Rural round-up

June 21, 2013

Ski patrol rescues sheep buried in snow – Thomas Mead:

Three mountain climbers needed an alpine rescue last night after bearing the brunt of a snow storm – but the stranded patients weren’t your regular mountaineers.

A ski patrol was part-way through a regular avalanche monitoring routine on Wanaka’s Treble Cone ski field when they spotted a little head sticking out of a snow drift.

A closer inspection revealed three sheep stranded in a snow drift, still breathing and warm, but buried in the snow.

Ski patrol member Luke Lennox says the surprising discovery left the team with the perfect opportunity to practice an alpine rescue. . . . (click on the link for a video).

Kiwi firm tackles burger giant at home:

US ICONIC company McDonald’s may have dumped lambburgers – but a thriving New Zealand fast-food company plans to take on the land of beef and burgers on its home ground.

After a successful drive into the Middle East, Burger Fuel, whose premium burgers are based on New Zealand beef, is strategising to enter the US, says New Zealand Trade and Enterprise chief executive Peter Chrisp. . .

New company becomes TB agency:

The Animal Health Board is relinquishing its role as the management agency for the National Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) Pest Management plan.

The role will pass to a new limited-liability company TBfree New Zealand Ltd. The Animal Health Board (AHB) will resign its role as the management agency on June 30.

From July 1, 2013 TBfree New Zealand Ltd and National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) Ltd will become wholly-owned subsidiaries of Operational Solutions for Primary Industries (OSPRI) New Zealand Ltd. . .

Zespri running to keep ahead of the game:

THE GLOBAL business environment is evolving so quickly it’s “about running to keep up so we are not made obsolete,” Zespri chief Lain Jager says. 

“Two high-level strategic thoughts occupy our minds: where will our growth come from and how can we develop our advantage so we can make a margin and be profitable?” he told the Go Global export conference in Auckland. . .

Changes to Layer Hens Code of Welfare Proposed:

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Layer Hens Code of Welfare 2012.

The most significant effect of the Code is that it requires battery cages to be phased out by 31 December 2022. This was to be managed in three transition stages. While the final phase-out date has not changed, the potential for severe price increases has highlighted the need to move each of the transition steps back by two years.

The amended transition steps within the ten year period are as follows: . . .

Meat Industry Excellence Makes First Key Appointment:

Ross Hyland, an influential figure in both agribusiness and the commercial sector, has become Meat Industry Excellence’s (MIE) first key appointment.

“Ross’s commitment and success in New Zealand agriculture is well documented,” says Richard Young, Chairman of Meat Industry Excellence.

“Ross Hyland’s on-going commitment to continually improve the profitability of our primary sector will be vital as we push for a stronger and more vibrant red meat sector. . .

Fluufy cows – old beauty practice gains attention:

ADEL, Iowa — Grooming cows so they look like unusually large poodles is a well-known beautification practice in the show cattle industry.

But although it may be decades old, it’s just now getting attention on the Internet.

It started with a photo of a male cow named Texas Tornado who had a particularly fluffy coat. “Fluffy cow” photos are now making the rounds.

The practice is meant to help sell livestock for breeding or harvesting. . .


Rural round-up

April 11, 2013

Foray into farming stories for children proves fruitful – Sally Rae:

When Lee Lamb could not find books about farming to read to her young son, she decided to do something about it.

Brought up on Grampians Station, near Lake Tekapo, Mrs Lamb now lives on a sheep and beef station in northern Southland with her husband Jamie and their two young sons Jack (5) and Thomas (3).

It was while living in Omarama that she first picked up a pen, having become frustrated by being unable to buy a book about farming for Jack – who was farming-mad. She sat down one day ”and gave it a go” but did not take it any further until after moving to Waikaia and following the birth of Thomas, when she had a bit more spare time. . .

Dairy Awards Winners Achieve Goals:

The 2013 Canterbury/North Otago Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Morgan and Hayley Easton, are using their knowledge to achieve their farming goals.

“Both Hayley and I are well educated in fields supportive of an agribusiness career, which we think is important when running large-scale dairy farms today,” Morgan Easton says. “Large dairy farms are big businesses with significant turnover and numbers of people employed. We feel the knowledge gained from our education has undoubtedly helped us achieve our farming goals to date.”

The other major winners at the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner held at Hotel Ashburton last night were Richard Pearse, the Farm Manager of the Year, and Adam Caldwell, the Dairy Trainee of the Year. Coincidentally Mr Pearse employs Mr Caldwell as an assistant on the Ashburton farm he manages. . .

Ferret trapping programme:

The Animal Health Board is taking advantage of the scavenging habits of ferrets to track bovine tuberculosis in western Southland.

There are only two cattle herds still under movement control in the region because of TB infection, compared with 56 herds in 1996.

TBFree Southland chairman Mike O’Brien said ferret trapping plays an important role in protecting cattle and deer herds from Tb-infected wild animals because they indicate whether the disease is present in other wildlife, especially possums, which can spread the disease to livestock. . .

Freshwater changes show promise – Environment Commissioner:

The Government’s proposed changes to freshwater management are much needed, but only if they are implemented properly says the Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright.

Dr Wright submitted on the changes this afternoon, and says moves to improve water quality are welcome.

“It’s vital we make progress on water quality, and the proposed changes are a step in the right direction. . .

Last call for applications for leading farm business management programme:

Applications close at the end of this month for this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program, the region’s leading agricultural business management course for the next generation of farm leaders.

Now in its eighth year, the prestigious Rabobank program offers young farmers from across New Zealand and Australia, and a range of agricultural sectors, the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Rabobank business programs manager Nerida Sweetapple says the Farm Managers Program is constantly evolving to reflect the changing challenges and opportunities in agriculture. . .

ANZCO’s published result confirms anticipated loss – but could have been worse – Allan Barber:

ANZCO’s financial result to the end of September 2012 was posted on the Companies’ Office website on Friday in compliance with the statutory requirement for private companies. ANZCO reported losses of $25.6 pre-tax and $19.2 million after tax. We now have the details for the big three meat companies which publish their results and, as anticipated, none makes pleasant reading – total pre-tax losses of $140.4 million and post-tax $102.2 million.

But after seeing the numbers from Alliance and Silver Fern Farms in December, it was possible ANZCO’s could have been quite a bit worse. That they weren’t appears to have been the combination of strength in beef and some good management decisions which mitigated the worst effects of a very difficult year. . .


Rural round-up

March 2, 2013

Grain farmers step up to meet stock feed needs:

With the availability of supplementary feed in the North Island becoming tight due to extremely dry conditions, Federated Farmers Grain & Seed is promoting New Zealand feed grains and straw as a major supplementary feed solution.

“North Island dairy farmers in particular are weighing up the economic cost of drying off early,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Grain and Seed chairperson and a dual grains and dairy farmer himself.

“Federated Farmers Grain & Seed believes New Zealand feed grains and straw are solutions, especially out of the South Island.

“These are not only cost competitive to imported feeds but are available in quantity right now. These could help hard pressed dairy farmers in seeing the milking season through to its proper end and could also help out our meat and fibre colleagues too. . .

Happier cows could be one solution to industry’s employment issues:

With more and more dairy farm staff entering the industry from urban backgrounds an animal husbandry expert says there has to be more emphasis placed on stockmanship skills, which start with managers and owners having farm policies that put animal welfare first.

 animal husbandry expert Chris Leach and farm dairying specialist Mel Eden share a passion for interpreting cow behaviour and helping farmers get “inside the cow’s head.” By understanding their animals, they say farmers will improve job satisfaction for farm staff, animal health and the bottom-line.

In March the two experts will present a workshop called ‘Interpreting cow behaviour’ to more than 300 dairying women at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Nelson – most of them farm owners and managers. . .

Bovine TB control achieves less cattle and deer TB testing:

The success of the TBfree New Zealand programme has led to more than 3750 cattle and deer herds having their movement control restrictions, or number of bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests, scaled down.

Animal Health Board (AHB) National TB Manager Kevin Crews said the decrease is due to a strong focus on TB-infected wild animal control, strict movement rules on infected herds and an extensive cattle and deer testing programme.

The AHB is responsible for implementing the TBfree New Zealand programme which is working to eradicate bovine TB in New Zealand. Changes to movement restrictions will affect around 50 herds across Tasman, Marlborough and North Canterbury from 1 March 2013. . .

MPI Applauds Stiff Fine For Border Cheat:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) applauds the stiff fine handed down to a woman who three years earlier tried to deceive an airport quarantine inspector and illegally bring packets of bird nest into New Zealand.

Chen Shar Wong was arrested at the Auckland International Airport on Wednesday after arriving from Taiwan. She faced two charges under the Biosecurity Act 1993 of knowingly making false and misleading statements to an inspector, and knowingly attempting to possess unauthorised goods under the Crimes Act.

On 28 February 2010, an MPI quarantine inspector seized four packets of bird nest from Mrs Wong at the airport. Mrs Wong had claimed the bird nests were sea weed. . .

Biosecurity Report Welcomed By Beef + Lamb New Zealand:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the release today, by the Office of the Auditor General, of the report into the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) preparedness and response to biosecurity incursions.

Dr Scott Champion, B+LNZ CEO, said the report made a number of observations and recommendations that have previously been identified by a joint-Government and industry report into the current state of readiness for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), published last year.

“These and other learnings from Exercise Taurus (a FMD incursion simulation) are the ongoing focus of a collaborative process between the affected livestock industries and MPI to make the improvements required in this area,” he said. . .

Ballance closes the loop on investments for growth:

Ballance has taken a further step in its growth strategy, moving to full ownership of animal nutrition company Seales Winslow Limited and farm technology company Farmworks Systems Limited. It has held 51% shareholdings in both companies since 2011.

Ballance Chief Executive Larry Bilodeau says full ownership will see the co-operative better placed to support the growth goals of both business units, enabling Ballance to meet increasing demand from customers for the full range farm nutrients and technology which enable them to farm smarter and more productively.

“Farm nutrients and technology are clearly two growing areas of the market and a natural fit with our core business. We know that farmers are looking towards strategic animal nutrition supplementation and farm technology to get the best returns from their businesses and reduce their environmental footprint. . .

Soil and Health Association applauds new organic research report:

New Zealand’s oldest organic organisation, and publishers of Organic NZ , the Soil & Health Association – Organic NZ, is delighted with the growth in the number of organic producers and consumers over the past three years.

“The results in the latest organic market research report show that organics is definitely moving from the fringe into the mainstream,” says Debbie Swanwick, Spokesperson, Soil & Health – Organic NZ.

Soil &Health – Organic NZ has sponsored a new section in this year’s report,which covers the organic community sector. “Our National Council was delighted to be able to offer their support to such worthy research” said Ms Swanwick. . .


Rural round-up

November 26, 2012

New Zealand urged to protect its brand – Sally Rae:

For an export nation like New Zealand, being “clean and green” is not enough any more, Oritain Global chief executive Dr Helen Darling says.

‘We actually need to be clean, green and clever,” Dr Darling said yesterday, while referring to the increasing instances of global food fraud.

Food fraud was an emerging risk for both consumers and producers worldwide, with the OECD estimating it cost legitimate producers about $US250 billion every year and that figure was growing, she said. . .

Local water focus urged – Howard Keene:

This month’s release of the third and final Land and Water Forum report marks a new consensus-driven approach to reform laws and practices around freshwater management in New Zealand, but its success will depend on how much the three reports the Government is willing to adopt.

The report recommends that local communities make decisions on individual catchments, acting within a national framework and bottom lines set by the Government. It also says water should be made more easily transferable between users.

While the report has received a mostly positive response there have been some cautioning voices. . .

Sweet smelling possums may help eradicate TB:

Using sex pheromones to capture possums is one example of the cutting-edge TB control initiatives featured in this year’s Animal Health Board (AHB) annual report and research report.

A two-year study into using sexually receptive female possums as a way to capture possums of both sexes in areas where numbers are low is among the scientific work forming part of the $2.5 million annually allocated by the AHB to research.

AHB chief executive William McCook said the two reports show the continuing significant progress being made in controlling and eradicating bovine TB from New Zealand, with the support of a range of government and industry partners. . .

Landcorp goal 80% fixed price sales – Alan Williams:

Landcorp sold more than 70% of its export lambs under fixed price contracts in its latest year, as part of a longer term goal to have 80% of all red meat sales handled this way.

This makes more than 230,000 lambs on fixed contracts out of a total 330,000 sent to processing companies in the year ended June 30 by the state-owned farmer.

Prices were on average higher than those achieved on traditional schedules, Landcorp livestock marketing manager Andrew Hall said in the written annual report.

About half the fixed price lamb contracts were for supply to the United Kingdom’s biggest grocery chain Tesco, he later told The New Zealand Farmers Weekly. . .

Rabobank Report: A New Wine Frontier:

With maturing or declining sales in many traditional markets, wine companies across the globe are increasingly searching for new growth markets. Emerging markets are attracting the interest of nearly all major wine companies. But those companies that were late to invest in these markets often have a greater challenge as the competition has already established routes to market and has garnered share of mind with the consumer. While China and South Korea probably rank as the most attractive emerging wine markets, Rabobank has identified Mexico, Brazil, Poland and Nigeria as four ‘hidden gems’ that have the potential to become important growth markets. Early investments to establish a route to market and build brand awareness hold the key to long term growth in these markets. . . 

And from Facebook:


Rural round-up

September 23, 2012

Hairy mutant calves

Federated Farmers met with LIC on Tuesday to try to secure a solution that works for LIC’s farmer-shareholders and farmers affected by calf-mutation.

“I guess the best summary is that we spoke and they spoke,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Our only hope is LIC may reflect on what we said over the next few days.  This is not about winners or losers because no one is winning right now. . .

Award-Winning Livestock Farmer Urges Others to Enter 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Environmental sustainability is a hot topic for North Otago farmer Doug Brown.

As a councillor for the Otago Regional Council and a director of a large meat co-operative, he discusses the subject with a wide range of people from both urban and rural backgrounds. He also talks to consumers of NZ products who are demanding increasingly higher standards of environmental management and animal welfare.

He believes most farmers are committed to protecting their land-based resources.

“But we’ve got to keep working on these issues, and keep moving forward at a pace that farmers can handle.” . . .

New Chair for Dairy Awards Trust

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Trust has a new chair, with former New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year, Teresa Moore, taking on the role.

Mrs Moore won the sharemilker competition in 2009 with husband Chris and the couple is now farming a 71ha 200-cow property at Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty.

“I’m looking forward to working with some great people on the Trust and in overseeing our role to ensure the Trust’s goals are implemented and that there is good communication between the Trust and the NZDIA Executive running the awards programme.” . . .

Reminder to TB test dairy service bulls

The Animal Health Board (AHB) reminds all traders and receiving herdowners that there is no fee for bovine tuberculosis (TB) testing of bulls aged over 12 months that are entering the dairy industry.

Commercial bull lessors should organise a TB test for bulls prior to marketing and leasing them to provide peace of mind to receiving herdowners.

Dairy farmers seeking assurance that the service bulls they are leasing are TB-free should insist on TB tests before accepting them onto their property, or at least ascertain that one has been completed in the past six months. . .


Possum fur and pest control goals don’t match

July 14, 2012

A Landcare Research study shows that possum fur trapping and pest control goals do not always match.

That has been welcomed by the Animal Health Board which is tasked with controlling and eventually eradicating bovine tuberculosis as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Possum control is a very important part of their work.

We currently use a combination of trapping, hand-laid toxins and aerial control – an approach that is keeping us on target in terms of eradicating the disease from the wild. From a TB control perspective, even if fur trapping was subsidised, it would be far too risky for New Zealand to rely on fur trappers for critical disease management-driven pest control.

The AHB has recently engaged with the New Zealand Fur Council to identify opportunities for fur recovery as part of our possum control operations. However, our primary  concern  must always be to keep possum numbers low enough to break the TB cycle. Any fur recovery activities would need to be subordinate to this goal. A major advantage of our current control strategy is that we can be confident we are consistently achieving the extremely low possum densities needed for effective TB control. As soon as there is a conflicting objective such as the recovery of fur, the pest control outcome can be compromised. Stringent performance monitoring would need to be put in place, at a significant additional cost. Some of our ground control contractors do recover furs, but this is something they need to negotiate with their employer as it has the potential to reduce efficiency and performance – time spent plucking possums is time not spent checking traps or laying baits.

While the study highlights the theoretical socio-economic benefits of trapping over aerial control, the reality is that the AHB is already using trapping and ground control techniques on up to 90 per cent of our operations annually, and only use aerially-applied toxins where other methods are impractical. Fur Council representatives readily admit that much of land controlled by the AHB is already well below economic levels for the possum fur trade. On top of this, the AHB provides a steady source of work for hundreds of local pest controllers across the country. In the 2012/13 financial year, we expect to spend more than $40 million on TB possum control. Much of this money will end up in struggling rural economies. In many areas, we already struggle to find enough people with the skills to carry out trapping and ground control across often challenging terrain.

I love possum fur clothing and am particularly enamoured of merino mink – the combination of merino wool and possum fur.

I have sympathy with communities which want to foster the fur business:

The Coromandel Colville Community Board and the Thames Coromandel District Council are against using residual poison and are instead supporting a locally based possum trapping industry.

Earlier this year, Waikato Regional Council sought submissions from suitably experienced operators about undertaking possum control in the north west Coromandel Peninsula.

The Colville-Coromandel Community Board has put forward a proposal to the council to allow the community to trial a mixture of commercial and private possum trapping.

But there is no contest between eradicating TB and fostering the fur industry.

Human and animal health and the wellbeing of native flora and fauna which are all at considerable risk from possums must come first.


Rural round-up

June 24, 2012

Southland dairy farmers face rates hike:

Southland Regional Council is proposing to increase the rates burden on dairy farmers in its draft long-term plan.

But there will be some easing of that next year, if the plan’s confirmed.

The council considered submissions on the draft plan, last week, with many commenting on the proposal to increase the Dairy Differential Rate to $767,000, almost double the current dairy rate of about $390,000.

The council says that’s to cover the cost of increased environmental monitoring and resource planning required in the next 18 to 24 months because of the growth in dairying in Southland.

Dairy farmers complained that good farmers would be unfairly hit with the cost of enforcing compliance on a few poor performers. . .

Dairy puzzle – Offsetting Behaviour:

Dairy products are cheaper in New Zealand than in Canada, where the dairy cartel keeps prices high.

But the Dairy Farmers of Canada VP Ron Versteeg points me to an interesting puzzle: FAO stats showing NZ consumption of some dairy products is lower than that in Canada.

Here’s an FAO table showing NZ and Canadian consumption. Or, at least, I’d expect that this has to be per capita consumption rather than production given that total NZ production is higher than total Canadian given relative herd sizes. . .

 
Synlait Milk, the processor that turned to a Chinese investor after failing to attract local equity capital, narrowed its annual loss last year, even though surging raw milk prices eroded its gross margin.
 
The Canterbury-based company made a net loss of $3.1 million in the 12 months ended July 31 last year, smaller than the loss of $11.7 million a year earlier, according to financial statements lodged with the Companies Office.
 
The milk processor lifted revenue 28% to $298.9 million, though its gross profit shrank 11% to $21.1 million in a year when international milk prices reached record highs. . .

Federated Farmers’ Anders Crofoot to chair AHB and NAIT Stakeholder Council:

Federated Farmers National Board member, Anders Crofoot, has been appointed to chair the Stakeholder Council that will oversee the merger process between the Animal Health Board (AHB) and the National Animal Identification & Tracing (NAIT) scheme.

“I am deeply humbled to chair what will be a significant development in New Zealand agriculture,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Board spokesperson on national identification & tracing.

“The Stakeholder Council is made up of representatives from industry as well as local and central government. The council includes Beef + Lamb NZ, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, DairyNZ, Deer Industry New Zealand, Meat Industry Association, New Zealand Deer Farmers Association, NZ Stock & Station Agents’ Association, Local Government New Zealand, Ministry for Primary Industries and of course, Federated Farmers. . .

Rustlers cost farmers thousands:

Farmers say they are losing thousands of dollars of stock a year at the hands of rustlers, and not enough is being done to stop them.

Warning: Video contains footage some viewers may find disturbing.

They want police to have a greater rural presence, but police say before that can happen farmers need to start reporting the crimes.

“Eleven of them were taken, and the twelfth one had its legs crossed and tied with silver duct tape, and fell on the ground – and that’s how we found that we had had them stolen,” says farm owner Beverly Duffy, describing the latest spate of killings her farm has been hit by. Three months ago the same farm lost a dozen sheep – more than $2,000 overnight. . . . 

New Zealand grass-fed beef on the menu for chefs in Japan and Korea:

Award winning Christchurch chef Darren Wright has been in Korea and Japan promoting New Zealand grass-fed beef to a lineup of influential chefs and media.

 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Market Manager Japan/Korea, John Hundleby says Chef Wright cooked a range of beef dishes at a number of events. His offerings included beef ravioli made from short-ribs, beef tortellini and tenderloin steaks.

 “Since Korean and Japanese people are far more familiar with the cooking qualities of grain-fed beef which is more common in the two markets, a highlight at these events is always the demonstration of how to cook a good grass-fed beef steak.” . . .


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