Rural round-up

January 16, 2018

Women’s shearing record set in ‘epic’ sporting feat:

A nine-hour slog to set a new world shearing record is being described as an ‘epic sporting feat’.

Kerri-Jo Te Huia sheared 452 ewes in a Wairarapa woolshed yesterday to set a record that no-one has held before: that for the women’s nine-hour strongwool ewe category.

Champion shearer Jills Angus Burney watched Ms Te Huia make history and said she did an amazing job. . . 

Growers’ dilemma: Killing a crop to survive the dry:

After a drought-inducing start to summer, fruit and vegetable growers are pleading for more dams to avoid having to kill off their own crops.

Much of the country has been facing water restrictions after the early dry season, with even the usually rain-soaked West Coast having declared drought conditions.

Canterbury went weeks without rain in November and December, and Wellington was forced to use reserve water two months earlier than usual.

Otago settlement Glenorchy was the latest affected with Queenstown Lakes District Council announcing restrictions this morning, asking residents to switch off all irrigation and automatic watering systems. . .

What does the future hold for NZ”s largest farm? – Alexa Cook:

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is calling for public opinion about how New Zealand’s largest farm, Molesworth Station, should be managed.

The 180,000ha cattle station is owned by the government farmer Landcorp, which has a farming lease and grazing licence for the land.

A management plan for Molesworth was approved in 2013 with the intention of moving it from its traditional focus on farming to include more recreation and conservation activities.

The farming lease expires in two years, and Federated Farmers high country spokesperson Simon Williamson said it was crucial it remained a working station.

“It’s very important for that type of land that someone is maintaining it for the pests and weeds … and the public access side of it, if people get in trouble.” . . 

Close your farm borders to unwanted invaders – Katie Milne:

Here are some New Year resolutions for all of us who work the land: Treat your farm as a biosecurity fortress, with its defences tightened to shut out pest and disease threats.

Confirmation this week that the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is present on a farm in the Ashburton area – bringing the number of infected properties around the nation to 14 – is the latest wake-up call.  All farms are at risk when it comes to pests and diseases.  Regarding Mycoplasma bovis, movement of infected animals is the main risk followed by animal to animal contact and transmission through milk and semen, but the disease can also be transferred directly on equipment such calving and AI equipment.

MPI staff work hard to knock out biosecurity threats at our airports and ports but they’re just the first line of defence.  You’re the fullback.  You need a game plan to repel weeds, bacteria and other harmful substances that would hurt your livelihood.

Now for those resolutions. . . 

Feds’ Hoggard urges farmers to pay backpackers regular rates – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says farmers should pay backpackers market rates if they want to keep a handy pool of casual labour and avoid volunteer workers.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled an organic farm near Christchurch breached worker rights by paying them $120 a week plus providing food and lodging irrespective of the hours worked, and claiming they were volunteers after a Labour Inspectorate investigation. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said in a statement that thousands of people had been exploited at the farm, working up to 40 hours a week and often as hired out labour at a profit for Robinwood Farms director and shareholder Julia Osselton. . . 

Canada’s Public Sector Pension Board gets OIO approval to buy $17.7M dairy farm and block – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, or PSP Investments, got a green light to buy a medium-sized dairy farm and a neighbouring dairy support block in Canterbury for $17.7 million just ahead of tougher requirements on land sales to foreign buyers.

Ramsay Dairy Farm, which is indirectly owned by PSP Investments, was granted consent to buy 335.2 hectares of land and 77.2 hectares of land in Hororata, Canterbury by the Overseas Investment Office.

According to the OIO, the properties will be amalgamated to create a larger dairy farm. “The applicant proposes to convert some of the dairy support land to create a larger milking platform, and to support increasing the total number of cows by approximately 400 cows,” it said in a summary of the decision.. . .

Butter prices drop almost 5 percent in December:

Butter, chocolate bars, and wholemeal bread prices all fell in December, Stats NZ said today. Tomatoes and nectarines were also cheaper, but avocado prices remain almost twice as expensive as they were a year ago.

After four successive monthly rises, butter prices dropped 4.9 percent in December 2017 to an average of $5.46 for the cheapest available 500g block. This compared with the previous month when they hit a record high of $5.74. Butter prices had been falling at international dairy auctions since October. . . 

MPI aims to wrap up PGP review by end of April – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – The government’s review of the Primary Growth Partnership is underway, with the first phase due to be wrapped up by late January and the second by the end of April, with one programme partner providing feedback and ideas to date.

The research and development programme was launched in 2010 and, to date, government and industry have invested some $759 million in 22 programmes, with 16 still underway. In late November Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, who was critical of the programme while in opposition, called for a review, stating the new government needs to prioritise spending. . .

2018 Set To Be A Year Of Growth For Taratahi:

Taratahi’s efforts to attract new students has paid off with solid enrolments for 2018.

Taratahi upped its marketing and as a result, the definite enrolments for 2018 are looking great, says chief Executive Arthur Graves.

Arthur says the institutions taster courses have attracted large numbers of students.

“Taratahi and the wider primary industry have been promoting the job rich agricultural environments and extensive career pathways on offer and those campaigns are now yielding some great results. . . 

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Rural round-up

January 12, 2018

Fast track expansion for Ashley Clinton dairy farmers Andy and Robbie Hunt – Kate Taylor:

A Central Hawke’s Bay couple are proud to be dairy farming and love the lifestyle it provides. Kate Taylor pays them a visit.

A pair of small pink gumboots kick the dust on the laneway as cows wander from their paddock to the milking shed. Three-year-old Annabelle has had enough of the hot summer day.

Bringing in the cows is often a family affair at White Stag – one of three properties farmed by Andy and Robbie Hunt in Central Hawke’s Bay – but today, in the middle of the school holidays, it’s big brothers William, 8, and Ben, 6, doing the work. Andy and Robbie have been on this property since Annabelle was a baby – she was just a couple of weeks old when they had the roof shout for the new shed.

“It’s been a busy few years,” Robbie says, laughing. . .

Quite revolution in hill country farming:

GISBORNE, Wairoa and East Coast hill country farmers are leading the country as innovators and are in great shape to take on the challenges of 2018.

AgFirst agribusiness consultant Peter Andrew says sheep and cattle hill farmers here have progressed to become some of the best in New Zealand.

Gisborne will get to show off some of this country’s best sheep and beef operations when the region hosts Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual meeting for the first time on March 22. . .

Feds’ Hoggard urges farmers to pay backpackers regular rates – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says farmers should pay backpackers market rates if they want to keep a handy pool of casual labour and avoid volunteer workers.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled an organic farm near Christchurch breached worker rights by paying them $120 a week plus providing food and lodging irrespective of the hours worked, and claiming they were volunteers after a Labour Inspectorate investigation. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said in a statement that thousands of people had been exploited at the farm, working up to 40 hours a week and often as hired out labour at a profit for Robinwood Farms director and shareholder Julia Osselton. . . 

Canterbury farmer joins DairyNZ board:

This year, Canterbury farmer Colin Glass also joined DairyNZ’s Board of Directors as its newest recruit.

The farm owner and Dairy Holdings chief executive joined DairyNZ’s Board in October 2017. Colin is particularly passionate about dairy farmers connecting with the wider community and showcasing the great work being done on farms.

“We have had a massive refocus on what is important to the sector – the new dairy strategy highlights the need for us to have vibrant, profitable businesses and communities,” says Colin. “But that has to be done in a sustainable way that plays on New Zealand’s competitive advantage. . .

Vigilance needed to prevent further spread of Mycoplasma:

National Party Spokesperson for Biosecurity Barbara Kuriger is calling on farmers to be vigilant in light of recent Mycoplasma Bovis incursions to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“The discovery of Mycoplasma Bovis in Ashburton is a strong reminder to our rural communities that we need to be increasingly watchful and report concerns to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) if there are any suspicions of a further spread of the disease,” Ms Kuriger says.

“We cannot be complacent in any rural areas. The recent confirmation in Ashburton follows cases last year in Hastings, North Otago and the Winton District. . .

New Nutrient Management Tool for Reducing Nitrogen Leaching:

Wintermax Triticale – a new nutrient management tool for reducing nitrogen leaching.

Plant Research (NZ) Ltd in collaboration with Grasslanz Technology have developed a unique nutrient management tool in the for of a winter active triticale variety named wintermax.

Nutrient losses to waterways can occur from rainwater either moving organic matter, sediment and nutrients from land surfaces into surface waters, or leaching of nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium and sulphur, through soil into groundwater. . . 

Is the merino stud model fit for the future? – Robert Herrmann:

It’s many years since stud breeders of jersey bulls, landrace pigs and rhode island red roosters presented their prized stock at the various capital city Royal Shows to assess breeding potential. Today, these industries rely on data & science to identify the best sires to breed for the growing commercial demand for milk, pork and chicken.

Performance recording has replaced show judging.
There is still a role for the show ring, principally for the committed lovers of breeds to showcase their stock. However, the pragmatic farmer of today needs proof or at least confidence that the decisions around sire purchase align with the breeding objectives of their business.

This makes sense, it is not the pampered, prepared and perfumed animal in the show ring that matters; it is the progeny that must perform under commercial conditions that is important. Lipstick on the pig simply won’t do now. . . 


Zero chance of zero carbon

December 20, 2017

Federated Farmers Climate Change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard  says it’s impossible to get methane emissions from a cow down to zero:

“It’s a biological system, it’s not going to happen. I guess the key thing is we’ve got to remember the global context her and that New Zealand’s food producers here are one of the most efficient in the world at producing food for the least amount of carbon.”

 

Hoggard was responding to news the government is aiming to get New Zealand’s net carbon emissions down to zero by 2050.

That doesn’t mean animal emissions would have to get to zero. In theory it could be achieved by off-setting those emissions but David Farrar points out at Kiwiblog:

 The reality is that achieving zero net emissions will be incredibly costly and painful. It will involve massive trade offs.

New Zealand’s emissions from farming are unusually high for the developed world because we produce so much food.

Most of that food is exported. Other countries will have much lower emissions from farm animals but they eat the food we produce and if we produce less of it other less efficient farmers will produce more.

Emissions here would reduce but global emissions would rise.

What those calling for a reduction in stock, especially cattle, also forget is that the food we produce and export is what largely pays for the goods and services which we need to retain first world status.

Cue, this cartoon by Tom Scott from 2008:


Rural round-up

November 25, 2017

Farmer led project highlights innovative environmental work:

A North Canterbury river awarded as the country’s most improved- is testament to innovative environmental work undertaken by farmers and their community says Federated Farmers.

The Hurunui district’s Pahau River was bestowed supreme winner at last night’s 2017 National River Awards, achieving significant reduction in bacteria E coli levels over the past 10 years.

The river reportedly runs through one of the most densely irrigated catchments in the country. It had also demonstrated decreasing levels in nitrogen and phosphorous. . . 

Alliance Group Doubles Annual Earnings as Meat Prices Recover, Targets Fatter Profitability:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group, the world’s biggest sheepmeat exporter, doubled annual earnings as its sales rose 15 percent with a recovery in global meat prices, but wants to lift profitability further.

Operating earnings rose to $20.2 million in the year ended Sept. 30 from $10.1 million a year earlier, the Invercargill-based company said in a statement. It paid $11.4 million to its 5,000 farmer shareholders, up from $9.8 million, while revenue rose to $1.53 billion from $1.36 billion.

“We are welcoming new shareholders, achieving a stronger balance sheet, improving our profitability and most importantly, offering better livestock pricing for our farmers,” chair Murray Taggart said. “Alliance has a wide range of short, medium and long-term programmes underway as we seek to gain deeper market penetration and capture more value from existing markets.”. . .

Tax Working Group should have an Agri-sector voice:

 

A new Tax Working Group should have primary sector representation says Federated Farmers.

Sir Michael Cullen is to chair the Group from February next year and the Federation recommends that farming and fellow industry stakeholders get a voice.

“Ideally it would be good to have someone on the Group who understands the agri-sector and its tax issues. Given the likely focus on environmental taxation, capital gains and land taxes, it would same a reasonable thing to do,” says Federated Farmers Vice President Andrew Hoggard. . . 

Jersey Benne harvest delayed – Sally Brooker:

While the new potato season is being celebrated in a national campaign, North Otago’s Jersey Benne harvest has hardly begun.

Potatoes New Zealand is promoting the ”humble potato” with television advertising, having showcased varieties, recipes and nutritional facts to food writers and the media at an Auckland event. Potato growers from throughout the country took along samples of their produce being dug this month.

However, a shortage of cauliflower and broccoli has prompted one of North Otago’s biggest growers to delay his potato-digging.

Peter Armstrong, of Armstrong and Co, plants potatoes on several properties in the Totara and Kakanui areas south of Oamaru, where the soil and microclimate result in sought-after Jersey Bennes. . . 

Take alternative protein seriously, analyst warns – Alexa Cook:

The meat industry should not be complacent about the threat of alternative protein food products, a report warns.

The international Rabobank report looks into the success of alternative proteins, including plant-based meat substitutes, insect or algae-based products, and lab-grown meat.

The products were on the verge of becoming mainstream and ‘stealing’ growth from traditional meat product markets, it said.

The report projected that the market for alternative protein would grow 8 percent each year in the European Union, and six percent each year in the US and Canada. . . 

Zespri wins top award for best growth strategy:

Zespri was recognised last night in the 2017 Deloitte Top 200 Awards for its strong growth strategy, with the kiwifruit marketing company on track to more than double global sales to $4.5 billion by 2025.

Zespri Chief Executive Dan Mathieson says the 2degrees Best Growth Strategy award is welcome recognition for the work done across the industry to grow a genuine global sales and marketing organisation and drive demand for Zespri’s premium kiwifruit.

“This award is real testament to the great team we have at Zespri – passionate, dedicated people around the world who bring to life our global grower-to-consumer strategy day in and day out – and the long-term partnerships we have with our customers. . . 

Agritech Programme Focusing on Digital Technologies:

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and smart data are major themes at next year’s MobileTECH 2018. This is one of New Zealand’s largest agritech events and will see technology leaders from throughout the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors gather in Rotorua in late March.

The pace of change within the primary sector is continuing to be driven by advances in new digital technologies. While New Zealand has been a world leader in traditional farming systems, it is critical for the sector to maintain and grow productivity through the smart adoption of these new innovations. . . 

You can download the poster here.


Rural round-up

November 17, 2017

Fonterra launches plan to improve waterways:

Fonterra today launched an ambitious plan to help improve the quality of New Zealand’s waterways.

Based around six strategic commitments, the plan will underpin Fonterra’s efforts to promote healthy streams and rivers, including a strong focus on sustainable farming and manufacturing.

The release of the plan signals Fonterra’s desire to play an active role in delivering healthy waterways for New Zealanders and builds on the Co-operative’s previous efforts in this space. Recent examples include Fonterra’s commitment to restore 50 key freshwater catchments, its membership the Farming Leaders’ Pledge and work with the Department of Conservation on the Living Water initiative. . .

Feds Applaud Fonterra On Bold Climate Change Announcement:

Federated Farmers support Fonterra’s bold push to get to zero emissions of CO2 on the manufacturing side of the Co-operative, both in New Zealand and across its global network.

“And we await with interest to see what the contribution is that they will be making to reduce biological emissions, which whilst we have some promising options under development to control them, there is a lot of work still to be done,” Federated Farmers climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. . .

Fonterra pledge will build on existing environmental initiatives says Feds:

Fonterra’s pledge to improve the nation’s waterways and environment is a commendable and achievable aspiration says Federated Farmers.

The dairy co-operative has outlined today ‘six commitments’ towards its target of reducing its environmental impact while ensuring a sustainable future for the dairy sector.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Chris Lewis said Fonterra’s declaration was a great opportunity and incentive for the dairy sector to build on those current and past environmental initiatives.
“The commitment to farm within environmental limits, will resonate with our farmer members who have already invested significant sums of money in protecting waterways. . .

Hawke’s Bay farm Olrig Station sold after being in family since 1859 :

A Hawke’s Bay farm which was in the same family since 1859 has been sold.

Olrig Station was sold at auction for $10.170 million by the descendants of HWP Smith, ending 158 years of continuous ownership. The long run ended with the final rap of the auctioneer’s hammer on Friday .

Interest in the 848 hectare property was strong and of the six potential buyers, four were Hawke’s Bay-based. . .


Rural round-up

October 22, 2017

Irrigation a ‘positive’ in arid region – Sally Rae:

When Emma Crutchley first expressed an interest in farming as a career, her father told her she could ‘‘probably make more money doing something else’’.

But there was no changing her mind, even though farming in the Maniototo was not something for the fainthearted.

She grew up on the family sheep and beef farm, with her parents Geoff and Noela, and brother Bruce, and always loved the rural lifestyle. . 

Another feather in cap for shearing champs – Nicole Sharp:

Twelve thousand people, three days of competition and shearers and woolhandlers from 32 different countries transformed the ILT Stadium Southland in February during the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.

Eight months on and the event has been recognised as the best international event in New Zealand.

Months after the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships were held in Invercargill, the event is still causing a stir.

Not only was it a success for the town, and Kiwis Johnny Kirkpatrick and Joel Henare, but the event has also been recognised as the Best International Event in New Zealand at the New Zealand Event Awards (NZEA) last week. . .

Feds ready to engage new coalition government:

Federated Farmers says it is ready to engage and work with the new coalition government.

New Zealand First has chosen to go into partnership with Labour and the Greens for the next three years and the Federation believes there is room of opportunism for its’ members, wider primary sector, and all New Zealanders.

“We congratulate new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the coalition partners on finding a consensus to lead the country,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers National President.

“Federated Farmers is looking forward to getting around the table and talking about the issues which affect our members and farmers. The primary sector is the backbone of the New Zealand economy so we anticipate the new government will be mindful of that when formulating policy.” . . 

MPI report predicts strong growth in primary exports in 2018:

New Zealand’s primary industry exports are forecast to rise 9.3% over the next year on the back of strong dairy prices and a return to normal productivity levels, according to MPI’s latest quarterly update to its Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries.

“Exports reached $38.1 billion in the year ended June 2017, an increase of 2.4% over the previous year, and $7 million higher than we previously estimated,” says Jarred Mair, Director of Sector Policy for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“Dairy prices began recovering in the past year, which boosted exports, despite weather reducing production. The forestry sector also made a strong contribution to export growth for the second consecutive year, driven by record demand for log exports to China. This offset a decline in meat and wool exports. . .

Robust primary sector a solid foundation for the incoming government:

A flourishing primary sector with exponential growth will ensure the new Labour led coalition government starts office on a solid footing, says Federated Farmers.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report shows exports reached $38.1 billion for the year to June 2017, up 2.4% on the year before.

The country’s largest export, dairy, has rebounded significantly after several years of a downturn with increased exports of over 10%.

“I’m sure the new coalition government will be delighted to know the primary sector, the backbone of the nation’s economy, is in good shape and still a significant contributor to the country’s coffers,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice President.

“Dairy is obviously resurgent and it is anticipated the primary sector as whole will continue to perform with export value set to exceed $41 billion by next June. . . 

Novel meat-enriched foos for older consumers:

Highlights
• Older consumers sometimes struggle with traditional meat foods.
•We incorporated meat into unexpected food formats under new product categories.
•Bread, spaghetti, yoghurt, ice cream and chocolate were prototyped and tested.
•Samples had greater protein content and most were acceptable to proxy consumers.
•Products could provide the elderly with means to attain their protein requirements. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 15, 2017

Provenance story not just clean and green – Pam Tipa:

New Zealand’s provenance story is not always based on clean and green; often it relates to the friendliness of the people, says Mark Piper, Fonterra’s director group R&D.

The NZ Story and how it resonates depends where in the world you are, he told an ExportNZ conference.

“To be honest, when you go around the world you would struggle to find somewhere where NZ doesn’t resonate – be it the Hobbits or the clean green image of water tripping down the snow-capped mountains. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand unveils plans for ‘Future Farm’ to promote excellence in sector:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is to establish a “Future Farm” to trial new technologies and farm systems as part of its strategy to support farming excellence and lift farm productivity and profitability.

The Future Farm, which will be a hill country sheep and beef property with around 6,000 stock units, will operate as a fully commercial livestock farming enterprise and feature state of the art monitoring, measuring and communications technologies. . . 

Dairy sector challenge: target the right people for our workforce:

The dairy sector is calling for a future Government to lead a strong workforce strategy to support the growth of a skilled workforce for the dairy sector, says DairyNZ Chief Executive Tim Mackle.

“Young people deserve the opportunity to do well within the agricultural industry. We need a strong long-term plan that aligns training through the school curriculum with practical experience on the farm,” says Dr Mackle. . . 

Vaccines control disease in people, livestock – Mark Ross:

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against life-threatening diseases such as distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and leptospirosis that affect New Zealand animals.

NZ rates of leptospirosis are among the world’s highest, says the NZ Veterinary Association (NZVA). The zoonotic disease afflicts rats, dogs, pigs, cattle and people.  It puts farmers, particularly dairy farmers, at risk as it can spread from infected urine in dairy sheds.  It is also an occupational risk for meat workers, who can contract the disease in the same way. NZVA says anyone in contact with cattle could be at risk. . . 

From potatoes to broadband: The man connecting King Country – Jemma Brackebush:

A potato farmer who built his own radio site to provide broadband to his property has just won a government contract to provide wireless internet to the King Country.

After the success of his personal project, Hawke’s Bay-based farmer Lachlan Chapman established AoNet Broadband in 2014, which now has six staff.

The company has just won the Wireless Internet Service Provider to service the King Country, as well as a small portion of the $150 million the government has dished out to improve broadband in rural areas around the country. . .

Civil defence preparedness a farmer priority:

Getting accustomed to Civil Defence planning and preparedness should be a farmer’s priority says Federated Farmers.

Throughout this week, Civil Defence is raising public awareness with their “Get Ready Week” promotion that coincides with International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction on Thursday.

The message should be loud and clear to all farmers says Federated Farmers Vice President Andrew Hoggard. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Restaurant Awards 2018:

A new season and a new challenge for New Zealand’s best restaurants

Silver Fern Farms has announced a new format restaurant awards with new categories, new judges and a new season showcasing autumn red meat dishes in 2018.

The 2018 Silver Fern Farms Restaurant Awards build on the success of the Premier Selection Awards, the refreshed format will see restaurants showcasing their skill and expertise with red meat at the end of the summer dining season. . . 


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