Rural round-up

September 19, 2017

Guiney misses out on selection – Hugh Stringleman:

One long-serving director and two newcomers are the preferred candidates for three Fonterra board seats this year leaving sitting board member Leonie Guiney out in the cold.

They were former Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman and nine-year director John Monaghan, of Wairarapa, former Deer Industry New Zealand chairman and farm consultant Andy Macfarlane of Mid-Canterbury and PWC partner and National Fieldays Society board member Brent Goldsack, of Waikato.

The three were named as independent nomination process candidates for three vacancies among seven farmer-director seats on the Fonterra board. . .

Palmerston North farmer Peter Bills owns more machines than most – Samantha Tennent:

Not many contractors or services agents come through the gate of Te Rata Farm at Linton, owned by Peter and Kim Bills. The Bills try to be as self-sufficient as possible across their business.

The Bills run a pretty taut ship, keeping costs down by doing all their own cultivation, mowing and bailing. They admit they own more gear than the average 260-cow farm; almost the only piece of equipment they don’t have is a harvester.

“It keeps costs down for us but more importantly we aren’t relying on a contractor to get the work done. . .

Weather hits somber pea growers – Annette Scott:

There’s been no compensation for Wairarapa pea growers heading into their second season of a two-year pea moratorium.

And on top of wet weather that meant they could not get crops in the ground put farmers in a pretty sombre mood, Wairarapa cropping farmer Karen Williams said.

Williams, the 2017 Biosecurity Farmer of the Year, was an integral part of the grower group working alongside farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries in the pea weevil response. . .

Restrictions lifted on feijoas in Taranaki after being cleared of myrtle rust threat – Gerald Piddock:

Feijoa lovers can breathe a sigh of relief after ministry officials put the plant in the low risk category for infection from myrtle rust.

Growers will also be relieved after the Ministry for Primary Industries lifted restrictions for moving feijoa plants in and out of Taranaki after it concluded there was little risk of them spreading myrtle rust.

Since myrtle rust was found in New Zealand earlier this year, there had not been a single feijoa plant found with the infection, the New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated said in a statement. . .

From milk to medicine with DFE Pharma – a farmer’s journey from Taranaki to Europe:

Under the mountain in Kapuni, Taranaki, our farmers’ milk is being made into something pretty remarkable.

Our Kapuni site focuses on producing pharmaceutical lactose, a key ingredient in inhalers helping people around the world manage their asthma.

The lactose we make at Kapuni is the most pure lactose you can make in the world. And in short, gets the medicine in powder inhalers to where it’s needed – the lungs. . . 

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Rural round-up

September 14, 2017

Maniototo farmers challenge Ardern to visit them on water tax

A group of Central Otago farmers are challenging Jacinda Ardern to visit their farms to discuss Labour’s water tax plans.

The group of women, known as Water Maniototo, say they cannot afford a royalty on irrigated water, planned at one to two cents per thousand litres of water, and it could drive some off their land.

Francine Hore, who farms sheep at Patearoa, says she supports fixing up the nation’s waterways, but many farmers are doing everything they can already. . . 

Lambs hit $7/kg – Annette Scott:

Low global stocks pushing lamb markets above the odds for this season is positive news for the New Zealand sheep industry but farmers are not yet jumping with excitement, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

Latest trade statistics revealed average export prices for both chilled and frozen product were tracking well above any prices seen in recent years, including 2011, the last time NZ saw such strong global demand for lamb.

Demand for chilled lamb had held solid in recent months, driven by the tight supply with chilled prices reaching historically high levels. . . 

Broken business makes comeback – Annette Scott:

From a business that was “essentially broken” to one recording a modest profit in less than 12 months, NZ Yarn is now poised to add value for New Zealand woolgrowers.

Over the past year the Canterbury yarn processor has spun its own turnaround project.

Getting back on its feet to lift returns for farmers and shareholders had been the focus of NZ Yarn’s reinvention, chief executive Colin McKenzie said.

“A year ago the business was essentially broken.

“We have reinvented, repositioned and resized operations and moved from making sizeable losses to recording our first modest profit in July,” McKenzie said. . . 

Millions tune in watch start of fresh NZ milk sales to China through Alibaba – Gerald Piddock:

Milk New Zealand’s trade agreement with global online retailer Alibaba has been launched with millions of Chinese consumers tuning in to watch the event.

The Chinese-owned company’s Collins Road Farm is just south of Hamilton and its 29 New Zealand farms will supply Alibaba with fresh milk to be sold on its online platform.

Organisers of the launch rented a satellite facility for the day to enable it to be live streamed directly to China. In attendance were 10 of China’s biggest social media influencers including Yuni and Joyce, who are known as the Chufei Churan twins in China.

The pair are considered the Chinese Kardashians with social media follower numbers larger than New Zealand’s entire population. They and other influencers videoed the event and the farm directly to their followers in China. . . 

Water royalty point of divergence – Nicole Sharp:

Water and the environment are two of the key talking points for Southern Rural Life readers this coming election. As voting day fast approaches, reporter Nicole Sharp talked to the candidates in the rural electorates of Waitaki and Clutha-Southland about these two issues that will affect rural voters.

Water is crucial to the agricultural sector and all candidates and their parties standing in the Waitaki electorate this upcoming election want to do all they can to preserve water quality now and in the future, they say.

Current Waitaki MP and National candidate Jacqui Dean said National’s new policy statement on freshwater, which was announced last month, would pursue a target of 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040. . .

 

Canterbury cropping farmer embraces environmental limits – Tony Benny:

Third-generation Canterbury cropping farmer David Birkett isn’t phased by tougher environmental regulations and says they can even lead to an improved bottom line. He talked to Tony Benny.

David Birkett’s farm is near Leeston, not far from what has been called New Zealand’s most polluted lake, Te Waihora/Ellesmere, and he’s well used to close scrutiny of the environmental effects of farming there by the regional council, members of the public and media.

“There’s a bit of pressure on farmers but they gain out of it, that’s the silly thing. I can’t understand someone who doesn’t bother to try to do the best they can because your bottom line is going to be better,” he says.

“Doing some measuring and making sure you know what’s needed, most of the time you’re actually financially better off than what you’d previously been doing.” . . 

Adding value more than just adding cost – Nigel Malthus:

The term ‘value added’ is too often used as a vague generic, and farmers need to consider specific strategies for adding value, says Rabobank analyst Blake Holgate.

Speaking at the recent Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, Holgate noted that most lamb was still exported frozen, returning $6906/tonne instead of chilled at $11,897/t.

“By and large we’re still treating sheep meat as a commodity market, so the lower value frozen export market still makes up about 80% of what we export, while the higher value chilled market, that’s worth nearly twice as much per tonne, is only 20%. . .


Rural round-up

September 10, 2017

Why we should get rid of the word ‘townie’ for NZ’s sake – Sarah Perriam:

There is a civil war brewing on social media between “food producers” and “food consumers” and the aggression has reached the level of straight out bullying.

A friend of mine who works as a Farm Environment Auditor (yes that’s a thing) sends me screenshots of tweets (I don’t have the patience for Twitter!). One tweet said “You farmers are just a bunch of c**ts, see you next Tuesday, and you deserve everything you get.”

If this sort of comment was aimed at women, children or homosexuals, would this be appropriate? Of course not. But sadly, in this day and age, our Facebook feed is our news, with many are reading the comments rather than the article, looking to confirm their beliefs rather than form new ones. . .

Farmer fears for future – Annette Scott:

Mid Canterbury cropping farmer David Clark has grave concern about the disconnection between food production and urban people. He talked to Annette Scott about his passion for the land and his fear for the future of farming in New Zealand.

David Clark is a full time, working arable farmer, passionate about the greater industry and its sustainability for future generations.

The Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers vice president says the farming industry has been good to him and his involvement in Feds is one way he can give back to the industry.

If there is an issue to sort, Clark will be there to contribute his bob’s worth for the betterment of farming. . .

Ferreting out rabbits seen as a ‘win-win‘ – Pam Jones:

A medieval method of pest control is helping an endangered species at a Central Otago reserve. Pam Jones finds out how ferreting is tackling both rabbits and redbacks in the fight to protect the Cromwell chafer beetle.

It is an ancient and environmentally friendly practice that is getting results in a protected Central Otago landscape. But it will also get you bitten occasionally.

“Ferrets here have to be trapped from the wild and tamed down by handling lots. The younger they are when trapped the easier to train — in general. But I have had many a sore finger from unsuitable ferrets that cannot be tamed down.”

Steve “Billy” Barton is talking about rabbiting, done an old-fashioned away. Ferrets have been used to catch and kill rabbits and hares since before medieval times, and in Central Otago they have been used for pest control on and off for decades. . .

Riparian survey to capture data – Richard Rennie:

As the go-to option for managing sediment runoff, there are surprisingly few case studies showing how different approaches to riparian plantings work. Now Niwa researchers hope to change that. Richard Rennie spoke to freshwater ecologist Richard Storey who is leading the initiative.

Farmers are being invited to provide information on their riparian plantings to help measure their effectiveness and provide a pool of data for future plantings.

“Riparian plantings are now a major investment people all over the country are working on and that includes dairy processors and industry groups,” Niwa scientist Dr Richard Storey says. . .

Texas farmers suffers extensive crop damage in wake of Harvey  – Carrie Kahn:

In south Texas, this was going to be one of the best years farmers had seen in a while. The cotton crop was projected to bring in record prices and even clear out many families’ debts. But the massive rainfall, winds and a slow drying-out process from Harvey have left many farmers overwhelmed and worried.

That includes people like Dave Murrell, whom I meet at AL-T’s Seafood and Steakhouse, a Cajun restaurant in Winnie, Texas, a rural town about an hour east of Houston. The place is packed, even though lunchtime has long come and gone. No one is in a hurry to get back to their fields — they can’t. They’re flooded. Murrell says nearly 400 acres of his rice are totally submerged. . .


Rural round-up

August 12, 2017

Farming to end –  Annette Scott:

FARMING will have to shut down in Canterbury’s Selwyn district to meet national water quality standards for the region’s polluted Lake Ellesmere, Environment Canterbury has told the Government.

In a business case analysis provided to the Ministry for the Environment, ECan outlined significant fundamental change needed to bring the lake, one of New Zealand’s most polluted, into line.

“On the current basis to achieve Government freshwater outcomes as mandated it would mean taking all intensive agriculture, not just dairy, out of the play,” ECan councillor and Selwyn district farmer John Sunckell said. . .

Mycoplasma bovis update:

MPI’s progress in the response to the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was the focus of a well-attended public meeting in Waimate last night.

Around 100 people turned out to hear MPI officials and a number of industry body partners outline the current surveillance and testing regime and timelines, the robustness of disease containment measures and the actions farmers can take to protect their farms.

There remains no change to the number of properties with confirmed positive test results for Mycoplasma bovis – 2 farms, both within the wider Van Leeuwen group of farms. . .

Beltex lambs hit the ground – Annette Scott:

THE first lamb has hit the ground marking the beginning of an exciting new meat breed for the New Zealand sheep industry.

And for the partners in the venture it was almost more exciting than getting grandchildren.

Beltex embryos imported from England were transferred to four-year-old Perendale ewes on Blair Gallagher’s Mid Canterbury foothills Rangiatea farm in March. . .

Demand for vets ‘unprecedented‘ – Yvonne O’Hara:

As the southern dairy industry improves after seasons of low payouts and on-farm cost-cutting, some of the region’s veterinarian practices are finding it difficult to fill staff vacancies, a trend that is reflected nationally.

They are also in competition with overseas recruiting agencies, which are eyeing New Zealand to fill their clients’ needs.

The increasing demand for both production and companion animal vet services as practices get busier, is a good indicator of how well the economy is doing, New Zealand Veterinary Association’s Veterinary Business Group chairwoman Debra Gates said. . .

Catchment group and iwi join forces – Nicole Sharp:

The Pourakino Catchment Group and local iwi are putting a game plan in place for increasing plantings and improving water quality in the catchment by working together.

The group hosted a field day at Oraka Aparima Runaka marae recently, talking about the nursery run by the marae and how the two groups would work together to grow and plant trees in the catchment.

The group saw itself as a driver of change in Southland, as one of the earliest formed catchment groups in the region. . .

Too wet to sow pick-your-own verges for Palmerston North grower – Jill Galloway:

A pick-your-own garden is running to crunch point to get some vegetables planted so they’re ready for the week before Christmas, when everybody wants fresh potatoes, peas and berries.

Neville Dickey from Delta Gardens near Palmerston North said he was feeling the pinch of continual wet weather after 34 years of vegetable growing and meeting the Christmas market.

The 12 hectare block was on river silt, gravel and sand, and would dry out soon if there was a break in the weather, he said.

“There are not many years that have we have seen so much rain. We have had rain on and off since September last year.” . .


Rural round-up

July 31, 2017

MPI urges vigilance – Annette Scott:

While he may be the first in New Zealand to have the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis detected on his farm, South Canterbury dairy farmer Aad van Leeuwen is confident he won’t be the last.

The Ministry for Primary Industries notified the detection of Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) disease on a South Canterbury dairy farm on July 25, but the identity of the property wasn’t revealed until four days later, on Friday, prompting speculation to run rife meantime.

Devastated that the disease – listed as an unwanted organism under NZ’s Biosecurity Act 1993 – had hit his dairy operation, van Leeuwen said he was co-operating 100% with MPI. . .

Japan frozen beef tariffs expected – Alan Williams:

New Zealand beef exporters are facing 50% tariffs on frozen exports to Japan over the next eight months.

Suppliers in this country have been caught in the reaction to big shipments from Australia, and especially the United States this year, so that total volumes have reached a trigger point at which the Japanese government has decided it needs to protect domestic farmers. . .

Give up farming generate power – Neil Malthus:

Farmers installing solar power can now get a better return from it than from farming itself, a solar power installer claims.

Electrical contractor Andrew Wells, of ABW Electric, Christchurch, recently set up Sunergy Solar to market solar photovoltaic systems. His company specialises in farm installations, marketed at farming field days and A&P shows; it also does residential systems.

Wells sees huge potential for solar power on farms: electricity charges for a dairy shed average $5000 – $6000 a month and solar panels now cost only about 8% of what they did 10 years ago. . . 

More wool needed for a brighter future – WNZ – Pam Tipa:

Greater sales volume is critical for Wools of NZ, says chair Mark Shadbolt.
The trademarked scouring process Glacier XT will be a more volume-focused business, he says.

“That will create lot more demand. It is creating a wool that is a lot whiter and brighter and is the sort innovation and technology we need to invest in to add value to the wool.

“We have had a lot of interest in the market for it because the brightness is the key aspect that the industry hadn’t been able to acquire until this technology became available.” . .

Southland a winner – Sonita Chandar:

Southlander Katrina Thomas knew “absolutely nothing about cows” when she and husband James Dixon converted to dairy farming.

But she turned that lack of knowledge around by joining the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) and volunteering her time to the community.

It is this generosity that saw her win the 2017 Dairy Women’s Network Dairy Community Leadership award. . .

NZ’s prosperity still tethered to farm gate – Liam Dann:

There’s nothing like a biosecurity scare to remind us that New Zealand’s economic prosperity is still – for better or for worse – tethered to the farm gate.

The instant that news of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in South Canterbury hit the headlines last Tuesday the dollar plunged.

Luckily it only dropped 20 basis points (0.2 per cent) before it became apparent that this was a more benign disease than foot and mouth.

But it was enough to put a deep V shape in the daily dollar chart and illustrate how quickly a more serious outbreak could take this country to the brink of recession. . .

Fonterra Australia increase farmgate milk price for the 2017/18 season:

Fonterra Australia has today advised its farmers of an increase of 20 cents per kilogram of milk solids (kgMS) to its farmgate milk price for the 2017/18 season, bringing its average farmgate milk price to $5.50kgMS. The increase will apply from 1 July 2017 and will be paid on 15 August 2017.

Fonterra’s additional payment of 40 cents/kgMS is payable on top of the revised farmgate milk price, and brings the total average cash paid to $5.90kgMS.

Fonterra Australia Managing Director René Dedoncker said that improved market conditions and the strength ohf the Australian business supported this step up. . . .


Rural round-up

July 19, 2017

Fonterra’s Te Rapa investment strengthens local economy Elton Rikihana Smallman:

Fonterra’s $20 million expansion is helping feed Hamilton’s growth.

Demand for dairy products in Asian markets has seen the co-op add new machinery to its Te Rapa factory on the outskirts of Hamilton.

A new, sweeter-than-usual mascarpone is in demand in Japan and new production lines will give Fonterra the capacity to deliver up to 3500 tonnes of cream cheese and up to 400 million individual butter portions per year. . .

Ewe hogget award winner beats brain injury – Tony Benny:

After he was hit by a car and seriously injured, John Harrison was told by doctors he’d be unlikely to be able go back farming but he defied the odds and now he and his wife Jane have won the New Zealand ewe hogget young achievers award.

Growing up on a small farm in Southland, it was John Harrison’s dream to manage a high country station for overseas owners. He was on track to realise that dream with a job on Glenthorne Station in Canterbury until one day seven years ago he stepped onto the road to better see the dog he was working on the hill above.

“It was just before Christmas, and he was on a corner. It had been raining so there was no dust and a car came round the corner and bowled him at 80kmh,” says his wife Jane. . .

Wool still faces buyer resistance

Very good quality new season’s wool is on the market but encountering buyer resistance.

About 20% of the new fleece wool and oddments entered for the first Christchurch auction of the season last week was withdrawn prior to sale with farmers resisting the current price levels, PGG Wrightson South Island wool manager Dave Burridge said.

New season’s wool was showing outstanding colour, length and style, reflecting the very good growing season in most parts of the South Island. . .

Kiwi version a cut above in Sweden – Annette Scott:

Cutting the meat to meet the market has reaped reward for venison processor and marketer Mountain River.

The Canterbury-based venison exporter has made a breakthrough for New Zealand venison in Sweden with the official launch of its range of novel grilling cuts.

Connecting with one of Sweden’s leading restaurant wholesalers, Menigo, Mountain River cemented the breakthrough deal that has the venison marketer dealing direct with a one-stop shop for Swedish food professionals. . .

Safe meat cutting technology:

Meat processor Alliance is investing $3.4 million in new processing technology as part of a wider programme to improve health and safety.
The co-op says 49 band-saws featuring state-of-the art safe cutting technology have been installed at eight plants across the country.

Designed specifically for the meat industry, the band-saws are uniquely designed to stop the blade within 15 milliseconds when the unit senses a person, glove or both are in close proximity or in contact with the saw. . .

Milk needs promotion  – Peter Burke:

Milk and dairy products need ongoing promotion in New Zealand, says a nutritional physiology professor at Massey University.

Marlena Kruger, who specialises in bone growth, has just completed a study of the effects of milk on children in the Fonterra milk-for-schools programme, and those who do not. The milk drinkers had significantly better bone health than those who did not.

The year-long research involved children aged five to ten. As the children’s diets were not controlled during the study, the data could indicate that the children drinking milk at school are also milk drinkers at home, so getting the full benefit of milk and dairy. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 15, 2017

Wool needs red carpet treatment – Neal Wallace:

Wool growers need to put their hands in their pockets to fund the education of marketers and retailers on the merits of carpet wool, an industry veteran says.

Richard Bloemendal, a director of Tech ‘N’ Color, has worked in the New Zealand textile industry since 1980. He said key people in the retail chain today were ignorant of the merits of wool.

He was commenting on news that thousands of bales of short, strong crossbred wool were being placed in storage since the price collapsed because of a lack of demand from yarn manufacturers. . .

Young blood comes in from the cold –  Neal Wallace:

As the country shivered this week through its coldest period of winter so far, 28-year-old Nigel Woodhead conceded the timing wasn’t great.

For the past nine months or so the newly-crowned FMG Young Farmer of the Year confessed to most days making sure his stock was shifted, healthy and fed before returning home to study and prepare for the annual contest.

Now, as the mercury plummets, he has no such excuse. . .

Footrot result a boost for merino – Annette Scott:

A scientific breakthrough has put Kiwi farmers a step closer to breeding footrot-resistant flocks and increasing production of premium Merinos.

Scientists from the NZ Merino Company broke new ground using DNA sampling to accurately predict how resilient a sheep’s progeny would be to footrot.

The breakthrough was the result of four years research and studies using the world’s largest single-site central progeny test. . .

Stink Bug Agreement signed:

 The Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is one of the biggest threats facing New Zealand’s horticultural sector. It threatens the livelihoods of primary sector producers, and would impact on the quality of life of all New Zealanders if ever able to establish here.

An agreement to reduce the damaging impact of BMSB incursion was signed today by a number of horticultural sector groups and Government at the Horticulture NZ Conference in Tauranga. . .

Letters to a Young Farmer– Danielle Nierenberg:

Today, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture released Letters to a Young Farmer,  a book which compiles insight from some of the most influential farmers, writers, and leaders in the food system in an anthology of essays and letters.

The United States is on the cusp of the largest retirement of farmers in U.S. history, with more farmers over the age of 75 than between the ages of 35 and 44. Letters to a Young Farmer aims to help beginning farmers succeed through advice and encouragement, while inspiring all who work in or care about the food system. Among the 36 contributors to the book are thought leaders Barbara Kingsolver, Bill McKibben, Michael Pollan, Dan Barber, Temple Grandin, Wendell Berry, Rick Bayless, and Marion Nestle. I was honored to contribute to the book as well! . . 

Barbara Kingsolver Cheers on Young Farmers:

Letters to a Young Farmer is full of good counsel for the next generation from the likes of Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, and the noted novelist Barbara Kingsolver.

Dear young farmer,

Let me speak to you as a familiar, because of all the years I’ve cherished members of your tribe. Of course, I also know you’re only yourself, just as I remember the uniqueness of every intern, WWOOFer, and summer weed-puller who has spent a season or two on our family’s farm. Some preferred to work without shoes. Some were captivated by the science of soils, botany, and pest management. Some listened to their iPods, or meditated, or even sang as they hoed and weeded, while others found no music among the bean bee­tles. A few confessed to finding this work too hard, but many have gone on to manage other farms or buy places of their own. In these exceptional souls I invest my hopes.

I don’t need to tell you what there is to love in this life; you’ve chosen it. Maybe you’ve even had to defend that choice already against family or academic advisers who don’t see the future in farming. . . 


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