Rural round-up

22/01/2021

Dollar causes fall in lamb prices – Peter Burke:

A report by the ANZ bank paints a somewhat sombre picture for sheepmeat in the coming year and mirrors a similar prediction in MPI’s Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report (SOPI) published in December.

ANZ says, overall, global demand for lamb products is relatively subdued and as a result farmgate prices for lamb and beef are expected to soften further as the country heads into the peak processing months.

It says while international prices for NZ lamb and beef seem to have stabilised after a fall, the strong NZ dollar is taking the edge off farmgate prices. Lambs destined for slaughter in the North Island are fetching $6.50/kg CW and $6.40/kg CW in the South Island, but the report expects these to fall to around $6.00/kg CW by February. . . 

Playing to our strengths in drought: are we missing Lucerne, the low hanging fruit – Harry Mills & Peter Kerr:

Since the dawn of farming, the rain has signalled renewal and hope while drought has signalled disaster and despair.

When Lincoln University-based plant scientist Derrick Moot returned from studying in the UK in 1996, he was convinced climate change was already impacting New Zealand’s drylands. The east coast of New Zealand, the home of many sheep farms was getting noticeably drier. Drought was becoming more prevalent. The number of hot summer days exceeding 30C was increasing. When summer air temperatures reach 30C, the dry soil temperature rises to 50C. Ryegrass pastures shrivel up and die in 50C heat.

Derrick Moot’s advice to drought-stricken sheep farmers was simple and low cost. Replace your ryegrass with lucerne and graze it in spring. . . 

Viruses can support sustainable food production – Richard Rennie:

2020 proved to be the year where most of the world learnt more than ever anticipated about viruses. Plant & Food Research lead scientist Dr Robin MacDiarmid views this increase in understanding as a silver lining in the covid cloud. But her research is also finding another silver lining in viruses, learning where they can serve good for more sustainable food production. She spoke to Richard Rennie.

A single slice from any flora or fauna sample analysed in a lab may contain hundreds if not thousands of viruses and bacteria, but the number actually known, categorised and understood by scientists may well pale against the total there.

For Dr Robin MacDiarmid, identifying and categorising the viruses represents barely half the job at hand. In recent decades genomic sequencing has made that task simpler, quicker and more affordable for researchers. 

“But once you have discovered and categorised a virus, you are really only at the ‘so what?’ stage. The big questions come after that, in terms of what is its cell biology, and what is the ecosystem it functions in?” MacDiarmid said. . . 

The rise and rise of the merino shoe – Michael Andrew:

Varieties of merino wool footwear are emerging faster than Netflix series about British aristocracy. Michael Andrew takes a look at the rise of the shoe that almost everyone – including his 95-year-old grandma – is wearing.

Some might say it all started with Allbirds. After all, to the average consumer, it was the New Zealand-American company founded by former all white Tim Brown in 2014 that successfully popularised the versatile, comfortable and, lets face it, kind of goofy merino wool shoe that is now synonymous with corporate sustainability and Silicon Valley.

But when we cast our minds – and google searches – back to the early 2010s, we see that sustainable shoe initiatives were happening long before Allbirds came along and dominated the market. . . 

Game Animal Council working to improve new rules for flare arms users:

The Game Animal Council (GAC) is applying its expertise in the use of firearms for hunting to work alongside Police, other agencies and stakeholder groups to improve the compliance provisions for hunters and other firearms users.

The GAC has been a part of the Firearms Community Advisory Forum (FCAF) since 2018 and along with other hunting sector stakeholders successfully advocated for a number of practical changes to the Arms Legislation Act.

“While we continue to have concerns over the fairness and practicality of some aspects of the legislation we are working with Police and other groups seeking to develop practical rules and guidance going forward,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “A major part of this work is making sure Police fully understand the impact of the new rules from a user’s point of view and apply them fairly.”

Lockdown games teach children about farm safety :

Educational games centred on farm safety have been developed for children studying at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The materials, which seek to raise awareness of the key dangers on farms, include interactive videos and colouring sheets.

Children can use the videos to identify animal emotions and understand the dangers relating to livestock and the rules to follow when coming into contact with them.

They have been created by SAC Consulting and 360 Degree Imagery company Exhibit Scotland for the Farm Advisory Service (FAS). . . 


Rural round-up

18/01/2021

Mobile black spots: Meet the Kiwis with worse mobile coverage than the developing world – Tom Dillane:

Teresa Wyndham-Smith remembers with a laugh when it first dawned on her that mobile coverage was better in West Africa than the West Coast of New Zealand.

That was five years of signal silence ago.

The 57-year-old writer and journalist returned to her home country after a decade in Ghana, and plonked herself down in Te Miko, a settlement on the 1000-plus kms of mobile black spots along New Zealand highways.

“I’m originally from Wellington but I was living in Ghana in West Africa for 10 years before I moved to the Coast,” Wyndham-Smith said. . . 

SWAG ready to tackle 2021 – Annette Scott:

The Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool industry out of the doldrums, has kick started the new year on a positive footing.

Since putting the call out in November for financial support, industry contributions have now reached more than $500,000.

SWAG, established and incorporated late last year, is targeting a $3 million working budget to fund identified opportunities that will increase the demand and value of NZ produced strong wool.

The company aims to raise $700,000, matched with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) funding, will secure a total operational budget of about $3m. . . 

From liquid gold to price crash : NZ’s honey hangover – Jane Phare:

Mānuka honey producers have been reaping the profits from selling pots of gold in recent years but now there’s a glut of non-manuka varieties as beekeepers stockpile, hoping prices will recover. New Zealand has more than 918,000 beehives, and Jane Phare looks at why the country is oozing with honey and why Kiwis looked for something less expensive to spread on their bread.

It was always a Kiwi staple, honey on toast in the morning, a spoonful to help the medicine go down. It was sweet, yummy and affordable.

Then, the so-called magical health benefits of mānuka honey became known worldwide causing export sales to take off. As the mānuka honey story reached fever pitch, so did the prices. Honey producers were earning upwards of $100 a kilo, selling little pots of dark golden nectar. . . 

Alliance partners with children’s charity :

Alliance Group will become an official partner of Ronald McDonald House South Island, the independent charitable trust providing free accommodation and support to families who need to travel to Christchurch and Invercargill for their children’s medical treatment.

The partnership will see the co-operative provide support for the Ronald McDonald House major 2021 fundraiser – the annual Supper Club events in Christchurch, Queenstown and Invercargill – and donate meat for a range of events throughout the year.

Alliance will also play a key role in the charity’s Host a Roast month in July – when people are encouraged to host a roast, brunch or lunch and invite friends and colleagues to attend for a $20 donation to support the Ronald McDonald House programmes.

“Ronald McDonald House is very close to the hearts of many of our people, our farmer shareholders and the wider community,” Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said. . . 

 

New Alps2Ocean leg opens to rave reviews – Doug Sail:

A new $1.2 million section of the Alps2Ocean cycle trail has proved a hit with holidaymakers as they discover rarely seen South Island scenery.

The 16-kilometre section from Sailors Cutting to the top of the Benmore Dam in the Waitaki Lakes region follows the Ahuriri arm of Lake Benmore serving up sights that users have raved about since it opened on December 18.

Among the more than 7000 cyclists and pedestrians to have tried the track so far was Stuffphotographer John Bisset who has previously completed the four sections from the start in Aoraki/Mt Cook through to Omarama.

“It was an awesome ride with great vistas. . .

America’s biggest owner of farmland is now Bill Gates – Ariel Shapiro:

Bill Gates, the fourth richest person in the world and a self-described nerd who is known for his early programming skills rather than his love of the outdoors, has been quietly snatching up 242,000 acres of farmland across the U.S. — enough to make him the top private farmland owner in America.

After years of reports that he was purchasing agricultural land in places like Florida and Washington, The Land Report revealed that Gates, who has a net worth of nearly $121 billion according to Forbes, has built up a massive farmland portfolio spanning 18 states. His largest holdings are in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres) and Nebraska (20,588 acres). Additionally, he has a stake in 25,750 acres of transitional land on the west side of Phoenix, Arizona, which is being developed as a new suburb.

According to The Land Report’s research, the land is held directly and through third-party entities by Cascade Investments, Gates’ personal investment vehicle. Cascade’s other investments include food-safety company Ecolab, used-car retailer Vroom and Canadian National Railway.  . . 


Rural round-up

14/01/2021

Work on freshwater in Southland is a nationwide first – Rachael Kelly:

Stewart Bull says he loses his mana when he has to tell visitors to his Takutai o Te Tītī Marae not to eat the kai moana.

“I don’t collect kai moana off the beach any more, at this stage. I know what’s going on, and I advise my children not to go and collect it either.

“It’s not good to stand on your marae and go ‘don’t touch the kai moana’…where is your mana if you have to stand on your own marae and express that to your visitors who are coming in?’’

For Bull, it’s about ki uta ki tai, from the mountains to the sea. . . 

Cherry pickers lose $350 a day jobs – Jared Morgan:

The $50 million loss incurred by Central Otago’s cherry growers this season impacts growers, jobs and the New Zealand economy.

Summerfruit NZ chief executive Richard Palmer said the full extent of the damage after four days of persistent and heavy rain was yet to be quantified but it was expected up to 50% of the season’s cherries had been lost due to splitting, resulting in the loss of $50million in export revenue to the country.

In addition to damaged fruit, flooding caused damage to buildings on orchards located around Earnscleugh when the Fraser River broke its banks.

Orchardists in the area said the losses were tempered by the fact flood waters receded, quickly allying fears other crops had been affected. . . 

Bid to stop 1080 drop in Hawke’s Bay fails in court – Tom Kitchin:

A legal challenge to stop a 1080 drop on Māori land in Hawke’s Bay has failed.

The Māori Land Court has released its ruling on the legal fight  following a hearing in Hastings.

Tataraakina is a 14,000 hectare block in inland Hawke’s Bay, near the highway between Napier and Taupō.

Tataraakina is managed by an ahu whenua trust, led by trustee Clinton Hemana, and has 1143 owners. . .

 The strange reason New Zealand is in the midst of a national oat milk shortage – Glenn McConnell:

Rumblings of an oat milk shortage first reached Stuff early in the New Year. Trendy café goers reported their local vegan-friendly baristas had run dry on their favourite plant-based milk.

It was a coffee crisis, and the outlook was gloomy. Would they revert to cow’s milk? Drink an overly sweet flat white with coconut milk? Or indulge in the increasingly uncool almond milk latte?

Oat milk is the up and coming among the milk alternatives. Almond remains popular, but has lost fans due to environmental concerns. The demand for almonds has caused honeybee catastrophe in the US, as California summons more than half of the country’s bees to pollinate its almond trees. The journey reportedly costs the lives of a quarter of the bees, due to pesticides and disease.

Oat is The Goat. But due to an unusually elongated supply chain for New Zealand, and unexpected rise in the popularity of oat milk, it has recently proved hard to find. . . 

Heiko Wittmer: NZ lessons to be learnt from pumas and wolves – Emile Donovan:

Lessons from how pumas and wolves interact in North America can be applied here in New Zealand, as we strive towards a predator-free 2050. 

Dr Heiko Wittmer has looked at what happened when wolves were reintroduced to Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. The wolves had a negative effect on the pumas in the park and that led to a much more balanced ecosystem. 

Heiko tells Summer Times that despite being a large and wild park, it had lost its wolf population due to culling in the early 20th century.

“Since then they have been missing and that has led to some drastic changes in the ecosystem.” . . 

It’s urgent we act on declining water storage, scientists warn – Shan Goodwin:

INTERNATIONAL scientists have highlighted the urgent need for mitigation to avoid water storage declines and increased droughts and the big role farmers in Australia, particular in the south, stand to play in that.

By the end of this century, the global land area and population living in extreme-to-exceptional drought could more than double, research directed from Michigan State University in the United States has found.

The stark warning emerged from the extensive study, which also points to the largest water declines being in Australia and South America.

The key implication is that climate change mitigation is now critical to avoid adverse water storage impacts and increased droughts, and the need for improved water resource management and adaptation is pressing. . . 

 


Rural round-up

21/12/2020

Ministers receive recommendations from winter grazing advisory group – Rachael Kelly:

A Southland group is asking that pugging rules and, in particular, resowing dates imposed on farmers should be deleted from Government regulations as they are unfair.

The Southland Advisory Group has made the recommendations to the Government’s new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor are now considering the recommendations.

The group says the resowing date conditions should be deleted. Under the new rules, all sowing of winter crops in Southland and Otago needs to be completed by November 1. . .

Opportunity to close 13km cycle trail gap lost because of DOC’s ‘incompetency’ – Debbie Jamieson:

A 13-kilometre gap in the centre of one of Otago’s top cycle trails will likely remain after a Department of Conservation (DOC) “stuff up”.

Cyclists on the 34km Roxburgh Gorge trail have had to take a $100 jet boat ride along the length of the gap, where farmers have denied access, since the trail opened in 2013.

A pastoral lease review last year could have allowed the stretch to be transferred into public ownership and enabled the trail to be built, but DOC was two days late in submitting its request. . . 

Life as a solo farmer –  Ross Nolly:

A Taranaki farmer is doing it alone and although life can get hectic at times, every day she pulls on her gumboots and happily heads off to milk her cows.

Farming is hard work. But when you farm alone, there is no one to help when the work pressure mounts, and every decision falls squarely on your shoulders.

Maryanne Dudli milks 175 cows on an 84-hectare leased farm at Auroa, in South Taranaki. She runs the farm on her own and takes pride in running an efficient farm, and owning a high production herd. 

Dudli grew up on the family dairy farm and has been absolutely passionate about cows as far back as she can remember. . . 

Taking stock of farming – Laura Smith:

Regenerative agriculture is a buzz phrase in farming circles at the moment. A pilot study in Otago Southland has been building a base for research into it in New Zealand. Laura Smith reports.

The science

Southern farmers are among the first in the country to offer informed insight into the outcomes of regenerative agriculture.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investment programmes director Steve Penno said while there was increasing interest from farmers and the wider community, definitions for the practice varied. . .

Scheme aimed at easing way into orchard work – Mark Price:

Thirty young people willing to earn up to $25 an hour picking cherries have so far joined a pilot work scheme devised by three Upper Clutha women, (from left) Liz Breslin, Sarah Millwater and Sarah Fox.

All parents of teenagers, they met yesterday  to discuss their target of signing up 100 young people aged 16 to 25.

Their intention is to ease young people into paid holiday employment by providing transport to the Central Pac cherry orchard near Cromwell and helping them with tax and other employment-related issues.

The scheme, operating under the name Upper Clutha Youth Workforce also requires funding for two support workers. . .

Promising new test for Johne’s :

A promising new test for Johne’s disease in dairy cattle has been developed at the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) and School of Biological Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast.

The new test is said to be both more rapid and sensitive in detecting the infectious agent (MAP) of Johne’s in veterinary specimens. It is showing greater detection capability than the milk-ELISA test that is currently used.

Crucially, it detects live infectious agent, not just antibodies against MAP as are detected by milk-ELISA.

In a recent study, the new test was able to detect more infected animals by milk testing than milk-ELISA, so could potentially facilitate control of Johne’s faster. . . 


Rural round-up

20/12/2020

Why banning RSE workers here won’t improve wages for local agricultural workers – Eric Crampton:

They thought banning migrant farm labour would boost wages for native-born farm workers. They were wrong. And New Zealand may be getting ready to repeat their mistake.

On December 31, 1964, the United States ended the bracero agreements between the US and Mexico, after two years of tightened restrictions. The agreements, which began in 1942, regulated the movement of lower-skilled migrant labour – particularly for seasonal agricultural work. By the early 1960s, about half a million Mexican farm workers migrated to American farms for seasonal agricultural work on contracts lasting from six weeks to six months.

The Kennedy administration believed that the bracero agreements reduced American farm labour wages. It also did not help that the senior commissioner in the Department of Labour investigation of the bracero programme was a eugenicist who believed Mexicans were genetically inferior. . .

How $2 a punnet of strawberries is bad for kiwi growers

A punnet of strawberries for $2 at the supermarket may be a bargain for consumers, but it’s “particularly painful” for Kiwi growers, Michael Ahern says.

“Growers are not happy at all, in fact some of them are opening up their gardens to pick-your-own early to find some way to gain recovery by keeping costs down,” Ahern, who is executive manager for Strawberry Growers New Zealand, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“That’s not the way they want to do it – but they’re professional growers and they want normal, orthodox channels to market on a weekly basis.”

“They’re big boys and girls and they can suck it up to a certain extent – but this one is particularly painful.” . .

Agility key to Alliance success board chair says – Louise Steyl:

Agility is Alliance Group’s biggest strength as it battles trade issues around the world, board chairman Murray Taggart says.

Apart from the obvious impacts of Covid-19, issues like Great Britain exiting the European Union posed potential export risks, he said.

“Trade relationships always wax and wane.”

But the Chinese market remained the meat processing co-operative’s most important market. . .

A gut feeling backed by science – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Sheep breeding has become a science, and with technology and stock management, these three elements have combined in the sheep breeder of today.

For South Otago farmer Garth Shaw, it began with the Coopworth, the result of crossing the Romney and Border Leicester, developed at Lincoln College as a dual-purpose breed in 1950.

The Shaws began farming at Wharetoa, which means strong house in Maori, near Clydevale in 1966. They started breeding Coopworth rams in 1975.

“We have always run a commercial flock alongside our stud flock and have used the commercial flock to benchmark as new breeds and markets become available and also to test our genetic progress within a commercial setting,” Mr Shaw said. . . 

Shift from town to country rewarding:

Nicky Tily works with up to 4000 pigs — and loves every minute of it.

Ms Tily (23), who grew up in urban Christchurch and worked in the food service sector, is now a junior stockperson.

“Pigs are so intelligent. I enjoy everything about the job.”

She had always liked the idea of working with animals or on a farm and considered a career in vet nursing. However, having completed a six-month course, gaining a National Certificate in Animal Husbandry, she decided against vet nursing.

Her first job in the farming sector was with Mapua stud at Southbridge, which included a sheep stud, dairy grazing, cropping and a 120 sow outdoor piggery. She enjoyed all of the work, but particularly working with the pigs. . . 

Picking a poinsettia – Heather Barnes:

Poinsettias may traditionally be red, but as I learned on a recent visit to Homewood Nursery and Garden Center, these holiday decorating staples come in many colors.

Unlike many flowering shrubs (yes, poinsettia is a shrub), their color doesn’t come from the flowers.  The colorful part is a bract, or modified leaf.  

I have a cat who loves to eat plants, so I’ve never bought poinsettias because I thought they were poisonous.  I thought wrong. The American Veterianary Medical Assocaition says they can cause a skin irriation but rates them a lower risk than other holiday plants. While people shouldn’t eat them either, Poison Control says the plant “can be irritating but it is not fatal if eaten.”  The sap can cause a skin rash on people wo are allergic to latex, since both have some of the same proteins. . .

 


Rural round-up

06/12/2020

B+LNZ has ‘farmers’ backs’ over new rules:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says it has “farmers’ backs” and will not stop advocating for them over the controversial freshwater rules.

In an update to farmers, chief executive Sam McIvor said the organisation had met Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker in the past couple of weeks and it would seek meetings with Climate Change Minister James Shaw and newly appointed Forestry Minister Stuart Nash.

“Our focus has been on changes to the essential freshwater rules, making progress on the certified freshwater farm plan, holding them to their promises on issues like carbon farming and asking for a pause on new environmental rules. We’re also collaborating with other industry groups on these issues,” Mr McIvor said.

Farmers had identified three key issues with the freshwater rules, including arbitrary resowing dates for winter grazing on forage crops which many farmers were not able to meet because of climatic and soil conditions. . .

Fruit growers ‘doing their best’ to hire suitable NZ workers – Tess Brunton:

Central Otago fruit growers are rubbishing claims they’re turning down New Zealanders for local fruit picking work as they would prefer cheap foreign labour.

It follows union concerns that plenty of people are applying for jobs, but are waiting weeks for replies if they get them at all.

Orchard owners have been calling for the government to allow in more seasonal workers from Pacific countries to help with the summer fruit harvest.

Stephen Darling runs Darlings Fruit in Ettrick, Central Otago, growing mainly apples and apricots. . .

New chair of Safer Farms and two new directors announced:

Safer Farms has welcomed three new Directors to its Board, including Lindy Nelson who has also been announced as the organisation’s new Chair.

The Agri Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) co-founder has taken over from Justine Kidd, who has chaired Safer Farms’ since its formation in 2017 and will remain on the Board.

Federated Farmers’ Vice President Karen Williams and Zanda MacDonald Award Winner Jack Raharuhi were named as the new Directors at the organisation’s AGM.

Kidd said the high calibre and large number of applicants for the positions were a true testament to the passion the industry has for its people. . . 

GO NZ: Waitaki Valley girls’ weekend – hiking high country wine region – Anna King Sahib:

Getting high in the Waitaki back country, hot-tubbing and gin – all the ingredients for a great girls’ away weekend, writes Anna King Shahab

A couple of days in the Waitaki Valley, inland from Ōamaru provided the chance to follow the footsteps of those who farm our food, and to taste the fruits of the country’s youngest wine region.

Our girls’ weekend away had been built around a simple, wholesome concept: a walk on the farm. We’d booked in with new guided walk operator Sole to Soul Hiking – the passion project of Sally Newlands Juliet Gray, best friends making a living on neighboring farms in the Hakataramea Valley, a 50-minute drive inland from Ōamaru. The impetus of Sally and Juliet’s business is to share the numerous benefits they experience daily when walking the high country they farm – a workout, yes, and also a connection with the land and environment, an awareness of where and how our food is raised, and a chance to practise mindfulness. . . 

Silver Fern Farms celebrates Plate to Pasture Award winners:

Coromandel beef producers Brent and Kara Lilley have received the Silver Fern Farms 2020 Plate to Pasture Award for their exceptional consumer focus.

The Awards, now in their 7th year, celebrate suppliers of lamb, beef, venison, and bull beef who consistently supply quality stock and produce food with the consumer front of mind.

All Silver Fern Farms suppliers are assessed on the specification & presentation of stock, their Farm Assurance status, supply direct via Silver Fern Farms Livestock agents, Shareholding, Supply volume & timing and use of FarmIQ tools. . .

A dairy solution to Australia’s out of control feral camels – Denise Cullen:

Australia has the biggest feral camel population in the world, but one farmer is working to change public perception of this ‘pest’.

Ten years ago, Australian cattle grazier Paul Martin decided that he couldn’t stand to see another camel shot.

In the 1800s, camels were shipped to Australia from the Middle East, India and Afghanistan to help open up the country’s vast remote interior. They were later released into the Australian wilderness en masse with the advent of mechanised transportation.

With their energy-storing humps, broad toes that support their weight on sand and ability to eat 85 percent of even tough and thorny vegetation, they were perfectly suited to the dry, desert conditions which make up more than one-third of the continent.  . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

24/11/2020

Trust Alliance primary industry consortium launches:

A new consortium working to enhance the reputation and competitiveness of New Zealand’s primary industry sector is launching at the Primary Industries Summit at Te Papa today. Trust Alliance New Zealand (TANZ) is New Zealand’s first national blockchain consortium focused on the primary sector. Its intent is to be a change agent for primary industries, connecting participants and providers across the entire primary sector value chain.

Trust Alliance had its beginnings late last year when a small group of organisations came together to establish a trusted digital platform for New Zealand producers, growers, exporters, retailers and consumers to easily share verified and trusted data. It now has 22 members and is growing monthly.

Chair of the Trust Alliance and Chief Executive of Potatoes New Zealand, Chris Claridge, says it provides a platform for sharing data, to prove provenance, authentication and food safety as well as biosecurity tracking and tracing. . . 

A2 Milk has last some of its share market gloss but has become a formidable dairy player with a bright outlook  – Point of Order:

Two  encouraging signals from the  dairy industry this week underlined  its strength  as  the backbone   of the  NZ  export  economy, all the  more vital since  the  Covid-driven collapse  of the international tourist  industry.

First  came  news that prices  strengthened  at the  latest  Fonterra  global dairy  trade  auction, with  the  average price reaching  $US3157  a  tonne. Prices for other products sold were mixed, with gains for butter and skim milk powder, but falls for cheese and other products.

Analysts  said  it  was  positive  to see  good, strong  demand  from   China. The  price  of  wholemilk powder  which  strongly  influences the  level of  payout to Fonterra’s  suppliers  moved  up  1.8% to $US3037  a tonne. . .

Providing a female take on farm training – Guy Williams:

The best way to succeed is to help others succeed.

That is the mantra of Laura Douglas, who has been instrumental in setting up New Zealand’s first women-only farm training school at Fairlight Station, near Garston.

Miss Douglas had already attracted national media attention after setting up her company, Real Country, about four years ago to give tourists an insight into farm life.

Then came Covid.

The bottom fell out of the tourism market, and her livelihood. . . 

Incredible life in Outback – Sally Rae:

Meet Liz Cook — wife, mother and bull catcher.

She works with her husband Willie to wrangle feral cattle in Australia’s remote Northern Territory, while raising the couple’s two young sons Charlie and Blake.

It is an extraordinary lifestyle for the couple, who hail from Central Otago, giving their children experiences that few others will ever have.

Home to spend time with family and give the boys a taste of a New Zealand upbringing, Mrs Cook outlined life on Bauhinia Downs Station, a 324,000ha property — small by the area’s standards — that the couple lease. . . 

Auckland butcher awarded inaugural Slow Food Snail –  Regina Wypch:

Fourteen Auckland region food businesses became New Zealand’s first to be awarded the Slow Food “Snail of Approval”, at an event held last Tuesday evening. A huge congratulations to A Lady Butcher – Hannah Miller who was amongst these inaugural and deserving recipients.

The Slow Food movement aims to change the world through food and celebrates the love of food cultures, rituals, and traditions. Slow Food Auckland Committee Member Anutosh Cusack says ‘The internationally recognised Snail of Approval programme promotes and celebrates locally grown and produced food that is good, clean and fair and the people who make it happen.

But what is good, clean fair food? – Good – seasonal, local, quality, flavoursome and healthy food. Clean – produced sustainably with low impact on the environment.  And Fair ensures accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers and staff.

“By recognising their intent, passion and effort rather than perfection, the Snail of Approval is intended to inspire all types of food businesses to embrace Slow Food principles,” says Ms Cusack. . . 

Growing a family legacy – Regina Wypch:

What started with planting some acacia trees 25 years ago has become a multi-generational passion for the Hunt family in Te Awamutu.

“Grandpa was against it at the time; Grandma claims she suggested it,” says Sophia Hunt, whose grandparents were the original owners of Orakau Dairy in Te Awamutu, Waikato. Sophia now helps farm Orakau – a 350-cow operation split into two herds – alongside her parents Rose and Vernon, and sister Margie. What grandma and grandpa were disputing was Rose and Vernon shutting up a 1.5ha paddock with some mature acacias about 25 years ago, allowing the self-seeded acacias to grow, instead of being nibbled off each time cows grazed the paddock. 

The farm had a few stands of mature macrocarpas at the time, planted for timber and used by cows for shade and shelter. But the macrocarpas needed to be milled, and there was concern about the trees causing slips. . . 

Recalling a pastoral saga – Stephen Burns:

It was not surprising Alastair Cox pursued a pastoral career.

The descendant of Merino pioneer William Cox who established the first land grant in the Bathurst district after crossing the Blue Mountains in 1814, he is very proud of his Merino heritage.

Subsequent generations of the Cox family established themselves as leading Merino breeders in the Mudgee region: and Alastair’s direct forbear James Cox made Tasmania his home at Clarendon, near Evandale.

Upon leaving school, Alastair started work in the Newmarket saleyards in Melbourne where he was employed by the agency Dal Adams and Co. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/11/2020

Agriculture will change but pastoral agriculture will survive and prosper – Keith Woodford:

Agriculture will change but pastoral agriculture will survive and prosper.  It is all about international competitive advantage, new technologies and managing the environment. It can be done but it won’t be easy.

One of the regular questions I am asked about is the future of pastoral agriculture. It reflects a perspective that, given the issues of water pollution, greenhouse gases and changing consumer attitudes, perhaps New Zealand’s pastoral agriculture belongs to the past rather than the future.

A good starting point for a response is to reflect as to why New Zealand developed as a pastoral-based economy. Nature blessed New Zealand with a temperate maritime climate combined with a hilly and mountainous topography that is well suited to pastoral agriculture, but much less suited to crop activities.

Compared to much of the world, New Zealand’s natural competitive edge still lies in pastoral sheep, beef and dairy.   In contrast, the economics of broad-acre cropping and vegetable production are challenging in an environment where flat land is limited and where rain can occur, or not occur, at any time. . .

Low methane sheep a reality :

New Zealand farmers are the first in the world with the ability to breed low methane-emitting sheep.

A breeding value for methane emissions was launched in November 2019. It was the outcome of a 10-year breeding programme funded by the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.

AgResearch scientist Dr Suzanne Rowe has been leading the research programme and says for the past ten years, they have been running two closed flocks side-by-side, a low methane emitting flock and a high methane emitting flock. . . 

 

Science and agriculture well met – Yvonne O’Hara:

Combining genetics, parasitology and agriculture is a dream job for Dr Kathryn McRae.

She has worked for AgResearch at Invermay for the past six years and during that time has had several major genetic studies to her credit.

“I really enjoy the mix with the lab work with more practical hands-on work.”

She researched levels of pneumonia in sheep and oversaw the Invermay-based Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test (CPT). . . 

Plan to introduce insects to kill wasps :

The Tasman District Council wants to release two new wasp-killing insects to New Zealand.

It has applied on behalf of a wasp control action group to the Environmental Protection Authority, to release the wasp-nest beetle and a hoverfly.

The introduced insects would combat the invasive wasps that cost the country about $130 million a year in damage and control measures.

Wasps attack honeybees, butterflies, flies and spiders and can be harmful to people – sometimes seriously. . . 

Puro given licence to grow 10 hectares of medicinal cannabis:

Medical cannabis grower Puro has been granted a licence to plant 10 hectares of the crop.

Managing director of the Marlborough firm, Tim Aldridge, said it would plant more than 80,000 seeds and seedlings at Kēkerengū on the Kaikōura Coast.

Aldridge said the licence was in time to plant in spring. . .

Let’s have a more balanced debate on meat tax – Richard Young:

When it comes to talking about meat, and especially when discussing a tax on red meat, we must be careful to differentiate between livestock that are part of the problem and those that are part of the solution. While we agree that the polluter pays principle should be applied to food, and the sugar tax is a good example of this, there is a real problem with the blanket use of the term, ‘red meat’, which is freely used but is flawed on two counts. Firstly, it is generally used to refer to all ruminant meat, meat from pigs and all processed red meats.

This is irrational and misleading because these meats can be produced in very different ways which have very different impacts on nutrient composition and the environment. Secondly, in failing to differentiate between methods of production, the blanket use of the term ‘red meat’ is intellectually sloppy, creates confusion amongst the public and does more harm than good when used to advocate meat taxes. . . 

 


Rural round-up

05/11/2020

Time to recognise farmers for their sequestration?:

Sheep and beef farmers are arguing their operations are close to carbon neutral.

But it is not counted in New Zealand’s ETS system.

So should they be getting formal recognition?

 In the first study of its kind, spacial analysis mapping of sheep and beef farms has revealed significant levels of  woody vegetation. . . 

Farmers increasingly using taylor-made environment plans – Fonterra :

Fonterra says 34 percent of its farmers now have tailored farm environment plans, up from 23 percent at the start of the year.

The company has just released its latest sustainability report, which for the second year is including a triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental impacts.

Global Sustainability director Carolyn Mortland said another 1000 of the co-operative’s 10,000 suppliers had farm specific plans compared to last year, many of them in higher risk catchments.

Mortland said there was a bottleneck of farmers wanting plans, and Fonterra was increasing its sustainable farm advisor pool from 30 to 40. . . 

Who are the most emissions efficient milk producers in the world?

A glass of New Zealand milk produces less than half of greenhouse gas emissions compared to the global average. This makes Kiwi dairy farmers the most emissions efficient milk producers in the world.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says sustainable practices and world-leading ability to make quality, highly nutritious milk means New Zealand is the best at efficiently converting grass to glass.

“As the world navigates uncertain times, we’ve carved out an enviable position in primary sector production,” says Mackle. “What is less well known, is our environmental journey. We are part of He Waka Eke Noa, a world-first partnership between the farming sector and government, building a framework to reduce agricultural emissions.”

For over a decade, farmers have transitioned to increasingly sustainable practices and those changes are being formalised through Farm Environment Plans, which improve water quality and further reduce emissions. Through the sector’s Dairy Tomorrow strategy, all farms will have an environment plan by 2025. . . 

Department Of Conservation selling Central Hawke’s Bay surplus rural sections:

The Department of Conservation is taking five separate Hawke’s Bay rural lifestyle sections without covenants to the market for sale. Turley & Co is leading the process for DoC, and Bayleys is the marketing agency.

The undeveloped blocks in the southern part of the province around the periphery of Waipukurau, are known as:

  • Streamside Paddock
  • Hunters Sections one
  • Hunters Section two
  • Beatties’ Corner, and;
  • Rural Site, Rotohiwi Road . . 

Wine label making a difference wins gold at Marlborough Wine Show:

Kōparepare, the wine brand created to support LegaSea, a non-profit organisation committed to the protection of the New Zealand marine environment, has been awarded a Gold Medal at the 2020 Marlborough Wine Show for its Kōparepare 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé. What makes the Gold medal significant, is that 100% of the revenue from each bottle of this Gold medal wine sold is donated entirely to LegaSea. The Gold medal win is also a demonstration that consumers don’t have to sacrifice quality, when purchasing wines to support a cause.

Created in 2018 by Whitehaven Wine Company, the Kōparepare label was relaunched in October this year under a refreshed label and with a campaign to donate 100% of the revenue from the first 125 cases sold online at www.koparepare.co.nz to LegaSea. After the first 125 cases are sold, the family winery will continue to fund the work of LegaSea by donating $1 from every bottle of Kōparepare sold.

Kōparepare (Māori for gift or contribution) is produced and bottled by Whitehaven, and demonstrates Whitehaven’s sustainability ethos, with a focus on the protection, preservation and restoration of New Zealand’s natural resources.  . . 

Finishing farm with unique harbour lifestyle:

A finishing property on the harbour near Raglan township in Waikato that brings the best of cattle country with its strong pastoral capacity and good contour is on the market after a decade of re-development and investment.

The Rothery Road property comprising 790ha has been dedicated to cattle finishing for the past 10 years. Stock types have included both bulls and weaner steers across the easy to medium contoured farm that sits across the harbour from Raglan township.

“The vendor has committed a decade of hard work to improving facilities and subdivision on the entire property, and that has included bringing two farms together, which also accounts for the fact there are two high quality, spacious dwellings on the farm today,” says Bayleys Waikato salesperson Russell Bovill. . . 


Rural round-up

22/10/2020

Drought fears for South Canterbury, North Otago farmers – Maja Burry, Eleisha Foon:

South Canterbury and North Otago farmers are concerned they are on the precipice of a drought.

NIWA’s latest hotspot report showed the driest soils in the South Island and both winter and spring had so far failed to deliver meaningful rain.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said the Waimate and Waitaki districts had received little rain since autumn and pasture covers are low for this time of year.

MPI’s rural communities and farming support director, Nick Story, said farmers were feeding out grain, destocking and looking for alternative grazing. . . 

Wildlife rules for private land queried by owners and businesses – Farah Hancock:

A policy aimed at protecting indigenous wildlife, which has struggled to gain consensus, is on its final dash to the finish line. Public support is strong, but landowners and industry still have concerns

The National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which will force councils to identify significant natural areas, including on private land, is hoped to improve the outlook for New Zealand’s 4000 threatened species

Not all are happy with the proposed policy, with submissions expressing concern about how areas on private land will be identified, and the impact on private landowners’ ability to use their land. . . .

 

Watermelon shortage predicted as biosecurity concerns hold up Tongan supply – Maja

Supermarket shelves could soon run dry of watermelons with all import channels for the fruit currently closed due to biosecurity concerns.

Imports of the fruit from Tonga were halted last week after live fruit fly larvae were detected at the New Zealand border on a consignment of watermelons from the country.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said there would now be an investigation into the non-compliance by the Ministry of Agriculture Food, Forestry and Fisheries in Tonga.

“Until the suspension is lifted, all consignments of watermelons from Tonga arriving at New Zealand’s border will be held with the option of destruction or re-shipment in accordance with the Import Health Standard,” MPI said in a statement. . . 

Green lipped mussels are becoming heavy lifters – Keith Woodford:

Hatchery technologies and open-sea farms provide the platform for new endeavours with green-lipped mussels

A little over five years ago, I asked the question as to whether green-lipped mussels could be the next heavy lifter for the New Zealand export economy. At the time, the Government had a goal of doubling exports by 2025, which seemed exceedingly optimistic.

Both then and since then I have been frustrated by what I see as naivety within the broader community as to how New Zealand is going to pay its way in a complex and competitive world. There often seems to be unwillingness to grapple with the hard realities of a small isolated country in the South Pacific with a rapidly growing population and increasing inequalities.

I have listened many times to speakers who say that services rather than goods are going to be our salvation. When I ask where within that framework might we find a competitive advantage, I typically hear only generic terms such as ‘technology’   Our two big service industries are tourism and the education of foreign students. . . 

Election 2020, the red tsunami – Elbow Deep:

I had intended to use this month’s column to look back at the three years which have passed since the farmer protests in Morrinsville and determine if a Labour/New Zealand First/Greens Government was as scary as predicted.

Events overtook me and clearly, since Labour won the party vote in all but four electorates, it wasn’t that scary at all.

At the last election farming issues were front and centre in a highly divisive campaign that left farmers feeling kicked around like the proverbial political football. At the heart of this division was the proposed water levy, a proposal that didn’t even make it past coalition negotiations, which generated a lot of heat while distracting from the real message David Parker was trying to push; freshwater reform.

This election, in the wake of plummeting tax receipts and a higher than normal reliance on income from agricultural exports, every single political party was courting the farming vote. . . 

Agricultural equipment sector remains positive :

The agricultural equipment sector remains in a positive mood throughout the country says the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA), which represents the sector in manufacturing, retailing and distribution.

TAMA sales statistics for the year to date (September 30) are down around 18 percent compared with 2019‘s record-breaking year, however indicators remain positive as New Zealand enters the peak of another growing season.

TAMA president Kyle Baxter said despite sales volumes being down in some equipment ranges, members were confident regarding business trading across dealerships and local equipment manufacturing. . . 


Rural round-up

17/10/2020

Farmer = people that farm – Dr Mark Ferguson:

Growing up on our family farm in the Victoria Mallee, I had four fantastic role models, Mum and Dad on one side of the dam, and Dad’s parents, Mama and Pa on the other.

Pa had suffered a blood-clot in his leg and lost his leg from above the knee when I was very young so my only memories are of him on crutches or in a wheelchair.

That, of course, did not stop him from driving tractors, feeding sheep and the like, but he did rely on Mama to help him get these jobs done. Mum and Dad both worked off farm at various times to make ends meet. With this combination, making our farm tick was a real partnership of the four of them and, as soon as we were old enough to be useful, the three of us boys. There were a number of harvests where Mum drove the truck to town to deliver the grain while Dad was harvesting and Mama and Pa shifted field bins and augers etc. to keep everything moving. Although a generation has ticked over and it is now my brother Tim and his family farming with Mum and Dad, this team effort is what continues on the farm today. I never thought of it at the time, but looking back I do, I wonder whether Mum and Mama thought of themselves as farmers or farmers wives? . .

Environmental, business performance focus of study – Yvonne O’Hara:

All systems are go” for DairyNZ, AgResearch and the Southern Dairy Hub’s new participatory research project.

Planning had been under way for 12 months, and including looking for farmers to be part of the study.

“There was a bit of chequered start selecting farms as we couldn’t go out to do the interviews because of Covid-19, but all systems are go now,” DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said. . . 

Lewis Road Creamery sold to NZ investment fund :

Southern Pastures, the country’s biggest farmland investment fund, has bought the dairy brand Lewis Road Creamery for an undisclosed sum.

At the same time Lewis Road’s founder and chief executive Peter Cullinane has announced he would step down from his roles at the company.

“It’s been an incredible journey that started with a simple idea at my kitchen table. To now see the brand mature safely in the hands of investors who are farmers of such integrity and quality is a fantastic conclusion,” he said.

The fund had progressively purchased shares in the company since 2017 when it bought an initial 25 percent to help fund the company’s expansion overseas. . .

Commission consults on draft report on Fonterra’s 2020/21 Milk Price Manual:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on its annual review of Fonterra’s Farmgate Milk Price Manual for the 2020/21 dairy season.

This year’s review focused on the changes Fonterra has made to the Manual. These include amending the requirement for an independent reviewer to assess certain aspects of the milk price calculation, and the introduction of the ability to apply the outcome of a ‘Within-Period Review’ to the year in which the review is undertaken.

We consider the ‘Within-Period Review’ is inconsistent with the efficiency dimension of the purpose of the base milk price monitoring regime under the Act. The introduction of the ‘Within-Period Review’ rule could give rise to the replacement of benchmark inputs with current actual inputs. This may remove an incentive for Fonterra to beat a benchmark in the year of review. . . 

New Zealand commits to more women in the meat industry as inaugural gender global figures released:

New Zealand is committed to getting more women into the meat sector with new research showing women account for only 36 per cent of the industry’s global workforce.

The independent report, Gender Representation in the Meat Sector 2020, commissioned by Meat Business Women, shows women are under-represented at every level above junior positions, holding just 14 per cent of board-level director roles and just five per cent of chief executive roles.

The study also identifies ‘broken rungs’ in the career ladder that prevent women in the meat sector from advancing to more senior roles. It suggests women find it easier to pursue careers in marketing, finance, human resources, research & development and quality fields, however those disciplines rarely act as stepping stones into the most senior positions. . .

International Rural Women’s Day recognises women are taking on key roles in agriculture but still face challenges – Josh Becker and Amelia Bernasconi:

Trailblazing rural women are taking on key leadership roles in agriculture, but ongoing barriers in the classroom and on the farm have held back diversity gains.

Leading the nation’s peak agriculture body and its members through a pandemic is not something Fiona Simson has done alone, but something she has been a driving force of.

After growing up on a farm near Armidale in the New South Wales New England region, Ms Simson led a corporate career before turning to local government. . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/10/2020

Green bureaucrats pushing our farmers to the brink – Nick Cater:

While it would be foolish to judge a movie by its trailer, the Australian-made feature film Rams is looking like a parable for our times. It is a battle between bureaucrats and two honest, hardworking farmers played by Sam Neill and Michael Caton, heavily disguised behind beards.

When inspectors discover a single sick ram they respond by seizing every sheep in the valley. Neill and Caton resist by hiding their breeding stock in their homes, covering their tracks with copious quantities of air freshener.

Let’s hope it ends happily, unlike in real life, when a farmer caught in the sights of the farming police is generally on a hiding to nothing.

Late last year the National Farmers Federation set the laudable goal of increasing the value of farm production from about $60bn a year to $100bn a year by 2030. Good luck. The regulators and their enforcers have other ideas. Their intention is to limit the expansion of farming and, if possible, force it into retreat, turning farmers from food producers into unpaid stewards of native trees and grasses. . . 

Big costs for freshwater compliance – Neal Wallace:

Meeting new freshwater regulations will cost landowners $900 million and another $140m a year in annual compliance costs and loss of profits.

Farmers Weekly has collated forecast costs from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) in the Action for Healthy Waterways policy, which variously came into force from September 3.

Fencing 32,000km of waterways to meet new stock exclusion, regulations will cost farmers $773m, while the loss of production on the 19,000ha lost from the three-metre riparian setback is estimated at a further $17m.

The MfE calculates fencing costs at $5/m for dairy, $14/m for sheep and beef and $20/m for deer. . . 

Crown land limits harm NZ branding – Philip Todhunter:

“Our primary sector is such a huge part of our economy and our brand.”

So said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on July 7, announcing the launch of a plan to help farmers “to fetch more value, create more jobs and bolster our green reputation”.

Sixteen days later, her Land Information Minister introduced a Bill that threatens the economic future of a collection of farms that embody Brand New Zealand; compromises the ability of those farms to provide the raw materials that underpin some truly global labels; and puts at risk the long-term environmental wellbeing of the land it is supposed to protect.

A week, as they say, is a long time in politics.

Currently, 1.2million hectares of the South Island comes under the Crown Pastoral Lease regime. These are not the type of leases that cover a house or commercial building: while they have 33-year terms, they are perpetually renewable, meaning the leaseholder enjoys exclusive possession of the land indefinitely. . . 

Proud to reach 30 year milestone – Mary-Jo Tohill:

On Christmas Eve 1989, two Earnscleugh orchardists walked into an Alexandra lawyer’s office — and walked out with an irrigation scheme.

There were two key players in ‘Team Tony’; Tony Banks, the 2016 recipient of the Ron Cocks Memorial award for outstanding leadership in the irrigation industry, and Earnscleugh Irrigation Company managing director Tony Lepper.

These were the days when landowners were promised a new, fully piped irrigation scheme, through the Clutha Development (Clyde Dam) Empowering Act 1982, and when the Government was divesting itself of irrigation schemes.

“By 1986, $21million was touted for an Earnscleugh upgrade, but the settlers [the landowners] said they couldn’t afford $677 per hectare,” Mr Lepper said. . . 

Spring surprise – Neal Wallace:

A rapid thaw has eased the worst effects of this week’s storm, which blanketed much of Otago and Southland in snow and caused lamb losses described by some farmers as the worst ever.

Actual losses will not be known until tailing, but Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young expects the storm will reduce his lambing percentage by 5%.

His Cattle Fat Station property is in the area hit by the heaviest snow, which encompasses Waikaka, Waikaia and West Otago hill country areas, where lambing was under way.

Coastal South Otago and the southeast corner of Southland were also hit hard. . . 

Gutsy fight: Livestock agent Mike Wilson shares his story of survival to help save others in the bush – Lucy Kinbacher:

Most people know Mike Wilson as the bloke at the bull sale with a pen in his hand and notepad in his back pocket.

He takes a seat on the bottom row of the grandstand, a strategic position where the auctioneer can see his subtle, yet impactful bids.

There’s a couple of buyers cards wedged inside his catalogue and he wears a vest, even when the weather is a little warm.

On the outside you’d hardly think there was anything different with the 70-year-old livestock agent. . . 


Too much weather

29/09/2020

 

It’s more than a wee bit breezy in North Otago and was so cold this morning water from the k-line irrigators turned to frost.

Further south:


Rural round-up

27/09/2020

Southland Federated Farmers ‘farmer morale at an all-time low’ – Logan Savory:

A Southland farming leader says the morale of farmers is at an all-time low as they navigate their way through “impractical” freshwater policy rules.

The new rules aim to improve freshwater quality within a generation, but they’ve proven controversial with farmers, many of whom will have to apply for resource consent to winter graze stock.

Speaking to a gathering of rural professionals in Invercargill on Monday, Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt said there was a massive divide between the understanding of farming from officials in Wellington to the reality of farming.

She said Federated Farmers had a difficult dilemma where they wanted to publicly raise concerns attached to the freshwater policy rules, but were wary of what it was doing to farmers’ mental health. . .

New Feds man keen to build – Peter Burke:

New Feds board member, William Beetham wants the organisation recognised for its significant contributions to NZ farming and society as a whole.

The sixth-generation farmer runs a major farming business, Beetham Pastural.

He says Federated Farmers has a long and proud legacy and has been involved in setting up a number of organisations – such as the insurance company FMG and the Golden Shears competition.

“We need to remember that we are not just an advocacy organisation and we need to tell the complete story about the inspiring contribution our farmers have and are making. We need to talk about the positive legacy of NZ farming and NZ Feds,” Beetham told Rural News.  . . 

Candidates for Fonterra election announced:

There are six candidates standing for two places on the Fonterra Board in 2020.

Brent Goldsack, Cathy Quinn, Mike O’Connor and Nathan Guy were announced on 14 September as the Independently Assessed candidates.

Incumbent Director Brent Goldsack is seeking re-election and chose to participate in the Independent Assessment Process. As a re-standing Director Brent automatically goes through to the ballot.

Nathan Guy, Mike O’Connor and Cathy Quinn were recommended by the Independent Selection Panel after their assessment process. . .

Building up potential of bumble bees:

Plant and Food Research scientist Dr David Pattemore would love to see orchards buzzing with bumblebees.

He’s part of a team that has developed a way to successfully breed bumblebees and now he’d love to see commercial beekeepers pick up the technology and run with it.

Dr Pattemore says bumblebees complement honey bees. He says they work at different times of the day and can work in higher winds and in the rain.  

And he says it makes sense to diversify pollination options. . . 

Raising meat rabbits proves food for thought for aspiring author :

Dana Thompson and her family are living off the land in South Otago and helping others who want to do the same.

Their property is perched on a barren hilltop behind Taieri Mouth, about 40 minutes south of Dunedin.

The family moved there to be self-sufficient four years ago. When they bought the land it was attractively priced for a reason.

“It’s pretty steep, we’ve got a big gully that runs down it and it’s covered in gorse,” Dana says. . . 

Fence – Uptown Farm:

“There’s always fence to be fixed.”

People say this all the time about life on a farm.

I don’t know if I heard it before I married a farmer or not. But if I did, I didn’t get it. Much like a lot of the people who say it, I wouldn’t have understood just how true it is. I didn’t know it wasn’t an over exaggeration in the least. If I had understood that, I might have thought twice before I said , “I do.”

But true it is. Fence isn’t a one and done kind of thing. You put it up. You fix it. You adjust it. Weeds and trees grow into it. You tear it down and build it new. Just when you do that a crazy cow comes along and rips it all down. . . 


Rural round-up

21/09/2020

Minus 12.2.% – Mike Chapman:

Our GDP has hit rock bottom at minus 12.2% in the June quarter, and on top of that, the Government has already spent the $50 billion recovery package.  The financial cupboard is literally bare.  Everyone is talking about the rebound and they seem very confident about it.  If there is one thing that Covid has taught us, it is that predicting what is going to happen is not easy.  In fact, I would say it is near to impossible.  The result is we have all had to be very flexible- what we planned to happen has more often than not had to be changed.  I can’t see any reason why the current uncertainty and the ever-present unpredictable future will suddenly become certain and predictable.

The problem with spending the $50 billion is that it has not by in large been spent on enabling New Zealand’s economic recovery.  It has been spent propping up the status quo with wage subsidies and the like.  With that money spent, how are these workers going to get paid?  Where are they going to work?  Accommodation and food services took a 47.4% hit in the June quarter with hits also in mining, clothing and footwear, furniture manufacturing and transport.  Just walk down any main street and see empty shops.  Agriculture went down 2.2%, but that drop was saved from going further down with fruit exports up 10% and wine up 15%.

New Zealand is in recession.  Tourism, international education and hospitality will not be the drivers for economic recovery in the immediate future.  The main driver for economic recovery will be the primary sector and within the primary sector horticulture and wine. . .

Helping grow farming’s future – David Anderson:

John Jackson’s ability for future and critical thinking saw him deeply involved in the development of an agribusiness programme that has now been rolled out in secondary schools throughout NZ.

The North Waikato sheep and beef farmer has had an interesting and eclectic journey on the way to his eventual farming career and farm ownership. With a long history of community service, Jackson was invited to join the Waikato Anglican Trust Board in 2012 that governs the running of St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton, where his children went to school.

“John Oliver – a notable King Country farmer and philanthropist – encouraged the school to consider teaching agriculture and develop a curriculum accordingly,” he explains. . . 

NZ’s largest ever medical marijuana crop gets the go-ahead :

A Marlborough medicinal cannabis company has secured a licence to grow New Zealand’s largest ever crop.

Puro received the license allowing it to commercially cultivate 90,000 plants for medical use from the Ministry of Health on Thursday.

The crop will be germinated in tunnel houses before being transplanted into the company’s site at Kekerengu.

But it will hold no recreational appeal with it being used for CBD and cannabinoids to be exported overseas. . . 

Move over, mānuka honey, bee pollen is creating a buzz – Esther Taunton:

Move over mānuka honey, there’s a new bee product creating a global buzz.

Demand for New Zealand bee pollen has skyrocketed since the outbreak of coronavirus, with one company saying sales have soared and there are no signs of a slow-down.

NatureBee says sales of its potentiated bee pollen capsules have increased five-fold over the last year as the Covid-19 pandemic drives a shift in consumer behaviour. . . 

Cows big change from animals in Laos – Mary-Jo Tohill:

She has swapped monkeys and tigers for dairy cows and is loving the change of animal.

Sonya Prosser was one of 13 students who took part in the first SIT-Telford GoDairy course at the South Otago campus near Balclutha, which began on August 24.

Before the pandemic, she had been working in Laos for three years, where her partner, Maddie, had got a job with the world’s largest sun bear sanctuary, Free the Bears, in Laos and where Ms Prosser was doing freelance wildlife work.

This included Project Anoulak, in Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area in central-eastern Laos, which is home to nine species of primates. . . 

Where would we be without bees? – John Harvey:

It’s fair to say that most of us have some understanding that bees play an important role.

But do we understand why?

Because bees are more than important, in fact they’re critical to our food security.

Through the process of pollination we depend on bees for one in every three mouthfuls of the food we eat. . . 

 


Rural round-up

20/09/2020

Imminent crisis threatens Central Otago fruit exports:

Central Otago fruit growers support their industry’s call for urgent action from Government to address the looming shortage of horticultural workers, says Ettrick Fruit Growers Association Chairman, Peter Vernon. Last week, New Zealand Apples and Pears raised concerns that the $870 million dollar apple industry will be at risk if a seasonal workforce is not assembled.

The New Zealand horticulture sector usually hosts more than 14,000 workers from the Pacific Islands for up to seven months to strengthen the workforce on local orchards and vineyards. The New Zealand Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme was established in 2007 by Helen Clark’s Labour government. The RSE scheme is viewed internationally as a best practise model in social responsibility for labour mobility. The Central Otago region employs up to 5,000 temporary staff at the peak of the season for apple, apricot and cherry work, comprising New Zealand and RSE workers, plus working holiday visa holders. Labour planning shows that even with the numbers of recently unemployed New Zealanders now available, there will simply not be enough suitable people to fill all the seasonal roles needed . . 

Rural road-users heading for potholes – Feds:

Rural road users are in for a continued bumpy ride with no extra money for local road improvements in the final Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2021.

“The final GPS released this week has investment in local road improvements unchanged from the draft at an upper level of $300 million down to as low as $100 million in 2021/22, and steadily declining each year for the decade after,” Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

“However, it is pleasing to see increases in local road maintenance and renewal, with a forecast range of $650m-$760m next financial year, and slow but steady increases thereafter.”

Central and local government share the costs of upgrading local roads, which includes most rural roads. With councils under heavy financial pressure, there has been considerable under-investment, Karen said. . . 

Family shares the shearing – Yvonne O’Hara:

When Colin “Mouse” O’Neill first considered setting up as a shearing contractor five years ago, he knew it was a big risk, and he had his family’s future at stake.

Mr O’Neill, of Alexandra, has worked in shearing sheds since he was 12 and has been shearing professionally and competitively for 27 years.

His parents, Marie and Terry, worked in the woolsheds and his grandparents were orchardists in Alexandra, where O’Neill Cres is now. . .

On the farm – a wrap of farming conditions around New Zealand:

Our contact in Northland says it’s unusually dry. Feed is short usually at the end of winter, but it’s come six weeks earlier than normal. It’s affecting the market for cattle as farmers are careful about what they’re buying. Dairy farmers are at the tail end of calving while beef farmers are 50 to 60 percent of the way through.

Around Pukekohe it’s been dry and breezy. The wind  made it tricky to spread lime and fertiliser and spray crops. Work activity and crop growth could best be described as “steady”.  It’s probably been busier in kiwifruit orchards with their shelter belts receiving an annual trim.

It cooled down a little bit in Waikato this week and grass growth rates have tapered off in response, but farmers have either supplements on hand or a bank of feed still to rely on. With calving ending, they’re catching up on jobs before the start of mating next month. . . 

Heading back to the land – Mary-Jo Tohill:

A job loss has brought Mosgiel man Steve Morris back to his agricultural roots, and the 55-year-old is glad of it.

He grew up on a farm on the Otago Peninsula, near Larnach Castle.

“It was a small farm, and you don’t always want to work with your father,” Mr Morris said.

He left school and became a glazier, holding down his first job for 16 years and the second for 18, before making a complete change and driving trucks for three years. . .

Britain needs to grow more trees – are sheep farms the answer? – Connie O’Neill:

Britain’s green fields and “wild” uplands may have become important parts of the national heritage, but they are landscapes wholly created by people. There’s no reason to think of these areas as precious natural resources to be preserved at all costs.

If humans hadn’t chopped down the trees, most of what are now Britain’s sheep farms would still be part of the large forests that once covered the islands. So why can’t some of these areas be turned back into woodland?

Doing so would help fight climate change, as trees absorb carbon from the air and keep it out of the atmosphere. As we found in our new research, there’s even a solid economic case for sheep farmers to instead grow forests and become carbon offsetters.

Tree growing is a political hot topic in the UK, since vast areas of new forest will be needed if the country is to achieve net zero emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

17/09/2020

Rethink needed:

Environment minister David Parker has had a long and tempestuous relationship with the farming sector.

His latest fight with farmers has come about due to the new freshwater regulations that recently came into force. Especially aggrieved are southern farmers who have pointed out that many of the new rules concerning winter cropping were “almost unfarmable” in the south.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young even called on farmers in the region to ignore the new requirements on getting resource consents for winter grazing until there was more practicality concerning it. This got Parker’s goat and he came out of hiding to decry Young’s call saying that “no one was above the law”.  . . 

Waikato A&P Show cancelled due to uncertainty around Covid-19 – Maja Burry:

The Waikato A&P Show, due to get underway late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty around Covid-19.

The event was meant kick off in Hamilton on 30 October, marking its 128th year.

Showing Waikato said uncertainty about the Covid-19 alert levels which would apply on the traditional dates meant instead it would be holding a handful of small events open to competitors only.

There would also be an inaugural National Online Show involving other A&P show associations. . . 

Local Government NZ’s manifesto asks the right questions:

Local Government New Zealand is spot on when it says that all political parties’ policies should be assessed on how well they provide for local voices to be heard and taken into account, Federated Farmers says.

“We agree that central government policy and legislation must be able to be tailored for the differing needs, circumstances, capacity and capability of local communities,” Feds national board member Chris Allen says.

Federated Farmers also agrees with the assertion in the LGNZ manifesto released today that successive governments have placed too much weight on the use of top-down, one-size-fits all solutions. . . 

Kiwi dairy innovation leading the way:

Dairy is New Zealand’s top earner following the impact of COVID on tourism and education. Much now rests on the shoulders of busy farmers, some of whom are still struggling to get key staff back through New Zealand’s borders.

Annual breeding is a key pressure-point in the dairy calendar that requires skill and experience. A local Hamilton company is now attracting global attention for an imaginative solution to a perennial farming headache.

Kiwi dairy farmers need to know exactly when to artificially inseminate cows. FlashMate was created to stick to cow hair during the breeding period to interpret cow behaviour. The red light comes on at just the right moment when the cow is on heat and the unit is easily removed after breeding without bothering cows. “Reading body language when you have as many as 1,200 cows isn’t easy” says Matt Yallop, one of the creators of FlashMate. . . 

NZ Plant Producers issues its manifesto for the 2020 election:

Our organisation represents more than 100 plant producers who produce the plants growing food Kiwis eat and export, regenerating New Zealand’s forests, beautifying our urban landscapes, and being planted by millions of Kiwis in their backyards.

New Zealand Plant Producers is a voluntary organisation with more than 100 plant producer members, comprising New Zealand’s most respected nursery leaders and businesses. While our work benefits all New Zealand plant producers, it is funded by our members as proof of their commitment to our industry and the benefits it produces for New Zealand’s economy and well-being.

This election we raise eight issues which much be addressed so our members can continue to thrive and produce the plants New Zealand so badly needs. . . 

Pacific seasonal workers could be a lifeline for horticulture:

John Fiso, Chairman of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF), believes New Zealand can achieve a win-win by providing financial support for Pacific people from neighbouring island nations to head to New Zealand and help our horticultural sector in the upcoming fruit picking season.

“Our brothers and sisters in the Pacific islands are struggling for income due to the collapse of tourism in the region, this is a way to help them – and help our growers who are extremely concerned about labour shortages,” says Mr Fiso.

New Zealand is heading into a busy summer fruit season with a shortage of 60,000 workers. The impact of this on the economy could be $9.5 billion according to New Zealand Apples and Pears.

“Bringing seasonal workers in from the Pacific could be a win-win for the severely short staffed orchardists and fruit growers of New Zealand, and the people struggling in the Pacific,” says Mr Fiso. “The reality is, bringing in the Pacific workers would be hugely beneficial for humanitarian reasons in the Pacific and at the same time prevents millions of dollars of produce in New Zealand going to waste.” . .


Rural round-up

12/09/2020

New freshwater rules ‘terrible’ for West Coast – regional chair – Lois Williams:

More resource consents, more monitoring, more money and more staff – the government’s new rules for managing freshwater will cost the West Coast big-time, according to regional council chairman Allan Birchfield.

The final policies and regulations on freshwater came into force last week and regional councils around the country now have to enforce them.

Among them, the new wetland rules posed the biggest headache and expense for the West Coast, Birchfield said.

The West Coast Regional Council had spent more than 10 years mapping and defining significant wetlands throughout the region, as required by the government under the Resource Management Act. . . 

Winding up a long career championing New Zealand – Sally Rae:

When Lyn Jaffray walks out the door of Silver Fern Farms’ headquarters in Dunedin tomorrow, it will be the end of an era, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Lyn Jaffray is preparing to close his last deal with Silver Fern Farms.

When he retires tomorrow, it will mark a 48-year association with the company which has included more than 20 years managing its China market.

The former All Black’s departure follows a discussion about succession and a year-long transition period, and he was happy with the timing of it.

“I’m comfortable where we are, the company’s going great, I’m comfortable with closing the deal,” he said. . . 

Demand for merino wool drops 40% – Maja Burry:

Demand for Merino wool has taken a hit, with fine wool prices at auction back by about 40 percent on this time last year.

Merino sheep are typically shorn between July and October. The main selling period for this wool runs from August through to early December.

Crossbred wool, typically used in carpets, makes up about 85 percent of New Zealand’s wool clip. Fine wools such as Merino attract a premium price and are often used in high end garments including sportswear and suits.

AgriHQ said at auction fine wool in the 17-18 micron range was fetching $13 to $15 a kilogram clean, down 35 to 40 percent on last year. . . 

US pandemic crisis stalls delivery of quad bikes for NZ farmers– Eric Frykberg:

Covid-19 has hit the farming community in an unexpected way: it is drying up the supply of farm vehicles such as quad bikes.

That is because factories that assemble them in the United States have had their production disrupted by the virus April.

Even where a factory has continued assembling the vehicles, vital spare parts have often been held up when the coronavirus has hit outsourced supply companies, meaning the final product cannot be completed because one vital component is missing.

“Sometimes, we are a month behind waiting for the stock to come in,” said dealer Blair Howden of Winton Motorcycles in Southland. . . 

Green vegetables grow at the foot of big mountains – Keith Woodford:

Green vegetables and hydroponics combine nicely when consumers are close but productive land is scarce

Green vegetables are best produced close to where people live.  But nature often needs a little help to make it happen.  That is where glasshouses and hydroponics come into play.  It is a combination that allows green vegetables to be grown throughout the year in most parts of New Zealand while still being aligned to nature.

Some of my readers will know that I am a fan for the mountains of the Otago Lakes District.  Also, for more than 50 years I have been a skier, becoming even more enthusiastic as the years go by, with skiing now providing both joy and adrenaline for a retired mountaineer. . . 

Rural Insight: NZ trial to crunch regen numbers:

Regenerative agriculture has become something of a buzzword in farming and food circles over the past year, and the subject of well populated field days, chat groups and media coverage.

As a practice, “regenerative” agriculture covers a broad sweep of land use practices, with a focus on regenerating topsoil while also improving water quality, building plant biodiversity on-farm and reducing the level of cultivation and tillage.

For its part, New Zealand is beginning to play catch up on acquiring data on its own regenerative experience.

In Canterbury, the Align Group of farms with four dairy units over 1,500ha has committed to a regenerative trial, effectively splitting the operation into conventional and regenerative across two dairy farms. . . 

 


Rural round-up

01/09/2020

Primary sector keen to streamline rules with govt – Neal Wallace:

Primary sector groups shut out of the final development phases of the Government’s freshwater policy are urging politicians to work with them to make the regulations workable.

Since late May, sector groups have been excluded from the formation of the policy other than a three-day opportunity to respond to the final draft.

“We had limited opportunity as an industry to provide feedback during the final rule writing process,” Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) chair Andrew Morrison said.

Until then, industry groups were working effectively with the Government and were getting concessions. . . 

Government refuses to act on workers – David Anderson:

Agricultural contractors are still struggling to fill the huge hole of workers it needs, despite recruiting 300 locals to the industry.

Meanwhile, the Government is refusing to allow more operators from overseas into the country. Read: Locals only will not ‘cut the mustard’.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has dashed any hopes of this happening, saying there will not be any special accommodation made for overseas agriculture contractor workers.

“The door won’t be open in time for the new season,” he concedes. . .

From Boeing to baling: pilots fly to the rescue of heavy agriculture industry for upcoming harvest:

New Zealand pilots waiting for international aviation to restart will be able to use their aviation transport skills to help meet the urgent need for heavy agriculture machinery operators throughout the country.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) Medical and Welfare Director, Andy Pender said that the Association had been working for several months with the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Rural Contractors’ Association, other government departments and training providers to match pilot expertise with the immediate needs of the agricultural sector.

“By matching skills and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) licences pilots already hold, we’ve found almost 200 opportunities for pilots to put their skills to use with land-based machinery and do their bit for New Zealand’s essential agriculture economy,” Andy Pender said. . . 

Innovation-led LIC launches ‘Ag-celerator’ investment fund:

Leading agritech and herd improvement cooperative LIC has launched a new fund to support innovations with the potential to positively impact New Zealand’s valuable dairy sector.

LIC has launched an early-stage investment fund, named the LIC AgCelerator™ Fund, for individuals and entities seeking to develop innovations that will deliver value to the dairy industry from generating higher yields, improving animal health, diagnostic tools and improved traceability to sustainability, advancements in breeding techniques and leveraging big data for improvements to farm management.

LIC Chief Executive, Wayne McNee says annual investment in upstream agritech companies grew 44% year-on-year from 2012 to 2018 and a further 1.3% from 2018-2019 highlighting both the opportunities and need for expansion. . .

Creating opportunities for New Zealanders with hemp:

The NZHIA are using “Innovation as a Service” to identify opportunities for industrial hemp in the food, fibre and processing sectors.

Hemp has long been known for its properties as a food, strong fibre, and an environmental super crop now, it could spell opportunity for New Zealand farmers.

As part of their agriculture super node strategy, Christchurch NZ, with the support of NZHIA (New Zealand Hemp Industries Association), Webtools Agritech, and Hemptastic, are hosting the “Hemp Ideation Challenge” from 5-18 September 2020. . .

Top End station hand Ricky Wilson spent 15 weeks in ultimate isolation on a remote cattle property – Jon Daly:

Ricky Wilson, 33, voluntarily spent almost four months on a remote cattle station without seeing another human and completely cut off from civilisation.

His bizarre and uniquely Territorian tale takes social isolation to the extreme, thanks to a can-do attitude and wanton disregard for personal safety.

“I don’t think many people could handle it,” Mr Wilson said.

“I’ve been metres from a crocodile, I’ve been metres from buffalo, I’ve been in a cyclone, and I’ve been metres from lightning hitting the ground.” . .


Rural round-up

30/08/2020

Farmers worried about ‘economic situation’ – David Anderson:

Farmers remain cautious and even wary – despite the sector having done reasonably well during the COVID-19 pandemic – according to the latest rural report from the BNZ.

The bank’s Rural Wrap report, published earlier this month, says this should not really surprise anyone.

“A global pandemic simply demands vigilance from a sector that sells the bulk of its produce into offshore markets.”

Report author and BNZ economist Doug Steel says farmers the ‘economic situation’ has been catapulted up the list of farmer worries – after being well down the list in previous surveys. . . 

M bovis investigations for 28 more farms after milk tests – Maja Burry:

Bulk milk testing for Mycoplasma bovis has this month picked up 28 dairy farms requiring further investigation.

Figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries show there is just one farm actively infected with the cattle disease at the moment, and a further 249 farms have been culled of their stock and declared safe to repopulate.

The Ministry’s chief science advisor, John Roche, said the 28 farms detected in this month’s national milk screening had been placed under restricted movement controls while more accurate testing was carried out.

Dr Roche said less than 3 percent of farms detected through screening last year ended up being positive for M bovis. . .

FMG grows in complexity and clients – Hugh Stringleman:

FMG made a net profit of $6.1 million in the 2020 financial year and added 6000 clients to its books, the total now numbering 94,300.

Chair Tony Cleland, who sought re-election as a director this year in a crowded field of candidates, said the growth rate was twice that of other insurers.

“While we are not trying to be the biggest, but the best, growth in numbers does lower the unit cost of delivery per client,” he told the mutual group’s online annual meeting.

FMG’s goal is to bring the operating cost from 31% to 25% of premiums over the next 10 years. . .

Abbie reynolds to head Predator Free 2050 Limited:

Predator Free 2050 Limited has appointed Abbie Reynolds as its new CEO

Abbie Reynolds is the former Executive Director of the Sustainable Business Council and in that role helped establish the Climate Leaders Coalition, motivating more than 100 member organisations to climate action.

She received the Board and Management Award at the 2019 New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.

She has also held senior roles in telecommunications as Head of Corporate Responsibility at Telecom and Head of Sustainability and Foundation at Vodafone New Zealand. . . 

New startup supports local Kiwi artisan producers:

New Zealand online startup, The Kiwi Artisan Co, selects the finest small batch artisan goods for food lovers nationwide, supporting and celebrating local independent producers from Southland to Central Otago, Canterbury to Nelson, and Hawkes Bay to Northland.

The artisans, specifically chosen by The Kiwi Artisan Co, handcraft their goods from locally sourced, high quality ingredients in small batches using sustainable production processes. The thoughtfully curated range of delectable sharing platter boxes are tailored to individual tastes and dietary requirements.

Each online order received at kiwiartisan.co.nz is hand packed and delivered direct to your door, making it easier for foodies to entertain, connect and discover the real taste of New Zealand with friends and family. . . 

Uzbekistan’s cotton farms turn to Aussie irrigated farming know-how – Andrew Marshall:

Far from his family farming operation on the NSW-Queensland border, former National Farmers Federation boss Peter Corish is co-ordinating an Australian team leading a multi-million dollar irrigated cotton and grain cropping revamp in Uzbekistan.

In what was a totally unexpected and unusual request two years ago, Mr Corish was called in to help a massive private farming venture adopt Australian cotton growing technology and techniques in the land-locked communist Central Asian country. 

Over the next 18 months, as drought conditions at home kept his own family’s cropping activity in a lull, the advisory job took him back and forth to the former Soviet state 14 times. . . 

Bringing it to the table – farming women who mean business:

Sarah Louise Fairburn has told her empowering story of her role in making one of the UK’s largest egg producers the success that it is today.

It follows the launch of #AgriWomen24 campaign in June, which aims to celebrate women in agriculture.

Sarah Louise’s journey began when she worked as a business improvement driver for Yorkshire Bank and her paths crossed with Daniel Fairburn – who had been in farming all his life at L J Fairburn & Son Limited.

After getting married and having children together, she began helping around the farm, only to realise that as the business grew, so did the need for her to become more involved. . .


%d bloggers like this: