Rural round-up

February 10, 2018

Claims costs soar – Annette Scott:

Farmers have so far lodged 44 Mycoplasma bovis compensation claims with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

While MPI would not give the total value of the claims farmer Aad van Leeuwen said his claim so far was for $4.5 million and that was likely to be tripled.

And despite the law saying compensation for losses made as a result of MPI exercising its powers should leave farmers no worse off, the ministry was likely to make offers to farmers even when they could document actual loss figures.

There is also little likelihood of payments being made quickly. . .

Labour’s 100 days fails farmers:

Labour’s first 100 days in Government has earnt it a dismal report card as far as farmers are concerned, National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“The Labour-led coalition has been in government for over 100 days now, yet all they have to show for it is the announcement of a series of expensive reviews and rebrands all the while staying silent on the big issues facing the sector right now.

“The minister Damien O’Connor is raiding $17 million out of the Primary Growth Partnership fund to rebrand MPI, at the expense of vitally important research and development funding – which is now being put on hold. . .

Animal genetics ‘Olympics’ a first for NZ:

About 1000 people will this month travel to New Zealand for three prestigious animal recording and genetics conferences.
For the first time, the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production (WCGALP) will hold its four-yearly conference in NZ.

The congress will be combined with the annual conferences for the International Committee for Animal Recording (ICAR) and Interbull – the leading event for research and development in animal improvement, milk testing, DNA parentage analysis, genomics and genetics. . . 

Labour of love for the environment:

Protecting and nurturing the environment for our future generations is a key commitment in the refreshed strategy, Dairy Tomorrow. Many farmers already have their sleeves rolled up doing inspirational environmental work throughout New Zealand. They include third generation dairy farmer Andy Palmer.

It was a chance remark he made back in the late ‘90s that got Andy started on what has become a labour of love spanning two decades. And it’s a passion that’s resulted in an extraordinary legacy of lush riparian planting of native species on his farm near Temuka, which he owns with wife Sharon Collett. . .

Data from new smart sensors can help growers drive yields and cut costs:

Cutting-edge wireless sensor technology now available to UK growers that measures precise humidity, moisture and temperature points, is set to equip farmers with the data they need to help drive improvements throughout their businesses.

Agriculture is becoming increasingly data-driven, and sensing technology is becoming instrumental to the way farmers grow crops.

Access to precise, detailed data is helping farmers to make better, more informed decisions: tailoring cultivation, avoiding produce and crop damage, and reducing costs. . .

Rights granted for peach variety – Sally Brooker:

A new variety of peach has been bred by North Otago orchardists Helen Brookes and Terry Fowler.

The couple achieved the feat at their smallholding at Georgetown, just east of Duntroon, in the Waitaki Valley. They have been granted plant variety rights from the Intellectual Property Office for their ”Sweet Perfection” peach.

The orchard was more of a horticultural interest than a commercial venture, Dr Brookes said.

”We used to and still get a number of visits from organisations to see what we do here. . .

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Rural round-up

February 5, 2018

Markets in danger – Annette Scott:

New Zealand is at risk of causing global market jitters if its biosecurity doesn’t stand up to international scrutiny, Anzco livestock and agribusiness general manager Grant Bunting says.

Lack of accountability, farmer confusion, inadequate animal traceability and too many pushing their own agendas were key factors contributing to a situation with potential to end in disaster for the meat industry. 

Bunting called for accountability and was not alone.

“There are wider industry stakeholders and other processing facilities that share the same concern.”

While Mycoplasma bovis and the Ministry for Primary Industries response was clearly the topic of the moment, the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme had much to answer. . . 

Camp vision brought to life – Tracey Roxburgh:

Almost four years to the day after United States philanthropists Debbi and Paul Brainerd bought a 1.6ha site in Glenorchy, the doors will officially open on their pioneering Camp Glenorchy project, which will be the most sustainable camping ground in the southern hemisphere, if not the world. Queenstown reporter Tracey Roxburgh got a behind-the-scenes tour to see how the project at the head of the lake is progressing.

It’s one thing to take a tour of a building site crawling with contractors erecting frames, digging holes and assembling roofs, and hear about what it will eventually look like — it’s quite another to go back 12 months later and see the vision brought to life.

In March 2014 Debbi and Paul Brainerd, United States-based philanthropists, bought the 1.6ha  Glenorchy Holiday Park and then  four surrounding properties which now comprise the “Glenorchy Marketplace Project”.

It will open to the public in March. In December  the first certificate of public use certificates were issued by the Queenstown Lakes District Council for five of the camp’s cabins ahead of the first guests arriving on December 20 — part of a “soft opening” to test everything and make sure it was up to scratch.  . . 

Greater penalties for stock thieves:

A Bill designed to deter livestock theft will be introduced to Parliament today under the name of National MP Ian McKelvie.

Mr McKelvie says his Bill intends to introduce stricter measures for sentencing judges to draw on when sentencing thieves caught stock rustling.

“The current law offers no deterrent and the penalties don’t reflect the gravity of the crime or the likely suffering of an animal being slaughtered by a rank amateur. . . 

Second Highest Karaka Yearling Sale result:

The National Yearling Sales has recorded its second highest turnover in its 91 year history.

Over 900 horses were sold at Karaka for a combined aggregate of $97,017,750, smashing last years total of $82,015,500.

The highest combined aggregate was reached in 2008 when $111,148,850 was spent at the iconic New Zealand Sale. . . 

Can Australia’s feedlots compete? -John Carter:

It is invariably said that most of a beast’s breeding goes down its neck. A tour of a feedlot, beginning at the inception pens, confirms the saying. “Genetics” improves with the days on feed. 

Good nutrition is essential in producing good meat. However, Australia is heavily handicapped in the world’s food production race.

Ours is, in general, a tired, burnt out, continent with soil poisoned by our eucalyptus trees. 

Our city-centric governments have allowed developers to cover some of our most productive land with concrete. . . 

 

French seed group says GMO protests could force R&D relocation:

Limagrain, the world’s fourth-largest seed maker, will consider moving its research activities out of France if field trials in its home market continue to be sabotaged by opponents of genetically modified crops.

The French cooperative group was targeted last month by protestors who invaded test fields southeast of Paris and scattered non-commercial seed. That was the latest in a series of actions by opponents of gene-editing technology, which they say will herald a new generation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Limagrain said the incident ruined a 37-hectare trial of wheat based on conventional breeding and showed the risk of a repeat of virulent debate over GMOs. . . 

It’s all aobut inches in farming life and football – Andrew Osmond:

Do you ever wonder what NFL football coaches say to their players during a big game? That’s the challenge for Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles, the men whose teams will compete this Sunday in the Super Bowl.

Perhaps they’ll turn to the words of a fictional counterpart. In the 1999 movie “Any Given Sunday,” veteran Coach Tony D’Amato [Al Pacino] delivers one of the greatest inspirational sports speeches, ever.

Pacino challenges his team to win the game “inch by inch, play by play.”

This is a football speech, in a locker room, at half time.  For me, it’s also a speech about farming. And life.

Please hear me out on this and let me explain, the idea’s not as strange as it sounds.

Pacino’s character begins by calling the game “the biggest battle of our professional lives.” Then he makes an almost philosophical point: “You find out life’s this game of inches.”

The same is true for farming. . . 

 


Rural round-up

January 28, 2018

Fonterra has to face up to debacle at Beingmate – Fran O’Sullivan:

Fonterra has run out of lip gloss to apply to its $774 million investment in Beingmate, which has smoked a huge amount of shareholders’ cash since CEO Theo Spierings formed a joint venture through the Chinese company’s charismatic founder three years ago.

Both Spierings and Fonterra chairman John Wilson will have some tough questions to answer when they finally front shareholders over the management of the joint venture – particularly, because of what I see as the clear failure at governance level in Beingmate.

That became alarmingly apparent this week when four directors including its vice-chairman (who is also the third largest shareholder), the chair of the company’s audit committee and Fonterra’s two director representatives, broke ranks and revealed that, in effect, they had no confidence in the integrity of the financial information which had been presented to them as the basis of projected losses of $171m-$214m for the December 2017 financial year. . . 

One billion trees of embarrassment

In October 2017 Shane Jones’ distinctive Shakespearean voice could be heard booming throughout the land as he crowed triumphantly about his 1 billion trees in the Billion Trees Planting Programme. Less than three months later, not a single tree has been planted and the government is on track to come up 90% short of their target of doubling the rate of planting over 10 years.

The issue isn’t so much that there isn’t enough land available for Forestry Minister Shane Jones to plant these trees on. Rather it’s that neither New Zealand First or Labour bothered to ask the public service during the coalition negotiation process whether it was in fact possible.

The “Billion Trees Planting Programme” has been a bit of a disaster right from the get go. . . 

Fruit and vegetable supplies not wilting in summer heat – Gerard Hutching:

Supplies of fruit and vegetables are still plentiful in spite of, or perhaps because of the heat wave covering the country.

And milk quality has not been affected, unlike across the Tasman where Australian baristas are complaining it is not at its frothy best.

Fruit and vegetable growers running out of water are having problems because of the heat but otherwise it is “business as usual”, Horticulture New Zealand senior business manager John Seymour said. . . 

New boss sees huge opporutnities – Annette Scott:

Internationally recognised plant scientist Alison Stewart has been appointed as the new chief executive of the Foundation for Arable Research. She talked to Annette Scott about what attracted to her the key role in in the arable industry. 

When Dr Alison Stewart sat on the panel that did the external programme management review of the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) in 2016 she realised the huge opportunities for the future of the organisation.

Then, a year later, she saw the advertisement for a new chief executive. . . 

Honey sector growth unsustainable – Rachel Rose:

THERE’S lots of discussion about whether we have pushed past hard limits in the case of dairy farming, but have we gone past “peak bee”?

The Great Springvale Bee Standoff is back and elsewhere in today’s paper you’ll see more complaints about bees causing a nuisance in town.

There were 27 complaints made to Whanganui District Council last year about bees in the urban areas. WDC’s media release last month singled out urban hobbyists with a hive or two on the back lawn, as if the large numbers of commercial hives on the outskirts of the suburbs — particularly over winter — didn’t exist. . . 

New Zealand shearer has worked around the world – Jill Galloway:

Paul Rooney has shorn in Wales, Scotland and England, as well as Italy, the United States and Australia.

Now he has a farm and a family and prefers to limit his shearing to around Manawatū.

His travelling days are over, and he misses the travel and excitement, but not the hard work.

Rooney first went overseas in the New Zealand off-season of 1991 when he was 25. He worked in Britain and the change came as a bit of a shock. . . 


Rural round-up

January 23, 2018

Record lamb and mutton receipts and second highest for beef:

Red meat export receipts reached a record high for the December quarter of the 2017-18 season, according to an analysis by Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Economic Service.

The record was driven by high export volumes and average Free-on-Board (FOB) per tonne at record values for lamb and mutton, and near record values for beef, while the New Zealand dollar (NZD) has remained relatively strong.

Andrew Burtt, B+LNZ chief economist, said lamb and mutton farm-gate prices were up 30% and 59% respectively for the first quarter of the season (October-December 2017) compared to the previous season. Cattle prices were relatively steady – up 5%. . . 

MPI says disease is contained – Annette Scott:

Despite the growing number of properties testing positive for the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) remains adamant it has the disease contained.

MPI on Wednesday confirmed three new infected properties, two in Southland and one at Ashburton, bringing the total number of properties testing positive to 17, including one in Hawke’s Bay.

The number of restricted place notice properties is 34 and the number of properties for casing is 206. . . 

Fonterra ‘extremely disappointed’ as Beingmate’s forecast loss widens, again – Jamie Gray:

Fonterra says it is “extremely disappointed” that China’s Beingmate Baby & Child Food, in which it has an 18.8 per cent stake, has issued another earnings downgrade – this time to a loss of $171-$214 million for the December 2017 year.

The previous forecast was for a loss of RMB350m to RMB500m ($75m to $107m).

Fonterra said it was assessing the implications the loss would have on its first half result.

“As an investor in Beingmate, we are extremely disappointed by this announcement and the on-going performance of the company,” Fonterra said in a statement. . .

Mackay vs McKay in celebrity shears:

Jamie Mackay will be back at Waimumu to defend his speed shear title, this time going head to head with Rural Exchange presenter and former sports commentator Hamish McKay.

The inaugural Southern Field Days Speed Shears, held at the 2016 event, had The Country presenter Jamie Mackay go head to head with National leader Bill English.

Mackay walked away with bragging rights and he is coming south to compete again in this year’s “Celebrity Shear Off”. . .

Farm groups back TPP deal as Australia, Japan issue new March deadline – Kelsey Johnson:

Canadian farm groups are doubling down on their support for the revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), after Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he wants the multilateral trade deal finalized by March — with or without Canada and Mexico.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has been in negotiation since the United States pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership last January. Eleven members nations are involved in the discussions, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam and Canada.

During a state visit to Japan this week, Turnbull said Australia and Japan want the new agreement finalized and an agreement-in-principle signed by March, according to reports from The Australian Financial Review. . . 


Does mainstream media help or hinder farming?

January 23, 2018

Key findings from Nuffield Scholar, Anna Jones’ report Help or Hinder?  How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public were:

The urban/rural disconnect is real, more so in Western and urbanised societies, and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.

Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, failing to differentiate between campaigners and informers and an over-reliance on too few sources with an overt political agenda. There is a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists.

Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, disproportionate defensiveness in the face of legitimate challenge, disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.

The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists. Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust.

Her full report is here.

Jones visited USA, Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, France and Belgium. Would her findings be very  different here?

New Zealand has some very good rural journalists in the print media including the Otago Daily Times’ Sally Rae; Stuff’s  Kate Taylor, Gerald  Piddock and Gerard Hutching; NZ Farming Weekly’s Neal Wallace, Annette Scott, Richard Rennie, Tim Fulton, Alan Williams; Pam Tipa and Nigel Malthus at Rural News and RNZ’s  Alexa Cook.

We also have a good variety of rural shows on radio and television.

Jamie Mackay does an excellent job of covering farming and wider rural issues on The Country as does Andy Thompson on The Muster.

Country Calendar seems to cover more lifestyle and alternative farmers now but still does very good work. Rural Delivery was always interesting but now it’s failed to get NZ on AIr funding probably won’t be back.

RNZ  has Country Life and its Friday night and early Saturday morning slots don’t matter so much when it’s easy to listen online at a time that suits better.

We are generally well served by rural media and rural journalists in general media.

The problem is other journalists outside rural media who don’t understand farming and wider rural issues.

They’re the ones who buy the anti-farming propaganda often wrapped in faux-green wrapping; the ones who pedal the emotion and don’t have the inclination or time to check the facts.

They’re the ones who serve farming and the wider rural community badly and undo much of the good rural media and journalists do.

 


Rural round-up

January 20, 2018

Agriculture is not the villain when it comes to NZ’s emissions – Steve Cranston:

Now that we have heard that a climate change commission will be established, this makes 2018 an important year politically for farmers.

There is a real possibility that if the truth about agricultural emissions is not better circulated amongst farmers and the general public alike, the New Zealand agricultural industry may be forced into a highly damaging and completely unnecessary emissions reduction scheme if it is not set up correctly.

With the notable exception of Northland avocado farmer Robin Grieve, few people or organisations have been prepared to state this basic fact that in my opinion, New Zealand agriculture is not the problem it is made out to be. . .

Lives imperiled by cellphone blackspot – Sarah Harris:

Sited in one of New Zealand’s remotest regions, Haast township continues to lobby for life-saving cellphone reception. Sarah Harris reports.

Blair Farmer will never forget how a woman’s life slipped away as he tried to save her on the floor of the information centre in Haast.

Yi-Chieh Feng, from Taiwan, had been flung from the rental camper van when it crashed into a bank. She was not wearing a seatbelt.

Driver Yu-Hsiang Chen could not call 111 as there was no reception. So he bundled her into the van and drove 30 minutes to Haast at the bottom of the West Coast. . . .

Southern Rangitikei vet Kristina Dykes determined to keep vets in the job – Kate Taylor:

A southern Rangitikei vet is determined to improve retention numbers in the profession she loves. She spoke with Kate Taylor.

As one of five children growing up in Auckland, Kristina Dykes never pictured herself working as a rural vet in provincial New Zealand.

She did want to be a vet from an early age, but it was cats and dogs in her sights more than cattle and sheep. She went to vet school quite indifferent to the rural sector but soon realised the opportunities available to her. . . 

NZ crossbred wool ‘in a crisis’:

Low financial returns have pitched the New Zealand crossbred wool industry into a crisis, a leading grower says.

Sales of merino wool were doing fine, but these represented less than 15 per cent of our national wool clip, with most of the country not high and dry enough to run merino sheep.

In contrast, returns from coarser crossbred wool were so low, many farmers found it barely worth taking their quadbikes out of the shed.

Campaign for Wool NZ Trust chairperson Renata Apatu, in particular, paints a grim picture. . .

Hunter Downs good to go – Annette Scott:

A desperate plea to farmers and investors has finally pushed Hunter Downs Water across the start line.

Late last year the proposed multi-million dollar South Canterbury irrigation scheme was at risk of being abandoned but a last-ditch effort proved successful.

After a renewed push for investors, HDW chairman Andrew Fraser confirmed the company had the shareholders needed to proceed with the $110 million scheme. . . 

Snow levels as high as 12 inches across Scotland – Zoë Wilson:

TOWNS across Scotland have been affected by heavy snow since Monday evening, and, although some people have experienced chaotic situations, others are taking advantage of the glorious views, and even considered the impact snow can have on their current situation.

One lorry couldn’t access Scotstounbank Farm, in Blyth Bridge, West Linton, due to heavy snowfall, and instead of abandoning the job, the lorry driver waited in the village while the farmer, William Aitken, dropped 270 prime Blackface wedder lambs off using a Massey Ferguson tractor and trailer. . .


Rural round-up

December 11, 2017

Once a day switch reaps benefit in intensive farming system – Gerald Piddock:

Dave Swney’s decision to switch his younger cows to once a day (OAD) milking has paid dividends with better animal health and reproductive performance.

The contract milker decided this year to put his younger cow herd on OAD immediately after calving to try and reduce lameness, which had been a massive challenge on the 124 hectare farm.

“A lot of our decisions this year have been based around lame cows. It’s the one area we really wanted to focus on and we feel that if we can get that right, then a lot of other benefits are going to come from that.” . . 

Farmers need more rain soon – Annette Scott:

Drought fears are growing as farmers across the country suggest they could be in big trouble if it doesn’t rain before Christmas.

Many farmers were reporting lower than usual cuts of balage and silage with others pushing stock off early to processors.

For deer farmers a dry early summer was a real challenge because it coincided with the fawn drop and the need of hinds for lush, high-quality feed for lactation and maximum fawn growth. . . 

Stock flood fears – Alan Williams:

Meat processing plants have become very busy in the last two weeks as farmers react to very dry conditions by unloading stock but it’s just become a typical season for this time of year, the companies say.

Plants were working overtime and on Saturdays and livestock backlogs were starting to build-up.

“Two weeks ago I would have said the season was slow but now it’s up to normal,’’ Anzco Foods general manager of agriculture and livestock Grant Bunting said.

“It usually happens about now.”

However, the change had been sudden and three to four weeks ago farmers who usually had a weaning draft were contemplating finishing lambs themselves. . . 

Farmers Fast Five – Beverley Forrester:

The Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Glenmark Rural Women’s Branch President, Yarn Producer, Exporter, Author, Fashion Designer and Proud Farmer Beverley Forrester.

1.How long have you been Farming?

All of my life: 66 years. Brought up on the 4th generation family farms Warkworth, North Auckland, and is still run now by my sister and myself. Since 1986 I have been in Hawarden, North Canterbury, on what is also a 4th generation family farm with which we won the 2006 New Zealand Century Farm and Station Award.

2.What sort of farming are you involved in? 

Farming sheep (natural coloured chemical free wool), cattle and tourists. I have a yarn production and export business in yarn and livestock. . . 

Farmers Fast Five – Jonathan Carden-Holdstock:

The Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Vice President of The Canterbury Dairy Goat Breeders Association and Proud Farmer Jonathan Carden-Holdstock, pictured here with his wife, Proud Farmer Chris Carden-Holdstock.

1. How long have you been farming?

I grew up on and around small traditional family run dairy farms near the Devon and Cornwall border in England. I went to Agricultural College in this area as well

2. What sort of farming were you involved in?

Mostly Dairy farming with the Holstein Friesian breed. We no longer supply Fonterra but still milk a small herd of Holsteins for calf rearing along with my wife’s Pedigree Saanen and Toggenburg Dairy Goats. The milk from this goes into calf rearing and soap. We have always had some beef cattle, I love the Red Devon breed as this was so common in the area I grew up in. . . 

Don’t tell me or others how to eat, pray and love – Mark Wilson:

Summer is BBQ time and what a glorious start to the BBQ season here in the Wakatipu. Add in some great Test cricket on the TV and the arrival of our latest shipment of Bainfield Road lamb from down south, the team at Arthurs Shore couldn’t be happier.

However, as each year goes by I feel a growing animosity towards the carnivores amongst us. It started but a whisper but, amplified by like-minded anti-meat and dairy campaigners banding together on social media and more support in mainstream media, it is now a full-blown movement of some size. . . 

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