Rural round-up

March 31, 2019

We cannot take food supply for granted – Neal Wallace:

News the Government will protect elite soils is welcome but by no means signals the resolution of broader challenges facing land use and the productive sector.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1As reported in Farmers Weekly’s Land Squeeze series, the Ministry for the Environment has started the process of preparing a national policy statement for high-value soils, which will be finalised after consultation later this year.

That protection is needed because urban sprawl and lifestyle blocks swallow up to 100,000 hectares a year including Auckland paving 10,500 hectares of high-quality soil in the last 35 years.

Domestic food demand will only increase as New Zealand’s population is expected to hit five million in 2020 and 5.5m in 2025 while demand will also rise from an ever-expanding global population. . . 

Spud family name’s on the packet – Tim Fulton:

James Bowan grows potatoes for a nationwide paddock-to-packet potato chip brand.  Nearly a decade after the business started he’s still happiest in the paddock. Tim Fulton reports.

The Bowan family farms more than 600ha at Orari in South Canterbury. Down the road at industrial Washdyke, in the slipstream of Timaru, the family also runs the Heartland chips processing plant.

Fallgate Farm includes 250-odd hectares of spuds, 320ha of combinable cereals,150ha of grass seed and a few other bits and pieces, especially seeds.

It adds up to a lot of business from farm to shop shelf but James isn’t bothered with the trappings of corporate hierarchy. . . 

Action groups following different paths – Sally Rae:

More than 900 farmers have signed up to the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network to help make their farming businesses more productive and profitable.

Each of the Action Groups involved chose a different pathway in the search for solutions to the challenges they faced.

Four action groups in the Milton and Lawrence districts had a lot in common, both in their origins and their goals.

They grew out of two large discussion groups of sheep and beef farmers running in these areas for several years before the RMPP programme kicked into action.

The common link between all four was Simon Glennie, a sheep, beef and deer farming consultant with AbacusBio. . . 

Fonterra’s new management team gives hope – Sudesh Kissun:

Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven is happy to see Fonterra back in the black.

He hopes that changes heralded by the new management team signal the start of “some green shoots” for the co-op.

“As a Fonterra farmer I am happy to see that they have posted a net profit and I am happy with some of the rhetoric from board and management about the consolidation of the business,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Support for biosecurity levy:

A big majority of 1794 submissions received by DairyNZ on the biosecurity response levy were supportive.

Sixty-one percent of submissions from farmers backed DairyNZ managing the levy on their behalf and raising the maximum cap to 3.9 cents/kgMS. That totalled 1088 supportive submissions and 706 against.

“We appreciated the candid conversations and the opportunity to discuss not just the proposed levy, but also DairyNZ more widely,” DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says in a letter to farmers. . . 

Win proves area’s wine can age well: manager:

Wild Earth Wines’ success at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards earlier this month proves Central Otago wines can age gracefully, marketing and sales manager Elbert Jolink says.

The boutique winery in Cromwell won the Best Pinot Noir trophy of the show during the formal awards dinner in Auckland on March 9.

Mount Pisa winery Ata Mara won both a gold medal and the Red Badge Security Champion Riesling trophy for its Central Otago 2018 Riesling. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 27, 2019

South Canterbury’s Opuha Dam an example for the country – Joanne Holden:

Opuha Dam is a water storage “success story” National MPs would like to see adopted around the country.

The 20-year-old dam was the first stop on Friday for National’s Primary Industries Caucus Committee – hosted by Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon – as they toured Mid and South Canterbury’s primary industry spots.

On the trip were MPs Nathan Guy, Jacqui Dean, Matt King, Hamish Walker, and List MP Maureen Pugh, who also visited Heartland Potato Chips in Washdyke, the Managed Aquifer Recharge in Hinds, and spoke to South Canterbury community members about the future of primary industries. . .

 

Farm conflicts in tourist hotspot – Neal Wallace:

A billionaire lives on a lifestyle property on one side of Chris and Emma Dagg’s Queenstown farm. On the other is a multi-millionaire.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The exclusive Millbrook Resort is nearby and actor Tom Cruise was a neighbour while filming in New Zealand.

The Daggs’ 424ha farm in the Wakatipu Basin between Queenstown and Arrowtown includes some of NZ’s most sort after land for residential development.

A short drive from Queenstown, the rural setting provides a desirable place for the rich and famous to live, putting pressure on landowners in a region short of land, houses and sections. . . 

Rain in Waikato a good start – more please, farmers say:

Rain in Waikato was good news for farmers but more is needed to keep the threat of drought at bay. 

Until the weekend, the region had only received 0.4 millimetres of rain leaving soil moisture levels dangerously low. 

Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said the 10 millimetres of rain received over the weekend “was a good start”.  . . 

Lanercost open to all farmers – Tim Fulton:

The first Future Farm is contributing to the rehabilitation of a bruised Canterbury farm and community. Tim Fulton reports.

Visitors to Lanercost can see its potential as a sheep and beef demonstration farm, the lessees say.

The North Canterbury hill country property near Cheviot is 1310ha modelled on a farm at Lincoln that has allowed the dairy industry to assess innovation.

Farmer Carl Forrester and Mendip Hills manager Simon Lee have a lease to run the 1310ha Lanercost in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Lanercost’s owner, the T D Whelan Trust. . .

Loneliness in farming community is ‘heart-breaking’, police officers say

Police officers have highlighted how ‘heart-breaking’ it is to see some farmers suffer from extreme loneliness and isolation. The issue of loneliness in the farming community has been highlighted by Dyfed-Powys Police, who have a small team of specialist rural officers. PC Gerwyn Davies and PCSO Jude Parr are working closely with mental healthy charity the DPJ Foundation. They have referred several farmers to the charity for counselling and mental health support. . . 

Soil ecologist challenges mainstream thinking on climate change – Candace Krebs:

How cropland and pastures are managed is the most effective way to remedy climate change, an approach that isn’t getting the attention it deserves, according to a leading soil ecologist from Australia who speaks around the world on soil health.

“Water that sits on top of the ground will evaporate. Water vapor, caused by water that evaporates because it hasn’t infiltrated, is the greenhouse gas that has increased to the greatest extent since the Industrial Revolution,” said Christine Jones, while speaking at the No Till on the Plains Conference in Wichita in late January. . . 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2019

Rural sector gives thumbs down to capital gains tax – Jamie Gray:

The rural sector has given an unequivocal thumbs down to the Tax Working Group’s recommendation to bring in an comprehensive capital gains tax.

The group has recommended the Government implement a capital gains tax – and use the money gained to lower the personal tax rate and to target polluters.

The suggested capital gains tax (CGT) would cover assets such as land, shares, investment properties, business assets and intellectual property. . . 

Fonterra farmers frustrated with DIRA – Hugh Stringleman:

The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council has called for an end to open entry to the co-operative and a clear path to dairy industry deregulation.

In its submission to the Ministry of Primary Industries review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act the council also called for an end to access to regulated milk by other export processors.

Goodman Fielder should be entitled to buy Fonterra milk for domestic purposes only, the submissions said.

Council chairman Duncan Coull also called for all other dairy companies to be required to publish their milk prices in a standardised form. . . 

Wool levy vote welcomed, but clear plan preferred – Ken Muir:

While farmers and industry leaders welcomed news that the Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Council voted last week to support a compulsory wool levy on wool producers, there was a clear preference for any such levy to be applied on the context of a robust business plan.

”We’ve had lots of different levies over the years for the industry and at the end of the day farmers saw very little return,” Waikoikoi farmer Blair Robertson said.

”Going forward we have to make sure the money gets to where it needs to be – marketing and promoting wool products to end customers.”

He said in the past bureaucracies had grown around the sector which chewed through millions of dollars while providing very little in return. . . 

Sexist comments on job ad damage New Zealand’s image, farmers warn – Esther Taunton:

Sexist responses to a backpacker’s job ad are a blow to New Zealand’s image and to an industry already struggling to find good workers, farmers warn.

Finnish traveller Mari Vahanen advertised on a farming Facebook page, saying she was a hardworking farmhand or machine operator.

The post received 1600 responses, but most of them focused on Vahanen’s appearance rather than her employment prospects.

Tararua dairy farmer Micha Johansen said the comments were a bad look for New Zealand’s agricultural sector and the country in general.  . .

Waikato farmers encouraged to plant trees to protect stock from summer heat – Kelly Tantau:

With temperatures soaring above 30 degrees in Matamata-Piako, a thought can be spared for the district’s livestock.

Cows prefer cooler weather, Federated Farmers Waikato president Andrew McGiven said, but farmers are doing well in ensuring their stock is protected during the summer season.

“Animal welfare and animal husbandry is probably the number one thing, because that’s what is earning you your income, so protecting and looking after them, but also looking after staff as well,” he said. . . 

Ninety seven A&P shows beckon – Yvonne O’Hara:

Geoff Smith attends as many A&P shows as he can during the season and there are 97 of them.

In his third year as the New Zealand Royal Agricultural Society’s (RAS) president, he spends time finding ways to ensure the shows remain relevant to their communities, as well as building relationships with other rural and civic organisations.

He is in Central Otago this week to go to the Mt Benger, Central Otago and Maniototo shows, as well as attending the society’s southern district executive meeting in Tapanui on Sunday. . . 

NZ company helping write global cannabis industry standards:

Ruatoria-based Hikurangi Cannabis Company has been in Rome this week participating in an international standards setting meeting for the cannabis industry. The meeting included recommended changes to the way cannabis is defined in both legal and scientific terms.

ASTM International, a global industry standards body with 30,000 members worldwide representing more than 20 industry sectors held a workshop in Rome under its technical committee D37 on Cannabis. The group of 600 industry experts are working to develop standards for cannabis products testing and production processes across the globe.

The group aims to meet the needs of the legal cannabis industry by addressing quality and safety issues through the development of classifications, specifications, test methods, practices, and guides for cultivation, manufacturing, quality assurance, laboratory considerations, packaging, and security. . . 


Rural round-up

June 11, 2018

Good farm practice plan launched – Richard Rennie:

A plan to put the entire primary sector on the same environmental page might set the scene for a wider industry plan encompassing greenhouse gas emissions, animal welfare, labour rights and sustainability.

A high-profile collective including DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, regional councils, Horticulture NZ and Irrigation NZ and the Environment and Primary Industries Ministries this week oversaw the launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan. . . 

Wiping out Mycoplasma bovis is a shot worth taking – Andrew McGiven:

So, it’s been nearly two weeks now since the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced the decision to continue to pursue Mycoplasma bovis eradication.

This decision was greeted with some relief by many farmers as it gave us all some clarity and reduced some of the Chinese whispers happening around the regions.

But there are plenty of farmers who are confused by this verdict and what the potential consequences may be for their businesses.

What I hope to provide here is some of the reasoning behind the decision that was reached and why it has been supported by all industry bodies and levy paying groups. . .

New Zealand gets it right – David Beggs:

NEW Zealand has just announced it will cull about 150,000 cows in order to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a disease that is hard to diagnose and which is well established in most of the world.

It’s not a nice disease to have on your farm. While there are no human health issues, Mycoplasma can cause a wide range of diseases and when it does, they don’t respond well to treatment. In a farm with no immunity, disease rates can be very high. There are major problems with production loss from mastitis, arthritis, pneumonia, abortion and more. Not to mention the stress caused to farm staff or the animal welfare implications of high disease levels. But our experience, and that overseas, shows that as time goes on, the herd builds up an immunity and disease levels become low in unstressed animals. . .

Nation figures the Fieldays wide influence beyond farms – Hugh Stringleman:

Thirty eight permanent staff members, up to 10 temporary workers including interns and 300 volunteers make the National Fieldays happen, National Fieldays Society chief executive Peter Nation says.

Most of the volunteers do shifts on all four days and have done so for many years, being very valued members of the Fieldays Family, he said.

On site this week will also be more than 100 emergency service personnel and employees of contractors like Allied Security.

Nation said more than 9000 people were inducted into health and safety, of which 2500 put themselves through the online induction. . .

Recommended by ‘I wouldn’t be drinking that water’: Poo dumping plagues Waikato – Katrina Tairua:

A Waikato farmer is worried truck drivers are dumping stock effluent on a road, next to a stream supplying drinking water to hundreds of people.

Others are also worried effluent discarded on roads could hinder efforts to stop Mycoplasma bovis from spreading in the region.

Marcel Hannon said he had, on multiple occasions, witnessed effluent being dumped on Waterworks Road, a rural route between Te Miro and Morrinsville. . .

Massive fund manager BlackRock reveals 5 per cent holding in a2 Milk:

One of the world’s biggest fund managers has emerged as a significant shareholder in a2 Milk with a 5.03 per cent stake.

In a notice to the NZX, New York-headquartered BlackRock said recent purchases had taken it from 4.99 per cent to over the 5 per cent threshold, thereby requiring it to declare its stake.

A2 Milk earlier this year become New Zealand’s largest listed company by market capitalisation after announcing another bumper profit and the formation of a joint venture with the world’s biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra. . .

Loro Piana: the world’s most majestic wool :

Noted for their soft wool coats, Merino sheep are everywhere in Australia and New Zealand, and they account for more than 50% of the world’s sheep population. The thing that sets Australian/Kiwi Merino apart from wool produced in northern climates is its superfine quality, however not all Merinos are superfine.

To qualify as superfine, the wool fibres need to be 19.5 microns or less – 
a micron being a thousandth of a millimetre (the average human hair is about 60 to 70 microns). In short, the smaller the fibre, the softer and
 more comfortable it is against the skin, hence the allure for luxury brands. While Australia is home to around 75 million sheep, only 18 million produce wool finer than 19 microns. In New Zealand, there are 32 million sheep, but only a modest 2.2 million of them yield fibre under 21 microns. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 21, 2018

Disease reaches ‘crisis point’ – Annette Scott:

Mycoplasma bovis has reached crisis point and it’s time the Ministry for Primary Industries handed it back to farmers and support them to manage it, Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Frank Peters says.

The Peters family last week had 450 of their 1400-cow herd trucked to slaughter after just one cow tested positive for the cattle disease, now running rampant across the country.

Peters believes a lack of knowledge about M bovis is the biggest threat the disease poses to the dairy industry. . .

Farming and the Fight Against Climate Change – Veronika Meduna:

Climate friendly sheep could soon be romping around as part of the national flock as farmers take action to help reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.

As the interim climate commission begins its work, one of its most controversial tasks is to determine how agricultural greenhouse gas emissions could be included in the Emissions Trading Scheme. At the same time, farmers have an increasing number of options to curb emissions.

On a farm south of Invercargill, a small flock of ewes that burp less methane – a potent greenhouse gas that makes up 76 per cent of emissions from the primary sector – is part of a research project to mitigate agricultural emissions. . . 

Tukituki catchment project aimed at curbing N-leaching big challenge :

A project aimed at determining how Tukituki catchment farmers will operate under new nitrogen leaching targets has found significant changes will have to made to achieve the reduced levels.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Plan Change 6 outlines Land Use Capability (LUC) nitrogen leaching rates for all farms, depending on their physical characteristics and attributes, that have to be achieved by May 2020.

Farmers unable to reach these rates could apply for resource consents provided they stay within 30 per cent of the prescribed rate. . .

Farmer plea to politicians: talk to us not at us – Andrew McGiven:

It certainly is an interesting time to be a farmer now and not necessarily for all the right reasons.

The declaration from Environment Minister David Parker that regulation is his chosen path for dealing with intensive dairying is just the latest salvo from this government that principles and ideology reign supreme over co-operation and common sense.

This comes on top of the Green element of the coalition doing all it can to include agricultural animal emissions in an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), uncertainty around the Tax Working Group and the potential requirements that Plan Change One Healthy Rivers will heap on us.

I am not surprised to see so many farms on the market right now. . .

Technology is getting CRISPR –  Daniel Kelley:

The future of farming just got a lot brighter.

On March 28, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that his department won’t add a new layer of regulations to crops that scientists have enhanced through a cutting-edge method of selective breeding. This wise decision will encourage innovation, helping producers and consumers alike—and it even holds the potential to usher in the next great revolution in food.

After half a century of farming in Illinois, I’ve endured every kind of challenge, from droughts, floods, and diseases to insect invasions and weed infestations. But what I’ll remember best about my career—and the thing for which I’m most grateful—is the stunning technological progress. Today, we have hybrid seed corn that delivers bumper crops, computer databases that overflow with information, and precision agriculture driven by satellites in the Global Positioning System. Compared to what I knew as a boy, these are incomprehensible, head-spinning technologies. . . 

Crop disease: waging modern war against an ancient foe – John Ward:

The problem of world hunger is complex and the threats to our global food supply are many. They include growing populations, loss of arable land, dwindling water supplies, and climate change.

As if these present-day challenges weren’t enough, there is another – far older – adversary that farmers have grappled with for centuries. Crop disease.

Crop losses due to pests and plant pathogens continue to rob world markets of much needed food and cost farmers billions of dollars every year.

But innovators like Ad Bastiaansen, believe that modern information technology might finally help turn the tide of battle against this ancient foe. . . 


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!” . .


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