Rural round-up

17/01/2023

Growers warn of price spike after Cyclone Hale – Kate Green :

The price of fruit and vegetables could be set to spike because of the damage done to crops by Cyclone Hale.

Severe weather has been affecting Northland, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Wairarapa since Monday, as the cyclone reached New Zealand.

Farmers were advised by Civil Defence to move stock to shelter and higher ground, but crop farmers had fewer options.

Federated Farmers president for Gisborne and Wairoa, Toby Williams, said heavy rain could damage fruit trees, grapes and maize. . . 

Smart eco-solution to reduce phosphorus in waterways – Karen Kawawada:

Wastewater, whether urban or from farms, may not look or smell good. But to University of Auckland researchers, it can be the source of agricultural gold.

Engineers at the University of Auckland are designing way to clean phosphorus from waste water and turn it into fertiliser – a process with both environmental and financial benefits

Wastewater, whether urban or from farms, may not look or smell good. But to University of Auckland researchers, it can be the source of agricultural gold – well, a whitish-goldish mineral called struvite, anyway.

Phosphorus-rich struvite not only makes a great slow-release fertiliser, recovering it from wastewater helps clean up our waterways. . . 

HWEN legislation ‘unlikely before poll’ – Neal Wallace:

Speculation is mounting that the government will run out of time to pass the He Waka Eke Noa legislation before this year’s general election.

But interested parties disagree on whether any delay on HWEN laws would simply be a timing issue or if it could allow changes to the legislation.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said  the organisation’s own analysis and well-placed sources have told him the government will not have time to pass the empowering legislation before the election.

He said legislation still has to be drafted and with Parliament not resuming sitting until February 14, it will be March or April before any documents are ready to be put before Parliament. . . 

 

Rush of farm applications beat deadline – David Williams :

Conservation group fears a flood of applications is “a rush to develop the high country”. David Williams reports

Farmers on Crown pastoral leases flooded authorities with development applications just days before tighter protections kicked in.

The leases cover about 1.2 million hectares, or 5 percent of the country, spanning the South Island’s high country. Lessees have grazing rights and other activities need approval from the Commissioner of Crown Lands, an independent officer employed by the Crown’s land manager, Land Information New Zealand.

LINZ confirms it received 218 applications in November – more than the previous six months combined. . . 

Robots boost animal disease testing :

Could robotics be the secret to faster and improved animal disease testing?

It’s certainly a possibility, say Biosecurity New Zealand, who recently invested in a new antibody testing robot for the National Animal Health Laboratory.

The $580,000 high throughput diagnostic robot is the first of its kind in New Zealand and it is said will increase testing accuracy and consistency during future biosecurity responses.

“The Mycoplasma bovis outbreak gave us useful insights into how our laboratory could increase its capacity during a response. In particular, it highlighted the need for automation,” says Animal Health Laboratory manager Joseph O’Keefe. . . 

Government to pay more to farmers who protect and enhance the environment :

Farmers will receive increased payments for protecting and enhancing nature and delivering sustainable food production under the Government’s Environmental Land Management schemes, Defra has announced today (Thursday 5 January 2023).

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, Farming Minister Mark Spencer announced more money for farmers and landowners through both the Countryside Stewardship and the Sustainable Farming Incentive schemes, which will provide more support to the industry and drive uptake at a time of rising costs for farmers as a result of global challenges. He also confirmed an expanded range of actions under the schemes, which farmers could be paid for, would be published soon.

The changes mean farmers could receive up to a further £1,000 per year for taking nature-friendly action through the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI). This new Management Payment will be made for the first 50 hectares of farm (£20/ha) in an SFI agreement, to cover the administrative costs of participation and to attract smaller businesses – many of whom are tenant farmers – who are currently under-represented in the scheme. SFI is already paying farmers to improve soil and moorlands, and an expanded set of standards for 2023 will be published shortly.

In addition, farmers with a Countryside Stewardship (CS) agreement, of which there are now 30,000 across England, will see an average increase of 10% to their revenue payment rates – covering ongoing activity such as habitat management. Defra is also updating capital payment rates, which cover one-off projects such as hedgerow creation, with an average increase of 48%. . . .

 


Rural round-up

21/12/2022

‘The city-dwellers do not understand the mental and physical strength it takes’ – Gerhard Uyd :

On Clovalley Farms, the cost of feed, fuel, fertiliser and electricity has gone up by about 20% this year, and dairy farmers Sophie Cookson and Donovan Croot have had to make major adjustments to keep the business going.

“We have had to look to other sources of income,” Croot said.

Cookson is employed part-time with Cow Manager, a herd management system, and Croot is a tutor for Dairy Training, which provided further education for the dairy sector.

The pair had also diversified their business and now raised some bull calves and sold them in the meat trade, he said. . . 

Farm debt and mortgages pushing up cost to grow food – Gerhard Uys :

Mortgage rates, inflation and overdraft costs are pushing up the cost of producing food and eroding farm profits, farmers say.

A November survey by Federated Farmers, answered by about 1200 farming businesses, showed the average farm mortgage interest rate had increased to 6.29%, up from 4.59% in May this year.

It was up from 3.95% in November last year.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard said many farms carried high debt. . . 

Feds survey: Interest pinch weighs heavily on farmer stress :

Farmers are being squeezed by rising interest rates, with debt or other financial concerns eroding mental wellbeing, the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey shows.

Nearly 1200 farming businesses answered questions in the November survey, reporting that their average mortgage interest rate had increased to 6.29 percent from 4.59 percent in May (and 3.95 percent in November 2021),
“It’s a reflection of the impact of official cash rate rises and while plenty of other Kiwi households and businesses are also feeling the pinch, many farms are carrying high debt,” Feds President and economy spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

Since the May Federated Farmers survey the average farm mortgage value has increased from $4.07 million to $4.19 million while the median increased from $2.25 million to $2.50 million.

The average level of overdraft was up $46,000 to $328,800, with an average interest rate of 8.59%. . . 

Hawke’s Bay: Ongaonga solar farm to be one of NZ’s biggest, land to be ‘retired’ from intensive dairy to build it – James Pocock :

One of the biggest solar farms in New Zealand is all but ready to be built on 152 hectares of farmland in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Sky Solar purchased the farmland near the Kahahakuri Stream at Ongaonga to build an eco-friendly solar farm, simultaneously retiring intensive irrigation and promoting biodiversity in the stream.

According to the resource consent application, the proposed solar farm would have an operational capacity of 160-gigawatt hours per year at full capacity, enough to power 18,000 houses.

Cameron King, director of commercial projects and sales for Sky Solar, said the solar farm will likely be the biggest of its kind in the country when built. . . .

The hybrid harvester bringing lower carbon logging – Nikki Mandow :

A family owned, South Otago-based logging company has become the first in NZ to import a hybrid electric-diesel harvester. It’s saved them a pack of money too

Balclutha-based Mike Hurring Logging & Contracting isn’t the biggest forestry company in the country. Neither is it the smallest. But it is the first to introduce what could be a new trend in lower carbon forestry – a hybrid harvester.

Run on a mixture of diesel and electricity, the Finland-made harvester has a battery in the back which charges as the machine moves. Once harvesting, the machine uses electricity from the battery to power the hydraulics that run the feed rollers and saws. 

The diesel can kick in when needed, but it’s mostly electric while harvesting.  . . 

Apple industry appoints two new directors to board :

NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI) is delighted to announce the appointment of Mr Craig Betty, and Mr Cameron Bagrie to its board.

Craig Betty replaces Peter Landon-Lane, who is stepping down in early 2023. He will serve as a director for the remaining term of Mr Landon-Lane’s tenure, which ends in August 2023, and will be eligible for re-election to the board at that time.

Craig joined T&G as Director Operations in October 2019. He leads T&G’s growing operations for apples and berries, including operational R&D, post-harvest and supply chain operations, and has global accountability for continuous improvement and quality standards and frameworks. Craig has extensive experience in operations and supply chain management, having previously been Chief Operating Officer for Westland Milk Products, and General Manager Operations for Fonterra.

Cameron Bagrie is appointed to the board as our second independent director, the rules of the Society allow for two independent directors. A decision was made some time ago to use this appointment to widen the skill base of the board. . .


Rural round-up

08/12/2022

Farmers hit by regulatory overload – Luxon – Gerald Piddock :

It’s tough being a farmer in New Zealand at the moment, National leader Christopher Luxon says.

Speaking at Fieldays, Luxon said the sector is being hit by “regulatory overload” that is confusing and at cross purposes.

“I often describe it like playing tennis and getting 10 tennis balls coming across at you at the same time,” he said.

A stock-take of the rules is needed to work out which ones are inconsistent or could have bad consequences. . . 

Prices hold steady at latest GDT auction but are there warning signs for farmers in scope-3 pressures? – Point of Order :

Prices held steady at the latest Fonterra  GDT auction. In USD terms, they were up 0.6% to an average $US3610, a smaller rise than the 2.4% at the previous auction.

WMP prices  held  steady at $US3400   but SMP and cheddar both rose.  Cheddar was  up 1.8% to $US4826, SMP  about +1.7% to $US3102. Butter meanwhile  was down 1.9% $US4725.

However things were undermined in NZ dollar terms. Overall prices dropped 2% in local currency as the NZD continues its puzzling rise. That means in local currency prices are down 15% over the past two months, compared with the equivalent 9% drop in the USD.

None of this shows NZ is getting on top of its of deteriorating current account deficit. . . 

 

Council review a chance to achieve better ratepayer equity Feds says  – Simon Edwards:

Yet another local government review is underway – but will its recommendations actually be picked up, especially regarding cost fairness?

The existing system of property value rates is loaded against agriculture. Farmers pay many more times than other residents for council services and infrastructure, even though some of those services aren’t even available to rural residents, Federated Farmers local government spokesperson Sandra Faulkner says.

“Reviews have come and gone before with no real change.

“We know that councils have tools to allocate costs more equitably, such as per property charges and differentials, but councillors tend to be mindful of the voting majorities in urban areas.” . . 

Helius gains certification key to export success :

Helius Therapeutics has received Good Agricultural and Collection Practice (GACP) certification at its purpose-built medicinal cannabis facility in East Tamaki, Auckland.

Recognised globally, GACP is a leading certification standard for medicinal cannabis. It outlines minimum requirements for growers in creating high quality, consistent flower.

“Achieving GACP is another key milestone for the Helius team in our journey to full site certification. GACP is a well-recognised requirement for medicinal cannabis in many countries. Gaining this certification will only open more doors as we now unleash our export strategy,” says Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.

. . 

Shaun the sheep joins the flock at Rotorua’s agrodome :

 Rotorua’s Agrodome has a new addition to the flock – a cheeky and mischievous little sheep who is famous around the globe.

Movie and TV star Shaun the sheep is here in Aotearoa! He’s on his long awaited OE and after a whirlwind tour of the country has arrived at his new home.

The Agrodome is a long way from his Mossy Bottom Farm home in England but Shaun is excitedly settling in with his new woolly mates and pal Bitzer.

Agrodome General Manager David Blackmore says, “Shaun is an iconic and lovable sheep and we’re looking forward to welcoming families to the Agrodome to meet him. I’m sure Shaun’s antics, jokes and pranks that he’s renowned for will keep everyone amused. . . 

 


Rural round-up

30/11/2022

New Zealand’s meat processors and exporters call for change to emissions pricing proposal :

New Zealand’s red meat processing and exporting sector is urging the Government to make changes to its agricultural emissions pricing proposal.

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) rejects the Government’s proposed interim processor-level levy, wants changes to the emissions price-setting process, proper recognition for genuine sequestration happening on New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms, and levy relief for those farmers disproportionately impacted by emissions pricing.

“The red meat sector has a role to play in addressing climate change and we support an approach to pricing that would reduce emissions but not at the expense of massive production losses and hurting rural communities,” says Nathan Guy, chairman of MIA.

“The He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership’s recommended proposal was carefully calibrated to ensure that disproportionate impacts were minimised across sectors, particularly for the sheep and beef industry. . . 

Thinking gets even woollier – Sally Rae:

Amanda Dorset has gone fully woolly.

And that should come as music to the ears of strong wool growers, as the Wanaka businesswoman — co-founder of Wilson and Dorset with her husband, Ben Wilson — is a passionate advocate for the fibre.

For 16 years, the couple have made sheepskin furnishings, having spied an opportunity to do something “cool” with New Zealand sheepskins.

Having been looking to buy a sheepskin, she found it hard to find a suitable one. “Some fleeces may as well have been synthetic, they were so over-processed,” she recalled. . . 

What reception will PM Jacinda Ardern and Labour get at Fieldays – Jamie Mackay :

If tractor sales are the barometer of success for Fieldays exhibitors this week, then adoring throngs gathered are the equivalent for politicians.

I’ve been a regular attendee at Fieldays since the mid-90s, meaning I’ve seen Jim Bolger, Jenny Shipley, Helen Clark, John Key, Bill English and Jacinda Ardern come and go. And it would be fair to say that only two of those prime ministers, past and present, have enjoyed rock star status at Mystery Creek.

I fondly (sort of, if you excuse the fog diversion from Hamilton airport), remember picking up a fellow stranded traveller for the drive down to the ‘Tron from Auckland. It must have been about 2012 or 2013, because David Shearer was the then leader of the Labour Party.

Like me, and any number of other passengers who were diverted to Auckland, he needed to make his way to Fieldays. We had a rental car. He was (in true egalitarian Labour fashion) going to take a bus. We had a spare seat. I insisted he hitch a ride. He obliged and we thoroughly enjoyed his company, even stopping to broadcast our midday radio show on the side of the road somewhere near Huntly. . . 

A kick in the guts for rural nurses – rural general practice nurses once again overlooked by the Minister :

Today Minister Little announced action planned by the Government to provide pay parity for health workers. In his statement he made two conflicting statements:

“The Government is committed to ensuring health workers are paid fairly and receive parity with others doing the same or similar work, especially given the current cost of living pressures workers and their families are under”,

and then in the next breath,

“However, I have to be clear that this package will not mean significant change immediately for those working in GP practices.” . . 

The deer dairy diaries – Tony Benny :

When deer scientist Geoff Asher and colleague Jason Archer suggested collecting milk samples from milk hinds for a research project at AgResearch’s campus at Invermay near Dunedin, some were sceptical but they found a way to make it work. Now, decades later, deer milk (tia miraka) is not only harvested routinely, it’s a key component of high-value cosmetics.

“We got a lot of commentary thrown at us, ‘I hope you get a new set of teeth soon because you will get your current ones kicked out!’, and various things like that,” Asher says.

“It was kind of considered in the very, very hard basket but we were not been daunted by that. Sometimes you just need determination and a touch of stupidity.” 

Invermay recently celebrated 50 years of deer farming science by AgResearch and its predecessors, always in partnership with the deer industry and farmers. The research on lactation was typical of their studies, which included major advances in understanding deer nutrition, health, behaviour and genetics and the development of products such as venison, velvet and milk that are exported around the world. . . 

New Zealand dairy industry pioneer’s original farm place on the open market for the first time :

A prime cattle grazing block once owned by a former New Zealand dairy industry leader and one of the Hauraki Plains’ earliest farming founders has been placed on the market for sale.

One of the titles in this 81.6-hectare block at Kopuarahi was owned by former dairy industry leader Sir William Hale who not only represented New Zealand’s farming sector on the world stage for its meat and diary products, but also ensured the industry was in a healthy state domestically.

Born in Thames in 1883, William Hale left school at an early age, and took up farming work at Puriri, before he drew a property allocation at Kopuarahi in the first land ballot in 1910. William Hale lived on the same farm until his death in 1968, being the only person of the first ballot to be still living on his property at the time of his death.

William Hale’s long associations with Hauraki Plains local body affairs commenced in 1914 and he served for 18-years as a member of the Thames Hospital Board, 13 of these being chairman. In 1916 he became a director of the Thames Valley Co-operative Dairy Company. . . 


Rural round-up

23/11/2022

Feds breaks ranks on HWEN – Sudesh Kissun:

The He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership and Māori Agribusiness Partners are calling on the Government to change key aspects of its proposal on agricultural emissions pricing.

However, Federated Farmers has decided not to back the joint submission from the 10 partners.

It recommends changes that would develop an emissions pricing system that creates incentives and opportunities to reduce agricultural emissions while maintaining the viability of the primary sector.

The submission recommends changes to price setting, governance and transitional arrangements that would see decision-making on emissions pricing balance the socio-economic impacts on the primary sector and wider economy with emissions reductions.  . .

HWEN partners question methane targets – Neal Wallace:

The primary sector wants the government to review its methane targets before it starts pricing agricultural greenhouse gases.

This is included in the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) submission on the government-proposed pricing structure, saying new targets that reflect the latest scientific evidence are needed before the sector starts to be charged in 2025.

Methane targets were legislated by Parliament in 2019 as part of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act, requiring the sector to reduce emissions 10% below 2017 levels by 2030 and by 24-47% below 2017 levels by 2050.

The HWEN submission pulls few punches, saying the government’s changes are not acceptable to the partnership and the growers and farmers they represent. . . 

Emissions plan: DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ – The Country :

No deal is better than a bad deal when it comes to pricing agricultural emissions, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says

DairyNZ had made a submission in the emissions plan and hoped for a response from the Government, van der Poel told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“We had to go into this next stage in good faith because our primary objective is still to get a solution here and put this to bed.

“We’ve been talking about this since 2004 and it’s not going to go away.” . . 

Cherry on top growers feeling “positive”, expecting record volumes of fruit :

Central Otago cherry growers are expecting record volumes of fruit this season.

45 South Cherries chief executive Tim Jones said now that they had survived October’s nasty weather, they had been able to assess crops, and fruit volumes may be double that of past years.

New plantings were coming into their own, he said.

“The last three years have been pretty disappointing crops but all those trees that have been planted in the past five or six will really hit their straps this year.

“Last year the industry exported a little over three thousand tonnes and I would suggest this year it could be at least five or six thousand,” he said. . . 

It’s time to resolve carbon forest conflicts –  Dean Baigent-Mercer :

 Forestry is back in the spotlight. After years of being on the margins, forestry has come full-circle and is again at the heart of discussions about New Zealand’s future. Why? Because of climate change and biodiversity. The opportunity is exciting but there are issues to resolve. A key question is native versus exotic forestry carbon sinks.

The world risks overshooting its climate change targets. We need to stop using fossil fuels, cut emissions and store increasing amounts of carbon in forests, wetlands and other natural carbon sinks for centuries to come.

New Zealand forestry has been quick to act and respond. New Zealand has gone down the pine forest carbon storage route as a relatively fast and cheap way to store carbon.

But it’s clear that this is no longer a viable path. The Climate Change Commission has advised that we must stop relying on pines to store carbon and instead rely on permanent carbon sinks in native forests. Pine planting may appeal in the short term, but a large blaze can release a carbon bomb. There is increasing evidence that pine-based carbon sinks will end up being stranded assets or uninsurable. . .

Rural tourism business finalist at New Zealand Tourism Awards :

“The future of rural tourism is bright”, say Will and Rose Parsons of Driftwood Eco Tours, finalists of the 2022 New Zealand Tourism Awards for community engagement.

The annual New Zealand Tourism Awards, hosted by Tourism Industry Aotearoa in Hamilton, highlights excellence in tourism and helps operators aspire to greater customer service.

Driftwood Eco Tours was delighted to be one of three finalists for the community engagement category.

Operating since 2004, Driftwood Eco Tours is based in Kaikōura, but runs small group, multi-day tours throughout the upper South Island and on offshore islands, offering guests the chance to visit and experience some of New Zealand’s most isolated rural communities. . . 


Rural round-up

27/10/2022

Labour plans an act of ‘mega stupidity’ – Muriel Newman :

It seems inconceivable that at a time of hyper-inflation and global unrest, any government would deliberately destabilise the agricultural sector by introducing policies that would increase costs to primary producers, reduce production, and fuel price increases. Yet that’s what Jacinda Ardern’s Labour Government is planning to do.

And how are they justifying these radical changes?

Our Prime Minister, the poster child of modern-day socialism, wants to once again boast on the world stage that she’s taking the lead in climate policy – this time by introducing a price on agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases.

No doubt next month’s climate change COP27 talkfest, where tens of thousands of climate activists from all over the world will fly to Egypt to talk about cutting emissions and saving the planet, will provide just such an opportunity. . . 

Rural women flag concerns about community wellbeing – Jessica Marshall :

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) says they have major concerns for the wellbeing of rural communities after the release of the Government’s emissions pricing plan.

The proposed plan, announced earlier this month, will see farm emissions priced at the farm-level, but deviates from the industry recommendations in key aspects. It is currently up for consultation.

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describes the pricing plan as a ‘pragmatic’ approach, RWNZ national president Gill Naylor says her organisation is concerned by the adverse impacts it may have on primary producers, particularly if they aren’t supported while they adapt their practices.

“We are also concerned about the flow-on effects on small towns and regional centres that depend on our primary producers to remain viable and vibrant communities and… the health and wellbeing of our farmers and their families is a concern where they are worrying about the viability of their businesses, and where the place that they call home might be on the line,” Naylor told Rural News. . . 

Cherry growers hopeful for harvest but freight demand, cooler start to spring pose challenges – Tess Brunton :

Central Otago orchards say the upcoming harvest is looking promising but there are more challenges ahead.

The Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme recently received a cap boost with up to 19,000 places available for the 2022-23 year.

Driving through Central Otago, the cherry blossoms are slowly giving way to fruit after a colder start to spring.

45 South employs upwards of 500 people during the cherry harvest. . . 

Shipping reduces agribusiness-emissions :

New Zealand’s newest addition to the coastal shipping fleet, the MV Rangitata, made her maiden voyage in October, carrying product for Ravensdown.

The trip by ship reduced CO emissions by an estimated 39 tonne when compared to moving the same volume of product by road.

She is the newest vessel for Coastal Bulk Shipping Ltd, one of four preferred suppliers in a $30-million Government investment for coastal shipping funding through the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) to improve domestic shipping services, reduce emissions, improve efficiency, and upgrade maritime infrastructure.

Coastal shipping is forming a key part of Ravensdown’s national emission reduction strategy, says Sustainability Manager Allanah Kidd. . . 

Red meat leaders of the future wanted :

The Meat Industry Association (MIA) is inviting applications for its prestigious scholarship programme from students interested in a career in the red meat processing and exporting sector following a major re-vamp of the initiative.

The popular scholarship programme, now in its sixth year, is focused on supporting highly skilled young people who have the potential to become future leaders in New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

A maximum of three new undergraduate or post-graduate scholars will be selected for the 2023 programme. The selection criteria has been enhanced to focus on a smaller group of high calibre students preparing to pursue a career in the sector.

The undergraduate scholarships will provide $5,000 for each year of study for up to three years. The post-graduate awards are for $10,000 a year for up to two years. The 2023 intake will join the existing 10 scholars in the programme. . . 

Rockit makes a move, heads to South Island :

Pioneering apple company, Rockit Global Limited, is planning for its biggest planting year yet, targeting a further 200ha of trees in the ground in 2023. And it’s taking its global success story south, identifying suitable land and growers in Canterbury and Nelson as well as seeking new partners in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne, where fruit is currently grown.

Despite sharing many of the same challenges as many other New Zealand fruit varieties this year, Rockit’s forecast orchard gate return has progressively lifted across the year and the company is on track to deliver a record market price. This year more than 76 million New Zealand Rockit™ apples will be shipped, with up to 160 million apples expected in 2023.

Rockit’s General Manager Commercial, Tom Lane, says with international demand for the snack size apples booming and new markets opening up every year, the innovative apple brand is tasked with finding fresh ways to keep up with the hordes of hungry consumers buying Rockit across more than 30 countries including China, India, Vietnam, the USA and UAE. Currently, Rockit grows apples in the northern hemisphere (the USA, UK and Europe) as well as throughout New Zealand’s east coast to ensure year-round global supply. . . 


Rural round-up

25/10/2022

Govt proposal puts farmers at risk – Nicky Hyslop:

It was with good faith that more than two years ago, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and 10 primary sector partners entered into discussions about a sector-specific emissions pricing framework through He Waka Eke Noa.

This was as an alternative to agriculture entering the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which we firmly believed was the wrong outcome for our farmers.

All of this work has been put at risk with the Government’s proposed changes to the partners’ agreed-upon pricing approach. These changes are completely unacceptable, particularly to sheep, beef and deer farmers, and leave us questioning what the Government is trying to achieve.

Carbon sequestration was a critical aspect of the finely balanced proposal, particularly in terms of achieving fairness and equity for hill country farmers, so it is extremely disappointing that the Government has put forward a proposal that does not reward and incentivise the plantings that farmers have done and continue to do. . . .

What the hell? – Peter Burke :

Confusion and outright anger reign across rural New Zealand as farmers and communities try to get to the bottom of the Labour Government’s proposal to effectively make a large number of sheep and beef farmers unprofitable in its quest to get them to pay for their agricultural emissions.

There have been claims the Government is prioritising trees over food and questions have been asked as to whether the move is brave or stupid.

While farmers have consistently stated their willingness to pay for these emissions, PM Jacinda Ardern’s announcement from a hay bale stage at a dairy farm in the Wairarapa a couple of weeks ago was not what farmers were expecting.

As Rural News went to print farmers around the country were preparing to take to the streets and motorways to express their opposition to the emissions pricing proposal. . . .

Fonterra fires back at critics of DIRA bill – Hugh Stringleman :

Fonterra’s capital restructure and the enabling legislation will give the company a fair go at competing for a sustainable supply of New Zealand milk on more equal terms, the co-operative says.

Chair Peter McBride presented Fonterra’s submission to the Primary Production Committee of Parliament on the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Fonterra Capital Restructuring) Amendment (DIRA) Bill.

He said an internationally competitive, farmer-owned co-operative of scale is in the country’s best interests.

The new flexible shareholding capital structure will help to level the playing field with foreign-backed competitors in an environment of declining NZ milk production. . . .

Record profits for Alliance Group – Shawn McAvinue:

Red meat processor and exporter Alliance Group is celebrating a record profit, but supply-chain challenges remain, bosses say.

The co-operative held 20 meetings across New Zealand to update farmers on its operation and the tour finished in Mossburn last night.

Group chief executive David Surveyor, speaking at Ranfurly Bowling Club last week, said the co-operative had a record profit performance for the year ending September 30.

“It’s the most profitable year in Alliance Group’s history . . .

Pioneering UMF: a beekeeper’s story – Leah Tebbutt:

Being in the honey industry for 40-odd years is not enough for Margaret and her husband Bill Bennett.

“We hope we’ll be some of the ones that keep on going through – that survive,” Bill said as we enter the honey house with citrus and magenta-coloured hives piled high.

Their persistence and passion come as no surprise. The couple pioneered the UMF grading system 25 years ago and they have campaigned for it ever since.

And while they are taking a small step back, son Andrew and son-in-law James Jeffery are both now beekeepers for their business, SummerGlow Apiaries. . . 

Using livestock for healthier soil – Glenneis Kriel :

Much has been said about how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed serious limitations in the global logistics and food system, and how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine makes it even more unlikely that the world will be able to end hunger by 2050.

But Angus McIntosh, better known as Farmer Angus, who farms livestock at Spier near Stellenbosch, argues that the situation is compounded by the misconception that the world’s farmers will have to feed a projected population of nine billion people by 2050.

“The world is already producing enough food to feed between 11 billion and 14 billion people. [However], our problem is that a lot of food is wasted along the supply chain or grown for the wrong reasons, such as to feed cattle [or other livestock in intensive farming concerns] or to produce biofuels,” says McIntosh. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

19/10/2022

Has He Waka hit the rocks? – Peter Burke :

The Government’s proposal to deal with agricultural emissions has stunned many rural communities who warn that it will decimate them and replace sheep and beef farms with pine trees.

Under the proposal, the Government states its intent to reduce emissions by 10% by 2030 and that farmers will start paying for their emissions by 2025.

But according to Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard, this plan put up by government will cause massive economic and social consequences in rural communities. He says the plan would see sheep and beef production drop by up to 20% and dairy by 5%, costing NZ $3 billion.

“We didn’t sign up for this. It’s gut wrenching to think we have a proposal by the Government that rips the heart out of the work we have done and to the families who farm the land. Feds is deeply unimpressed with the Government,” he says. . .

Our climate policy is confused and flawed – Allan Barber:

There’s an argument for rebuilding it from the bottom up, without Kyoto-era flaws.

Two reputable climate change scientists, Adrian Macey and David Frame, have recently published a five-part series of articles in BusinessDesk.co.nz which seriously questions the government’s climate change targets and policy. Macey is New Zealand’s first climate change ambassador and an adjunct professor at the NZ Climate Change Research Centre at Victoria University, and Frame is the centre’s director, which gives their opinions serious credibility.

At the same time Simon Upton, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, has issued a report that confirms the inappropriateness of planting huge swathes of pine forests to offset methane emissions and a note that questions the rationale for treating long-lived greenhouse gases and biogenic methane differently. He asks why fossil fuel emitters to buy carbon credits as offsets, while livestock methane emitters are not. Forests remove carbon dioxide, not methane, from the atmosphere, but Upton argues it should logically be possible for forestry to be used as an offset against warming in general, including methane. He also warned about the impossibility of planting enough trees to solve the warming problem.

In his report he states: “Reducing livestock methane emissions could have real economic and social impacts on people and ways of life. A fine balance needs to be struck between having regard to economic and social dislocation and finding a position that New Zealand can defend in international climate change negotiations, while remaining competitive in global food markets with growing consumer demand for low-emissions products.”  . . 

The shifting ground beneath farmers’ feet – Tony Benny :

Much has changed the position of farming in New Zealand society since 1973, when the sector lost its privileged access to a large and lucrative market.

“That cued up a series of crises that got worse and worse, culminating in 1984 with Rogernomics and really the first moment in the colonial history of New Zealand where a government decisively turned its back on farming. Things have never quite been the same,” Otago University’s Professor Hugh Campbell, an expert in the sociology of agriculture, told the Embracing Urban Agriculture hosted by Lincoln University’s B Linc Innovation centre.

He listed a series of fractures over the past 40 years or so that changed how urban and rural New Zealand relate, starting with a series of food scares in Europe including the Chernobyl disaster and Mad Cow Disease, which shook consumers’ confidence in food safety.

Consumers were also shaken by biosecurity issues including rabbits and the illegal release of calicivirus in an effort to control them, as well as the PSA virus that hit kiwifruit growers. . . 

New median wage to hit farmers in the pocket – Jessica Marshall:

Moves by the Government to raise the wage threshold for migrant workers have some farmers up in arms.

Last week, Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced that a new median wage of $29.66 per hour would be adopted into the immigration system from 27 February next year.

“The Government is focused on moving New Zealand to a higher wage economy, increasing the skill level of migrant workers, and encouraging employers to offer competitive wages and improve career pathways for New Zealanders,” Wood said.

“Updating the median wage thresholds regularly is necessary to ensure the Government is delivering on its immigration rebalance goals and that existing policy settings are maintained in line with market changes.” . . 

Southern women recognised in NZI Awards  :

Southern women feature as category award winners in this year’s NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business awards.

Jody Drysdale, from Balfour, who won the innovation category, is behind Hopefield Hemp, with her husband Blair. The couple decided on hemp after looking for ways to diversify their farming operation to include a value-add, direct-to-consumer product.

Hopefield Hemp grows, harvests, presses and markets hemp seed oil. It is small batch pressed and is available in bottles and capsules. In response to one of her children experiencing skin irritation, Mrs Drysdale researched and developed a recipe to make a soothing cream using her hemp seed oil and Hopefield Hemp’s skin care range was launched.

Serena Lyders, from Whānau Consultancy Services, Tokanui, won the rural champion category. Passionate about the shearing industry, she is a sixth generation member of a shearing family and the industry and the people in it were close to her heart. . . 

New project to help farmers gain regenerative agriculture certification :

Interest in food produced using regenerative practices is gaining momentum across the globe – and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is backing a project to help more New Zealand sheep and beef farmers capture this premium market.

MPI has committed $142,480 over two years through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund towards the $356,200 project with Lean Meats Limited (trading as Atkins Ranch). It aims to scale up the number of verified lamb producers that meet the regenerative certification requirements of the US Savory Institute’s Land to Market Programme.

New Zealand-owned company Atkins Ranch has been a partner of the Land to Market Programme since 2019. It sells premium grass-fed lamb into the US market and has supply contracts across five regions of New Zealand. The company has been piloting regenerative farming practices since 2019 with a core group of 23 farmers, and this is now expanding to more than 70 farms.

“I see regenerative agriculture as leaving the land in a better state for future generations,” says Atkins Ranch chief executive officer Pat Maher. . . 

Fonterra announces new sustainable finance framework :

As part of Fonterra’s commitment to sustainability and implementation of its strategy, the Co-operative has today released its Sustainable Finance Framework (Framework). This Framework aligns Fonterra’s funding strategy with its sustainability ambitions and reflects the evolving preferences of lenders and debt investors in this area.

Fonterra’s Framework outlines how the Co-operative intends to issue and manage any sustainable debt, which could include Green Bonds and Sustainability-Linked Bonds and Loans. The Framework has been developed with Joint Sustainability Co-ordinators HSBC and Westpac NZ and has been independently verified by ISS Corporate Solutions confirming alignment with globally agreed sustainable finance principles.

“This new Framework is a step on our sustainable financing journey – aligning with our Co-operative’s broader sustainability ambitions,” says Simon Till, Fonterra Director Capital Markets.

“Over the next decade we intend to significantly increase our investment in sustainability-related activities and assets throughout our supply chain to both mitigate environmental risks and continue to differentiate our New Zealand milk. By FY30 we intend to invest around NZ$1 billion in reducing carbon emissions and improving water efficiency and treatment at our manufacturing sites. In doing so, we will be taking significant steps towards our aspiration to be Net Zero by 2050 and we plan to align our funding with this approach.” . . 


Rural round-up

14/10/2022

The consequence of cutting livestock numbers to tackle farm emissions – a culling of support for Labour in rural areas perhaps – Point of Order:

Has the Ardern government just  shot itself in the  foot?

Despite its  poll  ratings slipping in  recent  months, it nourished hopes of  returning to power next year.  But  its  “world-first” policy to  cut greenhouse  gases with farm-level pricing, effectively making 20% of  NZ’s  sheep and beef  farms uneconomic, could result in it  bleeding  votes  in  most  of the  regional electorates  it  won  in 2020.

The unpalatable  truth  is  just  dawning on the  country: cutting  agricultural emissions  means  cutting  food and fibre output.  And  that means slashing the export income on which  NZ  depends.

Clearly  the  Cabinet  ministers  adopting the  policy  announced  yesterday  believed  they  could “sell” it  on  the  basis  that NZ  would be  leading the world, in  cutting agricultural emissions. . . 

Govt HWEN response ‘fails fairness test’– Neal Wallace :

The government’s response to the primary sector’s He Waka Eke Noa proposal fails to meet the partnership’s fairness test, according to the group’s programme director.

Kelly Forster said of particular concern is the government’s rejection of He Waka Eke Noa’s (HWEN) proposed involvement in setting the emissions price, its priorities in how the price is set and the tightening in the classes of vegetation recognised in sequestering carbon.

“We don’t think it has met the sector’s fairness test,” Forster said.

“What the sector put forward we felt was a good balance. This shifts the balance away from what the sector thinks is fair.” . . 

The government is shafting rural New Zealand – Mike Hosking:

We have the sort of logic only the Prime Minister can use when she largely isn’t on top of the subject she is talking about.

She tells us that farmers will benefit by leading the world once the Government’s new “tax farmers more to save the world” scheme gets under way. Small news flash, we already lead the world.

It’s been a good trick. You create the problem, in this case farming emissions.

You then tell farmers you’re going to tax them and farmers get upset. Farmers are lucky because they are the backbone economy so have political heft. So the Government pretends to acquiesce and say “okay no ETS for you, let’s have a special plan, and you can tell us what it is.” . . 

Emissions plan a kick in the guts for Southland farmers – Simmonds :

Invercargill MP and National Party Associate Spokesperson for Agriculture Penny Simmonds describes the Government’s recently released emissions plan as another kick in the guts for farmers, one which she claims threatens the future of farming in the South.

The Emissions Plan, released yesterday, has seen the Government accept most of the recommendations from the He Waka Eke Noa partnership, including a farm-level split-gas approach to emissions pricing.

“I’m deeply concerned at the implications of the Government’s proposals, which will effectively price farming off the market for a large number of people within the sector and risk leaving our rural communities in despair,” Simmonds says.

She says that while there has to be change, New Zealand farmers are already the most carbon efficient in the world and no other country has imposed a carbon tax on its agriculture sector. . .

Low emissions not production – Peter Burke:

AgResearch scientists say they’ve managed to breed sheep that produce less methane while still producing good quality meat.

NZ has been a world leader in the recent development of breeding sheep that belch out less methane – a relatively short-lived but potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

The latest progress stems from more than a decade of research by AgResearch scientists, supported by the industry through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics, as well as the Government via the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC).

The result is sheep that naturally emit less methane as a product of their digestion and it is believed this trait can be bred for and passed down through generations. . . 

Renewed support for Get Kiwis on Farm initiative :

Federated Farmers and the Ministry of Social Development are pleased to announce another round of support for the “Get Kiwis on Farm” project, one of the government’s most successful worker placement COVID initiatives.

The initiative started in 2020 and to date has helped 605 people get jobs in farming.

MSD Industry Partnerships provides $323,000 of funding for 100 ‘starter kits’, to get the right gear in the hands of wannabe farm workers, and it also goes towards support with recruitment and pastoral care for those people.

New recruits get free farm and wet weather gear from Northland-based Kaiwaka Clothing, aimed to make them feel comfortable from their first day at work on the farm. Affording the right clothing was identified as a barrier for young people looking to work in farming. . . 


Rural round-up

06/10/2022

Rural internet snag – Jessica Marshall:

Despite its importance to the sector, many farmers and rural customers are still managing with subpar internet and mobile phone service.

That’s according to the recent 2022 Federated Farmer Rural Connectivity Survey. 

The survey found that more than half of the approximately 1,200 farmers who responded had reported download speeds at or less than 20 megabytes per second.

Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesman Richard McIntyre says broadband and mobile are vital to farming businesses. . . 

a2 Milk strikes a distribution deal with Chinese partner and sets sights on 2bn annual revenue – Point of Order:

While  the  big  co-op Fonterra  is  the  dominant force  in the  NZ  dairy  industry,  injecting nearly $14bn into regional  economies  through its payout  to  farmers, some  of  the  smaller  companies  have  become  spectacular performers.

Point of  Order  last week   drew  attention  to  how  the  specialist  Waikato processing company Tatua had  outstripped  Fonterra  with  its  2021-22 payout.

This  week a2 Milk  grabbed  a  headline  by  telling the   market it  had renewed exclusive import and distribution arrangements with a Chinese company for five years. This  triggered   fresh interest in  the  company,  which  is  sitting  on  a cash  pile  of $816.5m  It  plans  to  spend $150m of this in a  share buy-back

China State Farm Agribusiness has been a2 Milk’s strategic distribution partner in China since 2013 and is the exclusive import agent for its China label products, including a2’s China label infant milk formula. . . 

Agricultural emissions MOU a positive step :

The new memorandum of understanding between the Government and agribusiness leaders as part of the Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions is a step in the right direction, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“The $172 million over four years committed to tools and technology, including $7.75 million in this financial year, is a constructive spend of committed Budget funds.

“National supports the Government’s current emissions targets and budgets.

“Our agricultural sector is currently worth $52 billion to New Zealand, and our farmers are already the world’s lowest emitters.  . . .

Rewarding to invest in renewable power – Tim Cronshaw:

Solar power is only part of the environmental equation that adds up for a Canterbury vegetable and crop grower, writes Tim Cronshaw.

Robin Oakley’s call to put in 564 solar panels at his Southbridge vegetable and arable operation was done with his head and heart.

The ground-mounted solar line-up sits next to the packing shed and powers 40% of the site’s energy needs each year.

Within seven years, the payback from electricity generated by the panels will have covered the capital outlay of $400,000. . . 

Milestone for NAIT as CRV becomes first accredited provider under new standards :

Dairy genetics company CRV NZ has become the first service provider to achieve NAIT accreditation under OSPRI’s more rigorous five-step process.

Representatives from OSPRI today officially presented CRV with its accreditation certificate in Hamilton.

National Manager Quality, Compliance and Assurance Melissa Bailey says the intention of the new voluntary accreditation system is to give farmers more confidence that organisations handling and managing their NAIT data, such as saleyards and meat processors, meet the highest industry-agreed standards.

Under the old system, more than 150 providers were accredited. Farmers were getting notices for not complying and there were some instances where the movements were recorded incorrectly. . . 

 

NT government releases plan to address banana freckle disease outbreak in the Top End – Alicia Perera:

Since first being detected in May, banana freckle has spread to more than 40 properties across the Northern Territory’s Top End region.

One of those is Julie-Ann Murphy and Alan Petersen’s farm, Rum Jungle Organics.

The only commercial farm caught up in the outbreak, they’re now facing the prospect of losing their entire banana plantation for the second time in a decade, as the NT government takes steps to tackle the disease. 

“It’s pretty devastating to do it a second time,” Ms Murphy said. . . 


Meanwhile on the farm . . .

06/10/2022

 


Rural round-up

19/09/2022

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

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

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

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

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

Central Plains Water Contributes $1M to local Community :

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

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

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

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

Lochinver Station joins Beef and Lamb NZ genetics programme :

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

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

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

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

Recognition for forestry’s highest achievers :

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

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

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

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

Crop Farmer testing research for sustainable farming :

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

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

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

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

Data Driven agricultural solution are not the future – Eightwire

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

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

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


Rural round-up

07/09/2022

Lamb losses as spring storm brings snow – Neal Wallace:

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

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

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

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

High country lessees have high carbon hopes – Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

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

 

 

Cheesemaking waste product potential gamechanger for diabetes sufferers :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is called biological control.  . . 

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealand butchery team take third place at world competition :

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

30/08/2022

Race against time on winter grazing – Neal Wallace :

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

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

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

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

My beef with George Monibot – Diana Rodgers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kiwifruit growers to appeal Sungold licenses being included in property RV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

19/08/2022

Better methane measurement will make an impact – David Anderson:

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

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

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

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

Call for changes to GE laws – Leo Argent:

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

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

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

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

Carbon farming rocket has taken off – Keith Woodford:

Nothing matches carbon-farming economics on sheep and beef land

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

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

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

 

Pork sector releases plans of its own :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cream rises to the top in dairy property sector :

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

28/07/2022

Devil in the detail of EU deal – Nigel Stirling:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baseline set for subsurface irrigation trial :

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

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

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

The Walking Access Commission changes its name:

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

25/07/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be part of the change.

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

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

Business management award for Mid-Canterbury farmer :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

08/07/2022

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

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

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

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

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

Sequestration essential for He Waka Eke Noa :

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

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

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

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

Weather hits hort crop hard – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Fierce competition expected for NZYF Tournament Series national titles :

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

27/06/2022

Seed cleaning ingenuity earns global spotlight – Rebecca Ryan:

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

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

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

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

Strategy will help farming face change – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

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

Half year report is a mixed bag – Mel Croad:

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

Breaking it down, market conditions are mixed at best.

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

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

Award respect rural health contribution – RIchard Davison:

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

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

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

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

Owners of unproductive land encouraged to grow black diamonds :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

09/05/2022

Mycolplasma bovis isolated to just one farm :

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

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

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

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

Kiwis endangered by unlicenced occupations – Roger Partridge:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geoff Reid poked the bear – Kathryn Wright:

Geoff Reid NZ poked the bear

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

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

Geoff Reid poked the bear.  . . 

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

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

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

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

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

Biosecurity funding increase a sensible move :

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

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

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

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


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