Rural round-up

04/04/2012

All hands on deck to restore the waterway

The Waihopai River is suffering from severe sedimentation. What is being done to bring the Southland waterway back to better health? Shawn McAvinue reports.

Eels and freshwater crayfish from the Waihopai River in Woodlands were fair game for Mike Knight when he was 12.

Now 33, he wants the river to remain a happy hunting ground for his three children.

So 11 days ago, the former Woodlands School pupil rallied the whole school to plant 230 trees across half a hectare of the 256ha of dairy farm where he and his wife Vicki contract milk 700 cows. . .

Scary’ One Plan faces appeal – Jill Galloway:

Federated Farmers national dairy vice-chairman and Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard says the One Plan has been “scary” for dairy farmers.

Federated Farmers is appealing parts of the One Plan to the Environment Court.

The plan is an environmental blueprint for water, land, biodiversity and air, with all consents for farmers rolled into one.

Horizons Regional Council said most of the outstanding issues were resolved at mediation. But in regards to water, there were still outstanding nutrient management problems and land management issues, such as the regulation of dairy farming and intensive farming activities, which were going to the Environment Court.

Mr Hoggard said when the One Plan was first discussed in 2005, dairy farmers thought it would be a non-regulatory approach, so they were “OK” about it. . . .

Migrants guides soften shock – Sally Rae:

Two new guides to help migrant dairy workers and their employers work together more successfully have been launched.   

 There are now about 1500 migrant dairy workers in the country, making up 6% of the workforce, with the majority from the Philippines.   

Demand had increased in recent years, as it had proved difficult to attract and retain local workers in some parts      of rural New Zealand, Immigration and Associate Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said .   . .

1986 winner says contest fantastic – Sally Rae:

Russell Whyte knows exactly the pressure the seven grand    finalists in the National Bank Young Farmer Contest will be    feeling when they arrive in Dunedin this month.   

Mr Whyte, now living in Christchurch, won the Young Farmer of      the Year title back in 1986 – the last time Dunedin hosted      the grand final.   

He described it as a “fantastic” experience, which was  followed by an “amazing opportunity” to travel to the UK, as      part of the prize package, which also included a tractor and  motorbike.   . .

Mill links paddock, plate – Gerald Piddock:

Plans for a new flour mill in Washdyke will give Canterbury grain growers control and opportunities to add value to their product.

The mill is being built by Farmers Mill, a new company set up by South Canterbury grain storage company Grainstor.

General manager Dave Howell said it was thought to be the first new mill built in New Zealand in 25 years.

It will be a showcase with state-of-the-art equipment not seen before in New Zealand, designed to mill soft wheat to a higher standard than some older equipment.

It will produce premium biscuit, baking and bread flours to the specifications of high-end customers.

“There are no New Zealand-owned mills and we wanted to have some control and add value over our own product that we grow,” Mr Howell said. . .

Shrek: the next generation – Matthew Littlewood:

WOOLLY WANDERERS: This merino pair, dubbed “Shrek’s cousins”, were discovered near the bottom of Ferintosh Station about a fortnight ago. While one has since been shorn, the other will be losing his fleece at the Mackenzie Highland Show on Easter Monday.

Ferintosh Station are making sure that two of their residents do not have the wool pulled over their eyes.

Pastoral lease-holders Marion and Gilbert Seymour spotted two wandering merinos near the bottom of the station about a fortnight ago.

It appeared that neither of them had been shorn in nearly seven years.

“We knew they were around somewhere, but we managed to capture them only recently,” Mrs Seymour said.

“They were quite docile, and couldn’t move very fast, because they were carrying a lot of wool.”

Mr Seymour, who is in his 80s, has already given one of the pair a decent haircut, but its mate will go under the clippers at the Mackenzie Highland Show in Fairlie on Easter Monday. . .

Argentines embrace change – Shawn McAvinue:

Are success and happiness possible in the Southland dairy industry? Shawn McAvinue talks to a 2012 Dairy New Zealand Dairy Awards finalist who’s working hard to achieve both.

When Argentine Leo Pekar and his partner Maricel Prado arrived in Southland 10 years ago to work on a dairy farm, they were welcomed with two months of solid rain. But the New Zealand Dairy Awards regional finalist wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

When they arrived in March 2002, they had little money and only thin PVC jackets to protect them from the heavy rain.

“I would get up at 4.30[am] and think, `what am I doing here’?”

The 35-year-old admitted he was not a morning person but his goals got him out of bed. . .

Grape crop down but hopes high – Gerald Piddock:

Waitaki winemakers will have a later than usual harvest this year after enduring a cold wet summer.

From late January in the Waitaki, it turned into a cold summer, making it a very difficult season for wine growers within the region, Waitaki Valley Wine Growers Association chairman Jim Jerram said.

It was a late harvest in wine producing regions across the country and the Waitaki was no exception.

“It was one of the coldest February’s on record and there was not a lot of sun.

“That has been the case for the whole eastern side of the country.”

Grape harvesting usually takes place in late April-mid May in the Waitaki. . .

Leadership lessons – Shawn McAvinue:

A free rural leadership course is set to give priceless results to the future leaders of the Southland rural sector.

Farmers Mutual Group Gore rural manager Sharon Paterson said she enrolled in the 2011 Generate rural leadership course to gain confidence.

She sells insurance for FMG in Gore and lacked confidence when cold-calling potential customers.

“Although I looked confident, I lacked a lot underneath. Now I just waltz up anyone’s drive to talk about insurance.” . . .

Onion harvest hit hard – Gerald Piddock:

Central Canterbury onion growers will have one of the worst harvests in 10 years.

The cold wet summer has slashed yields and delayed getting the crop off the ground.

Levels potato and onion grower Tony Howey said the poor crop along with the falling international markets made it a season for him to forget.

“About three years out of five you have a bad year, about two years out of five you might have a good year and probably once every 10 years you have a disaster, and this is that year.”

Trees on farms – exploring hill country options:

Following successful workshops in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, the next Trees on Farms workshop will be held on the King Country property of Barrie and Jude Tatham, and will explore the role of trees in hill country farm management, particularly in marginal or less productive areas.

Barrie and Jude own a 500 ha drystock farm near Piopio, which they operate in a share-farming arrangement with Kieran and Shona Bradley, running cattle, dairy grazers and sheep. The Tathams are previous Waikato Farm Environment Award winners, and their farm is notable for the diversity of species they have planted for nutrient buffering, stock shade and beautification. . .

Farmers getting better at growing meatier lambs:

Initial results from a large-scale meat testing programme show New Zealand farmers are getting better at producing the sorts of lambs that overseas customers are looking for.

The testing programme is part of the Farm IQ project, a joint venture involving Silver Fern Farms, Landcorp and PGG Wrightson.

The seven year sheep, cattle and deer research programme aims to turn the red meat industry’s traditional production-led approach into one that is market-led and focused on consumer needs.

DairyNZ urges farmers to prepare for animal tracing scheme:

Dairy farmers are being urged to prepare early for the introduction of a new animal identification and tracing scheme, especially if they’re planning stock movements over the winter period.

The recently adopted NAIT legislation (National Animal Identification and Tracing) introduces new obligations for farmers under the scheme from July 1 this year.

After this date, all cattle being moved will need to be wearing a NAIT approved electronic tag. Anyone in charge of animals and animal movements will need to be registered with NAIT.  . .

Primary industry training organisations to merge:

The Seafood ITO and the NZITO (meat and dairy sector) have today signed a Memorandum of Intent to investigate a full merger of the two organizations.

The merged entity will service a workforce of over 60,000 people nationally, covering three key export industries – meat, dairy and seafood.

These are all strategically important export industries.  The idea of an integrated primary sector ITO has been in the minds of both organisations for some time, and this is a significant step on the way. . .

T&G appoints new senior management team, directors:

Turners & Growers, the local fruit marketer, has announced new senior management and directors from new majority parent BayWa Aktiengesellschaft, and tapped local boardroom heavyweight John Anderson as an independent director.

The company confirmed the intended appointments of BayWa representatives Klaus Josef Lutz and Andreas Helber as directors, with Lutz taking up the role of chairman. Former National Bank head Anderson and Fonterra Cooperative Group director John Wilson have also been appointed independent directors. Jeff Wesley, Brian D’Ath and Christina Symmans resigned from the board on March 7.

T&G also announced plans to review the fruit marketer’s operation, which will be conducted by senior management. . .

The people’s champion retired:

The curtains have come down on the career of one of the most admired horses seen in New Zealand in recent years, the people’s champion Sir Slick (NZ), who had his final race in Awapuni at the weekend.

Now ten years old, Sir Slick (Volksraad x Miss Opera) showed that he was ready to settle into the green pastures of retirement when he ran home at the tail of the field in the Group 3 Awapuni Gold Cup.

Few would disagree there was a more fitting race for Sir Slick to finish his career on, having contested the Awapuni Gold Cup six times and winning it on three occasions: in 2007 (by 4.5 lengths), 2008 and 2010, and running second in 2009. . .


Why no uproar?

13/03/2012

Could someone please explain to me why the thought of selling a relatively few hectares of farmland to foreigners upsets so many people but there’s no uproar at the news that a German company has OIO approval to buy Turners and Growers?

Germany’s BayWa Atiengesellschaft has secured Overseas Investment Office approval for its takeover of local fruit marketer Turners & Growers, and has declared its offer unconditional.

The German company, which has global investments across the building, energy and agriculture sectors, has bought some 72.5 percent of T&G shares at a cost of about $157 million and will close its offer today, it said in a statement.

“The takeover is a ground-breaking step towards internationalisation of BayWa,” the company said.

Group chief executive Klaus Josef Lutz will take T&G’s chair, and the company will appoint chief financial officer Andreas Helber, board member responsible for agriculture and fruit Josef Krapf, and head of fruit Dietmar Bahler to the board.

Why does the possible sale of land exercise the xenophobes when the sale of a company which owns Enza, New Zealand’s largest apple exporter and one of the country’s signature brands does not?

Owners of farms can’t take the land away but owners of this company could take the produce, the brand and of course the profits.

I’m not opposed to sale of either land or the company but I really don’t understand why people who oppose foreign ownership of farms aren’t just as upset by the sale of companies.


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