Rural round-up

29/11/2020

RSE deal too little too late:

The Government’s announcement it’s allowing 2000 horticultural workers enter New Zealand through the RSE scheme is better than nothing, but it’s still just a drop in the bucket of what is actually needed, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“Overall this is a poor deal for New Zealand’s horticulture industry, for New Zealand, and for the RSE workers themselves. Firstly, 2000 workers is not enough, it’s less than one seventh of quota (which is more than 14,000) of RSE workers the sector would normally have available to pick these key export products.

“Secondly, it’s far too little and far too late. Spring and early summer crops have already missed out on these workers, but the Government has known about these problems for months, and is only acting at the eleventh hour.

“The time has come to allow RSE workers from Pacific countries to isolate in bubbles in RSE accommodation, like sports teams, provided by the industry. The countries where these RSE workers come from are Covid-free so there is little to no risk of transmission in transit as workers will come direct to New Zealand. . . 

Government’s seasonal workers move ‘not enough, but a good start’ – Charlotte Cook:

An influx of seasonal workers is a relief for the horticulture and wine industries with the government giving a border exemption to 2000 seasonal workers.

The experienced workers will begin arriving from the Pacific in January and will spend two weeks in isolation before starting the harvest.

So after months of angst, the horticulture and wine sector will get some of the seasonal workers they are desperate for.

But they come with a cost. Employers must first pay for managed isolation – currently estimated at $4722 per person and pay at least $22.10 an hour – the living wage. . .

Farrow crate use ‘saves piglets’ lives’ – Sally Rae:

Former New Zealand Pork chairman Ian Carter is saddened by a High Court ruling that the use of farrowing crates is unlawful, saying they save “millions” of piglets globally every year.

Animal welfare groups Safe and the New Zealand Animal Law Association took the Attorney-general, the Minister of Agriculture and the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) to court in June saying the use of farrowing and mating crates breached the Animal Welfare Act 1999, RNZ reported.

In its decision, the court said the agriculture minister must consider new regulations phasing out the use of farrowing crates and mating stalls, and improve minimum standards.

Mr Carter, who farms in North Otago, said no other system got close to meeting the needs of farmed pigs. He estimated farrowing crates could save more than 200 piglets a day in New Zealand if they were universally used. . . 

Dairying family reaps rewards from robots :

Manawatū dairy farmers Amy and Greg Gemmell are enjoying more family time these days, thanks to three shiny machines in their dairy shed.

No longer does Greg need to be out of the house before dawn to milk the herd as they have installed robots to do that chore 24/7.

The cows come to the dairy shed whenever they feel like it to be milked.

“They come in when they’re ready,” Amy says. . . 

A swing to sheep milk:

Switching from milking goats and cows to milking sheep has been likened to swimming three lengths underwater by Te Aroha dairy goat and cow farmer Paul Schuler.

He is one of four Waikato based farmers that this season have taken on milking sheep for Maui Milk.

Come June, as his new sheep were about to arrive on the former cow farm, he was still completing  a milking shed and fixing fences.

Covid slowed developement down, but Schuler says the ram didn’t know that. His lambs were going to arrive on time. . . 

Researchers make wheat genome breakthrough – Gregor Heard:

Just two years after the bread wheat genome was finally mapped for the first time, a crack team of international scientists, including researchers from the University of Western Australia, have sequenced and analysed the genomes of 16 key wheat varieties from around the globe.

The research, including varieties that represent different breeding programs from around the world, provides the most comprehensive atlas of wheat genome sequences reported to date.

The genomic study, published in Nature Journal by the University of Saskatchewan, involved an international effort by more than 90 scientists from universities and institutes in Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, the U.K., Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Israel, and the U.S. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

21/04/2017

Feeding the demand – Alan Williams:

Hawke’s Bay farmers who quit many of their lambs as stores in the severe drought of January and February have been buying back in to keep on top of the remarkable turnaround in feed conditions.

They have to restock because of the strong pasture growth that started with warm rains in March, but their buying is also a sign of confidence in lamb values over the finishing period ahead, through winter and early spring, NZX Agri analyst Rachel Agnew said. . . . 

Landcorp’s future in value-add – Alan Williams:

Some complex plans are involved in Landcorp’s move to a value-add strategy and all the shifts required will take some time, chief executive Steven Carden says.

Farms will be sold to free-up cash for the new investment, which includes plans for alternative land uses and growing more crops across all its properties. The state-owned farmer is doing due diligence on a couple of areas, but Carden couldn’t give further details yet. . .

Dairy farmer shares her knowledge in Sri Lanka – Yvonne O’Hara:

Kelso dairy farmer and dairy adviser Marloes Levelink’s background in tropical agriculture proved useful when she was chosen to be part of Fonterra’s farmer volunteer scheme.

Earlier this year she flew to Sri Lanka to provide training and advice to Fonterra’s supplier relationship officers for three weeks as part of its Dairy Development programme.

The programme supports the growth of sustainable dairy industries in key markets where Fonterra operates, including Sri Lanka, by sharing its expertise and working together with local farmers, governments and industry players. . .

Submitters fear for area’s rural character – Tim Miller:

What is rural and what is not was one of the questions posed at a resource consent hearing in Wanaka this week.

Ballantyne Barker Holdings Ltd, owned by Michael and Caroline Garnham, has applied for resource consent to turn 48ha of land near the Cardrona River in Ballantyne Rd into nine residential lots.

Wendy Baker and David Whitney were the independent commissioners appointed to the hearing. . .

Texel conference to mix it up in style – Yvonne O’Hara:

What do goat and sheep cheeses, the Clyde dam, wine, whisky and wild food have in common?

They are all part of Texel New Zealand’s conference from May 1 to 4.

Organising committee spokesman Alistair McLeod said about 50 delegates were expected for the conference, which would be based in Cromwell. . .

Free range cows and robots in future:

Greg Gemmell is a rare man – a dairy farmer who doesn’t get out of bed at 4.30am to milk the cows. His robots do it for him.

What’s more, he believes he is one of the pioneers in new technology that will change the face of New Zealand dairying.

“This isn’t common now,” says the Bunnythorpe farmer who, with wife Amy and farm owners Margaret and Brian Schnell (Amy’s parents), have invested just under $1 million into three Lely Astronaut robot milking machines and a cowshed renovation and retrofit. “But I’ll bet it is in about 10 years – it’s a life-changer.” . . .


Rural round-up

27/01/2017

Trade is the life blood of the New Zealand sheep and beef sector:

While disappointed by the US decision to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the New Zealand sheep and beef sector remains strongly supportive of the Agreement and its aims, its representative organisations, the New Zealand Meat Industry Association (MIA) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) say.

Multilateral trade liberalisation creates a stable and level playing field on which to compete and it’s hugely important to the growth and future prosperity of the sheep and beef sector and New Zealand as a whole, the two organisations say.

“We estimated that a 12 nation TPP would have delivered around $72 million in tariff savings a year for the red meat sector alone – not to mention that volume growth in high-value markets that would flow from tariff reduction. The US withdrawing from the TPP is a real setback to our capitalising on these opportunities – and it’s a loss for consumers in the TPP nations,” MIA Chief Executive Tim Ritchie said. . . 

Three astronauts land in Manawatu – Mark Daniel,

Brian and Margaret Schnell bought their Bunnythorpe, Manawatu dairy farm in 1984, and were joined by their daughter Amy and husband Greg Gemmell, who became sharemilkers in 2003.

Fast forward to 2016, when they decided to replace a tired 24-aside herringbone set-up with three Lely Astronaut robots, meaning labour requirements dropped from 1.5 to 0.5 units, and a change from being milkers to supervisors.

The Schnell and Gemmell Partnership farms 240 Friesians, split 75:25 between spring and autumn calvers, now producing about 390kgMS/cow on an all grass system, and expected to rise to 450- 500kgMS/cow within three years. . . 

Champion schooled in some hard sheds – Sally Rae:

As a youngster growing up in Gisborne, champion woolhandler Joel Henare struggled with mainstream schooling.

He left school when he was about 11 and continued his studies through correspondence. 

Sometimes he accompanied his mother, who worked as a shedhand, and would “help out a bit and play around” in the woolsheds. . . 

Bee keepers say honey season ‘worst in 20 years’ :

Some frustrated beekeepers have now declared our dismal summer the worst in two decades for honey-making – but it’s still too early to say whether consumers will also feel a sting.
Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said the consistent message from beekeepers across the country was this had been a particularly bad season for yields, as poor weather kept bees from collecting nectar.

“We’ve had unseasonable weather conditions, and less predictable and shorter flowering seasons, and that is absolutely affecting honey production this year.”

No Increase in Bid for Blue Sky Meats:

NZ Binxi has received a good volume of acceptances for its offer for Blue Sky Meats (BSM) to date but would need to see acceptances continuing to flow if the offer is to succeed. All acceptances must be received by BSM shareholders by 18 February 2017.

The directors of NZ Binxi consider the cash offer of $2.20 per BSM share correct and full value for the BSM company, as it is at the top end of the value scale and is supported by the Target Company Statement. We have fully considered all aspects of the business, the competitive environment, historical and current financial results, overseas market conditions and future capital required to operate the improved business performance. . . 

The public is finally coming round to GM crops – Tom Bawden:

The public has become much more welcoming towards genetically-modified crops in the past few years, preparing the ground for them to be introduced to the UK, a leading expert has predicted.

Professor Christine Raines is in charge of a major GM project that could herald the beginning of a new era in an area that detractors say has seen disappointing progress in the past three decades.

The project, which the government will decide whether to approve next March, would involve trialling a new type of GM wheat – the first time a crop has been engineered to produce a higher yield.


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