Rural round-up

06/07/2022

On-farm GHG reductions come at a huge cost – Hugh Stringleman:

The cost of reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions on the Northland Agricultural Research Farm (NARF) in the 2022 season was 40% of operating profit compared with typical dairy farming in the Kaipara district.

The results of the first season of the four-year Future Farming Systems trial at Dargaville were released at the annual Northland Dairy Development Trust (NDDT) field day.

NARF’s farm and cows have been split into three equalised farmlets, with separate vats, to compare a typical Northland system with one that has 74% of land in tall fescue/cocksfoot-based pastures, and with a third designed to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets (see panel).

Financial analysis of the first season, using a $9.30/kg milk price, showed the “Current” farm was the most profitable with $5040/ha operating profit, followed closely by the Alternative Pastures farm with $4876/ha. . . 

Calling for fairer methane reporting and targets – Jim van der Poel & Andrew Morrison:

DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ are calling on the Government to give farmers a fair deal by using the latest and best science when setting methane targets.

While New Zealand farmers overall are reducing emissions, agriculture is currently being blamed for a far bigger share of New Zealand’s warming than it actually causes.

It’s important all sectors play their part, including agriculture, transport, energy, towns and cities.

The method the Government uses to calculate emissions data, GWP100, is accurate for carbon dioxide but hugely overstates the warming impact of methane. . .

Genetic rules mean NZ”s missing opportunities – Treasury  – Business Desk:

New Zealand is missing opportunities because of its regulatory barriers to genetic modification, Treasury secretary Caralee McLiesh says.

“The flipside of unlocking innovation through regulatory reform is regulation that constrains new technologies and ways of working,” she told the NZ Association of Economists annual conference at Victoria University of Wellington.

“While other advanced economies have embraced these techniques, our current regulatory barriers mean that we are missing opportunities – for example, to improve drought and disease resistance in plants, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from grazing animals and reduce fertiliser-use issues by improving disease resistance,” she said.

GM organisms and technologies are regulated under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO). . .

New history of sheep and beef sector launched :

A new history of New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector released this week outlines the achievements of the red meat industry over the past 25 years and its contribution to the national economy.

Meeting Change: the NZ Red Meat Story 1997-2022, written by Ali Spencer and Mick Calder, was commissioned by the New Zealand Meat Board (NZMB) to mark its centenary year.

It is the third in a series of histories of the sector, following Golden Jubileee edited by Dai Hayward (1972) and Meat Acts written by Janet Tyson and Mick Calder (1999).

The book was officially launched at an event last night at Te Papa in Wellington, attended by current and former Meat Board members and staff, and other key players in the sheep and beef sector. . .

Federated Farmers and NZ Thorough Breeders saddle up for mutual benefit :

A new partnership between Federated Farmers of NZ and the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (NZTBA) underlines the commitment of both organisations to helping their members be front-runners in caring for their animals and land.

“Farmers who join the Federation have long recognised we’re stronger together,” Feds CEO Terry Copeland says. “With thoroughbred breeders also joining the fold, we have a bigger pool of resources and greater strength to our voice in our advocacy to politicians, decision-makers and government departments.”

As landowners, there will already be NZTBA members who belong to Federated Farmers and the partnership agreement between the two organisations will strengthen and develop those ties.

“We have a lot in common,” Terry said. “Whether you’re a breeder of champion horses, a dairy or sheep farmer, you’re vitally interested in the welfare of your animals and being a good steward of your land. We’re all interested in ensuring government policies that affect our industries are sensible, practical and affordable.” . .

New Zealand’s primary sector need to get on the digital bus now :

New Zealand’s primary sector needs to get on the digital bus now or risk losing international market access

Trust Alliance New Zealand (TANZ) will showcase a new digital tool at the Primary Industries New Zealand conference on 6/7 July in Auckland, which is aimed at helping food and fibre exporters keep up with ever increasing international compliance standards.

The ‘digital compliance product passport’ is an international standard, data sharing technology where everyone across the sector is able to securely contribute, control, collate and protect their crucial farm data.

TANZ Executive Director Klaeri Schelhowe says “At the moment there is no easy mechanism for farmers and food producers to easily and directly input their farm’s data in a trustworthy way. The existing data exchange models are inefficient and a waste time which is why we have acted now to create a smarter way of collecting and sharing this important data.” . .


Rural round-up

24/05/2022

Challenging harvest conditions see NZ apple and pear crop numbers drop from previous forecast :

New Zealand Apples and Pears (NZAPI), the industry organisation representing the country’s pipfruit growers, today released a crop re-forecast that predicts a decrease of between 12% and 15% on last year’s crop total.

Extreme weather events in the major growing regions of Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne and the impacts of Omicron during the peak harvest period have combined with increased shipping costs to further squeeze profit margins and make the New Zealand 2022 apple and pear harvest one of the most challenging in the past decade.

In January this year, the 2022 apple and pear crop was predicted to reach the equivalent of 23.2 million boxes (Tray Carton Equivalents, or TCEs, as they’re known in the industry), destined for customers in more than 80 countries. That forecast has now been adjusted to be approximately 20.3 million boxes, a drop of 13%, representing an estimated reduction in export earnings of $105 million.

NZAPI CEO Terry Meikle says a perfect storm of adverse weather events in key growing regions and major labour shortages during the heart of the harvest combined to result in growers not being able maximise their crops. However, what has been harvested remains of a high quality for New Zealand’s export markets. . . 

Challenges navigated in ‘tumultuous’ year – Sally Rae:

Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson has described the past 12 months as “one of the most tumultuous in recent farming history”.

In his report to the province’s annual meeting in Lawrence yesterday, Mr Patterson said agriculture had not faced such a challenging set of circumstances since the Rogernomics era reforms in the 1980s.

Implementation of major Government reforms of freshwater and land management, climate change regulation, labour shortages, supply chain disruptions, pandemic management, land-use change and centralisation of local government services were some of the significant issues confronting farmers.

On top of that, Otago had been “book-ended” by back-to-back autumn droughts which had resulted in a medium-scale adverse event being declared in large swathes of the region, adding extra stress. . . 

The future for sheep – Keith Woodford:

Lamb prices are high but industry remains buffeted by big crosswinds

The sheep industry in Zealand has been getting smaller ever since 1982 when sheep numbers reached 70 million. The latest numbers are 26 million in 2021, having dropped from 32.6 million in 2010. Yet sheep still earn over $4 billion of annual export income.

In recent months I have had plenty to say about both greenhouse gas policy and forestry as they are affecting and will affect all New Zealand agriculture. Here, I focus specifically on sheep farming to seek answers as to where the industry might head.

Focusing first on market returns, the last two decades have brought lots of good news. Lamb and mutton prices have risen faster than other pastoral products, including dairy, and at a considerably higher rate than general inflation. Yet somehow it has not been enough to stem the decline. . .

Feasibility update on $4 billion Lake Onslow project expected next month :

The Energy Minister is expected to provide an update next month on whether a $4 billion pumped hydro storage in Central Otago might be feasible.

The Lake Onslow project is designed to serve as a giant battery to help protect against hydro electricity shortages and create more stability in the market.

It would involve a man-made lake likely to the east of Roxburgh in Central Otago where water would be pumped into a reservoir when energy demand was low and released when demand was high.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said Energy Minister Megan Woods would provide a brief project overview to her Cabinet colleagues this month. . . 

Dunstan Trail lauded with more than 80k riders in first year – Tim Brown:

Cromwell and Clyde businesses are celebrating the success of the Lake Dunstan Trail, and hope it will help sustain the area through the usually quiet winter period.

The cycle trail, which connects Clyde and Cromwell after opening in May last year, has blown away all expectations.

It was hoped it would attract 7500 users in its first year, instead it was more than 84,000.

The small Central Otago town of Clyde was home to about 1250 people and one of the Otago Central Rail Trail’s trail heads.

That trail attracted more than 10,000 users annually. . . 

Good moving day planning key to preventing pest plant spread & managing effluent :

Farmers are being urged to do their bit to protect farms from damaging pest plants by ensuring machinery, vehicles and equipment have been cleaned ahead of Moving Day.

Planning is also necessary when it comes to preventing effluent entering waterways and keeping roads clear and safe for road users in the region, says Waikato Regional Council.

Moving Day occurs in the week leading up to and immediately following 1 June each year. It involves the mass transporting of cows and machinery around the country’s roads as farm contractors relocate themselves and their stock in time for the new season.

“Through good on farm biosecurity practices, farmers and contractors can make a massive difference to preventing the spread of pest plants and weeds,” said regional council biosecurity pest plants team leader, Darion Embling. . . 


Rural round-up

26/10/2021

Costs wave to break over farming – Hugh Stringleman:

A one-and-a-half percent rise in interest rates over the next year will be a large component of rapidly rising on-farm inflation.

After a decade of low interest rates, the forecast increase in the Official Cash Rate (OCR) from 0.5% to 2% looks set to increase the interest portion of debt servicing by as much as one-third.

For individual farmers, the added interest cost will be dependent on total indebtedness and their mixture of fixed and floating rates.

The most recent Federated Farmers banking survey said the average farm mortgage rate was 3.8% and the average farm debt, across all types, was $4.3 million. . .

Peak milk underway in second Covid-affected season – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra is facing its second consecutive season where peak milk collection is affected by covid-19.

The co-operative is expecting to process 80 million litres a day over the next few months, while at the same time keeping its 12,000 staff nationwide safe from the virus.

Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray says the co-operative had been working through a lot of management and business continuity plans to deal with covid while ensuring it was able to process the volumes coming through the factory.

“They are dynamic and they change because the environment changes,” Whineray said. . .

Shearing  his passion for six decades – Shannon Thomson:

Shearing — both the industry and the sport — has been a lifetime love for New Zealand Merino Shearing Society life member Graeme Bell.

A wool classer and master woolhandler, Mr Bell has been involved with shearing since the Merino Shears began in Alexandra in 1961.

He was 10.

Growing up in the centre of Alexandra, he did not come from farming stock, but as a young boy the lifesyle of the local shearers caught his eye. . .

Getting broadband to everyone – Mike Smith:

Recent episodes of Fair Go have highlighted the difficulties a number of rural people have in getting access to quality, reliable broadband and how tough this makes their lives.

Businesses can’t operate without a solid connection, kids can’t be educated from home when required, and life is just harder for everyone.

As chair of WISPA-NZ, which represents specialist internet providers who look after many rural users, I understand why having access to the Internet is now a vital part of everyday life.

The 37 companies that make up our group are all specialists in using wireless internet technology to get to the places phone cable and fibre don’t reach. . . 

Farmers urged to plan for dry summer – Shawn McAvine:

Farmers are being encouraged to plan ahead in the event of another dry summer.

Otago Rural Support Trust trustee and Otago Drought Recovery Committee member Amy Francis said the trust formed the committee after a drought was declared in Otago in April this year.

Her sheep and beef farm in Five Forks had been dry.

Recent rain had been ‘‘amazing’’ but the soil lacked moisture. . .

Country diary: My first sheep auction since Covid is an emotional one – Andrea Meanwell:

In my quest to buy some Swaledale gimmer lambs, I’m reminded that farmers in their 50s are considered youngsters.

As I walk through the double doors and into the auction, the smell of sheep and sawdust makes me feel suddenly emotional. During Covid I missed going to sales, missed chatting to other farmers and just being in a busy place with other people.

Today is one of the biggest sales of the year, the Swaledale and Rough Fell draft ewe sale at Kendal auction. Traditionally sheep were “drafted” off the fells after about four lambings, and sold to other farmers with better land for the remainder of their lives. While there are plenty of draft ewes here, there are also sheep of all ages from all over the Lake District.

I don’t really need to buy any sheep, but I have agreed with my son, whom I farm in partnership with, that should I see some Swaledale gimmer lambs I like, we can pay up to £70 each for them. We have calculated that at £70 they are affordable. Some people like to go to shopping centres for their retail therapy; I go to sheep auctions. . .

 


Rural round-up

25/08/2021

Labour must stop flooding rural NZ with pointless and onderous regulations :

Labour’s latest regulatory hurdle for rural water schemes shows it is deeply out of touch with provincial New Zealand, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“As it stands, the Water Services Bill would expose tens of thousands of rural water schemes to disproportionate bureaucracy, just so they can continue supplying water between, for example, a farmhouse, a dairy shed and workers’ quarters,” Mr Luxon says.

“Despite warnings from National and major sector bodies at select committee, the bill will require Taumata Arowai to track down and register around 70,000 farm supply arrangements, each of which will need to write safety and risk management plans.

“We’re deeply concerned that the compliance costs and administrative burden this will create for farmers will be significant, while any supposed safety gains will be tiny. . . 

Shearing industry faces added challenges at busiest time of year – Chris Tobin:

The pressure is on the shearing industry as contractors juggle the usual challenges of inclement weather with the added restrictions of level 4 lockdown which has fallen at their busiest time of year..

South Canterbury Federated Farmers president and meat and wool chairman, Greg Anderson, said under level 4 restrictions which include social distancing and mask wearing, shearing was taking longer to complete with daily tallies down on usual numbers.

Anderson said there was now pressure to get pre-lamb shearing done.

“The time frame depends on when lambing begins, if it is in early September, the shearing will have to be done in the next week or so,” Anderson said. . . 

Should people really be thanking farmers for their morning latte? – Craig Hickman:

Like many silly ideas, the Thank a Farmer hashtag that has been popping up all over social media and which even made an appearance at the recent farmer protest can trace its origins back to the United States.

It was a silly sentiment when it originated there in the 1800s, and it hasn’t improved in the intervening 300-odd years.

I recently objected to the concept in reply to a social media post where a local young dairy farmer was berating his audience for not being more appreciative for the milk in their Sunday morning coffee while he was at work on the farm.

I was confused. My milk goes to the Clandeboye factory, where it is processed into either milk powder or mozzarella. Do I deserve thanks from the Sunday morning coffee sippers or is that reserved for the farmers who produce the 5 per cent of dairy product that isn’t exported? .  .

Yili and Westland “Cream Team’ create new product for China:

A cross-cultural research and development project has succeeded in harnessing the natural grass-fed goodness of milk from New Zealand’s remote West Coast into a product suitable for discerning Chinese bakers.

The product, Yili Pro UHT Whipping Cream, will be available to Chinese consumers this October.

Resident Director for Yili in New Zealand, Shiqing Jian, said the two-year collaboration between Westland Dairy Company Limited and parent company Yili had managed to overcome the inherent variability of grass-fed milk to produce cream with a consistency suitable for Chinese bakers.

Mr Jian said Yili’s growth as an international brand relied strongly on innovation and longstanding research and development investment. New product sales accounted for 16 per cent of Yili’s total revenue in 2020 with Yili now ranked the fifth largest dairy producer globally. . . 

Whittakers goes nuts for Canterbury with its new artisan block:

Whittaker’s has released its new Artisan Collection Canterbury Hazelnut in Creamy Milk Chocolate 100g block. Whittaker’s Artisan Collection celebrates New Zealand’s finest home-grown ingredients, and this is the first flavour that features premium produce sourced from the Canterbury region.

Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers with a keen eye may have already spotted the block at their local supermarket. It is available now in stores nationwide and via online shopping and there is plenty to go around, so Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers are encouraged to wait until their next planned supermarket shop to pick up a block.

Whittaker’s Canterbury Hazelnut in Creamy Milk Chocolate combines roasted Canterbury hazelnut pieces, sourced from Canterbury hazelnut co-operative Hazelz, with a silky smooth hazelnut paste and Whittaker’s 33% cocoa Creamy Milk Chocolate. . .

Country diary: the ups and downs of buying a retired shepherd’s flock – Andrea Meanwell:

I haven’t been to Ingleton since the 1980s, but the rocky landscape still inspires as much awe and wonder in me now as it did when I was a girl. We would come here on school trips to crawl into a cave or abseil down a pothole, but this time I’m here to discuss buying sheep from a retiring shepherd.

It is a difficult thing to retire and sell a flock of sheep, and it’s a difficult thing to buy one. I felt guilty for buying all of them, not some. And it brings to mind your own limited time as guardian of your farm. What will happen when I can no longer walk the length of the farm to gather sheep? Will I retire, or simply carry on doing what I can? Is the only realistic exit strategy death?

My mind is brought back down to earth as we arrive at the gate. I thrust my cash into my pocket and jump out of the car ready to look at the sheep. This will not be an easy conversation. How do you buy someone’s life’s work, their legacy? . . .


Rural round-up

28/07/2021

Dairy exports could hit 22b – Gerald Piddock:

NZX is forecasting New Zealand dairy exports to reach $22 billion by 2030 as companies shift NZ’s milk to higher-value products.

Last year, NZ’s dairy exports were worth $19b.

NZX head of insight Julia Jones emphasised the forecast in NZX’s 2021 Dairy Outlook is contingent on a number of factors lining up.

“It’s a point in time with what we know today, this is what we believe it will look like in the future,” Jones said. . . 

Methane vaccine for cows could be ‘game changer’ for global emissions – Tina Morrison:

A methane vaccine for cows being developed in New Zealand could be a big game changer for animal emissions globally, according to the chairman of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, Professor Jeremy Hill.

Hill, who is Fonterra’s chief science and technology officer, says the methane vaccine it is working on aims to introduce antibodies into a cow’s saliva which then pass to the animal’s rumen, or stomach, and bind with the methanogens which convert hydrogen into methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“That would be the big breakthrough because in theory a vaccine could be implemented in any animal production system,” Hill told reporters at Fonterra’s research and development facility in Palmerston North earlier this month.

“This would make a real game changing difference to the world.” . . 

The organics myth – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The ongoing push that “organic is better” is frustrating when the facts, evidence and data don’t support the case, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

With all the research and information available it is extraordinary that the myth of organics – that the food is safer, healthier for them and kinder to the environment which means that people will pay more for it – persists.

It isn’t and they don’t. Not enough to cover the costs.

Of course this is “usually”, and people will always be able to show that they make it work in terms of the economics, at least in some operations in some years. . . 

Tarata Honey wins national gold medal for creamed manuka honey :

A Taranaki honey packing factory has won a national gold medal for its creamed manuka honey.

Tarata Honey owners Raul and his wife Eniko Mateas-Orban attended the Apiculture New Zealand  in Rotorua last month.

Raul says they entered the company’s Manuka Honey MG0 300+ in the creamed honey medium colour category.

“We’re very pleased to have won the gold medal in this category. We think it is a great recognition of our hard work and high quality standards in terms of manuka honey. Nevertheless it just goes to show that people really like our honey.” . . 

Calf rearers dropping their numbers – Hugh Stirngleman:

High beef schedules and store cattle prices are not feeding through into four-day calf values and calf rearing margins, which march to the beat of different drums.

Major calf rearers say their businesses are dependent on calf supply numbers in sale yards, input and labour costs, seasonal weather and demand down the track from beef farmers for 100kg weaners.

The numbers of calves being reared are going down, which is counter-productive for the industry, despite good markets for beef and the availability of better beef genetics over dairy cows.

The biggest operators are hanging in, but not expanding, while low margins and uncertain outcomes have decimated the ranks of smaller businesses. . . 

UK lamb exports plummet by a a quarter in May:

Lamb exports from the UK continue to be under pressure as new figures show exports declined by nearly a quarter last month.

UK sheep meat exports declined 23 percent year-on-year in May to stand at 4,850 tonnes, data by HMRC shows. The vast majority – 95 percent – were to the EU.

Volumes of fresh carcase exports only recorded a modest 2% on the year with most of the reduction being in cuts of sheep meat.

Looking at the figures, AHDB said there had been continuing trade friction between the UK and the EU which had ‘no doubt put volumes under pressure’. . . 


Rural round-up

05/06/2021

Canterbury flooding: Historic Grigg family farm wiped out by worst rain they’ve ever seen – Kurt Bayer:

Canterbury farmers bordering rivers have been devastated by the hundred-year flood, with lost animals, thousands of kilometres of smashed fencing, and green fields turned overnight into shingle. Surrey Hills Station farmer Arthur Grigg, whose access bridge, driveway and paddocks have been wiped out, says the Government needs to step up after the “extraordinary” event. Kurt Bayer reports.

From the picturesque plateau where he was married just weeks ago in the shadow of the century-old family homestead, Arthur Grigg surveys the damage.

“It’s a kick in the guts,” he says, shaking his head.

The place, Surrey Hills Station near Mt Somers, up until the weekend, had been looking good too. Grigg had been thinking about a mid-winter break, maybe a spot of fishing. . . 

Nothing – not even a hug – Tim GIlbertson:

Jacinda breezed in to town recently, with Damien in tow.

Following his triumphant decapitation of the live export trade, Damien was presumably looking for another prospering rural enterprise to put the taiaha into. But mother nature’s drought is successfully doing the job for him. So, he would have left disappointed.

The PM greeted local councillors and discussed the success of the mayoral task force for jobs, which has created 12 new positions. Loud applause. Then she visited a regenerative dairy farm.

What she did not do was look out the window of the ministerial BMW and say: “My God! You are having another massive drought leading to the massive long term economic and social damage to the entire region. We must act on water storage at once!” . .

Adopting a plant-based diet can help shrink a person’s carbon footprint, but a new study finds that improving the efficiency of livestock production will be an even more effective strategy for reducing global methane emissions.

The study looked at the intensity of methane emissions from livestock production around the world – in other words, how much methane is released for each kilogram of animal protein produced – and made projections for future emissions.

The authors found in the past two decades, advances in farming had made it possible to produce meat, eggs and milk with an increasingly smaller methane footprint.

Some countries, however, had not had access to the technology enabling these advances. . . 

Trophy win elates Trust boss -Peter Burke:

Tataiwhetu Trust chairman Paki Nikora is elated to have won this year’s Ahuwhenua trophy for the top Maori dairy farm. He never thought the trust would reach such heights in the agricultural sector.

Nikora says Maori tend to belittle themselves all the time. However, when push came to shove, the trust decided to give it a go and enter the competition. There were scenes of great excitement as Tataiwhetu, which runs an organic dairy farm in the Ruatoki Valley, south of Whakatane, was announced the winner and presented with the trophy by the Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

When Nikora was presented with the trophy there were scenes of great jubilation as whānau came on stage to join in the celebrations, which included waiata and a haka.

Tataiwhetu runs 432 Kiwi cross cows and carries 188 replacement stock on its two support blocks. They milk once-a-day with the herd producing 129,140 kgMS a year. . . 

Calf rearing workshops to run through-out New Zealand:

Practical workshops on successful calf rearing by Dairy Women’s Network and SealesWinslow are ensuring New Zealand farmers are entering the season confidently with the right tools and knowledge to raise healthy calves.

Calf rearing is a critical time for dairy farmers, with success determined by the quality and management of newborn calves from the time of birth through to 12 weeks of age.

Each of the workshops will focus on the best practice behind providing food and shelter for newborns, with SealesWinslow’s Nutrition and Quality Manager, Natalie Hughes, presenting on calf housing and pen design for optimal health and stimulation. 

“During the workshops we’ll explore the latest research and look at how we translate this into practical tips and advice to set you up for a successful calf season,” said Hughes. . .

Farm working to give back more than it takes – Curtis Baines:

A farm on the outskirts of Melbourne is making waves within its local community, and it’s all thanks to an initiative connecting producers with consumers.

Sunbury’s Lakey Farms produces pastured lamb, beef, goat, mutton and wine.

The farm works with the philosophy that it puts back more than it takes, through ethical treatment of livestock and regenerative farming.

Lakey Farms owner John Lakey believes in the ideology that animals – particularly livestock – deserve fair treatment and an abundance of roaming space. . . 


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