Rural round-up

March 25, 2020

Farmers urged to continue producing food:

New Zealand farmers are being urged to carry on producing food while respecting coronavirus guidelines issued by the Government.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says farming is classified as an essential service, so is milk and meat processing.

Lewis says that meat and dairy companies will continue to operate as the country moves into the highest level of alert for coronavirus from midnight Wednesday. . . 

Coronavirus: Farmers’ mental health important says Katie Milne -:

Farmers may be used to isolation but they still need to take care of their mental health says Federated Farmers president Katie Milne.

As efforts to slow the Covid-19 outbreak escalate in New Zealand, people are being asked to stay home and keep their distance from others, while social gatherings and events have been also cancelled.

As a result, farmers may find themselves cut off from everyday rural events that afford them much-needed social interaction, such as rugby games and catch ups at the pub. . . 

Friendly solution to farm water issues – Richard Davison:

A farmer-led catchment monitoring group wants to expand its activities following a successful first year.

In 2014, the Pathway for the Pomahaka water quality improvement project was launched in West Otago, which led to the establishment of the Pomahaka Water Care Group.

Last February, the award-winning group launched the latest phase of its action plan, in the shape of a ‘‘Best Practice Team’’ of 12 volunteers, set up to provide ‘‘self-policing’’ of water quality compliance among the catchment’s about 600 farms.

Team co-ordinator Bryce McKenzie — who farms 700 cows on 320ha adjoining the Pomahaka River — said the concept had worked well during its inaugural year. . . 

Westland Milk unveils Covid-19 strategy:

Westland Milk Products says Covid-19 is causing “minimal disruption” to its supply chains, with the company working to meet rising demand from China.

The second-largest dairy enterprise in New Zealand says domestic demand for its product range is also remaining consistent.

To keep up with demand in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company this morning announced that it is issuing measures to keep staff well and the factory running. . . 

Research reveals fodder beet value – Annette Scott:

New research into fodder beet shows portion control is critical to ensure safe feeding to dairy cows.

Fodder beet is widely used on South Island dairy farms as a versatile, high-energy, high-yield crop that allows cows to put on body condition quickly, if transitioned correctly. 

“This makes it an attractive option for farmers but because of the high sugar content careful transitioning onto the crop is critical,” DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley said.

The Sustainable Use of Fodder Beet research project confirms the crop can be a key part of dairy farm systems. . . 

 

Butchers run off their feet – and it’s not expected to ease – Shan Goodwin:

As butchers report they are now mincing higher value cuts like rump to keep up with astronomical demand, marketing experts and psychologists suggest empty red meat supermarket shelves are likely to be around for months.

It’s not that Australia will run out of beef. Export and food service orders are already being diverted to retail cabinets.

Rather, the unfolding dynamics of consumer behaviour amid the virus crisis indicates the inclination to fill freezers won’t fade. . . 


Rural round-up

March 23, 2020

Livestock are providing answers – Neal Wallace:

Livestock farmers already have answers to many of the accusations being levelled by critics, they just need to package their responses better, Michigan State University scientist Jason Rowntree says.

He and other speakers at the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown said claims a world without ruminant livestock and diets free of red meat will reverse climate change are scientifically wrong.

Managed properly, livestock on pasture can enhance and improve the environment by increasing organic matter, microbial activity and biodiversity while sequestering carbon in the soil. . . 

Coronavirus: Farming likely to recover fastest from Covid-19, says economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Farming is likely to be the quickest to rebound from the fallout from coronavirus, says ASB rural economist Nathan Penny.

When crises hit, food demand remains and that would be no different this time, he said.

Farmers might not get paid as much but there would be demand for food, with the exception of luxury foods like seafood, prime steak and wine, he said. . . 

Coronavirus: Rural isolation a good thing in face of pandemic, farmers say – Catherine Groenestein:

Rural isolation is helping farmers feel somewhat safer than their urban counterparts in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases in New Zealand has risen to 20, it was announced today, and the Government is advising New Zealanders overseas to return as soon as possible.

North Taranaki farmer Katrina Knowles, who is North Island co-ordinator for the Rural Support initiative, said it was a good time to live rurally.

“We live in relative isolation anyway, we have the opportunity to carry on with our lives and our work and businesses,” she said. . . 

Canterbury has tonnes of feed – Annette Scott:

Ongoing North Island drought has created a serious feed shortage with many farmers looking further afield for supplies.

Arable Solutions director Simon Nitschke, of Marton, said despite the good harvest in the region there’s nothing left to buy on the spot market.

“What is around is under contract, sold. There’s nothing available.

“A lot of barley this season has gone malting and barley harvested for feed is taken up with no reserves looking likely coming into the maize harvest either with a lot chopped for silage due to poor grain quality.” . . 

 

Coronavirus and your workers – guidance for farm businesses – Julie Robinson:

Farms are not professional services firms where remote working may be an alternative to being physically present on site. Remote working does not get millions of daffodils picked, lambs delivered safely or the harvester moved from one field to the next. Farm managers need to be on hand, not at home or stranded in a hotel in lockdown.

That brings its own set of challenges during a period where self-isolation is the Government’s policy for dealing with a highly contagious virus, and where lockdowns are imposed at short notice across the globe, preventing people from travelling freely to their place of work.

The Q&A below describes some scenarios and gives some pointers about how to deal with them. . . 

A look into the future of UK agriculture – Tom Clarke:

It is March 20, 2040 exactly 20 years to the day since the Coronavirus pandemic forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson (remember him?) to acknowledge the Brexit transition period would have to be extended, says Cambridgeshire Fens farmer Tom Clarke. 

And thus it turned out that when it came down to it, what Brexit only ever really meant was… delay.

Our permanently stalled, semi-separation has left us more independent, it freed up our thinking, and the lack of security did make us sit up and sing for our suppers.

The two decades since the pandemic transformed the Commonwealth of Britain (the country formerly known as the UK) in ways that few predicted, and it is perhaps we farmers who have been at the front end of it, again in ways the previous generation could have hardly imagined. . . 


Rural round-up

March 21, 2020

Coronavirus: Fonterra, New Zealand is counting on you now like never before – Andrea Fox:

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan in his opening remarks about this week’s strong half-year result said against the backdrop of coronavirus turmoil, the big dairy company’s news “may sound somewhat trivial”.

We knew what he meant, but he couldn’t have been more wrong.

The financial performance of New Zealand’s biggest company and the world’s fourth-largest dairy company assumes towering new importance because of that turmoil.

Dairying was an economic sword for New Zealand against the GFC. . . 

New Zealand’s food supply needs protecting:

The animal medicines and crop protection lobby group Agcarm applauds the government’s efforts to protect the health of New Zealanders in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, buts asks that support is extended to the farming community for maintaining essential food supplies.

Agcarm chief executive says “our rural communities are needed more than ever to ensure that this health crisis doesn’t turn into a hunger crisis”. Food production must be prioritised as an essential part of the COVID-19 response.

“We must maintain the uninterrupted movement of animal medicine and crop protection products, seeds and feed so that our farmers can keep healthy livestock and maintain an abundant supply of meat, fruits, vegetables and grains.” . . 

Still in business – Annette Scott:

Rural people are urged to band together in keeping safe as they ride the tough times of the coronavirus pandemic.

Social resilience is key and if everyone works together “we will get through this,” the Mental Health Foundation says.

Agriculture is still in business and likely to lead the bounce back, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny says.

“Farming is likely to be the quickest to rebound from the fallout from coronavirus. . . 

Drought starting to bite hard – Colin Williscroft:

Drought shouts organised by North Island rural support trusts have been put on hold by restrictions on gatherings.

Rural Support Trust chairman Neil Bateup says the social events bringing farmers together to deal with the drought and take their minds off some of its problems are no longer an option as the focus goes on keeping farmers and trust staff safe from covid-19.

It does not affect the trust’s other services.

“We’re absolutely determined to continue with the one-on-one support and advice to farmers.

“That will not be interrupted but we’re putting some protocols in place to keep everyone safe.” . . 

Dairy farm sales low but recovering – Maja Burry:

New figures from the Real Estate Institute show dairy farm sales remain slow, with only one dairy farm changing hands in Canterbury in the last nine months.

Data released yesterday shows 1253 farms were sold in the year to February 2020, 14.8 percent fewer than were sold in the year to February 2019, with 37 percent less dairy farms, 10 percent less grazing farms, 27.9 percent less finishing farms and 9.9 percent less arable farms sold over the same period.

The institute’s rural spokesperson Brian Peacocke said the data reflected a rural industry under pressure in terms of volumes and values, particularly the dairy sector. . . 

Synlait Milk’s first half profit drops 30 percent :

Synlait Milk has reported a 30 percent fall in its first half profit as its costs rose despite higher revenue.

The dairy company’s net profit for the six month ended January was $26.2 million, compared with $37.3 million the year before.

Revenue rose 19 percent, but its depreciation and financing costs offset that as the company expanded for future growth. . .


Rural round-up

March 7, 2020

Farm confidence – already bruised by the effects of drought – becomes a victim of Covid-19 – Point of Order:

As the country’s  front-line export  sector,  NZ agriculture  is  bearing  the brunt of the global  trade slowdown.  ANZ Bank’s chief  economist  Sharon Zollner says  the  human and  economic damage from the  Covid-19 outbreak is taking a  heavy toll on sentiment in the agriculture  sector.

“Our  best  hope is that the  disruption proves  short-lived but there is not   question the export-oriented  sector is  reeling”.

Authorities   such  as  Keith Woodford  believe NZ, as well as most of the world,  will head into recession.  Woodford contends the key issue becomes rapid support for those who lose their employment.

He  sees  a  “considerable  risk” that the government and Reserve Bank will use the wrong macro tools. . .

The problem with vegans and climate change – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Veganism is a distraction from the major climate change issues of increase in population and lifestyle, including travel, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

Farmers cannot grow whatever food they like.

This is contrary to ongoing statements in the media, from, for instance the Vegan Society.

Quite apart from the legal restraints to do with type of crop and chemicals that can be used, there are temperature, rainfall, soil and topographical constraints. . .

Court to rule on M Bovis compo – Annette Scott:

The Mycoplasma bovis compensation battle has ramped up following a High Court ruling it is allowed to decide what farmers can be repaid for.

In October last year lawyer Grant Cameron sought a judicial review, on behalf of the van Leeuwen farming group, of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ compensation system.

The van Leeuwens, the first to have the cattle disease confirmed in New Zealand, claim they have been left $3million out of pocket. . . 

Future fails to make present – Neal Wallace:

The present has caught up with AgResearch’s Future Footprint plans which are now a thing of the past. It is now going it alone at Lincoln but collaborating with Massey University in Palmerston North and will keep its centres at Ruakura and Invermay. Neal Wallace reports.

AGRESEARCH has abandoned elements of its Future Footprint proposal begun eight years ago and will keep its four national campuses but expand two.

The original plan was to severely downsize its Invermay campus near Dunedin and Ruakura in Hamilton with the focus on centres at Lincoln and Palmerston North.

Acting chief executive Tony Hickmott says the plan now is to retain all four sites and construct new buildings at Palmerston North, which is under way, and Lincoln. . . 

Magic tonic needed to open wallets – Pam Tipa:

Rain is the magic tonic in the farming community, says Northland based AgFirst consultant Tafi Manjala.

But without it the sentiment going into the Northland Field Days from the farming community will likely to be “cautious”, he says.

“When it is raining and things are going well people are more buoyant and positive about the future,” Manjala told Rural News.

“They feel more confident about things, they can justify to themselves why they can have some discretionary expenditure at the field days. . . 

Agrifeeds invests in increased precision blending and storage:

Agrifeeds have started the new decade in a strong position, having invested significantly in new blending and storage facilities to help increase their nutritional offer to customers.

Following the opening late last year of two new storage facilities in New Plymouth and Marsden Point in Northland, two new blending operations have also been built in each location. . .


Rural round-up

March 2, 2020

Global study to benchmark farms – Annette Scott:

A global study of regenerative agriculture is under way to identify chances to extract more value from sheep and beef exports.

Beef + Lamb is doing the study to understand the similarities and difference of regenerative agriculture to NZ farming practices.

The study will look at the opportunities for farmers and include a global consumer perspective to understand what potential there is for red meat exports.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor said with increasing interest in regenerative agriculture here and abroad, sheep and beef farmers want to lead in that space.  . . 

The wool industry is still facing challenges – Pam Tipa:

The wool industry continues to face challenges with depressed wool prices for a third year in a row, says Primary Wool Cooperative chair Janette Osborne. 

“Combined with increased shearing and associated costs this now means a net loss on wool for many farmers,” she says in the co-op’s annual report

“We are also seeing an overall gradual decline in total wool volumes with both lambs and ewes going to the works woolly and lower grade oddments including dags being used on farm for environmental work.” . . 

Meat Businesswomen to address World Meat Conference:

Global networking group, Meat Business Women are stepping onto the world stage as they accept an invitation to speak at the World Meat Congress (WMC) in Cancun, Mexico on June 12. 

Touted as the most influential and informative event on the global meat industry calendar, the WMC brings together approximately 1,000 international delegates to discuss issues and trends affecting meat and livestock organisation which are fundamental for sector outlook. 

Meat Business Women Chair, Laura Ryan says she’s delighted with the opportunity to speak directly about the group’s goals to an audience that can instigate change.  . . 

History has a habit of repeating itself – St John Craner:

NZ Ag yet again faces a number of fronts. Plant-based food, trade wars, geopolitical tensions, coronavirus, commodity cycles and climate. Yet we have options. We can diversify our markets.

China’s coronavirus is highlighting the need for us to ensure we’re not over-reliant on one market. Maybe China is the easy option? Either way they say: “when you choose easy life can be hard, when you choose hard life can be easy”.

There are many other countries in South East Asia (49 to be precise) who want our world-class produce like India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Lao, Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar. These countries’ economies are predicted to grow faster than China due to their own growing middle class who are earning higher incomes.  . . 

Farm societies have common issues – Ben Hancock:

This is the fifth and final in a series of articles written by the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars. This week Beef + Lamb insight and strategy analyst Ben Hancock looks at the possibility of farmers generating energy while combating climate change and being easier on the environment.

Farming the world over, as much as the context, production and scale vary, shows, as the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

After nearly six months on the road of my Nuffield journey I was struck by the similarities across continents and farming systems. 

So many of the issues we face in New Zealand can be translated to our counterparts around the world.  . . 

Elderly UK farmers should be paid to retire, says Minister :

UK Environment Secretary, George Eustice has an unusual solution to improving the environment: paying farmers to retire.

Speaking at the National Farmers’ Union’s 2020 Conference this week, Eustice said that some veteran farmers are ‘standing in the way of change’, reports The Telegraph.

He said that paying veteran farmers a lump sum would enable them to ‘retire with dignity’. . .


Rural round-up

February 25, 2020

The only way forward for farming is to do it together as a country – Daniel Eb:

Dad and I had an argument recently.

We’re fencing off a stream on the farm soon and I want to include a patch of bush in the job. 

We traded reasons for and against. “It’s good for biodiversity, there’s no feed in there anyway”.

“The stock need the shelter, we’re already losing grazing around the stream.” . .

 

Elle Perriam and Harriet Bremner join forces to empower Canterbury farmers :

Two young rural women who have a friendship with a difference will make their first public appearance together in a bid to change the way those in the rural sector think.

Elle Perriam, founder of Will To Live, and Harriet Bremner, children’s author and safety campaigner have both lived through tremendous grief, suffering the loss of both of their partners.

With a bond shared through their deep grief, love of dogs, horses, farming and passion for people – the duo are pairing up for the first time to tell their stories, hosting an event at the Rolleston School Auditorium on March 2. . . 

How China became NZ’s number one trading partner – Jamie Gray:

China’s coronavirus outbreak has delivered a fast, sharp shock to the New Zealand economy.

From tourism to the meat trade, the disease has highlighted just how reliant New Zealand has become on China.

In less than a decade, the People’s Republic has come to dominate nearly all New Zealand’s major merchandise exports.

Already, some economists are saying the virus – officially named Covid-19 – and a local drought could tip New Zealand into recession this year. . . 

Bovis eradication still realistic – Annette Scott:

Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is proving realistic, M Bovis Programme communications manager Joe Stockman says.

But it is highly unlikely how it got here will ever be known.

Addressing a large gathering of farmers, rural professionals and community leaders in Oamaru on Wednesday Stockman said there’s confidence in a successful eradication.

M bovis is not right across New Zealand, making eradication feasible.

“The current spread is very limited to the movement of infected animals. . . 

New face for meat body :

Meat Industry Association trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva is the organisation’s new chief executive.

She succeeds Tim Ritchie, who is retiring after 12 years in the role.

Before joining the association in 2015 Karapeeva held a variety of trade, policy and regulatory roles at the Ministries for Primary Industries, of Business, Innovation, and Employment and Economic Development. 

She said the red meat sector is operating in an increasingly complex environment and faces a number of challenges domestically and internationally. . . 

NZ’s ‘largest one-day show’ is coming:

The Mackenzie A&P Highland Show will be held on Easter Monday.

Described by organisers as the largest one-day show in New Zealand, the event at Mackenzie A&P Showgrounds is expected to draw up to 15,000 people.

Organising secretary, Jodi Payne is promising visitors there will be “plenty to see”. . . 

Northern NSW beef producers show faith in future wool industry – Lucy Kinbacher:

A growing number of cattle producers looking for a quick turnover and restocking option after recent rain are entering the wool game and building their own Merino flock.

The new players to the Merino game are doing battle with established wool growers who are also ditching their sideline cattle herds to reestablish their traditional sheep carrying capacity.

Narrabri-based couple Jon and Claire Welsh may be fifth generation cattle producers but their newly acquired the 930 hectare (2300 acre) Guyra property, Oban View, is being stocked with a Merino flock. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 22, 2020

Workshops to build strong work places – Annette Scott:

Free workshops on building great workplaces are rolling out around the country this week.

The workshops, facilitated by the Dairy Women’s Network, are structured to help build great workplaces on dairy farms.    

Chief executive Jules Benton said the interactive workshops understand how valuable it is for dairy farmers, their teams and their communities to flourish in a positive, supportive environment. . . 

Kiwis hit home at agritech expo – Richard Rennie:

One of the agritech sector’s international leading lights in venture financing has given New Zealand an unequivocal thumbs-up for its ability to punch above its weight in the competitive global scene.

Addressing delegates at the EvokeAg agritech expo in Melbourne, Silicon Valley investment and tech firm SVG Ventures founder John Harnett said he is seeing more NZ agritech start-ups meeting farmers on the ground and integrating well with them to find solutions to their problems.

He also urged Australian counterparts to move further afield in the way NZ, Israel and Irish agritech entrepreneurs have done. . . 

Aussie farmer’s heartfelt message for drought-stricken Kiwis :

A photo shared on The Country’s Facebook page showing severe drought in the Waikato region has struck a chord with one Australian farmer.

After seeing NIWA weather forecaster Chris Brandolino’s post, which featured Sarah Fraser’s sobering image of parched fields, Cindy Bruce left a heartfelt message of support for her Kiwi counterparts.

Bruce, who runs a beef and wheat farm in Central inland Queensland, said the drought had so far cost her over $100k in feed and lost cows and calves, along with a failed wheat crop “which ironically, provided feed for the cows in October”. . . 

Drought’s mixed effects on sectors :

Prolonged dry weather will have mixed effects on commodity prices, says ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny.

For dairy, the drought will put upward pressure on prices as milk production will fall.

“Currently, we forecast 2019-20 production to be flat on 2018-19, but we are reviewing this forecast next week,” says Penny.

Meat changes coming – report – Pam Tipa:

New ideas of what equates to ‘premium’ in red meat are expected to change significantly in coming years, according to a new report from Beef+Lamb (B+LNZ). The traditional characteristics of premium today are marbling and exotic provenance such as Japanese Wagyu, which has been stable for some time.

So says the report called ‘Shaping the future of New Zealand’s Red Meat Sector’ released late last year.

Consumption of acorns by finishing Iberian pigs and their function in the conservation of the Dehesa agroecosystem – Vicente Rodríguez-Estévez*,
Manuel Sánchez-Rodríguez, Cristina Arce, Antón R. García, José M. Perea and A. Gustavo Gómez-Castro :

1. Introduction
The dehesa is an ancient agrosilvopastoral system created by farmers to raise livestock, mainly on private lands. This system is highly appreciated by society and enjoys legal
protection of the authorities because it is rich in biodiversity, a home to critically endangered species (Iberian lynx, imperial eagle and black vulture); a significant carbon
sink; ethnologically and anthropologically valuable (culture and traditions); and is known for its scenic value. The dehesa also underpins rural development and is valuable for, inter
alia, ecotourism and rural tourism; hunting and shooting; fire prevention; wood and charcoal; and for fodder (grass and acorns). However, most of these values do not produce
any benefit to farmers and they do not receive any kind of support from these contributions.

The dehesa is both a resilient and a fragile system; its resilience derives from the perseverance of its operators, and its fragility is its susceptibility to unfavourable economic
factors that influence its profitability (Siebold, 2009). . .


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