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. . .


Rural round-up

August 22, 2019

600 farmers in big water project

Large-scale initiative in Southland expected to have big effect on water quality:

You could say it’s “ace” that more than 600 farmers and multiple agencies are working together to improve water quality in the Aparima catchment area in the deep south.

ACE – otherwise known as the Aparima Community Environment (ACE) project – is a farmer-led initiative in Southland aimed at over 600 farms spread over 207,000 hectares – with 81 per cent of that area developed. It has multi-agency participation with DairyNZ, Beef & Lamb and Environment Southland involved.

The ace thing about ACE, says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for responsible dairying, Dr David Burger, is its enormous scale and the intent to support all land managers in good farming practice. It will also track what happens on every single farm in the six Aparima catchment groups – Pourakino, Lower Aparima, Orepuki, Mid Aparima, Upper Aparima and Waimatuku – and relate this to water quality downstream. . . 

Federated Farmers hails court ruling as a win for Rotorua community:

The voices of farmers in Rotorua, led by Federated Farmers, have been instrumental in the Environment Court’s rejection of Land Use Capability (LUC) as a tool for nitrogen allocation.

Federated Farmers, along with the Lake Rotorua Primary Producers Collective, has been fighting a proposal by Rotorua Lakes Council, forestry and others seeking to allocate nitrogen discharges using LUC methodology.  With evidence from member farmers in the catchment, as well as by engaging experts and consultants, Federated Farmers demonstrated the LUC proposal would fail farm businesses and their communities to the point of potential ruin, Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen said.

“It would also have had a more uncertain environmental outcome than the original proposal  by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in Plan Change 10,” he said.

“We’re pleased the Court comprehensively rejected the LUC proposal that would have required nitrogen discharge reductions of 80% by dairy farmers and 40% by drystock farmers.  In contrast, the allocation for forestry would have increased six fold. This would have meant that most farmers would have had to lease back nitrogen (that had been transferred to forestry) in order to continue farming.” . . 

Forget about another share trading review – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Fonterra director Nicola Shadbolt says the recent collapse of a few dairy cooperatives should be blamed on their strategy, not their co-op structure.

She says the collapse of Australia’s biggest dairy co-op Murray Goulburn and the demise of Westland Milk co-op on the West Coast is not about their structure.

“It is governance, it is strategy. I mean for every two co-ops that fail there are about a thousand corporates… nobody says of the corporates that it’s their business model. But with co-ops it’s always their business model that is blamed.”

Shadbolt, a fierce proponent of the cooperative model, is aware of moves by some farmers and a few directors to return capital structure to the table. . .

Is there a future for OZ Fonterra as Fonterra’s finances unravel – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra’s announcement that it expects a loss of around $600 million or more for the year ended 31 July 2019 has big ramifications for Oz Fonterra.  With overseas-milk pools now lying outside the central focus of Fonterra’s new strategy, and with Fonterra seriously short of capital, the Australian-milk pool and associated processing assets look increasingly burdensome.

If Fonterra were to divest its Australian operations, then it would demonstrate that Fonterra really is retreating to be a New Zealand producer of New Zealand dairy ingredients. It would also reinforce the notion that consumer-branded products are now largely beyond its reach.

This strategic position is close to where Fonterra was in around 2006, when it decided that it was 50 years too late to take on the likes of Nestlé.  It did have both Australian and Chilean operations at that time but they were smaller than now. It also took on an initial shareholding in Chinese San Lu at that time, but essentially Fonterra saw itself as a New Zealand-based co-operative. . .

Agriculture fears it will be milked by EU free trade deal – Mike Foley:

Australia risks trading away hundreds of millions of dollars in agricultural earnings if it doesn’t negotiate significant concessions from the European Union.

That’s according to industry groups Australian Dairy Farmers and the National Farmers’ Federation, which warned Trade Minister Simon Birmingham the EU will have to reduce its onerous tariffs and import barriers to make a free trade agreement (FTA).

“There would be no point in doing the deal for Australian farmers if we can’t see a realistic and positive outcome from this FTA,” NFF president Tony Mahar said. . . 

Want to protect the planet? Eat more beef, not less – Patrick Holden:

If students and staff at Goldsmiths University really want to help the environment, they should end their ban on selling beef on campus. Far from being the bogeymen portrayed by environmental campaigners, sustainably farmed beef and dairy cattle are integral to maintaining our green and pleasant land, keeping our waterways free of chemicals and feeding our population in the most efficient manner possible.

Two thirds of UK farmland is under grass and in most cases cannot be used for other crops. The only responsible way to convert this into food is to feed it to cattle, which are capable of deriving 100 per cent of their nutrition from grass and therefore are more efficient on such land than chickens or pigs. Even on grassland where crops could be grown, ploughing it up to create arable farms would release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and require the use of pesticides, herbicides and fertiliser, all of which can devastate biodiversity.

Cattle farming does not just help to maintain grassland – it also works to improve the sustainability of existing cropland.  . . 


Rural round-up

May 19, 2017

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’. . . 

2017 Dairy Award Winners Environmentally Conscious

The 2017 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards winners and finalists represent a group of people who are acutely aware of environmental issues and the dairy industry’s role in farming responsibly.

In front of nearly 550 people at Auckland’s Sky City Convention Centre last night, Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley were named the 2017 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year, Hayley Hoogendyk became the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Clay Paton was announced the 2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes worth over $190,000. . . 

Fonterra Australia to pay more in 2017/18 season with improving business, milk price –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group says an improvement in its Australian business and rising milk prices mean it will be able to pay its suppliers more in the season that kicks off in six weeks.

Fonterra Australia expects to pay its Australian suppliers a range of A$5.30-to-A$5.70 per kilogram of milk solids in the 2017/18 season as well as an additional payment of 40 Australian cents/kgMS. It paid A$5.20/kgMS in the season that is just ending. . . 

Counterfeits, name recognition a challenge for Zespri in quest for Chinese market dominance – Sophie Boot:

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group’s expansion into China is continuing at pace, after the country last year overtook Japan as its biggest retail market, though the company is battling against counterfeiting and theft from local growers who want a slice of its market.

Lewis Pan, the fruit marketer’s China country manager, says Zespri is focusing on brand recognition to shore up its dominance in the market. China delivered almost $300 million in revenue in the 2016 financial year, a 60 percent lift on a year earlier, and accounting for 16 percent of Zespri’s total $1.91 billion of revenue that . . 

Wilding pines control work nears million hectare mark:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say wilding pines control work has nearly reached its first year target of a million hectares.

“20 per cent of New Zealand will be covered in unwanted wilding conifers within 20 years if their spread isn’t stopped. They already cover more than 1.8 million hectares of New Zealand and until now have been spreading at about 5 per cent a year,” Mr Guy says.

“The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme was put in place in 2016 to prevent their spread and systematically remove them from much of the land already taken over.” . . 

Ten years after the crisis what is happening to the world’s bees? –  Simon Klein:

Ten years ago, beekeepers in the United States raised the alarm that thousands of their hives were mysteriously empty of bees. What followed was global concern over a new phenomenon: Colony Collapse Disorder. The Conversation

Since then we have realised that it was not just the US that was losing its honey bees; similar problems have manifested all over the world. To make things worse, we are also losing many of our populations of wild bees too.

Losing bees can have tragic consequences, for us as well as them. Bees are pollinators for about one-third of the plants we eat, a service that has been valued at €153 billion (US$168 billion) per year worldwide.

Ten years after the initial alarm, what is the current status of the world’s bee populations, and how far have we come towards understanding what has happened? . . .

Delegat grape harvest growth slows, still has enough stock to meet projected sales – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Delegat Group recorded a small gain in its Australian and New Zealand grape harvest but has enough stock on hand to meet its projected sales targets for the coming year.

The Auckland-based winemaker, whose brands include Oyster Bay, had a 4 percent increase in the New Zealand harvest to 34,595 tonnes, while its Australian harvest grew 6 percent to 2,760 tonnes, it said in a statement. Last year, Delegat’s New Zealand harvest expanded 33 percent from a weather-affected crop in 2015, while the Australian vineyards delivered a 56 percent increase in 2016. . . 


Rural round up

August 6, 2013

Westland Milk Products tests clear for clostridium:

Westland Milk Products confirmed today that it has not used any of the whey protein concentrate from Fonterra that has tested positive for clostridium bacteria.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says that Westland’s nutritional formulations use whey protein ingredients purchased from local and international suppliers, but these have not included any affected Fonterra whey protein concentrate.

“We test all the ingredients we buy in and all have returned “not detected” results for clostridium in the last 12 months. Testing of our own products and processes, including whey concentrate, has also returned negative results.” . .

Fork futures – Peter K. Dearden:

It is hard to avoid the news that last night, a beef burger grown in the lab was consumed by a number of people. The idea was that meat, grown in dishes in the lab, could replace meat grown in animals; last night was a demonstration of the principle.

The beef burger in question was grown from muscle stem cells in plastic dishes, the cells collected and squished together to make a meat-like substance. Consumers of the burger made statements such as “lacked flavor” and “needed some fat”, not exactly a glowing endorsement, but perhaps no worse than most folk’s opinion of the ‘mechanically recovered meat’ often lurking in such burgers.

The cost of this burger has been reported as 250,000 Euros ($425,000 NZ dollars), proving conclusively that growing meat in animals is still cheaper and more efficient.  As an aside, most cell culture experiments use animal serum to help grow the cells, meaning this approach is not animal-free. But is this more than just a publicity stunt; are there implications for New Zealand? . . .

Fruit and veg growers recognised for pioneering work:

Mangere fruit and vege growers Fay and Joe Gock have been recognised for their pioneering work, as this year’s winners of the Bledisloe Cup, the industry’s highest honour.

The couple both in their 80s, have come up with numerous innovations in horticulture over six decades of commercial fruit and vegetable growing,

They include being the first first to raise kumara tubers by using under-earth heating in modern hotbeds.

They developed a disease-free kumara strain and with DSIR, a prototype kumara curing shed, reducing crop loss from 50 percent to less than one percent, allowing kumara to be marketed all year round. . .

Former town relocation site placed on the market for sale:

The swathe of bare land once identified as the relocation site for the hydro’ dam township of Twizel has been placed on the market for sale.

The 19.3 hectare site at Lake Pukaki in South Canterbury is the only land within the Mackenzie District Plan with zoning allowing for residential subdivision and commercial business operations.

The land – which overlooks Lake Pukaki and State Highway 8 – is some 14 kilometres north of Twizel, and is being marketed for sale by auction on September 5. . .

Spray season begins for kiwifruit growers:

The spray season for kiwifruit growers is starting, and Bay of Plenty Regional Council is working with the industry to ensure spray drift problems are reduced this year.

Hydrogen Cyanamide, known as Hi-Cane, is sprayed on kiwifruit vines to promote more and larger fruit on the vines, promote bud break, ensure earlier and shorter flowering, and more flowers with fewer double and triple flowers which reduce fruit size.

In recent years the Bay of Plenty Spray Focus Group, which includes representatives of kiwifruit marketers Zespri, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc, Kiwifruit Vine Health, the public and Regional Council staff have worked to reduce the effects of sprays on the community, using best practice spraying methods. . .

Southfuels/Northfuels sign three year deal with TeenAg:

New Zealand Young Farmers is pleased to welcome Southfuels/Northfuels as a sponsor of the TeenAg Competition series. Southfuels/Northfuels have signed on for a three year period with the secondary school section within the New Zealand Young Farmers family of brands.

TeenAg aims to introduce and promote a positive picture about agriculture and agricultural careers from an early age. This is achieved via a competition series and a network of High School clubs.

The TeenAg Competition series started in 2011 with resounding success and the programmes popularity continues to rise. The first High School club was established in 2009 and know there are 45 clubs dotted throughout the country. . .

How Farmers Can Reduce Nitrogen Losses and Leaching:

New Zealand’s global image as a clean and green country is continuing to come under fire and with it comes pressure from local governments on the management of our farm lands. Nitrogen fertiliser inputs and how they affect the environment is a very topical story at the moment and with increasing pressures including N based fertiliser restrictions, costs, droughts and production requirements, the farmer has some important decisions to make.

What decision makers on both sides need to agree on is that we need to deliver the highest increase in dry matter and milk production per unit of nitrogen applied the soil. By using a microbial based inoculant like EM we can enhance the nutrient uptake of the pasture thus increasing the growth of dry matter. This enables the farmer to decrease their nitrogen application while maintaining and sometimes exceeding previous pasture levels. . .

And from Grammarly:

This exists. It makes more sense than what the word actually means.


Rural round-up

February 16, 2013

OSPRI New Zealand seeking to add value to primary sector:

The name of the new organisation being formed through the merger of the Animal Health Board (AHB) and NAIT has been announced.

Chairman of the board, Jeff Grant, told a Stakeholders’ Council meeting today that in line with its intention to provide operational solutions for New Zealand’s primary industries, the organisation would be called OSPRI New Zealand.

“I would like to think that in five years’ time we will have gained recognition for having one of the best biosecurity and pest management strategies anywhere in the world,” said Mr Grant after the meeting. . .

Purchase of unique North Otago reserve announced:

Critically endangered plants and a rare limestone ecosystem have been protected through the purchase of a 20 hectare reserve at Gards Road, near Duntroon in the Waitaki Valley, Minister of Conservation Dr Nick Smith announced today.

The purchase of the new scenic reserve, from David and Lorraine Parker’s farm, was completed through the Nature Heritage Fund and is the first of its kind in the region.

“In the past we have seen a greater focus on protecting the high country in this area through processes such as tenure review, so it is a credit to the Parkers that we have now secured the protection of this threatened lowland habitat,” Dr Smith says. . .

Improvement in Bay dairy farm compliance:

Bay of Plenty farmers are doing better in complying with Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s dairy farm effluent requirements – but they could improve.

This week’s Regional Council Operations, Monitoring and Regulation Committee meeting heard that 74 percent of the 297 farms visited during the dairy season were fully complying with their consent conditions, an improvement on last season’s 67 percent. Significant non-compliance, where effluent is overflowing to land where it could, or did, flow into a water course, dropped from 14 to 11 percent.

Regional Council Pollution Prevention Manager Nick Zaman said the number of significant non-complying farms was the lowest since the 2008-2009 season. . .

Crowds turn out for Southern Shears – Terri Russell:

About 100 people have braved Gore’s wet weather this morning to catch the start of the 2013 Southern Shears.

The event kicked-off at 9am with the open wooldhandling competitions. There are junior, senior and open heats, semi-finals and finals, as well as a North v South challenge.

Southern Shears chairman Chas Tohiariki said it was good to see such strong numbers in the lower grades, with fifteen entries in the junior heats.

Woolhandlers were judged on their workmanship on the board, sorting and quality of fleece, throws, tidiness and times, Mr Tohiariki said. . .

More products in UK store tainted by horse meat:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s British supermarket arm, Asda, said on Thursday it had discovered horse DNA in its beef bolognese sauce and was withdrawing that product and three others from its stores.”We have a preliminary test result that suggests the presence of horse DNA in our 500g Beef Bolognese sauce. As you’d expect, we have withdrawn this product from our shelves,”

Asda spokeswoman Jo Newbould said. Asda has about 550 shops across the UK.”We are taking a belt-and-braces approach so in addition, as a precaution, we’re also withdrawing three other beef-based products produced by the same supplier,” she said.The three other products are beef broth soup, meat feast pasta sauce and chilli con carne soup. Asda said it does not have positive test results for horse DNA in those products. It said the products were made at the Irish food group Greencore’s plant in Bristol. . .

Goats Chuffed, Not Gruff:

An agreement among various producer representatives to have equal representation on the Federated Farmers Goats Industry Group means the industry can look forward to a brighter future, says John Woodward, Mohair New Zealand (Inc.) chairman.

“Goat meat is the world’s most consumed meat and, with fewer calories, fat and cholesterol than chicken, is a very healthy option, but at present the New Zealand goat industries remain under rated and under utilised,” Woodward says.

“We expect that as a result of changes made at the Federated Farmers goats industry group conference held at Pukekohe earlier this week, this will start to change. . .


Combined effort cleans up Lake Rotorua

October 4, 2012

A combined effort by the council, farmers and community has cleaned up Lake Rotorua:

Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo is applauding the work of farmers and the wider community, which has seen Lake Rotorua improve beyond the target set by Bay of Plenty Regional Council in its regional water and land plan.

“We are not going to take all of the credit here because farming was never the entire problem.  It is however a triumph for the whole community,” says Neil Heather, Federated Farmers Rotorua-Taupo provincial president.

“The latest water testing of Lake Rotorua shows the Trophic Level Index (TLI), which measures the amount of nutrients in the lake, has fallen to 4.1.  This means Lake Rotorua has average water quality but in the time it has taken, average, is in fact, excellent.

“We started out with a lake that had poor water quality so we are trending in the right direction.  The lake is now below the 4.2 target the regional council had set for it.

“The regional council’s original modelling said things were going to get worse before they got better.  That’s the concern I have for other areas going down this track.  Despite what the model said we knew things were improving but farmers still caught flack in the media.

Poor farming practices can be partly blamed for poor water quality, but they are not usually the only culprits:

“As part of the learnings, we now know gorse leaches some 50 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare and that is more than a dairy farm.  Even pine plantations generate four kilograms per hectare each year and these show how varied the effects on water can be.

“It is why we must celebrate what the community, council and farmers have achieved together.  This is not down to one good year, but is part of an improving trend since we are all doing things better.

“There’s the land based treatment of the District’s human and industrial sewage as well as farmers fencing off stock and capturing nutrients, later recycled as liquid fertiliser.

“Being a Rotorua farmer, I am really proud of my community and we should all take a bow, town and country together. . .

Collaboration between councils, farmers and the community is the best way to achieve cleaner water.

Farmers have a responsiblity to minimise nutrient run-off, keep stock from water ways, manage effluent and do whatever else they can to keep water clean.

But improving water quality requires a team effort and the improved state of Lake Rotorua shows what can be achieved when people work together.


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