Rural round-up

August 17, 2016

Canterbury sheep sales dry up in drought – Thomas Mead and Annabelle Tukia:

Canterbury livestock sales are starting to feel the impact of the region’s long-running drought, with stock numbers plummeting and prices on the rise.

PGG Wrightson auctioneer Nic Denton says after two dry seasons, many locals have already destocked due to a lack of feed. It was “particularly quiet” with stock numbers down by around 50 percent.

“There’s been some very tough decisions made in north Canterbury with destocking, so obviously it’s a flow-on effect from that,” he says.

“Most of our clients in north Canterbury are probably seeing two-thirds of what they usually carry in normal season.” . . .

Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme considers the benefit of smaller dams – Mike Watson:

A proposed multi-million dollar rural irrigation scheme in Marlborough may use several smaller dams rather than one large dam, supporters of the scheme say.

Cost assessments of the Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme show options available including extracting water from nearby rivers, building more than one dam site for storage, and altering pipe size and pipeline routes.

Ward farmer Kevin Loe said the multiple dam option was being considered by supporters of the scheme as a way to stage the timing of costs to better fit with uptake demand. . . 

Trout disappear from didymo-affected rivers – Hamish Clark:

Trout numbers in the South Island are under threat from the invasive freshwater algae didymo, a new study has found.

University of Canterbury researcher Professor Jon Harding found trout, previously in 20 South Island rivers, are now absent in 60 percent of the rivers with a high didymo biomass.

“The results of our study are of particular concern. We have assumed for some time that didymo will have an impact on fish, but these results show both native fish and introduced sports fish are all being affected by didymo,” Prof Harding says. . . 

Heartland lessens dairy risk – Alan Williams:

Growth in lending has slightly lowered Heartland Bank’s relative exposure to dairy farm debt.  

The dairy sector made up 7% of all lending on the June 30 full-year balance date, compared to 8% on December 31.  

The net group loan book (receivables) on June 30 was $3.21 billion, up $252 million or 9% on a year earlier. . . 

The big question unasked – Craig Wiggins:

The rain and snow turned up on cue with the calves hitting the ground and the banks putting the brakes on spending.  

In some cases paying the necessary outgoings such as winter grazing and feed expenses is not possible until the income starts to filter through so many a farmer, dairy or sheep, will ask why we do what we do.  

This time of year is hard enough to get right without the external pressures over which our control is minimal but the effect has consequences beyond our gate as the flow of revenue slows to a trickle. . . 

Landmark spins wool deal – Annabelle Beale:

AUSTRALIA’S biggest farm services business Landmark is expanding its wool operations while denying speculation a corporate take-over of the company is being negotiated. 

Following 12 months of negotiations, Landmark has purchased the remaining 50 per cent shares in Victoria’s Arcadian Wool brokering company this month, three years after Landmark upped the stake in the company from its founding 40pc in 1985 to nearly 50pc in 2013.

The sale has increased Landmark’s show floor representation by 4.3 per cent to 19pc of the wool traded at Melbourne, including the 36,000 bales sold by Arcadian last year and estimated 120,000 sold by Landmark. . . 

Coolalee experiment pays dividends for Dubbo lamb breeders – Mark Griggs:

AN EXPERIMENT several years ago using Coolalee rams over young first-cross ewes to overcome lambing difficulty from the ewes joining to high indexed Poll Dorsets has paid off so well for Dubbo region second-cross prime lamb breeders, Doug and Robin Godwin, they have continued the practice.  

Further, they are now considering going down the path of maintaining Coolalee/Merino ewe lambs as replacements and joining them back to Coolalees.  “If you do that you are halfway towards a self-replacing flock,” Mr Godwin said. . .

A&P Society elects president :

Wanaka helicopter pilot and fencer Doug Stalker has been elected president of the Upper Clutha A&P Society.

He is joined by Grant Ruddenklau as the new senior vice-president and Mike Scurr as junior vice-president.

Mr Stalker, who was voted president at the society’s annual meeting last week, replaces Tarras farmer Robbie Gibson, who has held the role for the past two years.

Preparations are well under way for the 80th annual show, which will be held on March 10 and 11 next year. . . 

 Mark McHardy wins Cooperative Leader of the Year Award:

Cooperative Business New Zealand has announced Farmlands Fuel General Manager, Mark McHardy, as the winner of the Cooperative Leader of the Year Award for 2015/16.

The award honours an individual who has shown significant co-operative leadership, commitment and support of well recognised and accepted co-operative principles. They also need to display vision and courage for the co-operative model, along with demonstrate successful initiatives that have benefited their co-operative or the co-operative sector.

Cooperative Business New Zealand CEO,  says that Mark was the stand out nominee for this award. . . 


Rural round-up

May 22, 2016

Canterbury woman captures drought on camera – Annabelle Tukia:

A north Canterbury woman has created a remarkable record of how tough it’s been farming through a drought.

Claire Inkson has been living through the ordeal and at the same time capturing it through her camera lens.

Frame by frame, Ms Inkson is capturing north Canterbury’s record-breaking drought.

The photographer and farmer’s wife usually snaps portraits, but as the region’s dry spell enters its second year, Ms Inkson shifted her focus to documenting the people and stock affected by it. . . 

US political change may slow efforts to free up agricultural trade, academic Bailey says – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Political change in the US may slow efforts to free up agricultural trade, impacting New Zealand which had hoped to gain better access to the world’s largest economy through the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, according to a US academic with links to New Zealand.

US lawmakers are expected to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the so-called “lame-duck” session of Congress between the US presidential election in November and the swearing-in of a new US president early next year. . . 

Rare native plant back from the brink:

The white-flowered ngutukākā, a rare variant of the kākābeak, has been welcomed back to Te Reinga Marae in Wairoa.

The native plant has been nurtured back from near extinction by Crown research institute Scion, which took four years to successfully grow the white-flowered ngutukākā after being given seeds from the estate of a collector of wild seed.

There were 100 people at the homecoming and children from the marae planted the shrubs in a specially prepared garden near the marae. . .

Statement from the Director General of the Ministry for Primary Industries in Relation to Operation Achilles:

There has been much comment in recent days in relation to a Ministry for Primary Industries compliance investigation into potentially illegal discarding of fish by some South Island-based fishing vessels in 2012 and early 2013.

The investigation was known as Operation Achilles. Copies of a preliminary investigation report have now been placed in the public arena.

The investigation was known as Operation Achilles. Copies of a preliminary investigation report have now been placed in the public arena. . . 

Ahuwhenua Trophy winners congratulated:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell have tonight congratulated The Proprietors of Rakaia Incorporated, this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy winner.

The Proprietors of Rakaia Incorporated were presented with the 2016 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming award tonight in Hamilton.

“The Incorporation has a long and proud history back to 1886. They have set a fantastic example to other Māori landowners of what can be achieved through ambition and hard work,” says Mr Guy.

“They converted to dairy farming in 1996 and sustainable irrigation has helped them grow and develop wider opportunities for whānau,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Township’s only shop faces closure – Jono Edwards:

The imminent closure of a community-owned Teviot Valley store has residents rallying to save it and a councillor calling a grocery chain’s departure from the building “disgraceful”.

Millers Flat’s only shop, Faigan’s Store, will shut its doors on Sunday next week after operating in different forms for more than 100 years.

The catalyst was Foodstuffs pulling out its Four Square, which has been in the building since the late 1950s.  . .

 

Kiwifruit project excites eastern BoP Māori:

Māori in eastern Bay of Plenty are hailing a plan to create kiwifruit orchards as a solution to high unemployment and low productivity in the region.

The kiwifruit orchards will replace low value maize farming on multiply-owned Māori land in Omaio near Te Kaha as part of a six-year conversion plan.

Te Rau Aroha Charitable Trust devised the strategy for Omaio, Otuwhare and Waiorore whānau and hapū. . . 

Australian agricultural ministers visit:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have welcomed Australian Ministers of Agriculture to New Zealand for a study tour and forum.

“The primary industries are the engine room of both New Zealand and Australia, and an important goal of both countries is growth in value-added products,” says Mr Guy.

“The study tour has focused on exciting progress being made by the Primary Growth Partnership, which involves industry and Government co-investing in innovation. It is helping develop value-added products and services, through new science and technology,” says Mr Guy. . . 

Zespri Kiwifruit Strives for Growth Across North America

Global leader in premium quality kiwifruit responds to growing consumer demands

In response to the very positive consumer reaction to Zespri Kiwifruit last season, Zespri today announces plans to significantly grow its volume across North America in 2016. In fact, Zespri’s growth extends beyond its distribution: a North American office is opening in Orange County, California to support customers and distributors in the next step in the company’s expansion, which includes hiring more staff within the region.

Zespri SunGold—a natural cross between gold varieties of kiwifruit—is one of the fastest growing new fruits globally, with sales expanding rapidly in the U.S. and Canada. Sweeter than a green kiwifruit, the SunGold variety tastes like a cross between a mango and a strawberry and has a smooth, hairless skin with a juicy, yellow flesh. SunGold’s appeal is also its nutrition benefits: one serving has three times more vitamin C than an orange and provides as much potassium as a banana.1 . .


Rural round-up

September 29, 2015

PM announces Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

Prime Minister John Key has announced the creation of a 620,000 km2 Ocean Sanctuary in the Kermadec region, one of the most pristine and unique environments on Earth.

“The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be one of the world’s largest and most significant fully-protected areas, preserving important habitats for seabirds, whales and dolphins, endangered marine turtles and thousands of species of fish and other marine life,” Mr Key says.

“It will cover 15 per cent of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, an area twice the size of our landmass, and 50 times the size of our largest national park in Fiordland. . . 

John Key's photo.

“Pretty damned exciting news” say Kermadec campaigners:

Champagne corks popped as the news was released that the Kermadec region has become an ocean sanctuary. Kermadec campaigners Forest & Bird, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF-New Zealand were together when they heard the news.

The Prime Minister John Key made the momentous announcement at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The creation of the Sanctuary once again puts New Zealand at the forefront of marine protection on the international stage.

The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is located in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km northeast of the Bay of Plenty New Zealand. The area is one of the most geologically diverse in the world. It contains the world’s longest chain of submerged volcanoes and the second deepest ocean trench with a depth of 10 kilometres. . . .

Proposed Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary:

With no forewarning from Government the industry needs time to consider the full implications, Seafood New Zealand Chairman George Clement said.

“The seafood industry is committed to rational and effective marine conservation measures. These include a representative network of BPAs (Benthic Protected Areas) established at the industry’s behest and implemented throughout 30 per cent of the Exclusive Economic Zone, covering an area larger than the Kermadecs. . . 

Tatua Cooperative beats market with $7.10/kgMS payout for 2015 – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Tatua Cooperative Dairy Co, the Tatuanui-based dairy company founded 100 years ago, set the 2015 payout for its farmer suppliers at $7.10 per kilogram of milk solids, the highest of any New Zealand processor, while affirming a drop in payout for 2016.

Revenue rose to $286 million in the 12 months ended July 31, from $266 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Earnings before milk payout, retentions and tax fell to $121.2 million, from $136.4 million a year earlier.

Chairman Stephen Allen said the decline in pretax earnings reflected an increase in overall milk collection from farmers in the latest year and the “dramatic decline” in dairy prices. It equates to a payout $7.73/kgMS before retentions and tax. The company retained 63 cents/kgMS before tax. . . 

Migrant worker scam uncovered:

More than 30 Filipino workers reportedly paid $15,000 to obtain false documents clearing them to work on New Zealand dairy farms.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed multiple Filipino workers have provided false and misleading information when applying for visas here.

Immigration NZ assistant general manager Peter Elms said the department started scrutinising visas more closely after discovering multiple issues, relating to claimed work experience and qualifications.

The department has not confirmed the number of cases that it is aware of, nor whether it was investigating, but the Philippine government said it was investigating at least 30 cases. The Philippine government’s Overseas Employment Administration is also looking into the claims. . . 

Alliance says merger with Silver Fern would risk creating ‘beached whale’ as rival tackles over-capacity – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says any merger with Silver Fern Farms risks creating a “big beached whale” of the New Zealand meat industry because its rival needs the capital offered by China’s Bright Food just to rationalise plant capacity and reduce its debt burden.

Bright Foods’ Shanghai Maling Aquarius unit has offered to invest $261 million cash in Silver Fern Farms (SFF) to become a 50-50 partner with the Dunedin-based meat company in a deal that would leave the business debt free and with funds to upgrade plants, spend more marketing higher-value meat products and provide a new route into China.

The injection of funds has stoked speculation a stronger SFF could subsequently dictate terms for a tie-up with Alliance, something the two firms have failed to achieve in a decade of sporadic talks. Alliance says it made an offer to SFF prior to the rival embarking on its capital-raising process and had “worked hard to engage with SFF and discuss opportunities for industry consolidation” over the past 10 years. . . 

Partnering with China – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been in Beijing at the NZ –China Council Forum. Led by Minister Steven Joyce and co-chaired by Sir Don McKinnon, it has been all about building partnerships.

There were about fifty New Zealanders there, including industry folk and staff from the relevant Government ministries – Trade and Enterprise, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Primary Industries. And there was a similar number of Chinese people from industry and their government.

Now to some people, the idea of building partnerships with China is anathema. Ten days ago I was involved in a passionate debate in Wellington about just that topic. It is all right to trade with the Chinese, so the argument went, but we should not think of partnering. The Chinese are different, and we should not in any way imply support for their way of doing business. . . 

Surge in water data for World Rivers Day:

To mark World Rivers Day this Sunday, regional councils are releasing their latest water quality data on the Land, Air, Water, Aotearoa website, which this year includes lake quality monitoring.

Launched in March 2014, www.lawa.org.nz began reporting water quality results at 1100 river sites. Since then, it has expanded into coastal bathing beaches and water allocation, tripling the number of monitoring sites for which data is available.

From this weekend, users will also be able access water quality data for monitored lakes, providing a more complete picture of the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater.

Stephen Woodhead, chair of the regional sector group of Local Government New Zealand, said that public debate showed that rivers and lakes were  important to New Zealanders and regional councils took their role in water stewardship very seriously. . . 

Drought-hit farmers sow grass seed donations – Annabelle Tukia:

Ten north Canterbury farmers are about to get some relief from the drought that has plagued their region for the past year after a group of business owners got together to try to ease the financial burden of the dry spell.

It’s been a tough 12 months on Damian Harrison’s Cheviot farm.

“This drought has been like driving in a tunnel, and you drive and drive and drive and never see daylight at the end,” says Mr Harrison.

But today at last there was a little ray of hope, in the form of Murray Stackhouse and his tractor and drill. The local contractor, along with a machinery company, have got together and are re-sowing grass onto 10 drought-stricken north Canterbury farms for free. . . 

Indonesia reopens door to NZ beef imports:

Indonesian media are reporting that trade officials there have done a u-turn on efforts to cut down imports of beef from New Zealand.

The Indonesian Trade Ministry has issued permits for the State Logistics Agency to import as much as 10,000 tonnes of beef from New Zealand.

The ministry said it wanted to stabilise meat prices in the country, and New Zealand was chosen because the price of beef from here was lower than the cost of Australian meat. . . 

NZ Honey fights MPI over alleged health claims on Manuka Doctor, Manuka Pharm branding – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand Honey International, the closely-held honey products maker, wants a judicial declaration on whether its trademarks Manuka Doctor and Manuka Pharm amount to health claims after the Ministry of Primary Industries withdrew export approvals, blocking the firm’s sales into certain markets.

MPI has been cracking down on the manuka honey industry amid international criticism there was more manuka honey coming out of the country than New Zealand actually produces. With no industry consensus on what constitutes manuka honey, MPI introduced an interim labelling guideline in July 2014 to give the industry clarity and protect consumers from false claims, as well as to try to improve credibility of the manuka products. . . 

Calf collection paves way for fertility project:

A huge logistical exercise that involved collecting hundreds of calves from farms all over the North Island has set the scene for a ground-breaking research programme aimed at lifting fertility rates in the dairy industry.

In recent weeks, heifer calves from 619 farms across Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay have been collected so that they can be reared and milked together as one herd. The “Animal Model” research herd will comprise equal numbers of Holstein Friesian calves with very high and very low fertility genetics, carefully selected from contract matings in spring last year and purchased from farmers by DairyNZ. . . 


Rural round-up

September 20, 2015

Shifting the Kiwi ‘can-do attitude’ to ‘can-do safely’:

Dairy Women’s Network is shifting its members’ Kiwi can-do attitude to a ‘can-do safely’ attitude with its new Dairy Modules titled ‘Step up to Safety’ being offered from late October.

The Step up to Safety workshops are run by DWN members who are experienced in the field of Health and Safety and are supported by expert organisations Worksafe NZ and Hazardco.

“The most important thing participants will get out of these free workshops is a 90-day Health and Safety action plan. They will leave having made a start with their Health and Safety system or some actions identified to progress to next steps,” said project manager and Farmer Wellness specialist Lynda Clark.

She said the challenge is that some farmers may have fallen into complacency and think they have been let off the hook following the Government’s recent Health and Safety legislation announcements. . . 

Remote-controlled tree-felling reduces hazards – Annabelle Tukia:

New Zealand’s first remote-control forest-harvesting machine is being put to work in Nelson.

It’s hoped the technology will reduce the safety hazards associated with the forestry industry.

Tony Irvine is still getting to grips with his new machine. He’s normally in the cab of a 40-tonne self-leveller cutting down trees on the steep slope, but this week he’s started trialling a remote-control operation.

“It’s a lot better in this machine,” says Mr Irvine. “You feel a lot safer.” . . 

Mya leads city kids to animals

While the girl has been taken out of the country, at least for part of the day, the country remains firmly with Mya Taft because she brings a piece of it to her city classmates.

The schoolgirl from Ngakuru near Rotorua was well into her first school year at St Mary’s Catholic School in Rotorua as a year 6 student when she realised how much she would miss Ag Day, such a big part of the calendar at her previous school, Ngakuru Primary.

Mad keen on animals, a devoted calf-rearer and future vet, Mya decided to take matters into her own hands and arrange an Ag Day for her city classmates. . . 

Fonterra director John Monaghan pans dairy doomsayers, defends cooperative’s debt level – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group director John Monaghan said critics who claim dairy is doomed, and the economy with it, show a lack of understanding of the market and the structure of the dairy company.

Monaghan told the New Zealand Shareholders Association conference at the weekend that the news was full of gloomy predictions with falling global dairy prices that not only was it the end of the golden weather for dairy farmers, but also the end of the industry.

“Farmers are worried, anyone would be when their incomes are halved in the course of a year,” he said. “The US, Europe and Australia will have to consolidate and learn to live without subsidies but we’ve already done the hard yards and the cooperative is in the best position to weather the storm and come out the other side. Dairy is not doomed or dead.” . . 

Early days but PGP trial farm excited by potential:

The opportunity to precisely manage a fertiliser analysis and application programme, on highly variable hill country, has East Otago farmer Rob Lawson excited.

The trial is a part of Ravensdown’s Pioneering to Precision Primary Growth Partnership programme in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries and supported by Massey University and AgResearch.

Rob, who farms with his brother Willie, father Jim and their families on their steep-to-rolling hill country, is also looking forward to the reduced workload that the programme is expected to make possible. They run about 10,000 stock units on a ratio of about 70% sheep and the remainder cattle on their 2,330 ha property just south of Waikouaiti.

The programme aims to improve the use, and application, of fertiliser, and Rob has welcomed the opportunity for his farm to be a part of it. . . 

Sprout looks for help to grow:

National agritech business accelerator Sprout is looking for a startup with the potential to be New Zealand’s next global agritech superstar.

Sprout is searching the country for eight budding entrepreneurs with new agritech businesses for a new development programme.

Sprout Programme Manager James Bell-Booth said the chosen eight would receive a cash injection of $20,000 and be mentored by world-class business and technical experts.

“One of the things we are looking to equip is the next generation of agri-entrepreneurs,” he said. . . 

Unmanned Helicopters to Revolutionise Agricultural Industry:

Yamaha Sky Division New Zealand represents the future of the agricultural industry. The introduction of the Yamaha RMAX unmanned helicopters will enable property owners, licenced operators and contractors to maintain the land and crops remotely, from the air, and without the hassles that come with more traditional farming methods.

Weighing in at 99kg and at a total length of 3.63m and a height of 1.08m, each helicopter has a load capacity of 28kgs and runs on a 2 stroke, horizontally opposed 2-cylinder engine. The newest member of the Yamaha Sky Division is the ultimate piece of farm machinery for the 21st century.

The versatility of this new technology means that operators can spray weeds, crops, or spread seed in a more cost effective and accurate manner. . . 

Corrections recognises the support of Wairarapa REAP:

Wairarapa REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme) was this week recognised for its partnership with Corrections in helping community-based offenders increase their literacy levels and employment and education prospects.

Corrections Deputy Chief Executive Christine Stevenson presented Wairarapa REAP Director Peter McNeur with a community work partnership award at Masterton Community Corrections on Tuesday.

Corrections Service Manager Mel Morris said the award recognises the contribution Wairarapa REAP has made to community-based offenders’ lives.

“Corrections values the commitment of our community work partners like Wairarapa REAP that allows offenders to learn new skills and behaviours, and provide role models that make a positive difference to others.

“Wairarapa REAP has done a tremendous job in providing offenders with the tools that could turn their lives around,” she said. . . 

Why Getting Nepal the Right Seeds After the Earthquakes Matters – Kelsey Nowakowski:

When two major earthquakes hit Nepal this past spring, it devastated the country’s agricultural sector. Cultivated terraces were washed away by landslides and covered in rubble. But farmers lost more than just their crops, cattle, and homes (see Nepal Earthquake Strikes One of Earth’s Most Quake-Prone Areas). Gone, too, were the seeds they had uniquely adapted to their land over the course of decades.

Farming communities in central Nepal’s mountainous region were some of the hardest hit areas in the country. Seeds, tools, food stocks, and buildings were destroyed. In the six most-affected districts, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that about 60 percent of food and seed stocks were destroyed in farming households. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 2, 2015

Tap turned on at Hororata irrigation scheme – Annabelle Tukia:

The tap has officially been turned on for one of the country’s largest irrigation projects.

The Central Plains water scheme will irrigate more than 20,000 hectares of Canterbury farmland.

One Hororata farmer says the massive scheme, which runs off the Rakaia River, will enable him and his neighbours to completely transform their operations.

Rodney Booth has waited a long time to turn the irrigators on at his Hororata farm. . . 

Dairy and travel still our largest export earners:

New Zealand earned $2.3 billion more from exports than we spent on imports during the year ended June 2015, Statistics New Zealand said today.

In the year to June 2015, total exports of goods and services were $67.5 billion, while total imports were $65.1 billion.

Dairy remains New Zealand’s largest export commodity, earning $12.0 billion in the June 2015 year. However, this was down from $15.8 billion in the June 2014 year. Spending by international visitors to New Zealand (travel exports) increased $2.4 billion, reaching $11.7 billion in the June 2015 year.

“Dairy and travel are New Zealand’s biggest export earners,” international statistics senior manager Jason Attewell said. “A fall in dairy exports to China, combined with the increase in expenditure by overseas visitors to New Zealand, has narrowed the gap between the two.” . . 

App helps keep hives humming – Sally Rae:

Brice Horner gets a buzz about educating others about beekeeping.

Now the Dunedin police officer has developed a phone app that helps beekeepers identify whether they have the destructive bacterial disease American foulbrood (AFB) in their hives.

AFB kills bee larvae and infected hives have to be destroyed by burning, as the disease is very difficult to combat. After destroying the bee larvae, spores could survive outside a bee colony for more than 35 years.

It is a serious issue, and beekeepers are legally required to advise the AFB Management Agency within seven days of noticing an outbreak and to destroy the disease by burning within the same period. . . 

Kiwi dairy farmers feeling the pinch are right – their payout is the world’s lowest – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand dairy farmers bracing for the lowest payout in a decade probably won’t welcome the latest analysis of global trends in the industry – their counterparts in every other dairy-producing country are being paid more.

An expected uplift in dairy prices in the overnight GlobalDairyTrade auction won’t change the fact Kiwi dairy farmers are the lowliest paid. AgriHQ analysed milk prices from around the world converted to NZ$/kilogram of milk solids to allow valid comparisons, although some dairy farmers incomes in other countries are boosted by subsidies and support schemes.

Fonterra’s forecast farmgate milk price, which is the price setter in the New Zealand dairy industry, is $3.85/kgMS for the current season, the lowest in a decade. That compares to China at the other end of the scale at $11/kgMS, the United States at $8.15/kgMS, Argentina at $7.57/kgMS, and the UK at $6.95/kgMS. Of the countries analysed, Ireland’s payout of $6.10/kgMS was the closest to New Zealand’s. . . 

OceanaGold raises 2015 production estimate to reflect Waihi acquisition – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – OceanaGold Corp expects 2015 production to increase while costs fall after the gold miner takes control of Waihi Gold Mine later this year.

The acquisition of the Waihi mine from Newmont Mining Corp is awaiting approval from the Overseas Investment Office this month, and once completed, OceanaGold expects to assume the economic benefits and costs associated with Waihi from July 1, the Melbourne-based miner said in a statement. The company increased its 2015 production estimates, and reduced its costs forecast to reflect lower copper and diesel prices and a weaker New Zealand dollar, it said. . . 

Sanford quits Pacific tuna business, lines up buyers for vessels – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed fishing group, will quit its underperforming Pacific tuna business and put the unit’s fleet up for sale.

The Auckland-based company sold its San Nanumea vessel and is in talks with a potential buyer of San Nikunau, its other Pacific tuna ship, after reviewing the viability of the business, Sanford said in a statement. On April 9, it entered into a conditional agreement to sell both international purse seiner vessels, according to Sanford’s interim report released in June. . . 

Rural Equities posts 27% decline in annual earnings after milk prices slumped – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, posted a 27 percent decline in annual earnings as milk prices plummeted.

The Hastings-based company said operating earnings before interest and tax fell to $4.67 million in the year ended June 30, from $6.43 million a year earlier as Fonterra Cooperative Group slashed its milk price payout to $4.40 per kilogram of milk solids from $8.40/kgMS the previous year. While that impacted its seven dairy farms, the company said its Waikato Puketotara sheep and beef property had a record year and it had steady income from leasing 15 of its 25 farms.

“Operating earnings were satisfactory given the substantial reduction in milk price,” said executive chairman David Cushing. “The company’s portfolio, with a mixture of directly operated and leased farms and diversity by property type and geography, helped provide balance.” . . 

Government grant for East Coast stream restoration:

An $89,700 grant from the Community Environment Fund for the restoration of the Whangawehi stream on the Mahia Peninsula was announced today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith during a visit to the catchment. 

“New Zealand has a major challenge to improve the management of our waterways, which has to be achieved stream by stream, river by river and lake by lake. The key to the success of these restoration programmes is getting all parties – landowners, iwi and hapū, district and regional councils as well as the Government – working together. This has been achieved on this project and that is why the Government is providing funding support,” Dr Smith says.  . . 

Fonterra Farmers Can Now Apply for Co-Operative Support:

Fonterra farmers can now apply for Fonterra Co-operative Support, a loan to help them deal with the current challenging conditions.

Chairman John Wilson said Fonterra is well placed to help its farmers because of the Co-operative’s underlying strength.

“Being able to help our farmers is all about standing together as a Co-operative and using our collective strength to get through these tough times,” said Mr Wilson. “We have had a lot of interest from farmers who appreciate what the Co-operative is trying to do for them to assist them with their farming businesses in a tough financial climate, and we are anticipating a large number of applications.” . . .

 


Rural round-up

August 24, 2014

Smart switch could save lives on farms – Lauren Hayes:

The scientific smarts of a young Southlander could save lives on farms.

James Hargest College pupil Maria Burnett took home the premier technology award from the NZAS Science and Technology Fair for her project, Smart Switch.

For the project, the 16-year-old invented a shield to cover the power take-off (PTO) shaft on tractors.

The PTO shaft carried electricity from the tractor to the implement attached to it and spun 16.6 times a second, so was very dangerous, Maria said. . .

White truffles could transform forestry industry – Annabelle Tukia:

At $3000 a kilogram, white truffles are a true gourmet delight.

Now a team from Plant and Food Research have come up with a way to cultivate the delicacy on pine tree roots, and they say forestry owners could do the same, adding another stream of income to their business.

Deep in a Canterbury pine plantation, scientist Alexis Guerin is hunting for white truffles, a fungus that could one day transform pine plantations all over the country.

Scientists at Plant and Food Research planted the white truffle-infused pine seedlings 10 years ago and, with the help of truffle-hunting dog Ace, they’re now finding the fruits of their labour cropping up all over this plantation. . .

China’s milk thirst will grow – Stephen Bell:

China’s thirst for imported dairy products will expand over the next five years to equate to New Zealand’s entire annual production, Agrifax senior dairy analyst Susan Kilsby says.

Though NZ had a foot in the door, being first with a free-trade agreement with China, there would be increased international competition, made tougher by Russia’s ban on Western imports, Kilsby, who spent three weeks in China in June, said.

She found China would need to import more dairy produce in coming years than it had so far. . .

Migrant workers need more help – Alan Williams:

Dairy farmers helping their migrant workers to have improved access to English language classes could be the best way to help them integrate more into their communities.

This is the view of people offering support services to the workers, though they say there is also no harm in the various nationalities choosing to stay mostly in their own groups.

Given the challenges involved in living in a foreign country it’s only natural for different groups to gravitate towards their own nationality for comfort, support and advice, Aoraki Multicultural Council executive member Kate Elsen said.

New Zealanders shouldn’t be put off by that, she says, but everyone agrees that the better their understanding of English, the better it is for everybody. . .

Swiss cattle breeder puts rare herd up for sale  – Tim Cronshaw:

Colin Lyon hopes someone with the same passion as him will take on his rare Swiss breed of beef cattle to bigger things.

His small herd of stud braunvieh beef breeding cows, which has twice reached the semifinals of the Steak of Origin contest, was begun by Lyon obtaining embryos from an Australian stud in 2005.

Lyon feels that, having reached 71, beef breeding is a “young man’s caper” and would like to pass on the genetic line to someone else and his herd is for sale.

The braunviehs at his farm near South Canterbury’s Pleasant Point are believed to be the only cattle of their kind in New Zealand. . .

Cows in class:

Nelson dairy farmer Julian Raine is bringing the country into the city, when he teams up next week with the Fonterra Milk for Schools Programme and Victory Primary School. A cow and a calf from Oakland’s, Mr Raine’s family farm, owned and worked by his ancestors since 1842, will visit the school on the morning of Monday 25th August.

The initiative is part of the Victory School’s Year 5 Integrated Study, “From Paddock to Puku”.

Victory School, Deputy Principal, Mr Sullivan, says “The idea for this terms integrated study came from our schools involvement in the Fonterra Milk for Schools Programme, it was important for the students to learn more about where milk comes from and it’s health benefits, together with the cultural and environmental effects of drinking milk.” . . .


Rural round-up

March 17, 2014

Wild bee loss bad for breed:

Beekeepers are being warned to check the genetic diversity of their stock following the first stage of a nationwide survey that shows significant in-breeding.

The Sustainable Farming Fund project, administered by University of Otago associate professor Peter Dearden, has studied bees from all over New Zealand.

The early results show New Zealand’s bee population was much more diverse than previously thought but that many beekeepers have serious issues with inbreeding. . .

Farm manager shares love of ‘wicked’ industry

The 2014 Southland Otago Farm Manager of the Year, Jared Crawford, says he was ”shocked” when he heard his name announced during the New Zealand Dairy Industry awards regional final at the MLT Event Centre in Gore on Saturday.

He and wife Sara stood on the podium with the region’s Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year winners Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale, of Winton, and Dairy Trainee of the Year winner Josh Lavender, also of Winton. . .

Triallist just wants to get better – Sally Rae:

When Cody Pickles goes to the dog trials, he takes his Gin with him.

The young Otago shepherd also takes Dusty, another member of his eight-strong working dog team. Both dogs are heading dogs.

Mr Pickles (23), who is in his second season of ”having a go” at dog trialling, works at Waipori Station, a 12,000ha Landcorp Farming-owned property on the shores of Lake Mahinerangi. . . .

NZ supports Philippines farmers’ recovery from Typhoon:

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that New Zealand will provide $2.5 million to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to help farmers in the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan.

“Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most devastating storms in recent history and it is estimated that almost 6 million workers’ livelihoods were destroyed, lost or disrupted,” Ms Kaye says.

“In the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan New Zealand made around $5 million available to support the emergency response and relief effort and the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully indicated that we would consider further support aimed at helping the Philippines recover.

“New Zealand’s contribution will help to restore the livelihoods of 128,000 vulnerable households in rural areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan. . .

Wind-up for the Woolless Wiltshires of Winchmore:

The final act of a 13 year-long AgResearch sheep breeding project designing low-maintenance sheep will take place at the Tinwald General Saleyards on Wednesday 12 March.

​The research project led by AgResearch scientist Dr David Scobie into easy-care and shedding sheep has finished.  As the two flocks, totalling approximately 300 sheep, are now surplus to requirements on the Winchmore Research Farm, AgResearch is holding a dispersal sale.

In 1997, AgResearch predicted that the cost of growing wool would exceed the value of the wool grown in what was then a foreseeable future. 

“We had two challenges,” says Dr Scobie.

“To develop a wool-less sheep and also to develop a low maintenance sheep.”

The Wiltshire flock were selected for decreased fleece weight for a period of 11 years.  . .

Farmer-friendly sheep don’t need sheering –  Annabelle Tukia:

It is the end of an era for AgResearch, who have put their 300 scientifically-bred sheep under the hammer.

For the past 13 years scientists have been experimentally breeding two different types of sheep with some very unique features.

A small but enthusiastic crowd flocked to the Tinwald sale yards. On sale were no stock-standard ewes. For the past 13 years AgResearch has been breeding a line that would appeal to farmers and lifestylers for their low maintenance.

The first is a breed that sheds its own wool and requires no shearing and the second a composite breed that does not need its tail docked and has far less wool in areas that would normally create dags. . . .

Taranaki Dairy Awards Winners Back on National Stage:

Experience counts and for two of the major winners in the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards they have that in spades.

Both 2014 Taranaki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Charlie and Johanna McCaig, and 2014 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year, Michael Shearer, have won regional dairy industry awards titles previously.

In 2011 the McCaigs placed second in the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition, after winning the Taranaki regional title while in 2012 Mr Shearer placed third in the New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition after winning the West Coast Top of the South regional title. . .


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