Rural round-up

25/07/2021

Why farmers protested in NZ towns and cities – Shelley Krieger:

 Last week’s Howl of a Protest inspired Balclutha dairy stock agent Shelley Krieger to write the following post on Facebook, explaining why rural people took to the streets.

In case anyone was confused as to why the farmers were protesting on Friday, I thought I would just put something here so people have an idea of why.

Firstly SNAs (Significant Natural Areas).

These are areas of people’s farm land or lifestyle blocks that the Government is getting the councils to survey. . . 

Labour cannot afford to ignore rural concerns – Mike Houlahan:

For something set up as an apolitical organisation, farmer advocacy group Groundswell is having a heck of a political impact.

Yesterday the group, set up by Greenvale farmer Laurie Paterson and his Pomahaka colleague Bryce McKenzie in October last year, held its first national event, Howl of a Protest.

Farmers and sympathetic townies both were encouraged to fetch up to a town centre near them to show how fed up they were with increasing Government interference in their lives and businesses.

There is a long shopping list of government policies Messrs Paterson and McKenzie and co are riled about, which includes fresh water management, stock grazing regulations, promotion of electric vehicles, Resource Management Act reform, emission standards, and significant natural areas regulations. . . 

‘Farmers need to stick together’– Toni Williams:

“Farmers need to stick together, work together and help each other along,” dairy farmer Willy Leferink says.

Mr Leferink, speaking at the Howl of a Protest in Ashburton on Friday, said farmers were sick and tired of all the regulations and needed a change where farmers would make a difference.

“The ink is not even dry on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy,” he said, and changes were already afoot.

“We as rural communities don’t get listened to,” he said. . . 

M. Bovis eradication efforts on track :

A just released report shows efforts to rid the cattle disease M-Bovis from the country are on track and eradication is likely to be achieved.

The disease which can cause lameness and mastitis was first detected on a South Canterbury farm in July 2017.

In 2018 the government committed to eliminating the disease over 10 years.

The latest report from the independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) shows only three active infected properties remain, down from 34 two years ago, and once cleared the programme will move onto surveillance. . . 

Science helps cook ‘perfect steak’; artificial intelligence creates recipes

AgResearch scientists have taken their skills into the kitchen to identify the ideal cooking conditions for the “perfect steak”; while also harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to create new food combinations and recipes.

The scientists used a unique approach of analysing biochemical changes in beef steak during the cooking process.

They worked with world-class development chef Dale Bowie, whose career included working at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin three-star restaurant The Fat Duck in the UK.

When being cooked, steak releases compounds emitted as gases called volatiles, which can be captured and analysed. . .

Angus Youth inspires industry’s next generation – Edwina Watson:

ANGUS Youth protege Damien Thomson reckons there’s never been a better time to be in beef.

At home at Shaccorahdalu Angus, Berremangra, NSW, the Thomsons received the equivalent to their 2019 total rainfall in the first three months of 2021.

Mr Thomson said the good season was now showing in the stud’s pastures and weaners.

“It’s great to see the optimism and confidence in beef cattle after such an extreme drought. The quality of our herd improves year-on-year and we can’t supply enough to our existing clients.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/07/2021

Groundswell staying mum on future – Gerald Piddock:

Groundswell will keep its word and take no further action until August 16 to give the Government time to respond to its concerns that its farming regulations are unworkable.

The protests on July 16 saw thousands of farmers and their vehicles head to 57 towns and cities across the country to protest policies around freshwater, climate change and biodiversity.

“There’s definitely nothing to add to the protest because we have to wait until August 16 and we’ve given the Government until then to make a response,” Groundswell co-founder Bryce McKenzie said.

“But we have got other irons in the fire. There are other subjects we will be commenting on or putting stuff out on for people to look at separate to the protest,” he said. . . 

Backlash over protest advice to staff – Sally Rae:

Farmer-owned co-operatives have come under fire from the farming community for telling staff they were not allowed to represent their company’s brand at last Friday’s Groundswell New Zealand protest.

Some farmers have indicated shifting their support from co-operatives that took such a stance ahead of the Howl of a Protest, which drew thousands of people from throughout the country.

Clarks Junction farmer Jim Macdonald wrote to Farmlands chairman Rob Hewett before the event saying he was concerned and angered by the decision, and urged a change of heart.

Staff were told if they wanted to support Groundswell the company asked that it was done independently of Farmlands “to protect the Farmlands brand”. It is understood some other rural companies made similar requests to staff. . . 

Farmstrong: discovering my own values :

High country sheep and beef farmer Hamish Murray spent a year on a Nuffield scholarship studying businesses with high-performance team cultures. What he discovered was that before you can work on your team, you need to work on yourself.

HAMISH Murray has an impressive CV. He’s played top-level sport, studied overseas and now works with a team of seven full-time staff, running Bluff Station in the Clarence River Valley. The diversified operation includes 5500 Merino ewes, 950 Angus and Hereford breeding cows and 750 beehives.

“I love the variety of farming. The particular valley and property where we are just gets into your blood. It’s isolated and beautiful. I love being outdoors with our animals, I’m happiest when I’m out riding a horse and shifting stock,” Murray said.

“I spent the earlier part of my life getting an education and learning to do things other than farming, but for me coming back to farming was about giving my children the opportunity to grow up the same way I had. . . 

https://twitter.com/AniekaNick/status/141775380919178445

Grain sense: couple develop on-farm distillery – Sally Rae:

Southland sheep and cropping farmers Rob and Toni Auld are in high spirits.

The entrepreneurial couple operate Auld Farm Distillery, believed to be the southernmost on-farm distillery in the world, on their 200ha Scotts Gap property.

Being primary producers, they were previously used to watching the produce they grew heading out the driveway never to be seen again.

Being able to grow the grain to produce their own whisky was “next-level cool”, Mr Auld said. . . 

The big picture with sheep – Keith Woodford:

The sheep-farming retreat will continue despite excellent meat prices, with carbon farming the mega-force.

In recent months, I have written four articles focusing on the sheep and beef industries across New Zealand. My main focus has been to identify the current situation and to document how the situation varies for different classes of land across the country. Here I return to the overall big question: what is the future of the sheep industry?

There are two parts to that question. The first is the market opportunities. The second is about competing land-uses. . . 

Market opportunities

Apart from some dry hill and high-country farms lying east of the South Island Main Divide, wool is largely irrelevant. Fine-wool merinos are big contributors on low rainfall South Island farms and I expect that to continue. But elsewhere, wool no longer makes a worthwhile contribution to farm income. We can always live in hope, but that is not the basis on which to make land-use decisions. . . 

Productive avocado orchard with commercially run tourist operation placed on the market for sale:

A productive avocado orchard in the heart of Northland’s premier avocado growing district has been placed on the market for sale – with capacity to substantially increase its production scale.

The 15-hectare property is located at Waiharara near 90-Mile Beach in the Far North – which is fast becoming a regional production hub for avocados due to its climate, contour, and free-draining soils.

Located some 40 kilometres north of Kaitaia, the generally rectangular-shaped orchard for sale at 101 Turk Valley Road features nine sheltered and contoured blocks – three of which are now in full production.

Production records from the orchard show that the orchard has been relatively consistent with 12,000 trays being averaged over the past four seasons. The mature trees are Hass on Zutano rootstock, while the younger trees are Hass on Dusa and Hass on Bounty clonal rootstocks. . . 


Rural round-up

21/07/2021

Good protest farmers – now let’s make progress – Daniel Eb:

Well done farmers. Friday’s protest was well-organised and dignified. We got the message. You are under pressure and feel side-lined. You are being told how to farm by Wellington bureaucrats trying to legislate the way to a greener future.

It’s a future you want too – clean rivers, vibrant communities, thriving biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaption. For many of you, this journey started years ago. From the 4,700 native bush blocks quietly regenerating under covenant, to catchment groups taking responsibility for their waterways and the sector emissions reduction plan He Waka Eke Noa – farmer-led progress is happening.

It is also true that farming must carry a hefty weight when it comes to our green transition. But this is a call-to-action for all of us, so when will townies feel the pinch too? . . .

Farmers assessing devastating floods, resilience alarms raised :

Farmers across the upper South Island are on clean-up duty and counting up the costs as damaging floodwaters recede, and the agriculture minister has reminded farmers to take a thorough look at resilience in the face of climate change.

The weekend’s storm forced hundreds to evacuate, caused widespread damage to infrastructure including roads and bridges, and devastated farms in Buller, West Coast, Nelson, Tasman, and Marlborough – as well as causing more sporadic damage in surrounding regions.

The downpours brought Marlborough’s largest floods on record.

Federated Farmers Marlborough president Scott Adams said more than 300mm had fallen on his sheep farm near the Wairau River in 48 hours, and parts were devastated. . . 

Farmer forced to carry sheep through flood waters to safety

A Marlborough farmer who had to swim sheep to safety on Saturday says the flood waters were far worse than a record-breaking event 40 years ago.

Matt Forlong’s family vineyard is just west of Wairau Valley township and during winter they run sheep under the vines.

Simply getting to the property meant chainsawing fallen trees off the road so he arrived later than hoped, he said.

Water was already a metre deep and rising to shoulder depth so 200 sheep were stranded on quickly shrinking islands. . .

Farmer feedback set to shape revised capital structure proposal :

With the first phase of Fonterra’s capital structure consultation now complete, the Co-op is drawing up a revised proposal that aims to reflect farmers’ views.

A number of changes are being considered to the preferred option initially put forward in the Consultation Booklet in May – including adjusting the proposed minimum shareholding requirement for farmers and enabling sharemilkers and contract milkers to own shares.

“It’s a good time for the Board to step back and reflect on the feedback as most farmers will now be busy with calving. Once they’ve come through this particularly busy time of the season, we’ll be ready to consult on the updated proposal,” says Chairman Peter McBride.

Consultation has been extensive to date, starting with the initial communication on 6 May and the Consultation Booklet being sent to every farmer owner. Since then:  . .

McBride puts his stamp on Fonterra’s capital restructuring proposals:

The big  dairy  co-op  Fonterra  has  moved to make  its  capital  restructuring  proposals  more  palatable  to  its  10,000  farmer-shareholders as  it  seeks to  slash  the  drastic entry  cost  to  become a  new  supplier.

Faced  with  a  future where  total milk production  is  flattening, Fonterra  needs    more  flexibility in    its  capital rules, the  most  burdensome of which has been the compulsory requirement to invest huge sums of capital just to supply.

The  revisions now   being  put  forward bear   the  stamp   of  chairman Peter  McBride, who  in an earlier role  successfully carried  the  kiwifruit  growers in   Zespri through   a  similar  capital  restructure.

McBride, after  taking  the chair at  Fonterra,  soon realised  the need for  change in the one-size-fits-all compulsory capital structure  requiring all shareholders to hold shares on a 1:1 basis. It  has become a  key factor in farmers deciding to leave. . .

10,000 cattle culled every year due to bTB, NFU Cymru warns :

Welsh farmers have called for more action as 10,000 cattle in the prime of their productive lives continue to be culled every year due to bovine TB.

Farmers are playing their part in combatting the disease through cattle-based measures, however wildlife reservoirs of disease are still going unaddressed, farmers say.

It comes as the BBC recently published a news article which highlighted the emotional strain that bovine TB is causing producers in the country.

In the article, Vale of Glamorgan farmer Abi Reader explained that her farm had been locked down with TB for three years. . . 


Rural round-up

10/07/2021

Labour shifts goalposts on forestry goal, its first policy of 2020 campaign – Thomas Coughlan:

Labour has quietly shifted the goalposts on its first campaign promise of the 2020 campaign, a policy that would make it more difficult to plant swathes of prime food-producing land in trees to harvest carbon credits.

Last July, Labour’s rural communities spokesman Kieran McAnulty and Forestry spokesman Stuart Nash promised that within six months of the next Government being formed, Labour would amend National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry to allow councils to determine for themselves what classes of land can be used for plantation and carbon forests.

Resource consent would have been required for plantation forests to be grown on land known as “elite soils”, land which has a Land Use Capability Class of 1-5. Land of a higher ranking, deemed less essential for food production, could still be used for forestry as now. . .

Rural vaccine availability fears:  ‘I think we are being disadvantaged’

There are fears rural communities in the south may be left behind during the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Community leaders say there has been scant information about when vulnerable populations in remote areas can expect to be inoculated.

The Southern DHB said more clinics would open by the end of July in remote areas so no one was more than an hour from the nearest clinic.

Fiordland Community Board chair Sarah Greaney said despite group 3 – those over 65 or at greater risk from Covid-19 – being eligible for the vaccine, the nearest clinic at present was 140km away in Gore. . . 

Breakthrough in Hawkes Bay Bay TB response – Sally Murphy:

The animal health agency working to eradicate TB in the Hawkes Bay has gained access to two large forestry blocks in order to cull possums.

OSPRI is working to eradicate the disease – which is spread mainly by possums and can compromise immune systems in stock, causing serious production losses and animal welfare issues.

There are currently 18 herds infected with Bovine TB in the region – but there are also 572 herds under restricted movement controls – which means those farmers can’t move stock off farm without approval – which is a source of great frustration for some in the area.

During the response OSPRI has had trouble getting approval from some land owners to carry out pest control work, which can involve 1080 drops. . . 

David Grant is Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year:

Mid Canterbury Arable Farmer David Grant was awarded the “Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year Award 2021” at the arable industry awards in Christchurch tonight.

David’s contribution to the industry through is work with the Foundation for Arable Research, and in innovation and information sharing, made him an outstanding candidate for this year’s award, Feds Arable chair Colin Hurst said.

The Arable Farmer of the Year Award is designed to recognise a member who excels at arable farming and to acknowledge the standard of excellence they set for the industry. . . 

Silver Fern Farms commits to its course for a sustainable future:

Net Carbon Zero Certified* Beef, Regenerative Agriculture and the elimination of coal by 2030; today, Silver Fern Farms has committed to several bold initiatives to drive its vision of being the world’s most successful and sustainable grass-fed red meat company.

Silver Fern Farms Co-Chair, Rob Hewett, said it was after a significant amount of work and with real satisfaction the company was in the position to make these commitments publicly.

“We have set targets to stretch us, but we are ready for the challenge. If anything, we are committed to investing to accelerate our progress to achieve these significant milestones early. . . 

Savvy commercial partners sought for novel Australian oat products :

Australian oat noodles and oat ‘rice’ are set to become popular pantry staples here and overseas, once new manufacturing processes developed by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) are matched with the right commercial partners.

AEGIC is looking for food brands, manufacturers or investors who can fast-track getting the new healthy plant-based products to market, and help move oats beyond the breakfast table to becoming an option for lunch, dinner and snacks.

Developed from Australian oats, which are high in beta glucan, the new products offer superior nutritional benefits.

AEGIC’s oat rice has twice as much dietary fibre than other white and brown rices, fewer carbohydrates, more protein, and a greater concentration of healthy unsaturated fatty acids. . . 

Boosting agricultural insurance based on earth observation data and blockchain technology:

BEACON advances the inclusion of EO satellites within the AgI processes and adopts a smart contract and blockchain technology which will low the operational and administrative costs by transforming traditional processes to automated ones.

Agricultural Insurance (AgI) is the most weather-dependent sector among insurance services. The premiums’ calculations and the development of new products are highly depending on the continuously changing climate and the high variability of extreme weather events, for which such historic records are absent or not sufficiently accurate. In addition, the damage assessment and the handling of claims is rather costly including high operational and administrative costs since the verification of a claim requires on-the-spot inspections. Most of the times, the results of such inspections are controversial, since the final estimations are performed by inspectors who by human nature are less objective. . . 


Rural round-up

08/07/2021

More than 100 ewes and lambs killed by feral dogs on Far North farm – Maja Burry:

A Far North farming family say they are living a nightmare due to feral dogs killing more than 100 of their livestock in the last week.

The Nilsson family run sheep and beef on Shenstone Farm, just south of Cape Rēinga.

Anne-Marie Nilsson said since last Monday more than 60 lambs and 40 ewes had been killed, while her 15-year-old daughter had lost about 36 angora goats.

“That’s pretty harrowing for a young person to deal with… it’s a gut wrenching thing to tidy up after that, dogs don’t kill cleanly. . .

Staff are the heart of Waikato farm – Gerald Piddock:

A Waikato farming couple have adopted a people-first culture in their farming business, rather than focusing on how much milk they can produce.

The measure of a dairy farm’s success isn’t in the litres of milk in the vat or the number of cows in the paddock.

It’s about maintaining the wellbeing of the people who work there because when they thrive, everyone succeeds.

It’s a philosophy David and Sue Fish have adopted in every facet of their farming business on the three farms they own near Waitoa in Waikato, where they milk 1300 cows on 340ha. . .

Quad bike maintenance a non-negotiable:

Checking tyre pressure on quad bikes should be a fundamental health and safety process, says WorkSafe New Zealand.

Harm resulting from quad bikes continues to be a serious issue in New Zealand. There have been 75 fatalities across the country since 2006. A further 614 people have been seriously injured.

The reminder comes after a fatality on Tui Glen Farms in Wharepuhunga in the Waikato in January 2020. . . 

 Deep in the valley – Lisa Scott:

Into the hills I go, to lose my mind and find my soul… Lisa Scott spends a day in the ‘‘Haka’’.

I’ve seen some stuff. The pyramids of Giza, the Mona Lisa. But nothing comes close to the sights that gladdened my eyeballs in the Hakataramea last Sunday.

Haka tara mea: the name means “a dance beside the river”. This little-known valley lies on the north side of the Waitaki River. The Hakataramea River winds through it, an arterial sister to the dammed.

First up, a guided walk with wellness company Sole to Soul’s Juliet and Sally. Their clients enjoy the benefits of ecotherapy (letting Nature “sshhh” the everyday stresses that leave you feeling squashed) while sharing a walk the girls love to do themselves on Collie Hills farm, which has been in Sally’s family for four generations . .

Grape fungicide submissions open:

The Environmental Protection Authority is seeking views on an application to import or manufacture Kenja, a fungicide to control bunch rot and powdery mildew in grapes.

Kenja contains the active ingredient isofetamid, which is not currently approved in New Zealand but is in use in Australia, Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan.

The applicant, ISK New Zealand, wants to import Kenja as a concentrate to be applied to grapes using ground-based methods. . .

Equity partnership a pathway to land ownership:

The New Zealand primary sector’s continued dilemma to secure capital for future expansion has prompted Bayleys rural real estate to take the initiative to be proactive and part of the solution. An upcoming seminar aims to introduce investors with capital to those young farmers who are keen to get a piece of their own property.

Bayleys Country has organised a farm equity partnership seminar in Hastings on August 3rd and invite those interested in learning more to RSVP their attendance to moana.panapa@bayleys.co.nz by 5pm, 20th July.

Bayleys national director rural Nick Hawken said that sourcing bank funding can be challenging for those entering the rural property market, and private capital placement provides an opportunity for those with capital to back operators unable to access funding as they are getting established or wanting to grow. . .

 


Rural round-up

06/07/2021

Farmers to make some noise throughout New Zealand – Shawn McAvinue:

Downtown Gore is set to come alive with the sound of chugging tractors, buzzing planes and howling dogs as part of a nationwide protest against government regulations.

Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, is inviting everyone to take their tractors, utes, topdressing planes and dogs to towns across New Zealand at noon next Friday to protest a range of new and proposed regulations.

The regulations included freshwater and winter grazing, significant natural areas, indigenous biodiversity and the “ute tax” — a new rebate scheme, which would place a fee on higher-emission vehicles, he said.

Events had so far been arranged in about 20 towns across New Zealand, including Alexandra, Gore, Invercargill, Mosgiel and Oamaru, and the northernmost protest site was Kerikeri. . . 

First time competitor wins Young Farmer competition :

Jake Jarman has been crowned FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2021, winning the competition on his first attempt.

Jarman, 24, beat six other competitors in the grand final, which was held in Christchurch from July 1-3.

The ANZ relationship associate, who represented the Taranaki-Manawatū region, said after winning the title he felt overwhelmed, excited and relieved that it was over.

He initially entered the contest just to give it a go but after reaching the final was determined to give it his best shot. . . 

Global dairy price pushing up price of cheese:

Fonterra says sustained increases in global dairy prices are behind the higher cost of cheese.

A 1kg block of Tasty cheese is now selling for between $16 and $18 at the main supermarket chains.

Fonterra said since the pandemic, there had been a significant increase in demand for cheese in New Zealand and globally.

It said global cheese prices have jumped 15 percent over the last year. . .

Top award for farmers’ saviour – Samantha Tennent:

Clever Kiwis have come up with brilliant solutions to simple problems faced by the agricultural industry for this year’s Fieldays Innovations Awards.

Farmers have always faced water supply issues, not least from cows who have always been too rough with trough ballcocks, snapping arms left, right and centre as they nudge them around while drinking.

And as Ric Awburn watched cows at an empty trough break an arm one evening, he thought it needed some give to withstand the rough treatment, so he put his thinking cap on and went to work.

Two years later, Springarm Products Limited developed a durable and reliable ballcock arm that is durable, reliable and easy to install. It was named the winner of the Prototype award at the 2021 Fieldays Innovations Awards. . . 

First-time beekeeper buzzing with enthusiasm – Sally Rae:

A South American forestry engineer, who inadvertently ended up in Central Otago, has been stung with the beekeeping bug. He talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae.

He quips he is “a sea-level guy”.

So just how did Rio de Janeiro-apartment dweller Adriano Lopes de Melo trade big-city Brazilian life for the mountain vistas of the Maniototo and the arguably quieter pace of life in Wedderburn?

Reflecting on this week’s cold snap, which he laughed was “not OK” — “I’m from a hot place, I’m suffering a bit” — and his discovery of hot-water bottles, as his surfboard sat optimistically redundant in his vehicle, you would have to wonder. . . 

Outrage as ‘flick of a pen’ cuts backpacker workforce for farmers – Jamieson Murphy:

Farming groups are outraged the “flick of a pen” has drastically reduced the seasonal workforce in northern and remote Australia, after the working holiday visa rules were changed “without consultation”.

However, the government says the ag sector – along with the tourism and hospitality industries – were widely consulted and the change is a recommendation made by a parliamentary committee investigation into the Working Holiday Visa Program.

The requirement for backpackers to extend their stay by completing 88 days of farm work has been opened up to include the tourism and hospitality sectors in northern and remote Australia. . . 


Rural round-up

04/07/2021

Minimum wage rise no joke – Karen Trebilcock:

In her Dairy 101 column, Karen Trebilcock gave a rundown on wages, asking “are you ready for the minimum wage change?”

Far from being an April Fool’s joke, it was the start of the financial year for many businesses, but not farmers.

If you’re a farm owner with sharemilkers or contract milkers you may think it won’t affect you but it does. The profitability of their business, and so yours, just took a hit.

Back in 2015 the minimum wage was $14.25. That’s about a 40% increase if my maths is right. For farm staff, employees must be paid at least the minimum wage for every hour they work on farm whether they are employed on an hourly rate or on a salary and it can’t be averaged out over a season. If you pay weekly it has to be weekly, if you pay fortnightly it has to be fortnightly but if you pay monthly it still has to be for a fortnight. Two weeks is the most you can average the hours out over. . . 

Wool making a comeback thanks to Covid – Lorraine Mapu:

Once a star export earner, the fortunes of strong wool have hit rock bottom. But could Covid-19 be an unlikely saviour?

The story of New Zealand’s strong wool exports is one of faded fortunes — from the wool boom of the 1950s, when it was our biggest export commodity — to thousands of tonnes of wool now sitting in storage, as world prices hit new lows.

Recent decades have seen the demand for wool decline to the point where shearing sheep now costs more than farmers make from selling their wool. . .

AI alive and kicking in our orchards and paddocks – Andrea Fox:

Somewhere in New Zealand a computer is learning from an expert horticulture pruner the best place to cut a branch. The computer will go on to help a beginner pruner make the right decision.

On a kiwifruit orchard in the Bay of Plenty, researchers are working out how counting and calculating the density of buds and flowers will maximise the harvest.

In that small aircraft above them is a tool to analyse nutrient content and water stress in the foliage, while over the Kaimais in the Waikato, a dairy farmer knows a cow is unwell even though he can’t see her.

Artificial intelligence at work in rural New Zealand. Some of it hasn’t been commercialised yet, and there’s concern New Zealand isn’t investing enough and we risk getting left behind by our agribusiness competitors, but AI is alive and kicking in our orchards and paddocks. . .

ECAN prioritises flood infrastructure – Annette Scott:

Canterbury’s farmers should not expect assistance from Environment Canterbury (ECan) for the recovery of their flood-ravaged farms.

ECan river manager Leigh Griffiths says council is confident that its flood protection infrastructure did its job and that it could not accept allegations of mismanagement or responsibility.

“ECan has a mandate from council to maintain flood protection assets for properties that form a rating district, but does not have the mandate to remove rocks and gravel from any property,” Griffiths said.

Staff may work on private land where this assists in delivering to needs of the rating district, such as where the removal of debris, trees, gravels, forms part of work required to meet the wider flood protection objectives within the rating district. . . 

Johne’s milk test in the offing :

A test to detect Johne’s Disease and pregnancy from a single milk sample in cattle is being developed. Auckland-based biotechnology company Pictor Limited says it has been developing a multiplex bovine test, via a $404,040 grant from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund. The test, which is being created in collaboration with Massey University, will initially aim to detect Johne’s Disease and pregnancy from a single milk sample. . . 

Bayer opens application window for Grants4Ag sustainability focused programme:

Bayer announced today the opening of its application window for the company’s annual Grants4Ag initiative. For more than five years, the agricultural leader has offered researchers both financial and scientific support to develop their ideas for novel solutions to research and development challenges in agriculture. Since its inception in 2015, over 100 grants have been awarded. This year Bayer’s Grants4Ag winning projects will focus on advancing a more sustainable food system. The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2021.

“Our 2020 Grants4Ag program exceeded our expectations in attracting top proposals across a range of R&D activities,” said Phil Taylor, Open Innovation Lead for the Crop Science division at Bayer. “At Bayer, we promote the responsible use of the world’s resources so this year our Grants4Ag program will support those commitments to advance a more sustainable food system by highlighting projects in that area.”

Bayer’s Grants4Ag program does not have any reporting requirements and each applicant retains ownership of any intellectual property developed. Taylor says the company views these grants as an initial investment with the potential to become larger-scale, longer-term collaborations with Bayer. . . 


Rural round-up

03/06/2021

The climate-change dilemma facing dairy farmers – milk more cows or cull the herd – is politically challenging, too – Point of Order:

From one Wellington  platform  Reserve  Bank governor Adrian  Orr is  telling  the  country   strong global demand for NZ primary products is ensuring the economy remains resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic and is helping offset tourism losses. He  says  Fonterra’s  forecast  of a  record opening milk price is “very good news” and is included in the bank’s projections.

From another platform, Climate Change Commissioner Rod Carr told hundreds of people – including farmers – at an agricultural climate change conference that for the agricultural sector there would be no way to wriggle out of slashing emissions.

Carr said agriculture made up about half of NZ’s emissions, and this needed to be reduced to meet climate obligations.International customers would go elsewhere, costing the economy billions of dollars in the coming years.

So  here’s  the  problem: . . 

Time for industry to be heard, leader says – Sally Rae:

“Maybe enough is enough.”

Otago Merino Association chairwoman Jayne Reed, from Cloudy Peak Station, near Tarras, was referring to the never-before-seen pressures the agricultural sector was facing, in her address to the annual merino awards.

“Not the usual seasonal weather worries, commodity price fluctuations and the odd flustering visit from the bank manager, which our fathers dealt with, but an increasingly scary onslaught of bureaucratic intervention … written in some cases by young idealistic policy makers who have never stepped on a farm.

“Our urban neighbours are telling us how to manage our outcomes without any real understanding of what 99% of us are working towards and this is the really disappointing part. . . 

Rural leaders plead to NZTA for second Ashburton bridge plans – Adam Burns:

Damaging floods in Ashburton have sparked calls for urgency around a second bridge by the district’s rural leaders, with the town’s sole overpass at risk.

The Ashburton River Bridge had to be closed for most of yesterday after reports of slumping. It has reopened to light vehicles only, but further testing for heavy vehicles is expected later.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not be drawn on questions around the second bridge issue when she fronted media in Ashburton yesterday.

“The priority right now is connecting people with Ashburton,” Ardern said. . . 

Perriam’s vision for breed recognised with family award – Sally Rae:

John Perriam is a man of vision, risk and “you can do it” approach.

Through his love for merino sheep and his home, Bendigo Station, he had “given it his all” and made a significant difference to the New Zealand merino industry.

That was his daughter Christina Grant reflecting on the pivotal role her father has played in the industry, during the Otago Merino Association’s awards evening.

She was presenting him with the Heather Perriam Memorial Trophy, named in memory of his late wife and her mother, and presented for outstanding service to the merino industry. . . 

Synlait braces for heavy loss – Sudesh Kissun:

Listed Canterbury milk processor Synlait is heading towards its first financial loss ever, but is telling its farmer suppliers not to worry.

The company revealed last week that it now expects to make a net loss of between $20 million and $30 million for the financial year ending this July. Last year, Synlait recorded a net profit of $75 million.

The milk processor has had a challenging 18 months. Key stakeholder, and one of its major customers, the a2 Milk company downgraded its forecasts because of disrupted markets and problems with its key Chinese market – leaving Synlait with large inventories of base powder and infant formula.

Synlait co-founder John Penno has returned to his former role of chief executive and is leading a reset of the business. . .

Are we running out of New Zealand wine? :

New Zealand winegrowers are becoming increasingly concerned about running out of wine after a smaller harvest than usual this year. The famous wine-growing region of Marlborough was especially hard hit by this issue. As an area famous for its excellent quality wine – particularly sauvignon blanc – that gets supplied across the country as well as internationally, this lack of grapes could potentially be disastrous for the wine industry as a whole.

Last year, spring was cooler than usual, with frosts occurring until unusually late in the season. This, combined with increasing costs of production, has made wine harvesting more difficult and expensive than usual.

Additionally, the New Zealand wine industry usually relies on the influx of seasonal workers on working holidays who are ready and willing to help with the harvest. With Covid closing the borders, these people have not been able to enter the country in the past year. Attracting New Zealanders into these roles has proved far trickier for many growers, especially those in more rural areas. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/05/2021

Primary sector exports defy challenges – Sudesh Kissun:

Primary sector exporters, take a bow.

Despite major challenges, New Zealand primary sector exports are holding up well. And it’s not just dairy products leaving our ports in droves – beef, apples, kiwifruit, wine and sheepmeat are also being shipped out.

According to BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap, NZ primary sector exports have been impressively resilient to the massive global economic shock over the past 12 months.

BNZ senior economist Doug Steel points out that exporters have been facing considerable challenges – many of which are ongoing.

Critical worker shortage on dairy farmers will take a toll:

Federated Farmers is deeply disappointed the government’s exception announcement today shows it could not find a way to bring 500 desperately needed skilled dairy employees into the country.

Feds believes the pressure some farming families are now under, due to a severe lack of people to work on farms, is already taking a toll on stress levels, wellbeing and health.

“Farmers have been telling us for well over a year there is a real shortage of suitable dairy staff,” Federated Farmers employment and immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“I am getting daily calls about the labour situation and many farmers don’t know what to do for the coming season. . . 

New Zealand horticulture industry welcomes Government’s decision to bring in more workers from the Pacific:

The New Zealand horticulture industry has welcomed the Government’s latest move to increase the flow of workers from the Pacific, in support of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. 

‘Pacific workers are an integral part of the horticulture industry’s seasonal workforce, particularly for harvest and winter pruning.  They make up the shortfall in New Zealanders while at the same time, enabling the horticulture industry to grow and employ more New Zealanders in permanent positions,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman. 

‘Indeed, over the past decade, the New Zealand horticulture industry has grown by 64% to $6.49 billion while in 2019, before Covid struck, more than $40 million was returned to Pacific economies through the RSE scheme.  . .

Silver Fern Farms creates opportunities for young people to succeed in the red meat industry :

Silver Fern Farms will launch their search for the future stars of the red meat industry in the coming weeks, with applications opening for the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Silver Fern Farms Graduate Career Programme.

Since 2017 Silver Fern Farms has invested $130,000 to further the careers of young people through Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships, and has also placed nine young people in roles around the business in the Graduate Career Programme.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships and the Graduate Career Programme reiterates the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers. . .

Alternative proteins industry has huge potential but lacks direction – report – Maja Burry:

New Zealand’s alternative proteins sector has huge potential, but is fragmented and lacks clear leadership, according to a new report.

The report was done by FoodHQ, a group which represents the country’s food innovation organisations, and was based on input from 185 people working in the broader sector. Products considered to be emerging proteins include plant-based foods and beverages, insect foods and lab-grown proteins.

FoodHQ chief executive Abby Thompson said while there was huge potential to meet global demand for emerging proteins, the industry faced significant challenges.

“New Zealand is currently missing a co-ordinated approach that is going to help drive some of addressing infrastructure gaps that is going to really help with the attraction and retention and development of talented scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs who can really drive some of this stuff.” . .

New technology brings vegetables centre stage:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is enabling New Zealand to tap into the growing market for plant-based products, where vegetables feature as a ‘centre of the plate’ item.

A diverse range of new processed vegetable products is now available on the market, thanks to $147,000 investment from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund – and more innovation is under way.

The two-year project led by Food Nation, which kicked off in mid-2019, aimed to develop a range of plant-based ‘meat alternative’ foods using mushroom seconds and an array of other more novel plants.

One year on, it has made some exciting progress. . . 


Rural round-up

07/05/2021

Rabbits march on Queenstown –  Melanie Reid:

A new breed of rabbit has arrived on the scene in Central Otago: the ‘lifestyle rabbit’. With the growth in new multimillion dollar homes and subdivisions comes a headache for landowners.

Ihug co-founder Tim Wood now avoids some parts of his 10-acre rural Wakatipu idyll because it’s too depressing to see his plantings and landscaping trashed by rabbits yet again.

“It looks beautiful from a distance, but when you get up close, it’s an absolute ecological disaster. It’s out of control. We’re back at the late eighties and early nineties sort of stage of how bad it is.”

Recently planted natives collapse into the stream as rabbits undermine their root systems and some mornings up to 30 rabbits have their breakfast on the lawn as Wood eats his metres away in his kitchen. An attractive bank slowly turns into a swiss-cheese dustbowl and costly native trees get planted, ring-barked and eventually thrown on the compost heap. . . 

Fonterra starts consultation on capital structure:

Today Fonterra is starting a consultation process to seek farmer feedback on potential options to change its capital structure that could give farmers greater financial flexibility.

To allow its farmers to have open conversations and consider all options during consultation, the 
Co-operative is temporarily capping the size of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund (the Fund) by suspending shares in the Fonterra Shareholders’ Market (FSM) from being exchanged into units in the Fund.

This temporary cap will be effective once the current trading halt is lifted when the market opens tomorrow and will remain throughout the consultation process.

Chairman Peter McBride says the capital structure review seeks to ensure the sustainability of the 
Co-operative into the future. . . 

Scores attend Oamaru meeting to raise concerns over large scale forest farm – Sally Murphy:

More than 100 people showed up to a meeting in Oamaru last night to raise concerns about a large scale forest farm being developed in the area.

A 2500 hectare sheep and beef farm at the headwaters of the Kakanui River has been bought by New Zealand Carbon Farming.

The company establishes permanent forests to mitigate climate change through carbon credits.

Locals say the company already has one farm in the Waitaki region which is already showing adverse environmental affects. . . 

New study finds Taurua District could grow blueberries, hazelnuts, apples and feijoas:

A new study for alternative land uses in the Tararua District shows blueberries, hazelnuts, cider apples and feijoas could be successfully grown in the area.

The report commissioned by The Tararua District Council and done by AgFirst assessed the soil quality, climate and economics of each crop.

AgFirst horticulture consultant Leander Archer said it builds on another project done in the early 2000s which looked at what crops were best for the area.

“What we found is that all four crops could grow well in some areas of the Tararua, but conditions differed from area to area. . . 

Rural health professionals welcome Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network:

Members of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network (the Network) held up green cards in show of support for the proposal to form a collective organisation Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network on Saturday 1 May 2021.

During the Network’s AGM at the National Rural Health Conference in Taupō, the Network Board put forward the proposal to form Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network and to transition the Network’s functions and role to this new organisation over a 12-month period.

More members turned up for this AGM than ever before to show their support and have their say on the future of the Network, and the resolutions to form the collective organisation Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network were passed.

Network Chief Executive Dr Grant Davidson says that this is a significant step in the evolution of the Network. . . 

Research shows growth in tree stock sales:

Latest research by Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service shows seedling sales hit almost 92 million seedlings in 2020, 3 million more than the year before, says Acting Deputy Director-General Henry Weston.

The findings are an annual survey of tree stock sales from commercial forestry nurseries, called the Provisional Estimates of Tree Stock Sales and Forest Planting.

“The increase in seedling sales is positive, as it shows continued strong interest in tree planting.

“Tree planting is a vital tool in efforts to boost environmental gains, and help New Zealand to reach its economic potential, particularly our recovery from COVID-19,” says Mr Weston. . . 

Leasing provides appealing pathway to land stewardship:

Leasing the farm out rather than selling it is proving a new approach to the old challenges of succession, income generation, and farm business growth, providing a level of flexibility for parties on both sides of the leasing fence.

Bayleys Gisborne director and country salesperson Simon Bousfield says with an aging farmer population more landowners are rapidly approaching a point where they may be wishing to exit their property to enjoy retirement, and succession options aren’t available within the family.

However, they can find buyers are either limited in number, or limited by a lack of financial capital to meet the property’s market value.

“But it is also a case that this low interest rate environment is a double-edged sword. . . 


Rural round-up

23/03/2021

Border exemptions for The Lion King show Government is not listening, farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural businesses affected by the severe seasonal labour shortage say the Government is not listening to their concerns, after it was revealed that 126 people involved in The Lion King play had been granted visas under the “other critical worker” category.

Owner of farm work agency, Hanzon Jobs, Richard Houston, said he felt his industry had been “disregarded”.

Kiwifruit grower and packer, Seeka chief executive, Michael Franks, said labour was going to be “very tight” next month, which meant people were working long hours and he was concerned about possible health and safety implications.

“It’s clear that the Government is not listening to us. I predict it’s going to get tighter, particular after Easter when we open our night shifts and we get our processing business up to speed,” Franks said. . . 

Unity needed to tackle rules -Annette Scott:

While it is encouraging that the Government has listened to the Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group, it is also the trigger reiterating that farmers must keep being heard, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

The environmental reset facing the high country farming sector proved the underlying current in the presentations and discussions for more than 100 farmers and industry stakeholders who turned out for a field trip through the Lees Valley, North Canterbury, taking in Richon and McDonald Downs Stations.

The day followed the announcement by Environment Minister David Parker that the Government had accepted some of the group’s proposals, including supporting an industry-led intensive winter grazing module to farm plans in the coming year, while also delaying implementation of the winter grazing rules.

In his presentation at the field day, Allen said the announcement was the result of farmers and industry front-footing action for farmer-led practical solutions that will achieve better results than arbitrary rules. . . 

Launching the New Zealand Dairy Story:

Our dairy story is one of Dairy Goodness for the World.

The New Zealand Dairy Story has been developed in partnership with the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ), with input from DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, and Dairy Women’s Network; with support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

The development of the story established seven defining elements as part of the sector’s story:

Natural
New Zealand is favoured by nature when it comes to making milk, with a climate, soils and abundant water that create a perfect environment for growing grass. Our cows can access pasture year-round. Our geography means New Zealand is free from many pests and diseases, supporting healthy cows and allowing us to farm with a lighter hand. . . 

No more nail polish for woman who gave up life in accounts for organic farming – Lawrence Gullery:

Shannon Wright used to go to work wearing nail polish on her fingers but now she comes home with soil under her fingernails.

It has been almost five years since she swapped out her office job to start a business growing and supplying vegetables for farmers markets, organic food outlets and supermarkets in Hamilton and Cambridge.

“I used to work in accounts, payroll, HR, health and safety for a firm in Te Rapa but things started to change after I had Izabel, my third child.

“I went along to a permaculture course when she was nine months old and that really started the ball rolling. . . 

Farming families celebrate – Richard Davison:

Organisers of an annual celebration of rural history are crossing their fingers Covid-19 will not intervene again this year.

After having to postpone last year’s Century Farms event due to the Covid-19 lockdown, organisers said they were hoping a long list of patient participants would finally be able to celebrate in Lawrence this May.

The event, which celebrates families who have been farming their own land for 100 years or more, held its first and, until now, largest gathering in 2006, but was due to beat that record with 70 attending families spread over two weekends last year.

Century Farms chairwoman Karen Roughan said she was delighted only one family had dropped off that roster since, although it still left the three-day event vulnerable to a change in Covid-19 alert status. . . 

 

Sanatech Seed launches world’s first GE tomato – Maura Maxwell:

Sanatech Seed, the Japanese start-up behind the launch of the world’s first direct consumption genome-edited tomato, says the variety is the first of several it plans to develop with enhanced nutritional benefits.

The company’s Sicilian Rouge High GABA tomato was developed using cutting edge CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology. It contains high levels of Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA), an amino acid believed to aid relaxation and help lower blood pressure.

According to Shimpei Takeshita, president of Sanatech Seed and chief innovation officer of Pioneer EcoScience, the exclusive distributor of the tomato, it contains four to five times more GABA than a regular tomato. . . 


Rural round-up

20/03/2021

NZ apple volumes fall: millions will be lost in exports:

New Zealand Apples and Pears Inc (NZAPI), the industry association representing all apple, pear and nashi growers in New Zealand, has released an updated crop estimate for 2021.

In January, the industry was forecasting a gross national crop of 558,672 metric tonnes, 5% down on the 2020 harvest. The export share of the gross crop was forecast to be 374,751 metric tonnes (20.8 million cartons), 7% down on 2020, reflecting a shortage of available labour and significant hail events in the Nelson and Central Otago regions.

“As we near peak harvest, it has become increasingly clear that we will not achieve those initial forecasts”, NZAPI CEO Alan Pollard said. . .

Hort industry wants workers not workshops :

“What a slap in the face to the horticulture and viticulture sectors today’s $350,000 ‘wellbeing support package’ is as they face losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” says ACT Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron and Immigration spokesperson James McDowall.

“These people don’t need workshops, they need workers,” says Mr Cameron.

“To get this pitiful news in a week when it’s become clear that Hawke’s Bay is short of thousands of workers and estimates its apple losses alone will run to between $100 and $200 million this year is just sickening.

“The Government doesn’t seem to understand the lifecycle of plants, having rationalised that a sector that had ‘had it good’ for a number of years could suck up one rotten harvest. . . 

Immigration NZ overturns decision on sheep scanners’ work visas – Riley Kennedy:

Immigration New Zealand has given the green light to 11 foreign sheep scanners to help New Zealand farmers.

Sheep scanning happens around April and May and is the pregnancy test for ewes due to give birth this coming spring.

It comes after the scanners’ applications for critical worker visas were previously denied, however, an Immigration NZ spokesperson said it recently received new information about the availability of sheep scanners in New Zealand.

The department then informed employers who had applied for workers and had been declined, that their requests would be reconsidered. . .

Make sureyou have a grazing contract in time for winter:

The Winter Grazing Action Group (WGAG) is stressing to farmers the importance of having grazing contracts in place for the coming season.

The group was set up by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last year in response to a report from the Winter Grazing Taskforce, which made 11 recommendations to help ensure that animal welfare became a key part of all winter grazing decisions in the pastoral supply chain.

He said the action group’s job was to recommend ways to improve animal welfare following what he called “a lot of concern about managing winter grazing for cattle, sheep, and deer across the country”. The group’s 15 members represent industry organisations, government, vets, farmers, and other rural professionals. It is supported in its work by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

WGAG Chair, Lindsay Burton said the group was keen to emphasise the need for grazing contracts for livestock when grazed off farm to make sure health, nutrition and welfare needs are understood and managed especially during periods of greater risk like winter. . . 

MPI seeks feedback on new organic regime:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is seeking feedback on proposed regulations for organic primary sector products.

“The proposals set out the details of the proposed regime for organic food, beverages, and plant and animal products,” said Fiona Duncan, director of food skills and science policy.

The proposals outline the processes that would apply to businesses marketing organic products. Producers and processors of organic primary products, as well as importers, exporters and domestic-focused businesses, will be interested in how these proposals could apply to them.

“With these proposals, consumers would be better able to tell which products are organic and make more informed choices about what they buy,” said Ms Duncan. . . 

 

Harness the power of earthworms – Paul Reed Hepperly:

When moist, practically all soils from tundra to lowland tropics support the activity of earthworms. Largely unseen, earthworms are a diverse, powerful workforce with the capacity to transform soil into fertile ground.

Found in 27 families, more than 700 genera and greater than 7,000 species, earthworms vary from about 1 inch to 2 yards long. Their living mass outweighs all other animal life forms in global soils. Although we may view earthworms as being both prolific and productive, do we fully appreciate our human capability to favor their beneficial efforts as allies allowing farms and gardens to flourish? I think not.

Earthworms’ powerful activities include promoting favorable soil structure, increasing biological diversity, improving soil function, balancing nutrients needed by plants and animals and optimizing living soil. . . 


Rural round-up

05/03/2021

Dairy price lift will give fillip to regional economies and fortify Fonterra’s confidence in pressing on with capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Our  dairy provinces  are  reverberating to  the  news that prices  soared  at the  latest Fonterra GDT auction. The prosperity  this  brings  to the regions  will  provide a  significant counterbalance  to the loss  of earning power  in the tourism sector because of the pandemic.

The average price at the auction climbed 15% to $US4,231 a tonne but,  more  importantly, the price for wholemilk  powder, which is  the  key to the payout  to farmers,rose an astonishing 21% to $US4,364 a tonne. Butter  was  up  sharply to $US5,826 a tonne, or 13.7%.

Overall, the increase compares with a 3% rise at the previous auction two weeks ago. . . 

Reducing cow numbers no silver bullet for emissions – Sudesh Kissun:

Reducing cow numbers isn’t the ‘silver bullet’ to lowering greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, says Northland farmer and entrepreneur Tom Pow.

With the Government facing calls to slash cow numbers as part of its climate change action plan, Pow, the founder of HerdHomes, says a knee-jerk reaction to reduce cow numbers would be naïve.

He suggests looking at other options including reducing the number of hours cows spend in paddocks. “Balanced feed can lead to less greenhouse gasses (GHG) or effectively a smaller herd mis-managed could produce even more GHG,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Exciting board role for up and coming farmer – Peter Burke:

A 50/50 sharemilker at an award-winning Maori farming enterprise has been selected as one of two associate directors at DairyNZ for the coming year.

Carlos Delos Santo works for the Onuku Maori Lands Trust which runs a number of dairy farms near Rotorua as well as a sheep milking operation and other businesses. The other new associate director is Cameron Henderson who farms in Canterbury with his partner Sarah.

Delos Santo says he’s really excited to be selected for this role, as it allows him the chance to gain knowledge on what occurs at DairyNZ board meetings and contribute to important sector discussions. . .

Following his calling, not many downsides to farming – Toni Williams:

Mike Carr has had a calling to be a farmer since he was 8 years old; old enough to drive a tractor and help out on farm.

By the age of 25 he’d travelled overseas and had a mechanic’s qualification under his belt before returning to the family farm to work alongside his parents, Ian and Sue.

Then he took over.

He loves farming — and being outdoors.

“You’re your own boss. It’s great — you don’t answer to anyone else,” he said. . .

Shed consent application process could be improved – Shawn McAvinue:

A frustrated West Taieri farmer is calling for the Otago Regional Council to do better so he can achieve his dream of building a shed to keep his cattle warm and dry.

The council says it will seek ways to improve its service.

Fred Doherty, of Outram, said he had expected the process to get the consents required to build a wintering shed in the middle of his 90ha sheep and beef farm to be “simple and basic” but it had been “frustrating” and made considerably more expensive by red tape.

“It’s been a dream of mine to be able to put my stock inside for winter and to know that whatever nature throws at them, they are safe, warm and dry and your farm is getting looked after.” . . 

Could the next Emirates Team New Zealand boat be made entirely of hemp?:

With The America’s Cup due to start in a few days’ time, innovators from a very different sphere have been wondering how long it could be before New Zealand could be competing in a boat entirely built from hemp, with the crew eating high-energy, nutritious hemp-infused foods and wearing high-performance hemp kit?

Industrial hemp (iHemp) is from the same family as cannabis, but from different cultivars and without the psychoactive effects. Having historically fallen out of favour, it’s rapidly finding its place in the world again, due primarily to its environmental and health benefits.

Hemp has a wide range of uses driven by its unique characteristics. Hemp textiles are naturally anti-fungerial, antic static, antibacterial and antimicrobial and can stop 95% of the UV light. Used in construction materials, it is fire resistant, breathable and strong; one sixth of the weight of concrete and continues to sequester carbon throughout its life. .  .


Rural round-up

19/02/2021

Gore estimates cost of $300m to comply with freshwater rules – Rachael Kelly:

A small Southland council with less than 6000 ratepayers is potentially facing a $300m bill to comply with new freshwater regulations.

Gore District Council chief executive Steve Parry said meeting the cost of the Government’s compliance was “the perfect financial storm.’’

The government’s new rules aim to improve freshwater quality in a generation.

Councils countrywide were now realising the enormity of the costs involved in complying with the rules, Parry said. . .

UK warned to honour FTA commitments – Peter Burke:

Plans for the United Kingdom to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have come with a warning from New Zealand dairy companies.

Dairy Companies of New Zealand (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey says while he welcomes the intent of the UK to join the group, he wants the NZ government to send a strong message to the UK about how it must honour its commitment to freeing up global trade. He says before being admitted to the CPTTP, as the first nation outside the trans-pacific region to benefit from it, the UK must fully embrace free trade. He wants actions, not just words.

Bailey says the UK’s application to join CPTPP is another great sign of its interest in advancing global trade liberalisation.

But he says the real test of UK trade leadership comes from how it honours its existing commitments and what it is prepared to put on the table in negotiations.

 

Impact of irrigation on the soil – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

Soil organic matter was a hot topic for environmentalists, ecologists and primary producers in 2020.

It is likely to remain at the centre of debate this year as well.

All parties agree it is an important factor of soil quality; the arguments are about how to look after it.

Soil organic matter is increased or decreased by management. Because farmers and growers rarely alter one factor of management in isolation, the drivers of an effect on soil organic matter after a change in management can be difficult to identify. . . 

Holgate ready to tackle new role – Neal Wallace:

Long gone are the days of a bank’s sole function to take an investor’s money and lend it to borrowers. Today, banks are becoming intimately involved in the businesses in which they invest. Neal Wallace spoke to Rabobank’s new head of sustainable business development Blake Holgate.

Blake Holgate has some big questions for which he hopes to find some answers.

Rabobank’s newly appointed head of sustainable business development says near the top of the list is defining exactly what sustainability means in the context of New Zealand farming.

Defining the much maligned word is central to the future of NZ agriculture, and Holgate is confident that meeting such a standard, once it is defined, is achievable. . . 

We’ll eat huhu grubs and pigs’ nipples, so why not possum? – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand is famous for its meat exports and love of a Sunday roast but there are some meats Kiwis have never taken to.

Although some like to dabble in the unusual – crowds flock to events like Hokitika’s famous Wildfoods Festival to down huhu grubs and pigs’ nipples – for many, a venison steak is about as adventurous as dinner is likely to get.

But, with a veritable feast of wild and surplus animals on our doorstep, that needn’t be the case.

So, what’s our beef with alternative meats? . . 

The bogus burger blame  – Frank Mitloehner:

One of the most popular meals in America is one of the most maligned.

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our lifetime, which we must address with urgency, but swapping out a hamburger once a month isn’t how we do it. While the burger does have an impact on our climate, which we’re working to reduce, it’s simply not the climate killer it’s made out to be.

Animal agriculture, including ruminant animals like the cows that belch methane as they digest food, has an environmental footprint. That’s a fact. According to the EPA, animal ag is responsible for 4 percent of the United States’ direct greenhouse gas emissions. Of that amount, beef cattle are in for 2.2 percent. If you want to use the more encompassing cradle-to-grave formula, beef cattle still only account for 3.3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The dairy sector is responsible for 1.9 percent. (Lifecycle assessments are the preferred method of measuring a sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, but it’s not always the most appropriate, which I’ll explain in a minute.)

The greenhouse gas emissions of our four-legged friends? Clearly, they’re not nothing. But they’re not everything, either.  The elephant in the room (or rather, in the atmosphere) is fossil fuel. Its sectors combined account for nearly 80 percent of direct U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. There are no life-cycle assessments for these sectors, which is why direct emissions is most appropriate when making comparisons between sectors; between animal agriculture and transportation, for example. . . .


Rural round-up

26/01/2021

Urban issues starting to affect Wanaka :

Environmental group says urban growth a threat to lake’s natural beauty.

The popularity of Wanaka’s pristine natural beauty could prove to be the lake’s downfall — but not if a group of environmentally-minded citizens has something to do with it.

Environmental consultant Chris Arbuckle, along with agribusiness expert Erica Van Reenen and keen local lake swimmer Eddie Spearing, have initiated the Touchstone project, bringing together local people concerned about the Lake Wanaka catchment, raise awareness of water quality issues, and encourage positive action.

While the vast majority of the lake’s catchment is rural, Arbuckle says urban issues are just as significant, if not more so, as Wanaka grows in size and popularity. The district’s population has doubled in the past 10 years, and is estimated to reach 50,000 by 2040. . . .

FE spore counts hit 1.2m in Matamata – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are being warned to make sure they have an adequate facial eczema (FE) management plan in place after the first spore counts of the year topped nearly 1.2 million from one grass sample in Matamata.

The maximum spore counts analysed by Hamilton-based Gribbles Veterinary on January 14 also reached 30,000 in Franklin and Tauranga, 120,000 in Waikato, 35,0000 in Waitomo and 150,000 on the East Coast.

In the second week of monitoring, samples collected from farms in Waihi, Franklin, Hauraki, Whitianga, Rotorua, Whakatane, Tauranga, Hamilton, Morrinsville, Waipa, Waitomo, New Plymouth and Gisborne were all higher than the 30,000 spores/gram threshold at which veterinarians recommend farmers take action against facial eczema. . . 

Trees are our great weapons against climate change. But what if they stop soaking? – Mirjam Guesgen :

A new study suggests that trees’ ability to soak up carbon could expire. Mirjam Guesgen explains.

Trees have long been held as the saviour for climate change. Plant enough trees and we might be able to balance out some of that carbon-emmitting flying or driving. But a new scientific study says that trees only buy us a certain amount of time. Push a tree too far and it’ll turn on you.

How do trees fight climate change?

The reason trees make such excellent climate fighting machines has to do with chemistry. They suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it as one of the ingredients to make sugar, their form of fuel. That’s the basics of photosynthesis. . . 

M. Boris numbers falling – MPI :

The Ministry of Primary Industries says New Zealand is getting closer to the eradication of Mycoplasma Bovis.

Ten properties in Canterbury are currently infected with the cattle disease, including two Lincoln University research farms.

The Ministry is working through depopulation plans with the two research farms, but final cull numbers haven’t been determined. . .

Rain secures feed surplus – Gerald Piddock:

Warm temperatures and frequent summer rain have led to a bumper season for summer feed crops and pasture covers for livestock farmers in most regions up and down the country.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround compared to 12 months ago, where severe drought had written off feed crops and farmers around the North Island were burning through their feed reserves to keep their stock healthy.

DairyNZ general manager of farm performance Sharon Morrell says while it has been a good year for many, regions such as Northland was getting dry and areas of the Hauraki Plains also had declining pasture growth rates. . .

Farmers to showcase farmland bird conservation work :

Farmers are being encouraged to get behind this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count to showcase the conservation work being done on farms across the country.

The Big Farmland Bird Count returns in 2021, and organisers are asking farmers and land managers – who look after 71% of Britain’s countryside – to join in.

The project helps show which farmland birds are benefitting from conservation efforts while identifying the species most in need of help.

The annual count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is scheduled for the 5 – 14 February 2021. . . 


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. . .

 


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