Rural round-up

August 24, 2019

Climate report gives much needed detail – Pam TIpa:

The latest IPCC Special Report has the potential to turn the way we look at climate change on its head, says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

It highlights the challenges of providing sustainable food for a growing population and says animal sourced food from sustainable systems has a role to play.

The IPCC Special Report, released this month, is a “welcome contribution” to the developing debate on climate, says Mackle. . .

Milk shake – Why the future of dairy looks scary – Teresa Cowie:

Dairy’s huge role earning export dollars for New Zealand is facing a threat some say could bring it to its knees. Lab-grown milk protein is now stepping outside niche cheese and ice cream markets and into the bulk ingredient arena. As Teresa Cowie has been finding out, a fight for this bulk commodity market could have serious consequences for our dairy industry.

At a lab in San Francisco, scientists working for New Zealand synthetic dairy start-up New Culture are trying to work out how they can produce mozzarella that looks, tastes and very importantly stretches like the real thing. Across the Pacific at home in Auckland, the company’s founder Matt Gibson says, as a vegan himself, the plant-based cheese offerings that refuse to melt properly and fail to satisfy in the taste department drew him towards exploring yeast fermented dairy protein, that cuts out the need for cows.

Plant-based diets are moving from niche to mainstream as consumers become more aware of the issues of animal welfare, climate change and pressure to feed the growing population. And this shift is predicted to be a huge disruption for New Zealand dairy, as makers of lab-produced products race to take over the ingredients market our farmers rely on. . . 

Pragmatism sweeps into Mackenzie debate – David Williams:

An environmental group floats ideas for protecting the Mackenzie Basin’s landscapes. David Williams reports.

It’s both the poster child and the problem child.

Turqouise lakes and tawny tussocks draw more than a million tourists to the South Island’s Mackenzie Basin each year. But many believe irrigation-fuelled intensive farming – on former Crown-owned leases, often, within easy view of the highway – is ruining landscapes and sending mixed messages to turn tourists off.

The Government won’t buy the whole basin, so how do you balance protection with economic activity, while acknowledging those, including Māori, with important connections to the land? . . 

‘Men have always taken the glory’: Why more women are becoming farmers – Harriet Agerholm:

Hannah Jackson was helping a farmer get his sheep ready for a country show, when he told her to let “the lads down the road” groom the rams because they were “far too strong” for her.

The 27-year-old did not listen. “I went into the pen where there were these big male sheep, flipped one on its bum and started filing its feet,” she says. “I’d stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any man.”

More and more women like Hannah, who now runs her own farm, are entering the male-dominated UK agriculture industry.

About 17% of farmers are female, up from 7% in 2007-8, according to last year’s Office for National Statistics’ annual population survey. . . 

Silver Fern Farms wants to close Fairton pelt processing plant :

New Zealand’s largest meat processor, Silver Fern Farms wants to shut its pelt processing plant at Fairton, just outside Ashburton.

The company said this would affect 44 staff at the Fairton site and four others preparing pelts at Pareora further south. A final decision will come after consultation with staff and their union, which will take until the end of August.

Staff had been presented with potential redundancy, as well as work options at other Silver Fern Farms sites in the region, it said.

Silver Fern Farms closed its Fairton sheepmeat processing plant in May 2017, affecting 370 staff, following a decline in regional sheep numbers. . . 

Multi-faceted approach required for management of internal parasites:

Changes in land use or farm policies which result in predominance of young livestock could be recipe for disaster in terms of the development of drench resistance.

Ben Allott from North Canterbury Vets says while sheep and beef farmers are often encouraged to use triple active drenches to circumnavigate drench resistance issues, he says this ignores the changes that need to be made to address the fundamental issues that are creating the environment for drench resistance to occur.

Stocking policies that drive a reliance on chemicals to control internal parasites create the perfect environment for breeding drench resistant worms. These include intensive lamb finishing operations, particularly under irrigation and dairy heifer grazing. . .

Now that scientists have sequenced the avocado genome, can we grow them in Minnesota?   – Kamari Stewart:

From toast to theme restaurants, the avocado has soared in popularity in the United States. Consumption is up from 436.6 million pounds annually to 2.4 billion pounds between 1985 and 2018.

Researchers from Texas Tech University and the University of Buffalo have studied avocados in a way that is best described as a 23andMe test. They compared the roots of the Hass cultivar (a Mexican-Guatemalan hybrid) and a Mexican strain, to West Indian, Guatemalan, and other Mexican varieties. They discovered that the avocado genome has naturally evolved over time to increase its resistance to disease—a finding that could be significant for the future of avocado breeding.

The discovery could help growers breed more disease-resistant avocados, and eventually lead to varieties that are drought-resistant or less temperature sensitive, and can be grown in northern and drier climates. More growing options could help supply match demand and protect shoppers from a price hike like this year’s. In early July, avocado prices were 129 percent higher than they were at the same time in 2018. . . 

 


Rural round-up

July 13, 2019

AFB spread prompts burning of hives – Laura Smith:

Watching bees burn would have to be one of the most difficult things a beekeeper could do – it is also an experience more Southland apiarists will have to face.

It is the consequence of the spread of destructive bee-killing disease American foulbrood (AFB).

Southland commercial beekeeper Geoff Scott said ignorance was a major contributor to the disease spreading.

”And we’re doing it – it’s us beekeepers doing it.” . .

Hinewai revival worth every cent – Tim Fulton:

Hinewai Reserve was once dismissed as a fantasy of fools and dreamers. 

Now, as the 1250ha native sanctuary on Banks Peninsula flourishes it has about $1m of carbon credits plus income from a walking track and public donations.

But Hugh Wilson’s neighbours let rip when his plans for Hinewai Reserve became clear. . .

Possum is scourge of farm and forest: – Nick Hancox:

Managing disease in farmed cattle and deer is one stream of the TBfree programme’s work. It underpins the value and reputation of the meat and milk New Zealand exports.

The other essential work the programme manages is possum control — taking and keeping numbers down at a level where disease can’t keep cycling in wildlife.

That possum control work has two big benefits for New Zealand: eradicating bovine TB to protect the primary sector while supporting the goals of the predator-free movement.
The TBfree programme managed by OSPRI aligns with programmes designed to protect and defend New Zealand’s biodiversity and environmental health, such as the Department of Conservation’s Battle for Our Birds and Predator Free 2050. . .

Ploughman straight on to Minnesota – Chris Tobin:

”You don’t go to the Olympic Games and wear someone else’s track shoes and you don’t go to a Formula race in someone else’s car.”

Champion ploughman Bob Mehrtens is explaining his approach to the upcoming world ploughing championships at Baudette, Minnesota.

After placing eighth in Germany last year and second in Kenya in the reversible section of the world championships, he is aiming for gold this time round in the United States. . .

Avocado prices plunge as new season starts – Esther Taunton:

Avocado fans, rejoice – you can now buy two for less than the cost of a flat white.

Supplies of the popular toast topping have surged and those who have struggled through the avo off-season can again feast on the fruit.

On Thursday avocados were were selling for $2.70 each or two for $5 at Countdown supermarkets around the country. . .

Boarding school allowances – rural families deserve better – Ann Thompson:

The cost of sending children to boarding school is placing a big burden on rural employees, and it’s well past time a change was made to make the boarding allowance system fairer, writes Federated Farmers policy adviser Ann Thompson.

Over the past few years Federated Farmers has made requests to both the National and Labour-led governments to increase the Access Barrier Boarding Allowance.

This allowance is provided for pupils who live so far away from school that boarding school is the only realistic option.

As at June 2019, the Access Barrier Boarding Allowance was $3200 per annum while the Multiple Barriers Boarding Allowance was $7500 (plus $500 for pastoral care). . .


Rural round-up

March 26, 2019

Last calves go under the hammer – Sally Rae:

It was dubbed The Last Hurrah.

Rural folk from throughout the Catlins and further afield gathered on Thursday for the last-ever Owaka calf sale.

As the stories and nostalgia flowed – many commenting on how long it could take in years gone by to get home from the sale – there was also a touch of sadness.

PGG Wrightson, which owns and operates the saleyards, is moving the sale from next year to a special sale day at the Balclutha saleyards. . .

Pilot ‘trees and carbon’ workshop proves popular – Sally Brooker:

A pilot project helping farmers make the most of the One Billion Trees Fund has generated a lot of interest.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a series of workshops in the central South Island this month called ”Farms, Trees and Carbon”.

Experts from Wairarapa forestry and marginal land use advisory and management company Woodnet presented an overview of global warming and New Zealand’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.

Then they discussed possibilities for plantings on attendees’ land. . . 

‘Serious pest’ affecting avocado trees discovered in Auckland

An avocado tree-loving beetle, regarded as a serious pest overseas, has been discovered in Auckland.

The wood-boring granulate ambrosia beetle has been detected in four Auckland areas since late February, according to Biosecurity New Zealand.

The beetle is known to feed on a wide range of broadleaf trees, including horticultural species such as avocado, and can spread fungal diseases. . . 

Primary sector attitudes give lessons for life – Bryan Gibson:

It has been a challenging week or so in New Zealand as we all try to make sense of the events in Christchurch on March 15. We’ve all been doing some soul-searching, wondering about the foundations of our society and how it will recover from this tragedy.

As an island nation at the bottom of the world many of us might have thought we were isolated from the hatred that we see in much of the world at the moment.

But we’d be wrong to think that. Our nation was formed through conflict and to this day we often express our fear of others through anger. It might help for rural communities and primary producers to reflect on our make-up. People of all nationalities work the land, grow the crops, pick the fruit and milk the cows. There’s only four million of us here but we produce enough to feed many more people so we’ve had to form partnerships with other nations to sell our great food internationally. . . 

Dairy dramas – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers face a strange mix of uncertainties when contemplating with satisfaction the likelihood of a fourth consecutive season of $6-plus milk prices.

While extreme volatility in dairy product prices has calmed down and New Zealand farmers now receive as good as others in Europe and the United States, their institutions have developed cracks.

There might be no better time to rebuild the foundation, beginning with the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, part 2019.

Last week Fonterra’s leaders promised for the third or fourth time since the embarrassment of their first financial loss in 2018 a fundamental strategy review. . . 

NZ Champion of Cheese Medals Announced:

NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2019 has awarded 223 medals to locally-made cheese, proving the quality of New Zealand speciality cheese continues to improve.

Organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards has been run since 2003. The Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal winners have been announced today, with the Gold Medal winners vying for one of 26 cheese trophies, which will be announced in Hamilton in May. All the New Zealand Champion of Cheese medal winners are on the NZSCA website https://nzsca.org.nz/winners/. . .

Hawke’s Bay dairy farm opportunity on market:

A top-end Patoka dairy farm with consents in place to increase its output by 30 percent for at least the next 10-years has been placed on the market for sale. With Hawke’s Bay’s land values around half of some other districts, the returns from this property would likely be stronger than anywhere else.

Raumati Dairy some 41-kilometres north-west of Napier is a 458-hectare property milking a herd of between 730 – 750 cows, but with consent from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to stock up to 1000 cows through to 2028. It ticks all the environmental boxes too with riparian areas fenced off. A 60 bail rotary, 600 cow feed pad and all the bells and whistles make this a must view. . . 


Rural round-up

November 18, 2018

Farming by consent – Neal Wallace:

The long-held notion of a right to farm is under threat as the list of farming activities requiring resource consent grows amid warnings it will expand further once the Government releases a new National Policy Statement for Fresh Water.

Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers president Michael Salvesen says while regulation will differ to reflect regional environments, the list of activities requiring consent will only grow.

“I think it’s pretty inevitable.” . . 

How much land can your cows buy? – Hugh Stringleman:

The affordability of farm ownership for sharemilkers has taken a turn for the better and there might be elements of a buyers’ market, Federated Farmers sharemilkers chairman Richard McIntyre says.

Figures from DairyNZ on the 2017-18 season, as graphed by James Allen of AgFirst Waikato, show the number of cows needed to buy a hectare of dairy land is just over 20.

That has improved from 23 cows the previous season.

For the Fonterra share requirement an intending farm buyer has to add the value of three more cows at the market price of $1600/cow. . . 

Six commitments to improve waterway continue to drive action:

One year on from the launch of an ambitious plan to help rebuild the health of New Zealand’s waterways, Fonterra is showing progress with more Sustainable Dairy Advisors on the ground and actions taking place across the country.

In November 2017, Fonterra announced six commitments to help protect and restore water quality in New Zealand.

“Fresh water is such an important topic for New Zealanders so we want to keep people regularly updated on our commitments and be open about our progress,” says Carolyn Mortland, Fonterra’s Director of Sustainability. . . 

Year round promotions entrench NZ venison in Europe:

The northern European autumn and winter ‘game season’ remains a key market for NZ venison, even with the industry’s success in building year-round venison demand in other markets. The region is also breaking with tradition and slowly developing a taste for venison as a summer grilling item.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) venison marketing manager Nick Taylor says exports of NZ venison to northern Europe for the 2018 game season are expected to be worth about $70 million, about 35 per cent of total venison exports.

“Because of successful market diversification, the percentage is well down on what we were seeing 10 years ago, but the northern European game season remains and is likely to remain one of our most important markets,” he says. . . 

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q4: Building deeper consumer relationships priority in increasingly crowded market:

Building deeper relationships with consumers is becoming a priority for the wine industry in an increasingly crowded market, according to insights from a recent US industry symposium in California.

Rabobank’s latest Global Wine Quarterly says the Wine Industry Financial Symposium, in Napa, heard rising competition at retail level and declining traffic at tasting rooms was seeing US wineries focus on developing deeper, stickier relationships with consumers. The report says a growing number of software packages and services were becoming available to help wineries identify and target their ideal consumers, with a strong future seen for these. . . 

Decline in wine consumption impacting NZ industry :

While five million glasses of New Zealand wine are consumed around the world every day, consumption in some key markets is actually declining and the industry is starting to see the impact, says wine writer Michael Cooper.

Michael, who launches his 27th annual wine guide today (New Zealand Wines 2019: Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide, published by Upstart Press), has noticed how trends in alcohol consumption are having a flow-on effect for Kiwi vineyards and wine exports.

“In the UK, a key export market for NZ wine, nearly 30 per cent of people aged 16 to 25 now avoid all alcoholic beverages, including wine,” says Michael. “The only age group which is drinking more wine is the oldest – those in the 65-plus category. There are clear signs of a similar pattern in New Zealand. I see many people in their 20s who either don’t drink at all or only very occasionally.” . . 

Productive avocado orchard in sought-after Northland location placed on the market for sale:

A medium sized and well-established avocado orchard in the heart of Whangarei’s foremost avocado growing district has been placed on the market for sale.

The 6.5-hectare property at Maungatapere on the western outskirts of Whangarei sits in a valley which was once a dairy and beef farming strong-hold, but is now Northland’s most concentrated conglomeration of avocado and kiwifruit orchards due to the location’s deep fertile volcanic soil base. . . 


Rural round-up

June 21, 2018

Shearing the way to land ownership for record-breaking shearers Rowly and Ingrid Smith – Kate Taylor:

Two record-breaking shearers are working their way into land ownership in Hawke’s Bay. Kate Taylor reports.

What does a champion shearer do on his days off? His own shearing.

Rowland (Rowly) and Ingrid Smith bought their 28ha block at Maraekakaho in Hawke’s Bay four and a half years ago. He’s still shearing full time but is starting a seasonal contracting business and the couple hope to buy more land in the future.

Their first few years as landowners saw all their spare cash put back into development including fencing and a new shearing shed.

They’ve since bought a 6000 square metre block down the road and plan to live there while they build a new house. . .

Drive for success in NZ apple and pear industry – Georgia May Gilbertson:

Six young people from Hawke’s Bay are on a mission to get others like them to join their world leading apple and pear industry.

They are part of a new nation-wide recruitment campaign to raise more awareness about all the new career opportunities for young Kiwis looking for a bright future with rewarding job prospects.

New Zealand Apples & Pears capability development manager Erin Simpson said job attraction is a far bigger challenge than job creation for the industry, as horticulture has, in the past, struggled to gain wider appeal. . .

Stock cartage rates likely to rise – Nigel Malthus:

 Farmers will not get stock moved if trucking companies do not get better freight rates, according to the Road Transport Forum (RTF).

“We’re at the point where people won’t get stock moved; something has to give here,” Ken Shirley, RTF chief executive told Rural News.

“All these additional biosecurity conditions and precautions we accept are necessary, but someone has to be prepared to pay for them and surely that’s the primary sector’s problem.” . . 

New Zealand’s exclusive avocado access to Australia under threat – Gerard Hutching:

Mexico, Peru and Chile are eyeing up exporting avocados to Australia, threatening New Zealand’s exclusive access to the lucrative market.

Australia is New Zealand’s number one market for avocados, worth $88 million in sales in the 2017-18 year. Total exports were $105m.

However following the signing of  the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) deal, Mexico, Peru and Chile have signalled they are keen for access to Australia in particular.

They also want to sell into New Zealand but it could take some years and would not necessarily result in cheaper avocados, Avocados NZ chief executive Jen Scoular said . .

Get ready for the ‘internet of cows’ – Ross Marowits:

Get ready for the “internet of cows.”

Generations of farmers have relied on knowledge and family expertise to grow food, but the sector is set for a surge of disruption at the hands of made-in-Canada artificial intelligence-powered systems.

AI is now helping farmers across the country to increase yields, save costs and minimize environmental damage. Instead of spreading fertilizer across acres of fields or spraying entire orchards with herbicides, they can now target their efforts for maximum effect. . .

Waving the jersey for dairying – Brad Markam:

 The life’s work of a Waikato Jersey breeder will be used to help inspire students about careers in the agri-food sector.

Sixty-one cows from the herd of the late Bobbie Backhouse have been bought by NZ Young Farmers for its Auckland dairy farm.

The 74ha property was gifted to the organisation by Donald Pearson last year.

“Bobbie Backhouse was a passionate Jersey breeder who farmed near Thames. Sadly, she passed away in early 2016,” says Donald Pearson Farm board chair Julie Pirie. . .

Industry looks to emerging agri-tech to further boost farm productivity :

Productivity on UK farms has improved significantly, according to new figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The figures, in the report ‘Total factor productivity of the UK agriculture industry’, provides the first estimate for 2017.

It shows that total factor productivity – a measure of how well inputs are converted into outputs, giving an indication of the efficiency and competitiveness of the agriculture industry – was up by 2.9 per cent last year. . . 


Rural round-up

June 2, 2018

The farm action group that ‘crunches into life’ – Tony Benny:

A group of North Otago farmers are working together to find ways to increase profitability, taking advantage of the support offered by the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s Action Network initiative. Tony Benny reports. 

Ross and Jo Hay and their friends Gareth and Sarah Isbister got a taste for working with experts and getting access to the latest research and information when they joined  the Red Meat Profit Partnership’s pilot farm programme. They were part of RMPP partner Silver Fern Farms’ red meat eating quality project, looking for ways to consistently produce the most succulent, best tasting, and most valuable lamb.

For about a year they talked about how valuable it would be to form a farmers’ group that “really crunched into life”, that drilled down into financials and objectively analysed their respective businesses. When they went to an RMPP workshop in Christchurch, they found what they were looking for.

“We heard Richmond Beetham from Baker Ag talking about the business groups they have running in the Wairarapa and we were like, ‘That’s what we want to do’,” recalls Jo Hay. . . 

Winners inspired by industry solidarity – Pam Tipa:

The winners of the 2018 NZ Dairy Industry Awards, Dan and Gina Duncan, are overwhelmingly positive about the industry.

The former registered valuers won the ultimate award – 2018 NZ Share Farmers of the Year.

They say the way dairy farmers interact with each other is fantastic. 

“Look at the discussion groups and how willing people are to share what they are doing,” Dan told Dairy News. . . 

Synlait, Westland spruik higher milk payments for farmers in upcoming season – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – South Island dairy processors Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products have raised their forecast milk payment levels to their farmer suppliers for the upcoming season, following a similar move last month by larger rival Fonterra Cooperative Group.

Rakaia-based Synlait raised its forecast milk price for the 2017/18 season which officially ended yesterday to $6.65 per kilogram of milk solids, and said the average premium payment of 13 cents would lift the total payout to $6.78/kgMS. It announced an opening price forecast for 2018/19 of $7/kgMS, based on milk fat prices remaining firm throughout the season.

Dairy Manager of the Year great with people :

The 2018 Dairy Manager of the Year winner Gerard Boerjan aims for excellence in everything he does.

“He has great experience as a manger of people and a great passion for working with people in a large team environment,” dairy manager head judge Mary Craw says.

“He takes a systems approach to the way he manages the farm and has good systems in place to ensure nothing gets through the gaps. . .

Food technology and money speeding up change: Protein Conference

An upcoming conference in Auckland on alternative proteins offering consumers new food choices will include a debate on whether new plant-based proteins will disrupt traditional meat producers’ markets or simply bring more cheaper food choices to the masses.

Last week in Britain, ahead of expectations, Tesco and Dutch-based plant food company Vivera jointly announced the immediate stocking of 100% plant-based steaks on supermarket shelves there. . .

Agriculture opens doors for youth :

Kalu, in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia, is home to 28-year-old Yimam Ali.

However, many young people from this region of Ethiopia move to the Middle East looking for work and a better life. The amount of job opportunities in the country has not matched its growth. 71 percent of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 30 and many of them lack opportunities to make a decent living.

Yimam decided to go to Saudi Arabia where his sister was living.

His journey, to what was meant to be a better life, was not an easy one: . .

Pioneering New Zealand avocado orchard placed up for sale by its international owner:

One of the first large-scale commercial avocado orchards to be planted in New Zealand – as part of a multi-national growing consortium – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 29 hectare property at Awanui just north of Kaitaia was originally established by Californian-based owners in 1990. It was planted with Hass on Zutano and Duke 7 avocado varieties grown on some 20 hectares of plantation land. . .

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Rural round-up

February 8, 2018

NZ needs more water storage in a changing climate:

The importance of water storage in helping provide a reliable supply of water for urban communities, and for food and energy production in a changing climate needs to be recognised, says IrrigationNZ.

“We are seeing the effects of poor future planning for the effects of climate change on water infrastructure overseas, with Cape Town expected to soon run out of water. By ratifying the Paris Agreement in 2016, New Zealand confirmed it will plan for and take action to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Developing more water storage to supply towns, rural communities and for food and energy production is important to protect the future wellbeing of Kiwis,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . . 

Dairy product prices climb for third straight auction amid supply concern – Margreet Dietz:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy product prices rose at the Global Dairy Trade auction, rising for the third straight time, as buyers stocked up in anticipation of easing output.

The GDT price index climbed 5.9 percent from the previous auction three weeks ago. The average price was US$3,553 a tonne. Some 22,197 tonnes of product was sold, down from 23,319 tonnes three weeks ago.

Whole milk powder rallied 7.6 percent to US$3,226 a tonne. . .

Have your say: Bill aims to deter livestock theft:

Parliament is now seeking public submissions on a bill aimed at deterring livestock rustling (the theft of livestock from farms or property).

Livestock rustling is estimated to cost the farming community over $120 million each year and is a major threat to farming businesses. It also puts the safety of people in isolated, rural areas at risk because rustlers are often armed. . . 

Bay of Plenty Maori partner with Japan’s Imanaka on high-value dairy products – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – A group of Maori organisations has partnered with Japanese food company Imanaka to develop a milk processing plant to make high-value niche products in Kawerau.

Kawerau Dairy is a collaboration between 11 Maori Bay of Plenty entities, which own two thirds of the venture, and Imanaka’s Cedenco Dairy unit, which owns the remaining third. They expect the first stage of the $32 million project to begin operations early next year.

The dairy venture is following the model of the Miraka milk company in Taupo which was set up by Maori interests with an overseas food group as a cornerstone shareholder, with power supplied from Maori geothermal assets and much of the milk supply sourced from local Maori farms. . . 

Eugenie Sage has questions to answer on cancelled land sale:

Eugenie Sage has questions to answer on her reasons for turning down the sale of the Sullivan Mine on the West Coast to Bathurst Coal Limited against the advice of overseas investment officials, National Party Energy and Resources Spokesperson Jonathan Young says.

“Ms Sage needs to give an absolute assurance that her views as Conservation Minister and as a Green Party MP have not coloured her statutory role as Minister for Land Information,” Mr Young says.

“Bathurst is a significant investor on the West Coast and Southland, creating jobs and economic activity in each region. . . 

NZ’s first avocado shipment arrives safely in China:

The first airfreighted consignment of fresh New Zealand avocados has arrived safely into China, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said today.

This follows agreement and signing of a protocol on phytosanitary requirements between New Zealand and China last November, and a technical audit of New Zealand’s regulatory system for exporting avocados by Chinese officials in January.

“Securing export access for our avocados into China has been New Zealand’s top horticulture priority,” says MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne. . .

Wellington to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final:

A former cocktail bartender, an award-winning contract milker and a drone-flying drystock farmer will face off in the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Farmers will descend on the nation’s capital for the event on February 24th.

It’s believed to be the first time the regional final has been held in Wellington. . . 

Nominations Open for Silver Fern Farms Co-Op Board Directors:

Nominations are now open for two farmer-elected Board positions on the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Board.

Directors Rob Hewett and Fiona Hancox retire by rotation at the Company’s 2017 Annual Meeting.

Rob Hewett and Fiona Hancox have advised they will seek re-election.

Nominations close on Monday 5 March 2018 at 5pm. . .. 


Rural round-up

February 2, 2018

New Zealand Agribusiness Outlook 2018:

Favourable market conditions should underpin a second year of broad-based profitability for New Zealand agriculture. Where the industry chooses to direct improved cash flow and focus amid this sustained positive run will be important for many years to come. . .

Lewis Road investor Southern Pastures ties up with Westland Milk – Paul McBeth:

Dairy farm fund Southern Pastures LP, which took a quarter stake in Lewis Road Creamery last year, will link with Westland Milk Products as a supplier from the 2018/19 season and with plans for a high-value product joint venture. Separately, Westland cut its forecast milk payout for this season.

Southern Pastures and Westland signed a letter of intent where the dairy farm investor’s nine Canterbury farms will supply an extra 4 million kilograms of milk solids to Westland from 2019, and investigate a business case for a 50/50 joint venture to create products from free-range, grass-fed milk based on strict animal welfare, health, sustainability, climate change and human rights standards. . . 

Why the CPTPP is important for New Zealand:

There is no question that our small, remote nation depends on trade. But there were times during the protracted negotiations that have now culminated in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) when the visceral debate here could easily have led bystanders to believe New Zealanders specialise primarily in trading insults.

The fact that there is now a deal to be signed – after the efforts of successive prime ministers ranging from Helen Clark and John Key to Bill English and now Jacinda Ardern – is a cause for real celebration. Our role in recent decades as free-trade pioneers, in the teeth of other countries’ stubbornly defended protectionism, should be a source of national pride. Our exports reap more than $70 billion a year, but farmers and manufacturers know what courage it has taken to open our borders, forgo subsidies and eschew protectionism. They and the country are better off as a result. . . 

Environment and agriculture can both benefit from CPTTP:

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP) trade agreement has the potential to transform the agricultural sector and at the same time benefit the environment, agribusiness expert Dr Nic Lees of Lincoln University says.

However, he added, the public needed to be convinced of that.

The CPTTP is the re-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership after the USA withdrew, and is a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Negotiations have concluded between the countries but it is yet to be ratified by New Zealand. The TTP had met some public and political opposition. . .

Farm machinery sales back to 2014 levels – TAMA:

Sales of tractors in 2017 increased markedly, just topping the previous highest recorded levels of 2014, says NZ Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) General Manager, Ron Gall.

Mr Gall said the association recognised that some farmers in both islands were currently experiencing hardship with the very hot and dry conditions. The challenging drought conditions may affect sales in the coming months but it was hoped changing weather would provide some relief.

Mr Gall said in 2017, a total of 4079 tractors were sold. This is up 13% on 2016, up 14% on 2015 and even slightly up on the boom dairy year of 2014, which had 4062 sales. . . 

 

Rabobank Wine Quarterly Q1: Evolution of sourcing strategies:

2017 was a dynamic year for the wine industry, marked by short-term scarcity and rising prices, according to Rabobank’s latest Global Wine Quarterly report.

The report says while “2017 was an unusual one for the wine industry, forcing all players to rethink their short-term strategies” – changing consumer behaviour, global shifts in demand volumes and changing trading frameworks, could represent long-term structural changes.

“Although the unconventional year that 2017 was may just be a one-off, it may also be enough to accelerate deeper changes that were already developing in the wine industry,” says RaboResearch senior beverages analyst Maria Castroviejo. . . 

Green light for China opens up new export opportunities for leading supply group:

Leading avocado export supply group AVOCO has welcomed this week’s announcement that New Zealand market access to China has been granted for the 2018-19 export season.

AVOCO exports New Zealand avocados to various Asian markets under its AVANZA brand and the company has been preparing for access to China for some time. Preliminary planning has included the development of a market-specific brand name designed to be the exemplar brand from New Zealand for China. . . 

Millennials are leaving desk jobs for this surprising profession – Alexandra Hayes:

The millennial generation is often called out for its social media addictions, its work habits, and even its unhealthy ideals around perfection, but according to the Washington Post, many of them are diverging from the status ladder and leading a crusade toward a different purpose entirely: farming.

Take Liz Whitehurst. Two years ago, she left her non-profit job and bought her farm, Owl’s Nest, from a retiring farmer. Now she grows an array of organically certified produce and sells to restaurants, through CSA shares, or at local farmers markets.

According to the latest Census of Agriculture in 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 69 percent of farmers today have a college degree, a number that suggests more millennials are leaving traditional desk jobs to pursue this very different life. . .

Manuka South® latest Manuka honey is making a legendary entrance:

The highly anticipated Limited Reserve batch of 26+ UMF features some of the rarest and most potent Manuka honey available in the world. Manuka South® is releasing only a limited amount of the high-end honey.

Manuka South® 26+ Limited Reserve – available at select Aotea Gifts stores in New Zealand – is the latest in the line of premium Manuka honey products produced by Manuka South®, a trusted brand from New Zealand Health Food Company (NZHF). But it will also be the rarest among them, because jars won’t be on store shelves long. . . 


Rural round-up

August 28, 2017

Proposed water tax would hit hard, says farming family – Nicki Harper:

The Gray family has farmed on the Ruataniwha plains for more than 100 years and invested heavily in environmental mitigation in recent times.

They say Labour’s proposed water levy policy on commercial water users would hit them hard financially.

Leicester and Margaret Gray and their sons Phillip and Callum and respective families farm 1009 hectares, of which 360 hectares is cropped under irrigation, the remainder is sheep and beef.

Trading as Gray Brothers, they grow and irrigate sweetcorn, peas and green beans for McCains as well as maize and carrot seed, and take pride in their farming practices. . . 

Rift for town and country – Kerre McIvor:

When I was a kid, going to stay on farms with our country relatives was a real treat.

I can still remember, at the age of 7 or 8, the thrill of seeing a lamb being born, on a cold crisp Canterbury morning. In my memory, the amniotic sac was a beautiful, rainbow colour and I can remember feeling both awestruck and completely grossed out.

At another rellie’s farm, I became a dab hand at dodging shitty cows’ tails and putting on suction cups and hosing down the milking sheds after the cows had made their way back to the paddocks. . . 

Sara Addis: Winemaking is art and science

Trinity Hill winemaker and winner of the North Island NZ Young Winemaker of the Year, Sara Addis, hopes her recent win will open a few industry doors. She chats to Mark Story.

What does your win mean for your career?
For me personally, it means so much as it proves to me I have got what it takes to be a winemaker. Career-wise, hopefully my win will help open some exciting new doors in the future and I look forward to seeing what they are. I’m still a student so hopefully, once I graduate, my win will be another string to my bow. My long-term goal is to work down in Central Otago, where my partner Lachy is from, but I’d also love to do some more harvests in France. . . 

Bride horse brings the X-factor – Jill Herron:

Muddy boots, an oil skin vest and a vintage lace wedding dress would seem an odd sort of a work outfit for most people…not for Zara-Lee Macdonald.

The mismatched get-up is necessary as part of preparations for launching her new business, Inspiring Weddings.

Macdonald, originally from Winton, is training Maggie, a seven-year-old Percheron mare, to be a “bride horse” and having the horse well used to fluttering dresses is essential.

Maggie, and a shire horse called Max, will be available as part of the wedding planning service, for the role of carrying the bride – and the groom if he so desires – to the aisle, posing for photographs and adding “x-factor” to background scenes. . . 

World-first technique to ease world avocado shortage :

A world-first innovative plant growing technique that is set to double Queensland’s avocado production and smash the global shortage of avocado trees has received a $636,000 grant through the second round of the QLD Government’s Advance Queensland Innovation Partnerships program.

QLD Innovation Minister Leeanne Enoch today predicted the initial ‘matched’ investment of less than $1.5 million could return $335 million a year for the state’s economy across the production and supply chain. . .

‘Wow, no cow’: the Swedish farmer using oats to make milk – Tom Levitt:

Adam Arnesson, 27, is not your usual milk producer. For starters, he doesn’t have any dairy cattle. Our first photo opportunity is in the middle of one of his fields of oats.

Until last year all these oats went into animal feed, either sold or fed to the sheep, pigs and cows he rears on his organic farm in Örebro county, central Sweden.

With the support of Swedish drinks company Oatly, they are now being used to produce an oat milk drink – tapping into the growing market for dairy alternatives across the country. . . 

Almond milk: quite good for you – very bad for the planet – Emine Saner:

Sales of the non-dairy milk alternative are on the rise. But the super-healthy nuts – mostly grown in drought-hit California – need millions of litres of water to be produced. Think twice before you pour it on your cereal.

Snoop around the contents of an “eat clean” aficionado’s grocery basket and chances are, among the organic cauliflower and mountain of avocados, you will come across a carton of almond milk. A few years ago, those avoiding cow’s milk because of lactose intolerance or for ethical reasons were drinking soya, but health scares have seen a rising demand for alternative plant “milks”, including rice, hemp and – most popular – almond. This week, Waitrose said almond milk had overtaken soya as its customers’ preferred dairy alternative.

Almonds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. The nuts (or seeds, if you are a botanical pedant) are packed full of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant chemicals, as well as protein, healthy fats and fibre, and eating almonds is associated with a lowered risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s, among other conditions. . . 


Rural round-up

August 7, 2017

Community mourns farmer of the year – Ruby Harfield:

Farming and rugby communities are in shock after the sudden death of Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year Paul “Butch” Renton.

Mr Renton, who with wife of 27 years Marie accepted the 2017 Farmer of the Year title at the Hawke’s Bay Primary Sector Awards just four months ago, was found dead on Wednesday morning at Glenmore Station, the Mangatahi property west of Hastings on which he grew up. 

Police have said no foul play was involved and the matter has been referred to the coroner. . . 

The great food disruption: part 1 – Rosie Bosworth:

Milk without the cow, meatless burgers that bleed, chicken and shrimp made from plant matter, and now foie gras without a force-fed goose in sight. A new food revolution enabled by science and biotech is brewing and, if it succeeds, animals will have little to do with the future of food. For some, that future looks rosy, but, as Dr. Rosie Bosworth writes in part one of a series, the implications for New Zealand’s agricultural sector could be less than palatable. 

We humans love to romanticise things – and we particularly like to romanticise our food. When you think about that juicy burger at lunch, last night’s curry or this morning’s breakfast berry smoothie, it’s all too easy for us to imagine a happy cow called Daisy who spends her days roaming across lush rolling hills with her young nearby, leaping lambs, happy hens frolicking in the fields, and trusting, caring farmers, who lovingly ply their trade the old-fashioned way – tractor, straw hat and pitch fork in hand. . . 

Avocado thieves selling stolen fruit on black market:

Police have found small business owners in Bay of Plenty are purchasing stolen avocados, following a spate of orchard thefts in the region.

Police received nine reports of thefts in Western Bay of Plenty since May, and said there had been a number of avocado thefts in Tauranga to Katikati in the last month.

They had found that a number of retailers were accepting the stolen avocados to sell in-store. They urged store owners to support orchardists by only purchasing produce  from legitimate growers. . .

Blue Sky Meats posts $1.9M loss, signals review of unprofitable Gore beef plant –  Tina Morrison

 (BusinessDesk) – Blue Sky Meats, the Invercargill-based meat processor, posted a loss for the second year in a row and said the future of its unprofitable beef plant in Gore is under review.

The company reported a loss of $1.91 million, or 16.54 cents per share, in the 12 months ended March 31, from a loss of $1.96 million, or 16.98 cents, a year earlier, according to its annual report. Revenue slid 17 percent to $97.9 million. It won’t pay a dividend. . . 

Carbon budgets would provide ‘certainty’ for dairy sector:

DairyNZ has welcomed the release today of a report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, which recommends New Zealand approach climate change in a similar manner to the United Kingdom.

Dr Jan Wright recommends Government set up an independent Climate Change Commission to propose carbon budgets as stepping stones towards meeting greenhouse gas targets, which would provide certainty and transparency about how New Zealand climate change targets will be met..  .. . 

Australia gets closer to objective carcase measurement – Alan Barber:

In March I wrote about Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) plan to seek A$150 million from the Australian government to assist with the introduction of Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) objective carcase measurement (OCM) technology to all Australian meat plants. At that time neither the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) nor the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) were completely persuaded of the logic of committing the industry to such a large investment without further analysis and a robust business case.

The resulting review, performed by EY, has recommended that Australian meat processors and producers should go ahead with OCM projects in spite of a lack of consensus throughout the sector. The main finding confirms earlier studies which indicate significant benefits for both parts of the industry, if the technology is adopted. The review recommends AMPC and MLA to work together to achieve alignment between the two sectors which haven’t always agreed with each other. . . 

Farmers lift the lid on repro results:

It’s no secret that many New Zealand dairy farmers are struggling with herd reproduction and this is hurting their profitability. Yet there are some farmers out there achieving above-average repro results. What are they doing right?

Blake Korteweg: 78 percent six-week in-calf rate

Farm Facts
Location: Hedgehope, Southland

Farm size: 175ha (effective)
Herd size: 500 cows
Production: 203,000kg MS

When 50:50 sharemilker Blake Korteweg took over management of the family farm in South Otago from his father, the six-week in-calf rate was only 60 percent. Under his management, that’s climbed to 78 percent. The first change he made was to get mating down from 15 weeks to 11 weeks. . . 

Opening Agcarm conference – David Bennett:

 . .  Agricultural compounds and veterinary medicines, or ACVM, play an important role. Their use is essential to address animal welfare and to produce safe and suitable food we can sell with confidence in New Zealand and overseas.

Farmers and food producers around New Zealand depend on them to:
• improve the quantity and quality of their produce;
• keep people, animals and crops healthy; and
• reduce the spread of diseases, weeds, parasites and other pests. . . 

Planning is Key to Success in New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards:

The runners-up of the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year Award believe the earlier potential entrants begin preparing for the awards, the better, and they should be starting now.

Entries for the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Awards open in October, and Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos say gathering information and records takes time, and now is a good time to start this if they haven’t already. . . 

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Barbed wire, ruining farmers’ jeans since 1867.


Rural round-up

September 26, 2016

A woman’s influence can help make NZ’s primary industry great:

While the boardrooms of the various primary sectors are crowded and still male-centric, a natural flair for networking and the rise of new technologies like social media are contributing to the growing influence of women in the industry.

Finalist in the Women of Influence awards for 2016 and director of Grass Roots Media in Feilding, Chelsea Millar, says one of the biggest questions for women who haven’t started a career, or who may have paused to have a family, is figuring out where they fit in the primary industry picture.

“I think that women are key decision-makers on the farms and in the businesses of the primary sector, and they can benefit from understanding that they bring a different perspective to the business. We are living in a world where producers have to be business people, and where technology has reduced the physical demands that previously characterised primary work – so there’s room for everybody.”  . . 

From the Lip – swimming in murky waters – Jamie Mackay:

There’s no doubting the most contentious issue in farming is water; not only the storage and harvesting of this most precious of commodities but, perhaps more importantly, the maintenance of its quality.

To that end, on The Country, we hosted the Great Water Quality Debate last week. In the red corner we had the controversial and outspoken water scientist, Dr. Mike Joy from Massey University, and in the blue corner it was Jacqueline Rowarth, a Professor of Agribusiness from Waikato University.

In conjunction with the on-air radio debate we ran a poll on our website asking, “Is intensive dairy farming degrading our waterways?” At the time of writing, from 650 respondents, 74% said yes, 22% no and 4% did not know. . . 

Network fills gap for rural women Pam Tipa:

Dairy Womens Network (DWN) fills many gaps for women in rural areas, including providing a social network and upgrading their skills, says chief executive Zelda de Villiers.

De Villiers was responding to the findings of a student research project from the Lincoln University Kellogg’s Rural Leadership Programme, by NZ Young Farmers communication manager Nadine Porter.

The survey found 57% of rural women feel isolated, and many find their skills and training from university or career are not being utilised. . . 

Avocado has start status – Jen Scoular:

With the growing body of scientific and nutritional research that revers them as a ‘superfood’, avocados have never been more popular.T

This summer the industry is set to deliver a whopping 7.6 million trays into export markets and the New Zealand market — nearly double the volume last year.

As a result of the success of the marketing programme in New Zealand, the real work being done to educate both retailers and consumers about avocados and the global celebrity status of this wonderful fruit — we all felt the impact of a low crop last year. . . 

Global animal health company sets up in NZ:

Benefits previously only available overseas from world-leading anti-infectives are now available for New Zealand’s dairy farmers, claims David Barnett of Ceva Animal Health.

Ceva describes itself as one of the world’s fastest growing and largest animal health companies.

“Possibly you will not be familiar with the name, but don’t let that put you off,” Barnett says. “Ceva is a significant R&D company based all across the world and has now set up a base in NZ to bring significant innovation to local farmers.”

Barnett says two new anti-infectives form the company are available this spring. . . 

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Today the average US farmer feed 155 people. In 1960 a farmer fed just 26 people. – AMERICASFARMERS.COM


Rural round-up

August 15, 2016

Unreliable rain reduces sheep numbers – Kate Taylor:

The seasons are changing at Patoka Station and less reliable rainfall is affecting the way it’s farmed. Kate Taylor reports.

It looks green but the grass is much shorter than normal for late winter on Patoka Station in Hawke’s Bay.

That picture is about to change, though owners Ben and Suzie Crosse are unaware of it as they discuss their upcoming lambing, starting from August 31. A storm is approaching the central North Island and will dump 190mm of freezing-cold rain on the 1200ha farm.

The farm has monthly records going back to 1948 but the rainfall hasn’t been reliable lately, Ben says. . . 

Biggest year’ ever for avocado growers

With avocados back on the menu, New Zealand growers are gearing up for their best season ever.

That’s according to John Carroll, director of the country’s largest exporter Avoco, who says his firm expects to ship off about 3.2 million trays of the fruit in the coming months.

In total, 5.1 million trays, about 28,000 tonnes, are predicted to depart our shores, mainly bound for Australia and Asia. . . 

Forest industry’s challenge to manage supply fluctuations:

The pan forest and timber processing industry organisation, the New Zealand Wood Council (Woodco) says there is a supply challenge for many regions in the domestic processing industry.

Woodco Chair, Brian Stanley says timber processors are being hindered by a current lack of logs, especially in the higher grades.

He says small scale woodlot owners are being enticed into quick export contracts instead, where the buyers are not providing the domestic processors with an opportunity to purchase these logs. . . 

Deputy PM Bill English visits Blue River dairy factory – Dave Nicoll:

It was a bit surreal for Deputy Prime Minister Bill English to see award winning cheeses named after places his mother grew up.

English made a special visit to the Blue River Dairy factory in Invercargill on Friday as part of a trip to the Southland region.

Blue River Dairy produced a number of award winning cheeses, and milk powder from sheep milk and has expanded into exporting sheep milk baby formula into China. . . 

Fonterra Announces New Palm Products Sourcing Standard:

Fonterra has adopted a new standard for sourcing of palm products as part of its commitment to sustainability.

The standard was developed in consultation with key supply partners, and it follows discussions with Greenpeace that began in December 2015 to strengthen Fonterra’s existing sustainable palm products sourcing procedures.

“The new standard requires us to purchase only segregated supply palm oil by 2018, and to work with suppliers of palm products to ensure that plans are in place for full traceability to plantation by 2018,” said Fonterra’s Director of Social Responsibility, Carolyn Mortland. . . 

Action to help farming productivity in Manawatu-Whanganui:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says $465,000 towards primary sector initiatives in the ‘Accelerate 25 Manawatū-Whanganui Economic Action Plan’ launched today will make a real difference to the region.

“Manawatū-Whanganui has the largest sheep flock and beef herds of any region in the country, and half of New Zealand’s lamb exports come from within two hours’ drive of Feilding. We need farming to do well to drive economic prosperity here,” says Mr Guy.

Speaking at Ross and Wendy Humphrey’s farm in Cheltenham, Mr Guy says much of the funding will be used for information sharing to lift productivity.   . . 

Report shows good results from flood recovery money:

A report on Government assistance to farmers following the June 2015 Taranaki-Horizons storm shows that good results were achieved, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

“These storms had a major impact on the region and caused widespread damage, so it’s pleasing to see that Government funding has made a real difference,” says Mr Guy.

“The storm on 18-20 June 2015 brought widespread heavy rainfall, flooding and erosion to the Taranaki and Horizons regions. Hill sheep and beef farmers were particularly affected by flooding of river margins and damage to tracks and fences, with damage also to dairy land and young forest plantations.” . . 

Wools of New Zealand well set for end of grower-funding

Wools of New Zealand (WNZ) Chairman Mark Shadbolt says the company is making strong commercial progress with an expected maiden profit for the 2016 financial year.

Shadbolt was responding to a recent shareholder comment in a local rural newspaper that the company would “almost certainly fail” without income from farmers’ Wool Market Development Commitment (WMDC).

“To the contrary, WNZ is making investments that are reducing the company’s reliance on the WMDC.” . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s 2015/16 base milk price calculation:

The Commerce Commission today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2015/16 dairy season. The base milk price is the price Fonterra pays to farmers for raw milk and it is currently set by Fonterra at $3.90 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2015/16 season just ended. The report does not cover the forecast 2016/17 price of $4.25 that Fonterra recently announced.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s calculation each year at the end of the dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Deputy Chair Sue Begg said Fonterra’s calculation of the 2015/16 base milk price is consistent with both the efficiency and contestability purposes of DIRA. . . 


Rural round-up

September 10, 2014

Freshwater Fund for Wetlands?

Federated Farmers have been working with DairyNZ to analyse the $100m freshwater fund policy, recently announced by the National Party. The outcome was very positive with both parties agreeing the fund could deliver improved water quality around New Zealand.

Federated Farmers believe NZ Landcare Trust and Queen Elizabeth II National Trust could both play a key role in delivering the new fund.

“The Fund to retire farmland would be perhaps better interpreted as a policy to create on-farm wetlands. Instead of looking at this as a linear purchase of land, or trying to recreate MAF’s old farm advisory division, think more along the lines of NIWA’s guidelines for constructed wetlands,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson and Member of NZ Landcare Trust Board of Trustees.

It is estimated a fund of $10 million a year could purchase at least 286 hectares. Using NIWA guidelines and if turned into strategically located wetlands, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers believe it could remove 60-70 percent of Nitrogen from around 9,500 hectares of farmland. . .

Thorny question of wool levy benefits – Allan Barber:

Sheep farmers have the chance to vote for or against a compulsory levy under the Commodity Levies Act (CLA) in October. The Wool Levy Group’s proposal indicates a levy of 3 cents a kilo which would raise $4.7 million to be spent on a combination of education, communication, advocacy, R&D and administration. This is either too much, far too little or a worthwhile beginning which depends on your point of view.

 In this week’s Farmers Weekly Ruth Richardson argues very strongly against wasting any more farmer money on a compulsory levy, citing quite justifiably the enormous waste of funds both by the Wool Board and on its subsequent disestablishment. On the opposite side of the fence sit the Wool Levy Group and its supporters. . .

Referendum on wool levy seen as hope for industry –

A referendum seeking to reintroduce a wool levy gives some hope for a remedy in a stagnant, dysfunctional industry, Lindis Pass farmer Russell Emmerson believes.

A referendum is being held in October, when farmers will be asked to approve a levy of between 2c and 5c for each kilogram of greasy or slipe wool at the first point of sale.

That equated to $4.6 million at 3c a kg for 154,000 tonnes of wool annually, if the 17,000 farmers eligible to vote agreed. . . .

Record avocado crop a challenge:

The new avocado export season is underway and the industry is bracing itself for the challenges of selling a record crop.

The harvest this season is forecast to top seven million trays, of which almost five million are expected to be exported.

New Zealand’s previous biggest avocado crop was 6.2 million trays in 2011-12. Last season, about three million trays were exported from a medium sized harvest.

The country’s largest grower group, AVOCO, is responsible for 65 percent of production and said a record crop would test the industry and its ability to manage the fruit. . .

Nominations for Hayward Medal:

NOMINATIONS ARE open for the kiwifruit industry’s Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal.

The award last year went to ex-chair of the New Zealand Kiwifruit Marketing Board, John Palmer, for his efforts to bring the kiwifruit industry through the fiscal crisis in the early 1990s.

The judging panel awarded Plant & Food Research plant breeder, Russell Lowe the inaugural award in 2012 for developing and helping commercialise the Gold kiwifruit variety Hort16A, adding over $3 billion to the industry and New Zealand. . . .

Barker’s Success Spreads with Four More Award Nominations:

Barker’s of Geraldine has been chosen as a finalist for four of its products across three categories in the 2014 New Zealand Food Awards.

The maker of New Zealand’s favourite preserves has been nominated in the “beverage” category for its special edition Mountain Moonshine. It also has been named twice in the “dry” category for Anathoth Farm’s jams & curds (for its Lemon Curd and Quince Conserve) and Anathoth Farm’s chutneys & relishes (for its Sweet Chilli Relish and Garden Chow Chow). Anathoth Farm joined the Barker’s family in 2007.

It has also been nominated in the “novel ingredients” category for BreadshotsTM an innovative flavour mix for bread bakers. . .


Rural round-up

July 15, 2014

Medium scale adverse event declared in Northland:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has declared a medium-scale adverse event for the primary sector in storm-hit Northland.

“This will provide the overarching framework for any Government support as assessments continue to be made.

“The first stage of this is to provide funding for Northland Rural Support Trust (NRST) to deliver help, support, and management advice to farmers and growers. The Trust have been working closely with MPI and local authorities to determine what’s required in the clean-up phase after severe flooding and wind damage.

“The storm has impacted around 80% of the primary sector in Northland with very high winds and heavy rainfall over a solid four day period. I’ve seen for myself the damage today at an avocado orchard severely damaged by wind and dairy farms near Whangarei under water. . .

Grower quits after $100,000 avo thefts – Kristin Edge:

Northland avocado growers are being warned to be on high alert for fruit thieves with one Whangarei grower estimating $100,000 worth of fruit has been stolen over the past five years.

The Whangarei grower, who did not want to be identified because she feared for her safety, said her orchard had been continually targeted by thieves and she was selling up due to the financial losses and emotional stress.

The latest theft comes only days after an industry-wide warning was issued to growers to be extra vigilant to protect the new season’s crop. . .

Farmers focus on debt – Jeremy Tauri:

We spend a lot of time worrying about the residential property market, if prices are out of control and how young people will get their first homes.

But although we have focused on the price of a house and section in the suburbs, many people have ignored what’s been happening out of town.

The rural sector is the biggest driver of this country’s economy and in the regions we feel the impact of farmers’ fortunes even more acutely. But although we’ve been bemoaning that, nationwide, house prices have increased two-and-a-half times since 2000, rural land prices have trebled. Real Estate Institute statistics show the median price a hectare for farms sold in the three months to May 2014 was $25,017. . . .

Shepherd makes tracks to France – Sally Rae:

Come September it will be ”au revoir Waihaorunga” and ”bonjour France” for young South Canterbury shepherd Alex Reekers.

Mr Reekers (23), a member of the Glenavy Young Farmers Club, and Mitchel Hoare (19), of Te Kuiti Young Farmers Club, will represent New Zealand at the final of the World Young Shepherds Challenge in Auvergne, France, in September.

The pair earned the top scores in the preliminary round of the challenge, held alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest grand final at Lincoln. . . .

Trust works more at top of the cliff – Sally Rae:

The Otago Rural Support Trust’s emphasis is changing.

Traditionally, the work of the trust had been ”the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”, mostly during adverse weather events like floods, snow storms and droughts.

But increasingly, the trust was ”doing more work at the top of the cliff”, assisting rural families who were under stress, chairman Gavan Herlihy, of Wanaka, said. . . .

New agri-chemicals safety campaign:

A new rural safety campaign is underway, and this one aims to encourage farmers and growers to wear the right safety gear when using agricultural chemicals.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has teamed up with agri-chemical industry body Agcarm and WorkSafe New Zealand for the campaign. Rural retailers are also participating by displaying posters and other information in more than 260 stores.

EPA chief executive Rob Forlong said the main point was to eliminate the “she’ll be right” attitude towards farm chemical and safety gear. . .


Rural round-up

August 29, 2013

In quite pursuit of the perfect lamb – Peter Watson:

Drive past Brent and Bernadette Hodgkinson’s farm in the Tadmor Valley and you would barely give it a second glance.

There is no flash house and garden and the property is far from immaculate.

But behind the modest appearance is a very smart, profitable business.

Not only were the Hodgkinsons finalists in the recent national sheep supplier of the year awards, they grow the meatiest lambs supplied to our largest co-operative, Alliance, by any farmer in the country. And they have been producing high-quality, high-yielding lambs year after year from a property where soil fertility is naturally poor and the climate can range from bitterly cold in winter to drought in summer. . .

Unsung hero recognised – Sally Rae:

Kevin Smith loves farming and he enjoys passing on his knowledge and skills to the younger generation.

Mr Smith, from Middlemarch, was recently named the AgITO Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year at the Beef and Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards, beating fellow finalists Telford (a division of Lincoln University) and Waipaoa Station Farm Cadet Training Trust.

No-one was more delighted than the woman who nominated him, AgITO’s Rebecca Williamson-Kavanaugh, who was ”extremely excited” and very proud. . .

Employing migrant workers in the primary sector

With the rapid expansion of the primary sector, particularly in dairy farming, an international farm advisor specialising in labour management from the University of California, Professor Gregorio Billikopf, is visiting New Zealand to discuss labour changes and the increasing levels of migrant workers being employed.

In New Zealand for two weeks, Professor Gregorio Billikopf will have a number of speaking engagements, including addressing delegates at the Australasia Pacific Extension Network International Conference being held at Lincoln University from 26 to 28 August 2013, and a speaking engagement in Ashburton on Thursday 29 August. 

“Professor Gregorio Billikopf is an internationally recognised expert when it comes to migrant workers in the primary sector,” says Lincoln University’s Associate Professor in Employment Relations, Dr Rupert Tipples. . .

No more old tyres for silage stacks:

A THROW away remark – “there has to be a better way” – by Toni Johnson while helping her father place tyres on a silage stack cover, led to one of the best innovations at National Fieldays.

Aqua Anchors are either 14m or 16m long and 75mm or 65mm sections of lie-flat hoses hermetically sealed at both ends and filled with water. 

They lie over and around the edges of silage stacks to hold the cover in place and keep the crop from the elements. They replace traditional tyres. A patent is pending. . .

Nothing humble about the bumble:

Avocado growers are keen to hear the latest research findings on the use of bumblebees as pollinators, says AVOCO technical manager Colin Partridge, so they can plan to put the findings into practice and improve the consistency of harvests.

The topic will be addressed at the Australia-New Zealand avocado conference in Tauranga next month, and AVOCO, as principal sponsor of the conference and the largest grower group, appreciates the significance of the research.

“If avocado growers could soon be able to call in special reinforcements to pollinate their trees – the not-so-humble bumblebee – it will do a lot to stabilise the industry and could even help overcome the persistent boom/bust nature of the harvests,” says Mr Partridge. . .

Wairarapa Water Use Project Appoints Project Director:

The Wairarapa Water Use Project has appointed Michael Bassett-Foss to lead future investigations into what could be one of the largest economic and social development projects in the greater Wellington region.

Still in its early stage, the project aims to develop a multi-purpose water scheme to collect and store water then distribute it in the dry season for a variety of economic and community uses in an environmentally sustainable way.

Previously Mr Bassett-Foss has had regional development, investment and strategic roles in the private and public sectors in New Zealand, South America, Eastern Europe and South East Asia. . .


Rural round-up

July 30, 2013

HNZ praises biosecurity improvements – Dan Satherley:

More than 400 fruit and vegetable growers will meet in Wellington today at the annual Horticulture New Zealand conference.

Government industry agreements, biosecurity and food safety in the industry will all be discussed over the next two days, and industry newcomers will battle it out for the title of Young Grower of the Year.

The industry is worth $5 billion to the economy and employs more than 150,000 people, so Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton says it’s essential that recent improvements to biosecurity are maintained.

“We have a lot more activity with more frontline border security people; we have a lot more focus on electronic and technical surveillance; we have a lot more focus on the dog patrols, which we in fact will be having at the conference today to show growers what is being done,” he says.

“I have to commend MPI for their commitment to increase biosecurity, but we never, never need to relax on it.” . . .

Attitude is everything in sharemilking – Richard Jones:

It has never been easy to achieve farm ownership.

The sharemilking system was established to enable young Kiwis to build up equity to progress through to farm ownership. Sharemilkers gradually build cow numbers, either by raising calves or buying cows, becoming what is known as a herd-owning sharemilker (HOSM). They would then sell some for the deposit on a farm and stock it with the remaining cows.

However, with the rapid increase in farm sizes and the price of land escalating, taking the leap up the progression ladder from contract milker and variable order sharemilker to a HOSM is becoming increasingly difficult.

As a result, sharemilkers need to stay sharemilking longer to build equity, slowing their progression to farm ownership. This holdup also affects farm owners wanting to exit the industry, as fewer sharemilkers have enough equity to pay a decent price for a farm. The only option available for these farm owners may be the faceless multi-national corporate, not the experienced, hands-on sharemilker. . .

Exports grow better when working as a pair

Newly formed avocado exporter Avoco has raised its forecast for this season’s earnings in Australia. It now expects to hit the $50 million mark by the end of the harvest, which starts late next month.

Avoco director Alistair Young says the latest analysis of the potential harvest suggests an above-average yield.

Formed last month by New Zealand’s two largest avocado exporters, Avoco represents about 75 per cent of New Zealand growers and holds a similar-sized chunk of sales in the Australian market.

“We were forecasting retail and wholesale sales in Australia of about $40 million when we launched Avoco. . .

What is the Meat Industry Excellence Group? – David Burt:

The Federation is keenly aware that if structural change, of whatever form, is to be successful, behavioural issues must also be resolved.

The Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) group was set up to address farmers’ frustration about the parlous state of the red meat sector, particularly the sheep industry.

Established in March, MIE has held a number of meetings seeking a mandate from farmers to work with the meat companies to develop an industry consolidation plan. The group’s executive is chaired by Richard Young.

The group is currently working towards areas such as developing potential new industry models, which would then be considered by stakeholders for possible adoption. . .

Agri-buisness network aims to help economy:

An East Coast farmer says the Gisborne economy is likely to profit from the establishment of a new local Maori agribusiness network.

Te Tairawhiti Maori Agribusiness group was set up recently as a result of a hui for Maori farmers from the East Cape to northern Hawke’s Bay.

The hui discussed the idea of working together and developing and branding products for several niche market opportunities.

Rongowhakaata farmer Stan Pardoe says the network will bring in more profit for the Gisborne region and help to market the area internationally. . .


Rural round-up

July 16, 2013

Suicide fears spark action:

Federated Farmers is worried the stress caused by drought, snow, flooding and continuing poor returns will push more farmers to the brink of suicide and it is working to help those in contact with farmers to recognise the danger signs.

“You’d have to say the 2012 to 2013 season is certainly not one we’re all going to rush out and remember for the good things that happened,” said Federated Farmers health and safety spokeswoman Jeanette Maxwell.

“We’ve had a drought, we’ve had snow, we’ve had gale force winds, we’ve had terrible prices and it’s just one on one on one.

“People are going to manage to get through winter and spring but you know they’ll get through lambing and then they’re still waiting for feed to grow, and lamb numbers are down because scanning is definitely looking pretty average at the moment, and at the end of spring you’re exhausted, even in the good years. . .

Building equity through innovation – Diane Bishop:

The pathways to farm ownership in the sheep industry are not easy.

But, Wyndham farm manager Murray (Muzza) Kennedy is building equity through one of his innovative ideas – hand-rearing triplet lambs.

It might not be everyone’s idea of fun but his wife Marcia, and their three young children, are more than happy to feed the troops, which last spring numbered around 150.

Murray, 35, and his team farm 11,000 Texel-Romney ewes, 3250 replacement hoggets, 300 Hereford-Angus cows and 60 replacement heifers on Jedburgh Station. . .

Fierce rivals’ joint venture boost exports 20%:

TWO FORMERLY fierce rivals in avocado exporting say their successful collaboration could signal the way forward for other export industries.

The forecast for Australia earnings this season have jumped 20%, from $40m to $50m, for the newly formed avocado exporter Avoco.

Now representing about 75% of New Zealand avocado growers, Avoco is a collaborative venture after decades of “fierce rivalry yet mutual respect” between New Zealand’s two biggest avocado export companies, says an Avoco director Alistair Young. . .

University farm among region’s best performers – Tim Cronshaw:

Out of five top dairy farms the Lincoln University Dairy Farm came third in profitability during the 2012-13 season.

A profitability margin of more than $4600 a hectare was described as a solid result by managers of the commercial demonstration farm at a focus day attended yesterday by farmers.

The 160-hectare farm at the university campus, run by the South Island Dairying Development Centre (SIDDC) and milking 630 cows at peak milking, measures its performance against four top privately run Canterbury operations. . .

Disease top concern for rearers:

DISEASE PREVENTION is the number one priority for calf rearers, judging by a show of hands of delegates during a workshop session at last week’s South Island Dairy Event.

It topped a long list of issues put forward for calf rearing guru Bas Schouten to tackle, most of which he answered in a whirlwind session during the three day event.

Schouten stressed “it all starts with colostrum.” Calves need 10% of their bodyweight in colostrum, so a 40kg calf needs 4kg. Studies have shown 80% of calves learn to suckle in their first six hours and if they haven’t done it by then, they won’t, so why leave them in the paddock any longer, he asked delegates. . .

NZ Winery Secures Multi-Million Dollar China Export Deal:

New Zealand winery Allan Scott Family Winemakers has secured a significant wine export deal with more than 200,000 bottles of wine to be shipped to China in the first year alone.

The wine is destined for high-end restaurants and premium hotel chains throughout the country.

Company Managing Director, Allan Scott, says the export agreement is a major coup for the winery which has been able to capitalise on the burgeoning interest in white wines in China. . .

Old truck centre-stage in NZ children’s book – Tim Cronshaw:

An old farm truck that lay rusting in a shed and survived fire and floods, is capturing the imagination of children in a book by Canterbury author Jennifer Somervell.

Somervell, and her sister Margery Fern who is the illustrator of the book, Old Truck, grew up with the 1921 Model 10 Republic on a family farm near Takapau in central Hawke’s Bay.

The story is based on their childhood memories of farm workers struggling with the old truck at the 50-hectare family farm. . .


NZ could be fruit bowl of Asia

June 14, 2013

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce released a new report showing opportunities for further growth in the New Zealand fresh fruit sector:

The Coriolis Research report, Driving Growth in the Fresh Fruit Sector, says that New Zealand’s fruit exports are shifting towards Asia and away from traditional markets like Europe and North America.

“The report highlights that we can become a fruit bowl for Asia. Asian consumers prefer the sweetness and quality of New Zealand fruit and we are achieving considerable success there,” Mr Joyce says.

“New Zealand is sending fruit to more countries and there has also been a significant growth in the export value of fruit. Kiwifruit’s export value has almost doubled over the last decade, going from $567 million in 2002 to $1.043 billion in 2012.”

Industry comments in the report indicate that, while PSA has had a significant impact on the industry’s profitability, export value growth is likely to continue into the future when the impact of the disease has passed.

The report highlights a number of potential directions for growth in the fresh fruit sector including new varieties, value-added products and new and emerging fruits.

“The report says that avocados, cherries and blueberries stand out as fruit that have the potential to create meaningful export growth. There are also opportunities to develop fruit extracts and ingredients for foodservice and nutraceuticals”, Mr Joyce says.

Driving Growth in the Fresh Fruit Sector is part of a series of reports released under the Food & Beverage Information Project – the most comprehensive analysis of New Zealand’s food industry ever undertaken. 

The full report is here.

 


Rural round-up

May 7, 2012

Slow down speed bumps ahead! – Dr Jon Hauser:

There’s an old joke that if you ask three economists a question you’ll get four different answers. Despite this, the one thing everyone agrees on is that global milk production over the last year has been going up, up, and up! The million dollar question, and the one that has been causing the dismal science’s split professional personalities, is: ‘will global demand keep pace?’.

The final numbers are in for 2011, so this week we’ve decided to throw our analysis into the ring . . .

“Kaitiakitanga”  nurturing our natural resources and people for a prosperous future – Pasture to Profit:

Kaitiakitanga” in Maori means to nurture our natural resources & people for a prosperous future.

This is one of 5 Farm Business Management values set out by Tauhara Moana Trust, one of three finalists in theBNZ Ahuwhenua Maori Excellence in Dairy Farming Award 2012. Maori Trusts have different business objectives to most other NZ dairy farmers.  . .

Why does wool polarise farmers? – Alan Ememrson:

Derek Daniell’s remit to the Beef + Lamb New Zealand annual meeting regarding a wool levy achieved, if nothing else, a positive plethora of emails to my inbox.

It was an innocent enough remit calling for an “evaluation of the result of the discontinuation of the wool levy and investigation whether a future collective investment would add value for wool growers”.

The problem is, as it seems with all things wool, people are either firmly on one side of the fence or the other.

For the record Derek is a good bloke and a highly successful farmer. His remit is well worded. How it is handled from here by B+LNZ will determine if it is successful. . .

Lincoln honours palm oil alumnus – Tim Fulton:

An executive in the global palm oil industry has been awarded Lincoln’s international medal, backed by an assurance from the university that his company is the “socially responsible standout” in the industry.

Just over 40 years after leaving Lincoln College with a diploma in Valuation and Farm Management, John Clendon was recognised last Friday for his involvement with coconut, cocoa and oil palm production in the south-west Pacific and Asia.

Clendon is managing director of Univanich, a Thai company which Lincoln credits as “the world’s leader in the production of sustainable palm oil”. . .

Tight unit wins Farmer of Year award – Sally Rae:

It was cattle that brought the 2012 OtagoSharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winners James and Helen Hartshorne together.   

 Mr Hartshorne, originally from Shrewsbury in Shropshire, was showing Holstein-Friesians at the Royal Welsh Show in 1999,      while his future bride, from Wales, was exhibiting Guernseys .. .

Farm managers of  year love their job – Sally Rae:

Gareth Dawson always knew he was going to pursue an    outdoors career.   

He did not want to be “stuck indoors” and chose dairy farming, after helping a friend herd testing one day “and      just never left” the industry.   

Mr Dawson and his wife Angela, who now manage a 560 cow 186ha property at Clinton, won the 2012 Otago Farm Manager of the Year title.   . .

Rabobank builds rural business:

Rabobank New Zealand Ltd (RNZL) continued to build its rural banking business in 2011, recording net lending growth of $724 million, despite a contraction in the total rural debt market over the same period.  

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the bank’s rural portfolio growth during 2011 was a positive result which primarily reflected refinance activity rather than organic growth of existing customers. . .

Kiwi avocado comapny wants slice of food service market:

A New Zealand owned avocado company has targeted the billion dollar food service market, with a goal to switch consumers from imported to locally grown produce.

Fressure Foods, a mainly grower-owned organisation, is encouraging Kiwi food trade companies to source locally produced avocados wherever possible to support local farmers and meet with growing consumer demand.

Currently the imported avocado industry in New Zealand is valued at around $1 million and around 200 tonnes of the fruit are brought into the country each year.

The February issue of Country-Wide is on-line here.


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