Rural round-up

17/12/2020

RSE MIQ & WTF – Eric Crampton:

Late last month, the government announced it would allow 2000 seasonal workers into New Zealand’s Managed Isolation and Quarantine system on Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme, with workers to arrive from January to March 2021. 

There’s just so much that’s backward in all of this.

The RSE scheme is open to workers from the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

The most recent World Health Organization COVID-19 situation report for the Western Pacific notes that the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu have not reported a case to date – as of 25 November. Since then, Samoa has had two positive cases caught at their border. . . 

A Christmas message of thanks from Federated Farmers:

Before Federated Farmers farewells 2020, it wants to salute and thank some generally unsung heroes.

“We all got used to talking about clusters of infection with Covid-19, but in another sense that word cluster is somewhat apt for the entire year,” Feds President Andrew Hoggard says.

“It could have been a lot worse for our export-earning primary industries were it not for the dedication and doggedness of a large number of people in supporting services.”

First up, Federated Farmers thanks the truckies, milk tanker drivers and others in the freight industry for working through the roller-coaster of alert levels to keep supplies coming to farms, and produce getting on the road to markets. . . 

Otago leads trend to larger lamb crop – Sally Rae:

Otago has been the major driver of a lift in lambs born in the South Island this year, with the region recording a 3.9% increase in total lamb crop.

Beef+Lamb New Zealand has released its annual lamb crop outlook report which measured lambing performance and forecasts lamb and sheep exports for 2021.

Nationally, sheep farmers achieved a near-record 130.3% lambing percentage, despite Covid-19 related processing restrictions and widespread drought in the first half of 2020. That was only slightly lower than spring 2019 where 131% was achieved, the report said.

Lamb and sheep export volumes were expected to be more significantly impacted by the follow-on impacts of the drought, due to lower animal weights and the retention of sheep for breeding to rebuild stock numbers. . . 

Farmer bank pressure drops but so do satisfaction rates:

Fewer farmers are feeling undue pressure from their bank but satisfaction rates continue to slide, according to the Federated Farmers November Banking Survey.

Of the 1,341 farmers who responded to the survey independently run by ResearchFirst, 65.4% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their bank relationship.  That’s down from 68.5% from the Feds’ survey in May.

“Satisfaction has steadily slipped over the past three years – in our November 2017 survey it was 80.8%,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“That’s probably no great surprise.  Banks have been trying to reduce their exposure to agricultural lending as it is considered ‘risky’, including by the Reserve Bank.   Banks put the pressure on farmers to reduce their debt when commodity prices are good to put them into a better position to weather the next downturn, and there is also a trend by banks to diversify agricultural lending from dairy to other sectors, especially horticulture. . . 

Commission publishes final report on Fonterra’s 2020/21 milk manual:

The Commerce Commission today published its final report on its annual review of Fonterra’s Farmgate Milk Price Manual for the 2020/21 dairy season (Manual), which contains Fonterra’s methodology for calculating its base milk price.

This year’s review focused on the changes Fonterra has made to the Manual since last year. These include moving the responsibility to independently review certain aspects of the milk price calculation to the Milk Price Group, and the introduction of the ability to apply the outcome of a ‘Within-Period Review’ to the year in which the review is undertaken.

The findings of the final report are unchanged from the draft released in October. . . 

Lamb losses, carcase downgrades costing farmers millions of dollars – Andrew Miller:

Cat-dependent diseases could be costing sheep producers in Tasmania up to $2 million a year, with the state being one of two significant hotspots for the pathogens in Australia.

Scientists from the Threatened Species Recovery Hub found the effects of four pathogens, including Toxoplasma gondii and Sarcocystis gigantea, caused a range of animal health impacts, including spontaneous abortions, still births, neonatal deaths and visible cysts, in meat.

They found SA, particularly Kangaroo Island, and Tasmania, were the two Australian hotspots for the pathogens. . . 


Rural round-up

07/11/2020

Meat’s outlook looks reddish – David Anderson:

New Zealand beef and sheep farmers are facing more than 25% less income in the season ahead.

That’s the conclusion of Beef+Lamb NZ (BLNZ) in its recently released new season outlook for 2020-21. It is forecasting lamb export receipts to decline by almost 15% and sheepmeat co-products to decline by around 8% compared to the 2019-20 season.

Beef and veal export revenue is forecast to decline by 9% on 2019-20. “The uncertainty in the export market will be reflected in farm-gate prices and subsequent farm profitability,” says BLNZ’s chief economist Andrew Burtt. . . 

NZ challenges US farm subsidies :

New Zealand is questioning whether Donald Trump’s payments of billions of dollars to American farmers go beyond the limits allowed under international trade rules.

The Trump administration forked out US$12 billion in subsidies in 2018 to buffer American farmers from the fallout of the President’s trade war with China. It topped that up with another US$16bn in 2019.

Billions more were set aside after covid-19 dealt a further blow to US farm incomes, which are forecast to drop this year by 15% even after subsidies are accounted for.

According to one US report, payments from the federal government will make up 36% of American farm incomes this year – the highest share since 2001. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports to United States leap 50 per cent in third quarter:

New Zealand’s red meat sector continued to demonstrate its agility in the third quarter with exports to the United States growing by 50 per cent over the three months from July to September compared to a year earlier.

Total exports to the US reached $400 million for the quarter, closely followed by a 42 per cent rise to the UK ($71m) and Germany, a 25 per cent increase to $70m.

The growth in the third quarter offset a 25 per cent decline to China ($530m) although the value of sheepmeat and beef exports to China remains at an historically high level. Overall, exports in the third quarter were $1.69 billion, unchanged from the same period in 2019. . . 

Wool course plans national rollout – Neal Wallace:

The level of interest in a wool grading course has encouraged organisers to take it on the road.

Organised by the Southern Institute of Technology and held at its Telford campus near Balclutha, the plan is to buy a trailer to take equipment and samples to woolsheds to make it easier for people to access training.

The two-day block session for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) approved course held earlier this month, attracted 14 wool handlers from throughout the South Island.

The course is completed through distance learning and filing assignments; one on shed inspection and a grading report on a clip they prepared. . . 

2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarship recipients selected :

Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarship is pleased to support another eight aspiring New Zealanders to study and pursue careers in forestry, with its 2021 Scholarship recipients announced today.

Now in its third year, the Scholarships are increasing diversity in forestry sciences and engineering, with a strong focus on encouraging Māori and women to embark on forestry careers.

“Māori and women represent only a small percentage of the forestry workforce. Te Uru Rākau endeavours to change that and make the forestry and wood processing sector more reflective of our communities,” says Henry Weston, Acting Deputy Director-General Te Uru Rākau/ Forestry New Zealand. . . 

Heirlooms – naturally – for one Mansfield small farm business – Andrew Miller:

Mansfield’s self-confessed “small scale farmer” Simone Boyd is on a mission to show Victorians carrots come in more colours than orange and not every lettuce is green.

Ms Boyd, and husband Cam, grow vegetables on a small property in the north-eastern town, selling at farmers markets, to restaurants and now branching out into online sales through their Heirloom Naturally business.

She says heirloom vegetables are much like precious pieces of jewellery, or furniture, which are passed down from generation to generation, after being saved season after season. . . 

 


Rural round-up

28/09/2020

Farmers on board with environmental fairness but want time and fairness – Liz McDonald and Henry Cooke:

Canterbury farmers want politicians to stop painting them as climate change villains, listen to their needs and allow them more time to boost environmental standards.

The Labour, National, Act and Green parties have all released agriculture policies in the past few days as they vie for the government benches in October.

National’s agriculture policy, released on Thursday, promises to “review or repeal” the Labour Government’s nine freshwater regulations introduced this year, and remove the possibility of agriculture entering the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2022.

It also promised to allow skilled and seasonal workers to enter New Zealand with a fast-tracked primary sector visa. . .

Primary sector wary of health and safety if cannabis legalised:

Legalising of recreational cannabis could increase health and safety risks for the primary sector, say wary employers.

The sector already has one of the highest workplace accident and death rates in the country, and leaders say it could be another risk if the referendum gets support on 17 October.

Chris Lewis from Federated Farmers said while the organisation doesn’t have a stance on the referendum it does have concerns about the health and safety implications if the bill is passed into law.

He said farming already has a high accident rate around livestock and machinery, and workers need to be aware of what is around them without being impaired. . .

 

LIC begins insemination of millions of cows – recruits asked to put hands up:

Artificial breeding technicians (AB techs) across the country have begun rolling up their sleeves in order to get millions of dairy cows pregnant over the next six months. Their role is critical in producing the next generation of animals and ensuring New Zealand’s hugely valuable milk supply continues.

Last year LIC, which employs around 900 AB techs between September and March, oversaw the insemination of over four million cows. While undertaking this work, the cooperative is also seeking new recruits to train ahead of next season.

Once trained many return year-after-year including the McCarthy family. Paul McCarthy first trained with LIC in 1978 as a 20-year-old. After nearly 40 years he has inseminated thousands of cows while running a 134ha dairy farm in Galatea in the eastern Bay of Plenty with his wife Johanna. . . 

Bees are flourishing in New Zealand:

Bees are an essential component of a strong agricultural sector. They support New Zealand’s $6 billion horticultural industry by pollinating food crops as well as producing a multitude of honey-based products.

Despite recent reports of declining bee numbers due to pesticide use, figures released by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) show that beehive numbers have increased three-fold since 2005. According to its apiculture monitoring programme, hive numbers reached over 918,000 in 2019, up from below 300,000 fourteen years ago. The numbers have consistently been on an upward trend since then, with the latest figures showing a four percent increase on the previous year.

Independent scientific research included in the report concluded that the destructive varroa mite is the main cause of bee losses. . . 

Chop to it – Southland lamb goes nation-wide:

Southland meat processor Blue Sky Pastures is looking to new pastures by expanding its business, launching its namesake Blue Sky Butchery.

Bringing southern lamb to the digital fingertips of all New Zealanders, Blue Sky Butchery is a completely online store where users will be able to purchase the finest and freshest cuts of Southland lamb, delivered overnight nation-wide.

Many cuts of this New Zealand-favourite will be available, including Frenched racks, striploin, leg, shoulder, loin chops and mince. . .

Crops will be ploughed under if workers can’t be found – Andrew Miller:

A Bacchus Marsh vegetable grower says her farm will have to plough crops back into the ground, if sufficient workers can’t be found as harvest ramps up.

Rae McFarlane, Boratto Farms, Bacchus Marsh said the business produced fancy lettuce, rocket, parsley and baby spinach.

She said the coronavirus lockdown had hit the restaurant trade hard. . . 


Rural round-up

20/12/2018

Arable farming the silent partner to sheep ,beef and dairy – Pat Deavoll:

There is an art and a fair bit of luck to growing arable crops. The water levels, the soils, the temperatures must be optimum. It must rain at the right time, the sun must shine at the right time.

“Then it’s, do I irrigate harder or hold back? Is the crop bulky enough? Will the bees pollinate?” South Canterbury farmer Guy Wigley says of the ordeal of closing in on harvest time.

“There was a harvest of several years ago when five inches of rain (127mm) and then a further three inches of rain decimated my barley crop.” . . 

50,000 cows culledin M bovis eradication bid:

More than 50,000 cows have been culled and 50,000 more may go as New Zealand attempts to become the first country to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Faced with a growing number of suspected cases at farms across the country, Kiwi lawmakers this year made a call to attempt what no other country before had managed – a costly, part-government-funded mass eradication.

The condition has serious animal welfare implications – including causing abortions and pneumonia – but poses no risk to humans or to food or milk safety. . .

Timely survey on working conditions in horticultural industry –  Anusha Bradley:

Several hundred people have been surveyed just as slavery charges were being laid against Hastings orchard worker. 

An insight into how big a problem modern-day slavery might be among horticultural workers in Hawke’s Bay could be known by the end of the week.

Workers from five of the region’s biggest growers have just been independently surveyed in a pilot study asking them about their working conditions. . .

PGG Wrightson’s seeds business to make a 1H loss after Uruguay woes – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson says its seeds business will make a loss after tax in the six months ended December and that it has had to bail out its joint venture partner in Uruguay.

Wrightson also says its rural services operations have been “trading solidly, although slightly behind last year” due to a later start to spring sales and a delayed recovery following recent heavy rain across much of New Zealand. . . 

Latest study confirms an animal-free food system is not holistically sustainable – Sara Place:

Let’s be clear, a healthy and sustainable food system depends on having both plants and animals. Researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Virginia Tech just published a study in the Proceedings of National Academies of Sciences confirming this socially debated fact. The study examined what our world would look like without animal agriculture in the U.S. The bottom line? We’d reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 2.6 percent, and 0.36 percent globally[1] — but we’d also upset our balanced food ecosystem and lack essential dietary nutrients to feed all Americans. . . 

Hortinvest launches extensive Lindis River cherry project:

New Zealand horticultural investment company, Hortinvest Limited has released a $15.5 million cherry orchard project at Central Otago to savvy investors seeking a slice of the premium cherry pie.

The 80-hectare Lindis River project near Cromwell is double that of Hortinvest’s first cherry orchard and significantly bigger than most currently planted in the region. It is projected to send between 18-20 tonnes per hectare to market in the lucrative cherry season when it reaches full mature production by 2025/2026. . .

Relief for drought affected farmers – Andrew Miller:

Drought-affected families are receiving a welcome and much-needed financial lift on the eve of Christmas.

The Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul Society and Rotary Australia World Community Service are providing financial support from the Federal Government’s $30 million Drought Community Support Initiative to people across parts of drought-hit Australia. . .


Rural round-up

15/08/2018

Appeal decision a win for irrigators but more work needs to be done:

An appeal to Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5 nutrient modelling rules has been resolved with a major win achieved for irrigators, says IrrigationNZ.

A Hearings Panel on the Plan Change proposed a new requirement that would have effectively required that all older spray irrigation systems in Canterbury be replaced with new ones by 2020. It was estimated that this change would cost irrigators $300 million.

All parties to the appeal agreed that an error in law had been made when the Hearing Panel introduced this as a new requirement because no submitter had asked for this change.

INZ carried out testing on 300 irrigation systems in Ashburton and Selwyn districts over two summers recently which found that older spray irrigation systems can achieve good levels of water efficiency if regular checking and maintenance is carried out

First M bovis case confirmed near Motueka in Tasman – Sara Meij:

The first case of M. Bovis has been confirmed in the Nelson region.

Biosecurity New Zealand said on Tuesday a property near Motueka, in the Tasman district, had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease.

Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) said the affected property was a mixed sheep and beef farm.

The farm was identified through tracing animals from known infected farms and it was now under a Restricted Place Notice, which meant it was in “quarantine lockdown”, restricting the movement of animals and other “risk goods” on and off the farm. . .

At the grassroots: farmers contribute too – John Barrow:

I recently returned a little disappointed from the Local Government New Zealand conference in Christchurch.

From a dairy farmer’s perspective I was disappointed at the lack of recognition of the cost of farming and issues we are facing – all the emphasis was on urban.

The conference theme was We are Firmly Focused on the Future: Future Proofing for a Prosperous and Vibrant NZ. . .

Draft report on review of Fonterra’s 2017/18 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2017/18 dairy season.

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was set at $6.75 per kilogram of milk solids for the season just ended.

The report does not cover the forecast 2018/19 price of $7.00 that Fonterra announced in July.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA). . .

Four does go into one – Sonita Chandar:

Teamwork is the secret to success for the Southland farm judged the best dairy business in the land. Sonita Chandar reports.

Despite three of the four partners living in the North Island the success of a Southland farming business can be attributed to exceptional teamwork and good clear lines of communication.

Each partner brings strengths to the table but no one is above the others. They are all equals, make decisions as a group and share in the spoils of their collective success.

MOBH Farm, an equity partnership made up of Kevin Hall, Tim Montgomerie, Jodie Heaps and Mark Turnwald, won two category awards as well as being named the supreme winner at the 2018 Dairy Business of the Year awards (DBOY). . .

Farmers rally around Cancer Society fundraiser at Feilding Hogget Fair – Paul Mitchell:

The rural community is banding together to get behind the Cancer Society, with personal connections running as deep as their pockets.

The annual Hogget Fair at the Feilding Stockyards on Wednesday is one of the biggest in New Zealand. For the second year running, farmers will donate sheep to help those who are doing it tough.

The money raised from selling the sheep will go directly to supporting Manawatū-Whanganui cancer patients. . .

Rare heifer triplets thriving on Taieri farm – Sally Rae:

Holy cow – it’s a girl. Or in the case of a heifer calving on a Taieri dairy farm last week, it was a gaggle of girls, handful of heifers.

The first-calver produced a very rare set of heifer triplets on the Miller family’s farm at Maungatua. Andrew Miller and his father Jim had never encountered triplet calves before.

Andrew was particularly amazed the Kiwi-cross calves had all survived and were now doing well in the calf shed. . .

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Rural round-up

25/04/2015

Industry-Leading Orchardists Win Supreme in 2015 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards


Matamata horticulturists Frans and Tineke de Jong, their son Talbert de Jong and his partner Emily Meese are Supreme winners of the 2015 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At a special BFEA ceremony on April 23, the de Jong’s family-run business, Southern Belle Orchard, also collected the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Massey University Innovation Award, the WaterForce Integrated Management Award and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award. . .

Disappearance of bees a mystery:

Bee scientists have been left baffled by the disappearance of thousands of honey bees from hives last spring, and say unless it happens again, it remains a mystery as to what caused it.

Plant and Food research bee scientist Mark Goodwin said last October a number of bee keepers from around the country began reporting strange symptoms occurring in their hives.

He said bees usually rebuilt their colonies in spring after winter, however, large numbers of bees were disappearing from hives in the Coromandel, Raglan and Wairarapa areas.

“So instead of having a queen and a lot of brood – that’s larvae and pupa – and about 30 or 40,000 bees, when the bee keeper came back a few weeks later … suddenly there were no bees there at all, there was a queen and about a hand full of bees and everybody else had gone. And we saw that in whole apiaries and between apiaries and then we were getting reports from beekeepers elsewhere in the North Island that were noticing very similar things.” . .

What Mondayising means on-farm – John Brosnan:

You’ve probably seen this advertised.

You might remember the law was changed in 2013 to allow Anzac day and Waitangi day to be moved to a Monday if they fall on a weekend.

This year’s Anzac day will be the first affected – but what does Mondayising really mean for you as a rural employer?

In reality for most farm staff – not much.

Why? Well here’s what the law states re this …

DairyNZ sessions help farmers assess cash flow – Sally Rae:

Another round of farmer events is under way nationally to give dairy farmers a ”wake-up call” to assess their cash-flow situation, given the low milk price forecasts.

DairyNZ, which is behind the Tactics for Tight Times campaign, has analysed what it is like for the average farmer in every dairying region and it is ”not looking pretty”, chief executive Tim Mackle says.

While 2015-16 would probably still end up being a break-even year for most farmers, he said cash flow would be a major issue that could result in some increased term debt in the sector and less spending in the regions. . .

New Zealand’s Best Eggs awarded last night:

Three of New Zealand’s most well known companies: Fonterra, Deloitte and The Warehouse were last night crowned “Good Business Eggs” in recognition of their work in the community sector. Whilst these companies might be better known for the scale of their business activities, they also demonstrate significant commitments to their various community initiatives.

The event hosted by CQ Hotels Wellington, one of last years winners was packed with business and community leaders anxious to see who had won the annual award. . .

Fonterra management appointments:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced changes to the roles and responsibilities of two members of the Fonterra Management Team.

Jacqueline Chow, who is currently Managing Director Global Brands and Nutrition, is stepping into the newly created role of Chief Operating Officer Velocity, effective 1 June 2015 – where she will work alongside the management team to accelerate performance across the Co-operative.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings today said: “In her new role, Jacqueline will lead the next stage in Fonterra’s evolution, working across the entire Co-operative to push forward the Velocity part of our V3 strategy and deliver the best possible performance.” . .

Hooroo to Oz Made brand? – Andrew Miller and Laura Griffin:

ADOPTION of the ‘True Aussie’ brand for all agricultural produce would be “a little perplexing”, says Australian Made campaign marketing manager Ben Lazzaro.

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) plan to build standards for MLA’s True Aussie brand – developed last year for red meat – which can then be applied to all Australian agricultural products in domestic and global markets.

While the existing government-backed Australian Made label covers a broad range of products including electronics, furniture and clothing as well as food, True Aussie would be “all about agriculture”, an NFF spokeswoman said. . .

 

 

 


Going to bed with wool

26/09/2009

Coco Chanel is credited with saying that the only thing you should wear to bed is perfume.

That’s all very well on a warm Paris night. People in cooler climes might need a little more covering and AgResearch scientists have come up with something for them to wear which they reckon will make going to bed more enjoyable:

They’ve made a breakthrough in textiles which has resulted in a lightweight natural product which they say:

. . . has no chemical treatment, helps sleeping, maintains and regulates temperature and looks and feels fantastic.

“Easy Care Wool Sleepwear works in both summer and winter and we believe makes excellent nightwear and loungewear with its outstanding comfort properties,” said Dr Surinder Tandon, Senior Scientist, Textile Science & Technology.

The Sleepwear products targeted for the development include men’s and women’s nightwear and loungewear. These were developed using innovative combinations of merino wool and other natural fibres such as bamboo and silk, yarn structures, fabric weaves and knits, and finishing procedures.

The Easy Care bit is important because it’s not that long ago that wool was anything but. However, developments with merino by companies like Icebreaker which has brought us fashionable, itch-free, lightweight, machine washable clothes has helped wool products compete with synthetics.

AgResearch took their stab and fire resistant wool vest to the catwalk at Air New Zealand Fashion Week last year. It is going to invite well known designers to come up with garments made from Easy Care Wool in the hope they will be able to show them at next year’s fashion week.”

“They will look great, function well and be very comfortable,” said Dr Tandon.

The new sleepwear fabrics are being manufactured by South Canterbury Textiles, “This cutting edge textile is exciting from our point of view- it’s new, it’s got real advantages over other fabrics used for sleepwear and it creates opportunities for us once it is available,” said Andrew Miller CEO.

This sleepwear fabric development programme was supported by Textiles NZ under their industry scheme Transform, South Canterbury Textiles and Locus Research.

If this product can be commercially viable it will provide a much needed boost for the wool industry which has been faced with low prices for far too many years.

It will also provide something a bit warmer, and not necessarily any less alluring, for those who prefer to wear something a little more substantial than perfume in bed.


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