, what influences it and what we currently know about carbon stocks in New Zealand’s pastoral soils.

Soil carbon is one of the most talked-about subjects in agriculture. 

That’s not surprising because carbon-rich soils support vigorous crop and pasture growth, and may be more resilient to stressors such as drought.

Changes in soil carbon stocks over time might also affect the climate.  . . 

Sheep farmers ask industries to make wool ‘first choice’:

Sheep producers are encouraging industries to make wool their choice of fibre as a campaign gets underway to highlight its natural qualities.

The sheep sector is celebrating the start of Wool Week (5 October – 18) today, and farmers are calling on politicians and green activists to back British wool.

The annual event aims to put a spotlight on wool’s natural performance qualities and ecological benefits.

The sector is keen to highlight the fact that fabrics such as polyester, nylon and acrylic are all forms of plastic and make up about 60% of the material that makes up clothes worldwide. . . 


Rural round-up

26/08/2020

Wonderful wool, our ‘supermaterial’, is at a crossroads – adapt or disappear – Piers Fuller:

Once a stalwart of our economy, the wool sector faces some tough decisions to ensure its survival. Piers Fuller reports.

For those lanolin-soaked old shearers who remember the glory days of the New Zealand wool industry, the collapse of our strong wonder fibre is something of a disaster.

For many modern economists, the writing is on the wall and it is time to face reality and produce something the world wants.

Unfortunately, what the world has wanted in recent decades has been cheap, petroleum-based synthetics. . . 

We are loved again – Nick Loughnan:

In our time of farming, Faith and I have known the ups and downs of affairs – not those that involve other people’s hearts. We’ve been together for 45 years. No, these affairs at their peak were about being needed and valued to the point of privilege, just because of what we do. We’re farmers.

At the start of our career, we certainly belonged to a privileged bunch. Deciding we wanted to own our own farm, but with neither of us having chosen parents who already had one, we had to start from scratch. Yet there were great incentives for us in our early 20s to get the breaks.

Governments had, for decades through different schemes, been developing extensive tracts of marginal land, subdividing these into smaller ‘economic’ units, complete with new dwellings, sheds, yards and fences, and then balloting them off. . . 

Growing demand for antibiotic-free meat – Annette Scott:

A sudden surge in orders for antibiotic-free meat has processors on the hop as they struggle to meet market demand.

Alliance general manager livestock and shareholder services Danny Hailes said the co-operative is desperately seeking farmers to join its Raised Without Antibiotics (RWA) programme.

He said while global markets are generally subdued, there is growing demand for antibiotic-free meat.

“We have one customer, (in) North America, where demand is just growing as customers become increasingly conscious of what they are eating,” he said. . . 

A hiss not a roar

The Covid-19 lockdown has kept international hunters at home and meant a very lean season for their NZ guides, as Annabelle Latz reports.

The stags were roaring, yet not a hunter was to be seen.

Owing to Covid-19 lockdown rules there were no trophy hunters gathering from around New Zealand or abroad to enjoy the roar this year.

Instead, hunting guides were left with empty appointment books, hunters stayed home, and stags remained untouched.

John Royle of Canterbury Tahr Hunter Guide NZ has been guiding for more than 12 years and this was the first time ever he’s been ground to a halt during the roar, his most lucrative season with full appointment books. He has lost potentially three months’ business. . .

Coculture brings environmental and economic benefits

 Research scientists say law changes are required before lucrative new species, which also bring environmental benefits, can be harvested from existing marine farms.

A paper from Niwa’s Jeanie Stenton-Dozey and Jeffrey Ren, Cawthron’s Leo Zamora and independent researcher Philip Heath appears in the latest NZ Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research.

It looks at opportunities for Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture (IMTA) – also known as coculture. You may also have heard the term polyfarming which was the title for an MFA- supported Smart+Connected Aquaculture forum in Havelock in 2017.

The forum was held to encourage pathways to new added-value products and diversify production into other high value species. . . 

A true picture of our rural lifestyle – Joyce Campbell:

Keeping my big mouth shut is never easy for me, but over the past year I’ve managed not to tell too many folk that we’ve been filming with a team from the BBC for series four of This Farming Life.

It wasn’t a decision that any of us took lightly but I wanted to take the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with the consumers of the food we produce and share the stories of the rural communities we live in.

A slot on BBC2 at prime time, to a UK-wide audience, was worth me taking the time and effort to engage with the wider public.

I’m not going to lie – I was extremely nervous on Tuesday night as the opening titles rolled, but two Rock Rose gin and tonics helped to settle the gut-churning emotions. . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/08/2020

Are all proteins created equal? The difference between plant and animal proteins – Tim Newman:

New research into food proteins means meat and dairy should continue to play a key role in New Zealand’s farming future, a Massey University scientist says.

Distinguished Professor Paul Moughan spoke on the subject of world food security at the Nelson Federated Farmers’ 75th anniversary celebrations recently.

Moughan is one of the principal investigators at the Riddet Institute, a food science research organisation which was awarded Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) status by the Government in 2007.

In his presentation, Moughan outlined the projected rise in demand for world food production over the next 50 years, and the opportunity for New Zealand to meet that need. . .

Successful formula for calf rearer – Yvonne O’Hara:

Lynne Johnston has been calf rearing for about 18 years, and loves it.

Mrs Johnston and husband Glenn have progressed from lower order and 50-50 sharemilking in Riversdale to farm owners at Clarendon, near Waihola, six years ago.

They own 200ha, run 560 cows and have a milk solid target of 235,000kg of milk solids.

“We started rearing 120 replacements each year. However, as we moved through 50-50 sharemilking we reared a lot more to grow our herd. . . 

Skills group ‘unashamedly parochial’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

The new interim Southland Regional Skills Leadership Group (SRSLG) is “unashamedly parochial in outlook”, co-chairman Paul Marshall says.

“We have a very clear focus on what is best for Southland.

“Our role is to provide advice about the labour market and we have been given assurances that our advice will be heard by employment minister Willie Jackson.”

The interim SRSLG is one of 15 groups throughout the country established to address current and future disruptions in regional labour markets because of Covid-19 . .

Alliance distributes $5m to shareholders :

Red meat cooperative Alliance Group will be paying $5 million to some of its farmer shareholders.

The quarterly payments have been made to Alliance’s Platinum and Gold shareholders who supply 100% of their livestock to the company.

Farmers are paid an additional 10c/kg for each lamb, 6c/kg for a sheep, 8.5c/kg for cattle and 10c/kg for deer. The payments cover the period April-June 2020. . . 

A2 Milk reports $385m profit for full year :

Specialty dairy company A2 Milk has posted a record profit, driven by booming sales of infant formula because of the Covid-19 virus.

The company reported an annual profit of $385.8 million compared with $287.7m last year, as revenue rose by a third and it held margins at target levels, which it had signalled to the market in April.

“We estimate that Covid-19 had a modest positive impact on revenue and earnings for the year. Additionally, our business was favourably impacted by foreign exchange movements,” the company said in a statement.

A2 Milk makes dairy products from milk without the A-1 protein, which is held to be easier to digest and absorb for some people. . . 

Passion for rural health – Jamie Brown:

Two young future doctors, passionate about improving rural health, have been awarded The Land Rural Medical Scholarship for 2020.

The winners are second year medical students Simon Whelan, University of Notre Dame at Sydney, and Laura Beaumont, Western Sydney University.

Both have country connections, with Mr Whelan off a fourth generation rice growing property near Griffith and Ms Beaumont fromthe Hunter Valley town of Paterson.

The scholarship’s administrator, Alicia Hargreaves of the Gundagai based Rural Doctors Association of NSW, said it was fabulous to see the enthusiasm, and the quality of the applicants. . .


Rural round-up

09/08/2020

Difficult but the right call – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the joint decision three years ago to eradicate Mycoplamsa bovis was a difficult call. However, Mackle says the 10-year eradication plan, while difficult, was the best option for farmers and the economy. He made the comments to mark three years since the bacterial disease was first detected in New Zealand. The discovery shocked the industry and triggered one of New Zealand’s largest ever biosecurity responses.  . .

Farmers missing out on newer technology – Mark Ross:

Ineffective regulation is leading to farmers and growers missing out on products that will increase their productivity and be safer to use.

The Government launched a bold plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade, while protecting the environment and growing jobs.

The plan, launched last month, involves a 10-year roadmap to unlock greater value for a sector vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery.

As the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor pointed out, there is huge potential in the roadmap, but it can only be achieved through a close government partnership with industry and Māori. . . 

Lamb weight not demand driving price – Annette Scott:

South Island lamb supply is tight but while seasonal procurement pressure may be enough to see marginal price lifts in some regions, weak export markets are keeping a cap on prices.

Alliance Group key account manager Murray Behrent said while procurement pressure may appear to be at fever pitch around the saleyards, the difference in pricing is the weight of the lambs.

Agents around Canterbury saleyards are reporting strong demand is driving prime lamb values with top prices at Temuka and Coalgate this week, fetching $194 and $198 respectively. . . 

Council exploring water storage sites – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is actively investigating freshwater storage sites to carry excess winter water through to dry periods in summer.

It’s part of a four-pronged regional water security programme, supported by the Provincial Growth Fund, which includes a region-wide freshwater assessment, a 3D aquifer mapping project, and exploring viable locations for small-scale community storage schemes in the Central Hawke’s Bay (Tukituki River) and Heretaunga (Ngaruroro River) catchments.

Council acting manager regional water security Tom Skerman says the regional water assessment is analysing water supply and demand across the region to 2050. . . .

Tarras no stranger to the sly land-buyer transaction – Mark Price:

Before international airports became the talk of Tarras, farming was the district’s main preoccupation. In all its guises, farming has stamped its mark on the district and its people over 162 years. Mark Price takes a look at what has happened to Tarras in the days since its potential for farming was first realised.

Christchurch International Airport Ltd caught plenty of flak for the way it bought up land at Tarras for an airport.

Its agents, while making offers to landowners, did not disclose who they were working for, or why the land was wanted.

The airport’s chief executive, Malcolm Johns, was the man who orchestrated the purchase of 750ha for an airport, at a cost of $45 million.

He saw the potential, acted swiftly and quietly and came up last month, holding the deeds to the various farming properties. . . 

Broadacre farmers have their own fire experience – Mal Peters:

Reinforcing farmers’ perceptions the Rural Fire Service is a Sydney-centric bureaucracy, northern NSW broadacre farmers are scratching their heads at the declaration of a bushfire danger period on August 1.

Grass burns poorly in winter, so most of us are waiting for warmer weather.

We can get a permit to burn, but that only adds to our daily mountain of red tape.

Given recent megafires you’d think the RFS would make it easier to conduct controlled burns. . . 


Rural round-up

30/07/2020

Fonterra wins right to refuse suppliers – Esther Taunton:

A long-awaited law change means Fonterra could refuse to accept milk from controversial dairy conversions like the Simons Pass development in the Mackenzie Basin.

Changes to the 20-year-old Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (Dira) passed unanimously through Parliament on Friday.

The new rules allow Fonterra to reject milk from new dairy farm conversions and extend its rights to refuse milk from farmers who don’t meet its standards.

The amendments also remove the requirement for the co-op to supply milk to competitors to help them get established and allow it to refuse re-entry to farmers who have switched processors. . . 

Recruitment campaign won’t turn ‘flight attendants into dairy workers’ – Brent Melville:

Pivoting unemployed New Zealanders into the agriculture and primary sector won’t turn former Air New Zealand flight attendants into dairy workers or remove the need for specialist skills across the processing sector, according to a change consultant.

The comments come as the Ministry for Primary Industries rolls out a $4.5 million recruitment campaign aiming to fill a 10,000-job hole across the agricultural and primary sectors left by New Zealand’s extended border closures through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The website and marketing campaign, ‘opportunity grows here’, was developed by ad agency Clemenger BBDO and the four-year project is being funded through a $19.3m allocation under this year’s budget. . . 

Future of New Zealand’s farming should be female – Nicky Hyslop:

 At first glance, farming might appear to be a way of life that is as old as the hills. But when you look closer, it is clear that farming is a modern profession – and one that is certainly not stuck in the mud.

Modern farming practices are increasingly challenging any parochial view that some Kiwis have about the industry.

Gone are the days of simply mucking in and hoping for the best. Farming today involves new technologies and harnessing big data to drive decision-making. And coupling these innovations with an increased emphasis on animal welfare, soil nutrition and environmental stewardship.

Farming has always been competitive. Understanding crop rotation, grazing, nutrient profiles of soil and transport logistics are just some of the factors that farmers have to get right in order to be successful. . . 

Alliance to spend $3.2m on upgrade :

Alliance Group is to spend $3.2million on a further upgrade at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, to help improve operational efficiency.

The plant’s engine room two, which provides key refrigeration for four cold stores, some blast freezers and several product chillers will receive upgraded safety features, equipment and building structure.

The programme would improve the company’s ability to control the refrigeration system remotely and provide a platform for further investment, Alliance said in a statement. . . 

$7.9m for SFF dividend, patronage :

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has declared a dividend and patronage reward for shareholders totalling $7.9 million.

The decision followed receipt of a cash dividend of $12.4 million to the co-operative from Silver Fern Farms Ltd, which is jointly owned by Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and China’s Shanghai Maling.

That dividend was generated from Silver Fern Farms Ltd’s 2019 financial year for which it reported a net profit after tax of $70.7 million in April this year.

At the time, the dividend was deferred at the request of Silver Fern Farms Co-operative and Shanghai Maling until the outlook for the global trading environment became clearer. .  .

 

Five farmers revitalise soil health while remaining profitable:

Scottish farmers are getting their heads together on one of the most fundamental concerns – how to revitalise soil health to achieve more sustainable farming and profit.

The Soil Regenerative Group has been created to explore which techniques, treatments, crops and rotations best establish resilient soils and how to integrate these into profits.

From growing linseed to broadcasting seed on the day of harvest, grazing sheep on oilseed rape to direct drilling, each farmer is experimenting differently and is at varied stages of adopting “regenerative”, or conservation, farming. . . 


Rural round-up

28/07/2020

Synthetics out in favour of natural fibres – Sally Rae:

Carpet-maker Cavalier is ditching synthetics in favour of wool and other natural fibres, citing “negative impacts on people’s health and the planet”.

The listed company yesterday unveiled a new transformational strategy, saying it would transition away from the manufacture and supply of synthetic fibre carpets over the next 12 months and existing synthetic stocks would be sold down.

In its strategy, the company said the long-term dangers posed by plastics were becoming clear. Plastic was a global problem and manufacturers needed to be part of the solution.

The impact that plastics had on human health was not yet fully understood, but early studies suggested that microplastics entering the body were a potential threat. The average Kiwi home with synthetic carpet was similar to having 22,000 plastic bags on the floor, by weight, it said. . . 

From lipstick to gum boots :

City girl becomes ‘Gumboot Girl’ and helps introduce sustainable practices on Northland dairy farm.

For years Jo Wood worked as a beauty therapist in Auckland. She was, in her words, “a city slicker”.

But then she “fell into” another job, one about as far removed from the glamour of make-up, manicures and pedicures as it’s possible to get.

Working in gumboots and a singlet, these days she walks the pastures of a 350ha dairy farm located on the coast between the Northland towns of Wellsford and Warkworth – and is known to one and all by her alter ego ‘Gumboot Girl‘. . .

 

Wools NZ elects new chairman – Annette Scott:

Former Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman James Parson has been elected chairman of Wools NZ to lead the organisation in a new direction post covid-19.

The recognised industry leader, well known for his past chairmanship of Beef and Lamb NZ and the NZ Meat Board, Parsons was initially elected to the board by growers at the organisation’s annual meeting in November.    

The grower-owned strong wool marketing and export company has now embarked on a new era post covid-19 to re-orientate its strategic direction.

Parsons, a Northland sheep and beef farmer believes he well understands the industry challenges from a grassroots perspective. . . 

What’s next for the wool industry? – Annette Scott:

Step one of the wool industry’s Vision and Action report has connected the stakeholders now Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor says the next step must lead to real purpose.

“It’s absolutely crucial the next step is real purpose, this report will most certainly not be sitting gathering dust,” O’Connor said.

“The project action group (PAG) has rounded up the situation, connected with industry players and provided some real guidance for the next step.

“With the absence of major initiatives from the industry I have to be responsible to put something up.”  . . 

Alliance to spend $3.2m on upgrade :

Alliance Group is to spend $3.2million on a further upgrade at its Lorneville plant, near Invercargill, to help improve operational efficiency.

The plant’s engine room two, which provides key refrigeration for four cold stores, some blast freezers and several product chillers will receive upgraded safety features, equipment and building structure.

The programme would improve the company’s ability to control the refrigeration system remotely and provide a platform for further investment, Alliance said in a statement.

It would also give an opportunity to have more control points and sensors, improve the ability to provide automation control and result in ‘‘significant’’ savings through energy efficiency. . . 

Welsh unions highlight farmers’ role in fighting climate change :

Wales’ two farming unions have highlighted the vital role of agriculture in helping the UK to address the threat of climate change.

NFU Cymru and the Farmers’ Union of Wales held a virtual meeting with the UK’s High-Level Climate Action Champion, Nigel Topping, who was appointed by the prime minister in January.

In addition to wider discussions around climate change, the roundtable event provided a platform to discuss the ‘Race to Zero’ campaign.

The international campaign aims to strive for a healthy, resilient zero carbon recovery, which was launched on World Environment Day and will run up to COP26 . . .


Rural round-up

20/05/2020

Kiwi lamb in limelight – Annette Scott:

Changing consumer demand in China has opened an opportunity for New Zealand lamb to take centre stage.

In a move to encourage online sales of NZ lamb in China, Beef + Lamb and Alliance have joined forces to launch a digital campaign aimed at leveraging the new consumer behaviour.  

The e-campaign is focused on driving online red meat sales as Chinese consumers seek out healthier food options in the wake of covid-19.   

“Alliance and B+LNZ are co-investing in the initiative to drive the awareness of NZ’s healthy and natural grass-fed lamb but ultimately to drive sales,” B+LNZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

Wallaby curse – Farmer refuses to be caught on the hop – Sally Brooker:

Wallabies have been marketed as a cute local attraction in Waimate, but farmers curse the day they crossed the Ditch.

The problems began soon after Bennett’s wallabies from Tasmania were taken to The Hunters Hills in the Waimate District in 1874 for recreational hunting.

Their population boom led to damaged farm pasture, crops and fencing, and native bush and forestry plantings.

A 2017 Ministry for Primary Industries report predicted the cost to the economy of not controlling wallabies in the South Island could be $67million within 10 years.

Anecdotal reports say the numbers are increasing again in the Waimate area. Many farmers are upset about it, but few would go on the record.

Walter Cameron had no such qualms. He has been dealing with wallabies at his family’s 3900ha Wainui Station, near Hakataramea, for most of his life and knows how to keep them in check.  . . 

High paying environmental jobs not realistic:

The Government’s $1.1 billion idea of redeploying people into environmental jobs is great in concept but difficult to turn into reality, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“It’s a struggle to get Kiwis to take well-paying jobs in the horticulture or farming sector, so convincing people to become rat-catchers and possum-trackers in the numbers the Government is hoping for will be an enormous challenge.

“It’s all very well allocating the funding, but there’s no detail on how the job numbers will be achieved and this Government has a poor track record of delivering on their big policies.

“The $1.1 billion for 11,000 jobs means they’ve allocated $100,000 per job. There is no detail about how much of this is going to workers on the ground doing the environmental work and how much of this is going to added bureaucracy in Wellington offices. . . 

Training our rural doctors – Ross Nolly:

Attracting general practitioners to work in small rural areas has been challenging at times, which has led people to delay seeking medical care. Ross Nolly caught up with one Taranaki rural GP who says there are a lot of benefits to working in small communities.

In recent years finding doctors willing to work in rural general practices and rural hospitals has been difficult.

The Rural Hospital Medicine Training Programme is a subset of the Royal New Zealand GP College. It’s a relatively new programme and its aim is to give doctors an experience of rural hospital medicine. 

The programme has been operating at Hawera Hospital in South Taranaki for three years and shares some elements with general practice with many doctors practising rural GP and rural hospital medicine simultaneously. . . 

The power of community – James Barron:

Chairman of Fonterra Shareholders Council, James Barron on Fonterra, COVID-19, and the importance of community.

He waka eke noa – we’re all in this together. It’s a phrase that seems to be coming up a lot lately, and it reminds me how powerful community can be.

For wider New Zealand, the challenges brought about by COVID-19 have been significant.

But they have also presented some unexpected opportunities – to rediscover community spirit, spend quality time with our families, and do what’s best for the greater good. . . 

Tree planting is not a simple solution – Karen D. Ho and Pedro H. S. Brancalion:

A plethora of articles suggest that tree planting can overcome a host of environmental problems, including climate change, water shortages, and the sixth mass extinction (13). Business leaders and politicians have jumped on the tree-planting bandwagon, and numerous nonprofit organizations and governments worldwide have started initiatives to plant billions or even trillions of trees for a host of social, ecological, and aesthetic reasons. Well-planned tree-planting projects are an important component of global efforts to improve ecological and human well-being. But tree planting becomes problematic when it is promoted as a simple, silver bullet solution and overshadows other actions that have greater potential for addressing the drivers of specific environmental problems, such as taking bold and rapid steps to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

04/05/2020

An apple harvest no-one will ever forget – Nikki Mandow:

Apple growers have filled our fruit bowls and bolstered our export coffers, while harvesting a bumper crop and maintaining strict social distancing for their workforce. It’s been a nightmare.

Simon Easton sounds relaxed. The fourth-generation apple farmer grows 61 hectares of fruit outside Motueka with his brother. They are nearly at the end of this year’s harvest – a week more picking, a month more packing and they’re done.

Easy as. Not.

On a scale of one to 10, Easton reckons his stress levels this season have been up around 9.8. Particularly at the beginning of the pandemic. . .

Coronavirus: Alliance Group adapts to changing global markets -Louisa Steyl:

The rural sector is tipped to help Southland’s economy pull through the coronavirus lockdown. What does that mean for the Alliance Group? Louisa Steyl reports.

Being agile and responding to markets’ rapid changes both domestically and on a global scale will help some companies come through the downturn in the economy.

The Alliance Group, with processing plants in Dannevirke, Levin, Nelson, Oamaru, Timaru and its two Southland-based plants Lorneville and Mataura, has been affected during the lockdown.   . . 

 

Fish and Game review change to refocus:

The recently announced review into Fish and Game needs to ensure the organisation’s focus returns to working in the best interests of anglers and hunters, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“Over recent years there has been tension between Fish and Game and farming groups that has contributed to a rural-urban divide.

“Many prized fishing and hunting spots are on privately owned farmland and there is a lot of goodwill between individual farmers and recreational hunters and anglers in negotiating access. . . 

Kiwis left scratching their heads as butter turns white – Esther Taunton:

Something’s happening to our butter.

Usually a deep yellow, it’s been getting progressively lighter and even farmers are puzzled by its now barely off-white hue.

In a recent tweet, Golden Bay dairy farmer Wayne Langford pointed out the change, comparing a block of Anchor butter to his “tan free legs.” . .

Act now, plan ahead – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling through extended drought and increasing feed shortages are being told to act now and plan for winter.

It’s a message farmers in other parts of the country should heed as well, with feed shortages likely to be wide-ranging. 

The southern half of Hawke’s Bay is entering its seventh month of below-normal rainfall and there is no sign of the drought breaking. . .

Learning from Covid: How biosecurity lessons in Asia will help Australia :

As the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, a consortium of Australian and New Zealand veterinary scientists has been established to train a new generation of ‘animal disease detectives’ in 11 countries across Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“A year after African swine fever wiped out more than a quarter of the global pig population and with more than 200,000 people dead from COVID-19, equipping veterinarians with the tools for disease outbreak investigation and surveillance has never been more important,” said program leader Associate Professor Navneet Dhand from the University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science and Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity. . .


Rural round-up

02/05/2020

Ongoing drought is bleeding us dry – Rhea Dasent:

We are living through exceptional times, and the drought of 2020 is one of the exceptions – and not in a good way.

Businesses affected by the coronavirus lockdown understand how farmers feel about the drought.

Being unable to trade due to external influences puts you not just on the back foot, but several feet behind, for the rest of the year or even longer.

Tourism businesses rely on a good summer with lots of customers in order to have the income to get through the low winter season. Farmers have good and bad seasons too, and hope that it all evens out.

But the lockdown and this drought have taken the usual seasonal ups and downs to a whole new level. . . 

Overseas markets holding up – Allan Barber:

In a recent conversation, Alliance CEO David Surveyor described world red meat markets by comparing them to traffic lights. Contrary to the evidence earlier in the year, when buyers stopped buying because of Chinese New Year closely followed by the Covid-19 shutdown, China has emerged as the brightest light with the traffic lights firmly set on green. The composition of Chinese orders has changed since the virus outbreak with retail and online sales growing considerably, while there are signs of hot pot outlets starting to reopen.

Silver Fern Farms’ Simon Limmer agrees with this assessment, although he cautions against assuming there won’t be a risk of a market reversal at some point. For the time being China is a saviour, in spite of meat exporters’ wish not to put too many eggs in the same basket. This is not a time to pick and choose though. The rest of Asia is also quite strong with demand for grass fed beef holding up well in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and South East Asia. . .

Changing patterns in food supply must be addressed – Anna Campbell:

I have been reading and listening to reports and podcasts on the impact of Covid-19 on food supply and buying patterns.

It is interesting to note that most of these trends were identified as trends before Covid-19, but the pandemic has massively shifted the dial in terms of the pace of change. We are likely to see many of these shifts sustained in the Covid-19 recovery and beyond.

1. In the United States, Covid-19 has increased the dominance of the large food players such as Walmart and Amazon (which owns Whole Foods). Small grocery chains and independents, before Covid-19, made up 40% of the grocery sector — this is rapidly shrinking. Workers within the large chains are negotiating higher pay and, in general, profit margins on grocery products are decreasing. This will make it harder for small players to compete, especially without the benefits of robotics and artificial intelligence systems. . . 

Four Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leader finalists:

Grassroots dairy farming leadership efforts from throughout New Zealand are represented by the four finalists in the Dairy Women’s Network new DWN Regional Leader of the Year award.

The finalists are spread from the north of the North Island where Sue Skelton is farming south west of Whangarei near Waiotira to Jessica Goodwright who is sharemilking in Drummond in Central Southland.

Mid-Canterbury farmer and personal development coach Tania Burrows and North Canterbury contract milker Rebecca Green are the other two finalists that represent over 70 volunteer Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leaders spread throughout the country. . .

High yields in difficult season a credit to NZ’s arable farmers:

Yields for the 2020 harvest are up 16 percent across the board when compared to 2019, the latest Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) survey shows.

Particularly encouraging was the fact fewer hectares were planted in total this season compared to last (98,090 ha vs 104,000) yet tonnes harvested were substantially up (873,080 vs 796,700), Federated Farmers Vice-Chairperson Grains, Brian Leadley, said.

“This is in despite of a severe early season hailstorm, flooding in some regions and some pretty variable weather.  It just highlights that our arable farmers are world class,” Brian said. . .

Muttonbird hunters expect prices to go up as season cut short by lockdown – Te Aniwa Hurihanganui:

Eager muttonbird hunters are hoping to get a flight out to the Tītī / Muttonbird Islands as soon possible, with alert level 3 now opening a small window of opportunity to gather the delicious tītī before the season is over.

Muttonbirds are in hot demand every year, but with alert level 4 putting the season on hold, hunters now have just two weeks before the birds leave the island in early May.

Tony McColgan from Invercargill usually collects up to 2000 birds a year; he thought the season was over when the lockdown began. . . 

Investing in cows grows wealth in dairy – Samantha Townsend:

It might have taken the Nicholsons 30 years to put their name on the mortgage but it was an investment well worth the wait for the next generation.

Megan and Geoff Nicholson started their dairy journey as lease farmers in 1989 having moved back to her home town of Taree from the United Kingdom where they met.

Geoff was from a beef, sheep and cropping farm but neither of us had particular dairy experience but we decided to give it go and loved it ,” Mrs Nicholson said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

24/04/2020

Now we know what is important – Craig Wiggins:

What will become important is what has always been important.

Last month I wrote about all the things we could do coming up in the rural calendar and within five days the whole world changed and we were heading into lockdown.

There are no two ways about it, the world has changed and we might never again see the likes of what was deemed important before the covid-19 pandemic.

What seemed to be important in the world we were part of was the ideological lifestyles of the rich and famous or those who found themselves in a position of governance and what their opinions meant.  . . 

Meat plants back to near normal – Neal Wallace:

Meat processing throughput could be back at close to maximum on Tuesday when the country’s covid-19 response level drops to level three.

Final protocols are still to be confirmed but level three restrictions should enable meat processing to be close to full production, helping address the backlog of stock waiting to be killed, which has blown out to six weeks, Alliance livestock and shareholder services general manager Danny Hailes says.

At level three social distancing between workers drops from 2m, to 1m. . .

Pesticide usage in New Zealand well below compliance safety guidance:

A survey released today confirms that the Kiwi diet is safe and that any pesticide residues on food are extremely low, far below recommended safety levels.

The Ministry for Primary Industries released results of the Food Residues Survey Programme which tests for residues in plant-based foods. The survey collected 591 fruit and vegetable samples over two years and shows compliance of greater than 99.9%. The survey tests residues from commonly used agrichemicals: insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides.

“These results are unsurprising,” says Agcarm chief executive, Mark Ross. “Agcarm members work hard to satisfy the stringent requirements set by regulators. They also work with food chain partners to achieve the lowest possible residues in food.” . . .

Survey of rural decision makers 2019 survey out now:

The results of the fourth biennial Survey of Rural Decision Makers, run by scientists at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, have now been released.

More than 3700 people responded to the survey during spring 2019. Respondents include both lifestyle and commercial farmers, foresters, and growers from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

A core set of questions remained similar to previous waves of the survey, to allow researchers to identify trends over time. In addition, new questions were added to reflect emerging issues in the primary sector such as farm-level biosecurity and climate change. . .

A2 Milk sales boost as consumers stock up

Speciality dairy company a2 Milk is getting a windfall boost to sales from the Covid-19 virus.

The company, which mostly sells infant formula, said revenue for the three months to 31 March was higher than expected with strong growth across all key regions, as households stocked up with its products notably in China and Australia.

“This primarily reflected the impact of changes in consumer purchase behaviour arising from the Covid-19 situation and included an increase in pantry stocking of our products particularly via online and reseller channels,” chief executive Geoffrey Babidge said. . .

Remote workers look to crash through grass ceiling – Gregor Heard:

RURAL leaders are hopeful the readjustments to work patterns caused by COVID-19 could lead to more senior level employment and business opportunities in country Australia.

The mainstream business community is now adapting to working from home and using video conferencing for communication, a system already widely used by those based in rural and regional areas to combat issues with isolation.

“In many ways in this current environment those of us that have worked remotely before have a bit of an advantage,” said Wool Producers Australia chief executive Jo Hall, who has split her time between her home at Crookwell, in NSW’s Southern Tablelands, and Wool Producers’ head office in Canberra over the past nine years. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

22/04/2020

Meating needs of hungry Kiwis:

Two farmers have stepped up to help the growing number of families affected by food poverty.

Meat the Need is a new charity set up by Siobhan O’Malley and Wayne Langford to provide a way for farmers to give livestock to food banks and city missions.

The livestock is processed by Silver Fern Farms where it is turned it into mince and distributed to charity groups.

O’Malley said it is not quite right that farmers can feed millions of people overseas but there are still people hungry in New Zealand.  . .

Fonterra chairman’s milk price caution – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra farmers are being told to brace for a lower farm gate milk price next season.

In an email to farmer shareholders last night, Fonterra chairman John Monaghan pointed out that milk production in key markets around the world is up.

This could affect global supply/demand balance that supported “solid” milk price this season.

Fonterra is forecasting a milk price range of $7 to $7.60/kgMS this season. It will announce the opening forecast for the 2020-21 season late May. . . 

Essential food processors take massive wage subsidies – Brent Melville:

Primary food processors deemed essential under government’s lockdown restrictions, have received wage subsidies totalling about $90 million.

The Ministry of Social Development’s online tool, developed to promote transparency of payments under the scheme, shows that the two major meat companies account for a combined $77.7 million.

Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have been paid subsidies of $43.3 million and $34.4 million respectively to supplement wages for a combined 11,000 workers. . .

NZ Food processing sector’s key role in NZ’s post Covid-19 recovery :

NZ’s processed food sector is well placed to support New Zealand’s economic and social recovery from the global COVID-19 crisis, according to the head of food science and innovation hub, FoodHQ.

FoodHQ CEO, Dr Abby Thompson says under Level 4 there has been unprecedented examples of collaboration and innovation in the NZ food industry, in order to overcome the obstacles of lockdown at home and abroad.

“The level of activity and enthusiasm that companies, scientists and entrepreneurs have applied to the problem of processing and supplying food has been outstanding.” . .

Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards champions named:

At a time when kiwis are rediscovering home cookery, the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards is delighted to announce its 2020 Champions – the best of the country’s locally grown and made food and drink products.

Organic farmers, Bostock Brothers, were named Supreme Champion for theirOrganic Whole Chicken. Hawke’s Bay brothers Ben and George Bostock have their chickens roam free on their parents former apple orchard. They pride themselves on letting their chickens grow naturally, feeding them home-grown organic maize and giving them longer, happier lives. As well as how they grow their chooks it’s what they don’t do which adds to flavour. Bostock’s chicken is free of chemicals and antibiotics and when it comes to processing their product does not receive chlorine baths. The judges raved about the product saying, ‘Outstanding flavour, succulent and delicious.’ .  .

Dairy farmers to cast milk solids levy vote:

Dairy farmers are encouraged to have their say in the milksolids levy vote 2020, which is now open for voting. It is a one-in-six year vote for industry good organisation, DairyNZ.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel said the milksolids levy funds industry good activities through DairyNZ which delivers dairy sector research, development, advocacy and expertise.

“The milksolids levy has been part of New Zealand dairy farming for 17 years. Its roots are in funding work that enables farmers to continue thriving in an ever-changing world. With the challenges of COVID-19, the changing nature of farming has never been more real,” said Mr van der Poel. . .

Blue chip East Coast station placed on the market for sale:

The rare opportunity to purchase an iconic, high-performing East Coast station is drawing strong interest from farmers and investors throughout New Zealand.

Mangaheia Station near Tolaga Bay is on the market for the first time in many years, offering a unique opportunity for buyers to tap into on-going strong returns anticipated from the red meat market in a prime winter growing location.

Simon Bousfield, Bayleys Gisborne agent says Mangaheia’s uniqueness is due as much to its scale as to the strong level of investment the property has enjoyed in recent years. . . 


Rural round-up

07/04/2020

Queues for meat plant space grow :

Meat companies Silver Fern Farms and Alliance report a dramatic lift in livestock numbers waiting to be processed as their plants are down to half capacity under covid-19 rules.

In a note to its suppliers Silver Fern Farms said queue times at its 14 plants have extended exponentially as suppliers book early to avoid congestion and because of colder weather and diminished feed.

Suppliers might be waiting three to six weeks for space, depending on stock class and region. 

An Alliance update to its co-operative members estimates several weeks’ backlog, with processing down to about 30% for beef. . . 

Famously scenic Arcadia Station sold

A Queenstown farmer has bought a scenic rural property near Glenorchy, famous as a setting for TV commercials and films like The Lord of the Rings, for an undisclosed price.

The 257ha Arcadia Station, bordered by Diamond Lake, Mount Aspiring National Park and Dart River and the Paradise property, has been farmed for 60 years by Jim Veint (83), who in turn bought it off his father, Lloyd.

Mr Veint will continue assisting with the farming operation and help recruit and train a new farm manager. . . 

Beware of false prophets – The Veteran:

There have been calls for ‘value added’ to be the driver for our export industry as long as I can remember.    Much of that directed at the timber industry.   All well in theory.   Reality trumps (bad word) theory most times.

So let’s look at timber.   Some would argue the export of raw timber (logs) should be discouraged/banned in favor of the processed product.   That this would lead to an increased number of jobs in the industry particularly now with the economy predicted to contract. . . 

Support set up for farmers facing feed shortages :

Farming groups have set up advice and support for farmers facing shortages of stock feed as they head into winter.

The Ministry for Primary Industries worked with the groups on the initiative which includes a feed budgeting service and farm systems advice.

Federated Farmers said drought, the cancellation of traditional stock sale forums and reduced processing capacity at meat works meant many farmers were carrying more stock than they anticipated going into winter.

This was putting a huge strain on already stretched feed resources and farmer morale. . . 

No spilt milk during lockdown – Molly Houseman:

Last Friday looked “bleak” for Holy Cow.

The family dairy farm in Reynoldstown, near Port Chalmers in Dunedin, lost about 70% of its customers as restaurants and cafes closed for the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown, and no longer needed their usual milk orders.

Owner Merrall MacNeille was left wondering: “What am I going to do with all this milk?”

However, business quickly took an unexpected turn. . . 

Rural Ambassador program brought a storm of opportunities – James Cleaver:

Is there anything better than hearing rain on the roof?

Or the smell that rolls in 10 minutes before a thunderstorm?

We all love rain for obvious reasons and let’s hope this small break gets bigger in the next few months.

Rain equals opportunity and options. It’s the tangent to allow things to grow to their full potential. . . 

 


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