Rural round-up

March 30, 2020

Essentially we are struggling – Sarah Perriam:

It’s a nice feeling to be essential huh?

But, farming in New Zealand is facing the perfect storm of challenges, which makes it hard to provide that essential service.

This week in Sarah’s Country we talk to to Lochie Macgillivray from the Hawke’s Bay Rural Advisory Group who talks about the layers of mounting situations that the region’s farmers face from movement control with M bovis and the TB outbreak, water and feed storage issues and livestock returned from processors due to Covid-19 – all while being in drought.  . . 

Rural businesses carrying on – Annette Scott:

Being there for farmers is what Ruralco is about, chief executive Rob Sharkie says.

“And that means through all times where at all possible, the good and the not so good. 

“It’s about looking after our backyarders. That’s what we are set up to do.”

On the first day of the level three covid-19 Ruralco had 900 people through the doors.

“Nine hundred customers in one day is very busy but it wasn’t panic buying, it was the uncertainty. . . 

Covid-19: Farmer lobby’s strength on display :

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says COVID-19 has highlighted the strength of the farmer lobby. “

It shows the strength of Federated Farmers that we’re being looked to as the ‘go to’ source of advice and conduit of essential information to the agriculture sector during Covid-19,” she told Feds members in an email last night.

“We’ve found answers to pretty much every question our members have fired at us over the last week or two and it’s all summarised on our website and in the regular advisories we’ve emailed.” . . 

Food sector to continue as normal: Professor – Alice Scott:

It is business as usual for farmers around the country, despite Covid-19.

Emeritus Prof Frank Griffin says that as the nation scrambles to contain the virus, the food sector will continue as normal.

Prof Griffin has spent a career in animal health research.

He also has a strong interest in New Zealand’s food production systems and he is director of Agriculture at Otago (Ag@Otago), an initiative launched in 2016, involving more than 60 Otago researchers with active interests in agriculture. . . 

New associate director for Beef + Lamb board:

Wairarapa farmer Kate Wyeth has been appointed this year’s associate director on the Beef + Lamb New Zealand board.

Wyeth, who alongside her husband James, farms a 380ha sheep and beef farm in the Northern Wairarapa has a background in farm consultancy with BakerAg and is a facilitator on the Agri-Women’s Development Trust and chairperson on the Opaki School Board of Trustees.

She says she is excited by the opportunity to learn from and contribute to c’s governance team. . . 

Badge ‘just a tremendous honour’ – Toni Williams:

“It’s just a tremendous honour,” Women’s Institutes stalwart Jude Vaughan, the unsuspecting recipient of a WI Good Service Badge, said.

Mrs Vaughan was completely taken aback when presented with the award at the Mid Canterbury Federation of WI’s annual general meeting after a secret nomination of her peers at Lowcliffe WI.

“It just blows you away, it’s not for me, it’s for the organisation. The acknowledgement from your peers, that means so much,” she said.

In nominating Mrs Vaughan, members of Lowcliffe WI said: “She is very proactive member wanting to spread the WI word and fly our banner when possible. . . 


Rural round-up

February 15, 2020

No sense – Rural News:

How can you be green when you are in the red?

That is the very question many rural communities and farmers around the country should be asking the Government.

Its proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – dropped just before Christmas with a very truncated submission period – has all the hallmarks of the Government looking like it is consulting; when it has already made up its mind.

In submissions to the parliamentary select committee on environment, which is overseeing the ETS changes, Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) highlighted the lack of any robust analysis of socio-economic impacts of the ETS amendment to farming and rural communities. . .

New law won’t solve money woes – Colin Williscroft:

Reluctance by some farmers to make tough decisions based on their balance sheets is becoming the elephant in the room in some farming circles, Feilding-based BakerAg farm consultant Gary Massicks says.

The situation is not one that has happened overnight but changing influences such as banking policy, pressure exacerbated by social media, new environmental demands and regulations and increasingly irregular weather patterns are changing the world farmers operate in so they need to adapt.

Massicks has spoken to his peers around the country and though the problem is not widespread it exists. . .

New Zealand wine exports continue their steady growth going into the new decade

New Zealand wineries are continuing their steady growth on the world stage, driven largely by the famed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. According to NZWine.com, the wine industry recorded its 24th consecutive year of export growth in 2019.

This figure puts New Zealand on track to hit a $2 billion target for 2020, driven largely by an explosion of popularity in the United States and Europe. There are about 500 wineries in New Zealand, the bulk of whom produce Marlborough Sauvignon as their primary wine. . .

Zespri reveals sustainability commitments:

Zespri reveals sustainability commitments including move to 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025

Zespri, the world’s leading marketer of kiwifruit, has announced a new commitment to make all of its packaging 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

The announcement is one of a suite of sustainability commitments shared today with growers, consumers and suppliers at the New Zealand kiwifruit industry’s marquee conference – Momentum 2020: Standing Up and Standing Out. . . .

Meaty increases push up annual food prices:

Higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish contributed to a 3.5 percent increase in food prices for the year ended January 2020, the largest annual rise in food prices in over eight years, Stats NZ said today.

“Meat, poultry, and fish prices have increased 6.0 percent in the year. Restaurant and ready-to-eat meals increased 3.4 percent, while fruit and vegetable prices were up 2.7 percent,” consumer prices manager Sarah Johnson said.

“Both beef mince and blade steak prices reached all-time highs in January, while bacon and lamb prices have increased sharply in the past 12 months. Decreased pork production in China during 2019 has increased export demand for New Zealand meat products, pushing prices up.” . .

 

“I can’t imagine myself anywhere but horticulture”, Bay of Plenty Young Grower Of The Year:

Melissa van den Heuvel, an Industry Systems Associate at NZ Avocado, has been named Bay of Plenty’s Young Grower for 2020 at an awards dinner in Tauranga.

The competition took place last Saturday, 8 February, at Te Puke Showgrounds, where the eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful orchard in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition discussing ‘how can we as growers be better members of the wider community’ at the gala dinner on Wednesday night.

Melissa also excelled in individual challenges, including the Horticultural Biosecurity challenge and Avocado Tree Planting challenge, and especially impressed judges with her speech on passing knowledge to future generations. . .


Rural round-up

October 18, 2019

Don’t blame the messenger:

It appears the only people surprised by plummeting levels of rural confidence are the Government and Ag Minister Damien O’Connor.

For months we have seen an endless stream of reports – from Rabobank, BNZ, ANZ, NZIER – all depicting a growing lack of confidence and concern in rural New Zealand.

Only last month, an open letter was written to the Government by an agricultural consultancy head, Chris Garland, outlining why farmer morale is at an all-time low. Garland, of Baker Ag, called for more consideration for the rural sector’s lot in the face of ever more onerous regulation. . . 

Marlborough’s Francis Maher vows to strengthen relationship between farmers and council – Chloe Ranford:

A Marlborough farmer returning to the council chamber after a tight vote says he hopes to strengthen the relationship between rural residents and the region’s decision-makers.

Francis Maher will once again represent the Wairau-Awatere ward after beating nearest rival Scott Adams by just 13 votes.

The seat was “too close to call” after Saturday’s preliminary count, but updated results on Sunday revealed Maher would join incumbents Gerald Hope and Cynthia Brooks in the rural ward. . . 

Moffat to lead Deer Industry team :

Innes Moffat has been appointed chief executive of Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ). He has been with the organisation for 14 years.

DINZ chair Ian Walker says the DINZ board ran an external recruitment process that attracted some very strong candidates from both inside and outside the deer farming industry. After considering all applicants the board made the unanimous decision that Moffat was the best candidate for the job.

Moffat, who was born and raised on a South Otago sheep and cattle farm, joined DINZ in 2005 as venison marketing services manager. This followed several years with the former Meat and Wool New Zealand, including a four-year stint in Brussels as market manager continental Europe. More recently, he has been manager of the deer industry’s Primary Growth Partnership programme, Passion 2 Profit. . . 

Wagyu study stirs up academics :

An academic stoush is brewing over research from Liggins Institute indicating middle-aged men can confidently eat Wagyu beef three times a week without damaging their health.

The research was done as part of a high-value nutrition national science challenge led by AgResearch and co-funded by First Light Wagyu beef company. 

Its 50 participants were put on diets consisting of either 500g a week of Wagyu beef, conventional beef or soy protein spread over three portions a week for eight weeks. At the end of the trial all three groups had reduced their cholesterol. 

The outcome prompted study leader Professor David Cameron-Smith to conclude eating New Zealand grass-fed Wagyu with its high level of fat does not affect heart disease, including cholesterol and blood pressure levels. . . 

Is technology a threat to dairy? – Daniel Appleton:

The New Zealand dairy industry is facing major disruption from synthetic dairy, similar to the synthetic fibres that triggered the decline of the wool industry in the 1980s.

Technology companies are now making real dairy products, without cows. 

Their aim is to make real dairy products far cheaper than traditional farming can within the next 10 to 15 years.

The reason I’m talking about this is out of genuine concern. 

I’m concerned this very real risk to the dairy industry isn’t being shared and openly discussed with those who could be affected most – farmers and rural communities. . . 

From billies to bottles to unbreakables: milk through the decades – Rebecca Black:

Lois Puklowski remembers when milk was delivered by horse and cart, she used to watch in delight as the milkman ladled it into her billy.

It was the mid-1930s and Puklowski would join other children from her neighbourhood in Aramoho, Whanganui, excitedly awaiting the milk cart.

“He’d only stop a couple of places in the street and everyone used to queue up with their billies,” she says.

New Zealand has Australian cows to thank for its earliest milk production. Samuel Marsden brought the cows to New Zealand in the early 1800s. They were a gift from New South Wales Governor Lachlan Macquarie. . . 

 


Rural round-up

September 30, 2019

Our farmers are better than ‘No. 8 wire’ thinkers – Julia Jones:

The much-used Kiwi phrase ‘No. 8-wire mentality’ has long been considered the way we do things in the farming world, but Head of Analytics at NZX Julia Jones is wondering if its value has now expired.

Yes, “No. 8-wire mentality” is cute, and it’s a little bit funny, but what I hear when people say it is: not asking for help, roughly stringing something together without a plan, a rip-shit-and-bust kind of attitude, a default solution and a broken piece of wire holding something together within inches of its life.

I just don’t see how this is something for us to strive towards for the future; we deserve better than being seen as No. 8-wire thinkers, because we are far more than that. . .

Let’s get behind our rural community – Kerre McIvor:

A couple of years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a column calling for there to be a Cockietober – a month to celebrate farmers and their invaluable contribution to the economy.

I felt, back in 2017, that farmers had got a rough ride during the election campaign, and that farmers were getting it in the neck unfairly. They were being blamed for the poor water quality in New Zealand despite the fact that city dwellers are letting literal and metaphorical crap flow into their harbours and rivers. They were being told how to manage their stock by people who’d never set foot on a farm. They were told they didn’t pay their workers enough, they were being told they were destroying the planet by providing milk and meat for consumers, they were told they mistreated their animals.

I thought things were bad two years ago. But it appears things have got much, much worse.

In an open letter to the nation, BakerAg, a rural business consultancy firm, has called for people to get in behind our rural community. Director Chris Garland says morale among the company’s farming clients is as low now as it was in the Rogernomics years of the late 80s and during the GFC. . . 

Jigsaw has four families in picture – Annette Scott:

Four families working together presents challenges but equally it’s provided disproportionate opportunities for the Guild clan on High Peak Station, farm operations manager Hamish Guild says. Annette Scott visited High Peak to learn how the pieces of the large farming puzzle have come together. 

High Peak Station is a spectacular 3780 hectare, high-country farm near the Rakaia Gorge in Canterbury.

The Guild family bought the traditional pastoral farming property in 1973, originally running just sheep and beef with deer added in the late 1970s.

It was a case of having to look at a new way of making the property viable.

“Dad (James) and his brother Colin took up farming High Peak, moving from their family cropping farm at Temuka (South Canterbury) when their father, my grandfather Alastair, decided High Peak was for us,” Hamish said. . .

Farmers ‘dead keen’ to improve water practices – council – Alexa Cook:

A group of farmers near Whakatāne are working with the regional council to try and improve water quality by changing the way they farm.

Agribusiness consultant Ailson Dewes has gathered about 15 dairy farmers on behalf of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to understand more about how their farming systems can impact water quality.

Ms Dewes said the group was facing the issue head-on.

“They are sitting around the table, they are exposing all their numbers in terms of the health of their business, their environmental footprint, the way they farm – and they’re saying ‘we realise the way we farmed in the past is not the way we can farm in the future’.

“They are dead keen to solve problems and find new ways to farm with a lower footprint.” . . 

From Canton to Kerikeri: the varied life of Joe Ngan :

Joe Ngan was born in 1932 in a small village near Guangzhou in southern China.

He’s now 87 and lives near his two kiwifruit orchards in Kerikeri, Northland.

But getting to his home of 40 years was a scary and long-winded affair.

When Joe was two, his mother died while giving birth to his sister, leaving Joe and elder brother Sun virtually as orphans. Their father was working in New Zealand. . . 

No four pounds of beef doesn’t equal a transit-Atlantic flight – Frank Mitloehner and Darren Hudsonnk:

A story in The New Yorker came out this week about Dr. Pat Brown, the founder of Impossible Foods. If readers scan the headline and subhead, they’ll get the gist of what author Tad Friend is trying to say: “Can a plant based burger help solve climate change? Eating meat creates huge environmental costs. Impossible Foods thinks it has a solution.”

That’s unfortunate. It might even be dangerous. In the article, Mr. Friend writes that Every four pounds of beef you eat contributes to as much global warming as flying from New York to London – the average American eats that much each month.

If only. . .


BakerAg open letter on water policy

September 13, 2019

Chris Garland, a director of BakerAG has penned an open letter to government:

The Prime Minister:   Jacinda Ardern

Minister for the Environment:   David Parker

Minister of Primary Industries:   Damien O’Connor

Minister of Health:   David Clark

Dear Ministers

BakerAg NZ Ltd has been providing business consultancy to the rural sector for over 35 years. Morale among our farming clients is now as low now as it was in the Rogernomics years of the late 80s and during the GFC. The difference in those earlier years, is that farmers still felt valued by the NZ public.

This government’s approach to environmental policy is undermining the mental health and well-being of the pastoral sector. Government has contributed strongly toward turning the NZ public against farming, which has had a severe impact on farmers’ self-esteem and on their ability to cope with a rapidly changing policy environment.

As examples, the Zero Carbon Bill and the National Freshwater Policy Statement are having a profound impact on the pastoral industry, which has compounded over a short period of time.

The terms of trade in the sheep and beef sector are some of the most buoyant seen for the last 20 years, yet there is a malaise among these farmers that emanates from a sense of worthlessness. The dairy industry is struggling to recover from a three-year downturn, it’s had the M. Bovis outbreak to deal with and is now seeing a withdrawal of support from the finance sector.

How does the government expect to achieve behaviour change from constituents who are dejected and feel alienated from society? Ministry of Health statistics confirm that mental health in the rural sector has deteriorated significantly over the last five years. The government must understand that its own actions are exacerbating this decline.

It’s a sad situation that some of the governments $1.9 B investment into NZ’s mental health will be needed to counter the impact that this government has had on farmers’ mental state. One of the leading initiatives of the Wellbeing Budget is to “Take Mental Health Seriously.” This Government’s actions are having a negative effect on the mental health of a large section of the community.

Farmers are not environmental vandals. They are a business sector that has found itself at the centre of a maelstrom of environmental concern. Most of these concerns around water quality and greenhouse gas emissions are legitimate. But farmers didn’t set out to deliberately degrade water quality or to produce GHGs. These are unintended consequences of their business activity, which until recent years, had been wholly endorsed by the nation. It took 150 years to get to this position. It will take more than five years to achieve environmental sustainability.

One of farmers’ greatest attributes is that they are problem solvers. Give them a problem and some tools, and they will find a way to fix that problem. It’s this ingenuity that has made NZ farming some of the most efficient in the world. The food they produce is regarded as being of the highest quality throughout the world.

Farmers now recognise that there is a problem with the environmental impact of their activities. They want to fix this. But they are not being given an opportunity to find their own solutions. Instead they have been subject to a relentless dialogue of rhetoric, regulation and rejection.

The farming community has not been recognised for the positive efforts that a great many land owners have gone to mitigate their environmental impact. The negative public view of the sector has been influenced by government dialogue. This is not the way to change behaviour or effect policy.

If this government is genuine about improving mental health and genuine about motivating farmers to address environmental issues in their industry, it should:

  • Give landowners credit for the progress that has already been achieved in environmental management (exemplified by Ballance Environmental Awards competition, the Ahuwhenua Trophy, QE II and Nga Whenua Rahui covenants, and Country Calendar subjects).
  • Acknowledge that there is an environmental conscience in the farming sector.
  • Provide balance in the accountability message: urban, industrial, domestic, pastoral.
  • Acknowledge that the pastoral sector makes a valuable contribution to the NZ economy.
  • Ask the sector how it believes environmental expectations should be met?
  • Give the sector an opportunity to develop and implement its own solutions.
  • Assist in developing tools and methodology.
  • Work with them.

CHRIS GARLAND

Director

On behalf of BakerAg NZ Ltd

www.bakerag.co.nz      

References to the ag-sag of the 80s is not hyperbole.

Our local, The Fort at Enfield, hosted a lunch to raise funds for prostate cancer on Wednesday

. Around 100 people were gathered and conversation kept coming back to how hard it was in the 80s and how much worse what’s being imposed on farming is now.

The changes of the 80s were tough, but necessary and based on economics.

The changes the government is threatening to impose on farming now are tougher and based on emotion not science.

Reports from consultation meetings are making matters worse. MfE has underestimated turnouts so venues are too small and those fronting them aren’t able to answer technical questions.

Comments like this from the Minister for Agriculture don’t help either.

Rather than blaming the messenger he should be listening to the message and trying to understand the very real concerns that farmers and those who service and supply them have.

P.S.

BakerAg produce the weekly AgLetter. You can subscribe to it here.

Jamie Mackay interviewed Chris Garland on The Country yesterday.


Rural round-up

August 10, 2019

New research shows negative impact of mass forestry planting on productive sheep and beef land:

Large scale conversion of sheep and beef farms to forestry as a result of the Zero Carbon Bill will have a significant negative impact on rural New Zealand, according to research released by Beef + Lamb New Zealand. 

An analysis of Wairoa, where 8,486 hectares of sheep and beef farmland has, or is in the process of being, converted to forestry, shows forestry provides fewer jobs in rural communities than sheep and beef farms.

Rural consultancy BakerAg was commissioned by B+LNZ to compare the economic and employment effects of the conversion of sheep and beef farms into forestry.

The report, Social-economic impacts of large scale afforestation on rural communities in the Wairoa District, found that if all the sheep and beef farms in Wairoa were converted to forestry, then Wairoa would see a net loss of nearly 700 local jobs (the equivalent of one in five jobs in Wairoa) and net $23.5 million less spent in the local economy when compared to blanket forestry (excluding harvest year). . . 

Fonterra’s financial wellbeing and global auction prices are among the dairy sector’s challenges – Point of Order:

It’s shaping   up as a  tough  season  for  New Zealand’s  dairy farmers,  who  once  proudly  wore  the  label  of  the  “backbone of the  NZ  economy” , earning  by far the  largest  share of the country’s  export income.

So  what  are  the  problems  confronting  the industry?

Uncertainty in markets, for starters.   Prices  at the latest  Global Dairy  Trade  auction this  week slid  downward for  the fifth  time in  six  auctions.

The  Chinese  economy is under pressure   as  Trump steps up  his tariff  war.  Brexit  is a  threat which  could disrupt  NZ’s  dairy trade to  both the UK and EU markets. . .

Big tick for farmers – Neal Wallace:

The red meat industry hopes to ramp up its Taste Pure Nature brand campaign on the back of the latest international climate change report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is being welcomed by New Zealand farming leaders as an endorsement of our low impact systems and the importance of maintaining food production.

The IPCC says land on which we rely for food, water, energy, health and wellbeing is already under pressure and climate change will exacerbate that through desertification and land degradation potentially affecting food security.

The report’s advocacy of a balanced diet including animal protein sourced from resilient, sustainable, low greenhouse gas systems is an endorsement for NZ, Beef + Lamb chief insight officer Jeremy Baker says. . . 

FARMSTRONG: Maintaining fun is the secret:

Tangaroa Walker was the inaugural winner of the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award in 2012 and has gone on to a successful career as a contract milker. Now he’s helping Farmstrong raise awareness of the importance of living well to farm well.

Tangaroa Walker remembers the moment he decided to go farming. 

“I was 11 years old and this guy drove up the driveway of our school in this flash car with his beautiful wife and hopped out.

“He was there to help set up a cross country course. I said ‘Hey man, what do you do?’ He said ‘I’m a farmer’. That was it. I ended up helping him out on his dairy farm when I was 13 and just cracked into it from there.”  . .

The secret to a carbon friendly environment may surprise you – Nicolette Hahn Niman:

I won’t keep you in suspense. The key to carbon-friendly diets lies just beneath your feet: the soil. We are so used to looking skyward when thinking about climate, this is a bit counter-intuitive.

An unlikely combination of building soils and practicing responsible grazing could help mitigate climate change. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Carbon in soils represents both a problem and an opportunity. On the one hand, soil’s degradation is truly alarming. According to the book Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, at the current erosion rate the earth “would literally run out of topsoil in little more than a century.” And soil is the source of one-tenth of the earth’s human-caused carbon losses since 1850. . . 

Cow virtual fence trials encouraging: Pamu – Jono Edwards:

A company trialling virtual fencing for cows in Otago using electronic collars says tests show encouraging results.

Pamu Farms, which is the brand name for state-owned enterprise Landcorp Farming Ltd, earlier this year trialled “e-Shepherd” cattle collars at Waipori Station, which it owns.

It took 100 Angus steers equipped with solar-powered collars that show their location through GPS.

When the animals moved near digitally set forbidden zones they were dissuaded with a buzzing noise which gradually grew louder. . .

 

Left behind – Annie Gowen:

The feed chopper was the only machine Bob Krocak ever bought new, back when he was starting out as an ambitious young dairy farmer.

He used it to chop acres of alfalfa and corn to feed his herd of Holstein dairy cattle, which repaid him with some of the creamiest milk in Le Sueur County. The chopper and its fearsome blades lasted through four decades of cold winters, muddy springs and grueling harvests.

Now, on a chilly Saturday morning, Krocak, 64, was standing next to the chopper in the parking lot of Fahey Sales Auctioneers and Appraisers, trying to sell what he had always prized. The 128 Holsteins were already gone, sold last year when his family quit the dairy business after three unprofitable years. . .


Saturday’s smiles

June 16, 2018

Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers.

Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future.

This famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as ‘plucking the yew’ (or ‘pluck yew’).

Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and they began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, See, we can still pluck yew!

Since ‘pluck yew’ is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodental fricative ‘F’, and thus the words are often used in conjunction with the one‐finger‐salute.

It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as ‘giving the bird.’   And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing

Hat tip: BakerAg’s weekly AgLetter.


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