Rural round-up

January 13, 2018

Seasonal labour a vital ingredient – Mike Chapman:

Research New Zealand recently conducted a survey reporting on the impacts of the RSE scheme, where it has directly enabled:

– The area under cultivation to expand consistently over the last three years.

– The employment of more permanent and seasonal New Zealand workers.

– A more stable workforce, with better and more productive workers.

RSE workers supplement other seasonal employees, and account for roughly one in five of all seasonal workers across the country. In areas where unemployed is very low, more RSE workers are employed, while in areas with higher unemployment, fewer RSE workers are employed. . .

Storm helped cure dry spell for Waikato farmers – Ruby Nyika:

The storm that battered the North Island last week left lasting damage for some.

But for farmers, the heavy dump of rain was magic.

The lengthy dry spell that preceded it had been stressful.

I think it’s been a bit of a relief for every farmer,” Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said. “Not for the poor townies having their holidays, but for farmers it’s been a relief to get some moisture back in the ground.” . .

MPI and dairy industry extend milk testing programme for Mycoplasma bovis:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and its dairy industry partners have decided to extend the current Mycoplasma bovis milk testing underway in Canterbury, Otago and Southland into a national milk surveillance programme.

While there is no indication that the disease is present beyond the areas currently identified, checking for other possible regional clusters is essential to building a complete picture of the disease in New Zealand.

The programme will involve testing 3 milk samples from every dairy farm. One sample will be taken from bulk milk as part of the regular sampling process at milk collection. Farmers will also be required to provide 2 samples from ‘discard milk’ (milk unsuitable for collection, for example, from cows with mastitis). Mycoplasma bovis is more easily identified in milk taken from otherwise sick animals, which makes testing of the discard milk a valuable surveillance tool. . .

Concern about cattle disease in Hawes Bay – Jill Galloway:

Manawatū and Tararua dairy farmers are getting anxious about future outbreaks of Mycoplasma bovis after the disease was confirmed in Hawke’s Bay.

Farmers are looking more closely at the source of their feed supplies and where they graze their young stock.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman, Murray Holdaway said he hoped the Ministry for Primary Industries would be able to tell farmers more in the coming weeks.

“Not as many cows go to [Hawke’s Bay] as there used to be six to eight years ago, but it is always an alternative if things get really tight on the feed front, here.” . . 

Trans-Tasman war of words over ‘mānuka’ honey gets stickier :

Australia’s honey industry is calling for an armistice in the ongoing battle over use of the term “mānuka honey”, after Tasmanian producers claimed they produced it first.

The Australian Mānuka Honey Association says New Zealand apiarists should join forces with their Ocker cousins to peacefully assert Antipodean dominance over the global market.

Mānuka honey is produced by European bees feasting on the pollen of the plant Leptospermum scoparium – known here by its Māori name, mānuka. . . 

Celebrity farmer suggests badger caused death of sheep on viral social media post :

A celebrity farmer has caused a stir on social media after suggesting badgers killed his sheep.

Martin Irvine, who has appeared in BBC documentary This Farming Life, posted a photo on social media of his dead sheep with a gory wound.

Mr Irvine wrote on Facebook: “Badgers decided to have this ewe for Christmas dinner, she’s still alive for now. About time we were allowed to control this destructive vermin!” . .

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Rural round-up

March 16, 2014

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Board elects a new Chairman:

Northland farmer and Northern North Island Farmer Director for Beef + Lamb New Zealand James Parsons has been elected Chairman of the farmer-owned organisation.

Parsons was elected Chairman at a meeting of the board that followed the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Annual Meeting in Feilding yesterday.

Parsons said he was honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the sheep and beef sector through the work of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand is a vehicle for farmers to invest as a group, in work that they couldn’t do alone. Much of the core research and information we need in order to achieve greater profitability on our farms simply wouldn’t exist without farmer investment through Beef + Lamb New Zealand.” . . .

Fonterra needs more capital – Keith Woodford:

This is an outstanding year for dairy farmers with record farm-gate milk prices. Barring another major drought, national milk production records will also be set. But for Fonterra it is not a good year.

The problem is that Fonterra itself lacks fundamental profitability. Indeed if Fonterra were this year to pay its farmers the price which Fonterra’s Milk Price Manual calculations say it should be paying, then Fonterra would make a big loss.

Fonterra’s solution for 2014 is to build capital by retaining some 70c per kg milksolids (i.e. per kg of fat plus protein) from the theoretical milk price. This will see about $1 billion retained in Fonterra’s bank account, which in turn will avoid major new borrowings. . . .

Giant DHL moves on from fracas – Tim Fulton:

South Island farming giant Dairy Holdings Ltd believes it has emerged stronger on the other side of an ownership dispute involving titans of New Zealand farming. Chief executive Colin Glass talks to Tim Fulton about DHL’s approach to its 300 staff, its governance and industry outlook.

Dairy Holdings Ltd (DHL) could strictly be classed as a corporate, although its chief executive Colin Glass squirms at the word.

The business owns more than 50 farms and milks about 40,000 cows on more than 14,000ha but prides itself on another statistic – the number of staff it has helped into farm ownership.

Making the step from contract milker or sharemilker to outright farm ownership was difficult but not impossible, Glass said. . .

Where next for the badger cull? – Philip Case:

The future of the badger cull in England has been cast in doubt after a leaked report concluded the pilots in the South West were not effective.

Details of the long-awaited independent scientific assessment of last year’s trial culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset, seen by the BBC, claimed they fell short of their targets .

The Independent Expert Panel (IEP), which was appointed by DEFRA to evaluate the pilots, has apparently also concluded they failed the test for humaneness, after 5% of culled badgers took longer than five minutes to die.

On public safety, however, it is understood the panel will report there were no issues. . .

Dairy Industry Winners Focused On Debt Reduction:

The winners of the 2014 West Coast Top of the South Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition, Chris and Carla Staples, are focused on reducing debt and increasing equity.

The couple, who won $11,300 in prizes, are positioning themselves to take the next step to farm ownership.

The other major winners at the 2014 West Coast Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards were Jason Macbeth, the region’s Farm Manager of the Year, and Amy White, winner of the Dairy Trainee of the Year title. . . .

Weather or weevils? It pays to check:

Is it the weather or is it weevils? That’s the question farmers should be asking if poor pasture growth is threatening on-farm productivity.

Clover root weevil is being reported across the country and especially in the Lower South Island where its prevalence is particularly high this summer. Nodules on clover roots fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and provide a ‘free’ form of nitrogen fertiliser. Weevils feeding on them disturb the nitrogen fixing with subsequent damage to foliage and pasture quality.

“Many farmers may be putting slower pasture or animal growth rates down to lack of sunshine and overcast weather given the mixed summer we have had. However clover root weevil may also be an issue on their properties and is often a hidden cause of poor pasture productivity,” says Ballance Agri-Nutrients Research and Development Manager Warwick Catto. . .

NZ Whisky proclaimed one of the world’s best:

He’s believed to have visited more whisky distilleries than anyone on earth and Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible boasts over 4,500 whiskies. But few score 94 points or higher, so Murray has created a special symbol for the handful of whiskies that earn the status ‘Liquid Gold.’

In a great start to 2014 for the New Zealand Whisky Company, Jim Murray’s latest edition hot off the press in London, sees the South Island Single Malt 21 y.o. scored at 95 points, placing it in the highly coveted category. This is the first time ever that a New Zealand whisky has scored so high and been anointed ‘Liquid Gold’.  

“This is a salute to the craftsmanship of the Dunedin distillers,” says company CEO Greg Ramsay. “Being recognised as one of the world’s great whiskies by Jim Murray, that’s the ultimate endorsement of your dram and all the Dunedin distillers like Cyril Yates can be proud that what they were doing in the 80s and 90s in New Zealand, was every bit as good as what the Scots were doing over in Speyside and on Islay.”  . . .


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