Rural round-up

February 4, 2020

A word from the mayor – Hurunui District Council:

We heard Last week that our central government is increasing its spending on infrastructure. This is welcome news to local government who provide forty percent of New Zealand’s public infrastructure.

However, with this news comes a bit of disappointment. There is a feeling that South Island projects have been largely ignored and that the allocated spending fails to recognise the contributions and needs of the rural sector.

While the news itself is good, the government’s infrastructure spending priorities appear to focus on moving people and ignore the economic importance of agriculture. Our productive rural sector is reliant on road transport that allows goods to be moved from farm to market – the proposed infrastructure spend fails to recognise and value this from an economic perspective. . .

Outrage at government over new levy :

Farmers have taken to social media to express outrage at the Government over a new levy.

Last week, Rural News reported that the New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA) was unhappy with a proposed new aerial safety levy.

NZAAA claims the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) levy unfairly targets the ag sector and will increase the costs of aerial spreading of fertiliser and spraying of crops. . .

Fodder beet yield unaffected by significant reductions in fertiliser – research :

New research shows that it is possible to reduce traditional fertiliser recommendations for growing fodder beet – sometimes by significantly more than half the usual amount – with no effect on crop yield or quality.

Plant & Food Research, along with industry partners, recently completed a three-year study with the assistance of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Farming Fund (now superseded by Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures) to determine the best way to grow fodder beet, a popular supplementary feed crop for livestock in New Zealand.

The researchers conducted a series of nitrogen, potassium and boron trials to establish whether standard management practices could be recommended for varying soil types and locations. . . 

Revised weather messaging aims to prevent repeat of 2019 mass cattle deaths in Qld monsoon – Eric Barker:

Almost a year to the day after flooding in north-west Queensland killed more than 500,000 head of cattle, the monsoonal rain was forecast again.

Summer flooding is a regular event in the area and many graziers rely on it to sustain their businesses for the rest of the year.

But the 2019 monsoon was one of the biggest and most unusual on record and if the cattle survived the raging torrents, they died from a cold snap that coincided with the rain . . 

City girl loving rural life – George Ckarj:

‘‘I’m a city girl born and bred.’’

Anna Munro, who works at the Temuka saleyards, is originally from Christchurch but felt like she needed a change of scenery, finding peace in the idea of rural life.

‘‘I was born in the North Island but my dad was in the army, so we travelled a lot all over. I ended up in Christchurch for a while, met up with a really cool guy and moved down here.’’

Speaking to Central Rural Life during a recent stock sale, Ms Munro felt she needed to get involved with the community after purchasing a lifestyle block and some sheep. . . 

How a vegan diet could affect your intelligence – Zaria Gorvet:

The vegan diet is low in – or, in some cases, entirely devoid of – several important brain nutrients. Could these shortcomings be affecting vegans’ abilities to think?  

It was the late 1880s in the city of Rajkot, India. The meeting was to take place on the banks of the local river – and discretion was essential. Mahatma Gandhi, who was just a teenager at the time, hadn’t told his parents where he was going; if they had found out, they would have been shocked to death.

As it happens, Gandhi was having a picnic. And on this occasion, India’s future national hero – and one of the most famous vegetarians in history – wasn’t planning to dine on cucumber sandwiches. No, for the first time in his life, he was going to eat meat.

As he later wrote in his biography, Gandhi was raised as a strict Vaishnava Hindu, so he had never even seen meat before this fateful day. But his picnic companion was a shady character with an unusual obsession – the idea that meat held the key to being physically and mentally strong.

In the end, Gandhi braved the meat. It was as tough as leather. . .


Rural round-up

January 27, 2020

Land values slide – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy land values will slide over the next five years as farming is put under increased economic and environmental pressure, Rabobank says.

Tighter credit, reduced foreign capital and pending environmental change will all lead to softer dairy land prices in the short to medium term,  Rabobank’s Afloat But Drifting Backwards – A Look at Dairy Land Values Over the Next Five Years report says.

And an erosion of farmgate milk prices could put more stress on dairy land prices, author and dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

The bank forecasts an average farmgate milk price of $6.25/kg milksolids for the five years – above the 10-year average but below recent prices. . . 

Federated Farmers backs call to slice agricultural subsidies:

Cutting agricultural subsidies that distort trade and production is a vital step in tackling world hunger and climate change challenges, Federated Farmers says.

“We’re right behind the messages on further reform of WTO rules on subsidies that the Cairns Group of major exporting countries put to world leaders in Davos this week,” Feds President Katie Milne said 

“New Zealand farmers are positive proof that reducing domestic subsidies drives innovation and food production efficiency, and ultimately delivers for the consumer in terms of quality, choice and prices, as well as for the environment.  Our meat and milk have one of the lowest carbon footprints per kilogram of product in the world.” . . 

Renewed call for easier trade in agriculture welcomed in NZ – Eric Frykberg:

A veteran trade lobby group emerged from hibernation in Switzerland last week to renew the call for easier trade in agriculture.

The 19-nation Cairns Group made its plea after ministers met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

The 33-year-old Cairns Group helped establish the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the 1990s.

But it went off the radar, after a later effort, the so-called Doha Round of trade talks, faltered. . . 

Total ban on livestock exports could threaten NZ’s trad – Fed Farmers – MAja Burry:

Federated Farmers is warning a ban on live exports would cut off an income stream to thousands of New Zealand farmers.

The government launched a review into the practice of exporting livestock in June last year, after New Zealand and Australian cattle died when being shipped to Sri Lanka last year.

The review is focused on cattle, deer, goat and sheep exports. A consolation document prepared by the Ministry for Primary Industries puts forward four options, which range from improving current systems to a total ban on the practice.

Public consultation on the review closed this week, with more than 3500 submissions being lodged with the ministry. . . 

Obstacles remain to a free trade deal with the EU – Sam Sachdeva :

Bold talk of an FTA between New Zealand and the European Union by the end of 2019 proved misplaced – and wrapping up talks in 2020 may also be a stretch unless major hurdles are overcome

By the end of 2019, Jacinda Ardern’s so-called “year of delivery” was as much about what her Government had failed to deliver as what it had, and near the top of the ‘not achieved’ list was a free trade deal with the European Union.

In fairness, Ardern was not alone in hoping a deal with the EU could be wrapped up swiftly. . . 

Maranoa Kangaroo Co-op offers graziers payment for roos- Sally Cripps:

A bold move in the kangaroo harvesting industry has been unveiled by the Maranoa Kangaroo Harvesters and Growers Cooperative.

The group based at Mitchell has resolved to introduce a 10c/kg payment to graziers for kangaroos harvested on their property from February 1, subject to conditions.

Among them are that both the grazier and the harvester must be members of the cooperative, a one-off $50 fee, and that the grazier must not apply for or use a Damage Mitigation Permit. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 22, 2019

New Zealand’s largest manufacturing sector is concerned about Government’s freshwater proposals :

The viability of some meat processing plants in New Zealand will be in doubt under the Government’s current freshwater proposals, according to the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

“While we generally support the ambition of the proposals for cleaner freshwater, the planned river quality limits are excessively tight and exceed current limits already consented by regional councils,” says Tim Ritchie, chief executive of MIA.

“These limits are likely to result in substantial economic costs to the me . . 

 

Fonterra resolves Chilean dispute with buy-out – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s announcement that it is purchasing the minority shareholding interests in Chilean dairy company Prolesur solves an acrimonious relationship between Fonterra and the Fundación Isabel Aninat. This may prove to be an early step in the rationalisation and eventual divestment of Fonterra’s Chilean operations.

Fonterra’s Chilean operations are managed under a complex structure. The major asset is the almost wholly-owned Soprole, which in turn owns 70.5 percent of Prolesur. Fonterra also owns additional shares in Prolesur through another structure, giving it a total Prolesur holding of 86.2 percent.

The key minority shareholder in Prolesur is Fundación Isabel Aninat which has ties to the Catholic Church. . . 

Commitment to change lifts audit grades:

A willingness to proactively improve farming practices has seen 89 per cent of Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) shareholders achieve an A or B Farm Environment Plan (FEP) audit during the 2018/19 season; an increase of 21 percent from the 2016/17 season.

C audit grades have decreased from 28 per cent in the 2016/17 season to 9 per cent in the 2018/19, while just one farm received a D audit grade.

Farm Environment Plans help farmers to recognise and manage on-farm environmental risks. Once the plan is in place an independent audit is carried out to check how the risks are being managed and how Good Management Practices (GMP) are being applied to minimise the impact on water quality. . .

Farmstrong: avoid common strains and niggles:

Farming is a physically demanding job and can cause a lot of wear and tear on the body if you don’t look after it so Farmstrong has teamed up with VetSouth to make a series of short injury prevention videos for farmers.

VetSouth director and large animal vet Neil Hume is based in Winton. He and his team have been working with local physiotherapist Dennis Kelly to help staff avoid injury. 

“A lot of the work vets do is repetitive,” Hume says.  . . 

Berries inspire new local brew – Richard Rennie:

A chance conversation over the fence between a blueberry grower and a brewer prompted the men to combine their talents to create a blueberry beer for summer.

Waikato blueberry grower and Blueberries New Zealand chairman Dan Peach said it was a fortuitous encounter with Good George brewer Brian Watson that provided a new market for his crop. 

Watson said it has taken three years to get to the point the beer can be commercialised.  . . 

Young people pitch in at South Arm – Mel Leigh Dee:

One gripe that came out of a bushfire community recovery meeting last week in Bowraville was the lack of young hands being raised to help with the clean up.

Well there’s currently a dozen or so young guns out at South Arm who are working hard to rebuild fences and faith in their generation.

For the past two weeks primary industries students from Macksville High have been volunteering their skills and their brawn to pull down charcoaled fencing and drive in new posts at the Perks’ farm along South Arm Rd. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 23, 2019

Take us with you – Rural News editorial:

According to a newly released Rabobank report, New Zealand farm businesses need to get ready for the full cost of environmental policies coming down the track as they make future investment decisions.

The report says with the country’s agricultural sector facing increasingly tougher environmental constraints, its decisions on investment and land use will need to take account of how these constraints impact on their farming businesses.

Rabobank says that despite the significant investments made by many New Zealand farmers over the past decade to improve performance of their farming operations, the increasingly tougher environmental reforms relating to water quality and climate change will progressively require farmers to account for a greater range of environmental impacts resulting from their farming operations. . .

Making it okay to ask for help – David Anderson:

Meat processing company Alliance has started an employee support programme aimed at getting colleagues to look after each other and keep an eye out for possible mental health issues.

Its ‘Mates at the Gate’ programme encourages staff to ask for support at an early stage and also educates employees on the signs their colleagues might be depressed or distressed.

The programme, which is specifically tailored to Alliance’s workforce, was launched across the company’s processing plants and corporate offices in November 2018.  . . 

Call for NZ and Scotland to join forces – David Hill:

A Scottish farmer and cattle judge would like to see New Zealand and Scotland work together to promote meat.

John Scott, who judged the all-breeds beef cattle competition at last week’s New Zealand Agricultural Show, has just completed an eight-year stint on the Quality Meat Scotland board, the equivalent of Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

”We’ve got some huge challenges with Brexit and the anti-red meat lobby,” Mr Scott said.

”It’s a world market now and I would like to see Scotland having closer ties with New Zealand.

”We need to increase consumption of meat around the world and the seasons are different between our countries, so we don’t need to be competitive. We have a lot of similarities and we can work together.” . . 

A day out at Fonterra’s PR farm – Alex Braae:

Were Fonterra’s Open Gates events a shallow PR stunt, or was there something deeper going on? Alex Braae went to Mangatawhiri to find out.

Walking into the Fonterra Open Gates event in Mangatawhiri, the first animals to see weren’t actually dairy cows. 

In an enclosure just next to the welcome tent, there were three beautifully clean and fluffy sheep. Their faces were sharp and alert, like the healthy energetic dogs that herd them. A throng of kids hung around them, reaching out to touch the exotic creatures.  . . 

Strong returns forecast from Zespri’s record European harvest:

Zespri’s European kiwifruit harvest is again expected to deliver strong returns for growers in Italy and France, along with another great tasting crop for consumers around the world to enjoy.

Sheila McCann-Morrison, Zespri’s Chief International Production Officer, says that with the Northern Hemisphere harvest well underway, Zespri is expecting to harvest around 19 million trays or almost 70 tonnes of kiwifruit from orchards throughout Italy, France and Greece. . . 

It’s forestry that must change not farmers – Rowan Reid :

AS a young forest scientist, I chose to work in the farming landscape in Australia. Despite the slogans of our conservation groups, the environmental frontline was not occurring at the forest blockade; it was at the farm gate. In just 200 years of white settlement, we had cleared the native forests off more than 60 per cent of the continent to create family farms. That’s about 15 times the area of the entire UK. The result was the greatest extinction of native animals and plants seen in modern times, massive land degradation problems, the release of millions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, and mounting animal welfare issues due to heat and cold stress in farm stock.

Seeing that forestry – even the act of harvesting trees for timber – had a role to play in repairing the environmental damage and helping develop resilient family farms, I set my goal to make forestry attractive to the farming community. But rather than just promote what my peers saw as ‘good forestry practices’, I could see that it was forestry, rather than the farmers, that had to change. In 1987, I purchased a small degraded farm and set about planting trees for both conservation and profit. . . 


Rural round-up

November 16, 2019

Hear our voices – Colin Williscroft:

Country went to town in Wellington on Thursday with hundreds of farmers marching on Parliament to protest against what they see as increasing afforestation of productive farmland, often by overseas owners.

However, it wasn’t the only reason people were there with others expressing disapproval of policies focusing on everything from environmental regulations to gun control.

After gathering at Civic Square the protestors, many with placards and led by a tractor carrying a sign saying “Farmers have had enough” marched down Lambton Quay to Parliament where they delivered a petition, signed by more than 11,000 people onlinem, calling for the rejection of legislation that incentivises blanket afforestation of farmland. . .

Young farmer airs concerns – Henry Gaddum:

A young member of the region’s farming community has written an open letter in which he expresses deep concern himself, and on behalf of others, about the future of the region when it comes to land use and Henry Gaddum wants to do something about it.

Here is his letter —


“To a fellow Kiwi.

We are a group of young farmers in the Gisborne/East Coast region and we are seriously concerned about the future of not only our local environment and economy, but also the whole country in relation to Carbon Credits and Pine Trees.
We are fully engaged and enthusiastic about farming sustainably, keeping our creeks clean and re-establishing native trees and wildlife, but we are seriously worried what our countryside is going to look like in the near future, and what our future generations are going to have to try and deal with, if we as a country continue to sell our land to overseas investors.

It seems mad to be blanket planting the lands of one of the most efficient food (carbon footprint) producing countries in the world, just for a less efficient country to take up the slack in global food demand.
How is this helping the climate change problem
? . .

More restrictions in new gun laws – Neal Wallace:

A proposed new firearms register will require licence holders to constantly update the movement of weapons and ammunition, a firearms lobby group warns.

The Council of Licensed Firearms Owners Association describes the proposed regulations on firearms while they are being moved or loaned as onerous and devoid of practical reality.

“What this law is actually doing is looking at the possession of firearms and ammunition not the ownership,” spokeswoman Nicole McKee said. . .

Meat processing sector trials ‘wearable’ technology to reduce injuries :

New wearable technology designed to reduce the risk of injury is being trialled by New Zealand’s meat processing sector.

The Suit-X Exoskeleton is a spring-loaded, non-mechanical device worn by workers to provide strength and support for mechanical and repetitive tasks.

The suits cut the risk of injury and increase productivity, especially during periods of sustained bending and overhead reaching. . .

NZ’s newest training college:

Training is set to become New Zealand’s newest education provider Agri and will be based in Mid Canterbury. The Agri Training programme will be fully user pays and has a goal of lifting training in the primary industries to a new standard in partnership with the world-renowned City & Guilds who have been providing technical skills education and corporate learning development training programmes since 1878. The partnership with City & Guilds complements the Agri Training programme, and as a result offers the diplomas credibility for graduates and employers. The programme will have specialist streams across dairy production, arable, sheep & beef, and deer offering students skill choices for the future and a wide-ranging knowledge as part of a new, innovative strategy that will offer a unique approach to training and assessment across the agricultural industry.

The Agri Training programme has been in the making for several years and has been guided to its launch by Co-Founder Matt Jones who has had a long involvement with agribusiness and recruitment over a 20-year period. . .

Forget the hunger games, greet the driverless tractor – Marian L. Tupy & Chelsea Follett:

If you are a sci-fi fan, then you have probably noticed the dystopian character of movies about the future. From the classics, such as Soylent Green and Blade Runner, to modern hits, such as the Matrix trilogy and District 9, Hollywood’s take on the future is almost invariably negative. The story lines tend to centre on depletion of natural resources, like in the Mad Max movies, the emergence of highly stratified societies, like Elysium, or both.

In Hollywood’s rendition, the future consists of a few people at the top, who partake in the good life and enjoy what’s left of earth’s resources, while the much more numerous masses suffer some form of enslavement and destitution. That is, until one day, a messianic figure emerges to overthrow the existing order, slaughters the oppressors, liberates the untermenschen and ushers in an era of peace and prosperity.

One of the most recent installments in Hollywood’s ceaseless torrent of dystopianism is the widely popular Hunger Games franchise. The plot warns of the dangers of authoritarianism and of the utter failure of central planning. Thanks to capitalism, the future will look very different. Before we get to that, here is a quick summary of the plot. . .


Rural round-up

November 5, 2019

A tale of three shepherds :

Shepherding is more a lifestyle than a job for Kate White, Lesley Pollock and Kacey Johnson.

They’re among the youngest team of women shepherds in the country.

Kate White (23) groans when she remembers her first experience as a shepherd.

“I thought, I’m too soft for this,” she says, manoeuvring a grunty ute up steep hill country on the outskirts of Taupo. . .

Chairman keen to keep up world-class facility status – Yvonne O’Hara:

As the new chairman of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, (SDDT) fourth generation farmer Tim Driscoll brings years of farming and financial experience to the role.

He is a dairy farmer near Winton, milking 600 cows on 200ha with a 300,000kg of milk solids target this season.

The farm was converted to dairy in 2012 from sheep and beef property in 2012. . .

 

Her passion for farming the spur :

Kate Stainton-Herbert is one of the new members of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, which is a cornerstone partner in the commercial and research dairy unit, the Southern Dairy Hub, near Wallacetown.

Q Tell me a little about your background, family, your farm size, stock numbers, production etc. and your current career.

I grew up on a sheep, beef and deer farm in Balfour, Northern Southland.

I am the oldest of three girls, and from a very young age was lucky enough that my parents involved us heavily on farm and passed their passion for farming on to us.

After attending school and university in Dunedin I spent five years working in banking in Auckland. During this time, I gained incredible knowledge and experiences, as sitting in the dealing room during during the 2008 global financial crisis was something you do not see every day. . .

No silver bullet for phosphorus – Mike Manning:

In New Zealand’s soils, phosphorus does a great job at growing plants but unfortunately it does the same thing if it makes it into our water.

Once dissolved phosphate is in surface water, it assists in growing the wrong plants such as oxygen-depleting algae that starve other organisms.

There has been plenty of heat and noise about the Government’s proposed limit for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in New Zealand’s waterways and its impact on food creation. But the proposed limit for dissolved reactive phosphate (DRP) deserves just as much focus because the implications are just as serious.

The proposed 0.018 parts per million limit for DRP is certainly ambitious. The impacts of such an in-stream phosphate limit could affect more catchments than the proposed nitrogen limit: approximately 30% of monitored river sites exceed this threshold.   . .

Look ahead with farm confidence – Annette Scott:

A programme to help sheep and beef farming partners plan for their future and adapt to change will next year extend to 20 rural centres.

The two-month Future Focus business planning programme, set up in 2017, equips farming partnerships to set a future path for their businesses, develop systems to achieve goals and lead their teams to success. 

The programme, delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust to more than 130 sheep and beef farmers this year, will reach 320 farmers in 2020 with continued support from the Red Meat Profit Partnership. . .

Genomic testing helps farmers fair-track genetic gain:

David Fullerton can tell before a heifer calf is weaned if it’s going to grow into a profitable, high-producing dairy cow.

David and his wife Pip, along with their sons Alex and Dean, milk almost 600 Holstein Friesians at Ngahinapouri near Hamilton.

They’re using genomic testing to identify calves with the greatest genetic potential, enabling breeding decisions to be fast-tracked.

“Genomic screening has been one of the biggest advancements in cattle breeding in the last 100 years,” said Fullerton. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 28, 2019

Sustainability sparks new role :

A 4400ha central Hawkes Bay dairy farming operation is taking sustainability so seriously it has created a senior role specifically to oversee its environmental planning.

The Waipukurau-based BEL Group operates nine dairy farms, milks 9440 cows and employs 70 fulltime staff and has appointed Robert Barry in a new position as its sustainability lead.

Barry’s brief is to look after 16 farm environmental plans and nine dairy effluent consents to work towards a more sustainable future. . . 

Alliance is aiming for the top – Alan Williams:

Alliance has signalled a more aggressive stance on moving up the value chain and a nationwide footprint, including possible North Island expansion.

The Southland-based, farmer-owned co-operative is now targeting a top one or two market share across all its processing species of lamb, beef and venison, chief executive David Surveyor says.

The caveat is that North Island expansion will be attempted only if it will add value to all existing shareholders, Surveyor told about 50 shareholder-suppliers at Rotherham in North Canterbury at the group’s first new season roadshow.

Alliance is the biggest lamb processor and strong in venison but is only fifth or sixth biggest in beef processing and will need a major North Island presence, from one beef plant now in Levin, to be a top-two operator.  . . 

Farm has traffic lights for pooh :

Otago dairy farmers Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells have traffic lights on their farm.

It’s nothing to do with congestion – at least not of the car variety. The Wells’ traffic lights are designed to deal with one of the biggest challenges facing many dairy farmers: effluent.

In the ongoing effort to improve water quality up and down the country, efficient effluent systems are needed to manage the risk of effluent reaching waterways. . . 

Farmers give thumbs up:

Fonterra’s new strategy and honesty are a hit with its dairy farmers despite the massive balance sheet losses and the lack of a dividend for the past 18 months.

Farmers and marketers have welcomed the scaled back and more realistic strategy with triple-bottom line reporting targets, chief among them sustainable earnings and a good return on capital.

Golden Bay Fonterra supplier and Federated Farmers national dairy vice-chairman Wayne Langford echoed many shareholders’ support for their co-operative’s plans to down-size and refocus on New Zealand milk supply while still smarting over the massive losses.

Southland farmer Don Moore, of McNab, had some unease about the ambition of the previous strategy but is more comfortable with the new version and its more modest goals. . . 

Fonterra strategy positive but light on detail – Jarden :

Dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group’s intent and direction is good but lacking in detail, says Jarden research analyst Arie Dekker.

Fonterra yesterday unveiled a new strategy that puts greater emphasis on extracting value rather than pursuing volume. Key elements include bringing the focus squarely back to New Zealand and a pull-back from its consumer brands.

“We are disappointed by the lack of detail accompanying Fonterra’s strategic reveal,” Dekker said in a note to clients . . 

 

Farmers make the case for pasture-raised animals with Pro-Pasture Fridays campaign :

When you think of a farm, do you imagine cattle grazing on rich, green pasture grass and chickens pecking around in the dirt, looking for bugs? Do you envision lambs bounding around on legs like springs and pigs rooting through the soil and rolling in cool, delicious mud?

The reality is that scenes like this are rare exceptions, not the norm. Animals are typically raised in crowded conditions in closed-in barns called CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). They’re fed a diet of “mash — a blend of cereal grains that can include corn, barley, sorghum or wheat,” according to

by Oregon writer Lynne Curry. Because of the crowded conditions in the CAFOs and the need to maximize growth, Curry writes that cattle “receive daily doses of additives that improve digestion and are injected with slow-release pellets of synthetic estrogen that can add up to 40 extra pounds.” . . 


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