Rural round-up

March 5, 2018

Upset farmers still in the dark – Annette Scott:

Farmers desperately seeking answers feel they have been left in limbo as the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis takes hold and still the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it has no clear idea how it got here.

The ministry has confirmed the outbreak could cost $100 million in tracking and tracing the spread of the disease and paying compensation to farmers. It initially budgeted for $35m.

With too many gaps and too few answers farmers are understandably anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate it, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said. . . 

Healthy Rivers plan drags out – Richard Rennie:

Waikato farmers have found an upside in the continuing delays plaguing the Healthy Rivers plan and believe critical dates in it might be pushed out beyond the original timeframe.

Despite being notified in October 2016 the plan was derailed late that year when Hauraki iwi objected to part of the catchment being included, subject to that iwi’s claim over its ownership.

That required the plan to be effectively split with the 12% or 120,000ha of the catchment affected by the claim becoming subject to negotiation between iwi and the council on Healthy Rivers conditions, before being re-notified.

But Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said farmers are conscious the plan has some specific dates in it requiring them to submit nitrogen reference points by March next year. . . 

Higher meat yield from Beltex breed – Nicole Sharp:

Former Invermay head Dr Jock Allison, his wife Hilary and Canterbury farmer Blair Gallagher had the Beltex breed on show at this year’s Southern Field Days.

Together with farm adviser John Tavendale, and their families, the group is behind Beltex New Zealand, which has brought the breed to New Zealand.

”They’re a double-muscled Texel, with higher meat yield, bigger eye muscle areas, bigger legs. It’s all a plus in terms of meat production,” Dr Allison said.

The breed was imported from the UK, and was originally from Belgium and Holland. . . 

Mānuka honey definition could change if new science is developed – Gerard Hutching:

The definition for mānuka honey may be revised if fresh science shows the need, Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Martyn Dunne says.

MPI first announced the definition on December 11 last year but beekeepers objected to an aspect of the definition that required a kilogram of monofloral or multifloral honey contain at least five micrograms of  2′-methoxyacetophenone (known as 2 MAP).

They threatened legal action, claiming it would cost the industry $100 million. . . 

Live goat exports to Asia in demand – Yvonne O’Hara:

More pure and composite meat goats are needed to fill four planned shipments of live goats and goat meat to Asian clients in the next few months, says Shingle Creek Chevon partner Dougal Laidlaw, of Clyde.

As the market for live exports was competitive, he did not wish to say which countries or clients the goats were going to.

However, he wanted to hear from farmers who might be interested in supplying or rearing goats, both for live and meat export as well as for the domestic top end restaurant trade.

”It will be a struggle to get enough animals,” Mr Laidlaw said. . . 

What turns some law-abiding Canadians into smugglers? The high price of imported cheese. – Nate Tabak:

Clara is a college student in Toronto, and in a few days, she’s flying home to Paris to visit her family and friends. She also stopping at a fromagerie to buy some cheese to bring back to Canada, specifically Comté, a cousin of Gruyere made under strict rules in the French Alps. 

“It’s not gooey, and you know it’s not going to give a scent to your entire suitcase,” Clara says. Comté is also a lot cheaper in France. It’s easy to find at supermarkets for the equivalent of about $6 or $7 a pound. In Canada, it’s both a lot harder to find, and it’s usually at least $20 a pound.

Clara’s yearly ritual becomes a source of anxiety when she flies back to Canada and prepares to face a border officer — and that dreaded question: “Are you bringing in any food?” . . 



Rural round-up

January 13, 2018

Seasonal labour a vital ingredient – Mike Chapman:

Research New Zealand recently conducted a survey reporting on the impacts of the RSE scheme, where it has directly enabled:

– The area under cultivation to expand consistently over the last three years.

– The employment of more permanent and seasonal New Zealand workers.

– A more stable workforce, with better and more productive workers.

RSE workers supplement other seasonal employees, and account for roughly one in five of all seasonal workers across the country. In areas where unemployed is very low, more RSE workers are employed, while in areas with higher unemployment, fewer RSE workers are employed. . .

Storm helped cure dry spell for Waikato farmers – Ruby Nyika:

The storm that battered the North Island last week left lasting damage for some.

But for farmers, the heavy dump of rain was magic.

The lengthy dry spell that preceded it had been stressful.

I think it’s been a bit of a relief for every farmer,” Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said. “Not for the poor townies having their holidays, but for farmers it’s been a relief to get some moisture back in the ground.” . .

MPI and dairy industry extend milk testing programme for Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and its dairy industry partners have decided to extend the current Mycoplasma bovis milk testing underway in Canterbury, Otago and Southland into a national milk surveillance programme.

While there is no indication that the disease is present beyond the areas currently identified, checking for other possible regional clusters is essential to building a complete picture of the disease in New Zealand.

The programme will involve testing 3 milk samples from every dairy farm. One sample will be taken from bulk milk as part of the regular sampling process at milk collection. Farmers will also be required to provide 2 samples from ‘discard milk’ (milk unsuitable for collection, for example, from cows with mastitis). Mycoplasma bovis is more easily identified in milk taken from otherwise sick animals, which makes testing of the discard milk a valuable surveillance tool. . .

Concern about cattle disease in Hawes Bay – Jill Galloway:

Manawatū and Tararua dairy farmers are getting anxious about future outbreaks of Mycoplasma bovis after the disease was confirmed in Hawke’s Bay.

Farmers are looking more closely at the source of their feed supplies and where they graze their young stock.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman, Murray Holdaway said he hoped the Ministry for Primary Industries would be able to tell farmers more in the coming weeks.

“Not as many cows go to [Hawke’s Bay] as there used to be six to eight years ago, but it is always an alternative if things get really tight on the feed front, here.” . . 

Trans-Tasman war of words over ‘mānuka’ honey gets stickier :

Australia’s honey industry is calling for an armistice in the ongoing battle over use of the term “mānuka honey”, after Tasmanian producers claimed they produced it first.

The Australian Mānuka Honey Association says New Zealand apiarists should join forces with their Ocker cousins to peacefully assert Antipodean dominance over the global market.

Mānuka honey is produced by European bees feasting on the pollen of the plant Leptospermum scoparium – known here by its Māori name, mānuka. . . 

Celebrity farmer suggests badger caused death of sheep on viral social media post :

A celebrity farmer has caused a stir on social media after suggesting badgers killed his sheep.

Martin Irvine, who has appeared in BBC documentary This Farming Life, posted a photo on social media of his dead sheep with a gory wound.

Mr Irvine wrote on Facebook: “Badgers decided to have this ewe for Christmas dinner, she’s still alive for now. About time we were allowed to control this destructive vermin!” . .

Rural round-up

July 28, 2017

Bug hunt stepped up with new test – Richard Rennie:

Antibiotic resistance of bacteria in the human population has been touted as one of the biggest risks to health in coming years, with the planet facing what the World Health Organisation describes as a “race against time” to develop new antibiotics. However, resistance in New Zealand’s farm production animal population remains low, and a new initiative will help paint a clear picture on where resistance risks really lie, and how to manage them. Richard Rennie reports.

The Dairy Antibiogram test is the result of a joint venture between Bayer and Morrinsville-based production animal research company, Cognosco. . . 

Town Talk: hello we need to connect  – Amy Williams:

Sometimes, when I’m serving dinner, I remind my children where their meat comes from.

My seven-year-old acts horrified, my five-year-old looks twice at her dinner and my three-year-old just doesn’t believe it.

The reality of living in the city means most of us don’t really have to think about where our food comes from.

There’s no arguing the rural-urban divide exists and researchers around the world have been pointing at this gulf between country producers and city consumers for years, often with a sense of dismay. . . 

Waikato Inc approach urged to tackle water issues  – Sudesh Kissun:

New Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven is pushing for a united front to tackle water issues confronting the region.

The Te Aroha dairy farmer says Feds aims to get the best outcome for the rural sector under the Waikato Regional Council’s Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora proposed plan change 1. The council aims to improve water quality in the Waikato and Waipa river catchments.

Waikato Feds has at least 2000 members in dairy, sheep and beef, horticulture and forestry.

McGiven says he wants a “Waikato Inc” approach so that small rural towns reliant on agriculture also get to have their say.  . .

Every lamb counts on intensive Ida Valley farm  – Rob Tipa:

On a small Otago farm, every blade of grass counts, every stock unit has to produce a return and every lamb that survives is a bonus. Rob Tipa meets the winners of a special award for flock performance in the NZ Ewe Hogget competition.

The Ida Valley is famous for its weather extremes, from hoar frosts and sub-zero temperatures in winter to intense heat and parched landscapes in summer.

On a relatively small holding of just 182ha, the Evans family runs a surprisingly intensive operation for this region.

They winter 671 mixed-age coopworth ewes and 234 ewe hoggets and are finishing 219 rising one-year-old friesian-hereford and friesian-murray grey cross calves they buy in at four days old. Last season their cattle all sold at 18 months at an average carcassweight of 245kg. . .

What’s your future in dairying aged 20-0dd – Brent Love:

Brent Love, director farm enterprise at KPMG, explains how to make it in dairy for 20-somethings.

So you’ve got yourself here. Well done. With a bit of luck you’ve worked hard at secondary school, and may even have advanced to tertiary study or got started on some Primary ITO development.

You may have found out, through early mornings and time in a cowshed, that dairy farming is your future. Congratulations, you will do well. Many have been before you, but to be fair to you they haven’t actually been where you stand today. . .

Preventing burn-out during calving – Dana Carver:

Calving is one of the busiest times of year on farm, but it’s one of my favourites. The calves are the future of our herd and it’s exciting to see them arrive, grow and thrive.

We spend a lot of time and money to have a healthy herd, and every year they’re a bit healthier, the herd a bit closer to what we’re trying to achieve and that’s exciting.

But it’s also full-on. Hopefully you and your team managed to take a break at the end of the last season so you were able to start the new season recharged.

However, that break can quickly seem like a distant memory as the thick of calving sets in. Sustaining energy levels over the calving season is essential and there are some simple things you can do to achieve this. . .

Rural round-up

April 7, 2017

NZ could miss out on gene-editing revolution – Richard MacManus:

Is the gene editing revolution passing New Zealand by?

New Zealand is a proudly GE-free country, meaning it is illegal to produce or sell genetically engineered foods here. There are some exclusions for processed foods that have imported GE ingredients, like soy or corn flour, but they must be approved by a local authority and clearly labelled. However, there is zero tolerance for GE in fresh foods – including foods bound for export. Considering that New Zealand’s “clean green” brand is a key part of our export trade, it makes sense that GE foods are treated with caution here. But are we being too conservative, given that a new technology called CRISPR is opening up opportunities for both our economy and our environment.

CRISPR (pronounced crisper) has made gene editing nearly as simple as editing a website. Tools like CRISPR-Cas9 allow scientists to edit parts of a genome by removing, adding or altering sections of its DNA sequence. It is truly a brave new world. . . 

Objective carcase measurement – essential or just nice to have Allan Barber:

Objective carcase management (OCM) appears to be the holy grail for Meat and Livestock Australia judging by its plan to seek A$150 million from the Australian government to fund the installation of Dual Energy X-ray 3D carcase grading technology (DEXA) in up to 90 slaughterhouses, intended to roll out this year. The loan would be repaid from industry levies, although there are no firm details yet about how the costs would be shared.

When MLA announced Project 150 in November 2016, the Beef and Sheep Councils of Australia were both in favour, but the executive officer of the Australian Beef Association came out saying it shouldn’t be the producers but the processors who paid for it. More recently both the processor funded Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) and levy funded Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) have come out against rushing into such an expensive project without proper analysis and a robust business case. . .

Taking aim at Fish & Game over conflict of interests – Andrew McGiven:

I saw that Fish & Game held a national “take a kid out fishing day” a few weeks ago. While I applaud anyone who can encourage our children to ditch the video games and get outside to experience the great outdoors, it did raise several questions.

Why, for example, are we trying so hard to improve the health of our fresh waterways when the likes of Fish & Game are paid to protect invasive, predatory species such as trout and salmon, which actively decimate our native species such as koura (New Zealand freshwater cray)?

When sediment is such a major component of our water degradation, why is it that koi carp can pillage our river systems, collapsing river banks and stirring up soil, and yet this problem has been largely ignored by the organisation. 

It is discouraging when farmers work hard at establishing wetlands and native groves only to have them poisoned in a few short years by wildfowl E. coli. . . 

Rural women make a huge contribution to agriculture – Sonita Chandar:

Fiona Gower is a true “Rural Woman” having lived and worked in the rural sector most of her life.

As the new president of Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ), she has set herself several goals to accomplish during her term.

Her greatest aspiration is for RWNZ to be seen as the organisation of choice within the wider sector for all women, communities, organisations and decision makers. . . 

Heightened readiness for Stink Bug threat:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says activities to prevent the establishment of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) have ramped up over summer and helped raise public awareness of what is a serious biosecurity threat.

“This is a major agricultural pest worldwide, as well as a household nuisance. While it is found here from time to time, if it became established it would have significant economic and social impacts,” says Mr Guy.

“BMSB has been rapidly spreading across the world and there have been increasingly more finds detected at the New Zealand border. Three confirmed post border finds occurred during February, all reported by members of the public. . . 

Brazil intent on expanding beef markets in Asia, as Australian sector urged to differentiate itself – Lydia Burton:

A senior Rabobank economist says the Australian beef industry should continue to focus on differentiating its products as Brazil expands its markets in Asia.

Brazil took over from Australia as the largest exporter of beef to China in 2016, offering a cheaper protein, and has strong interest in South Korea and re-opening trade with Japan.

Japan suspended Brazilian beef imports in 2012 after it was found an animal had died of mad cow disease.

Indonesia has also been expressing interest for some years in opening up a live cattle trade with Brazil, with biosecurity protocols currently being discussed. . . 

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Rural round-up

November 26, 2014

Foreign investment in NZ helps fuel our growth – Andrew McGiven:

Returning from Federated Farmers National Council last week, we discussed the importance of how our provinces can work with the national organisation, as the grass roots part of the organisation. The Federation is focused and built from the member up.

So you, our members, here’s what the big ticket items were on the Federation’s agenda – employment, health and safety, science and innovation and the future or the primary industries.  Something to discuss and think about was the remit put forward by the Taranaki province on overseas investment. They want a comprehensive review of the current overseas investment policy, which is one of those issues that tends to divide views.

Regardless it needs to be discussed and understood where everyone’s coming from. . .

Farming on the roof of the world – Andrea Fox:

Mark Fagan farms in the Forgotten World.

The tourism label for the other-worldly landscape in the North Island’s Waitomo district is top of mind as I creep furtively around hairpin bends on a skinny road that would see one of us reversing for the rest of the morning if two vehicles met and happened to survive the encounter.

Fagan had forgotten to mention that accessing his world an hour inland west of Te Kuiti meant spitting gravel for miles, negotiating rock falls, an ironcast faith in his directions when hope of ever arriving – anywhere, today – was fast fading, or that city cars are out of their depth here. . .

Farmers revive seasonal lamb tradition – Gerald Hutching:

Bluff oysters and whitebait are two traditional delicacies that tempt the tastebuds at different times of the year.

Early season lamb heralding spring used to be celebrated by Kiwis in the same way, but the tradition has fallen by the wayside with the decline of independent butchers and the rise of exports to lucrative overseas markets.

Coastal Spring Lamb is a recent initiative aimed at turning the clock back to reacquaint local consumers with the joys of eating the first lamb of the season. . .

AWDT produces 50th graduate:  

 FOURTEEN WOMEN completed the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s (AWDT) Escalator programme last week, bringing its total number of graduates to 53 since it began in 2010

 The 10-month programme came about after AWDT’s research into the role of New Zealand women in agriculture found low participation rates at leadership and governance levels. In an effort to answer this problem, the programme aims to develop women’s skills and confidence to govern and lead agricultural organisations and communities. . .

This year’s programme attracted women from Bay of Plenty to Southland who are involved in the dairy, honey, sheep and beef, animal health, agri-business and banking sectors.

Korean demand spiking early – Joanna Grigg:

Before the launch of the velvet cutting season talk among velvet traders was that prices may be up.
Velvet buyer Graeme Hawker of Hawker Deer buys velvet from growers across the South Island.
He said speculation on stronger prices for farmers has become a reality with initial buyers quoting $125-$130/kg for the traditional Korean mix. This is 15% up on the previous season’s initial price of $110/kg which, in turn, was 5% up on the year before.  . .  

Chance to represent NZ at Global Youth Ag-Summit:

New Zealand ideas wanted for feeding the world.

Chance to represent NZ at Global Youth Ag-Summit

Canberra to host

Feeding the world main topic

Calling New Zealand youth with a passion for agriculture – we want your ideas on how to feed a hungry planet…and we want them now!

That’s the message from Bayer New Zealand, which is seeking four youth delegates to represent New Zealand at the Global Youth Ag-Summit, to be held in Canberra, Australia, August 2015.

Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 25 as of 24 August 2015. . .

Rural round-up

August 28, 2014

Fonterra to offer at least 20% premium for Beingmate shares in deal to drive Anmum sales – Jonathan Underhill:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will offer a premium of at least 20 percent for a one-fifth stake in Beingmate Baby & Child Food as part of a $615 million investment in a partnership to drive baby food sales into China.

Fonterra will offer 18 yuan a share for Beingmate stock in a partial tender offer that will be supported by chairman Wang Zhentai, who will sell down his stake to about 33 percent in the transaction.

Based on Reuters data, Beingmate has 1.02 billion shares on issue, suggesting the offer values the Chinese company at 18,360 billion yuan and Fonterra would pay 3.67 billion yuan, or NZ$714 million to build a 20 percent stake. The shares last traded at 14.36 yuan before being halted from trading, according to Reuters data. . . .

New Zealand And International Investment Welcomed by Farmers:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said today’s announced investments in New Zealand’s milk pools and a global partnership with China’s Beingmate were bold moves that would be welcomed by the Co-operative’s Farmers.

Mr Brown: “There is a direct link between the $555 million investment in the Lichfield and Edendale sites and the $615 million investment in the partnership with Beingmate in that both align with the Fonterra strategy of increasing the volume and value of our milk.

“The investment in New Zealand operations is a real positive and will optimise the Milk Price we receive by enabling our Co-op greater flexibility in deciding which products our milk goes into and when. . . .

 Fonterra news ‘as far from milk & disaster as the moon’:

Farmers will be breathing a huge sigh of relief with Fonterra’s benchmark forecast payout for 2014/15 being held at $6 per kilogram of Milk Solids (kg/MS), while other aspects of the announcement are a great boost of confidence in New Zealand agribusiness.

“This is as far from milk and disaster as the moon is,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“While this season remains a super trim one last season was definitely a silver top one.

“The milk price hold is good news given there’s been widespread speculation about it sliding below the $6 mark, however, we’re not out of the woods yet. We still advise farmers to err on the side of caution by budgeting in the mid-$5 payout range. . .

Major boost for Otago conservation projects:

Associate Conservation Minister Nicky Wagner today announced $475,000 in funding for four Otago conservation projects.

Community Conservation Partnership Fund grants will be made to the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, Landscape Connections Trust, Otago Peninsula Biodiversity Group, and Herbert Heritage Group.

“The projects these groups are advancing align perfectly with the Department of Conservation’s goals of connecting more urban dwellers to conservation and working in partnership with others.

“The Orokonui Ecosanctuary is recognised as the flagship biodiversity project in the South Island and is achieving its aim of restoring the coastal ecosystem to pre-human state. . .

The long arm of health and safety gets longer – Andrew McGiven:

We’ve all heard about the Marlborough farmworker copping $15,000 worth of fines related to a quad bike.  Helmet use is in the Department of Labour’s (now Worksafe NZ) ‘Guidelines for the safe use of quad bikes.’  . 

While there’s been plenty of discussion about the fine what has slipped under the radar are other recommendations in the guide.  One is recognising dangerous areas on-farm and establishing ‘no-go’ zones in your health and safety plans. 

Another case, highlighted for us by Neil Beadle, a Partner at Federated Farmers’ legal advisors DLA Phillips Fox, rams home the bite of these recommended ‘no-go’ zones.  It involved a Mangakino sharemilker with an otherwise good record who tragically lost a farm worker when their quad bike flipped.  . . .

Beet crop ‘revolution for beef farmers’:

The growth in the use of fodder beet as a forage crop in the beef industry has been so rapid, that seed supplies for the coming growing season are expected to run out.

That is the prediction from Dr Jim Gibbs, a senior lecturer in livestock health and production at Lincoln University, who has done years of research on feeding cattle on what has become a revolutionary crop in this country.

Fodder beet is a bulb crop related to beetroot but can grow to huge sizes.

Dr Gibbs’ work was initially for the dairy industry, but the demand for fodder beet really exploded when he introduced it to the beef industry, and he says it has become the fastest growing forage crop by a long shot. . . .

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