Rural round-up

19/09/2022

$100 million cost to another epic failure – Barbara Kuriger:

Putting the cart before the horse’ could have been written especially for this Labour Government.

Time and time again over the past five years, they’ve made regulation announcements and set implementation deadlines but failed to put into place any practical process or reasoning behind them.

A classic example is the fiasco by David Parker and his Ministry for the Environment, to create workable regulations for intensive winter grazing (IWG) on sloping farmland, along with the process to implement them.

The intent of IWG regulations is to protect freshwater resources, the welfare of our animals and our exporting credentials. . . .

Central Plains Water Contributes $1M to local Community :

Over the past five years Central Plains Water Limited (CPW) has contributed over one million dollars to a variety of projects that enhance biodiversity in the CPW operational area. The Central Plains Water Environmental Management Fund (EMF) was established as part of the CPW consent.  CPW provides annual contributions of approximately $115,000 to the fund. 

The funds are administered by a Trust which allows for representatives from the community, iwi, environmental and recreational interests and the local councils. This group of individuals make the decisions around which projects to fund.

“We are delighted that CPW has been able to provide substantial funding for a range of projects within the catchment that make a real environmental difference. Environmental sustainability is a very important part of our business. We have a goal of being a world leader in environmental and sustainable practice and the EMF is just one of the initiatives in place to help achieve this goal,” said CPW Chief Executive, Mark Pizey.

Projects selected for funding by the Trust include wetland enhancement, projects that minimise nutrient losses to lowland streams and riparian planting. . . 

Lochinver Station joins Beef and Lamb NZ genetics programme :

One of the country’s largest farms will be the first in the North Island to take part in a Beef and Lamb NZ genetics programme.

Lochinver Station on the Rangitāiki Plains near Taupō joins Pāmu’s Kepler Farm near Te Anau as a progeny test site for the Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) programme.

The across-breed Beef Progeny Test uses Angus, Hereford and now Simmental genetics to identify the performance of agreed-on traits.

Angus cows will be artificially inseminated at Lochinver in January 2023 with Angus, Hereford and Simmental bulls used at the North Island farm. . .

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers :

This week at an awards dinner held in Auckland the New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) announced the winners of its three most prestigious awards. The 2022 recipients are acknowledged for their diverse range of skills and experience. From hard graft and commitment at grass roots level, to high level policy planning and execution, and academic leadership.

Forestry continues to be a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President, James Treadwell says “the industry is working hard to benefit New Zealand, and we are particularly proud of the high caliber of this year’s award contenders.”

The Prince of Wales Sustainability Cup is awarded to Jake Palmer. This award recognises the achievements of a young New Zealand forest professional who lives and breathes the principles of sustainable forest management. In addition to the sound science based land stewardship, the awardee must demonstrate a commitment to raising the profile, of the wise use and conservation of forests and their ecosystems. Treadwell commented “This award was instigated by Prince Charles in 2017. It’s especially poignant timing this year following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The mantel will pass to a new Prince of Wales, Prince William, to continue to champion environmentally positive forestry practices.”

The New Zealand Forester of the Year Award winner is Don Hammond. This highly coveted industry prize rewards a person for their exceptional contribution to the forestry sector throughout the past year. Hammond’s work this year has been fundamental to ensure that log export markets have remained open to forest owners in Aotearoa New Zealand. Presenting the award, Treadwell said “The entire forestry sector is very fortunate, to have had the right person in the right place. Hammond has navigated through very difficult waters to improve the lot of foresters across the nation.” . . 

Crop Farmer testing research for sustainable farming :

An arable farmer wanting to switch up his methods to become more sustainable is one of the first to participate in a new research project led by the Foundation for Arable Research.

South Canterbury fourth-generation farmer Andrew Darling, who grows wheat, barley, sunflowers and oil seed rape, will trial how he can phase out use of nitrogen over the next 18 months.

He said an ever-increasing fertiliser bill incentivised him to work with FAR to scale back on crop inputs.

“Last year around spring, when crop growth is key and we’re starting to put on urea products and nitrogen, the bill was about $700,” he said. . .

Data Driven agricultural solution are not the future – Eightwire

No, that’s not a misprint! Data-driven solutions are not the future of agriculture — they’re very much part of the present reality for farmers.

The agriculture industry is going through a sea change and data is playing a crucial role. The type of data that is collected and how it is collected, shared and used is a major challenge and opportunity for the sector. The challenges of dealing with data are common to all industries but it’s particularly challenging in the agriculture sector given the large datasets from a wide range of different sources.

There’s so much data involved in farming these days. You’ve got the operational side of things including machinery, sensors and technology that deliver data around the animal performance and wellbeing, pasture management, soil, feed, fertiliser and water. You’ve also got data from contractors and suppliers. It’s mind boggling to think about how much data is involved and how all of that data has to be managed by the farmer. And the thing is, the farmer shouldn’t have to add data management to their list of tasks on farm. . . 


Rural round-up

07/09/2022

Lamb losses as spring storm brings snow – Neal Wallace:

Two days of snow, rain and bitterly cold temperatures on the east coast of both islands have caused lamb losses and added to already saturated soils.

Snow up to 50mm fell on Monday night in Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Wairarapa, Hawke’s Bay, central North Island and Gisborne Wairoa.

Lambing has started in some lower areas of the North Island and farming leaders said there have been losses.

Snow was lying down to sea level in parts of the South Island on Monday night, and at higher altitude in the North Island where lambing has yet to begin. . . .

High country lessees have high carbon hopes – Richard Rennie:

Lessees of Crown land want clarity – and fairness – when it comes to the carbon work they put in.

High country leaseholders are crossing their fingers the government will see sense in adjusting legislation to better enable them to capitalise on carbon opportunities Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) bring.

Gerald Fitzgerald, legal counsel for the High Country Accord group, said Wellington has repeatedly overlooked high country Crown pastoral lessees when drawing up legislation, whether it be stock exclusion, biodiversity, and more lately new carbon rules.

“Again and again, we have been frustrated there is no recognition in policy design work of the particular tenure of Crown pastoral leases. This is at a technical legal level, and a lack of insight at a practical level on the different farm management systems on high country farms,” Fitzgerald said. . .

 

 

Cheesemaking waste product potential gamechanger for diabetes sufferers :

A New Zealand-based company researching alternative uses for a by-product from cheesemaking has its sights on developing it into a remedy for people with type 2 diabetes.

WheyTech Bionics NZ is partnering with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on a 2-year project that aims to develop technology to process whey permeate as a sweetener product with anti-diabetic properties.

Whey permeate is a by-product from the cheesemaking process. 

“An existing patent from Germany shows the high levels of glucose in whey can create a sugar with properties that are anti-diabetic,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes. . . 

War on weeds – could a wasp join the fight? – Emile Donovan :

We know New Zealand’s ecosystem is precious: our islands are home to flora and fauna not found anywhere else in the world.

This is special, but it also means we have to be careful. An introduced species from another part of the world can quickly become invasive, take a foothold and wreak havoc.

One way of controlling invasive species is to bring in yet another species to essentially prey on the thing you don’t like.

This is called biological control.  . . 

Agricultural Biotech’ Research Centre for sale goes under the microscope with property investors :

A former equestrian school, wedding and function venue – converted into a high tech’ agricultural biotechnology company’s research headquarters – has been placed on the market for sale.

The property and buildings housing the laboratories and research facilities for ground-breaking rural science company Ecolibrium Biologicals is located in Bombay just south of Auckland, and sits on some 18.55-hectares of land.

The substantial property was originally developed as a kiwifruit orchard in the early 1980s when its owners built a three-bedroom home, while simultaneously converting an old cow shed and building which were later developed into an equestrian riding centre & school.

The venue’s infrastructure was expanded in the early 1990s when a lodge was constructed as a riding school lodge, which later morphed into a wedding reception venue – known as Footbridge, with its own chapel on site, allowing wedding ceremonies to be held on-site. . . 

New Zealand butchery team take third place at world competition :

The Hellers Sharp Blacks have won third place at the World Butchers’ Challenge in Sacramento held over the weekend. The team, made up of six Kiwi butchers, travelled to the U.S.A. last week to compete against 12 other countries in a three-and-a-half-hour showdown at the Golden 1 Centre in Sacramento.

Team captain of the Hellers Sharp Blacks, Riki Kerekere says that after two years of covid cancellations it was amazing for the team to finally be sharpening their knives and competing on the world stage.

“To come third is a massive achievement and I am really proud of how well the team performed on the day,” says Riki.

The competition was held on Saturday 3rd September, Californian time, and saw the Golden 1 Centre in Sacramento transformed into the world’s largest butchery. Local and international visitors were treated to a spectacular three and a half hour cutting competition where each team had to turn a side of beef, a side of pork, a whole lamb and five chickens into a themed display of value-added cuts. Teams had to demonstrate their carving, boning and finishing skills underpinned by their own creative and cultural flair. . . 


Rural round-up

30/08/2022

Race against time on winter grazing – Neal Wallace :

Last-minute discussions are underway to ensure farmers can winter livestock on crops next year without swamping regional councils with urgent resource consent applications.

Farming leaders, regional councils and the government are rapidly trying to find a solution after it emerged that officials are unlikely to have finalised Freshwater Management Plan criteria in time for planting intensive winter grazing (IWG) crops.

This process is an alternative form of approval for non-compliant winter graziers and without it, thousands of farmers may need resource consent for next winter. 

Farming groups are calling for a year’s deferral of the new rules, citing the absence of a freshwater plan. . . 

My beef with George Monibot – Diana Rodgers:

Many, many people have forwarded me the latest piece by George Monbiot and asked me to comment, so here it is.

At first, I felt incredibly frustrated because Robb Wolf and I address his worldview in our book, Sacred Cow – and this really is a battle of worldviews. 

George is of the view that nature (wild animals) is more important than human livelihoods and our nutritional status… and that uprooting people who live in rural communities, dishonoring their way of life and food culture, and testing unproven food like substances on them all in an effort to preserve wilderness is perfectly noble.

Robb and I on the other hand believe that sustainable regional food systems that take the local environment, human nutrition, food culture, and economy into account are the right path forward.  . .

Mushroom farm in Havelock North to cut jobs and stop production – Tom Kitchin:

A mushroom farm which got a $19 million loan from the government will let around 100 of its staff go and close much of its factory.

Te Mata Mushrooms, in Havelock North, is the second largest commercial mushroom farm in the country and supplies mushrooms around the Central North Island and Auckland.

It also has one of the largest non-seasonal horticultural workforces in Hawke’s Bay.

It was given the Covid-19 Infrastructure Investment Fund loan in 2020 to help expand and improve its facilities, with former infrastructure minister Shane Jones excited about “sustainable full-time employment for more than 200 people”. , , 

Kiwifruit growers to appeal Sungold licenses being included in property RV

The group that represents New Zealand’s kiwifruit growers says it’s disappointed in the recent high court decision appeal ruling that SunGold kiwifruit licenses can be included in the rateable value of a property.

The Bushmere Trust, a kiwifruit grower, took the Gisborne District Council to the Land Valuation Tribunal last year after the Council changed its ratings to include the value of the licenses in the property’s capital value.

That took the nearly six hectare property’s rateable value from $2.8 to $4.1m.

The Tribunal ruled the capital value was only $2.8million, and the kiwifruit license was “not an improvement to the land or for the benefit of the land”. . .

Fieldays Innovation Awards announced 2022 prize package details with additional sponsors :

Innovators across the food and fibre sector stand to be rewarded this year as the Fieldays 2022 Innovation Awards prize

package grows, thanks to new sponsors joining the returning partners of the awards.

The Fieldays Innovation Awards are the ultimate launch platform for Primary Innovation, and are a globally renowned

awards programme. The total prize package is over $60,000 worth of cash, services and products. . . 

‘Like sending bees to war’: the deadly truth behind your almond milk obsession – Annette McGivney:

Dennis Arp was feeling optimistic last summer, which is unusual for a beekeeper these days.

Thanks to a record wet spring, his hundreds of hives, scattered across the central Arizona desert, produced a bounty of honey. Arp would have plenty to sell in stores, but more importantly, the bumper harvest would strengthen his bees for their biggest task of the coming year.

Like most commercial beekeepers in the US, at least half of Arp’s revenue now comes from pollinating almonds. Selling honey is far less lucrative than renting out his colonies to mega-farms in California’s fertile Central Valley, home to 80% of the world’s almond supply.

But as winter approached, with Arp just months away from taking his hives to California, his bees started getting sick. By October, 150 of Arp’s hives had been wiped out by mites, 12% of his inventory in just a few months. “My yard is currently filled with stacks of empty bee boxes that used to contain healthy hives,” he says. . . .


Rural round-up

19/08/2022

Better methane measurement will make an impact – David Anderson:

Recognition is urgently needed on a new measure for short and long-lived greenhouse gases and their impact on global warming.

That was the strong message given to attendees at the recent Red Meat Sector Conference by Dr Frank Mitloehner of the University of California Davis – a world expert on livestock emissions research.

He explained how the measure of GWP (100) – the matrix used to calculate the impact of different gas emissions on warming for the past 30 years – is “problematic” when methane levels are falling.

“It has real strong limitations when livestock numbers are constant and/or falling and methane is being reduced.” . .

Call for changes to GE laws – Leo Argent:

New research shows that New Zealanders are becoming more open to the use of genetic engineering advances to progress our agriculture sector.

Christchurch-based survey and product development company Research First recently published the results of a survey on the use of GE in NZ. It found the use of gene editing in humans for medical and disease prevention purposes was viewed in an overwhelmingly positive manner. Meanwhile, although it still had majority support, the research found less backing for gene editing to improve biodiversity and farm health.

ACT spokesman Mark Cameron says New Zealand needs to liberalise its laws on genetic engineering to allow our agricultural industry to “lead, not lag”.

“ACT has always said if we want to get serious about reducing agriculture emissions we should be looking at technological advancements like this before taxing and destocking.” . .

Carbon farming rocket has taken off – Keith Woodford:

Nothing matches carbon-farming economics on sheep and beef land

This last week I spent two days in Rotorua at the New Zealand carbon-forestry conference where I was also one of the speakers. Both I and others presented perspectives on the path ahead for this new industry. There were close to 300 attendees plus an international online audience.

Although there was diversity of perspective as to how the industry might develop, I sensed no doubt that we all saw ourselves as being involved in something big that, one way or another, is transformational for New Zealand

Most of the attendees were either forestry people already in the business, or alternatively service-industry people who either are already or in future want to be part of this new industry. There were also some Government and Climate Change Commission people there to help explain the current regulatory framework.  . . 

 

Pork sector releases plans of its own :

Alternative to ‘unworkable’ government plans has support of industry, says NZPork 

New Zealand’s pork sector has come up with an alternative to what it sees as unworkable plans proposed by the government.

They include reducing the maximum time farrowing crates can be used from the current 33 days to no more than seven, increasing the minimum space allowance for grower pigs and eliminating the use of mating stalls for housing sows.

The changes would place New Zealand’s standards beyond those required in the United Kingdom, European Union, United States, Canada, Australia and China – which collectively produce most of the world’s pork and supply most of the pork exported to NZ. . . 

Visiting a country where they love their farmers – Alan Emerson:

Alan Emerson spoke to a few Aussie farmers about taxing burping and farting cows and they suggested he must have been drinking.

We’re currently in Australia and it is great to be here after the winter we’ve experienced. 

Boringly, we go to Port Douglas, north of Cairns, and stay in a serviced one-bedroom apartment complete with a full kitchen, bathroom and laundry. 

Having done the maths, there’s not a lot of cost differential between a holiday in Port Douglas and one in Queenstown. . . 

Cream rises to the top in dairy property sector :

The latest Bayleys’ Rural Market Update for the dairy sector compiled by its Insights & Data team points to buyer confidence, buoyant demand, and a positive outlook for the 12 months ahead on the back of strong long-run milk prices and global demand for New Zealand products.

Last financial year, Bayleys transacted over 100 dairy property deals – more than one-third of the total dairy farms sold nationwide.

In releasing the report, Bayleys’ national director rural, Nick Hawken said REINZ figures show the total value of dairying land sold across New Zealand exploded in the 12 months from 1st April 2021-31st March 2022, to $1.524bn – more than double the value sold in the 2020-2021 period.

“In total, 40,958ha of dairying land was sold nationwide in 2021-2022 according to REINZ. . . 


Rural round-up

28/07/2022

Devil in the detail of EU deal – Nigel Stirling:

Free trade agreement’s finer points are still being worked out – and not all of them are going NZ’s way, says Beef+Lamb policy tsar.

Meat exporters are already facing a reduction in their new access to the European Union market, just weeks after New Zealand apparently concluded a free trade agreement with the bloc.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern travelled to Brussels in Belgium last month to clinch the deal with the EU after four years of negotiations.

But Beef+Lamb NZ’s general manager for policy and advocacy Dave Harrison said negotiations between the EU and NZ had not stopped with the PM’s announcement. . . 

Right time and right place(ment) – Leo Argent:

With labour shortages a grim reality for many farmers across the country – and no end in sight – recruitment agencies have seen demand increase drastically.

With offices in Timaru and Ashburton, overseeing areas ranging from Darfield to Invercargill, Wendy Robertson has run Personnel Placements (PPL) for 22 years, Gaye Scott oversees PPL’s agricultural team, which is involved in jobs ranging from dairy to meat to horticulture.

As a recruitment agency, PPL puts candidates on a database who can then be sent out for clients for work. Along with part-time and full-time jobs, agencies also cover permanent and temporary employment placement, saving clients the time and cost involved in interviewing prospective employees.

Robertson told Rural News that agriculture is an important part of her business’ success and that a large part of the agriculture team’s work is in seasonal jobs. . .

 

 

New Tech promises to make shearing sheep less of a drag – Tim Lee:

Australia’s shearer workforce has dwindled from about 15,000 when wool prices were booming in the 1980s to about 2800.

The pandemic has further reduced the small pool of skilled labour and woolgrowers who are struggling to get their sheep shorn.

Australian Wool Innovation chairman Jock Laurie said Covid had made the problem worse.

“The border closures have stopped people moving across borders and stopped the New Zealanders coming in,” Laurie said. . . 

Fonterra welcomes Milk-E New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker :

New Zealand’s first electric milk tanker, Milk-E, has been officially launched by the Minister for Energy and Resources, Hon. Dr Megan Woods, in Morrinsville.

Local Government, Iwi, Industry and Fonterra employees were also present to recognise the significant milestone in the decarbonisation of New Zealand’s heavy transport, while also recognising the team behind the build.

Named by Fonterra farmer Stephen Todd from Murchison, Milk-E is part of Fonterra’s fleet decarbonisation work, which is one of a number of programmes that’s helping the Co-op towards becoming a leader in sustainability.

“Right across the Co-op our teams are constantly looking at how we can decrease our emissions – from on farm, to at our sites and throughout our transport network,” said Chief Operating Officer, Fraser Whineray. . . 

Baseline set for subsurface irrigation trial :

While Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson are disappointed not to have collected the data they were hoping for from their subsurface drip irrigation trial due to a wet summer, the couple have established a baseline for the next irrigation season which they hope will follow a more normal weather pattern to enable data collection.

Gary and Penny are participating in a farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

The subsurface drip irrigation system on their two-hectare test block in Cust consists of a network of valves, driplines, pipes, and emitters that are installed in tape below the surface of the soil. The evenly spaced emitters slowly release water directly to the root zone of plants which differs from traditional irrigation systems that apply water to the surface of the soil. . .

The Walking Access Commission changes its name:

Trails aren’t just for walkers, they’re for all of us – and so is Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission, formerly the Walking Access Commission.

Our new name recognises more than the breadth of trail users, which range from people in tramping boots to fishing waders, sitting astride a horse or a bike, shouldering a rifle or pushing a stroller. Herenga ā Nuku refers to the rich connections we find on the trail – with the whenua and its stories, with ourselves and with each other.

Herenga is a bond, obligation or tie. Nuku refers to Papatūānuku, the earth mother. She is the land in all her beauty, power, strength and inspiration. She sustains us.

Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa – connecting people, connecting places. . .


Rural round-up

25/07/2022

Apple and kiwifruit growers tell thousands on jobseeker support during harvest: ‘we want workers’ – Gianina Schwanecke:

During peak harvest while apple growers across Hawke’s Bay were crying out for workers, there were up to 4000 people of working age on unemployment benefits in the region.

As the kiwifruit vines continued to ripen and the next harvest event rolled round a few weeks later, there were another 3000 across Bay of Plenty.

Ministry of Social Development figures detailthe number of working age people in Hawke’s Bay and Western Bay of Plenty on the Jobseeker Support Work Ready scheme between January 15 and May 15.

It found there were 4113 people on the scheme in Hawke’s Bay in January, dropping to 3684 by May. In Bay of Plenty, there were 3315 in January, dropping to 3177 by May. . . 

Fonterra”s McBride says changes to capital structure will ‘level the playing field’ – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra chairperson Peter McBride says relaxing requirements for farmers to hold shares in the co-operative would level the playing field with rival milk processors and increase competition.

The country’s largest dairy company wants to adopt a more flexible shareholding structure, allowing farmers to hold fewer shares and widening the pool to include sharemilkers, contract milkers and farm lessors as associated shareholders.

Its farmer suppliers voted in favour of the proposal in December last year, and the company is now waiting for the Government to approve the changes under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act which enabled the creation of the dairy giant in 2001.

Fonterra is re-shaping its business as a period of rapid expansion in the country’s dairy herd comes to an end as dairy farming faces increased regulation to reduce its environmental impact. . . 

Perception of wool changing amongst millennial consumers – research – The Country:

A three-year research study into the perceptions of wool has found efforts to build the industry’s sustainability credentials are transforming how millennial consumers perceive the fibre.

Industry experts say the perceptual change is removing significant barriers to the growth of the domestic and export wool markets.

The nationwide Bremworth study, which has tracked changes in attitudes over the past three years, also shows the perception of wool carpet as having a higher cost – when compared to synthetic alternatives – is becoming less of a barrier for most consumers.

While wool was once ubiquitous on the floors of Kiwi homes, over the past two decades synthetic flooring had become dominant in the market, chief executive of Bremworth Greg Smith said. . .

Forward thinking farmer ‘walking the talk’, embracing change – Shawn McAvinue:

The only thing certain in life is change and Southland farmer Kevin Hall wants to be part of it. Shawn McAvinue visits a field day to see how the Ballance Farm Environment Awards regional winner is continuing to  keep his dairy grazing and  beef-fattening business Hollyvale Farms sustainable.

Be part of the change.

In his closing speech on a field day on his farm last week, 2022 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards winner Kevin Hall acknowledged the challenges ahead for farmers.

Farming was a “long-term career” requiring constant change to remain sustainable. . . 

Business management award for Mid-Canterbury farmer :

Mid-Canterbury farm manager Darryl Oldham has taken out the 2022 Rabobank Management Project Award, a business management prize for up-and-coming farmers.

Selected from a group of New Zealand’s most progressive farmers – graduates of the 2021 Rabobank Farm Managers Program (FMP) – Oldham was recognised for his business management project, which highlighted how he had utilised the lessons from the program in his role as farm manager on the 200ha farming operation he runs in partnership with his wife Anna, and parents Peter and Gael.

The Oldhams’ farming partnership is located in Westerfield near Ashburton. As the farm manager, Darryl is involved in all the day-to-day aspects of running the business which grows cereals, small seeds, peas, maize for silage, and fodder crops for finishing lambs.

Oldham says his management project assessed the viability of converting all or part of the farming operation to sheep milking. . . 

Life as a hobby farmer is not all I imagined in the winter of 2022 – Alison Mau:

My West Country grandad would have called it “letty weather” – rain so persistent you may as well just stay inside. Here on the hobby farm, I call it rainpocalypse; relentless, pitiless, unceasing rain that’s almost broken me this week.

I was once a pluviophile​. When I lived in the paved suburban world, there was nothing cosier than that rhythmic patter on the roof at bedtime. Rain was something you wanted for the roses (especially when the sprinkler was Council-banned) but didn’t otherwise think that much about.

I roll my eyes at that person, now. Last year, I moved to the sticks – one of those “Covid evacuees” who made a whole new and different life, albeit within a reasonable commute. Living on my own land has been my dream since I was six years old and we don’t often get to live our life-long dream, do we? And if not in the middle of a global pandemic, then when?

The dream’s been pretty sweet so far. The view is captivating, the community’s lovely, I bought a coffee machine. I rarely sit down during daylight hours. If I owned anything like a fit-bit, my step count would be off the charts. . . 


Rural round-up

08/07/2022

NZ’s agricultural sector needs to take ‘bold actions’ to help steer ‘food transition’ – Rabobank CEO – The Country

Bold actions are required by New Zealand’s agricultural industry if it’s to take advantage of the global food transition, Rabobank NZ chief executive Todd Charteris has told the sector.

Speaking at the Primary Industries New Zealand Summit in Auckland earlier today, Charteris said New Zealand’s agricultural sector – and others around the world – was currently grappling with how to tackle the twin challenges of increasing food production and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

With the world population expected to grow to 10 billion by 2050, the global agricultural sector had “a big job on its hands” to ensure everyone had access to sufficient, safe and affordable food, Charteris said.

“But at the same time, the sector also needs to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions stemming from food production that risk warming our entire planet.” . .

Sequestration essential for He Waka Eke Noa :

Rewards for sequestration are an essential part of He Waka Eke Noa, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Climate Change spokesperson Scott Simpson say.

“National is disappointed the Commission wants to take sequestration out of He Waka Eke Noa and combine it with biodiversity and other environmental outcomes in a new system,” Barbara Kuriger says.

“If farmers are going to be charged for their on-farm emissions they should also be rewarded for on-farm sequestration either through He Waka Eke Noa or the ETS.

“The Commission should not over-complicate things. Its first priority must be emissions.” . . 

Weather hits hort crop hard – Peter Burke:

One of the big issues relating to the current supply of fresh vegetables has been the weather.

Some growers around the country have lost whole crops that were inundated during recent flooding. Leaderbrand is one of the country’s major horticultural producers and has its main base in Gisborne.

The company also has growing sites in Pukekohe, Matamata and Canterbury. Chief executive Richard Burke says in the case of Gisborne, the normal rainfall is about 1100mm a year, but it has already had more than 800mm so far this year.

He says there is nothing unusual about getting rain, but the weather patterns are just sticking around longer and that affects the ability to supply produce. . 

Primary Industries Award recognizes rapid response to feed the hungry and support growers during lockdown :

United Fresh New Zealand Incorporated have been presented the Primary Industries NZ Summit Team Award for their work delivering 300,000 boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables to whānau during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

The management team of five were responsible for the development of the Fruit and Vegetable Box Project, a clever adaption of existing relationships and supply networks to address food shortages and provide an outlet for fresh produce that had been destined for restaurants, tourism outlets, cruise ships and airline catering.

United Fresh General Manager, Paula Dudley, says the award is a recognition of the whole supply chain.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with this award. It’s testament to the long-term relationships between United Fresh members and the professionalism of the food distribution centres that we worked alongside,” she says. . . 

Flocks of sheep are the fire-fighting solution we never knew we needed  – Julia Jacobo, Jp Keenan, and Janet Weinstein:

The answer to managing wildfires may have been hiding in nature all this time.

Wildfires are a natural occurrence in forest ecosystems, but certain fire management practices have also contributed to the scope of fires occurring today, according to experts.

Flocks of sheep are now being used to manage fires as megadroughtexacerbated by climate change contribute to record-breaking fire seasons in the Western U.S.

Climate change is not the only culprit. Six of the seven largest fires in California have occurred in the past two years, and experts including Glen MacDonald, professor of geography and environment sustainability at UCLA say natural fuel is building up in forests, sparking hot, intense and fast-moving fires. . . 

 

 

Farmgate stolen vehicle detection cameras roll our across New Zealand rural towns :

Farmgate announced today they plan to roll out up to 50 roadside stolen vehicle detection cameras across New Zealand, focused in rural communities, for free – in accordance with Farmgate’s social good strategy, says Managing Director Andrew Sing.

“Farmgate has an ambitious goal – to reduce rural crime by 50% through partnering with local rural communities. We are excited to invest in safe rural community strategies over the next 12 months,” said Mr Sing.

Farmgate’s tech uses German-made Mobotix Artificial Intelligence cameras that detect number plates – which are then compared to the NZ Police stolen vehicle database. Police are also notified when a stolen vehicle is picked up on a Farmgate camera.

“Farmgate has invested heavily in the best possible tech to ensure we shut down stolen vehicles entering our rural communities. Stopping criminals before they even start on a crime spree or a ram raid who know we are watching is the best deterrent,” says Sing. . . 

Fierce competition expected for NZYF Tournament Series national titles :

New Zealand Young Farmers Tournament Series finalists have spent the last two months fine-tuning their shooting, debating, stock judging and fencing skills for the national finals.

Hosted alongside the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final, the NZYF Tournament Series finals will go down on Thursday 7th of July at various locations around Whangarei.

Seven fencing teams competing in pairs will be hammering it in for the Goldpine Fencing title at 540 Millbrook Road, Taipuha from 7:30am to 10:30am.

It will be followed by the MyLivestock Stock Judging at 11am, where 20 NZYF members will be judged on their ability to score a range of animals across beef and dairy cattle, meat and wool breeds and fleece. . .

 


Rural round-up

27/06/2022

Seed cleaning ingenuity earns global spotlight – Rebecca Ryan:

From a shed in Awamoko, Johnny Neill is getting global attention as he grows his mobile seed cleaning empire. He talks to Rebecca Ryan about how he got into the industry and started building world-leading mobile seed cleaning machines in rural North Otago.

When Johnny Neill was first approached to build a mobile seed cleaning machine, he had no idea what it was.

Fast forward 20 years, and the world is watching the Oamaru man making advances in mobile seed cleaning that no-one ever imagined were possible.

Mr Neill grew up on a dairy farm on the Taieri Plain and finished his secondary school years at Waitaki Boys’ High School. After a stint in dairy farming, he moving to the North Island, where he trained as an engineer and met his partner Kim Lyttle. . . 

Strategy will help farming face change – Annette Scott:

Te Puna Whakaaronui Thought Leaders group chair Lain Jager says New Zealand needs a strategy that will take the country forward as a nation.

He says there is a short window of opportunity to invest and make progress.

Strategies that are incomplete will not attract investment and if you can’t invest in them then you can’t move forward.

“Without clear strategy and capacity to implement change this country will go backwards,” Jager told the E Tipu Boma Agri Summit in Christchurch. . . 

Half year report is a mixed bag – Mel Croad:

At the halfway mark for the year, sheep and beef farmers are searching for some clarity in terms of what the rest of the season is going to look like. But after a roller coaster couple of years, there is no blueprint to follow. 

Breaking it down, market conditions are mixed at best.

For lamb, global markets appear more comfortable with dialling down pricing expectations. 

These lower asking prices and softer demand stretch across most key markets.  . .

Award respect rural health contribution – RIchard Davison:

A rural South Otago GP says his recent national award is recognition for the wider community.

Dr Branko Sijnja has been named recipient of the Peter Snow Memorial Award for 2022.

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network gives the award each year to medical professionals making outstanding contributions to rural health.

Dr Sijnja (75) has been a GP in Balclutha since 1980, and retires from his role as Director of the Rural Medical Immersion Programme (RMIP) at Otago School of Medicine — his alma mater — next week . . .

Owners of unproductive land encouraged to grow black diamonds :

A Bay of Plenty truffle company is sharing the secrets of the industry in a bid to get landowners growing ‘black diamonds’ across the country.

Ohiwa Black Diamond Truffles is receiving more than $155,000 of Government funding over three years to share its knowledge with interested growers so New Zealand can grow enough truffles for a robust export industry. The business is also researching and developing new truffle products that incorporate the health benefits of truffles with traditional Māori rongoā (healing).

The business is run by Ohiwa-based couple Matui Hudson and Annette Munday. Since partnering with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund last year, they have held three workshops on truffle growing, with more lined up over the coming weeks.

“We’ve already received orders for around 10,000 inoculated truffle seedlings from several hapū, and we’ve helped a Kawhia whānau set up their truffière,” says Ms Munday. . . 

Chatham Island Food Co wins the top gong at the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards :

Producers spanning the breadth of Aotearoa from the Chatham Islands to Akaroa and its length from Southland to Northland were among the Champions in this year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, with Chatham Island Food Co named Supreme Champion 2022.

It’s the first time in the awards six-year history that seafood has taken out the top award.

Established by seventh-generation Chatham Islander, Delwyn Tuanui and his wife Gigi, Chatham Island Food Co has turned the Chatham Islands distance into a positive. It’s isolation – 800 kms east of the South Island – means a pristine environment which is reflected in the flavour and quality of its harvest. The business processes its marine harvest on the island, freezing in the flavour to share with seafood lovers across New Zealand.

Studying agriculture in Melbourne in the early 2000s was life-changing for Del. He met Gigi on his first day and came to appreciate the love for quality of seafood from the Chathams when cooking it for friends and later supplying it to top Sydney and Melbourne restaurants. In 2015 the pair purchased a rundown fish-processing plant on Wharekauri and Chatham Island Food Co began in earnest. Now they employ 25 staff and work with 30 fishing boats. . . 


Rural round-up

09/05/2022

Mycolplasma bovis isolated to just one farm :

The world-first attempt to eradicate the disease, which can cause lameness, mastitis and abortions in cows, began after it was first detected in a South Canterbury farm in 2017.

Since then, the disease has been confirmed and cleared from 271 properties, with more than 176,000 cattle culled.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said no working farms we currently infected – the lone property was a large beef-feed lot, and work to clear it will begin later this year.

He marked the milestone as he announced $110.9m funding for biosecurity efforts. . . 

Kiwis endangered by unlicenced occupations – Roger Partridge:

They may not know it, but unsuspecting Kiwis will soon be protected from unregistered log traders and forestry advisers. What a relief that should be.

The Shane Jones-sponsored Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Act was introduced under urgency in the midst of the pandemic in May 2020. Forced along by Jones’s fanciful election-year plans to boost employment in his Northland electorate, the Bill passed into law in August that year.

Jones is long gone from Parliament. But in the intervening two years, the Ministry for Primary Industries has been busily consulting with the forestry industry on a suitable registration regime.

And well they might. Even though the Ministry’s Regulatory Impact Statement could not point to any quantitative evidence of benefits from the proposed licensing regime, tasks as important as regulating log traders should not be rushed. . . 

Saffron grower says industry growth necessary to meet consumer demand – Sally Murphy:

A Southland saffron grower says yields are slightly down this year but the quality of the spice is very high due to dry conditions.

The spice is the red stigma of a small purple flower Crocus sativus and can set you back anywhere from $20 – to $50 a gram.

Kiwi Saffron grows the spice organically across three hectares in Garston, Southland.

Owner Jo Daley said weather conditions had led to an enjoyable harvest this season and they should wrap up in the next week or so. . . 

Geoff Reid poked the bear – Kathryn Wright:

Geoff Reid NZ poked the bear

If you know me, you probably know that I don’t like to say much on social media. And I certainly don’t get involved in online arguments. But when I have something to say, it’s probably important and it’s probably going to be long. The longer it percolates in my mind, the more I will have to say.

This is why, when environmental activist Geoff Reid posted his latest photos in an attempt to shame a Southland farmer that was simply doing his job, I had had enough. I have known about this person for a while – spoken about in both professional and private capacity. I considered sending the post to him privately but no, I wanted others to see the harm this man (and others like him) create. I will include the post below this. Rural people are my heart, and Geoff Reid is hurting them. 

Geoff Reid poked the bear.  . . 

Dairy prices fall sharply but farmers will do nicely thank you from this season’s payout and Synlait has strong half-year – Point of Order:

Only  two  months  ago  Radio NZ  was  airing  a  report “Why  are global dairy  prices  so high?”  Now, the  story  is  rather  different  after  two sharp  falls  at  Fonterra’s  fortnightly  global dairy  auctions,  and  the  pundits   are  pondering  what  has  happened.

But  NZ’s  dairy farmers  can still rest  easy  that  this  season’s  payout  will be  the  highest in Fonterra’s  history.

The  latest fall this  week was  foreshadowed  in  a  report  by ANZ  agri-economist  Susan Kilsby  on commodities. She  noted  dairy prices fell 4% month-on-month in April, driven primarily by lower prices for whole milk powder which is highly influenced by demand from China.

Kilsby  went  on to  point  out market sentiment had deteriorated as the lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing impact consumer buying opportunities. . . 

Biosecurity funding increase a sensible move :

An $111 million injection for biosecurity in the May Budget is a pragmatic acknowledgement of how vital it is to our economy we stop pest organisms at our borders, Federated Farmers says.

“This extra money shows an appreciation by the government pest incursions can wreak havoc in our primary industries, New Zealand’s powerhouse for export earnings,” Federated Farmers Arable Chair and plant biosecurity spokesperson Colin Hurst said.

“Plenty of Budget rounds go by without any bolstering of funding for biosecurity so we congratulate the government for making this a priority.”

The funding announcement comes on the same day that we mark the fourth anniversary of New Zealand’s world-first attempt to eradicate the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis – indeed the $110.9m in the Budget includes $68 million over the coming year to continue momentum on the M. bovis programme. . . 


Rural round-up

04/05/2022

More farms being sold to overseas buyers for forestry conversion :

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of another six farms for conversion to forestry under the special forestry test.

Introduced in 2018 to encourage more tree planting – farming groups have raised alarm at the rate of farms being sold through the special forestry test.

The government is currently reviewing the test but sales are continuing.

Sales information just released by The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) includes Gisborne’s Maunga-O-Rangi Station which went on the market last year after being owned by the same family for 30 years. . . 

Dog trialling in the bloodline – Sally Rae:

When it comes to a pedigree in dog trials, Kelly Tweed has it covered.

In 2019, her sister, Steph Tweed, made history as the first woman to win a New Zealand dog trial championship with Grit in the straight hunt, while their father, Roger, a Waitahuna farmer, is a successful triallist too.

Kelly (26) might have have been a slight latecomer to the sport but is showing she has inherited the family genes, qualifying for this week’s South Island championships.

While Steph had to dash off to run one of her four dogs on another course, Roger was there to watch Kelly have her first run in the straight hunt on the first day of competition at Earnscleugh Station. Mr Tweed has five dogs qualified for the competition. . . 

“Milked” (the movie) presents a sour view of our biggest export industry – but dairy farmers can learn from it it anyway – Point of Order:

A documentary titled Milked,  shown  at the  International Film  Festival in Dunedin, seeks  to  “expose”  the  New Zealand  dairy industry   and  calls  on  New  Zealanders  “to  heal the  land”.

Milked is available globally via the streaming platform Waterbear and on Youtube via Plant Based News. The documentary is made by indigenous activist Chris Huriwai and local director Amy Taylor.

Its crowd-funding campaign surpassed an ambitious $100,000 target in just 12 days, with much international support confirming its global relevance. Huriwai  told  one  news  outlet: . . 

Innovators want wool to take to the sky – Sally Rae,

Wool might tick all the boxes as a natural, sustainable and environmentally friendly fibre, but New Zealand’s strong wool growers are still not reaping the reward for producing the best strong wool in the world.

Business and rural editor Sally Rae talks to those behind two diverse projects to add value to the wool clip.

Brent Gregory has a theory: people who need wool do not know the fibre exists and those folk never meet up with those selling wool, leading to a major disconnect for the wool industry.

Mr Gregory and Suzanne Wilson, of Christchurch, are directors of the Merino Softwear Company, an innovation company looking to create high-value products from wool. . . 

Edmonds urgently sources wheat from Australia after weather ruins local yields :

A shortage of wheat due to dire weather conditions earlier in the season has led flour company Edmonds to source stock from overseas.

Heavy rain in February ruined crops around the country, leading arable farmers to describe it as the season from hell.

Edmonds said the weather meant yields in the South Island had been significantly impacted.

“With the reduced supply available in market we haven’t been able to source enough New Zealand grown wheat for our Edmonds flour,” a company spokesperson said. . . 

Union calls for significant rise in milk prices as costs surge :

A union has called for farmgate milk prices to rise significantly in order to make up for the recent surge in input costs, many of which are linked to the war in Ukraine.

The supply chain should pay more to fully reflect the ‘unsustainable’ input costs caused by increases in feed, fuel, fertiliser and energy costs, the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) said.

It recently wrote to the UK’s major retailers urging them to ensure that rising input costs do not threaten the long term viability of food producers in the UK.

Farmers should also be paid a fair price for their produce in light of the developing circumstances in Ukraine. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/04/2022

The loneliness of the long distance rural midwife – Vanessa Bellew:

Pregnant women in one town in Southland have lost the last remaining midwife and are now served by maternity care based 100km-160km away

Te Anau’s only midwife is the latest casualty of the beleaguered maternity system in the South and now it appears the town’s maternal and child hub is being downgraded before it is even fully up and running.

The Southern District Health Board told Newsroom the town and nearby area did “not have sufficient” pregnant women or baby numbers to sustain a maternal and child hub and a full-time midwife in the town.

Health professionals Newsroom spoke to were concerned that the health board was using inaccurate and outdated statistics to justify reducing maternity services further and for not funding a locum midwife. . . 

Christopher Luxon on IPCC climate change report NZ’s dairy herd – The Country:

National Party leader Christopher Luxon is not a fan of culling New Zealand’s dairy herd.

“I’ve got no time for that whatsoever,” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Recently, Greenpeace called for the Government to “halve the herd”, following the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Luxon said there was no need for this, as Kiwi farmers were already “the most carbon-efficient in the world”. . . 

Solar powered smart cow collars come to Taranaki farms – Elijah Hill:

The best dressed Taranaki dairy cows this year may just be the ones wearing solar-powered, time-saving, smart collars.

New Zealand tech company Halter, which fits solar-powered, GPS-enabled smart collars to cows, is expanding to the region as well as Central Plateau, Otago and Southland.

Cows are trained to respond to sound and vibrations from the collars which allow farmers to ‘steer’ the cows around the farm.

This allows farmers to call cows to the milking shed using their phone, or set ‘virtual fences’ and break feed while having a cup of tea at home. . . 

Are pine trees the problem or the solution? – Keith Woodford:

Pine-forest regulation proposals are creating lots of heat with big implications for land-use and the landscape. 

Right now, there is a fervent debate underway as to where pine trees fit within our future landscape. On one side stand Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw. They are proposing that existing legislation should be reversed so that pine trees would only be for production forestry and not so-called permanent forests.

Minister Nash has recently come to a position that only native forests should be permanent, and he is supported by many who hold strong environmental values. Dame Anne Salmond is one of the leaders in that camp.

In contrast, Minister Shaw is concerned that if permanent pine forests are allowed, then too much carbon will be stored in this way and urban people will no longer be forced to modify their carbon emitting behaviours. There are some huge ironies there. . . 

The great Kiwi muster – an ancient tradition with a bougie hut – Olivia Caldwell:

Every autumn, teams of musterers take to the South Island high country to corral flocks of sheep for winter. It’s a custom resistant to change, technology and modern living. Almost. OLIVIA CALDWELL reports.

It’s three o’clock on a cold autumn morning up in the mountains of Lake Heron station.

The first and fittest musterer gets out of bed and walks several kilometres to find where the sheep are scattered around hills.

He’s 17, and it’s called delegating. The seven other team members get to sleep-in until 4am, when they get a wake-up call, followed by a giant breakfast of bacon and eggs. They will need it. Over the next 12 hours, they’ll cover 20 kilometres and 2000 metres elevation on foot. . . 

 

New service to help Ukrainian seasonal farm workers in Scotland :

A new service is to be established to offer vital advice and urgent practical support to Ukrainian seasonal horticultural workers in Scotland.

Ukrainian workers play a key role in soft fruit and vegetable production in Scotland, but due to the war they are facing a range of concerns about their work, their homes, and their futures.

The new Worker Support Centre, run by Scottish charity JustRight Scotland, will provide key support to workers on these issues.

It will also provide immigration advice to enable them to stay and work in Scotland while returning to Ukraine is still unsafe. . .


Rural round-up

26/04/2022

91 students enrolled with Growing Future Farmers in 2022:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) funds Growing Future Farmers (GFF) who aims to accelerate a graduate’s career from entry level Essential Farm Skills programme to advanced Farm Skills and Business Management.

GFF recently reported that 31 second year students and 60 first year students enrolled in the programme for the 2022 intake.

With a total of 91 students enrolled in 2022 Growing Future Farmers is cemented as the largest training organisation of its type in the country,” says GFF General Manager Cyn Smith.

Growing Future Farmers combines a range of specialised industry training and development with formal NZQA learning that includes classroom lectures, independent study, and group sessions. It is a two-year programme (46 weeks each year) with placements in 10 regions throughout the country. . . 

Winegrowers hopeful better harvest will allow renewal of stocks – Nicholas Pointon:

The 2022 grape harvest looks to have rebounded from the disappointment of last year allowing bigger production and winemakers to refill their cellars, after stocks were depleted a year ago.

The 2021 harvest was nearly 20 percent smaller than the previous year because of poor weather and wineries had to draw down on their reserves to meet market demand.

But reports are coming through from some makers of a much better year, with the stock exchange-listed company Foley Wines reporting its 2022 harvest was likely to be two-thirds higher than last year.

“The team across the business did a remarkable job in very difficult conditions,” chief executive Mark Turnbull said in a statement. . . 

 

Ukraine export woes prompt sunflower oil business to amend plans – Sally Murphy :

A New Zealand company is looking to more than treble its production of sunflower oil in response to global shortages.

Ukraine is the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil but due to the war its production is expected to be down 40 percent this season.

In a normal year it produces 7.5 tonnes of the oil each year, 7 million tonnes are exported.

Ukraine’s main sunflower oil producer is Kernel, its chief executive Ilevgen Osypov told CNN they’re struggling to get product to ports for export. . . 

Apiculture NZ secures funding for honey sector strategy :

Apiculture New Zealand has successfully secured funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, for a two-year project that will help identify how the New Zealand apiculture sector can achieve sustainable growth.

“The aim of the project is to establish a strategic direction for the apiculture sector by identifying actionable measures to enable sustainable value growth. This will be driven by a shared purpose, derived from engagement with all participants in the sector,” says Karin Kos, CE Apiculture NZ.

“The sector experienced huge growth following the quick escalation in demand from international consumers for New Zealand’s mānuka honey. But in many ways the sector’s response to meet that new demand has been unsustainable. Now is the time to understand how we can capitalise on the opportunities that have emerged, but at a rate that can be lasting, both for participants and the environment. Apiculture NZ welcomes the Government’s support to help us realise that goal,” says Ms Kos.

The work will look at opportunities to capture more value at all levels of the sector and understand what type of transformation, capability and innovation will be required to capture that value sustainably. . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest series regional finals a success :

The road to the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final is underway, with all regional finals now finished and competitors selected.

Seven FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Finalists, 14 FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year teams (28 competitors) and 21 AgriKidsNZ teams (63 competitors) will be heading to Whangarei to battle it out for the top awards, this July.

Wanting to celebrate the regional final season loudly and proudly, New Zealand Young Farmers CEO Lynda Coppersmith has called it an absolute success.

“To have travelled across the country during the omicron outbreak, held seven great regional finals with minimum disruptions and selected all our incredible competitors – all with no outbreaks at our events – is a testament to our exceptional teams and volunteers who put this contest together and their dedication and resilience. . . 

Award-winning riverfront cropping and grazing property is place don the market for sale :

A multi-award-winning agricultural block which has been diligently nurtured for generations to produce high cropping yields and grazing conditions has been placed on the market for sale.

The flat contoured 109-hectare property close to Wairoa between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay is known as Whakapau Farm and has sustained seasonal cropping of vegetables and grains, along with fattening of sheep and beef.

Whakapau Farm has been awarded multiple accolades by Hawke’s Bay-based agricultural and horticultural produce company Cedenco, including highest yield for sweet corn, Organic Grower of the Year, Highest Gross Return, and highest yield. . . 


Rural round-up

19/04/2022

Reality check hits home – Country-Wide:

A RECENT FARMER SURVEY RECORDED farmer confidence had plummeted even though farm gate prices are soaring. Initially I thought: so what, everyone is feeling down with the Ukraine war, Omicron, and rising costs. What was notable was that the survey was taken before the war started, fuel costs took off and Omicron exploded.

What will the next survey tell us?

With Omicron spreading quickly and most people accepting they will live with it, the fear factor is receding. The focus is increasingly on the economy and the basics.

Kiwis are now waking up to the realisation the country has been poorly managed by the Labour Government. Money had to be spent, but wisely. Printing money and chucking it around was unwise as were many of its policies. . .

Rural pressure in days of drought: farmers are notorious for putting animal welfare in front of their own health :

Farmer welfare is a serious concern in Southland after the driest start to a year on record, the Southland Rural Support Trust says.

Meaningful rain has finally fallen in the south this week, but it has come too late to bring any relief to the feed shortage confronting the region’s farmers.

Southland farmers say they expect the economic fallout of the drought to linger into next year.

Southland Rural Support Trust chair Cathie Cotter said everything had landed on the region’s farmers at once with the Omicron wave at its peak in the south. . . 

Hair sheep could be answer to wool woes – Country Life :

Sheep with fur – not wool – are among the latest trials being undertaken by one of New Zealand’s top breeders, Derek Daniell of Wairere Stud.

A trial to develop a New Zealand sheep with hair is underway at one of the country’s top ram studs.

Wairarapa’s Wairere Rams has imported hair-sheep genetics from the UK to cross with some of its Romney flock in the hope of creating an easy-care sheep that doesn’t need shearing, crutching or dagging.

The wool cheque may not even cover the cost of shearing these days and about five percent of New Zealand’s commercial sheep farmers are already voting with their feet and trying out the Wiltshire breed which sheds its fleece naturally, according to Wairere’s Derek Daniell. . . 

Deer devils of the Deep South – Jill Herron:

Catching a glimpse of Bambi through the trees might be a thrill for townie and deerstalker alike, but a growing population of hungry deer spells bad news for native flora and fauna – and Covid gets some of the blame

Outside the southern wilds, feral deer used to be a rare sight. Today, mobs are invading farms and the animals are grazing around roads and towns.

Some spread is coming from areas of protected native forest, where a build-up in numbers is causing serious harm. The pandemic is partly to blame, many say, as well as changes in Government regulations. Shifts in land use, too, are providing habitats that suit these attractive but destructive pests.

In healthy native forest, long-whiskered kiwi shuffle through forest-floor litter, eating bugs and seeds and probing their strange end-of-beak noses into soil to find worms and grubs. When deer have been there, however, that job becomes hard yakka. There’s not much to snuffle in and the ground can be dry and compacted. . .

Manufacturer keen to find NZ source of hemp fibre for clothing :

A New Zealand clothing brand spinning knitwear out of merino and hemp is hoping to drum up demand for a hemp fibre industry here.

The new label, Hemprino, sells knitwear made from a single-blend of New Zealand merino and hemp.

Co-founder Siobhan O’Malley said locally grown hemp fibre for clothing isn’t available in this country yet, but she’s hoping that will change.

“The piece that’s missing in New Zealand at the moment is actually the processing, so taking the plant that’s grown and turning it into a usable fibre for apparel, or for packaging, or insulation, there’s a huge range of uses,” she said. . . 

https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO2204/S00082/rural-communities-again-left-in-the-wilderness-by-the-governments-pae-ora-healthy-futures-bill.htm

Rural communities again left in the wilderness by the government’s Pae ORa Healthy Futures Bill :

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (the Network) is appalled that rural communities have been “left in the wilderness” by the Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill, which was recommended by the Select Committee to Parliament for a second reading today.

In its oral submission to the Pae Ora Healthy Futures Bill Select Committee in January, the Network made a call for rural communities to be identified as a priority population group alongside Māori, Pacific People and the Disabled, who are already recognised.

The Network argued that if the Bill doesn’t highlight a focus on rural communities, and hold Government Agencies accountable for rural health outcomes, then the health inequities faced by rural New Zealanders will not improve.

The Bill’s purpose is to protect, promote and improve the health of all New Zealanders; and achieve equity by reducing health disparities among New Zealand’s population groups, in particular for Māori. . .


Rural round-up

14/04/2022

Call for review of genetically modified tech regulation in NZ -Nona Pelletier:

It is time for a full regulatory review of genetically modified organisms and technologies (GM), according to a groundbreaking report by the Productivity Commission.

“The current regulation of GM does not reflect technological advances,” the report said, adding there had been no review of GM covered by the 1996 Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act since 2001.

The report titled, New Zealand firms: Reaching for the frontier, said it was good practice to regularly review regulatory regimes, to ensure they remained fit for purpose, accommodated new technologies and did not stifle innovation.

The Climate Change Commission made a similar recommendation in its recent draft advice to government regarding GM. . . 

Feds – overdue GM discussion offers GHG solution:

As reports on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions continue to be rolled out, it was the government’s reaction to another report – the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on genetic engineering – that caught Federated Farmers’ attention.

“Farmers are intensely interested in further reducing their world-leading GHG emissions footprint per kilogram of food produced, but the Federation has been saying for several years now that we need new tools to do so,” Feds president and climate change spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“Genetic modification is one of those new technologies that offers exciting potential.”

Last year, the Productivity Commission’s ‘Reaching for the Frontier’ final report said the Government should undertake a full review of the regulation of genetic modification (GM), to ensure it is fit for purpose and supports domestic innovation. . . 

Majority of Dunstan Downs to be preserved for conservation under tenure review :

The majority of high country station Dunstan Downs across Canterbury * and Otago is set to be preserved for conservation.

A tenure review agreement will see around 12,250 hectares, or 99 percent of the station become conservation land.

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) head of crown property Sonya Wikitera said public feedback informed the decision to make more of the pastoral lease conservation land and improve public access to the area.

Wikitera said it was significantly higher than the 9500 hectares proposed to become conservation land under the preliminary proposal. . . 

Decision to approve new export log fumigant :

A decision-making committee of the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved an application for a new gas to fumigate export logs and timber.

EDN is a new tool to kill common pests found in wood. It is a potential alternative to methyl bromide, which is now heavily restricted.

EDN is already approved for use in Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, and Russia. The Czech-based manufacturer, Draslovka, applied to the EPA for approval to import the gas into Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The EPA’s role in regulating hazardous substances involves carefully balancing environmental, health, economic, and cultural factors. The application process for EDN has been lengthy due to the complex technical considerations required for the safe use of the fumigant,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s Hazardous Substances group. . . 

Forest owners call for forest trade mission to India following approval of new fumigant for log exports :

The Forest Owners Association wants a delegation of government ministers to urgently go to India to try to re-open the export log market there, following the New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority approval for EDN fumigation of export log stacks.

The EPA has just announced it has approved the use of ethanedinitrile as a replacement for methyl bromide to fumigate logs in New Zealand before they are exported.

EDN is a far more environmentally friendly fumigant. It is effective on insects and pathogens, but breaks down quickly in the environment. It is neither a greenhouse gas nor does it deplete the ozone layer.

India however still stipulates that methyl bromide must be used for log imports from New Zealand. No other fumigants are currently approved by India. . . 

opportunity for new entrants, the report highlights some of the key concerns and sets out a series of recommendations to governments to address the issues. . . 

Sydney Royal 2022: Bathurst’s Jessica Fernley named 2022 Rural Achiever – Billy Jupp:

BATHURST’S Jessica Fernley has been named the 2022 Sydney Royal Easter Show Rural Achiever, standing out in field of eight impressive finalists.

This year’s winner was announced at a function held in the Sky Deck, Olympic Park, on Tuesday night, which capped off an action-packed week for the Rural Achiever finalists.

The RAS Rural Achiever award is a state-wide program run by the RAS of NSW to help shine a light on emerging young leaders aged 20-29, who are focused on contributing to their communities and regional Australia.

Having recently completed a bachelor’s degree rural science at University of New England Jessica is currently completing a masters in global development through James Cook University, with the hopes of helping build resilience in farming communities. . . 

* Dunstan Downs is on the right side of the Waitaki River, that puts it in Otago, not Canterbury.


Rural round-up

26/03/2022

Tairāwhiti flood damage ‘will take about a year’ to clean up – Niva Chittock:

A Gisborne farmer and former councillor is predicting it will take Tairāwhiti a year to recover from this week’s flooding.

The region has been saturated over the past three days, with rain turning roads into rivers, washing away cows, caravans and bridges.

For Tokomaru Bay, this is the second severe flood in less than a year.

The town was hit by extensive flooding in June last year, which left Hatea-a-Rangi School students out of their classrooms for eight months while repairs were completed. . . 

Central Hawke’s Bay: Deluge washes dead animals into waterways, roads closed, rivers rise – Jake McKee:

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council is anticipating an expensive bill as it prepares to clean up from heavy rain that has hit the area over the past two days.

There have been significant road closures – peaking at 30 roads closed simultaneously, some with serious damage – and water restrictions that officials say could last days.

River levels got so high in some areas that they are lapping at the bases of bridges, including washing away a swingbridge the council says is “beloved”.

Mayor Alex Walker said it had been an “intense” couple of days and the district had not seen rain like this for 10 years. . .

Southland, Otago farms grappling with dry conditions – Neal Wallace:

A FOUR-MONTH dry spell in Southland and parts of Otago is making this summer the toughest in memory for many farmers, compounded by a lack of access to meatworks and a shortage of supplementary feed.

Coastal Southland is the driest since Environment Southland started keeping records 50 years ago, with most areas recording just 60% of the normal rainfall from December through until the end of February.

Dry conditions are spreading north into the rest of Southland, South Otago and West Otago.

Total rainfall in normally summer reliable Southland from October till now at one site is 300mm below normal, with just 2mm falling so far in March. . . 

Caring for the rural community – Neal Wallace:

An endless appetite for work is a feature of many young farming couples, but as Neal Wallace discovers, by any measure Southlanders Jono and Kayla Gardyne have shown an exceptional commitment to their futures – albeit in different areas.

The tribe of magpies chose the wrong time to invade the Gardyne property.

A shotgun resting against a wall was evidence Kayla could no longer handle the disruptive noise and activity outside her home office window, as she studied for her medical degree.

The pests progressively came off second best with six magpies dispatched, reinforcing that not only were they unwelcome, but that Kayla needed to focus on her studies. . . .

New Zealand Institute of Rural Health to join Hauora Taiwhnua Rural Health Network:

The New Zealand Institute of Rural Health (the Institute) will bring a wealth of rural health research history and knowledge when it joins forces with Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network when the new organisation officially launches in July 2022.

Since its beginning in 2001, the Institute has supported several large rural research projects and supported a variety of other important work.

Some of these achievements include the establishment of the national e-learning service in conjunction with the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, the development of support programmes for undergraduate students, and the publication of the New Zealand Rural Health Care – Standard Treatment Guidelines First Edition.

Trustees of the Institute believe its vision of a healthy future for rural New Zealanders is shared by Hauora Taiwhenua, and that uniting as one will strengthen the shared voice of both organisations. . .

NAIT defers a decision to increase levies to further consider submissions received :

The National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme, NAIT Limited, closed consultation with farmers and collection agents on proposed increases to NAIT levies on Friday 25 February 2022.

Together with proposed increases in Crown and deer industry contributions, it is proposed that these levies will be used to continue the important work NAIT Limited has been doing since the M. bovis outbreak in 2017 to improve the traceability system so that it is easy for farmers to use and performs in the event of a disease outbreak.

The consultation proposal was distributed to all registered persons in charge of NAIT animals, funders, and collection agents. The consultation proposal was also promoted extensively using rural media, radio, and social media.

Throughout the 5-week consultation period, NAIT Ltd ran 4 public webinars and attended 19 committee meetings and primary sector events to discuss the proposal and allow stakeholders an opportunity to ask questions and have their say. A total of 147 submissions were made with a mix of submitters, including levy payers, primary sector groups and collection agents. . . 

 

Learning the key for West Coast Top of SOuth Dairy Industry Award Winners :

First-time entrants who say they live and work in paradise have been announced as the major winners in the 2022 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards.

Kevin and Kyla Freeman were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year Category at the annual awards dinner held in Shantytown on Thursday night. The other big winners were Robyn Mare, who was named the 2022 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Lisa Peeters the 2022 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Freemans are 50/50 share milkers on Mark and Julie Freeman’s 140ha Nelson farm milking 390 cows. They won $10,895 in prizes and five merit awards.

“We entered the Awards programme to look at every aspect of our business with others to critique,” they say. “It was a chance to analyse, learn and improve areas of weakness and identify areas of opportunities to grow.” . . 


Rural round-up

22/03/2022

Book culling space now! – Peter Burke:

Livestock farmers are being urged to plan ahead for possible meat processing disruption due to Covid-19.

The expectation of some farmers that they can ring up a buyer at short notice and have animals collected quickly and taken to the processing works is unrealistic at the moment.

The chair of the Animal Welfare Forum Lindsay Burton says with Omicron in the community, there is a high degree of uncertainty around the availability of a labour force in processing plants. He says even before the recent omicron outbreak, the industry was 5,500 workers short and the situation has the potential to get worse.

The Farm to Processor Animal Welfare Forum – a grouping of various industries related to livestock farming – says it is critical that farmers book space at meat processors well in advance. It is also warning farmers to be prepared to potentially hold stock on farm for longer. . . 

‘It’s beyond a joke’ – farmer outraged at milk tanker fracas near front gate – Chloe Blommerde:

A dairy farmer reckons $80,000 worth of milk could have gone down the drain during a milk tanker fracas with boy racers on the road near his front gate.

Footage of the incident shows a group of people crowding around a Fonterra tanker and its driver in the middle of the night as a stream of white pours onto the tarseal, however it’s unclear how much was lost.

Police received a report that a milk truck was damaged by a group of people near the intersection of Stokes and Orini roads in Waikato around 1.20am on Saturday.

The rural crossroads is a well-known spot for street racers to park up and do burnouts at the weekend. . . 

Fonterra to exit Russian business :

Fonterra has today announced it will exit its businesses in Russia. This follows the Co-op’s decision to suspend shipments of product to Russia at the end of February.

CEO Miles Hurrell says “our first step following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was to establish the safety of the team in Russia, and our priority through this process continues to be doing the right thing by our people.

“We then suspended shipment of product to Russia while we assessed the impact of economic sanctions and discussed our long-term plans with our customers and joint venture partner.

“Following careful consideration of the impact on our people and our long-term plans for the Russian market, we will now close our office in Moscow, re-deploying staff where possible, and withdraw from our joint venture Unifood.” . .

Business relationships crucial to success of winning farmers :

Bay of Plenty Share Farmer of the Year winners Scott and Becks O’Brien say farmers have nothing to lose and everything to gain in Dairy Industry Awards. Their advice to potential entrants is to give it a go.

“Whether you come first or last doesn’t really matter, because the networking with so many different people, and the feedback and information and scrutiny you’re getting on your business is as valuable as winning. You just have to give it a go. It’s little nerve wracking, but we really enjoyed it, and what you get out of it is so worth it.”

The O’Briens are sharemilking 900 cows on two farms about 10 minutes apart in the Galatea district. Since 2017 they have milked 650 cows on Rory and Susan Gordon’s 260-hectare farm, and since 2020 have been milking 250 cows on Cathy and Peter Brown’s 100-hectare property.

Scott has been dairy farming since he left school, just over 20 years ago. He and Becks have been married for 16 years. The start of their relationship was dramatic, with 21-year-old Becks diagnosed with cancer just after they met. It has permanently affected her voice, but after being at home with their young family – 12-year-old Hunter, 10-year-old Summer, and 8-year-old Piper – she has become an educational support worker at Galatea School (where Scott is also on the board of trustees). . . 

From Auckland to Reporoa lifestyle choice brings success in Dairy Industry Awards:

A former Auckland sales and marketing executive and a former adventure tourism guide and boutique lodge manager have won the 2022 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year title.

Todd and Renee Halliday were announced the winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Central Plateau Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Lake Taupō Yacht Club on Thursday night. The other big winners were Satveer Singh, who was named the 2022 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year, and Zoe Bryson, the 2022 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Todd was born and bred in Auckland city and had never set foot on a farm until he met Renee, who is a dairy farmer’s daughter. The couple spent five years in the hospitality sector managing boutique lodges together before entering the dairy industry in 2009.

Todd initially spent two years as a farm assistant in Reporoa before progressing to a management role for a further two years. He and Renee then spent seven years in Mid Canterbury before returning to Reporoa where they now contract milk and are equity partners with Phil and Diane Herdman, on a 153ha Reporoa property, milking 520 cows. They won $17,060 in prizes and eight merit awards. . . 

RIP plant based meat mania – Prime Future:

I am often asked about my view on alternative meats and the threat they pose to old fashioned, plant-fed meat. I’ve stayed away from that question, for the most part because I’m just more interested in plant-fed meat.

First, it’s important to separate “alternative meat” into 3 distinct buckets: plant-based, fermented, cell-based.

Today we are looking at the plant-based meat category. Spoiler alert: I find the plant-based meat category bland and uninspiring. And honestly, I think we can reasonably lay plant-based meat mania to rest in peace in the history books, right alongside 1990’s emu farming mania in the US.

Some background on VC’s appetite for the category: . . 


Rural round-up

25/02/2022

Forestry rule changes for overseas investors planning to convert farmland – Maja Burry:

The government is winding back rules which have made it easier for foreign investors to purchase farmland in New Zealand for forestry conversions.

The special forestry test is used when an investor is looking to invest in production forestry for harvesting.

It was introduced in late 2018 in a bid to support the government’s forestry priorities, including more tree planting.

Farming groups have repeatedly called on the government to urgently review foreign investment in forestry, warning too much productive farmland was being lost . .

Passion fruit growers lose up to 80% of crop to Fasarium disease – Sally Murphy:

Some of the country’s passion fruit growers have lost up to 80 percent of their crop due to a plant disease.

Fasarium – also known as passion fruit wilt – is a fungus that infects the plant through the roots, travels up the plant stem and cause the leaves to yellow, killing the plant.

NZ Passion fruit Growers Association president Rebekah Vlaanderen said the disease had been more prevalent in the last two years due to warmer weather.

“It was first discovered here in 2015 but we think it’s probably always been here, it’s pretty common overseas,” Vlaanderen said. . . 

TEG wins Gold Award for  project to keep meat processing industry safe :

Workers at some of Aotearoa’s largest meat processing plants are feeling safer at work thanks to a large-scale project by TEG Risk and Sustainability Services that has won Gold at the ACE Awards Tuesday 22 February.

TEG was employed by ANZCO Foods, Bremworth, Sanford, and Alliance Group to identify risks at their seven plants across the country to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

One of the biggest meat processors in the country with 2,800 machines and 5,000 employees, Alliance Group needed a pragmatic and risk-effective approach. TEG worked on a massive scale to identify nearly 7,000 risks. . . 

Record first half earnings at Comvita:

§ Record H1 operating profit $7.2m, +39.4% versus PCP (+2.0m)

§ Record H1 EBITDA $12.1m, +14.1% versus PCP (+$1.5m)

Double digit top and bottom-line growth in focus growth markets, China and North America

Double digit top and bottom-line growth in Mānuka honey product category . . 

Wireless providers ready to speed up rural broadband:

New Zealand’s wireless internet service providers are gearing up to take part in a major upgrade to benefit New Zealand’s rural Internet users.

$47 million dollars is going to be spent to upgrade New Zealand’s rural broadband capacity with the goal of increasing the internet speed of 47,000 rural households and businesses by the end of 2024.

The Minister for the Digital Economy, David Clark, made the announcement yesterday, saying the Rural Capacity Upgrade will see cell towers upgraded and new towers built in rural areas experiencing poor performance, as well as fibre, additional VDSL coverage and other wireless technology deployed in congested areas.

Mike Smith, the head of WISPA NZ, the group representing more than 30 wireless internet service providers around New Zealand, says this is a great step up for many rural households. . . 

The hidden life of a farmer: playful cows, imperious sheep – and a grinding struggle for survival – Sirin Kale:

The UK has some of the cheapest food in the world, but thanks to spiralling costs and the effects of Brexit, farmers like Rachel Hallos are on the edge. She explains why she could soon lose the way of life she loves – and her family depends on.

The stereotype is that farmers are up with the crowing cockerel, but that’s only really dairy farmers. Most days it is not until 7.45am that you’ll find Rachel Hallos swinging open the door of Beeston Hall Farm in Ripponden, Yorkshire. Beeston Hall is a hill farm overlooking Baitings reservoir, which lies in the valley of the River Ryburn. The 800-hectare (2,000-acre) farm consists of steep fields demarcated by dry stone walls that crumble in a squall. The hill is crested by heather-covered moorland that turns purple in summer and copper in autumn. Hallos lives in a traditional Pennines farmhouse made out of handsome slabs of grey Yorkshire gritstone. A Brontë house, for Brontë country. Inside, wan light streams through single-pane windows on to a well-trodden oak staircase that creaks.

Hallos steps outside, dressed in a padded waterproof coat and wellies. She is met by a cacophony of noise. Her terrier Jack yaps with shrill urgency. Jim, a border collie, barks incessantly. Hallos feeds the dogs and then the two scrawny black-and-white cats, which sleep in the outbuildings and yowl for treats at the kitchen window. She fills a sack with hay that is sweet-smelling and almost yeasty, from the fermentation process that takes place when it is stored in plastic for the winter months. She hoists the sack on to her shoulder like Father Christmas and takes it to feed Aiden and Danny, her dun geldings.

It is late October 2021. Autumn is Hallos’s favourite season. The trees around the reservoir are gold-flecked, ochre and vermilion. Her herd of 200 cows and calves and flock of 400 sheep are out in the fields. The cows will return when the frost sets in; the sheep stay out all winter. Hallos usually feels a sense of quiet satisfaction this time of year. The autumn calves are grazing beside their mothers in the fields. The sheds have been power-hosed and disinfected, ready for winter. There’s a bit of breathing room, after the rigours of summer: the never-ending hay baling and attending to the newborn calves and lambs. In autumn, Hallos can start to plan for the spring calves and lambs. Which tup will go with which sheep, and which bull with which cow? . . 


Rural round-up

18/02/2022

Climate scientists urge countries to adopt split gas approach :

In a paper published in the prestigious Nature journal, 33 leading climate scientists call for countries to take a split gas approach when setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction, such as New Zealand did in our Climate Change Response Act (Zero Carbon Bill).

The paper also encourages countries to use a split gas approach when determining their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. 

The natural extension is that countries should report on warming rather than just emissions, something B+LNZ has been asking for for some time.  

The paper is an important and valuable contribution to conversations about reporting and targets. We’ll be using it as part of our ongoing advocacy efforts, alongside like-minded organisations such as the Meat Industry Association, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Deer Industry New Zealand and others. This means sharing it with Government officials and providing information to media outlets to build understanding.  . . 

Staff shortage still a struggle despite new policy – Neal Wallace:

Just a handful of foreign dairy farm workers and agricultural machinery operators have been granted access following Government changes to the class exception policy approved in December.

Data supplied by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) reveals just 51 foreign dairy farm workers and 15 mobile plant operators have been granted visas under the new class exception policy.

Despite pleas from the meat industry for a class exemption for Halal butchers, approval for inclusion in the scheme is yet to be considered by Cabinet.

The uptake of the revised policy is well short on the number the Government allowed for. . . 

Passion for farming goes a long way – Colin Williscroft:

Align Farms chief executive Rhys Roberts recently won the 2022 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award, which supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector. Colin Williscroft reports.

He may be chief executive of a company that operates seven farms, a market garden, a milk factory and a yoghurt brand, but Rhys Roberts’ pathway was one that has traditionally been followed by many in the dairy sector.

Roberts and his wife Kiri were Canterbury sharemilkers before joining Align Farms nine years ago as farm managers.

Then after a stint as operations manager, he was appointed chief executive in 2017. . . 

Woolly thinking pays off

Serial entrepreneur Logan Williams will be a guest speaker at this month’s East Coast Farming Expo.

He may only still be in his 20s, but Williams has a track record that is the envy of many. The inventor and entrepreneur has already developed and sold four inventions to international corporations, including one that could create a turning point for the struggling wool industry.

Williams is currently combining coarse wool with polylactic acid derived from corn starch and other polymers to produce Keravos pellets that can be used instead of plastic. Torpedo 7 is about to launch a kayak range made from the revolutionary material and trials are well underway with ski boots, furniture, and other products.

“Our factory in Hamilton can make four tonnes a day of these pellets, so the plan is that we partner with large companies who are already making product and away we go – plug and play,” he explains. . . 

Fonterra, NZX and EEX enter GDT partnership for future growth :

Fonterra has agreed a strategic partnership with New Zealand’s Exchange (NZX) and the European Energy Exchange (EEX) to each take ownership stakes in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) alongside the Co-op.

Subject to the approval of Boards, clearance from European or any other relevant competition law authorities, and finalisation of transaction documentation, the partnership is expected to be completed mid-2022, with Fonterra, NZX and EEX each holding an equal one-third (33.33%) shareholding in the global dairy auction platform.

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says the move to a broader ownership structure marks the next step in the evolution of GDT – further enhancing the standing of GDT as an independent, neutral, and transparent price discovery platform, giving it a presence in prominent international dairy producing regions, and creating future growth opportunities. . .

New Zealand’s first plant based milk bottle hits South Island shelves :

  • Anchor’s plant-based bottle, made from sugarcane – which is a natural, renewable and sustainably sourced material – is now available in the South Island.
  • The new bottle is an example of sustainable packaging which is something that is important to Anchor and its consumers.
  • Since the plant-based bottle was launched in the North Island in 2020, Kiwis have saved enough emissions to travel from Cape Reinga to Bluff 363 times*
  • Anchor’s plant-based bottle is recyclable in kerbside recycling collections . . 

Rural round-up

13/12/2021

Hands on training to develop future farmers – Colin Williscroft:

AS MOST farmers know, sometimes if you want something to happen you’ve got to get in there and give things a push yourself, rather than wait for action from elsewhere.

That was certainly the case for the Growing Future Farmers (GFF) programme, which recently signed a funding agreement with Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) to help it attract and train more young people in the red meat sector.

After winning the B+LNZ Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year award in 2016, Dan and Tam Jex-Blake realised that if they wanted to do something about the skill shortage facing the sector, they had to be proactive themselves.

Jex-Blake says there was and still is an absolute need to get more skilled people on-farm and the pipeline of young people wanting to enter the industry was drying up. . . 

 

Passion for growing agri-business education – Kate Taylor:

The introduction of agribusiness to New Zealand’s secondary school curriculum was a team effort, but continues to be driven by the enthusiasm of Waikato teacher Kerry Allen.

Kerry grew up near Rotorua on a dry-stock farm that has been in her family for more than 100 years. She worked in a plant nursery at weekends, did a horticulture degree at Lincoln University and then teacher training in Christchurch. After teaching horticulture and then science at Hillcrest High School for 18 years, Kerry took a new curriculum and resource writing position with St Paul’s Collegiate School in 2014.

The idea of an agribusiness curriculum grew from parent feedback that general education wasn’t meeting the needs of the primary sector. St Paul’s introduced agricultural and horticultural science classes, then expanded into agribusiness by using standards from other subjects, re-contextualised in a primary sector context. That worked, but they wanted to take it further as its own subject. They started getting other schools on board and began the process of asking the Ministry of Education to introduce it as a new subject. . .

Deer venture enters new territory – Sally Rae:

“We live it. We love it.”

North Otago farmer Bryce Burnett is talking about his family’s passion for the deer industry and venison which they have been producing at their Kauru Hill property for nearly 40 years.

It was his father Russell who made the move into deer, during the early stages of the industry, buying 30 hinds from Mark Acland in 1982 to add to his sheep farming operation.

Bryce took over in 2000 with his wife Janice, and, two years later, the couple decided to focus solely on deer on the 360ha property, inland from Oamaru. . . 

Bird highway takes flight – Country Life:

There’s a new highway taking shape at the southernmost tip of the North Island but not for sheep trucks or milk tankers.

Farmers like Stu Weatherstone, who operates one of Wairarapa’s largest dairy farms, are getting in behind the scheme to create a bird corridor across the valley.

The four year Tonganui Corridor project linking the Aorangi range in the east and the Remutaka mountains in the west involves planting and protecting tens of thousands of trees on strips and pockets of farmland in the South Wairarapa valley.

It’s hoped the corridor will eventually link the ranges and allow birds, insect life and other native species to flourish across the basin. . . 

Wine industry commences major research programme to protect and enhance New Zealand sauvignon blanc :

Bragato Research Institute (BRI) is excited to announce today that through a partnership with the government, work has begun on its Sauvignon Blanc Grapevine Improvement Programme. The research programme will develop new variants of New Zealand’s premier wine varietal, Sauvignon Blanc, to make the wine industry both more resilient and more sustainable. More resilient by identifying traits such as drought and frost resistance, and more sustainable by seeking natural resistance to pests and diseases.

“The New Zealand wine industry has a substantial track record of coming together to create large R&D projects for the benefit of the industry as a whole. This will be the first national grapevine improvement programme in the country,” says BRI CEO, Jeffrey Clarke.

BRI has designed an accelerated 7-year research programme that will apply the latest genome sequencing technology, after using established tissue culture techniques. This will allow BRI to create up to 20,000 entirely new variants of contemporary New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and then screen them to identify plants that exhibit the most useful traits selected by the wine industry. . . 

‘Replacing meat with highly processed food would repeat the health disasters of the 1970s’ – Dr Gary Fettke:

Wading through decades of nutrition research led orthopedic surgeon Gary Fettke and his wife Belinda to discover how health concerns over meat consumption have been falsified by statistical manipulation, misinformation, and biased promotion, and underlined the propaganda war designed to create a fear of meat and  drive its replacement with highly processed plant products. Dr Fettke outlined the outcomes of his extensive research in his opening statement to the Senate Inquiry into definitions of meat and other foods earlier this week, which appears in full below.

THE 1970’s saw the blame pointed at saturated fat and the introduction of low fat, sugary processed foods.

That was a health disaster.

We cannot repeat that with the demoniSation of meat and replacement with more highly processed and fortified foods. . .


Rural round-up

25/11/2021

Surge of demand for NZ meat, continuing supply chain disruption predicted for 2022 :

Disruption that has permeated primary sectors throughout 2021 will persist next year, a report from rural lender Rabobank says.

Demand was strong and set to grow further as economies continued to reopen, and balancing high costs through the supply chain would be a key challenge according to the Global Animal Protein Outlook report.

Rabobank global strategist for animal protein Justin Sherrard said changes within the market would be an opportunity for growth, rather than solely a risk.

“Rabobank sees agile business leadership as the most likely route to sustainable growth and is advising firms to embrace consumer preferences for sustainability and to be prepared for a surge in demand as economies continue to reopen and adjust following Covid-19-induced lockdowns.” . . 

Groundswell here to say – ODT Editorial:

It was always going to be a hard act to follow.

After the phenomenal turnout for Groundswell New Zealand’s Howl of a Protest in July — estimated nationally at around 60,000 people — the probability of a repeat performance seemed less likely.

Yet the turnout for the second protest event on Sunday, dubbed Mother of All Protests, showed the depth of feeling that continues to exist in the rural community, as horn-honking tractors and placard-bearing utes rolled into towns and cities throughout the country. From humble beginnings, dreamed up by a couple of concerned cockies in the South, Groundswell has become a juggernaut and that has brought its own difficulties.

Unable to manage all aspects of it, Groundswell has been forced to distance itself from controversy — as claims have been made linking it from everybody from Brian Tamaki to other anti-vaxxers — with social media unhelpfully helping to fuel the fire of misinformation. Throw in some particularly distasteful posts from agribusinessman Ross Townshend, a former Groundswell organiser in the North Island who should have known better and who has been kicked to touch by Tatua, the dairy company on whose board he was a director, and it has not helped the Groundswell name. . . 

Forget Groundswell: now farmers are in a real fight – Richard Harman:

Forget the tractors and the angry groundswell signs; the real battle between farmers and the Government kicked off yesterday when farmers got the formal proposal to price methane and nitrous oxide emissions from their farms.

The stakes, both political and economic, are huge.

That much was clear yesterday in the immediate reaction of Federated Farmers who even though they have been involved in developing the proposal offered it only a guarded welcome.

Farmers have been offered two schemes to consider; one which would price the methane according to a complex calculation based on the Farm Environmental Plan of how much methane their farm emitted. The other is a more straightforward levy on milk and meat delivered to processors. . .

No rest for the wicked at Less Valley Station :

The new farm manager at one of New Zealand’s biggest sheep and beef properties in North Canterbury has hit the ground running.

As well as getting up to speed with a holistic grazing system established by the farm’s US owners, Michael Whyte is also dealing with extensive damage to infrastructure caused by devastating floods in June.

The down-to earth farmer is relishing the challenge of running Lees Valley Station.

“I’m enjoying the valley life, but it’s also the climate. I love the seasonal changes. You get up in the morning and you don’t know if it’s going to snow or be 30 degrees. It’s really quiet and peaceful too,” he says. . .

Heritage vegetables, vintage tools, full skirts and bonnets – Guy Frederick:

It’s hard to believe that on September 1, 2020 there was nothing but a bare patch of ground where there is now a thriving vegetable garden.

Six months later, in the historic Totara Estate just south of Oamaru, bees were happily resident, herbs in full flower, and big, blood red, healthy beetroots were being pulled from the soil. It felt like the garden had been there for a mighty long time.

“We have to get cracking,” Alison Albiston had said in early September when she first visited the site, referring to summer’s imminent arrival.

Headhunted by Totara Estate Manager Keren Mackay and resident guide and cook Annie Baxter, Albiston jumped at the opportunity to get stuck into a project involving soils and plants, coinciding with her move into Oamaru after 45 years of country living at Burnside Homestead, inland from Oamaru, where Albiston and her husband Bruce lovingly restored the property to its original plans. . .

Halal certified red meat exports jump  :

Halal-certified red meat exports increased 13 per cent during the 2020-2021 season with most product going to non-Muslim markets, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported a total of 471,072 tonnes of halal product during the season (12 months ending 30 September) – 46.5 per cent of total red meat and offal exports. This compared to 417,323 tonnes during 2019-2020.

China was the largest market for New Zealand halal-certified red meat during the 2020-2021 season, purchasing 341,618 tonnes, 74 per cent of the total and a 23 per cent increase on the previous year.

The United States was the second highest with 20,042 tonnes, followed by Canada’s 18,945 tonnes, Indonesia with 17,604 tonnes, Saudi Arabia with 7,710 tonnes and Malaysia with 7,289 tonnes. . . 


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