Rural round-up

September 23, 2017

North Otago water scheme expansion finally turned on – Yvonne O’Hara:

The $57 million pipeline expansion of the North Otago Irrigation Company’s project has been turned on this week, a year later than planned.

The first stage of the scheme was completed 11 years ago and the expansion was expected to be up and running this time last year, but was held back by problems with the new pipe.

North Otago Irrigation Company chair Leigh Hamilton said the water scheme has been talked about since the 1980s and the first stage of the scheme was built in 2006. . 

Back in business – Tim Fulton:

It was dry for so long Iain Wright started to forget the feel of mud at his feet.

But a “fantastic” amount of rain since autumn has turned his family’s fortunes after three years of Canterbury drought.

“It’s nice to know you can actually grow stuff.

“For so long you couldn’t grow anything,” the sheep and beef farmer said. . . 

Fonterra fails diversity test says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner – Gerard Hutching:

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has given Fonterra a serve for having so few women on its board.

But Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard said he couldn’t care if board members were transgender or of any race or colour, as long as they advanced the interests of Fonterra and farmer/shareholders.

Fairlie dairy farmer and current board member Leonie Guiney has been not selected to stand as a candidate for a second term, reducing the numbers of women on the 11-person board to two – Professor Nicola Shadbolt and Donna Smit. . .

New woolhandling event – Yvonne O’Hara:

One of the most prestigious events on the shearing calendar is only two weeks away and this year it will include a new competition featuring the top woolhandlers in the country.

The 56th annual New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships will be held at Molyneux Stadium, Alexandra, on October 6 and 7 and will be open to the public from about 7.30am.

Organising committee member Graeme Bell said the Merino Shears was one of the highlights of the shearing year. . .

One more chance for viticulturist – Yvonne O’Hara:

Annabel Bulk, of Felton Road Wines, has one more chance to win the national Young Viticulturist of the Year title next year before she is too old to enter. She intends to give it her best shot.

Ms Bulk has worked on the Bannockburn vineyard for about six years, and entered the regional competition for the past five.

This year, the vineyard’s assistant viticulturalist won the Central Otago competition and represented the region at the national final at Villa Maria, Marlborough on August 29, coming a close second to winner Tim Adams, from Obsidian, Waiheke Island. . .

Please no more meat regulation says NSW Farmers – NSW Farmers cattle committee chairman Bill Stacy:

The final report from the red meat senate inquiry was released last week. Its conclusions highlighted there are competition issues within the red meat industry, which generally act to the detriment of producers.

The report contained two key recommendations to improve competition. . .

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Rural round-up

September 13, 2017

Election stunt doomed to fail – Pam Tipa:

The Greens’ proposed ‘nitrogen tax’ is a vote catching policy which is highly unlikely to see the light of day, says Federated Farmers vice-president and dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard.

However the problem with such an election stunt is that it perpetrates misconceptions, he says.

“The best way of improving waterways where they need to be improved is by a catchment focus basis,” he told Dairy News.

“With the Greens’ policy, they are focusing on just nitrogen and only from one source. If a catchment has an issue with nitrogen you need to focus on it from all sources.

“Nitrogen is not the issue in all catchments; if swimmability is what people are after then it’s E.coli they need to be looking at; sediment may be a big factor.” . . 

Penalize abusers not users of water – Tim Cadogan:

Before I write another word, I need to make two very clear points.

Firstly; I am outraged that New Zealand’s waterways have been degraded over the last decade or two to the point that many are unswimmable and/or devoid of wildlife. This should never have happened and, as a nation, we must work together to fix this.

Secondly; I am apolitical. Any comments I make here in relation to Labour’s proposed irrigation tax/royalty would be made by me whether the idea was coming from Labour, National, Greens or whoever. My job is to stand up, as I see best, for Central Otago, no matter who is on the other side.

On that basis; I wrote a letter to Jacinda Ardern pointing out what I saw as the unfairness of the irrigation tax/royalty as proposed by Labour, but set in a tone of “something needs done”. I stand by the comments I made in that letter. . .

Lamb prices reach record highs – Jemma Brackebush:

Farmers say it’s been a fantastic season for lamb, as a global shortage of the meat is pushing up the prices.

Ewes are being sold with new season lambs, fetching up to $170 at sales.

Chilled export lamb prices have reached historically high levels, with the average price of $14.50 per kg, a 20 percent increase on the year before, according to AgriHQ.

Bright-coloured stock trucks line the streets of Feilding every Friday morning, as sheep and cattle are carted from around the district and brought to the yards, which lie in the centre of town. . .  

The Sunday roast is a ritual of the past – Amy Williams:

You could be forgiven for thinking millennials are to blame for the demise of the Sunday roast and that smashed avocado on toast has replaced a great family tradition.

After all, at almost $5 each, a kilogram of avocados will set you back about the same amount as a leg of lamb. It’s the modern-day equivalent.

The time-honoured tradition of eating a weekly roast meal was alive in New Zealand until at least the 1980s when a cut of fatty lamb was cooked well-done till browned and blackened, accompanied by vegetables cooked in the meaty juices.

But then fat became the enemy and now we’re more aware of our health, our wallets and the environment and, if you’re like me, eating a leg of lamb each week is extravagant for all those reasons. . . 

No farms, no food, no future.

Blue cod catch limit discussed – Hamish MacLean:

Recreational bag limits for blue cod are some of the most liberal in the country off the Dunedin and North Otago coasts — and they could be about to drop.

At the weekend, up to 140 — mostly recreational — fishermen attended two drop-in sessions hosted by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), in Dunedin and Moeraki, in the first stage of public consultation on its proposed national strategy for the native fish. A further 800 people had filled in the online survey, MPI Dunedin team manager Allen Frazer said.

There was a queue to get into  the building at 1pm on Sunday at  Coronation Hall, in Moeraki. . .

Town’s bid to be dark sky community – Jono Edwards:

Naseby’s residents have stars in their eyes as the village edges closer to becoming New Zealand’s first internationally recognised Dark Sky Community.

Naseby Vision plans to submit its application to the International Dark-Sky Association in December, after about a year of planning.

To support the bid, the Maniototo Community Board last week decided to officially endorse the project.

Naseby Vision chairman John Crawford said this was an important and necessary step.

“The mayor has written a letter of support and some other groups are doing the same. We’ve got to show the wider community is on board.” . . 

Predator Free 2050 Ltd on the hunt to fund bold conservation projects:

 New Zealand conservation groups committed to broad scale predator eradication are encouraged to lodge an expression of interest for funding and support from Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

The organisation – tasked with eradicating possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050 is seeking Expressions of Interest from regional and local councils, community organisations, mana whenua, businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations and other entities capable of delivering eradication initiatives in line with its 2025 goals.

The 2025 goals include enlarging target predator suppression to an additional one million hectares of mainland New Zealand, eradicating predators from at least 20,000 hectares of mainland New Zealand without the use of fences, eradicating all predators from New Zealand’s island nature reserves and achieving a breakthrough science solution capable of eradicating at least one small mammalian predator from the mainland. . . 


Rural round-up

September 9, 2017

Putting NZ agriculture under the ETS is illogical:

Labour’s announcement that it will move agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme in stages will cost the livestock sector at least $83 million in year one, rising to more than $830 million each year when fully implemented.

Federated Farmers agrees that action on climate change is needed. But as New Zealand farmers are among the most efficient producers of food on the planet, it is illogical to put the sector at a competitive disadvantage against export competitors, effectively shifting production to less efficient producers overseas. . .

Farmers should not pay for all water pollution – Basil Sharp:

Water use needs a price, but Labour’s misguided water tax is unfair and would not deter polluters.

We need an efficient, sustainable and fair way of allocating water. From the little detail available, Labour’s proposed water tax does not sound like it offers this. Not only does it fail to target polluters, it risks perverse and distorting effects.

The Labour Party proposes applying a royalty – call it a water tax – of up to 2c per 1000 litres of water. The money collected would be given to councils and iwi to restore local waterways. It is not unusual for governments to charge a royalty on resources they own. Our Government applies royalties to minerals vested in the Crown. . .

Let’s tax this – what are we in for with Labour?

On the cusp of the election, voters are still in the dark about what taxes they might be hit with if Labour is part of the next government.

A tax (“royalty”) on water is confirmed. But Jacinda Ardern has refused to rule out a capital gains tax, a land value tax, and an asset and wealth tax – other than to say the family home is exempt.

“For Labour to say they’re not able to be more explicit about what they have in mind until they have recommendations from the yet-to-be-named members of a tax panel is something of a cop-out, and certainly doesn’t help voters,” Federated Farmers Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says. . .

Mycoplasma bovis – update 8 September 2017:

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ testing programme for Mycoplasma bovis continues at pace with over 15,000 tests now completed by MPI’s Animal Health Laboratory at Wallaceville.

Response Incident Controller Dr Eve Pleydell says the overwhelming majority of the tests have come back negative, with positive results so far only being found on the six known infected properties. . .

Meat and dairy lift manufacturing:

The volume of meat and dairy product manufacturing rose in the June 2017 quarter, Stats NZ said. Sales values also rose, coinciding with high prices.

After adjusting for seasonal effects and removing price changes, the meat and dairy product manufacturing volume rose 8.2 percent in the June 2017 quarter.

“The rise in the meat and dairy sales volume followed falls in the previous two quarters,” manufacturing manager Sue Chapman said. . .

NZ wool market continues to pick up at weekly auction – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s wool market continued to improve at the latest weekly auction, as demand picked up from China, the largest buyer of the fibre, and a decline in the local currency made trading more attractive.

Some 91 percent of the 8,047 wool bales offered at yesterday’s North Island auction were sold, and prices lifted for most styles of wool with the coarse crossbred wool indicator increasing to $3.05 a kilogram, up 6 cents from last week’s South Island auction and 19 cents higher than the previous North Island auction a fortnight ago, AgriHQ said. . .


Rural round-up

July 6, 2017

Farmers’ social licence fast expiring – warning – Nigel Malthus:

Dairying has a lot at stake as the world enters the fourth industrial revolution, says former DairyNZ chairman John Luxton.

A dairy farmer, businessman and former National minister of agriculture, Luxton gave the opening keynote address at the 2017 South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) conference at Lincoln University.

He says farmers’ social license to operate as in the past was now fast expiring. Rules and regulations requiring farmers to improve farm systems were becoming more and more complex. . . 

Military cameras help red meat – Sudesh Kissun:

Cameras used by the military are helping the New Zealand red meat sector produce premium lamb products.

One camera, installed in a South Island meat plant, scans eight lambs a minute, collecting from 45 data points per lamb in a round-the-clock operation. The technology is not available anywhere else in the world; AgResearch needed special approval to get the military-grade camera into NZ.

Chief executive Tom Richardson says the technology has the potential to help farmers double their income. . .

NZ support for agriculture innovation

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced an $11 million boost to global agricultural research.

“New Zealand is a world leader in international agriculture research and we want to help meet global food needs in ways that are positive for the environment,” Mr Brownlee says.

“New Zealand is committing $11 million over two years to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a network of research institutes around the world that focus on agriculture, forestry and fishing. . .

Feds’ commend Government on investment in global agriscience:

Federated Farmers commends the Government on investment of $11 million towards global agricultural research.

The announcement today, made by Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee, is a progressive step that will drive science and innovation in the agriculture sector.

“There is a great deal of work that governments and farmers worldwide should be collaborating on in the pre-competitive space to not only lift livelihoods in rural sectors, but also improve environmental outcomes,” says Federated Farmers’ National Vice President Andrew Hoggard. . .

Horticulture ripe for investment:

World-wide consumer interest in healthy food, growers being early-adopters of innovation, and rapid growth make horticulture in New Zealand ripe for further investment, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.World-wide consumer interest in healthy food, growers being early-adopters of innovation, and rapid growth make horticulture in New Zealand ripe for further investment, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.

“Today, the government has released a business-focused overview in The Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Produce Industry 2017 which shows potential investors how well fruit and vegetable production in New Zealand is going,” Mr Chapman says.  . .

Healthy humans, lusty lambs:

Managing the diets of sheep to boost human health and keep stock in prime condition will be on the menu when NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researchers present their latest findings at a Graham Centre sheep forum in Wagga Wagga on Friday July 7.

NSW DPI livestock researcher, Edward Clayton, has investigated ways to lift omega-3 fatty acid levels in lamb to deliver human health benefits, which could decrease risks of cardiovascular disease and treat inflammatory conditions, including eczema and arthritis.

“Omega-3 fatty acid, found in high concentrations in oily fish, is also a component of red meat and levels can be altered considerably through the animal’s diet,” Dr Clayton said. . .


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

June 21, 2017

Andrew Hoggard’s address to the Dairy Council at Federated Farmers’ National Conference, Wellington June 20, 2017:

As my three years being your dairy Industry chair comes to end, it is worth reflecting on what a rollercoaster ride the last three years have been for me. 
For the first two years it was mainly a huge focus around the downturn in prices with all the various attacks on dairy coming a close second, and this last year with prices thankfully recovering, the critics of dairy in particular and agriculture in general have really cranked things up.
The pressure isn’t just happening here in New Zealand, but it is a worldwide thing in the developed world, at my recent International dairy federation meeting we spent a quite a bit of time on the anti-dairy movement. 
The nuances are different in each country, but by and large it revolves around the animal welfare aspects, and the environmental aspects. Often the two are linked with the vegans pushing the animal rights side, pointing to the co-benefit of in their mind of saving the planet by going vegan.
 Likewise, the environmentalists will point out that we don’t need animal based agriculture anyway, as you can get all the nutrition you need from lentils, mung beans, and tofu. 
It is also not just the traditional hippy type activist’s that want to tell us how to farm us well.  . . 

Big sky thinking needed on meat and wool:

It’s time for “big sky forward thinking” on the cost, marketing and competition challenges facing the New Zealand meat and wool sectors, Rick Powdrell says.

In his final address as Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Industry Chairman, Mr Powdrell told delegates to the Feds’ national conference in Wellington today that tinkering at the edges of change are not going to cut it.

Complex ownership and marketing structures make achieving agreed national strategies very difficult, but in the face of “profitability squeezed at all levels”, and in the case of meat the future threat of synthetic protein, boldness and open discussion were more important than ever. . . 

Tap turned ‘on’ for Gisborne water recharge project:

A trial project to recharge the Makauri aquifer near Gisborne and deliver an economic boost to the region has been officially started by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today.

“This aquifer is crucial to the local economy but water availability is a major issue. Lack of water is holding back the further development of arable and horticultural industries which would mean more jobs and exports,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Call for New Zealand nominations for 2017 agribusiness leadership awards:

Nominations are being sought for the 2017 Rabobank Leadership Awards, recognising outstanding leadership among both accomplished and up-and-coming leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s food, beverage and agribusiness industries.

The two peer-nominated annual awards – the Rabobank Leadership Award and the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award – are among the industry’s most highly-regarded accolades, acknowledging the critical contribution of good leadership to the success of the food and agribusiness sector. . . 

NZ warned about relying on whole milk powder:

Keith Woodford, honorary professor of agri-food systems at Lincoln University, said whole milk powder was mainly used by developing countries, and once they became more established, demand fell away.

Whole milk powder is one New Zealand’s biggest exports. In the year to March, whole milk exports were worth nearly $4.8 billion – more than a third of dairy export earnings.

More than 1.3 million tonnes of the product was sent overseas in the year to June 2016, AgriHQ figures show.

“I don’t think we’ve quite recognised in New Zealand the extent to which we’ve developed our industry focused toward a product which is used by countries while they’re developing rather than when they are fully developed,” Mr Woodford said. . . 

The green grass of Taranaki – Keith Woodford:

In early June, I made a quick trip to Taranaki to talk to the Rural Business Network, which is a mix of farmers and rural professionals. For me, the trip brought back many memories.

As a South Islander for much of my life, it was wonderful to see the lush green grass growing nicely even in winter, and to be reminded of the benefits of free-draining volcanic soils. And then to look up to snowclad Mt Taranaki, which was the very first mountain of any significance that I climbed while still a schoolboy. 

It was also in Taranaki, some 51 years ago, and as a city boy coming then from Wellington, that I first milked cows. My boss was Murray Scown who, with his wife, was sharemilking on the coast near Manaia. . . 

Creating a life outside the wire in horticulture:

Horticulture New Zealand national seasonal labour coordinator Jerf van Beek today told a breakfast function in Wellington, hosted by Corrections Minister Louise Upston and the Corrections Department, about the rewards of helping former offenders into permanent work.

In July last year, Horticulture New Zealand signed a memorandum of understanding with Corrections to enable Hawke’s Bay growers to employ people coming out of Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison.

“In addition to working for Horticulture New Zealand, I’m a Hawke’s Bay cherry grower who, with my wife and a group of mates, have volunteered to help at the local Hawke’s Bay prison for the past 13 years,” van Beek says. . 

MyApiary Takes Out Four Innovation Awards at Fieldays 2017:

The team from MyApiary certainly had something to be buzzing about last week, receiving four awards at the Fieldays 2017 Innovation Awards. The accolade comes at an opportune time for the Hamilton based smart tech company that is just launching its software product for commercial beekeepers.

Co-Founders Darren Bainbridge and Carl Vink along with marketing intern Steph Fankhauser were presented with the awards during the Fieldays Innovation Awards presentation breakfast on Thursday last week. With over 80 entries and a total of 10 awards on offer, the MyApiary team managed a solid performance. . . 

Biosecurity Key to Growth of Aquaculture Industry:

Front-footing biosecurity was the key focus of a recent workshop attended by more than 30 aquaculture operators, iwi and researchers from around the Bay of Plenty and New Zealand.

Facilitated by the Bay of Connections Regional Aquaculture Organisation (RAO), the workshop was held to formulate a more proactive approach to managing biosecurity risks and issues, including managing the risks fanworm and infestations on the region’s wharfs and waters. . . 


Rural round-up

June 5, 2017

It’s Complicated: Is NZ Media’s Relationship with Kiwi Farmers Busted? – Ben Stanley:

I’m a farm kid, and a journalist, and right now that’s an awkward position to be in.

There’s a name you don’t say out loud in rural New Zealand right now unless you want to draw scorn and outright disgust.

It’s the name of one of my childhood heroes.

For the majority of the 1990s, Cameron Bennett was New Zealand’s foreign correspondent; our eye on international conflict and disaster. He’d travel to Iraq, Russia, Afghanistan and the West Bank and report back home with his gritty, but revealing, insights on war and why people make it. . .

A water battle looms in NZ’s Middle-Earth desert – Matthew Brockett & Tracy Withers:

In the rugged heart of New Zealand’s South Island, a high-altitude desert where the men of Middle-Earth made their last stand in the “Lord of the Rings” movies has become a battlefield once again.

Environmentalists and farmers are clashing over the Mackenzie Basin, an area known for its scorched-brown grasslands and crystal-blue lakes – and now, massive irrigation systems that are spreading circles of emerald-green pasture across the Mars-like terrain.

“It’s similar to greening the desert of Nevada or California,” said Annabeth Cohen, a freshwater scientist at environmental group Forest and Bird. . .

Mackenzie Basin set to lose $1.2b in farming production if wildings aren’t controlled  – Pat Deavoll:

The Mackenzie Basin could lose $1.2 billion in farming production a year if the spread of wilding conifers is not brought under control, said Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) wilding programme manager Sherman Smith.

Few species would survive if the basin was smothered by wildings, he said.

“If the basin is taken over by wildings, that’s 50 cumecs (of water) drained out of the Waitaki system, biodiversity that would suffer and there would be a lot of species that wouldn’t survive,” said Smith at the Federated Farmers High Country Conference, . .

Cut debt or go  – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers with unsustainable debt who can’t build equity buffers with profits should exit the sector, Reserve Bank governor Graham Wheeler says.

But Federated Farmers dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says Wheeler used outdated figures when he warned the dairy sector was still a financial risk to the economy and banks should monitor it closely.

“The uncertain outlook for dairy prices and the rising proportion of highly indebted farms means there remains a risk that non-performing loans could increase in coming seasons. . . .

Whitehall kiwifruit growers come out the other side of Psa disease – Gerald Piddock:

It’s been a slow road to recovery for Mark and Robyn Gardiner since Psa ripped through their kiwifruit business.

Called Seudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, the deadly viral disease was first discovered at their 200 hectare Whitehall Fruitpackers operation in 2010.

Left unchecked, Psa destroys green and gold vines and spawns leaf spotting, cankers and shoot dieback.

At the worst point of the outbreak, Mark cut out 40ha of his 16 Gold kiwifruit crop as well as partial cuttings of green fruit. At the same time, the more resistant G3 variety was grafted to the vines. . .

Farm win gets civic reception – Hugh Stringleman:

Winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori Excellence in sheep and beef farming was the achievement of a lifetime for Northland farm manager Lloyd Brennan and his staff, he told Hugh Stringleman.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy might be scheduled for another visit to Kaikohe, the Northland town that needs to celebrate success and encourage more young Maori into farming.

A civic reception was being planned by the Far North District Council with the Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) and its board of trustees, headed by Sonny Tau. . .

National ambassadors for sustainable farming recognised:

The winners of the national ambassador title for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards describe their farm as the largest lifestyle block in Taranaki.

Ohangai sheep, beef and dairy farmers Peter and Nicola Carver won the National Ambassador title over 10 other regional supreme winners at the National Sustainability Showcase event at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on May 31.

Operating as Holmleigh Trust Partnership, the couple combine dairy and dry stock farming on their 515ha family property east of Hawera. . .


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