Rural round-up

September 18, 2018

Old values and new practices – Glenys Christian:

Richard Cookson and his wife Louise Cullen studied at Lincoln University but then went overseas for work at scientists rather than heading for the farm. However, 12 years ago they answered a call to return home and now run a cow and goat dairy unit.

They not only enjoy it but are proud of what they are doing and want all New Zealanders to be proud of farmers as the keepers of Kiwi values. They are leading by example, not just on the farm but also by giving back to the sector and community and setting environmental standards. . .

Lamb prices pushing the limit – Annette Scott:

Lamb prices are not aligned with global market fundamentals, prompting a warning of a looming correction.

Procurement prices as high as $8.70 a kilogram are out of whack from a global perspective but reflect the limited number of lambs in the market, Alliance livestock and shareholder services general manager Heather Stacy said.

While the weaker New Zealand dollar is playing a key role in keeping lamb prices up, a push-back is imminent. . .

Better understanding of nutrient movement – Pam Tipa:

We need a better understanding of nutrient transport across catchments, says Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE), Simon Upton.

And he says we also need better understanding of what nutrient models can and can’t do to assist in building a picture and better communication of what is happening to water quality. . .

Young Farmers’ Next 50 message: move with he times or wither – Simon Edwards:

There were some blunt words on glyphosate, fake meat burgers and farmers who won’t embrace change at the Wellington Young Farmers Club’s 2018 Industry Function.

During a panel discussion The Next 50: Future of Farming the conversation roved from 3D conferencing and holograms to Maori business models, and from disruptive technologies to milking sheep.

Dr Linda Sissons, of the Primary ITO, agreed with other speakers that increasing numbers of people will need to re-train every 10 or 15 years, if not more frequently.  Her organisation was introducing a suite of ‘Micro-credentials’ – short and sharp courses that farmers and others in the primary sectors could study in between other commitments. . .

German investment company to sell central North Island farms in Taihape and Waikaha – Sam Kilmister:

German company is offloading two central North Island farms, totalling about 1150 hectares.

Aquilla Capital, an asset management and investment company, bought the two sheep and beef blocks in 2012, but the Taihape and Waikaha properties are being offered for sale within the next month. 

The European company bought the farms on a fixed-term investment, requiring them to be sold by a specific date.

MyFarm, a Feilding-based investment service, oversaw on-farm operations. Its sheep and beef director Tom Duncan said the two properties were much better than when they were bought six years ago. . .

Cricketers’ company spins NZ lamb onto airlines’ menus:

Premium airline travellers departing India are now being served Pure South lamb from New Zealand.

Lamb is on the menu for first-class and business class passengers flying Air Canada, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, United Airlines and Air France after QualityNZ, Alliance Meat Co-op’s India partner, signed an agreement with two airline catering companies in India.

QualityNZ, whose shareholders include cricketing legends Sir Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum, is also celebrating success in the foodservice sector with Pure South lamb now available at more than 300 five-star hotels in India. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

September 7, 2018

Noisy opposition to dams will leave us short of water – Andrew Curtis:

A few days after a vote to build the Waimea Community Dam was narrowly lost at a Tasman District Council meeting the response from politicians, a number of councillors and many around the country, seems to be shock.

The effects will kick in immediately as a plan change which requires Waimea River flows to be raised, drafted on the assumption the dam would go ahead, will mean water restrictions will be enforced in the district this summer.

In Auckland, both Watercare and the region’s vegetable growers take water from the Waikato River. With the region’s population booming, future conflict over water is also on the horizon. Decisions made at a local level, where a noisy opposition may be focused solely on their rates bill, have wider impacts on regions and in fact the whole country. . .

Take the credit – Sonita Chandar:

Young South Taranaki couple Owen Clegg and Hollie Wham do things a lot better than they expected. Sonita Chandar reports and how they are running their farm.

South Taranaki farmers Owen Clegg, 26, and Hollie Wham, 25, are a young couple who, despite achieving great things in the industry, give themselves little credit.

Earlier this year they won the 2018 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year title. They also won the Honda Farm Safety and Health Award, Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award and the Westpac Business Performance Award. . .

Meat farmers should expand – Neal Wallace:

One of Europe’s largest buyers of New Zealand red meat is urging farmers to expand their flocks and herds.

Alexander Eyckeler said demand is growing for quality cuts of NZ lamb and venison, the reason prices have steadily risen in the last three years.

“My clear message not only for sheep meat farmers but also venison farmers, you have incentives to build up your herds again.”

Eyckeler is one of Alliance Group’s largest lamb, mutton and venison customers, supplying retail and food service markets throughout Europe. . .

Otago merino making mark in space – Yvonne O’Hara:

Merino wool from Central Otago sheep has made it into space, taken part in military operations, fought wild fires and protected extreme endurance athletes.

Outer and undergarments using fabric made from New Zealand, and more specifically Central Otago merino wool, are manufactured and sold in 36 countries by Armadillo Merino, a UK-based company.

Company founder Andy Caughey said their merino wool garments were being used by professional risk takers, including special forces and elite police teams and by International Space Station (ISS) astronauts ”because of the multi-attribute properties of merino wool”.

”Armadillo has also supplied base garments to the Washington DC Park Police Department, which provide public security protection for President Trump and his presidential motorcade,” he said. . .

’M bovis’ hampering free meal – Margaret Phillips:

A reluctance to visit dairy farms in order to reduce the risk of spreading Mycoplasma bovis has dealt a blow to a service dishing up free meals for migrant workers.

Volunteers normally visited 10 to 20 farms each week to invite mostly migrant workers to the community meals put on in Riversdale during the busy lambing and calving season.

Organised by the Riversdale-Waikaia Presbyterian Church, the free weekly meals have in past years attracted about 80 people at the seasonal peak.

But the numbers had dropped drastically, church pastor John Gullick said . .

Ditch the almond milk: why everything you know about sustainable eating is probably wrong – Tony Naylor:

In food and drink, we all want to do the right thing. We want to shop and eat sustainably. But, sometimes, it is easier said than done. Our willingness to jump on the latest eco-trends and unquestioningly accept reassuring labelling can lead to unintended consequences. If we are serious about eating green, we need to read beyond the headlines and think rigorously about how we apply ethical advice in our own lives. By way of inspiration, here are some of the ways we get it wrong on ingredients, storage and recycling – and a few surprisingly easy solutions.

Is almond milk really the nuts?

Influenced by clean eating and agri-exposés such as Cowspiracy(whichpointed to methane emissions from cattle as crucial in global warming), many are ditching cows’ milk in favour of non-dairy alternatives, which, according to Euromonitor, now make-up 12% of global milk sales. . .


When locals won’t work . . .

August 18, 2018

The Meatworkers’ Union isn’t happy that Alliance Group is bringing in  100 overseas workers for its Southland plants.

New Zealand Meatworkers Union said there were plenty of local workers vying for jobs that could now be going to overseas workers.

However, the company is standing firm. It said it was recruiting abroad to cover a worker shortage. . . 

The union’s Otago-Southland secretary Gary Davis said the decision would hit some Southland families hard.

The seasonal work often meant workers would finish at one plant and go to the other for additional work, Mr Davis said.

“If these people are brought in from overseas they’ll get a job there so they’ll fill in those positions.”

About 30 people could miss out on the additional work, he said. . .

Good local workers were applying to work at the plants, but they were being rejected, he said.

There was not enough education, training or support to assist more Southland workers to enter the industry, he said. . . 

The company has a different story.

Alliance Group refused to be interviewed today but in a statement, manufacturing general manager Willie Wiese said employing and upskilling New Zealanders was always their preference.

Sourcing seasonal workers remained one of its biggest challenges, despite running extensive recruitment campaigns.

Unemployment is now down to a level where most of those out of work don’t want to, or can’t, work.

Challenges in the meat industry include getting enough workers who are drug and alcohol free and who want to work the whole season.

Meat company workers earn big money for a few months and some of them decide they have earned enough part way through the season and no longer want to work full time, if at all.

The company might prefer to employ and train locals but it they won’t work it has to look for overseas workers who will.


Rural round-up

July 7, 2018

Rural health wants tourists’ cash – Neal Wallace:

A rural South Canterbury general practitioner was paid $13 for each of the 150 emergency calls she made in the last year, a pay rate described by the Rural GP Network as a joke.

The network’s chief executive Dalton Kelly said with such low pay rates plus the demands on rural GPs it is understandable rural health professionals are leaving the sector, prompting a call for a portion of the proposed tourist tax to be directed to rural health services.

Kelly said rural GPs and nurses are regularly called to tend to sick and injured tourists and unlike an urban incident, patients cannot be transferred to someone else who is on call. . .

Trading times get challenging – Pam Tipa:

A trade expert has backed up comments by agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen, who says New Zealand is facing its most challenging time in trade in 30 years.

Petersen told Rural News that the established rules on trade via the World Trade Organisation, particularly for agricultural products, are at risk from the US-China trade war.

While the products being targeted now are not NZ products, the risk of spillover into our products is very high, he says. . . 

Concerns over Mycoplasma bovis leave farmer confidence in the balance:

Concerns about the impact of Mycoplasma bovis disease on the country’s agricultural sector have seen New Zealand farmer confidence decline over the past quarter, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

While farmer confidence remains at net positive levels, the overall reading dropped to +two per cent in the latest quarter, from +15 per cent in the previous survey. . .

A strong bull-seeking season in south – Nicole Sharp:

Prices are up and bull breeders are happy following a successful selling season.

Bull breeders throughout Southland and Otago have been hosting fellow farmers on farms for sales over the past couple of months.

PGG Wrightson livestock genetics representative Callum McDonald said sales came to a conclusion at the end of last month and there was positivity in the air.

”We have seen a great bull-selling season for the South, with high demand for quality bulls“ . . 

Hundreds gather to celebrate 50th anniversary of FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Hundreds of people have celebrated the 50th anniversary of New Zealand’s longest-running agricultural contest.

The first FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final was held in Auckland in 1969.

Former winners and finalists were among a 400-strong crowd which gathered in Invercargill last night to mark the milestone.

“It’s amazing. It’s just like a school reunion isn’t it,” said Levin farmer Geoff Kane, 66, who won the national final in 1981. . .

Entire Northland school visits farm on paddock to plate learning journey

A national project is helping a Northland teacher combine her two passions of education and food production.

Natalie Lynch teaches a class of Years 5-8 students at Matakohe School in the Kaipara District.

Last week the small school’s entire roll of 47 pupils visited the farm of Marshall Walton in Whangarei.

“Watching a sheep being shorn, pressing a bale of wool in a manual press, and using the drafting gates was a new experience for everyone,” said Natalie. . . 

Omega lamb project update in third year:

The Omega Lamb Project is now in its third year and well over 100 restaurants in New Zealand and Hong Kong have had Te Mana Lamb on their menus.

The project builds on a decade-long scientific programme and breakthrough research. It found that the right combination of genetics, management and feeding can alter the fat profile of lamb and produce animals that are healthy, while delivering a tastier and healthier product.

Te Mana Lamb is higher in Omega-3 than other lamb available on the market.

Mark Williamson, general manager of the Omega Lamb Project, a collaboration between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership, the farmer-owned Headwaters and leading food company Alliance Group, said Te Mana Lamb is being praised by chefs for its flavour and consistent eating quality. . . 

Fears for future of Scots beef and lamb production – Colin Ley:

The viability of beef and sheep production in Scotland is being threatened by a Scottish government climate change bill that includes a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target.

Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) chairman Jim McLaren said that will make it virtually impossible for the country’s farmers to produce beef and lamb.

“Moving to net zero GHG emissions would be absolutely devastating for our livestock industry,” he told an industry meeting at the Royal Highland Show.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 5, 2018

Discovery that could help save the world – new diet to make cows burp less methane – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand could be the first country in the world to change a cow’s diet so it burps out less methane.

Dutch nutrition company Royal DSM is developing a commercial feed additive which it hopes will be on the market in two years’ time. Studies had shown it could reduce up to 30 per cent of cattle methane in intensive farm systems.

It is focusing on New Zealand because the country’s livestock produce a lot of methane, one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

A single dairy cow generates about 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent every year in the form of methane (CH4). . .

Robotic technology running at Alliance Dannevirke plant :

State-of-the-art robotic technology is now running as part of the Alliance Group’s $10.6 million investment in its Dannevirke meat processing site.

The primal/middle cutting machinery is part of the co-operative’s investment programme in the plant which also included a redsigning the boning room.

The technology is the most advanced system of its kind in New Zealand. The custom-built primal/middle cutting technology features an x-ray unit which analyses each carcass and instructs two cutting machines where to cut.

It automatically adjusts to a wide variation in carcass size, a challenge in the red meat processing sector. The technology also minimises waste and improves the accuracy of the cut. . .

New fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and NZ merino :

A unique, environmentally friendly fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and a New Zealand merino wool blend will be displayed as part of the Material Innovation exhibition at the London Design Museum.

The material, which was created by renowned Danish designers Kvadrat, was designed to be a sustainable replacement for leather in the latest Range Rover model.

Jaguar Land Rover NZ sales operations manager Ben Montgomery says the merino wool blend was chosen by the designers for its premium characteristics. . . 

Kiwi meat can cut the mustard – Annette Scott:

There are no facts in the future. It’s all just an educated or opinionated guess, agri-futurist and digital strategist Melissa Clark-Reynolds told 250 sheep and beef farmers in Christchurch.

In her keynote address to Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s FarmSmart 2018 Clark-Reynolds said the biggest challenges in futureproofing farming will come in a changing business farming model.

“The future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed,” she said. . . 

LIC takes disease precautions – Glenys Christian:

Breeding companies are gearing up for the busy spring mating season with extra measures to stop the spread of Mycoplasma bovis between dairy farms.

LIC shareholder councillor Mark Meyer, who farms at Tangiteroria, told a farmer meeting in Dargaville AI technicians have already inspected nearly 5000 dairy farms to make sure they have one major suitable entry point and footbaths were in place.

There was 100% compliance with 60 technicians in the field for winter milk inseminations despite some pushback from farmers to start with, he said.  . . 

Best advice to U.S. dairy farmers? ‘Sell out as fast as you can’ – Phil McCausland:

Small-dairy farmers are getting squeezed out by corporate agriculture. “That is not what America is about,” a struggling farmer said.

All Curtis Coombs wanted was to raise cows and run his family’s dairy farm in this slice of Kentucky hill country, less than 35 miles from Louisville. But a few weeks ago, he was forced to sell his milking herd of 82 cows, putting an end to his family’s nearly 70-year dairy business.

On a rain-drenched Monday, Coombs, his father and his uncle struggled to shove their last 13 cows into a trailer destined for auction and slaughter. As the earthy smell of manure filled the air, the men yelled for the Holsteins to move and urged them forward with the whack of a plastic stick. . . 


Rural round-up

June 13, 2018

New faces take on arable roles – Annette Scott:

Wairarapa cropping farmer Karen Williams made history as she took up the reins of the Federated Farmers arable section at its annual conference.

The first woman to head the section, the 2017 biosecurity farmer of the year and former Ballance Farm Environment Award winner takes on the job with a bundle of enthusiasm.

“I am excited about the opportunity. 

“For me this role gives me the opportunity to continue to work in biosecurity and engage in that space in Wellington. . . 

Drones prove worth on farms – Richard Rennie:

Drones initially welcomed as great novelties are now fixtures as business tools and on farms they can have multiple uses. Richard Rennie talked to farmers who have used them and found a new drone firm setting up shop here as their use becomes more widely accepted.

IN THE heady early days of drone deployment many promises were made about how they would revolutionise some of the grinding daily farm jobs, often all from the comfort of the farm kitchen table. 

A few years on they have proved to be more than a flash in the pan. 

For some farmers they are now an established tool but still as dependent on the technology they take into the sky as the inventiveness of farmers using them. . . 

Meat company results only average for 2017 – will 2018 be any better?  – Allan Barber:

ANZCO’s lacklustre result for 2017, posted last month, concludes the financial reporting for last year by the three major processors which publish their results. ANZCO’s pre-tax profit was $1.8 million which compares disappointingly with Alliance Group’s $16.7 million profit and Silver Fern Farms Cooperative’s 15 month profit of $7.8 million.

None of the three companies achieved a particularly good return on their investment in the business, but both Alliance and SFF showed improvement on the previous year which was in each case the result of substantial changes in the business structure and balance sheet. The $261 million investment by Shanghai Maling in acquiring 50% of SFF had an immediately positive impact on the company’s balance sheet strength and interest bill. During its year to September Alliance was able to reduce debt and make increased investment in plant upgrades at the same time. . . 

Danone adds to investment in NZ infant formula with proposal to buy up to 49% of Yashili New Zealand – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Danone plans to increase its investment in New Zealand infant formula manufacturing by acquiring up to 49 percent of Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co, the local unit of China Mengniu Dairy, according to a filing in Hong Kong.

Terms of the transaction haven’t been finalised, including the price and method of payment, Yashili International said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. “The consideration, the payment method and the payment schedule shall be determined after arm’s length negotiations and mutual agreement between the parties,” it said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. . .

Changes on board of Young farmers – Sally Rae:

Experienced Dunedin marketer Sharon Angus has joined the board of New Zealand Young Farmers as an appointed director.

Ms Angus (54), who is former general manager of marketing at Silver Fern Farms, has extensive experience with food brands.

The marketing consultant was excited about joining the board as she felt New Zealand Young Farmers “represents the future”. . . 

Process vegetables industry signs up to GIA:

Today, Horticulture New Zealand signed a Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Biosecurity Readiness and Response on behalf of Process Vegetables New Zealand (PVNZ).

PVNZ chair David Hadfield says robust biosecurity should be seen as an investment for growers.

“Committing to the GIA enables us to have closer, more informed interactions with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and other GIA industry partners around biosecurity. This includes planning for potential incursions and taking a leading role in collective biosecurity management where it impacts our members,” Hadfield says. . . 

Knitted with love:

How Fonterra is helping keep Gore’s newest residents warm and cosy this winter.

It’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Gore and Lois Shallard’s knitting needles are working over-time. Beside her on the table is a pile of tiny knitted baby socks, singlets and hats and at her feet are balls of wool – hot pink, lime green, lavender and a “lovely mottled blue”.

Lois is 70 this year and she’s been knitting since her teens. She knitted clothes for all her children back in the day and now she’s moved on to knitting for her town’s new mums.

“I love knitting the little socks the best, they are just so tiny and cute.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 7, 2018

The threat of irrational environmentalism – Dr Doug Edmeades:

I never thought it would end. Certainly I never thought that I might be alive to see the beginning of its end.

I am referring to the Enlightenment – the intellectual movement that began in the 17th century. It saw the end of Dark Ages and ushered in the Age of Reason. Mystical and religious certitude and bigotry gave way to reason based on objectively derived evidence.

Rather than praying to God for a good crop you adopted the latest technologies to ensure the crop did not fail. And if it did fail it was not seen as a consequence of your failure to appease God through prayer, but because you did not fully understand or fully implement the best knowledge and technology. If you prayed it was for more science, please. . . 

Economic development is about more than wishful thinking:

The Government risks serious damage to New Zealanders’ livelihoods by replacing the real productive economy with wishful thinking, National’s Economic Development Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“On TVNZ’s Q&A this morning, Economic Development Minister David Parker spoke of his wish to reduce the number of livestock in this country. He said horticulture, such as growing apricots, would be better for the environment.

“He said the problem was that it was too expensive to pick fruit in New Zealand. But, no worries, we’ll invest in robotics. Robots will pick the fruit and the economy will surge.

“This is wishful thinking on a grand scale and it fails on so many levels.

“Mr Parker also admitted that the Government hadn’t done an analysis of what the economic impact of his proposed shift away from current land use. . . 

Plan to keep scheme farmer owned – Sally Brooker:

Farming leader William Rolleston has come up with a plan to keep the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme fully farmer-owned.

The former Federated Farmers national president, who farms in South Canterbury, outlined his idea at the federation’s South Canterbury provincial annual  meeting in Waimate on Friday afternoon.

The irrigation scheme, which has resource consent to use water from the Waitaki River on land towards Timaru, has struggled to get landowners to buy enough shares to make it financially viable. Originally aimed at a 21,000ha command area, it was reduced to 12,000ha last year. . . 

 

Quacker of a start for duck shooting :

Duck-shooting season is off with a bang, with tens of thousands of people turning out across the country for the opening weekend.

The season officially started at 6am yesterday and runs through until August.

Fish and Game’s spokesperson Don Rood said hunters were on good behaviour and there were no reports of serious injury on day one.

“That’s all credit to our licence holders for doing the right thing. We’ve been pushing the education message with them. Safety is the very first priority before anything else – no duck is worth a shooting accident.”

In 2016, three people were accidentally shot at the beginning of the season. . . 

Alliance beefs up offering – Neal Wallace:

Alliance Group has launched premium branded beef under the label Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef.

To qualify each carcase, irrespective of breed, is individually selected and visually assessed. 

It must have a high marbling score, low Ph range and extended wet aging.

The launch follows three years of research and will be targeted at the New Zealand food service sector and overseas markets. . . 

Farmers back in driving seat – Lindy Nelson:

Time, creative thinking, resources to create change and information all support us to turn business threats into opportunities.

Leadership well-applied and executed is one of those resources that inspires and supports action to respond.

Applied leadership was exactly what was demonstrated at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s recent workshop on the red meat sector story where our sector’s origin brand story, go-to-market strategy and response to the threat of alternative proteins were unveiled.

It was inspiring on a number of fronts – what the leadership team of B+LNZ has achieved and who it had collaborated with, its in-depth understanding of customers and detailed analysis of the synthetic protein threat and the knowledge that place of origin acts as a shortcut to consumer understanding and trust in our products.

All of this provides a strategy for action alongside the release of the origin brand story. . . 

Whare’s new lease on life – Toni Williams:

A  little red corrugated-iron whare will roll smoothly behind a vintage tractor in the Greg Donaldson Contracting Ashburton Wheels Week Plus street parade this month.

The whare  will be taking its place among members of the Ashburton Vintage Machinery Club in the parade on the final day of the Wheels Week Plus  programme.

  The club has about 100 members, so expect to see a few vintage machines. The whare, which sits on a truck chassis, plays a big role in the life of Ashburton Vintage Machinery Club president John Hall. It holds warm memories and its walls are lined with memorabilia — newspaper clippings, places and events Mr Hall has visited. . . 

 


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