Rural round-up

April 12, 2020

Back to the land after lockdown – David Slack:

With agriculture once again New Zealand’s main export earner, are farmers feeling needed again, and what are their prospects once the lockdown eases? David Slack reports from the farm gate.

There’s a photo of my grandmother and her sisters taken by their father in the late days of the First World War. It’s not the usual sort of photo of the time. They’re alive, it’s vivid. They’re up high in the Rangitikei backblocks. There are cows to be milked, they’re carrying cream cans. They look cheerful, they’re doing work that matters.

There were 16 of them in that family. Some of them went on to raise farmers, some raised city folk. My dad raised us to understand there was no future in farming. We didn’t doubt him, and we made our lives in town. . .

Primary interest: Time to cut the cord and let agriculture thrive – Steve Elers:

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said last year that tourism was New Zealand’s “largest export earner”, contributing $39 billion to the economy each year and directly employing more than 200,000 people.

Obviously, Covid-19 has upended the tourism sector, so Davis was left with no choice but to announce earlier this week that he has tasked Tourism New Zealand to lead a programme that includes the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Department of Conservation, and industry parties to “reimagine the way we govern tourism, how we market domestically and internationally, who we market to, and how we manage visitors when they arrive on our shores”. 

Another major sector upended because of Covid-19 is international education. According to the Tertiary Education Commission, international education “contributes $5.1b to the economy and is the country’s fourth largest export earner” – it also supports about 50,000 jobs. . .

Image sells our meat – Neal Wallace:

China is re-emerging as a significant buyer of New Zealand beef as its families continue to use home cooking skills learned when the country was shut down to control covid-19.

Many restaurants in China are yet to fully reopen and NZ beef appears to be an early beneficiary of growing Chinese retail demand as consumers look for meat from a country with a trusted food production system and a clean and green reputation.

But commentators warn we shouldn’t take this interest for granted, especially when other markets weaken as Governments try to contain the virus. . .

No letup for some works – Neal Wallace:

Most of the country’s largest meat companies will continue to process livestock over at least part of Easter to try to ease a developing backlog.

Selected plants run by Silver Fern Farms, Anzco and Affco will process over the long weekend to clear a developing backlog of stock, which, in some cases, has reached six weeks.

Southland’s Blue Sky Meats has started processing seven days a week and plans to work Easter and Anzac Day. 

Anzco chief executive Peter Conley said it will operate its beef plants on three of the four days over Easter. . . 

 

Coronavirus: Working and living in dairy farm bubble during Covid-19 – Lawrence Gullery:

Ben Moore counts himself lucky to be working on the land during the coronavirus outbreak.

He feels fortunate to still be earning an income, to pay the bills and provide for his family on their dairy farm in the Waikato.

“My heart goes out to those who can’t work,” Moore said. “We can still work, still pay the mortgage but I know there are many people out there who can’t.” 

Stuff is celebrating the coronavirus champions – including essential services workers like Moore and community volunteers – who are keeping New Zealand going though the lockdown. . . 

Prime cuts of beef are going to waste as well: After the scandal of £220,000 of milk being dumped every day during the coronavirus lockdown, GUY ADAMS investigates how the meat industry is coping – Guy Adams:

A couple of weeks ago, as panic-stricken shoppers descended on the nation’s supermarkets, Sainsbury’s and Asda quietly introduced a new product to their meat aisles.

Labelled ‘NO FUSS lean Polish beef mince’ and retailing for the bargain price of £2.95 a pound, it helped fill the empty shelves that had until very recently held Union Flag-stamped packets of best British beef.

Farmers, when they spotted it, hit the roof, accusing the rapacious retailers of flooding the market with cheap imports. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 5, 2019

They’re doing the impossible – Ross Nolly:

A Taranaki family has its eye set firmly on farm ownership. Ross Nolly reports.

When Glen and Trish Rankin entered the Dairy Industry Awards one of the things they looked forward to was the feedback from judges.

However, when it came, it was unexpected and set them aback, especially when they were told farm ownership might not be achievable.

“Feedback from the second time we entered was that we were pulling in different directions and that they couldn’t ever see us owning a farm. It felt blunt at the time but was spot on,” Trish says.

“They suggested we pool our skills and focus on driving our farm business. We’d just had baby number four, we were frantically busy but still not getting ahead. We decided to search for a 50-50 job.” . . 

Extra grazing slows start to meat season :

Good grass growth has dominated the season for central South Island meat processors.

Anzco Foods Canterbury processing general manager Darryl Tones said wet weather before Christmas caused a slower than usual start to the season but meant farmers had quite a lot of feed and the stock was in good condition.

The plant was running at ”full seasonal capacity for beef and lamb with day and night shifts operating for both”, Mr Tones said. . .

Planet-saving diet has pitfalls – Richard Rennie:

Richard Rennie examines a report that suggests the world eat far more grains, nuts and beans with less of everything else.

A report from medical journal The Lancet calls for significant shifts in the types of foods people eat.

It is a shift in diet that has the planet as much as human health firmly in mind but has been challenged on grounds New Zealand is already well down the path to providing the planet with a sustainable diet. . . 

 

Pania Te-Paiho Marsh teaches Kiwi women how to hunt – Kirsty Lawrence:

Every time Pania Te-Paiho Marsh takes a group of women out hunting she sees their confidence grow. 

What started as an innocent Facebook offer has grown into a list filled with more than 1000 women who want the experience of going bush. 

Te-Paiho Marsh started Wahine Toa Hunting in August and said the idea came about as she wanted people to live a better lifestyle. 

“I wanted to help women become more self-sufficient, to walk what I talk.”  . . 

Ozone in the vineyard – Tessa Nicholson:

The word ozone conjures up images of big holes in the atmosphere, stronger UV light, the risk of severe sunburn and CFC’s — at least in this part of the world.

However if you are a vineyard owner, then maybe you want to think again about this particular compound, as it could be a saving grace out there among the vines.

Ozone or O3, is an unstable bluish gas, that has long been recognised as a sterilising agent in wineries and dairy units. . . 

Drought and a creeping emptiness in NSW – Perry Duffin:

Smaller farming communities across NSW are shrinking in the face of economic and social headwinds but those who remain fear the current drought is accelerating the decline.

Between 2006 and 2011 the Riverina-Murray population increased by 18,000 people overall, according to the census.

But a closer look at migration data reveals smaller towns lost thousands to regional centres such as Wagga Wagga and Albury. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 31, 2018

‘We’d better off if we had it’ – Sally Rae:

Southland farmer John Young reckons he would be in a better position if his cattle had Mycoplasma bovis.

With a contract for 1000 calves cancelled by Ngai Tahu Farming, he described himself as a ”by-product” of the disease saying there was no recognition for those in similar situations.

Left short of feed and likely to take a massive financial hit, he was perplexed by the iwi’s motivation as he felt he had done everything to mitigate any concerns.

”We’d be better off if we had it. We would know where we’re at [and could] set a plan and work around it. It would be acknowledged we had it, we’d be compensated. The way we are at the moment, we don’t know where we stand,” he said. . . 

Farmer provides positive advice on coping – Sally Rae:

Argentinian-born Leo Bensegues came to New Zealand with only $700 and the desire for a good life.

Fast forward 16 and a-half years and he has a wife, Maite, and a family and his own business, sharemilking at Morven in the Waimate district.

Last August, that good life was interrupted by confirmation there was Mycoplasma bovis in the couple’s herd.

Their 950 cows and 222 young stock were one of the first herds to be culled, although they had 200 heifers which had not been affected by the disease.

Yesterday, Mr Bensegues declined to talk about how he felt seeing those animals dispatched to slaughter, saying that was ”in the past” and they had to focus on the future.

They were starting over again and he had a message for other farmers affected by this week’s announcement of a massive cull of animals in a bid to eradicate the disease.

They had to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries, rather than against it, and they had to stay positive. . . 

‘Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on  milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . .

 Business case for cattle disease plan kept secret from public – Andrea Fox:

The cost-benefit analysis behind the $886 million government-agriculture sector decision to try to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is being kept secret from taxpayers picking up most of the bill.

A Herald request to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for a copy of the cost-benefit analysis is being treated by MPI as an Official Information Act request, which normally means waiting nearly a month for a response, with no guarantee of full disclosure.

When the Herald tried to clarify that the cost-benefit analysis was not being made public, and if so, who had access to it, the response from an MPI spokesman was: “This has been part of the decision-making process so the decision makers have had access to this information.” . .

Live deer capture: ‘a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive’, says pioneer– Heather Chalmers:

Recalling the pioneering live deer capture days, veterans like Bryan Bassett-Smith get a gleam in their eyes.

In the 1970s the emphasis changed from killing deer as a feral pest to wanting to capture and keep deer alive for a fledging farming industry. Deer farming made live recovery more profitable than hunting; there were fortunes to be made and adventures to have.

These were the days before clipboards, hi-vis vests and health and safety regulations.

Bassett-Smith didn’t fly helicopters himself. “I was a guy that jumped out and used the tranquilliser gun.

READ MORE: Deer farmer recalls days of live capture derring-do

“It was a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive” he says, referring to the casualties and fatalities from helicopter crashes. “Sadly, there were a few too many funerals,” he told deer industry conference delegates during a visit to Mesopotamia Station in the South Canterbury high country, a property actively involved in live deer recovery. . . 

Distribution deal for Mastatest– Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based veterinary diagnostics company Mastaplex has secured a national distribution partnership with AgriHealth for its bovine mastitis diagnostic products.

Company founder and inventor Olaf Bork said Mastatest  was an on-farm or veterinary clinic-based bovine mastitis test which generated results within 24 hours, enabling dairy farmers to select specific antibiotic treatments recommended by their veterinarian once target bacteria had been identified.

The early  growth-stage company, which is based at the University of Otago’s Centre for Innovation, was also negotiating with a European distributor and  seeking an alliance in the United States, he said. . . 

Rural health must be integral in health services review:

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network today welcomed an announcement of a comprehensive review of health services in New Zealand.

The NZRGPN is the national network representing the staff of rural medical practices across New Zealand.

“A comprehensive review of the delivery of health and disability services is timely,” said NZRGPN Chief Executive Dalton Kelly. “This review must be comprehensive and wide-ranging, taking into account the full range of communities and health service providers across New Zealand. . .

Tough year hits Anzco profits – Alan Williams:

A difficult year in beef procurement and processing caused a big fall in profit for Anzco Foods.

Intense competition for stock and uneven livestock flows increased costs while consumer market prices were just steady, chief executive Peter Conley said.

Anzco’s pre-tax profit fell to just $1.8 million in the year ended December 31, from $17m a year earlier. Because the group’s international trade offices are required to pay tax in the countries they’re based in, overall group tax took up $1.7m of the earnings, leaving an after-tax operating profit of $100,000, down from $12m previously. . . 

How a routine day on the farm turned into a pig’s dinner – Joyce Wyllie:

Sometimes routine jobs on a routine day take a less routine turn.

With Jock away at dog trials, I walked to the kennels one evening to run and feed the remainder of his team left at home.

It’s a familiar routine of letting energetic dogs off for enthusiastic exercise, feeding pellets to pigs and shutting the team up with their tea.

It was drizzling as I opened the doors and let animated animals race off for time out and toilet. Pushing the feed shed door open to get pig tucker revealed a four-legged super surprise. . . 

Hounding the horehound weed:

Two moths may be imported to combat the horehound weed, which a recent survey estimates to cost New Zealand dryland farmers almost $7 million per year.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering an application from a collective of affected farmers – the Horehound Biocontrol Group – to introduce the horehound plume moth and horehound clearwing moth to attack this invasive weed, and is calling for public submissions. The application is supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ sustainable farming fund. . .


Rural round-up

February 12, 2018

Retiring from farming not simple – Sally Rae:

Don’t leave it too late.

That’s the message from Rhodes Donald, from Polson Higgs Wealth Management in Dunedin, who has completed a study of retired farming couples.

He advised other farming couples to begin the process at least five years before they thought was the right time.

Now that his work was written up, it was ready to be distributed to anyone that was interested and he also wanted to speak about it to groups. . . 

Government warning: Farmers ignore concerns about meat at their peril – Madison Reidy:

Besieged by celebrity vegetarians, our agriculture industry is taking up the challenge of finding alternatives to old-style farmed meat. Madison Reidy investigates, in Part 2 of our three-week series.

Deep in the Rangitikei, Richard Morrison and his livestock seem safely tucked away from threats. But he, like all meat farmers, is being confronted by a laboratory-grown blight that he cannot fence out.

Bullish new companies are putting meat mimic products on supermarket shelves,  challenging one of New Zealand’s most valuable export industries and forcing farmers to rethink their future. The options are popularising a consumer movement away from slaughtered food, causing demand for beef and lamb to drop.

Owners of 150-year-old family farms like Morrison’s are shaking in their gumboots, hoping the world’s red-meat cravings will continue. . . 

Anzco chairman named to replace Sir Graeme Harrison – Brittany Pickett:

Kazuhiko (Sam) Misonou will take over as chairman of New Zealand food company Anzco Foods, replacing company founder Sir Graeme Harrison who is retiring from the board at the end of March.

Misonou joined the Anzco board in 2013 and brought with him international business experience. Previously he worked in beef processing and feedlot operations in Australia, had six years in the pork industry in the United States and worked extensively in the meat industry in Japan.

In 2016, Misonou became president of Yonekyu Inc., a Japanese meat production, marketing and sales company that was established in 1965. . . 

Otorohanga formula factory granted land consent – Alexa Cook:

A new $230 million dairy factory in King Country has been granted land consent despite local opposition.

report from the Otorohanga District Council last November said the factory should not go ahead because it would impact on the local ecology, landscape, and rural character.

However, after two months of deliberation the council has now granted Happy Valley Milk the land consent to build its infant formula factory.

Public submissions included concerns about the factory drawing too much water from the ground, and discharging stormwater, wastewater, and air pollution. . . 

Share offer opens for irrigators to invest in 100-year community water supply:

Waimea Irrigators Limited (WIL) has publicly released a Product Disclosure Statement for the Offer of Water Shares, which opened yesterday and is publicly available for irrigators on the Waimea Plains to consider.

The Product Disclosure Statement is an offer to buy water shares in WIL. Shareholders can enter into agreements that allow them to apply under the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) to affiliate an existing ground water or surface water permit for water provided by the Dam, once it’s built. Landowners will be able to apply for shares in WIL even if they don’t have an operative water permit, which would enable potential future water users to buy into the scheme. . . 

LIC proposes share restructure to reduce conflicts between farmers, investors – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Farmer-owned cooperative Livestock Improvement Corp’s board has released its suggested plan to merge its two share classes in a proposal the independent adviser described as relatively complicated but overall will deliver benefits.

LIC has two classes of shares: unlisted cooperative control shares and investment shares, which are listed on the NZX Alternative Market (NZAX). Chair Murray King said the current structure means cooperative shareholders have greater voting rights but limited exposure to the financial benefits, while investment shareholders can reap financial gains but have limited ability to influence the cooperative’s direction. . . 

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Enjoyment and stress of holding an A&P show – Allan Barber:

Auckland Anniversary Weekend Saturday saw the 151st Warkworth A&P Show held, as most years, in hot and sunny conditions, but at least this year there were no strong nor ’easterlies or a major blockage of State Highway 1, apart from the normal holiday weekend traffic queues. Not that this was of great concern as I drove to the Showgrounds at 6.15 to greet the gate officials who have the responsibility of admitting exhibitors and competitors early and taking money off the public who start to arrive any time after 8.30.

As chairman of the Warkworth A&P Society for the last few years – nobody else appears to be willing to put their hand up – I should be used to the frenetic lead up to the Show, which involves last minute trade exhibitors, arranging someone to mark out the show grounds which for the rest of the year are the Mahurangi Rugby pitches and making sure everything else is under control including money in the bank account to cover prizes. But this time was a bit different because Marjorie Blythen, our Secretary of more than 30 years, had retired after the 150th Show and, for all of us, it was a whole new challenge to remember critical things that previously appeared to happen automatically. Fortunately there is a good committee able to take responsibility for each section. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 23, 2017

Van Leeuwen owner ‘devastated’ by cattle disease outbreak, says business could go under – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Aad van Leeuwen found himself at the centre of a storm when he reported an outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis in his South Canterbury herds but said the bacterial cattle disease didn’t originate on his farms and if government compensation doesn’t come through soon his operation could go under.

“It’s been devastating,” the owner of Van Leeuwen Dairy Group told BusinessDesk. “We are struggling at the moment. Because we notified the disease we are eligible for compensation, but it’s a battle. It’s not coming through. The government is very slow and confusing. This could put us under if it doesn’t come through. It’s as simple as that.”

Van Leeuwen Dairy is a large-scale, high-performance dairy business in the South Island with 16 farms and associated business, including silage. . . 

ANZCO is now 100% Japanese owned – Allan Barber:

One of Japan’s two largest meat processing and marketing companies, Itoham Yonekyu Holdings, has received OIO consent to increase its shareholding in ANZCO Foods from 65% to 100%. It will acquire the shares currently held by ANZCO’s management (18.24%) and Japanese food company Nissui (16.76%) as a carefully planned transition which will see founder and chairman, Sir Graeme Harrison, retire at the company’s AGM in March.

Itoham Foods have held shares in ANZCO since 1995 when they combined with ANZCO management to complete a buyout of the New Zealand Meat Producers’ Board, forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, in 1995, having formed a 50/50 JV with ANZCO in 1989 to establish Five Star Beef Limited with its large scale feedlot near Ashburton. Nissui, a joint owner of Sealord with Maori, have also been involved since the beginning, so this latest transaction means the end of a 28 year association. . . 

South Canterbury blackcurrant farm cashes in on superfood buzz – Adriana Weber:

A South Canterbury blackcurrant farm is cashing in on the berry’s “superfood” status.

Tony Howey and his wife bought a blackcurrant orchard near Pleasant Point, about two hours south of Christchurch, 12 years ago.

In the past few years in particular, and since converting their farm into an organic one, their business and brand ViBERi has taken off.

Mr Howey said since blackcurrants were high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, they were able to market their products for their health benefits. . . 

Community calls for more drought support:

National Party Spokesperson for Rural Communities Barbara Kuriger has backed the call for the Government to declare a medium scale adverse event to better support those affected by the rapidly emerging drought conditions in Taranaki.

“Taranaki Regional Council have today met with organisations such as DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Rural Advisory Group, Rural Support Trust, Taranaki Veterinary Association and Beef & Lamb NZ, with those organisations all calling on the Government to declare a medium scale adverse event for the whole Taranaki region,” Mrs Kuriger says. . . 

Rural Support Trust Making a Difference:

National Party Spokesperson for Rural Communities Barbara Kuriger has thanked the Rural Support Trust for the care and support they extend to people who are facing challenges and encourages those in need to reach out.

“This year has seen a number of challenges for the rural community. The Rural Support Trust has worked tirelessly to help support those who are in challenging times.

“The current extreme weather conditions across the country present hard times for farmers for a number of reasons, especially due to the need to source feed for animals. . . 

Allbirds expands to Australia, eyes further global markets for 2018 – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Allbirds, the merino wool shoe company co-founded by former New Zealand soccer star Tim Brown, has expanded into its third global market, launching in Australia last month, and it’s eyeing up more markets for next year.

San Francisco-based Allbirds started selling its minimalist woollen sneakers direct to consumers in March 2016 and has online operations in the US and New Zealand, shops in San Francisco and New York, and a steady stream of pop-up outlets. It began selling online in Australia on Nov. 21 in response to customer demand from the world’s biggest merino producing country. . . 

Export log prices hit new record on ocntinued strong demand from China:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export log prices edged higher to a new record, buoyed by continued strong demand from China, a weaker currency and historically low shipping rates.

The price for A-Grade export logs reached $129 a tonne, up from $128 a tonne last month, and $127 a tonne the month earlier, marking the highest level since AgriHQ began collecting the data in 2008, according to the agricultural market specialist’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. All of the main log grades tracked by AgriHQ either held steady or lifted as much as $2 a tonne on the previous month, AgriHQ said. . . 

Sealord operating profit up:

Sealord Group Ltd has reported a profit from continuing operations of $21.8M for its financial year ended 30 September 2017.

Net Profit Before Tax from continuing operations of $28.2M was + 10.2% ahead of the previous year.

This was before a net cost related to discontinued operations of $3.2M. . . 


Rural round-up

December 21, 2017

Southland stock trading  likely to be affected by Mycoploasma bovis outbreak – Dave Nicoll:

Some Southland farmers are frustrated and concerned as calves infected with Mycoplasma bovis may have been traded before the outbreak in Southland was discovered.

Last week, the ministry identified three farms near Winton that had tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird said there was some uncertainty among farmers because they knew little about the disease and it was possible some of them had stock from the affected farms.

Baird said he had fielded calls from several people concerned about the disease. . . 

Success of merino held up as example of how to boost languishing coarse wool – Gerard Hutching:

Rattle your dags” – that might be the call to Kiwi merino farmers following the news that the dags of the fine wool sheep are generating three times the price of quality strong wool fleece.

Higher quality regular fibre is selling up to a 700 per cent premium over coarse wool. The contrast could not be greater with the prices of coarse wool fleeces tumbling over the past 12 months, and a lot of wool not being sold has been put into storage until the industry picks up again.

Coarse wool exports fell 28 per cent to $550 million to the year to June as a lack of demand from China weighed on prices.

But New Zealand Merino (NZM) is starting to put a focus on coarse wool and using its marketing nous to turn the industry around. . . 

Streamlining NAIT comes with tougher compliance approach:

Federated Farmers is pleased that moves to streamline the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (NAIT) process are coming in tandem with a tougher approach on non-compliance.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has indicated after nearly five years of educating farmers about the importance of NAIT for biosecurity and food traceability, those who continue to ignore their obligations would face prosecution and fines of up to $10,000. . . 

Grant awarded to Paeroa company to study nutritional needs of bees:

It may well be the biggest thing to come out of Paeroa since L&P. 

Paeroa-based biostimulant company AgriSea NZ Seaweed Ltd has just been awarded a project grant from Callaghan Innovation for $74,000. The grant will go towards research and development of their bioactive products and the nutritional needs of honey bees. 

“This grant recognises the innovation happening at AgriSea and will continue to grow our R&D capabilities,” said Agrisea general manager Tane Bradley. “To date there is limited scientific data around the nutritional needs of the honey bee so this is really important.”  . . 

OIO considers $105.5 mln buyout of Harvard dairy farms – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – The Overseas Investment Office is considering the sale of Harvard University’s 5,500-head dairy farms in the South Island to a Singapore-based investor.

Accounts for the dairy farms filed with New Zealand’s Companies Office show that it entered into an agreement to sell its business assets to WHL Otago Operations on May 31, and the sale was now pending OIO approval but the settlement was expected by June 2018. The accounts show that the expected realisation value of all the company’s assets, after the cost of selling, was calculated to be $105.5 million as at June 30, 2017. . . 

Westland Milk Products completes leadership revitalisation:

Westland Milk Products Chief Executive Toni Brendish has completed her revitalisation of the dairy co-operative’s Executive Leadership Team, with the appointment of Jeffrey Goodwin to the role of General Manager, Sales.

Goodwin came to Westland from his role as Vice-President, Global Operations, for James Farrell & Co, which represents United States-based manufacturers in the export of their ingredients and finished goods.

“Jeffrey’s experience in food and ingredients sales is global in scale,” Brendish said, “with a record of success in South East Asia, Japan, China and the United States (among others). . . 

‘Green window dressing’: EU criticised for wasting billions on green farming subsidies:

Attempts to ‘green’ EU farm policy did not lead to any significant increase in environmentally-sound farming practices – despite countries spending a huge chunk of the EU’s annual budget on the scheme.

The UK’s net contribution of £8.6billion from last year went towards the project, but a European Court of Auditors report shows just 5 percent of the EU’s farmland benefited from the scheme.

The auditors found that the new payments added more complexity to the system but had led to changed farming practices on only about five per cent of EU farmland. . . 

Livestock to help offset big fall in grain production – Brad Thompson:

The farm sector appears fundamentally strong following a record year for farm production in Australia, Rabobank says, anticipating a weaker Australian dollar and strong livestock prices will bolster returns for most farmers next year.

Rabobank’s head of research in Australia and New Zealand, Tim Hunt, said Federal forecaster ABARES’ expectation of a 7 per cent fall in the value of gross production reflected less favourable weather conditions for grain growing after a record harvest last year.

“That is a climate story rather than a structural story, as in we are not back into industry decline we have just had a bad grain season,” he said. . . 

Moving beyond the green revolution in Africa’s new era of hunger – Calestous Juma:

A quarter of the world’s hungry people are in sub-Saharan Africa and the numbers are growing. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of hungry – those in distress and unable to access enough calories for a healthy and productive life – grew from 20.8% to 22.7%. The number of undernourished rose from 200 million to 224 million out of a total populationof 1.2 billion.

Conflict, poverty, environmental disruptions and a growing population all contribute to the region’s inability to feed itself.

To tackle hunger, the continent needs to find new, integrated approaches. These approaches – discussed at a recent Harvard conference – must increase crop yield, enhance the nutritional content of people’s diets, improve people’s health and promote sustainability. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 7, 2016

NZ meat industry pioneer honoured:

New Zealand meat industry pioneer Sir Graeme Harrison has won this year’s Rabobank Leadership Award in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the food, beverage and agribusiness sectors.

Harrison, the founder and chairman of one of NZ’s largest exporters, Anzco Foods, was presented with the trans-Tasman award at the annual Rabobank Leadership Dinner in Sydney, Australia, last night.

It is the second year in a row a New Zealander has taken the honour with former Fonterra chair Sir Henry van der Heyden the recipient of the award last year.

Presenting the award, Rabobank Australia & New Zealand Group managing director Peter Knoblanche said Sir Graeme was a “true champion of agribusiness” who had made an enormous contribution not only as a NZ business leader, but also in the international meat industry trade”. . .

Farmers say river plan will kill businesses – Glenys Christian:

Many of the more than 150 farmers who gathered in Pukekohe last Monday believe the Waikato Regional Council’s Healthy Rivers Wai Ora plan will drive them out of business or severely limit what they can do on their properties.  

And Waikato University Professor of Agribusiness Jacqueline Rowarth told them if the plan came into force there would be a dearth of young people returning to the land.  

New Zealand enjoyed some of the best quality wild water in the world, backed up by a huge amount of environmental protection.  

She questioned comparisons made and said a lot of the research work used by the Healthy Rivers Wai Ora collaborative stakeholder group (CSG) was based on modelling without giving enough attention to the constraints and uncertainties involved, especially went it came to Overseer programme predictions. . . 

Farmers praise Northland plan – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland’s draft regional plan is pragmatic and headed in the right direction, Federated Farmers says.  

Federated Farmers Northland province found the overall thrust of Northland Regional Council policy-making was appropriate for dairy, sheep and beef cattle farmers.  

In particular, it responded to livestock exclusion rules, setback distance from waterways, farm wastewater storage, wetlands and catchment plans for improving water quality.  

It said Northland’s freshwater resources were in a reasonable state and over-allocation and nitrate loadings were not issues. . . 

A damn load of emotional effluent – Tim Gilbertson:

The Ruataniwha water storage scheme saga has gone far beyond soap opera territory: fantasy has long since replaced fact, the noisy quashing any sense.

Here are some examples. Serial anti-RWSS crusader Grenville Christie claims riparian planting stops only phosphate from entering the waterways (CHB Mail Sept 20). Incorrect. It stops virtually everything except nitrogen.

Filtering improves water quality, in some cases by up to 80% within a few months. Nitrogen enters the rivers via groundwater, so riparian planting is ineffective. But nitrogen will be severely limited by Plan Change 6, so Grenville can rest easy. . . 

Time to wake up and get safe! – Mark Daniel:

While quad fatalities keep fuelling a media frenzy, it’s time to look at the broader picture and try to understand what makes our farms such dangerous places.

Dangerous they are: statistics between 2013 and December 2015 show farmers suffered 63 deaths*; the next-highest sectors, transport and warehousing, had 17 and forestry 14 respectively during the same period.  

So the death rate on farms is around four times higher; why is that? If you’ve visited a quarry, warehouse or forest lately, you’ll know that before you get to the action you’ll be hit with rules, hazard identification, hi-vis vests, hard hats and steel-toe boots. Easy to do, you say, on a compact ring fenced site, but much harder to do in the backblocks of New Zealand. . . 

New challenge in milking goats –  Sudesh Kissun:

South Auckland farmer Hamish Noakes had no crystal ball four years ago when he pulled out of cow dairying and started milking goats.

The 40ha family-run farm at Karaka was “just too small and milking 160 cows just wasn’t working”.  

“I was always chasing my tail; I had a lot of leased blocks so I was always running around between leased blocks and running this farm,” Hamish told Rural News. . . 

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