Rural round-up

March 20, 2019

Trees pose big risk to farmland – Richard Rennie:

While a canopy of brick and tile subdivisions threatens farmland in flatter areas near the country’s major cities it is a canopy of trees that represents a greater threat to the sheep and beef industry’s capacity over coming years.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1

The Government’s bold 50,000ha a year tree-planting policy for a low-carbon economy is the second part of the pincer that has pastoral New Zealand squeezed between urban land demand on the flats and forestry expectations on the hill country.

While farmers and growers on flatter country might face the challenge of urban sprawl, Beef + Lamb NZ policy-makers are more preoccupied with the impact millions of hectares of extra forest planting could have on the sector’s capacity, its insight manager Jeremy Baker says.

B+LNZ has welcomed Forestry Minister Shane Jones’ billion trees initiative, if done the right way with the right trees.  . . 

Migrant workers the backbone of the dairy industry, doing the work Kiwis won’t – Pat Deavoll:

Navdeep Singh has worked on dairy farms in New Zealand since 2007. Originally from India, he came to New Zealand in 2006 to study tourism at Lincoln University but gave away the course to go dairying.

“I started at the bottom and worked my way up to become a contract milker,” he says.

“I don’t want to go back to India where you can work, but you won’t get anywhere.” . . 

Another milestone looms for Roland Smith

Shearing giant Rowland Smith moved to the brink of a 150th open final win when he claimed the Waimarino Shears title for an 8th time in nine years on Saturday.

It was win number 149 for the 32-year-old Hawke’s Bay shearer who is in his 13th season of open-class shearing and who, after a successful breeze through the lowers grades, had his first open victory in January 2008 at Kaikohe.

He has had 14 wins in a row since starting the new year with a win at Wairoa on January 19, including gaining a place in this year’s World Championships by winning a 6th Golden Shears open title. . .

Action group think is paying dividends:

Like-minded farmers working together to improve their businesses’ productivity and profitability is paying dividends, Southland sheep farmer Pete Thomson, who’s part of a Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Group, says.

He is one of nine Southland farm businesses that have got together under the RMPP Action Network, a proven model for supporting small groups of farmers to turn ideas into on-farm action.

“It can get lonely out there as a farmer and this opportunity is exciting. . .

The Nelson family business that’s turning feijoas into a year-round treat – Amy Ridout:

When feijoa season begins, and trees buckle under the weight of the green fruit, the country grabs a spoon and feasts. And then, the feijoas are gone, and we’re left waiting for the next season.

Unless you can track down a packet of Little Beauties, that is. With his two sons, Ian Wastney’s Moutere operation dries and packages feijoa, kiwifruit and boysenberries, so we can enjoy the fruit year round.

The small factory is set in the heart of a 10 hectare feijoa orchard in Tasman, the largest in the South Island, Wastney says.  . . 

Ag’s $100b goal will work, but it needs more than farmers – Andrew Marshall:

Despite the odds, farmers can easily achieve Australia’s lofty ambition of reaching a $100 billion agricultural production goal by 2030.

However, big changes are needed within their regional communities to make it really happen.

Modern farms can’t survive, let alone flourish, without supportive, well serviced, well populated and digitally connected rural towns backing them up, last week’s Outlook 2019 conference was told – repeatedly. . . 


Rural round-up

February 15, 2018

Farmer compensation for cattle disease to cost over $100m: Nathan Guy – Gerard Hutching:

Compensation for farmers affected so far by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis could cost more than $100 million, National’s Primary Industries spokesman Nathan Guy says.

But he said the coalition Cabinet would probably soon decide it had other spending priorities, and farmers would be told to learn to live with the disease.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced on Friday a further two South Island dairy farms had been confirmed infected with Mycoplasma, bringing the total to 23. . . 

US vet: Mycoplasma need not cripple dairy profitability:

Mycoplasma bovis infection, now spreading throughout NZ dairying, needn’t be a death sentence for farm profitability, according to American veterinarian Dr Paul Dettloff, visiting here in early March.

Official response to the M. bovis crisis has focused on containment and keeping the contagious bacterial disease from spreading between animals. This infection is widespread in other dairying countries and needn’t reduce dairy profitability here. Dr Dettloff, who works for a large dairy cooperative in the US, indicates he sees farmers who don’t have M. bovis in their cows, despite being surrounded by farms with infected animals. . . 

Rural mum’s infectious enthusiasm part of Fantail’s Nest story – Kate Taylor:

The enthusiasm from Michelle Burden for her Fantail’s Nest business is infectious.

She smiles when she talks about what she does and what the future holds for her business and her family.

Running a small, rural business has its challenges. But they’re worth it.

Burden is one of hundreds of business people, many of them mothers, juggling life and work in a rural area. . .

Feed demand limits grass harvest :

Southern welfare groups are urging farmers not to be complacent after substantial falls of rain appear to have alleviated some areas of drought in Southland and Otago.

Southland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lindsay Wright said pasture response and aquifer recharge have been slower than expected and though the rain has jolted winter crops to start growing again, more is needed.

Farmers should assess whether they have enough feed for winter and if not they need to source extra supplies sooner rather than later. . . 

Farm visits link town and country:

Youngsters in Northland are getting the chance to experience dairy farming thanks to two couples taking part in DairyNZ’s Find a Farmer programme.

Creating a link between urban and rural communities and showcasing farming to the next generation are just two reasons why Terence and Suzanne Brocx and William and Robyn Hori host school visits.

Suzanne feels the connection many city families once had to relatives in the country has largely been lost. The Brocxs and Horis say joining DairyNZ’s Find a Farmer service has been their attempt to re-establish that connection. . .

Ag’s success should be stirring Australia’s future business entrepreneurs – Andrew Marshall:

First he turned smashed avocado into a much-discussed metaphor for the Millennial generation’s poor money saving discipline.

Now he’s challenging what he fears is often our overly casual national attitude to business entrepreneurship and ambition.

Notably, the demographer and social commentator, Bernard Salt, believes agribusiness and agricultural initiative on the global stage are obvious areas for Australia’s business spirit to rise significantly higher. . . 


Rural round-up

January 29, 2018

Raising profile of farm careers – Sally Rae:

Brought up in a Southland farming family, Olivia Ross grew up living and breathing  the red meat sector.

From raising pet lambs to seeing processing chains process the property’s lambs each year, her exposure to the industry was unlimited.

After leaving Takitimu Primary School in the rural township of Nightcaps, she headed to boarding school in Invercargill and that was when her association with, and understanding of, the urban population began. . . 

Strong sales show venison, velvet booming:

Confidence in the future profitability of venison and velvet production has flowed through to the market for sire stags, with strong sales reported throughout the country, Deer Industry New Zealand says.

Breeders reported a marked improvement on last year’s results. Although no stags broke the $100,000 mark, average prices were up strongly for most sales, several by more than 50%. The overall clearance rate was  94%, compared with 83% last year.

Venison schedule prices to farmers normally peak  each year in October before the last chilled shipments leave for Europe for the annual game meat season. This season, prices  continued to rise into January, with the published average now around a record $10.30kg for a carcass in the preferred weight range, DINZ chief executive Dan Coup said. . . 

Better dialogue needed to help bridge divide with farming’s critics – Andrew McGivern:

The weather certainly plays on people’s minds in different ways at this time of year.

Those planning a holiday at the beach naturally have a different perspective to those estimating pasture growth to determine if there will be a feed surplus or deficit for their animals.

Until last year, I would have never said that you can’t get too much rain over that late summer/early autumn period, but the Tasman Tempest closely followed by two cyclones made a liar out of me.

And with the early hot and dry start to summer we had in December, the immediate future for farmers in the Waikato was looking bleak. But we had that rain in early January and have now had a bit of a follow up, so once again the grass is growing, and things are starting to look up.

The decline in milk production has stirred the overseas markets up with GlobalDairyTrade prices improving. That also buoys farmers’ morale, knowing that it is strengthening the milk price. . . 

Synlait’s 2017 / 2018 Forecast Milk Price Remains Steady at $6.50:

Synlait Milk has reaffirmed its milk price forecast of $6.50 kgMS for the 2017 / 2018 season.

However the company has signalled that this forecast is dependent on commodity prices continuing to firm for the rest of the season.

“Our price of $6.50 kgMS has remained in place since May 2017, but global pricing remains unpredictable,” says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO. . . 

No regrets after going robotic – Mark Daniel:

While robotic (voluntary) milking systems appear to be gaining in popularity, the Fisher Farm, between Cambridge and Te Awamutu, has a head start on today’s converts.

Now well into its sixth season, the operation milks 300 cows over 80ha, and lays claim to the title of being the first farm in Waikato to install a DeLaval VMS.

When owner John Fisher first looked at the concept, the farm had a traditional herringbone milking shed without a feed pad, and was operated by two full-time staff and a relief milker.  . . 

 

Booming horticulture exports forecast to soon rise to $5.6b – Jamie Gray:

Horticulture is fast becoming agriculture’s “fourth engine” and will soon rival the meat industry in export receipts, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries, in its latest update, said horticulture’s strong growth is forecast to continue, with exports expected to reach $5.4 billion for the year ending June before rising to $5.6b in the next year.

Meat and wool export revenue is forecast to increase 4.2 per cent to $8.7b in the year, supported by strong red meat prices and increasing exports of value-added products, then to $8.8b the following year. . . 

Hort’s performance worth watching as avocados smash records – Andrew Marshall:

Supercharged activity in several horticulture categories in recent years has prompted Rural Bank to tag the sector as one to watch closely in 2018.

In particular, a couple of notable movers smashing records in domestic and export markets are avocados and oranges.

In the vegetable industry, crops with increasing export market traction and likely price growth in the year ahead include asparagus, celery, broccoli and cauliflower, according to Rural Bank’s Ag Answers research team. . . 


Rural round-up

December 29, 2017

Thank you to the farmers who do a bloody hard job’ – ‘Latte-sipping’ Aucklander pens letter in support of farmers – Anna White:

An open letter written by a “latte-sipping” Aucklander has struck a chord with farmers.

Matt Shirtcliffe was compelled to show his support for the farming community after hearing the news six young farmers had lost their lives recently. . .

Farmers need compensation for stock losses caused by Mycoplasma bovis – MP – Andrew Marshall:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says farmers will need to be compensated for any stock losses accrued as a result of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

He said Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor would need to provide “appropriate” compensation for cows culled to contain the disease.

Walker was in Winton visiting concerned farmers after three farms in the area were confirmed to have been infected, and said “cows are the income for farmers.” . . 

Unwelcome pests need firm response:

Just before Christmas, biosecurity investigators discovered an outbreak of a plant pest called Chilean needle grass on a North Canterbury farm. Steps were immediately taken to destroy the infestation which, if left unchecked, could reduce crop yields and cause animal welfare problems.

Its barbed seeds can work their way through animal hides into flesh and bone, leaving young animals in particular weak and vulnerable.

The discovery was the 17th known infestation of the plant invader and an unwelcome reminder that New Zealand’s primary-based economy is particularly vulnerable to pest incursions. . .

Santa fails to deliver drought-braking rain to lower North Island – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers on the west coast of the North Island have missed out on the Christmas present they most wanted – sufficient rain to break the drought gripping their regions.

In Taranaki alone there are up to 800 farms along the coast which have been harshly affected, the chairman of the Taranaki Rural Support Trust, Mike Green says.

A Ministry of Primary Industries spokeswoman said the medium-scale adverse event for the lower North Island declared by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last week remained in force, despite the sprinkling of rain in the last few days. . .

These golden bananas could save the lives of many children in Uganda – Jonathan O’Callaghan:

Scientists have developed a new type of banana that could help the many children in Uganda who have a pro-vitamin A deficiency.

The so-called “golden bananas”, named for their appearance, were developed by a team from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, led by Professor James Dale. The findings have been published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal.

It’s hoped that by 2021, Ugandan farmers will be growing bananas rich in pro-vitamin A. About $10 million was supplied by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the research. . .

Select Harvest’s high hopes as new markets go nuts for almonds – Andrew Marshall:

The market prospects look, literally, very healthy but Australia’s biggest almond business has become more than a little gun-shy about over-anticipating its fortunes in the year ahead.

The nut harvest on about 4900 hectares of orchards in Victoria, South Australia and NSW is less than two months away, but after shock yield setbacks caused by unusually rainy, mild weather last summer and spring, nut grower, processor and marketer, Select Harvests, is not making rash promises. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 11, 2017

Fall in farm worker deaths ‘encouraging’ – Alexa Cook:

The number of deaths and serious injuries in the farming sector have dropped this year.

Figures from WorkSafe show that this year, up until 1 October, there have been nine deaths in agricultural workplaces, compared to an average of 15 deaths for the same period each year from 2014 to 2016.

Statistics show that the agricultural sector has had almost four times the number of workplace deaths than forestry, construction and manufacturing since 2011. . . 

Nine vying for three spots in Farmlands director elections – Sally Rae:

Voting is open in this year’s Farmlands director elections and there is a strong southern presence among the South Island candidates.

Nine candidates will contest the three director vacancies this year, with elections required in both the North and South Islands.

The South Island vacancy will be contested by former long-serving Alliance Group director Murray Donald (Winton), former Otago regional councillor Gary Kelliher (Alexandra), accountant Mel Montgomery (Southland), former Federated Farmers national board member David Rose (Southland) and current Alliance Group director Dawn Sangster (Maniototo). . . 

Alliance plans capital spending of $54:

Alliance Group is investing $54million in capital expenditure during the next year.

Outlining the investment at a series of roadshows throughout the country, chief executive David Surveyor said the success of the business strategy meant the co-operative was in a position to reinvest to continue to build the company’s operational performance.

In addition to a pool payment, the company would have a bonus share issue and reward farmer shareholders by increasing their shareholding in the co-operative.

The level would be based upon the supply of lambs, sheep, cattle, calves and deer during the 2017-18 season, Mr Surveyor said in a statement. . . 

Possum peppering – still totally implausible, seven years on – Alison Campbell:

Kerikeri award entry turns possums into burning issue“, proclaims a headline in the Northern Advocate.

The story is about an entry in the WWF-NZ’s Conservation Awards for 2017; I hope the judges have a good grasp of science and scientific method. From the article:

The entry from Kerikeri promotes a new take on an old-world biodynamic method of ridding fields of rodents and other furry pests.

It is called peppering, and involves burning the pelts and carcasses of said pests until they’re little more than ash, grinding it finely, mixing it with water and “spray painting” the substance back on the affected land.

Apparently, this version of the ‘traditional’ practice is new in the sense that so far it has not been applied because it lacked ‘scientific background’. . . 

Sheep Meat And Beef Levies to Remain Unchanged:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) announced today that sheep meat and beef levies will remain unchanged for the levy year commencing 1 October 2017.

B+LNZ Chairman James Parsons says the Board has reviewed budgets and activities for the financial year commencing 1 October 2017 and that the sheep meat levy on all sheep slaughtered would remain $0.60 per head and the beef levy, on all cattle slaughtered (including beef cattle and dairy cattle but excluding bobby calves), at $4.40 per head GST (exclusive). . . 

Voting for the 2017 Fonterra elections and resolutions underway:

Voting is now open for the 2017 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Elections, the Shareholders’ Councillor Elections in 10 wards, and six Annual Meeting resolutions.

This year Shareholders have the opportunity to elect three Fonterra Directors. The three candidates are Independent Nomination process candidates Brent Goldsack, Andy Macfarlane and John Monaghan. Each candidate requires Shareholder support of over 50% of votes to be elected. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: John McCaskey – Claire Inkson:

Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to John McCaskey : Pioneer of the Wine Industry, Farmers Advocate, Entrepreneur, and Proud Farmer.

1….How long have you been farming?

Since I was big enough to hold a bottle and feed a lamb—say 1939! My infant years were filled with helping feed pigs & chooks progressing to milking the house cow and churning butter after school! By age 10 I was going to be a farmer! I passed all agriculture subjects for School Cert 1954 . . 

New deal sees Palgrove partner with NZ super fund

Leading Queensland seedstock producers, David and Prue Bondfield, Palgrove, are the latest agribusiness to partner with a superannuation fund in order to grow their business.

The Bondfield family released a statement on Wednesday saying their business, had entered into a partnership with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF). The terms of the transaction remain confidential.​  . . 

Select Harvest rejects Arab takeover, launches $65m local capital raising – Andrew Marshall:

Select Harvest has more than 7000 hectares of almond plantations likely to deliver about 15,800 tonnes of crop next year.

Hot on the heels of rejecting a $430 million Arab takeover offer, big almond growing and nut processing business, Select Harvest, has launched a share market capital raising bid for about $65m.

Select has already placed 10.7m new shares worth about $45m with institutional investors. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

July 20, 2016

Improved vintage augurs well – Simon Hartley:

A near 35% increase in the countrywide 2016 grape harvest could buoy the wine industry’s exports to the tune of $1.7 billion by the end of next year.

However, the sector also faces some headwinds, including a high cost of production and seemingly constant volatility in foreign exchange rates.

Central Otago appears to be holding its own after an improved 2016 harvest, with quality from the larger harvest already showing positive signs.

Demand for New Zealand wine was continuing to grow in the key markets of the US, UK and Australia, global accountancy firm Crowe Horwath’s viticulture specialist, Alistair King, said. . . 

All sheep are not born equal – Steve Wyn-Harris:

Some people reckon all sheep look just the same.

But not me nor all the other people at the Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep Industry Awards in Masterton a couple of weeks ago.

We look at them and think “There is a specific individual who has some qualities its mates lack and I really like the cut of its jib”.

The awards celebrate high-performing sheep farmers and leadership in the sheep industry. . .

North Canterbury dam project targets investment partners – Chris Hutching:

The $180 million Hurunui irrigation scheme is seeking money from investors and construction companies for its planned dam in North Canterbury.

But before Hurunui Water Project can issue a prospectus it must raise about $900,000 in loans from its current shareholders to fund the offer.

If successful in raising the $900,000 it will be eligible for a $3.3m loan from the Government’s Irrigation Accelerator Fund.  . . 

School students explore agriculture and horticulture opportunities at Massey University – Jill Galloway:

Curious secondary school students have a better idea if studying in agriculture and horticulture is for them after an experience day at Massey University.  Jill Galloway was there to observe them.

An experience day at Massey University is, in essence, about attracting students and getting bums on seats.

Visiting senior high school students in Year 12 and 13, with a sprinkling in Year 11, could be the university’s next studying intake for agriculture and horticulture lecture rooms. . . 

Rangeland income reliability lifts with carbon cash – Andrew Marshall:

Understocking does not normally help a livestock producer’s bottom line, but increasing numbers of pastoral landholders are getting paid to reduce their carrying capacity.

Strategic understocking and vegetation management has enabled these producers to tap into a decade-long income stream which even pays up in tough drought years.

They are cashing in on a national carbon farming program paying landholders who sign up to a vegetation management schedule which encourages woodland regrowth to sequester carbon on their land. . . 

Life, legacy and living well – Briar Hale:

For someone who doesn’t get out much, George of Motueka sure knows how to live well. He never pops out to the supermarket and hasn’t been to the doctors in living memory, so you could be forgiven for thinking George’s life is somewhat constrained. But au contraire; George finds his wellness by working the land and enjoying the pleasures of home. At 89, George still works a full day on his farm, doing an impressive four-hour stint either side of his midday siesta. Health and vitality, as well as joy in his labours, make his old age a beautiful balance of keeping busy and slowing down.  . . 

Computer Protection Software, made in: the world.

A global software enterprise run from a rural NZ lifestyle block. A look behind the scenes.

At Emsisoft, there is no corner office with a view, no central headquarters that I could wander through unseen. Only a blue and grey logo, existing only online, with an untold story behind it. The lack of office makes Christian Mairoll a hard man to interview, yet, here I am with an appointment, winding up a back road through the heights of a valley, near Nelson, New Zealand. Population 5,321. I cannot see any of them, the road is deserted. Locals call this part of the country the Top of the South, I call it the beginning to nowhere. Not even a cafe at sight. The gravel pit road is cradled by mountains and tall pine trees. Christian Mairoll is the face of a company that – apparently – doesn’t have a company face. Given that Emsisoft was founded in Austria in 2003 and is now run from Christian Mairoll’s eco lifestyle block in rural New Zealand, there are many questions to be asked. If only I can find the house in the raising fog. . . 


Rural round-up

June 10, 2016

Synlait forecast milk price $4.50 kgMS next season:

Synlait Milk’s forecast milk price for the 2016 / 2017 season is $4.50 kgMS and will carry a higher than usual advance rate for milk suppliers.

Chairman Graeme Milne said the prospect of another tough season will be slightly offset for Synlait suppliers as they’ll start the season in a stronger cash flow position than they were expecting.

“Cash flow is really important at this time of year and we’ve prioritised a significantly higher advance rate for our milk suppliers’ benefit,” said Mr Milne. . . 

One more step to Open:

It’s a long way from Whangamomona to Somerset, but distance has been no barrier for Taranaki shearer Darren Alexander.

Alexander has celebrated his first trip to England by winning a title at one of England’s major shows.

The 22-year-old shearer, who graduated from Lincoln College in Canterbury with a B.Sc last year, won the senior final at the British Golden Shears, during last week’s Royal Bath and West Show at Shepton Mallet in the southwest of England. . . 

2016 Sheep Industry Awards Finalists Announced:

Finalists in the 2016 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards have been announced.

The awards are now in their fifth year and Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Sam McIvor said they were a great way to celebrate the New Zealand sheep industry and the farmers who produce the best sheep meat in the world.

“It’s right that we acknowledge the top performers and showcase our industry, which is a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy.

“These businesses and individuals can rightly take their place as outstanding performers on both the domestic and international business stage,” McIvor said. . . .

Environment Showcase Celebrates Best Of Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture:

Supreme winners from the eleven regions participating in the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards will be honoured at New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in June.

Celebrating environmental excellence and culminating with the naming of the National Winner of the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), the annual Sustainability Showcase is regarded as a premier event on the farming calendar.

This year’s Showcase is being held in Northland where the next recipient of the Gordon Stephenson trophy will be announced at a special gala dinner on June 22 at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort, Bay of Islands. . . 

More funding for the New Zealand cycle trail:

The Government is investing more than $1.2 million in seven new projects for the upkeep and maintenance of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key announced today.

The investment comes from the fourth round of the Maintaining the Quality of the Great Rides Fund and priority has been given to proposals that aim to improve safety and quality of the Great Rides – the premier rides of the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

“The Great Rides are used by thousands of people every day and have provided a significant boost to New Zealand tourism,” Mr Key says. “This funding will help ensure visitors can continue soaking up New Zealand’s beautiful scenery in a safe and enjoyable way. . . 

Nuffield scholar looking to Merino for returns

The sheep meat and wool industry is Victoria’s third largest agricultural industry by value, but 2014 Nuffield Scholar Tim Gubbins believes the future of this important industry could be even brighter with a greater focus on reproductive potential.

The Darlington farm manager is responsible for a sheep flock consisting of 10,000 composite ewes.

The operation also includes a winter grazed area of approximately 2,100 hectares, as well as an annual cropping program of around 600 hectares. . .

Seawater tomatoes set new farming benchmark – Andrew Marshall:

A landmark $100 million-plus greenhouse complex capable of producing 16,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually from solar power-filtered seawater officially opens in arid South Australia in October.

The much-anticipated 20-hectare Sundrop Farms development near Port Augusta will be the world’s biggest “seawater greenhouse”.

It is also the latest of about seven big scale hydroponic greenhouse developments to have sprouted in Australia in less than a decade. . . 


Rural round-up

April 6, 2016

Marine farming rubbish removed during beach clean-up – Mike Watson:

Marine farmers have recovered almost 20 tonnes of rubbish, much of it non-industry related, from Marlborough Sounds and Tasman Bay beaches in the past five years.

The total tonnage from the marine farming industry-led environmental programme was the equivalent of more than two weeks work every month over the past five years by volunteers cleaning up the region’s beaches, a  review of the programme showed.

The programme had been operating since the early 1990s to help clean up beaches in the top of the South Island. . . 

Pondering life and death down on the farm – Joyce Wyllie:

“When you have livestock, you do have dead stock” is a saying I heard often when I was a vet.

It is a farmer’s laconic way of coping with disappointments, sickness and demise of both farm and pet animals. Death is something we face on farms regularly and rural families do learn to deal with it, although it should never become casual or frivolous. Our garden has a cemetery where the white mice are buried, there are RIP white crosses among flowers, and fruit trees planted on top of deceased dogs.

Our children have learnt that life does end. They have experienced grief, understand sadness of loss and have developed respect for death. . . 

Dairy forum focuses on challenges and opportunities:

The outlook for the wider dairy sector including support available for farmers were the focus of an event near Morrinsville attended by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today.

The event brought together farmers and others from the rural business community, including MPI, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Rural Support Trusts and the New Zealand Bankers Association who together launched a new brochure outlining various support available for farmers.

“While the medium to long-term outlook for the sector remains strong, our dairy farmers are doing it tough this season. Low global prices are having a real impact on cashflows and farmers are rightly focussing on their business decisions and on-farm costs,” says Mr Guy.. . .

Health and safety must be a priority:

WorkSafe NZ’s chief executive says farmers should place a high priority on health and safety plans rather than doing them at the end of the working week.

Gordon MacDonald’s comments come as the new Health and Safety at Work Act comes into force on April 4. He says the new act should come under the banner of ‘looking after my mates’ and become an important part of any business.

He adds the ‘she’ll be right’ approach has no place in the current environment and shouldn’t have had for the past 20 years under the previous act. . . 

MPI imposes tough restrictions on imported seed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has imposed tough new border restrictions to stop contaminated seed from entering New Zealand.

The move follows the discovery of velvet leaf in fodder beet seeds imported from Europe. MPI, industry bodies and regional councils are currently responding to an outbreak of the invasive weed in farm properties across the country.

“We already have strong border controls in place to stop contaminated seed from entering New Zealand. The new interim measures will provide another layer of biosecurity until we know exactly how the contaminated fodder beet seeds entered the country,” says Stephen Butcher, MPI Manager Import and Export Plants. . . 

Throw a chop on the barbie in Tokyo

JAPANESE shoppers are not normally known for their appetite for sheepmeat products, but changing consumer trends could see more lamb on their barbecues alongside Australian beef.

Food industry marketers say the world’s biggest importer of red meat (by value) is not only a cosmopolitan marketplace with plenty of scope for new taste trends among younger consumers, Japan also has a growing attraction to barbecued meat. . . 

Fifth Grand Finalist Confirmed in FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

James Hoban is the fifth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

James is a 30 year old Sheep and Dairy Support Farmer and Farm Environment Consultant who took first place at the Tasman Regional Final in Rangiora on 2 April

Mr Hoban went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from FMG, Massey University, Ravensdown, Meridian Energy, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, STIHL and Vodafone. James also won the Massey University Agri-growth Challenge. . . 

LIC Jersey bulls make a strong comeback:

LIC’s Jersey Premier Sires bulls have cemented their position at the top of the national Jersey Ranking of Active Sires (RAS) list, released at the weekend.

This is good news for dairy farmers who prefer to get their Jersey inseminations from their farmer-owned co-operative.

Among a range of positive statistics on the Jersey RAS list, LIC has all of the top 5 bulls. It also has 8 of the top 10 and 11 of the top 15 bulls on the Jersey RAS list. Of the 11, 9 are new graduates which illustrates the change in LIC’s momentum. . . 


Rural round-up

April 21, 2015

Sturgess.”I’ll help” – Neal Wallace:

Tom Sturgess, one of New Zealand’s richest men and largest farmers, is willing to be involved in making the red meat industry more profitable.

A career that includes running several diverse multi-billion-dollar companies including United States meat packing houses has given Sturgess some clear thoughts and ideas on how to revitalise the meat industry, even though some of those solutions could be considered unconventional.

Sturgess volunteered his help in an FWplus interview, saying he would happily be involved to find ways to improve sector profitability if he was wanted. . .

Shear warmth: former hairdresser’s dream become reality :From being a city hairdresser in New Plymouth making small talk with clients to living in the remote central North Island where the closest neighbour is eight kilometres down a winding, gravel road, Monique Neeson has been through a few changes.

You can also add to that the launch of a company selling woollen blankets that are, as she describes them, born, grown, woven and handmade in New Zealand.

Neeson laughs at her transformation.

“I can remember the first time I came to this farm, winding down the road for absolutely ages, and I told Tim, [now her husband], I’d never negotiate the road again.” . .

Don’t fight system farmers told – Alan Williams:

Farming within water quality limits is now a reality that all farmers will need to adapt to, Canterbury farmers have been told.

The process of setting quality limits and the farming changes required to meet them would be challenging and take time for everyone to get there, Environment Canterbury (ECAN) commissioner David Bedford told the Future of the Heartland farm forum at Conway Flats in North Canterbury today.

Some nutrient management tools had limitations and were still being developed and ECAN compliance activities would take that into account, he said in a speech on behalf of head commissioner Dame Margaret Bazley. . .

Farmers’ bank balances under severe pressure:

Industry body DairyNZ says bank balances for most dairy farmers will be heading south this winter and spring, producing some short-term but significant cashflow management challenges for farmers.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says 2015-16 will still probably end up being a breakeven year for most farmers but cashflow will be a major issue that could result in some increased term debt in the sector and less spending in the regions.

“Farmers are used to having seasonal cashflow that drops into the red but then pops back into the black at some stage during the summer period. However, our current forecasts indicate that many farmers won’t be in credit for the entire 12 months of next season unless costs are reduced, income is higher than predicted or some of their overdraft is put into their term debt.” . . .

24 ways to to survive next drought – Nadene Hall:

Ask a group of farmers with over 500 years’ experience between them how to manage a property before, during and after a drought, and you get a lot of practical tips and wisdom. AgResearch asked 20 South Canterbury farmers about their strategies for successfully managing their properties after a drought.

All the farmers had experienced severe droughts over the previous 20-30 years of farming. What worked best on an individual property depended on things like its climate and soil type, and what was being farmed, but the scientists concluded these are the key areas to look at: . .

Search on for cotton workers – Andrew Marshall:

AUSTRALIA’S rural skills shortage is not just a problem troubling individual farms or regional machinery businesses – the cotton industry fears the profitability of the entire cropping sector is eroding.

The combined impact of new farm technology growth and a shortage of rural recruits with skills ranging from information technology and accounting, to engineering and agronomy, is stressing broadacre agriculture’s efficiency and productivity.

Corporate farms and big agribusinesses are frequently resorting to ‘cherry picking’ the talent they need from other players or other sectors of the industry, even if it means taking agronomists and turning them into bankers.  . .


Rural round-up

April 14, 2015

That is indeed a beautiful sound – Gravedodger:

Since around 0645 we have had the sound of rain on the roof,  steady and after two hours, around 13mm.

Here in Akaroa we were not as desperate as many pockets  around North Canterbury, a friend from Cheviot next door to where we spent three years in the mid 60s, is saying it is so parched there is not even any green in gully floors where there is normally some hope of a lunch for a rabbit.

Another comment in Farmers Weekly said their bit of unirrigated country has moved from brown to white. . .

Uneven rules costly – Neal Wallace:

Steps to control agricultural nutrient discharge could add 10c a litre to the cost of producing milk and impose wide-ranging restrictions on land management.

But there is little uniformity in regional council rules.

Most of the county’s 16 regional authorities are still to complete their regional plans but early indications are that each council has its own approach.

Rabobank sustainable farm systems manager Blake Holgate has been following the development and release of environmental regulations and said even neighbouring regional councils such as Otago and Southland have differing rules, creating uncertainty for owners of multiple properties and unknown costs. . .

Heartland Forum shaping up as South Island farming event of the year:

A speakers’ lineup of the who’s who in the primary sector makes this month’s ‘The Future of Heartland Forum’ near Cheviot in North Canterbury, a must attend.

A farmer discussion in Cheviot late last year about the spread of Chilean Needlegrass has since grown into staging a premier forum on the future of agriculture industries in New Zealand.

The event will be held at Te Mania Angus Stud, Conway Flat, Friday, April 17.

Other than Government speakers, the lineup includes; Dame Margaret Bazley from Environment Canterbury, Winton Dalley the Hurunui Mayor, Peter Townsend the Chief Executive of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, Craige and Roz Mackenzie and Sam and Mark Zino, award winning farmers, Nicole Masters of the New Zealand Biological Farmers Association and Dr William Rolleston the National President of Federated Farmers New Zealand. . .

 Robotic milking can revive kids’ interest:

Robotic milking is coming of age in New Zealand and interest has surged in the last six months, DeLaval’s Grant Vickers says.

“I think it’s because a number of installations in New Zealand are working well,” he told Dairy News. “The perception of risk has probably lessened.”

The current inquiries, for robotics and barns, are from all sizes of farms and will result in installations in the North and South Island. 

Vickers spoke about robotic milking during a Dairy Women’s Network field trip to a 600-cow wintering barn as part of the organisation’s ‘Entering Tomorrow’s World’ conference. . .

What’s behind the longevity of Country Calendar? – Julian O’Brien:

Soon after I started producing Country Calendar, we had a minor crisis.

We thought we’d found a simple and elegant way to make new opening titles – but it quickly turned into a nightmare. 

We needed footage of people involved in typical rural activities, but to integrate the shots into our titles, they had to be shot against a neutral background – ideally a green-screen set up in a studio. 

Sheep in a studio? Achievable, but someone needs to be ready with a broom afterwards.

New Zealand’s top shearers in a studio? Impossible, if you want to keep the feel of a shearing competition – but we desperately wanted the shot.

As we pondered this, we had a crew shooting part of a story at the Taumarunui Shears – but there was no neutral background at the event to do a titles shot. . .

NZPork Annual Report 2014:

The NZPork Annual Report 2014, released today, reflects on the importance of the New Zealand consumer to the future of its business.

NZPork Chairman Ian Carter points out that it’s important to remember that our consumer is our neighbour and that we are touch with what consumers want and believe.

“We need to provoke interest in our product and our industry. We need to invoke confidence in our production standards and systems. And we need to evoke desire for our product,” said Ian Carter.

The report states the industry recognises that little is understood about pig farming in general amongst many New Zealanders, particularly the requirements of caring for its animals. In light of this, it is taking steps to be more transparent and advocate confidence to its consumers via its production systems and standards. . .

 Silage smells and what they mean – Ian Williams:

I grew up in town and one of my distinct memories of summer and autumn when we went to visit our farming friends was the smell of silage. 

As a kid, silage always seemed to stink and it is a smell which has been imprinted on my brain.

Now I work with the stuff. I even have a personalised number plate with the word SILAGE on it! Whenever I  introduce myself to people from town and they ask me what I do and I mention the word silage, they instantly screw up their noses and say something like “How can you work with that stuff, it stinks?” or they ask “Are you still married?” . .  .

How to install a ready-made food making business on your farm:

Making the transition from being a primary producer to processing and selling your own produce has become considerably cheaper, easier and less stressful thanks to an Anglo-French company that has created a new process that effectively builds a ‘barn inside a barn’.
Create-a-cabin has led a revolution in French farming by rapidly installing food-safe, highly flexible, and technically sophisticated food preparation rooms without the need for planning permission.
Across the Channel, Create-a-cabin’s custom-made, modular building shells have been erected quickly and cheaply for cheese-makers, poultry abattoirs, jam kitchens, meat packers, fish smokers and many more, allowing farmers to control at least one more link in the food production chain, as well as adding value to their product and thus  commanding a higher price. . .


Rural round-up

August 12, 2014

A2 milk easier to digest than A1 – study – Dan Satherley:

Milk that contains only A2 protein is easier to digest than the more common A1-type milk, according to a new study that directly contradicts previous research.

Scientists at Curtin University in Perth found that people reported less abdominal pain and bloating after drinking A2 milk than A1.

“We knew there were differences in animals consuming A2 milk without any A1 beta-casein, but this is now supported by our new human study,” says Associate Professor Sebely Pal.

A2 milk is produced naturally, taken from cows without the genetic mutation that most cows in Europe, Australia, the United States and New Zealand have. Normal cows’ milk has a mixture of A1 and A2 proteins. . .

 

Dairy plant conversion seen as catalyst for burgeoning food technology hub:

Plans to establish a state-of-the-art food technology and production hub in the small North Waikato township of Kerepehi have moved another step closer – with several large blocks of bare land with development potential being placed on the market for sale.

The 16 sites are immediately opposite the former Kerepehi dairy factory which was bought earlier this year by the Chinese-owned Allied Faxi Food Company for conversion into an ice cream export manufacturing plant.

Conversion construction of the dairy plant is scheduled to start in spring, with the plant targeted to be fully operational by the end of 2015 – forecasting to produce 10 tonnes of ice cream and 10 tonnes of frozen cream daily. All output is for the Chinese markets. . . .

Deadline approaches for entries in the Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2014:

Women looking for new ways to promote their small rural business are encouraged to enter the Enterprising Rural Women Awards 2014.

“With the deadline of Friday 5 September now around the corner, we’re reminding women to send in their entries,” says Rural Women New Zealand national president, Wendy McGowan.

In their sixth year, the awards attract good publicity for both entrants and winners, says Mrs McGowan.

“Rural Women New Zealand’s aim is to grow dynamic rural communities and giving a boost to women in rural business is a very positive way of achieving this.” . . .

Fine wool gets a sporting chance – Andrew Marshall:

THE wool industry’s search for a big break in the outdoor recreation clothing market may be about to bear fruit thanks, in part, to technology originally developed to make finewool finer.

Fashion industry responses to trials of the new wind and water resistant fabric indicate plenty of promise in clothing market segments such as recreational sailing, fishing, bushwalking or hiking and golf.

Wool marketers also anticipate genuine interest and spill-over orders from the booming smart-casual clothing scene. . .

Delivering Better Tools And Services for Maori Sheep And Beef Farmers:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is joining forces with the Federation of Maori Authorities (FoMA) to ramp up support for Maori sheep and beef farmers.

FoMA and B+LNZ are creating two new joint roles. Anaru Smiler and William McMillan have been appointed Kaiarahi Ahuwhenua Sheep & Beef, operating jointly for FoMA and B+LNZ. The positions will be responsible for delivering tools and services to support Maori sheep and beef farmers.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion says the organisation has worked closely with FoMA to develop the new positions and they will be a key part of supporting the development of more productive and profitable Maori-owned sheep and beef farms. . .

Warrnambool Cheese & Butter not ACCC at its finest, says Joyce – Andrew White:

AGRICULTURE Minister Barnaby Joyce has hit out at the competition watchdog and the law it enforces, claiming its treatment of Murray Goulburn’s bid for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter was a poor application of competition law.

Mr Joyce called for an overhaul of competition law to support the creation of national champions in industries across Australia after the giant Murray Goulburn co-operative was effectively blocked from buying Warrnambool by delays in the competition review process.

“If we want to create — and I believe we should — Australian national champions then that substantial lessening of competition test … its finest hour was not the Warrnambool Cheese and Butter issue,’’ Mr Joyce told a high-powered gathering of food industry and political leaders in Sydney as part of the The Australian and The Wall Street Journal’s Global Food Forum series. . .

Rabobank backs a Challenge – Reg Burton:

THE 2014 Rabobank Beef Challenge is once again focused solely on the graziers in the Richmond Shire with the Flinders and McKinlay Shire opting not to stage the Challenge this year because of the drought.

Conversely, the Richmond Shire graziers elected to continue with the Challenge to obtain information as to which breeds do better on a particular dietary supplement under drought conditions.

Ten mobs of six early weaners were put into the same paddock on Alistair McClymont’s Wilburra Station where they will stay and be weighed and tested monthly. . . .

Fonterra Grass Roots Fund:

Need help with a community project? Grants from $500 to $5,000 will be made. Hurry – applications close 31 August!

Need help with a community project? Grants from $500 to $5,000 will be made. Hurry – applications close 31 August!


Rural round-up

February 22, 2014

Chinese checkers – Hugh Stringleman:

New Zealand’s infant formula exporters and dairy processors are braced for a Chinese shakedown of brands, premises and regulatory compliance that could lead to severe restrictions on trade.

Teams of auditors from China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China (CNCA) are due in early March.MPI,

They will choose where they go from more than 350 potential company sites and descend on premises with little warning, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has advised.

Smaller, independent infant formula exporters also fear new Chinese regulations addressing the proliferation of NZ brands are imminent. . .

Seals can pass TB to beef cattle:

A new scientific paper has documented cases of fur seals passing a strain of bovine tuberculosis to New Zealand beef cattle.

Over the last 20 years there have been seven documented cases of cattle catching a strain of Tb after coming into contact with the fur seals, three on beaches in the North and South Islands and four in the Chatham Islands.

TBfree New Zealand national disease manager Kevin Crews says the purpose of the paper was to document the cases, which are believed to be the only ones recorded in the world. . .

Pressurised irrigation water to the farm gate with Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme:

Irrigation water available to farmers using the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme will be delivered to their farm gates ‘under pressure’; potentially saving each operator significant costs in on-farm infrastructure and energy costs.

The news comes as negotiations continue to move forward with joint venture OHL-Hawkins, the RWSS preferred consortia.European Contractor, Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL) and Hawkins Infrastructure, New Zealand’s largest privately-owned construction company have joined forces for the project.

RWSS Project Manager Graeme Hansen says being able to deliver the water closer to the farm gate than initially planned and providing it ‘under pressure’ is great news for farmers and part of the ongoing ‘optimisation’ of the scheme that has continued through the design phase negotiations. . .

Farm Jam is back for 2014  – Justene Taua :

The awesome event is back next year for another round of BMX, FMX and fun   SAVE THE DATE! NZ Farm Jam organisers have announced 1 March 2014 as the date for next year’s instalment of the epic two-wheeled action-sports event.   Fresh off a highly successful 2013, organisers Dan and Brett Frew have already put the wheels in motion to ensure their unique Jam contest continues to evolve as one of the world’s premier multi-discipline events. . . .

Deane’s bed of roses – Alison Francis:

UNFORTUNATELY for Cabarlah farmer Byron Deane, a bunch of roses just doesn’t cut the mustard come Valentine’s Day.

Working alongside his wife, Amanda, on their rose farm since 2002, Byron says by the time the clippers go down and the final bow is tied, a well-earned rest is in order for his Valentine’s Day.

“Because we work together on the farm, along with mum and dad, I don’t think a bunch of roses is really what she wants to see at the end of the day,” he jokes.

“We always have a bunch of roses at home on the kitchen table, but for Valentine’s Day it is usually chocolates, movies and dinner a couple of days after for us.”    . . .

GrainCorp’s $70m diversification move  – Andrew Marshall:

HOT on the heels of its move to upgrade oilseed processing facilities in Victoria, GrainCorp has confirmed it is spending a further $70 million building and expanding its bulk oil, fuel and chemical storage business.

Work has just started on foundations for a new bulk liquid facility to service the chemical industry next to GrainCorp’s Port Kembla grain export terminal on the NSW South Coast.

Construction is due finish by the end of the year.

In Brisbane GrainCorp’s big liquid terminals’ site at Pinkenba will add additional storage to be available from 2015. . .

Forestry Investment Attracts Top People:

FIEA’s upcoming conference on forest investment is drawing delegates from top management positions in both New Zealand and Australia as the opportunity for early-bird registration offers closes at the end of this week.

One of the reasons for the popularity of the Forest Investment and Market Outlook conference running in April in Melbourne and Auckland is the international keynote speakers. One of the keynote speakers at FIMO 2014 Gary Myers, managing partner at TimberLink LLC from Georgia, USA. With a good international speaker line-up in place, many TIMOs are registering delegates to attend the April conference – the third in this biennial series . . .


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