Rural round-up

April 7, 2019

One thing leads to anotherSamantha Tennent:

A Northland farming couple have completed their pathway of progression but still have plenty to do. Samantha Tennent reports.

A farm journey for a Northland couple has been full of ups and downs but one event in particular led them to push themselves to not just move but to forge ahead and buy their own farm.

Don and Kirsten Watson farm on the picturesque Kaipara Harbour milking 260 cows on 112 hectares. They bought the farm in 2017 after spending a month snowbound and without power on their Central Plateau farm at Rangitaiki on the Napier-Taupo highway.

It has been a varied and at times challenging and scary journey but say they wouldn’t change a thing. . . 

Big wetland bush block opens to public after $500,000 crowd funding effort– Mike Watson:

An endangered forest wetland in Taranaki, saved from farmland development by a public fundraising drive, is ready to be opened up to the public.

The 134-hectare Mahood-Lowe reserve, near Kaimiro, 20 kilometres southeast of New Plymouth, included rare kamahi, northern rata, tawa and totara as well as lichens and mosses.

There is also burgeoning populations of kiwi, whio and falcons. . . 

Farmer confidence lifting but concerns over policy remain – Maja Burry:

Farmer confidence has lifted after three consecutive quarters of decline, but it still remains in negative territory.

Rabobank’s first quarterly Rural Confidence Survey for the year – completed last month – has shown the nation’s net farmer confidence has risen to -9 percent, up from -15 percent recorded in the final quarter of 2018.

The bank’s general manager for country banking, Hayley Gourley said greater optimism among dairy farmers was the major driver of the improved overall confidence reading.

“In the last survey of 2018, we saw 34 percent of dairy farmers expecting conditions in the agricultural economy to worsen and only 13 percent expecting an improvement, however, since then we’ve seen a long run of consecutive jumps in the Global Dairy Trade price index,” Ms Gourley said. . . 

Seasonal labour shortage declared for BOP kiwifruit industry:

Declaration is for 15 April until 27 May 2019.

• As of today, overseas visitors can apply to vary the conditions of their visitor visa to allow up to six weeks of seasonal work in kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) supports the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) declaration of a labour shortage for the kiwifruit industry in the Bay of Plenty and the extension of the labour shortage in the Hawkes Bay. The BOP declaration announced today is for the period 15 April until 27 May 2019. . .

Beef + Lamb well placed for the future:

Beef + Lamb NZ has the correct strategies in place to help the sector successfully navigate its way through the next couple of years, says chair Andrew Morrison.

“But it is going to require focus and there will be some hard decisions,” he warned.

“As an organisation, we are now trying to constantly look ahead at the challenges coming, do the research about those challenges and come up with strategies to influence the responses and outcomes to them.”  . .

Self-importing fertiliser is risky business, warns the Fertiliser Quality Council:

The Fertiliser Quality Council of New Zealand (FQC) is urging anyone contemplating importing fertiliser themselves to think again. The organisation, which is responsible for Fertmark, the fertiliser auditing programme that verifies products so users can be certain they know what they are spreading on their pasture, says importing fertiliser for individual on-farm use is fraught with risk.

Anders Crofoot, Chairman of the FQC, explains that the temptation to import fertiliser for private farm use is often driven by cost. However, he warns farmers and growers not to be fooled by ‘cheap’ ticket prices displayed online. . . 

Survey results will detail farmers’ changing attitudes to climate change:

Survey results on how farmers’ understanding of climate change and its impacts have changed over the last decade will be released at the New Zealand Agricultural Climate Change Conference 2019 (NZACCC), in Palmerston North on April 8-9.

The results will also reveal how farmers are now viewing greenhouse gas mitigation efforts in agriculture and give their views on the effective communication of climate change science. . . 


Rural round-up

January 7, 2019

The hypocrites at Fish and Game NZ – Alan Emmerson:

I received strong reaction to my blog on Fish and Game’s ‘survey’. Unsurprisingly I stick with everything I said.

I’d now add that the organisation is a rampant hypocrite. I did mention in my last blog that Fish and Game completely ignored the reports of 379 sewerage overflows into our pristine streams and rivers.

Was there any comment from the trade union – in a word no. . .

Pressure is on but dairy farmers’ fundamentals unchanged – Tim Mackle:

On the cusp of the new year, I’ve been thinking about the year gone and what’s head of us.

Having been involved in the dairy sector my whole life, it’s clear that it’s changed significantly since I was a kid. And in the past year, there have been a number of key challenges, whether it’s the talk about nitrogen – both from effluent or the manufactured variety – to help our grass or vegetables grow, our impacts and work to improve water quality or the growing conversation around climate change. And let’s not forget the emergence of new threats, like Mycoplasma bovis.

Here’s the thing about farming. The fundamentals are still the same – looking after cows, grass and people. . . 

Man disgusted at dumping of carcasses in South Canterbury river – Matthew Littlewood:

A South Canterbury man is disgusted to find rotting animal carcasses dumped near a popular swimming spot – and wants those responsible to own up.

Ely Peeti, of Waitohi, inland from Temuka, said he was taking his children to a swimming spot near Albury at Rocky Gully bridge on Friday when he found seven deer heads, a sheep skin and a gutted whole male pig, all lying in the water.

He told Stuff he was so shocked by his find that he posted a video online.

“I couldn’t believe the smell, it was just rotten. . . 

Resurgent collie club to hold SI champs – Sally Rae:

A few years back, the Omakau Collie Club was close to extinction.

It was only due to the tenacity of a couple of club members that it kept functioning and now, it has undergone a remarkable change in fortunes.

The club — now known as the Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club — is preparing to host the South Island sheep dog trial championships in 2021.

It will bring an influx of about 500 dog triallists into the Alexandra area for five and a-half days. . .

Meat meals an iron-clad rule – Tom O’Connor:

 In spite of our resolve most of us eat more than we need to and drink more than is good for us during Christmas and New Year gatherings.

That is probably because there is much more to food and drink than merely refuelling the body. We like to combine good food and beverages with the companionship of friends and family in a tradition that goes back a very long way in our history and folklore. . . 

A review of 6,000 studies over two decades delivers its verdict on GMO corn – Chelsea Gohd:

There is a great deal of misinformation out there regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

From monikers like “Frankenfoods” to general skepticism, there has been a variety of biased reactions to these organisms, even though we as a species have been genetically modifying our foods in one way or another for approximately 10,000 years.

Perhaps some of this distrust will be put to rest with the emergence of a 2018 meta-analysis that shows GM corn increases crop yields and provides significant health benefits.

The analysis, which was not limited to studies conducted in the US and Canada, showed that GMO corn varieties have increased crop yields worldwide 5.6 to 24.5 percent when compared to non-GMO varieties. . .

 


Feds award farming leaders

June 28, 2018

Federated Farmers presented its annual awards to farming leaders last night:

The awards recognise the hard work of those in the agriculture sector and the ceremony acts as a stage for the recipients to be celebrated on, says Fed’s national president Katie Milne.
“What we’ve seen this year has just been tremendous. Incredible talent. The work that goes on out there in the community is just non-stop so to have the awards is a great way to say thank you and to encourage initiative.”

The awards winners are as follows:

The Outstanding Advocacy Award recipient is Motueka’s Gavin O’Donnell.

The award recognises the hard work of a member that through their tenacity and drive positively affected national or regional policy for the benefits of our farmers.

Gavin, a former head of Nelson Federated Farmers, was nominated for his skills at influencing and communicating the ‘good news’ stories.

The Innovator of the Year Award recipients are Palmerston North’s James Stewart and Mat Hocken.

Federated Farmers uses this award to highlight those who have invested time, effort and resources into finding smart ways to make New Zealand agriculture more efficient and effective.

They were nominated for their work in boosting connectivity. They are the founders of AgTech Hackathon, an initiative designed to link farmers with smarter on-farm solutions.

The Farming Message Award winner is Five Forks’s Lyndon Strang.

The award is for an individual who through writing, public speaking and other forms of media use has done a fantastic job sharing the importance of agriculture with New Zealand’s wider communities.

The primary reason for Lyndon’s nomination was the way he led by example in his area when it came implementing new farming practices, and when Mycoplasma bovis broke in South Canterbury, Lyndon was an approachable voice for local media and helped break down the technical gobbledygook surrounding the disease for the public.

The Federated Farmers Emerging Advocate Award recipient is Gore’s Bernadette Hunt.

The award celebrates an up-and-coming member who champions the needs of their fellow farmers, and is a positive role model for other young farmers with clear goals for the future of the industry.

Bernadette was nominated because of her outstanding contribution in the lead role for Southland during the M. bovis outbreak. 
She also liaised with the Ministry for Primary Industries over declaring a medium scale adverse event due the extended period of dry conditions.

The Federated Farmers Columnist of the Year Award goes to Marton’s Richard Morrison.

The award is the organisation’s chance to thank someone who has made an ongoing effort to communicate the work of the entire group to the wider population through regular column writing for a national, regional or local publication.

Richard puts together thoughtful and often thought-provoking columns that would resonate with thousands of readers – both urban and rural.

The Federated Farmers Provincial Service Award winner is Timaru’s Bob Douglas.

The award recognises the unsung heroes of the provinces who year after year, decade after decade, have contributed to the smooth running of the province and provided outstanding service.

After almost 20 years working as South Canterbury’s provincial secretary and treasurer Bob Douglas has had his years of service recognized.
Bob is known for schooling countless emerging local Federated Farmers’ leaders in meeting protocol, teaches them debating skills and the rights of the Chair.

The Federated Farmers Outstanding Contribution to Federated Farmers Award went to Masterton’s Anders Crofoot.

The award recognises a member who works to promote our advocacy organisation and the agriculture industry by championing the needs of their fellow farmers.
Anders has shown tremendous skill in initiating successful mediation and dissecting the daunting Resource Management Act. 
He has also contributed to the national advocacy work of Federated Farmers serving six years on the board. He has an ability to talk to people of all backgrounds and make information accessible to everyone.

The Federated Farmers Membership Growth Award went to Wanganui.

The award is to recognise the efforts of provinces who actively work to boost membership for Federated Farmers.

This is an outstanding achievement for a smaller province. But Wanganui was not the only team to perform well over the past year. There was exceptional work happening throughout the nation. A special thank you to the teams in Golden Bay, Tararua and the Waikato.


Feds 1st female president in 118 years

June 23, 2017

Federated Farmers’ new president, Katie Milne, is the first woman to hold the office.

West Coast dairy farmer Katie Milne is the new Federated Farmers’ National President- becoming the first woman in the Federation’s 118-year history to hold the presidency.

Ms Milne succeeds Dr William Rolleston who steps aside after his three-year tenure.

A previous Federation Board member and West Coast Provincial President, Katie was Dairy Woman of the Year and a Rural Woman of Influence in 2015.

She contested the position with Anders Crofoot who was vice-president.

Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard was elected National Vice President while South Canterbury farmer Miles Anderson takes over as National Meat and Fibre chair with Rick Powdrell stepping aside.
Waikato farmer Chris Lewis takes over as National Dairy Industry Chair succeeding Andrew Hoggard.

North Canterbury farmer Lynda Murchison has been elected as one of two Board members at large alongside Chris Allen who was reappointed.

Arable chair Guy Wigley remains on the Board pending next week’s arable sector AGM. . .

Federated Farmers like all voluntary organisations faces challenges with membership but still plays a vital role advocating for the farming industry and rural people.

Feds and its president play a very important role, especially now farmers are such a small minority and the rural-urban gap is widening.


Rural round-up

May 1, 2017

$6 a kilo for greasy wool is realistic – Alan Williams:

A wool price of $6 a kilogram greasy is being targeted by a Federated Farmers strategy being developed as necessary for the industry to achieve sustainable returns.

An industry levy was not part of the work being done, federation national meat and fibre group chairman Rick Powdrell said.

Getting detailed information on what happened to New Zealand wool overseas and where it went were key parts of the project. . . 

Fight for Feds top job likely – Annette Scott:

Competition is ramping up as nominations open for the Federated Farmers national board’s changing of the guard.

Speculation pointed to a challenge for the national leadership as president William Rolleston ended his three-year term.

The annual meeting was scheduled for June 22 in Wellington. Both the president and vice-president roles would come up for grabs.

Current vice-president Anders Crofoot, also at the end of his three-year term, confirmed he would stand for president. . . 

Meat co-ops search for winning formula – Tony Benny:

New Zealand’s two big meat co-ops, Silver Fern Farms and Alliance Group have both had new CEOs at the helm for the past two years, each charged with improving returns to their farmer-shareholders. Dean Hamilton and David Surveyor talked to Tony Benny.

When Dean Hamilton and David Surveyor each came from Melbourne to take top jobs in the New Zealand meat industry, little did they know they’d almost been next door neighbours before coming here.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Hamilton recalls his first meeting with Surveyor when the subject of where they’d lived in Melbourne came up.

“I said I was in East Melbourne. He said, ‘So was I, what street?’. I said, ‘Central Park Road’. He looked at me and he said, ‘I was in Central Park Road too’, and it ended up we were only ten houses away but I’d never met him.” . . 

ACCC court action against Murray Goulburn applauded – Shan Goodwin:

FEDERAL Court action instigated by the competition watchdog against big dairy co-operative Murray Goulburn has been heralded a significant first step to bringing long overdue fairer trading practices to the milk supply chain.

Milk producers say the move shows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is serious about addressing breaches of competition law in the dairy industry and lays a good foundation for the results of it’s current inquiry into the competitiveness of milk prices. . . 

Hemp seeds to be legalised as food:

An agreement reached between New Zealand and Australian food safety authorities will see hemp seed legalised as food in New Zealand, Food Safety Minister David Bennett says.

Ministers at the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide today approved a standard to allow safe levels of low-THC hemp seed as a food.

“I stated my support at the Forum today and was pleased a change to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code was approved,” Mr Bennett says.

Mr Bennett says hemp has no psychoactive effect and has historically been used as a source of fibre and oil because it contains proteins, vitamins, minerals and fatty-acids. . . 

Rural Kiwis swipe right for country love on new farmer dating app – Jill Galloway:

Lonely Kiwi farmers are hooking into a United States based dating app to find love.

About 500 single New Zealanders are already members of the FarmersMatch dating service which has only been going since March.

Founder Derek Ma said the app could bring together single people with a love of the country. . . 

New Zealand olive oil scoops medals at international competitions:

Winners in two prestigious international Olive Oil competitions have just been announced and New Zealand features in both.
In the New York International Olive Oil Competition (NYIOOC), which is arguably the largest of international Olive Oil Competitions, Robinsons Bay and Old French Road both won GOLD with their Extra Virgin Olive Oil entries.

Both olive groves are from Akaroa and were Best in Show and Reserve Best in Show respectively at the 2016 New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards.
The 2017 NYIOOC attracted more than 800 entries from 26 countries and was judged by an international panel of experts. For more information see https://nyoliveoil.com/ . . .


Rural round-up

April 13, 2017

Stockmanship and work ethic leads family to win Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

East Otago sheep and beef farmers Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht have won the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The win was announced at a gala dinner at the Glenroy Auditorium in Dunedin on April 7.

The Engelbrechts also won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award and the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award.

The Engelbrecht’s 7500 stock unit East Otago sheep and beef business is based on their 611ha home farm, Stoneburn, near Palmerston. The couple have four children, Oscar, 19, Sam, 16, Anna, 14 and Charles, 12. . . 

Aim tech at firms not farmers – Richard Rennie:

As the internet of things (IoT) becomes more of a reality for New Zealand farmers its success might lie in promoting it harder to farm service businesses than to farmers themselves.

KotahiNet chief executive Vikream Kumar tipped the usual pitch for farmers to adopt the IoT on its head to delegates at the MobileTech conference in Rotorua.

His company specialised in connecting businesses with sensors and wireless networks that enabled devices to communicate within businesses and beyond, including farms, orchards and processing operations. . . 

Tauranga animal health CEO finalist for Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year:

A Tauranga woman described as “successful yet so down to earth” is in the running to take out the 2017 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year Award.

A qualified veterinarian, Dr Claire Nicholson is the Chief Executive of Sirona Animal Health, a company she set up to develop and promote unique products that address current areas of economic loss in the dairy and sheep and beef industries.

She’s also a director of Paraninihi Ki Waitotara (PKW), past associate director for AgResearch and has worked with Massey University researching the epidemiology and economic cost of Neospora. Her family farms are in Gropers Bush, Southland. . .

Regions win battle to keep GE-free status but confusion remains – Gerard Hutching:

Lobby group Pure Hawke’s Bay is claiming victory in its fight to be free of genetically modified fruit and vegetables, but Federated Farmers describes the new situation as “a mess”.

Pure Hawke’s Bay feared Environment Minister Nick Smith would remove the powers for local and regional councils to declare themselves GE-free when the Government pushed through the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill this week.

However, in last minute changes, Smith amended the Bill so the minister could not refuse councils the right to become GE-free – but only for crops, which he defined as cereals, vegetables or fruit.

Smith’s definition did not include GE grasses, trees or livestock. . . 

New ground broken on rural fibre:

Federated Farmers has successfully negotiated a significant benefit for rural property owners who allow telecommunications fibre to cross their land.

The Telecommunications (Property Access and Other Matters) Amendment Act, which was passed by the Parliament this afternoon, facilitates the installation of fibre optic cable along overhead electricity lines. It includes a unique provision that provides a quid pro quo to landowners whose land the lines network crosses, Federated Farmers communications spokesperson Anders Crofoot says.

In exchange for the right to string high-speed fibre along existing overhead powerlines, the amendment act guarantees fibre connections to farmers whose land is crossed. . . 

New Zealand mānuka honey science definition:

Food Safety Minister David Bennett has welcomed the Ministry for Primary Industries’ release of a proposed scientific definition for mānuka honey produced in New Zealand.

“Overseas regulators and consumers have expressed a desire for an independent, Government-backed definition to safeguard the authenticity of mānuka honey products.

“This Government-backed definition will provide an important starting point for the industry to promote New Zealand mānuka honey in world markets,” Mr Bennett says. . . 

Government science definition of mānuka honey an important step forward:

The industry organisation for the honey and beekeeping industry, Apiculture New Zealand, is pleased the Ministry for Primary Industries has released its proposed science definition of mānuka honey for industry review and consultation.

“The introduction of a regulatory science definition is a major milestone in the history of the mānuka honey industry. It is a relatively young industry growing very rapidly and with huge potential.

“We signalled our willingness to work with MPI to ensure its proposed science definition is robust in meeting shared objectives around consumer confidence and authenticity, and will be making a detailed submission on behalf of industry,” says Karin Kos, Chief Executive of Apiculture NZ. . . 

Foreign Wine Looking for Greater US Market Penetration:

The US wine market continues to represent an attractive opportunity for many foreign wine companies, according to the Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q2 2017. However, increasing competition and ongoing wholesaler consolidation, among other factors, make it increasingly difficult for small wineries to penetrate, with a particular complexity for foreign wineries. An increasing number are seeking alternative structures and strategies to deliver greater penetration in the market. Each strategy has the potential to achieve success, but also carries risks and pitfalls.

While the US market has attributes that make it attractive to many foreign wineries, it is also a crowded, complex, and daunting market. The traditional approach for foreign wineries looking to enter the US market has been to identify an appropriate importer, and to work the market with the importer and/or distributors to sell their product.. . .

More evidence that the key to allergy-free kids is giving them plenty of dirt — and cows – Rachel Feltman:

People who grow up on farms — especially dairy farms — have way fewer allergy and asthma problems than the rest of us. Now one research team thinks they’ve brought science closer to understanding why.

In a study published Thursday in Science, researchers report that they were able to pinpoint one possible mechanism for the allergy protection in mice they studied. Surprisingly, the protein that they fingered as the likely allergy-preventer doesn’t actually affect the immune system — it affects the structural cells that make up the lining of the lung.

The research is related to something called the hygiene hypothesis, where a lack of exposure to microbes as a tyke leads to more allergy and asthma. . . 

 


Would beef tax help NZ?

November 11, 2016

40% beef tax suggested to pay for climate damage :

Global taxes have been suggested for beef and dairy products to pay for climate damage caused during their production.

The University of Oxford study argues emissions pricing on food could avert more pollution than generated by the aviation industry, save half a million lives and one billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year if implemented in 2020.

The analysis, conducted by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, suggests beef would have to be 40 percent more expensive to pay for the climate damage caused by its production.

Milk and other meats would need to increase by up to 20 percent and vegetable oils would also face substantial rises.

The study estimates the suggested price increase would result in a 10 percent reduction in the purchase of these foods and drive lower emissions. . . 

This wouldn’t be all bad for New Zealand farmers.

Almost all our beef and dairy cattle, and sheep are free range livestock.

A Lincoln University study showed that our meat and horticultural produce had lower emissions than the same local produce in British supermarkets, even taking into account the transport from here to there.

If our produce incurred a lower tax than that from other countries whose production methods are far less efficient we’d have a competitive advantage.

Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Anders Crofoot said putting tax at the purchasing end, so the decision was in hands of consumers, had some merit.

“Conceptually there are some attractions, but as with most things with climate change it gets pretty complex quite quickly and I wouldn’t see a tax on food was going to be a particularly effective way of doing it.”

He said farmers could benefit from their product being more of a premium.

“I don’t think that reducing meat consumption is actually necessarily something we should recoil from if it can turn it into a premium product that people are willing to pay more [for].”

If there was going to be a tax on livestock and crops, what about other foods?

Nothing would be gained if people swapped from one type of food to another with no environmental gain.

The production of all food must have an environmental impact and that would have to be taxed too.

Some of the better-off might be happy to pay more for their food, others would resent it but could still afford it.

But what about the less well-off, too many of whom already struggle to buy nutritious food?

Rabobank’s Farm2Fork summit in Sydney last week and it’s F20 (F for food) in 2014 looked at the challenge of feeding the world population of nine billion by 2050.

No-one suggested taxing food.

Researchers would be better putting their time and our money into science that would improve the production of food that is healthy for both people and the environment .

 


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