Rural round-up

December 3, 2019

On the policy change cycle – Paul Burt:

It was the winter of 1978. My brother and I had contracted to fence a native bush development block that had been felled the previous year and burnt that autumn. The boss had mentioned that the manager’s house was temporarily free but, “He knew what boys were like” and directed us to camp in the woolshed instead.

“When you need a wash,” He continued, (we had visions of going to the big house for a hot shower and a sit-down meal) “the soda springs is just 10km down the road”.
At least the woolshed was dry but we shared it with rats every night and hundreds of snotty ewes on the couple of nights they were penned for shearing. . . .

A celebration of farming excellence – Sally Rae:

From small beginnings, Strath Taieri farmers Andrew and Lynnore Templeton have developed a business model to be economically sound, allowing for successful succession.

That was one of the comments of the judges of this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Mr and Mrs Templeton, who farm The Rocks Station, a 2952ha sheep and beef property near Middlemarch, with their daughter, Ellie, won the supreme award, along with awards for innovation, agribusiness management and livestock.

The Templetons hosted a field day on their property last Thursday and facilitator Pete Young described it as a celebration of farming excellence. . . 

I thought I knew my pork – Elbow Deep:

I thought I knew a lot about pork: I know it’s a red meat, I know how to get perfect crackling on a pork roast and I know the destruction of three barbecues due to fat induced conflagration mean I should never be trusted with a pork chop again.

I’ve bought pork from a butcher, I’ve raised my own pork and I’ve eaten wild pork. I’ve had so much pork delivered to my house in a single day I seriously thought I’d need to buy a third freezer. I know my pork, or at least I thought I did.

I recently walked into a restaurant in Austin, Texas, and ordered a pork chop. It’s a meal I don’t cook often due to the high risk of catastrophic barbecue loss and it was a dish where I felt confident I knew what I’d be getting: a large pale slab of firm meat, possibly slightly greasy but delicious and filling. . .

Uruguayan farmer on wool learning curve – Yvonne O’Hara:

Ricardo Barcia is passionate about wool and the wool industry, and wants to learn more about fleece preparation before he returns home to Uruguay in March.

Mr Barcia (24) is from Salto, in Uruguay, and arrived in New Zealand in August to work on Andrew and Tracy Paterson’s property, Matakanui Station, near Omakau.

He had also spent time in several Otago woolsheds and was interested to see how woolhandlers and wool classers prepared the fleeces before they went into into fadges, something that did not happen at home.

Mr Barcia said he would like to introduce the practices to woolsheds in Uruguay as he could see significant benefits and added value for farmers there. . .

Export prices riding high on meat and dairy:

Export lamb and beef prices reached new highs in the September 2019 quarter, while forestry products fell sharply, Stats NZ said today.

“Both meat and dairy product export prices were up in the September quarter, following similar rises in the June quarter,” business price manager Bryan Downes said.

“In contrast, forestry product export prices, mainly logs, had the largest quarterly fall in over 10 years.” . .

Beef and Dairy Network wins gold at Podcast Awards:

The spoof magazine show is described as “the number one podcast for those involved or just interested in the production of beef animals and dairy herds.”

Created in 2015 by comedian Benjamin Partridge, the format is presented to listeners as a serious podcast about the meat and dairy industries, produced as a companion to a website and trade magazine of the same name. In fact, the podcast is peppered with comic dialogue, surreal discussions, spoof adverts, and fictional interviews with characters that are played by other comedians.

The show has now also transferred to Radio 4, with the BBC having repeated select episodes across two series. . . 

You can listen to the podcasts at Beef and Dairy Network


Rural round-up

October 26, 2019

The deal’s done – Bryan Gibson:

Farmers now control their emissions destiny but industry leaders warn the hard work starts here.

The Government has adopted He Waka Eke Noa – the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment, which Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Andrew Morrison said is a good outcome for farmers.

“I hope farmers understand the importance of today,” he said.

“This is a piece of work that empowers us as a sector to put the tools in place to measure the mitigations, the sequestrations against our liabilities. 

“That’s our goal and that will drive the right behaviours.”

But now the office work is done the farm work will start. . .

Water policy stymies green work :

Hill-Country farmers will be deterred from doing environmental protection and enhancement because of limits put on land use by the proposed Essential Freshwater policies, Tararua farmers Simon and Trudy Hales say.

They believe restrictions on farmers’ ability to realise the productive potential of their land will stymie investment in environmental protection.

The couple, this year’s Supreme Award winners in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region Ballance Farm Environment Awards, estimate over the past four years they have spent about $120,000 on environmental protection on their 970ha, 819ha effective, hill country farm. . .

Taranaki farming couple reap benefit after lifetime of responsible land management – Mike Watson:

When Norton and Coral Moller decided to plant trees on a bare coastal dairy farm south of New Plymouth, the response from neighbours was disbelief.

Nearly 50 years later the retired Oakura couple are reaping the benefits.

Last month they were among 17 Taranaki Environment Award winners, for environmental leadership in dairying. . .

New Zealand’s anti-science GMO laws need to change to tackle climate change – Mia Sutherland:

If this coalition government is serious about tackling climate change and ensuring future generations are left with a prosperous planet, GMO law reform must be considered.

A poignant aspect of making a difference to New Zealand’s carbon emissions is discontinuing ‘business as usual’, meaning that the lifestyles we have founded and the way our society operates now needs to change. It’s not sustainable, and doesn’t promise the 170,000 people who took to the streets on September 27 or their children an inhabitable future.

We need to be exploring new methods, changing the way we think, and reevaluating ideas we have while taking into consideration the increasingly fast development of science. We need to reform the law about genetically modified organisms. . .

Kiwifruit pushes onto dairy land – Alan WIlliams:

Two properties destined for conversion to kiwifruit are among the few dairy farms being sold.

The farms are in the Pukehina area, east of the main kiwifruit zone at Te Puke in Bay of Plenty.

It is fringe kiwifruit land away from the main post-harvest infrastructure and indications are the buyers are already in the industry with the knowledge to make the bare-land investment, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.  . .

More Trades Academy places good news for primary sector:

The announcement of up to 4000 more trades training places in schools will help meet demand from students to learn about farming and horticulture, Primary ITO chief executive Nigel Philpott says.

The Government will fund 2000 more Trades Academy places, where secondary students combine full-time study with experience in the workplace, as well as up to 2000 Gateway places, where students have job placements along with classroom learning. The Trades Academies are across a number of sectors.

Primary ITO currently has New Zealand’s biggest Trades Academy, with approximately 830 students, and Mr Philpott says schools have asked for nearly 1100 Trades Academy places for next year. . .

Genetic engineering, CRISPR and food: What the ‘revolution’ will bring in the near future – Steven Cerier:

Humankind is on the verge of a genetic revolution that holds great promise and potential. It will change the ways food is grown, medicine is produced, animals are altered and will give rise to new ways of producing plastics, biofuels and chemicals.

Many object to the genetic revolution, insisting we should not be ‘playing God’ by tinkering with the building blocks of life; we should leave the genie in the bottle. This is the view held by many opponents of GMO foods But few transformative scientific advances are widely embraced at first. Once a discovery has been made and its impact widely felt it is impossible to stop despite the pleas of doubters and critics concerned about potential unintended consequences. Otherwise, science would not have experienced great leaps throughout history­­—and we would still be living a primitive existence


Rural round-up

October 21, 2019

Awards help farmers put spotlight on environmental progress:

It’s never been more important for farmers to showcase to fellow New Zealanders the work they’re doing to lighten their environmental footprint, Federated Farmers says.

“We’re in the middle of a national debate on the best regulatory settings to help drive improved water quality in our rivers and lakes.  Some of the talk might drive an impression that we’re in some sort of downward environmental spiral, when the truth is many farmers up and down the nation are putting in huge amounts of sustainability and biodiversity enhancement work,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Deadlines for the 2019 Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Horizons, Wellington and Waikato have already passed, but it’s not too late for farmers in eight other regions around New Zealand. . .

Shearing costs eat wool cheques  – Alan WIlliams:

A fourth straight year of poor strong-wool prices lies ahead for sheep farmers.

After the increase in shearing charges in 2018-19 Beef+Lamb has estimated that combined with continuing abnormally low strong-wool prices that in the North Island, where nearly all the wool clip is crossbred, shearing costs take up 90% of farm wool receipts.

Until the start of the downturn four years ago shearing costs typically accounted for just 45% of wool returns. . . .

Fewer cows produce more milk – Neal Wallace:

An emerging approach to dairying might let farmers obey environment rules while maintaining or growing milk production.

The farm system change project has found farmers can run fewer but higher-performing cows while maintaining or growing milk supply.

It is done by accurately managing costs, feed quality and quantity to maintain cow condition, which results in a more efficient farm and conversion of feed by cows. . .

Seaweed feed could reduce cattle greenhouse gases :

 

The Cawthron Institute will receive $100,000 from the Government, to help it turn a native red seaweed into a greenhouse gas-busting cattle feed supplement.

The money comes from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and was announced by the Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister during a visit to the Nelson-based research institute today. . .

Chicken virus can be eradicated MPI says  – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries believes its is possible to eradicate a chicken virus that was recently detected here.

Last month MPI reported routine industry testing at two Otago egg farms owned by Mainland Poultry had identified the likely presence of Infectious Bursal Disease type one.

The virus can affect the immune system of young chickens but doesn’t pose any risk to human health. . .

‘Hyperactive’ 80-yr-old vet Jakob Malmo retires to run two dairy farms – Marion MacDonald:

Jakob Malmo says he’s too old to be lying in the mud delivering a calf so Gippsland’s legendary dairy vet has retired at 80 – to run two large dairy farms with his new wife, Jean.

Admitting others have described him as ‘hyperactive’, Dr Malmo is not one to sit still.

The achievements across his 58-year veterinary career are so many, it’s hard to know where to start but the man himself was most proud of the Melbourne University Rural Veterinary Unit he and Professor Doug Blood established in Maffra. . .


Ballance Farm Environment Awards entries open

August 1, 2019

Entries for Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened today.

Farmers and growers in 11 regions throughout New Zealand have an exciting opportunity to be part of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (“BFEA”) with entries opening today.

The BFEA are managed by the charitable New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and promote sustainable farming and growing. The programme is supported by a range of leading agribusinesses and regional councils throughout the country.

Through the Awards programme, farmers and growers are invited to showcase, benchmark, and improve their operations through a constructive process where agribusiness professionals provide feedback, recommendations, and commendations. 

The judges take a holistic approach to the feedback and award allocation process by evaluating every aspect of the farming/growing business from environmental management, productivity, and profitability through to family and community involvement.

This year, in a first for the BFEA, farmers and growers can be nominated to enter the Awards, provided they give their consent.

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust Chair Joanne van Polanen says: “We are proud and privileged to lead an Awards programme that recognises, encourages and incentivises sustainable farming and growing in New Zealand.

“The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are a way for farmers and growers to receive free and independent advice from rural professionals to help them improve the sustainability of their business. It is also a way of sharing positive stories, ideas, and resources with a wider audience.   

“We already have some of the most efficient farmers in the world. Unlike many of our competitors, farmers are investing in environmental improvements without substantial government subsidies as is the case in many other countries. Imagine the possibilities as more farmers and growers commit to producing food and fibre sustainably for the world’s most discerning customers.”

To enter, visit www.nzfeatrust.org.nz from Thursday 1 August 2019. Entries are open until Thursday 31 October 2019. Comprehensive information about the process can also be found on the website.

These  awards are a showcase for New Zealand best farmers and their sustainable – in environmental, economic and social terms – businesses.


Southland shows sense

July 4, 2019

A few days ago I declared a common sense emergency.

Jane Smith is blunter:

Although Jane Smith is not a climate change denier, she says there is no denying things have got “out of control” when it comes to cities declaring a climate emergency.

In fact, this North Otago farmer wants to declare an “Emergency of Political Stupidity”.

“All of these headlines are politically driven propaganda, rather than evidence-based” Smith told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

As a former Ballance Farm Environment Award winner, Smith knows her stuff when it comes to keeping New Zealand clean and green, but a climate emergency is a step too far in her book.

“I just think now is the time to be working together in a calm and rational way – and I’m not a climate change denier at all. It’s just that this is a long game, and we actually need to be thinking about it together and building that plane while we’re flying it I guess”.

Another issue bugging Smith at the moment is millennials being diagnosed with climate change anxiety over the “looming anticipated threats about what might be happening in the future”.

“That is not conducive to really cool, calm and rational thinking. Opinion seems to be taking over fact … and I just think that’s ridiculous“. . .

The political stupidity emergency is coming closer now Jacinda Ardern is contemplating declaring one of behalf of the government.

The Prime Minister’s admission that she is open to the idea of declaring a climate change emergency is nothing more than hot air and rhetoric, National’s Climate Change spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“This amounts to nothing more than political posturing and virtue signalling, the Climate Change Minister himself has admitted that he expects emissions to continue to rise until the mid-2020s, and declaring an emergency would not have any impact on this.

“There is no clear understanding of what declaring a ‘climate emergency’ would actually mean or what would occur as a result.

“When governments declare emergencies they are for natural disasters and requires the full and urgent attention of all relevant government departments. This declaration lacks all such substance and is merely a feel good statement with no plan or meaningful action standing behind it.

“If the Government was explicit in what it would change, fund, or prioritise differently by declaring an emergency then we would be open to the debate, but currently it is just symbolism over substance.

“National is taking a bipartisan approach to climate change and supports the establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission. The focus should be on developing real plans to drive our emissions down rather than making empty declarations.”

People clamoring for declarations of climate emergencies should be very careful what they’re wishing for.

Any urgent actions, which is what emergencies demand, would have high economic and social costs and, given just how small New Zealand’s contribution to the problem is, the environmental benefits would be at the very best minimal.

But there is hope in Southland where cooler heads are prevailing:

Environment Southland has today voted against declaring a climate emergency.

Councillor Robert Guyton put forward the motion at a full council meeting to declare a climate emergency. It was seconded by Cr Lyndal Ludlow. . .

However, a second motion put forward by Cr Eric Roy stated council would “commit to applying best practice and best science to it’s responsibilities and accords urgency to developing an action plan.”

This was then voted on – the results being all but two councillors voting in favour of it. . .

Environment Southland is showing sense.

Commitment to best practice, best science and urgent development of an action plan will achieve far more than the empty words and hot air which are the declaration of a climate emergency.

 


Rural round-up

June 10, 2019

Tell your story don’t dump data – Annette Scott:

Farm environment plans, while not yet mandatory, offer a unique opportunity for the high country, AgFirst environmental consultant Erica van Reenen says.

Talking to the high country farmers’ conference in Blenheim van Reenen acknowledged they are challenged with climate and market vulnerability.

They are also challenged to get up with the game and communicate in the same space as their urban counterparts.

That means telling their farming stories where urban people tell their stories – in social media circles.   . . 

Adrian and Pauline Ball of Dennley Farms from Waikato Announced as new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing:

Adrian and Pauline Ball, owners and operators of Dennley Farms Ltd, are the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The announcement was made at tonight’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards National Sustainability Showcase at Claudelands in Hamilton. The Ballance Farm Environment Awards celebrate and promote sustainable farming and growing practices.

Dennley Farms’ strong environmental, social and economic sustainability was a stand-out for the National Judging Panel. The business’ tagline is ‘creating value inside the farm gate,’ and the farm team is active in the creation of meaningful industry change and driven to improve consumer perception of the sector. . .

Grass-fed message won’t sell NZ products but health benefits could – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s “clean, green, grass-fed” message isn’t unique and exporters should instead focus on the nutritional benefits of their food products, Andy Elliot says.

Elliot spent much of last year studying the business models of New Zealand producers and exporters as part of the Nuffield agricultural scholarship programme.

He says that in order to get more value from existing production, the country needs to find a way to stand out in the increasingly competitive global market. . . 

Wool bonanza – Annette Scott:

Increased international demand for fine wool is putting Kiwi wool within reach of becoming a $2 billion industry.

New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge said if half NZ’s crossbred wool clip shifts into higher-value fine wool contracts the economic upside will be as high as $2b.

Increased international demand for fine wool could spell profit for sheep farmers with wool giving kiwifruit and wine a real run for their money in terms of exports, he said.

There is a future in wool for farmers and for NZ, he said.

“Which is great news for fine wool producers and farmers considering transitioning into it.” . . 

NZ grower the first to use compostable stickers on its apples :

A Hawke’s Bay apple grower says it is the first in the Southern Hemisphere to use compostable stickers on its apples.

The organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand, planned to roll out more compostable stickers next year after a successful trial.

The new sticker meets regulations for direct food contact and breaks down when put in an industrial compost, according to the company’s organic supply manager Heidi Stiefel.

Ms Stiefel said they supplied apples labelled with those stickers to a European customer and some New Zealand supermarkets this year. . . 

Carbon neutral livestock production — consumers want it and farmers say it is achievable – Angus Verley, Aneeta Bhole, Tyne Logan and Lydia Burton:

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) believes a zero carbon footprint nationally — considered by some the holy grail for the red meat industry — is possible by 2030.

It is a target that has the backing of some of the industry’s leading farmers, and the demand for projects is on the rise.

Climate Friendly, a carbon farming project developer, said the policy was a “hotbed of action”. . . 


Rural round-up

May 16, 2019

Tool for assessing water quality not reliable – scientists – Eric Frykberg:

A group of scientists have gone public with claims that the widely-used Overseer water quality system for farms might not be reliable.

They are the former Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group director Martin Manning, Massey University’s professor emeritus of industrial mathematics, Graeme Wake, Massey agricultural senior scientist Tony Pleasants and a retired associate professor of mathematics, John Gamlen.

Overseer is an online software model which was originally designed as a commercial mechanism for farmers to minimise the amount of fertiliser they used relative to their economic output from their farm. . . 

Looking after the people and the land  – Toni Williams:

Pencarrow Farm is a unique property just minutes from an urban shopping centre. Not only is it picturesque but it is a highly productive and environmentally sound enterprise.

It must be, as it has just won five awards in the 2019 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards – the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the DairyNZ Sustainability and Stewardship Award, the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award, the Synlait Climate Stewardship Award and the Norwood Agri-business Management Award.

It is acknowledgement that owners Tricia and Andy Macfarlane, and contract milkers Viana and Brad Fallaver, are doing the right things. . .

Government’s targets for methane reduction are unrealistic:

Deer Industry New Zealand is disappointed by the government’s announced emissions reduction targets for agriculture. 
Dr Ian Walker, Chair of Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), says that under current conditions these targets would result in significant reductions in stock numbers. Even if tools and technologies were available to reduce methane and nitrous oxide in the future, the level of reduction would effectively mean that the agriculture sector was being asked not just to cease its own contribution to global warming, but also offset the contribution of other sectors. 
“The deer industry as part of the pastoral sector is prepared to play its part in climate change mitigation. We do not deny human-induced climate change nor our responsibility to mitigate. The pastoral sector is willing to target net zero global warming impact from agricultural gasses.  But the targets for methane announced by the Government go beyond net zero global warming impact. DINZ cannot support these targets,” he says. . . 

Rural Equities sells second-largest property – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Rural Equities, the farming group majority-owned by the Cushing family, has agreed to sell its second-largest property as it rejigs its portfolio.

Puketotara, a beef and sheep finishing operation near Huntly, covers 1,146 hectares and typically carries 12,000 stock.

The company, which trades on the Unlisted exchange, said it expects about $11.7 million from the sale including livestock. The deal will settle on June 20. . . 

YTD tractor and farm machinery sales steady:

Sales of tractors and farm machinery are currently steady compared to 2018 but there are a few challenges facing the sector, says Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) president, John Tulloch.

TAMA year-to-date figures to the end of April showed a total of 1104 sales across all HP categories compared to 1111 in 2018: a drop of 0.6%. North Island sales decreased by 4.7% with 713 sales compared to last year’s 748 but South Island sales increased by 7.4% with 390 compared with 363. . . 

Established blueberry orchards placed on the market for sale:

The land, buildings and orchards sustaining one of New Zealand’s quality blueberry growing and processing operations has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio encompasses three separate properties in the Central Waikato areas of Rukuhia and Cambridge – the hub of blueberry production in New Zealand. Some 80 percent of New Zealand’s blueberry crop is grown in the Waikato region, with its nutrient-rich peat-based soils. . . 


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