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. . . 


Rural round-up

16/11/2021

‘M. bovis’ lessons will fortify system: report – Sally Rae:

An independent review panel is confident the lessons learned from the Mycoplasma bovis incursion — if acted upon — will enable New Zealand to have a “far stronger preparedness platform” for future animal disease incursions.

A review of the cattle disease’s eradication programme found it was on track to achieve a world-first eradication and made recommendations to improve the wider biosecurity system.

It was the largest incursion response ever conducted in New Zealand and, given the country was on track to successful elimination, was a credit to all involved, the report released yesterday said.

No response would ever follow a predictable plan but, in 2017, the readiness and response system was not as well prepared as it was thought to be, it said. . .

Study highlights dangerous disconnect rural hospitals face as specter of Covid-19 looms :

Rural hospital doctors are reporting a lack of support from DHBs during the first Covid-19 outbreak, in new research by the University of Otago.

Dr Kati Blattner, from the University of Otago, says there is a disconnect between different parts of the health system, when it comes to transferring patients, that often ignores both local expertise and the geography.

“This research puts the spotlight on a sector of our health system that’s generally invisible, as we see it out here, at the end of the dripline,” she told Morning Report.

The study involved interviewing 17 senior doctors across New Zealand in 17 different rural hospitals about their experiences planning for the pandemic. It looked specifically at issues in the way of transferring patients to other bigger hospitals so they could receive advanced respiratory care. . .

Fonterra farmers to vote on co-op’s capital structure proposal :

Fonterra has today announced it will proceed with a shareholder vote on the change to the Co-operative’s capital structure, which would give farmers greater financial flexibility and better enable the Co-op’s strategy.

Fonterra Chairman Peter McBride says the Board and Management are united in the belief that the Flexible Shareholding structure is the best course of action for the Co-operative.

The decision to go ahead as planned has been informed by a significant volume of shareholder feedback that shows strong support for the changes.

“The Board is unanimously recommending the changes to our capital structure to put us in the best position to deliver the value outlined in the strategy and protect farmer ownership and control of our Co-op. . .

Federated Farmers partners with NZ YOung Farmers to offer free memberships :

New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) is excited to announce Federated Farmers has jumped on board as a benefit partner to offer a complimentary NZYF Federated Farmers Membership, exclusive to its members.

It’s already had a strong response, with more than 100 NZYF members having signed up within the first day of its launch.

With more members seeking tangible benefits, NYF CEO Lynda Coppersmith said she was thrilled to add the NZYF Federated Farmers Membership to the list.

“Providing a direct link with Federated Farmers for our members is going to benefit the sector hugely,” she said. . . 

Testing the waters – Country Life:

Christine Finnigan is scanning the stream bed looking for kākahi.

“I found one and it’s very much alive,” she calls to fellow farmer Kim Bills and ag consultant Terry Parminter.

The freshwater mussels, especially baby ones, are a sign the creek is relatively healthy, even though it is in the middle of Bills’ dairy block.

The stream flows through a lush stand of bush, which has been fenced off from the young bulls bellowing in the distance. . .

HortNZ scholarship applications open to support next-gen growers:

Students considering a career in New Zealand’s growing horticulture industry are encouraged to apply for Horticulture New Zealand’s scholarships.

Applications for HortNZ’s annual undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships are open until 10 December 2021 for the 2022 study period.

HortNZ chief executive Nadine Tunley says that the scholarship programme supports students who have a special interest in the fruit or vegetable industry to pursue their careers.

“Young people are the future of the horticulture industry. That is why HortNZ offers these scholarships – worth up to $10,000 – to support the next generation of innovators and leaders. . .

FMG Young Farmer of the year 2022 Otago Southland regional finalists announced :

The finalists for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 Otago Southland Regional Final have been chosen for the Contest’s 54th season.

Featuring shepherds/sheep and beef farmers, a fencing contractor and rural and agribusiness bankers, only one person will be named 2022 Otago Southland FMG Young Farmer of the Year in February.

Ben Harmer, Isaac Johnston, Matt Sullivan, Andrew Cowie, Alex Field, George Blyth, Kurt Knarston and James Fox are the top eight competitors in the Otago Southland region, whittled down from 37 competitors over two district contests.

They will go head-to-head at the Otago Southland Regional Final on the 12th of February in Waimumu. . . 

 


Rural round-up

27/10/2021

Fonterra increases 2021/22 forecast farmgate milk price :

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today increased and narrowed its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range to NZD $7.90 – $8.90 per kgMS, from NZD $7.25 – $8.75 per kgMS.

The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, has increased to NZD $8.40 per kgMS, from NZD $8.00 per kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the lift in the 2021/22 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range is a result of continued demand for New Zealand dairy relative to supply.

“At a $8.40 midpoint, this would equal the highest Farmgate Milk Price paid by the Co-op, and would see almost $13 billion flow into regional New Zealand through milk price payments this season. . .

New research highlights NZ beef’s differences :

Pasture-raised beef is a cornerstone of the New Zealand meat industry.

However, it is not clear if it is understood the benefits consumers get from the meat when it is raised this way.

New research from the Riddet Institute indicates there are differences in meat quality relating to health and digestion, depending on how the animal is raised.

A Massey University research team led by Dr Lovedeep Kaur and Dr Mike Boland compared the digestion differences between pasture-raised New Zealand beef to grain finished beef and a plant-based alternative. . .

Game deer donated to Kai Rescue charity in Nelson – Samantha Gee:

A  call to manage a population of deer on private land in Nelson has led to a donation of venison to a food rescue programme.

New Zealand Deerstalkers Association Nelson branch committee member David Haynes said a managed hunt was undertaken in order to sustainably manage the number of animals on a recreational property at the request of the landowners.

“They came to the Nelson Deerstalkers to say they’re having problems with some pigs rooting up the ground and damaging some tracks there along with other animals and asked us if we could come in and try and sort of manage those two more sustainable levels.”

Branch president Greg Couper and committee member Carina Jackson culled the deer along with goats and pigs. . . 

New Zealand agritech companies attracting millions of dollars :

New Zealand agritech companies are attracting millions of dollars of investment, proving that Covid is not stopping significant business activity, AgriTechNZ chief executive Brendan O’Connell says.

Aotearoa agritech is seeing remarkable progress in new global partnerships, collaborations, investments and team growth.

A surge of company announcements from around the country support the sector focus exemplified in New Zealand’s agritech industry transformation plan. It feels like fertile ground for a burst of growth in 2022 and beyond, he says.

“Dunedin’s AbacusBio has just announced their deepening relationship with Bayer Crop Science, in the area of predictive plant breeding. . . 

NZ canned win exports set for multimillion dollar growth:

One of New Zealand’s largest exporters of canned wine has launched a multimillion-dollar expansion into North America as its share of the global small format wine market grows.

The move by the Wairarapa winemaker into the lucrative US market, follows an approach from $16bn retail chain Wholefoods after a win in a major canned wine competition.

The international market for canned wines is growing at a rate of 13% per annum and is projected to reach over $807m by 2028. In contrast, the bottled wine category remains stagnant with a growth rate of 4%.

The wine industry has struggled to attract millennials and small format options are increasingly being seen as a mechanism to deliver a more portable, environmentally friendly and portion-controlled product for this health-conscious segment. . . 

Could our national fungus become the blue food dye of the future? – Olivia Sisson :

Aotearoa’s very own werewere kōkako could be the secret to all-natural Powerade, blue jelly beans and even the elusive blue Froot Loop. Olivia Sisson speaks to a scientist trying to make it happen.

Blue food is having an absolute moment.

From the rise of blue spirulina smoothie bowls and blue rice to the resurgence of Blue Hawaii cocktails –  eating aqua is in.

A few months ago @shityoushouldcareabout brought a blue food inequity to the fore: New Zealanders are missing out on blue Froot Loops. The American version of the cereal contains orange, green, purple and blue loops.  . . 

 

Cow manure makes DRINKABLE water after scientists turn the animal feces into a filter that removes salt from seawater – Stacy Libertore:

Cow manure may be used largely for fertilizing, but some researchers are using it to turn seawater into freshwater.

Scientists at Northeastern University developed a process that turns the bovine feces into a filter that purifies otherwise undrinkable water – an innovation the team hopes can address the global water crisis.

By blasting the manure with intense heat, scientists broke it down to a carbon powder that was made into a foam. 

The foam floats on the seawater’s surface and when sunlight hits the area, water beneath the black material turns to steam and passes through it as drinkable liquid. . . 


Rural round-up

20/10/2021

NZ primary sector best performer in global emissions survey :

The New Zealand agriculture, land use and forestry sector has been ranked No 1 of 32 nations for the way it is getting to grips with climate change issues.

“With environmental NGOs and commentators regularly pointing the finger of blame at our farmers it’s pleasing to see an independent and in-depth assessment tell a very different story,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

For its just-published Net Zero Readiness Index (NZRI), global consultancy KPMG examined 103 indicators of commitment and performance on decarbonizing in 32 countries, which together are responsible for around three-quarters of global emissions.

It ranked our overall national performance at No 9, with Norway, the UK and Sweden taking out the top three places. . . .

 Rising costs eat into dairy payout – Tim Cronshaw:

Rising costs are taking some of the fun out of a high payout forecast for Mid Canterbury farmers.

Farmers still recovering from June floods are facing on-farm inflation that is pushing out the break-even point.

Fonterra’s unchanged forecast for a milk price range is $7.25 to $8.75, with a mid-point of $8.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury dairy chairman Nick Giera said most farmers would end up with five years of strong payouts if this held up. . . 

Young Farmers launch new club on West Coast :

Networking, events, working bees, and socialising are back on the calendar for Young Farmers on the West Coast.

The brand-new Westland Young Farmers’ Club has been launched for anyone from rural communities in the district aged 15 to 31-years-old to join.

Tasman Regional Chair Cheyenne Wilson said the decision was made to form a new Club to service the West Coast, based in Greymouth, after a number of people expressed interest about getting involved.

“This is really exciting for all young people on the West Coast because you don’t have to work on a farm to join as a member, you could work in any part of a rural community or just want to sign up to make new friends,” she said. . . 

Independently assessed candidates for Fonterra’s Board of Directors election announced:

Incumbent Directors Peter McBride, John Nicholls and Leonie Guiney have been announced as the Independently Assessed Candidates for the 2021 Fonterra Directors’ election. This year there are three Board positions up for election.

The three incumbent Directors are seeking re-election and chose to participate in the Independent Assessment Process. The Panel’s assessment of Peter, John and Leonie will be included in the voting pack and as re-standing Directors they automatically go through to the ballot. No other candidates put themselves forward for the Independent Assessment Process. . . 

T&G Global lowers full year profit expectations :

Persistent labour shortages and rising shipping costs has forced produce grower and exporter T&G Global to lower its full-year profit expectations.

The company is now forecasting earnings of between $4 million and $10m, compared with $16.6m a year ago.

It said the disappointing outlook reflected updated forecasts in the results of a number of T&G business units.

They include apples, due to shipping challenges and associated impacts on pricing and costs, particularly in the northern hemisphere. . .

Organic Dairy Hub announces New Zealand’s first free organic dairy farming ambassador:

Organic Dairy Hub (ODH), the only farmer-owned organic co-operative in Aotearoa, has announced Te Aroha farmer Gavin Fisher will be joining the team as its official Farmer Ambassador.

Fisher has been a key figure in creating a shift towards organic farming in the dairy industry, paving the way for other organic dairy farmers after becoming one of the first farmers to supply Fonterra with organic milk, explains Clay Fulcher, ODH Chief Executive.

“With over 20 years of organic farming experience, Gavin is an absolute expert in organic and regenerative farming, and his role as ambassador gives us the opportunity to educate and advise our other farmers on best practices in these areas – with no cost to them. We expect that our farmers will see a vast difference through the rest of this farming season,” says Fulcher. . . 


Rural round-up

19/09/2021

Horticulture making a comeback in Taranaki – Robin Martin:

Horticulture is making a comeback in Taranaki.

Avocado and kiwifruit orchards are being planted in numbers not seen since 1988 – when the devastation of Cyclone Bola forced many to convert to dairy.

Dairy farmers Holly and Jarrod Murdoch’s leap into kiwifruit came via a knock at the door from a representative from industry giant Apata.

Holly said the Bay of Plenty company’s approach piqued her husband’s interest in the fruit. . . 

Breaking tech barriers – Tony Benny:

Research shows there are numerous barriers to the uptake in technology by farmers and many of these are interconnected.

Farmers’ reluctance to share data is slowing the adoption of technology that could help transform New Zealand’s food production systems to be more sustainable, resilient and consumer-focused, a study by researchers from AgResearch has found.

The study was part of the New Zealand Bioeconomy in the Digital Age (NZBIDA) project, which aims to test if digital technologies can provide new solutions to many of the issues that farmers face today. . . 

Bumper crop’ of kumera selling at low prices :

Kumara prices are sitting at low levels not seen for nearly a decade.

Warm, dry conditions led to this year’s crop being 35 percent higher than last season – about 25,000 tonnes have been harvested.

Despite a spike in sales during lockdown there is still plenty in storage which is keeping the price low for consumers at between $2.50 and $3.50 a kilo.

Delta Produce group in Dargaville is the country’s largest kumara producer, general manager Lochie Wilson said prices haven’t been this low in nine years. . .

Exploring farming alternatives – Avneesh Vincent:

A Te Tairawhiti research project exploring different land-use preferences shows that Maori landowners overwhelmingly value native forest carbon farming over other land uses.

“The research explores how native forest carbon farming could be used as a land development option for Maori land on the East Coast,” former Victoria University student Dr Leo Mercer said.

“Especially when compared with other dominating land use options, namely forestry, sheep and beef farming.”

A particular emphasis was placed on the applicability and feasibility of native forest carbon farming within Aotearoa’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). . . 

Sustainability score card shows good progress for Fonterra:

Fonterra has released its sustainability score card summarising progress towards its people and environmental targets.

Fonterra COO Fraser Whineray says “transparently reporting across a range of sustainability metrics is very important for our Co-operative. At the time of our annual results release next week we will also publish our fifth Sustainability Report. This covers in detail our activities across business, people and environment, three vital ingredients for a sustainable Co-operative. In advance of that, we are sharing a summarised scorecard covering the people and environmental aspects.”

One of the biggest ones is the 11% reduction in GHG emissions from coal in a single year, primarily through the conversion to renewable wood pellets at our Te Awamutu site. This is a great step towards delivering our 2030 target and our goal of getting out of coal by 2037. . . 

New talent and skills to underpin sector’s future:

New Zealand’s ability to provide high quality protein, fibre and produce to consumers prepared to pay a premium for it is starting to resonate more strongly throughout the primary sector.

This has been bought about in part by customers seeking products with a clearly sustainable provenance and back story that meets their desire to purchase food and fibre that treads with a lighter environmental footprint.

This country’s efforts to measure and ensure farming is sustainable, both environmentally and financially, is also helping create multiple opportunities for the next generation of people who want to stake their career within the primary sector.

The simpler, more commodity-based focus of the past has given way to production of food and fibre that require a wider variety of skills and talent to farm, process, research, and market to an increasingly diverse, sophisticated global market. . . 

 


Rural round-up

17/09/2021

Migrant exodus felt in Mid Canterbury – Adam Burns:

The departure of migrant workers thwarted by visa frustrations offshore is adding sting to mid Canterbury’s depleted rural sector.

Growing uncertainty amid stalled immigration settings for migrant workers was forcing New Zealand resident hopefuls to keep their options open with Australia’s agricultural sector dangling the carrot.

Ashburton immigration advisor Maria Jimenez said several Filipino workers had joined the worker exodus to Australia and many more had signalled an interest.

“There’s no pathway to residency,” she said. . .

Pacific corridor brings some relief to Otago orchards – Anuja Nadkarni:

But closed borders to travellers has still cut off supply to a third of the industry’s workforce.

Central Otago cherry farms have been some of the hardest-hit by the labour shortages. 

The region, like many in horticulture and agriculture, has relied on a workforce heavily dominated by foreign workers.

While last week’s announcement that one-way quarantine-free travel corridor for vaccinated workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme would commence from October brought some relief, growers in the region were continuing to face challenges with filling up roles. . . 

ORC pleased with grazing compliance – Hamish MacLean:

The bird’s-eye views that winter grazing monitoring flights give Otago Regional Council staff have revealed no major breaches on Otago farms this year.

The farm monitoring flights, over three months this year, resulted in 140 follow-ups scheduled by compliance staff, council compliance manager Tami Sargeant said.

But the majority of the potential breaches identified were not related to current rules, but to new winter grazing standards, which had not yet taken effect, she said.

“In those cases, our aim is to help educate landowners about the upcoming rules and ensure they will be compliant when the rules come into force,” she said.

Ms Sargeant said staff were pleased with the level of compliance. . . 

We managed to toilet train cows (and they learned faster than a toddler). It could help combat climate change -Douglas Elliffe & Lindsay Matthews:

Can we toilet train cattle? Would we want to?

The answer to both of these questions is yes — and doing so could help us address issues of water contamination and climate change. Cattle urine is high in nitrogen, and this contributes to a range of environmental problems.

When cows are kept mainly outdoors, as they are in New Zealand and Australia, the nitrogen from their urine breaks down in the soil. This produces two problematic substances: nitrate and nitrous oxide.

Nitrate from urine patches leaches into lakes, rivers and aquifers (underground pools of water contained by rock) where it pollutes the water and contributes to the excessive growth of weeds and algae. . . 

Wool farmers see potential salvation in new products for builders, architects – Bonnie Flaws:

The strong wool sector is setting its hopes on the development of new products that could be used in building and manufacturing to increase income for farmers.

While the merino wool market continued to perform, the strong wool sector was in crisis due to competition from synthetic fibres, said The Campaign for Wool New Zealand chairman Tom O’Sullivan​.

The price of strong wool was about $2.50 a kilogram. The cost of shearing sheep was now higher than the value of the wool, O’Sullivan​ said.

But his hope was that the price of strong wool could eventually be on par with merino, which sold for between $15 and $20 a kilogram. At the very least farmers needed to break even, he said. . . 

Kiwifruit companies to amalgamate :

Northland kiwifruit growers will be delivered a stronger service following the proposed amalgamation of Kerikeri-based Orangewood Limited with a wholly owned subsidiary of Seeka Limited.

In a conditional agreement announced 14 September 2021, Orangewood shareholders are being offered 0.6630 new Seeka shares and $1.35 in cash for every Orangewood share.

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks says the deal will further expand Seeka’s operations in the key Northland growth region and deliver a great service to growers. . . 


Rural round-up

10/09/2021

Austrian company given consent to buy 2018ha farm for forestry conversion – Rebecca Ryan:

More farmland is set to be converted into forestry in the Waitaki.

An Austrian company has been given consent to buy a 2018ha sheep and beef farm at Mount Trotter, near Palmerston.

The Overseas Investment Office approved the sale of the farm to 100% Austrian-owned company Cerberus Vermogensverwaltung GmbH, from Peter and Susan Lawson, as trustees of the Lawson Family Trust, for $8.5million.

The consent states the company intends to develop about 1524ha of the land into a commercial forest, principally in pine trees, and has received resource consent to do so. Planting is expected to start next year, and the trees would be harvested in 26 to 32 years. . . 

Flower farmers forced to bin or mulch harvest due to restrictions – Ella Stewart:

Under alert level 4 flower growers aren’t able to sell or distribute their goods. This means months of work and beautiful flowers are going straight into the bin.

On Saturday, Auckland-based flower grower Aila Morgan Guthrie took to her Instagram page to voice her frustration.

“I’ve just finished my harvest for the day and this is only one days’ harvest. It’s going to be the same tomorrow and the same after that and we’ve still got two more weeks of level 4 lockdown and we can’t sell them.

“Is there anyone out there in government or with contacts to government that can help us figure out how we can advocate for flower farmers in level 4. We’re one of the only businesses that have perishable goods that we can’t sell. All meat, fruit, veg – that can all be sold – but as for us, you know well, what do I do with this? This is all just going to go in the compost heap.” . . 

Hope tool can eliminate American Foulbrood –  Shawn McAvinue:

A new technology helping fight against a bee-killing disease is a “massive breakthrough”, an Otago apiarist says.

New Zealand Alpine Honey owner and Project CleanHive chairman Peter Ward, of Hawea, said he ran about 5000 hives across Otago, Southland and the West Coast.

The operation was one of the biggest in the South Island.

He had been beekeeping for nearly 45 years and the highly contagious American Foulbrood disease was a “constant concern”. . . 

Campaign for Wool reveals strategic direction:

Change is on the horizon and the future is bright.

That’s the message from The Campaign for Wool who has this week unveiled a dynamic short-term strategy that aims to help turn the tide on the struggles faced by New Zealand wool growers.

Campaign for Wool Chairman Tom O’Sullivan – himself a fourth-generation sheep farmer – says the strategy heralds a turning point for the wool industry, and growers should take heart. “I believe we’re at an important crossroads for strong wool,” he says. “Globally, consumers are starting to actively seek out natural and renewable products. We’re acting as quickly as we can, putting a short-term strategy in place that effectively triples our investment into the projects and resources required to leverage this sea change.”

The Campaign for Wool NZ Strategy 2021-2022 aims to deliver greater consumer awareness of wool fibre options through an integrated public campaign. “We know that when people are more aware of how wool benefits their lives, they’re more likely to purchase it,” says Tom. “That’s one way demand will grow, so an important focus for us is education and fostering a greater understanding of wool’s many qualities.” . . 

Farmers urged to enable staff to get vaccinations :

Farmers should do all they can to enable and encourage their staff to get their COVID vaccinations, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I know dairy farms are flat tack with calving and workforce shortages have never been worse. But there’s nothing more important than your family’s health, and that of your staff and their families.”

It would certainly help if district health boards booked a hall in some smaller towns for well-advertised-in-advance day clinics.

“If it’s possible to combine getting a jab with a trip into town for the next supermarket shop, or to pick up supplies from Farmlands or Wrightsons, try to make it happen. It’s part of being a good boss,” Chris said. . . 

Fall in dairy and forestry demand hits commodity prices :

Weakening demand for dairy and forestry exports saw commodity prices fall in August.

The ANZ Bank’s World Commodity Price Index dropped 1.6 percent last month, as dairy and wood products retreat from the extreme highs these hit earlier this year.

The dairy sub index fell 4 percent month on month, with whole milk powder, a key driver of farmer’s returns, falling 6.5 percent.

Forestry prices fell sharply, down 6.6 percent in August, as high overseas demand for logs started to ease. . . 


Rural round-up

04/09/2021

THE MARCH OF THE PINES In our rush to plant more trees, are we creating an environmental nightmare? – Dave Hansford:

SIMON MOAR HEELS the helicopter against the sun to give me a better view of the foreign country below. This might be Oregon, the Canadian Rockies, or the Siberian taiga. Every ridge, every face, even the gravelly riverbed, is crowded with conifers from another hemisphere: Douglas fir, contorta pine, Scots pine. This is the Branch River valley in Marlborough, but it’s no longer Aotearoa.

This invasion is no accident—we did it to ourselves. Moar levels the LongRanger and shows me ground zero. I can make out below a neat, rectangular clearing in the forest where the government conducted one of its first trial plantings, in 1964, of Pinus contorta—20,000 seedlings. Later, the Forest Service flew aeroplanes across these faces, tipping sacks of seeds out the door—more than two tonnes of them, here and in the neighbouring Leatham River valley. You can still see striations of contorta across the headwalls where they took root.

In the back seat, Ket Bradshaw looks out with feelings of regret. As a forester in the 1970s, she was responsible for plantings like this one. Now, as coordinator of the South Marlborough Landscape Restoration Trust, she’s dedicated to getting rid of the same trees. “I see it as a personal responsibility,” she says. . . 

Five more overseas companies approved to buy forestry or farm land:

The latest round of Overseas Investment Office decisions shows five more overseas companies have been allowed to buy forestry land or farm land for conversion.

The sales have been approved by the Overseas Investment Office under the special forestry test.

This is designed to encourage tree planting, but has become a concern for some farming groups who say jobs and productive farm land are being lost.

The for the month of July include a sheep and beef farm in South Island’s Waitaki District, a breeding and finishing farm in nearby Clutha and a sheep, beef and deer farm in Waikato. . . 

Migrant exodus in Southland likely with uncertainty over visas – Louisa Steyl:

Migrant worker Christian Roxas has a job offer on the table to shift to Ireland, and while he loves his job in Southland, uncertainty around his visa means he may leave.

He is one of more than 1500 migrant workers in Southland who are on temporary work visas attached to an employer. About 949 work in the primary sector, while the service industry accounts for 380 workers and the construction industry 111.

He came from the Philippines with an expected pathway to eventually gain residency, but now he does not know when Immigration New Zealand will possibly start processing applications again.

Immigration New Zealand stopped processing residency applications for skilled migrants at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and can’t say when it will restart or what new requirements migrants will have to meet.  . . 

Fonterra sends record 2.59 million tonnes of product to export market :

Fonterra has brushed aside supply chain and shipping disruptions to send record volumes of product to export markets.

The dairy giant said it shipped 2.59 million metric tonnes, equivalent to more than 200,000 containers over a 12-month period.

The record came as shipping schedule reliability plunged from a long-term average of around 75 to 80 percent to below 35 percent in the year ending July.

Shipping companies have bypassed New Zealand with available shipping capacity dropping 20 percent, Fonterra said. . . 

Lincoln Dairy Farm launches new dairy sector research :

Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) is launching three new farm systems initiatives at its demonstration farm, all geared at sustainable dairy farming practices.

Three new farming systems are now being implemented to expand LUDF’s focus and extend its outlook through to 2030. The research is on variable milking frequency; moving the forage base to include plantain and replacement rate reduction.

The South Island Dairying Demonstration Centre (SIDDC) has revised LUDF farm systems to more effectively contribute to New Zealand dairying and the wider primary sector.

Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Lincoln University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Edwards explains that SIDDC is committed to taking a leadership role in dairy farming in Aotearoa through LUDF. . . 

Whole Milk Mounts Its Triumphant Comeback “Hot girls are ditching the alternatives and are going back to basics.” – Emily Sundberg:

Mankind’s newfound desire to milk everything in existence is both awe-inspiring and dystopian. Already we have milked oats and almonds. Bananas and hemp. Soy, of course, as well as coconuts, flaxseeds, sunflower kernels, rice, quinoa, and potatoes. On Gawker, Tammie Teclemariam feared her recent discovery of Califia Farms Mushroom Oat Milk Barista Blend had made her lose her mind.

Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about any of this as I traveled around Europe this summer. Instead, I drank icy frappes on the beaches of Greece and stirred foamy café au lait at the bistros of Paris. I was in a simpler, more sensible world, one without an alt mylk or nondairy creamer in sight. The real international delight, I realized, is pouring whole, full-dairy milk into your coffee; it is perhaps the most civilized activity in which a person can partake.

Surely, I thought, I’m not the only person who is realizing how good traditional milk can be? And while sitting at a café in France, I came across this perfect tweet: . . 


Rural round-up

26/08/2021

Why the rush? – Barbara Kuriger:

The pace of regulatory change for rural communities has been relentless under the current government.

It’s the concern I hear most when I move among them around the country and speak with rural advocacy groups.

It’s the reason why Groundswell NZ founders, Otago farmers Bryce McKenzie and Laurie Paterson organised a tractor protest in Gore against the National Policy Statement on Freshwater in November. The group’s overwhelming national support since then led to the Howl of a Protest’ on July 16.

Agricultural, horticultural communities aren’t the types to jump up and down, so when they take to the streets in their thousands, you can bet there’s a reason. . .

Why NZ farmers should hope for positive results from research into the methane effects of lacing stock feed with seaweed – Point of Order:

A warning  bell  sounded  for  New Zealand farmers  when The Economist – in an editorial  last week headed “It  is  not  all  about  the  CO2” – argued  that carbon  dioxide is by far the most important   driver of  climate  change, but methane  matters  too.

The  final  sentence of  the  editorial reads,  ominously:

“Methane  should be  given priority on the  COP26 climate  summit  this  November”.

NZ may  fight  its  corner   vigorously   at the   Glasgow  summit,  but  the   risk is  that  delegates  there   will  seize  on  the  thesis  advanced  by The Economist    that   methane is  a more  powerful  greenhouse  gas  than  carbon   dioxide,  and  decide  to  target  it harshly. . . 

UK releases NZ free trade negotiation details as agreement nears :

The UK government has released more details of how negotiations have been progressing.

Tariffs on exports of honey and apples to the UK would be slashed and wine which faces tariffs of up to 20 pence per bottle would also be expected to be cut.

In return tariffs on British gin, chocolate, clothing and cars we import would be dropped.

Britain trade secretary Liz Truss said teams were working around the clock to get the deal done in the coming weeks.

“We are both big fans of each other’s high-quality products, so this could be a huge boost that allows British shoppers to enjoy lower prices and British exports to be even more competitive,” Truss said. . . 

Carbon farmers need to understand the ETS – Keith Woodford:

The price of carbon is determined by Government. There lies the risk for carbon farming. 

Two recent articles of mine have explored the economics of carbon farming on land that is currently farmed for sheep and beef.  Those articles showed that, if financial returns are what matters, then at current carbon prices the development of permanent forests for carbon credits provides significantly higher returns than sheep and beef.

My focus there was on the close to three million hectares of North Island farmed hill country, but a similar situation exists in considerable parts of the South Island. One big exception is the Canterbury Plains, where history shows that shallow soils plus norwest wind storms wreak periodic havoc to forestry operations.

Those findings on the apparent economics of forestry lead to a series of other questions. First, how reliable is this carbon market? Second, what are all the other important things apart from simple economics that need to be considered? . .

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers in 2021:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry (NZIF) has announced the winners of its prestigious 2021 awards. In what has been an exceptionally volatile year for many, the forestry sector remains a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy. NZIF President James Treadwell says the industry is working hard to benefit Aotearoa / New Zealand and New Zealanders, not only with significant returns to GDP but also to offer social benefits including carbon capture, recreation opportunities, clean water, biodiversity and general wellbeing. “We’re fortunate with our high-calibre industry professionals who set the standards for others to aspire to. The NZIF relishes the opportunity to celebrate with ‘the best of the best’ and to proudly champion the recipients of NZIF’s awards.”

This year’s recipient was 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.

The NZ Forester of the Year award, which was presented in Wairarapa on Monday night by Minister Nash (Minister of Forestry) went to Paul Millen. . .

Sponsor support continues for Dairy Industry Awards:

Entries for the 2022 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) open October 1st with planning well underway and National sponsors continuing to back the programme.

The Awards programme allows entrants to connect, learn and grow as individuals across the board from Trainees and new entrants to the industry through to experienced Share Farmers.

NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon is thrilled to confirm DeLaval have renewed their sponsorship for the next three years. “It’s a significant commitment and we’re rapt to have world leaders in milking equipment and solutions for dairy farmers as part of our national sponsor family.” . .

 


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