Rural round-up

15/05/2021

Why are we making life harder for farmers? – Mike Hosking:

The Fonterra capital changes announced last week have a story behind them.

It’s a complex business, and Andrew Kelleher explained them very well to us Friday, look it up if you missed it.

This is important because the farmer is gold to this country, Fonterra is our biggest business, and dairy and agriculture are saving us, given the other big game in town is closed.

Now, as Andrew put it, Fonterra have come to the conclusion they have reached peak milk. That doesn’t mean the world is over milk and dairy, because it isn’t. As the world grows, the middle class want good food, and that’s what we do.

So, Fonterra’s move means producing things in this country is getting harder. Between the rules and attitude of the government, making stuff is an uphill battle. . . 

The big dry: Drought hits farmers hard as winter looms – Kurt Bayer:

Up the brown hill where his grandfather lies, Stu Fraser’s epic view tells two stark tales.

Down on the flat of Amuri basin, the local irrigation scheme flaunts its lush rewards: emerald swathes of dairy land, crisscrossing the scenic North Canterbury landscape.

And down by the meandering Hurunui River, Fraser has some green strips too.

But up here on the steep hill country and rolling downs, where 5600 ewes scratch around and trot hopefully behind the red ATV, it’s a different story. . . 

Photographs spur journey from Argentina to Mid Canterbury farm – Toni Williams:

Maria Alvarez was drawn to New Zealand by photographs of a friend’s working holiday.

Those photographs started her on a journey from Argentina to working in the New Zealand dairy industry.

She arrived in New Zealand in 2013 and spent the first few years getting settled in.

“Everyday I get to see a sunrise. It’s beautiful,” she said last week from her home in Mid Canterbury. . . 

Sri Lankan dairy workers move up – Toni Williams:

Dairy farmers Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage are living the dream.

They are passionate share farmers on a 245ha Dairy Holdings farm at Ealing, milking 980 cows, and are finalists in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, Share Farmer of the Year category.

They won the final of the Canterbury-North Otago region and will find out this weekend how they fared. The national finals are in Hamilton on Saturday.

Dinuka and Nadeeka love being their own bosses and working with animals in the outside environment. . . 

Collaboration key to meat assurance programmes – Colin Williscroft:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers may be behind Ireland in their ability to measure farm-level carbon footprints but that is set to change, Beef + Lamb NZ general manager market development Nick Beeby says.

Beeby was responding to comments by Lincoln University agribusiness senior lecturer Dr Nic Lees who spent three months in Ireland looking at the Irish Origin Green programme, which claims to be the world’s first national level, third-party verified sustainability programme and brand for agriculture.

As part of the programme, farm-level carbon footprints and other sustainability measures have been available to Irish farmers since 2011.

Lees says in contrast, NZ is only beginning to implement a comprehensive farm-level carbon footprint measurement system. . . 

Safer farm equipment creates happy vets:

All good livestock farmers know the value of having a good relationships with their vets. And while vets expect to be on call to help with birthing issues, give vaccinations, or check any number of health concerns of farmers’ animals, a breach of safety could lead to vets fearing accepting such calls when they come in. Farmers should be aware, then, that if vets do not feel safe when administering their services, chances are, the farmers themselves may suffer in the long run as a result of high vet turnover or even possibly being sued for negligence.

It is imperative, therefore, to ensure the safety of all vets, along with all other farm workers, who attend to livestock. By ensuring high overall safety standards on farms, farmers are more likely to build robust relationships with those responsible for their animals’ wellbeing. Good relationships, in turn, could ensure higher profits due to trading in healthy stock, lower employee turnover, and the peace of mind that everyone on the farm – both people and animals – is happy and healthy. . . 


Rural round-up

09/05/2021

McBride leads Fonterra with the heart – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra chair Peter McBride has jumped into the biggest job of his considerable co-operative governance life – changing the giant dairy processor’s capital structure to suit the times.

“The issues raised through this review need to be addressed early,” McBride said.

“We have a misalignment of investor profiles and we have to avoid a slippery slope towards corporatisation.

“Waiting for the problem to be at our feet will limit our options and likely increase the cost of addressing them, at the expense of future opportunities for us.” . . 

Meat collaboration benefits all – Hugh Stringleman:

Resilience and collaboration within the red meat industry underpinned the response to covid-19 and managing drought issues across much of the country, according to the latest Red Meat Report.

It is the second in a series by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association, after the first was published last August.

Respective chief executives Sam McIvor and Sirma Karapeeva said collaboration had never been stronger and the recently renewed sector strategy was a strong platform to maximise the contribution to the New Zealand economy.

The report contains sections on the Red Meat Profit Partnership, Mycoplasma bovis, global trade worth $9.2 billion in 2020, free-trade agreements, the Taste Pure Nature origin brand, industry efforts in the environment, innovation and research and the 90,000-strong workforce. . . 

Rabbits: a seaside town over-run – Melanie Reid & Jill Herron:

A small South Island town is under siege from a plague of rabbits that has taken up residence over the entire area

The seaside village of Mōeraki in North Otago paints a pretty picture from a distance but up close, under the buildings, on the hills and along roadsides, things quickly get less attractive.

The place is infested with thousands of rabbits and residents are fighting a losing battle.

“They’re living under houses, they’re living under trailers, water tanks, boats, they’re literally everywhere. It’s ridiculous,” says local resident Ross Kean. . .

Champion of Cheese Awards 2021:

This year’s New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards has recognised long term favourites as well as newcomers among its 27 trophy recipients.

The four Supreme Champion awards went to Kāpiti and Mahoe, two highly awarded cheesemakers with a proud history; The Drunken Nanny with 11 years of cheesemaking, as well as Annie & Geoff Nieuwenhuis of Nieuwenhuis Farmstead Cheese who were named MilkTestNZ Champion Cheesemaker after only three years of commercial cheesemaking.

The trophies were awarded at a Gala Awards Dinner at SkyCity in Hamilton last night (Wednesday 05 May 2021) and followed judging of more than 310 cheeses from 35 cheese companies at Wintec in February. Chief Judge Jason Tarrant led a panel of 32 judges to assess the cheeses. . . 

2021 Peter Snow Memorial Award Goes To Kerikeri GP:

Kerikeri GP Dr Grahame Jelley has been announced as the 2021 recipient of the Peter Snow Memorial Award.

The award was announced at the National Rural Health Conference at Wairakei Resort in Taupō on Friday 30 April 2021.

The Peter Snow Memorial Award honours Dr Peter Snow and his contribution to rural communities as well as recognising an individual for their outstanding contribution to rural health either in service, innovation or health research.

Grahame, currently a GP in Kerikeri, was nominated for his service as a rural General Practitioner and his dedication to rural health for more than 30 years. . .

Stunning high-country grazing farm with multiple recreational benefits placed on the market for sale:

One of the most picturesque livestock farms in the South Island – with landscape for hosting a plethora of recreational activities and stunning views in conjunction with a sheep and beef grazing operation – has been placed on the market for sale.

The Larches – located at the entrance to the Cardrona Valley some seven kilometres south-west of Wanaka in Central Otago – is a 976-hectare farm spread over a mix of irrigated Cardrona River flats, along with lower north/north-west facing terraces and rocky outcrop hills climbing up to the skyline of the Pisa Range.

The Larches currently runs half-bred sheep and Angus-cross cattle. Located at 446 Cardrona Valley Road on the outskirts of Wanaka leading into the Crown Range, The Larches freehold farm is now on the market for sale by deadline treaty through Bayleys Wanaka, with offers closing on June 4, 2021. . .


Rural round-up

04/05/2021

Return of the rabbit plague – Melanie Reid:

The saying goes: “Never turn your back on a rabbit, especially in Central Otago”. But New Zealand has. And now the population has exploded – again. This week, Newsroom Investigates launches an in-depth series about the South Island rabbit rampage.

Rabbits are eating their way through parts of the South Island, turning productive farm land into bare, honeycombed ground where only weeds survive. Lifestyle blocks and subdivisions around Queenstown are infested. The North Otago town of Moeraki has them in plague proportions.

Welcome to another environmental fiasco in Aotearoa.

There have been two occasions in our history when rabbits were almost wiped out: in 1947, when the government set up a Rabbit Destruction Council with the aim to “kill the last rabbit,” and exactly 50 years later when the calicivirus was released illegally by a fed-up farmer. . . 

Sector fears govt module will confuse farmers – Neal Wallace:

The release of a Government initiated online tool to help farmers manage intensive winter grazing may create confusion, a primary sector group fears.

The online farm plan module was launched this week by the ministries for Primary Industry (MPI) and Environment (MfE) ahead of a similarly targeted information jointly formulated by Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ), DairyNZ, Federated Farmers and Deer Industry NZ.

B+LNZ environmental policy manager Corina Jordan says having two separate plan templates in circulation creates confusion, sends mixed messages and “adds to the noise” at a time farmers should be focused on developing a winter grazing plan.

“It was unnecessary for MPI and MfE to step into this space because we had a farm plan already developed. We were already doing it.” . . 

R&D crucial to meet GHG goals – Anne Boswell:

New Zealand farmers are already doing their bit, but more tools will be needed if they are to meet the targets outlined in the Climate Change Commission’s proposal.

DairyNZ says a substantial investment into research and development (R&D) is crucial if farmers are to meet the recommendations set out in the independent Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) draft carbon budgets proposal, released in January this year.

As an industry body, DairyNZ has made a comprehensive submission to the commission on farmers’ behalf, backed by economic, farm systems and scientific evidence. 

The submission outlined two key messages: don’t shift the goalposts, and that substantial investment in research and development was critical to the success of the proposal. . . 

Feds keen to engage in immigration review:

Federated Farmers is pleased that the Productivity Commission has decided to hold an inquiry into our current immigration settings and looks forward to engaging in the process.

The primary industries have traditionally looked to the migrant workforce to fill a range of roles where sufficient numbers of Kiwis are not available.

“The closure of the border has seen many roles, both permanent and seasonal, unable to be filled by Kiwis,” Feds Immigration Spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“The various sectors have done what they can to encourage more New Zealanders to work on farms, including training and recruitment initiatives and increases in wages, but some roles and regions remain critically short on suitable staff.. .

Agriculture machinery sales continue to be buoyant:

Growing demand for agricultural machinery and equipment has kicked 2021 off to fantastic start, according to the Tractor and Machinery Association of New Zealand (TAMA).

The momentum began to build during spring and summer of 2020 as the result of increasing customer confidence, said TAMA president Kyle Baxter.

Mr Baxter said he was seeing first-hand how strengthened commodity prices were giving farmers and rural contractors the confidence to invest in new equipment. .  .

Te Uru Rākau – NZ Forest Service explores biofuels as a major opportunity for New Zealand:

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service is laying the foundations for a new biofuels industry, to turn forestry waste into a potential billion-dollar industry, and working on a business case with help from global investment experts Indufor Asia Pacific Ltd.

“Establishing a biofuels industry in New Zealand will require significant investment, so we’re moving ahead with developing the business case for this investment,” says Jason Wilson, director of sector investments at Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service.

Mr Wilson says research shows a biofuels industry would help New Zealand to meet its emissions targets and provide jobs and new industries in our regional centres. . . 


Pasture raised advantage research trial

30/04/2021

Free range and pasture-fed are good for marketing, researchers are looking at the science behind the claims:

New Zealand scientists are conducting a ground-breaking research programme to explore the differences between pasture-raised beef with grain-fed beef and alternative proteins.

Most of the global research around the nutritional, environmental and health impacts of producing and consuming red meat have been based on grain-finished cattle.

However, New Zealand specialises in free-range, grass-fed farming without antibiotics and hormones aka pasture-raised meat. Not only are the farming styles different, but so too is the meat.

Researchers, scientists, dietitians and nutritionists from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland recognised that difference and are kicking off a ground-breaking new research programme that will compare pasture-raised beef and lamb against grain-finished and protein alternatives – products like plant-based alternatives.

Learn more at Beef + Lamb NZ


Rural round-up

24/04/2021

Looking after the land ‘a passion’ – Shawn McAvine:

Looking after the land is a “passion” for Central Otago farmers Ben and Anna Gillespie.

The couple won the 2020 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, and opened their farm gates in Omakau for a field day last week.

Mrs Gillespie, speaking to about 100 people on the day, said she and her husband were a “solid team”.

She did the “stock work and finances” and he did the “tractor work, irrigation and agronomy“. . .

The cost of getting soil fertility wrong:

Although many people on the planet are willing to pay more for New Zealand produce, productive land to grow that food and fibre is becoming unavailable here in our own backyard.

Both the current government and previous governments aimed to double export dollars from the primary sector.

In answer, ingenious farmers and growers have had to become more efficient with their inputs to do more with less land. The Ministry for the Environment’s report entitled Our Land shows export values of the primary sector doubled while available highly productive land halved between 2002 and 2019.

This was an impressive achievement, but not without impacts. Hitting the political ambition whilst reducing land use and environmental issues is going to require farmers to become even more efficient in the use of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. . .

Trans-Tasman competition expected to increase for dairy farms seeking workers – Maja Burry:

New Zealand dairy farmers are being urged to make staff retention a priority, with the trans-Tasman bubble expected to make the labour market even more competitive.

Both New Zealand and Australia’s primary industries are facing labour shortages, with border restrictions cutting off the normal flow of migrant workers.

A recent survey by the groups Federated Farmers and DairyNZ found almost half of the sector is understaffed, with a quarter of farmers unable to fill some roles for over six months.

The opening of the trans-Tasman bubble on Monday had resulted in some agricultural labour recruiters in Australia ramping up online advertising campaigns targeting New Zealanders – offering free airfares and good wages. . . 

A2 moves from a brand to a category – Keith Woodford:

Many more A2 milk and A2 infant formula brands are now emerging across the globe but market leader The a2 milk Company is struggling

A notable change has been occurring recently with A2 milk products now available from multiple manufacturers. That includes at least three brands of A2 infant formula available here in New Zealand. These offerings are the original a2 Platinum from The a2 Milk Company (ATM), plus relative newcomers Karicare A2 from Danone and Haven A2 linked to Zuru.

There are also now at least three A2 fresh-milk brands in New Zealand, these being Fonterra, Fresha Valley, and a strangely named “organic A3” product which, according to its owners, is also produced exclusively from A2 cows.

Internationally, there are multiple A2 brands of both A2 milk and A2 infant formula now available, particularly in Asia, to a lesser extent in the Americas, but with Europe still lagging. . . 

The harvest has passed but we are not saved – Tom Hunter:

So that’s it. The last of the maize has been chopped and dropped into bunkers, pits and stacks all across the Waikato.

I’ve finished my first, and likely my last season, on the harvesting teams. As always with such work it seems that time has run much faster than a start last September factually shows. About the only slow period was in January as the huge machines were prepped for the coming chore and eyes closely watched the growing maize to pick the right time for gathering.

This time of year has always been celebrated, so let’s start with Bruegel’s classic from 1565. . . 

‘A farmer with 50 cattle today will only be allowed to have 24 in 2030’ – Catherina Cunnane:

The Rural Independents have warned that the Climate Action Bill will “kill the economy while doing nothing to protect the environment”. 

They fear that “small farms will be in danger of disappearing and replaced by large corporate interests, while one-off rural housing will cease to exist”.

The group believe the bill will cause “immeasurable damage to Irish agriculture”, cause food security issues, lead to thousands of direct and indirect job losses across rural Ireland and create enormous and costly volumes of red tape. . . 


Rural round-up

19/04/2021

Winter colony loss rates climb – Richard Rennie:

Beehive losses over winter have continued to show an insidious lift in numbers as the industry seeks out more answers on what is afflicting queen bee populations.

Latest survey data has found winter colony loss rates in New Zealand have lifted 10% on last year to afflict 11% of hives, in a continuing upward trend. The losses have crept upwards over the past few years with 2015 losses reported at 8%.

But Apiculture New Zealand Science and Research Focus Group chair Barry Foster says the rate remains comfortably below that of countries like the United States with a winter loss rate of 22%, and an international average loss rate across participating countries of 17%.

“It is hard to draw a real conclusion as to what the exact cause is, but the hard data is that it is largely due to problems with queen bees, along with varroa mite,” Foster said, . . 

B+LNZ seeks region-based slope maps – Neal Wallace:

Beef + Lamb NZ is calling on the Government to replace its low-slope stock exclusion map and stocking regulations with a region by region approach.

The map and associated stock exclusion rules were introduced last August as part of the Essential Freshwater regulations but have been deemed unworkable by farmers and farming groups.

Encouraged by the Government’s recognition that the intensive winter grazing rules needed modifying, B+LNZ is seeking the low-slope map to be replaced, saying it is inaccurate and unworkable, and stocking rules should be set regionally.

“Our position has been clear all along,” chief executive Sam McIvor said. . . 

Live export ban wrecks a growing industry – Mike Hosking:

Damien O’Connor has added another industry this Government has destroyed to its growing list.

Live animal exports are done.

While telling us it wouldn’t hurt our GDP, and despite admitting it’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars – he did concede there had been a bit of a “gold rush” of late.

That’s spin for “the industry is growing”. There is increasing demand for it, and in general I thought gold rushes were good. . .

Dairy farm trials app letting staff choose hours they want to work

A Mid-Canterbury dairy farm that is offering staff flexible work hours is seeing major benefits from the change.

Align Farms is trialling an app which lets staff to book in the hours they want to work.

Chief executive Rhys Roberts said a set number of people are needed for milking, but the app gives much more flexibility than a traditional roster where they are on deck from 4.30am until 5pm but only get paid for 10 hours because of meal breaks.

The new system allowed for a 9 hour paid workday in 9 hours. Freeing up 3 and a half hours. . . 

Business plan hatched to keep 320,000 hens in 139ha forest :

A South Waikato free-range egg company is setting up a new model of business – creating a forest for its hens to live in

The 139 hectare property will produce eggs under the Heyden Farms Free Range brand for egg producer and supplier Better Eggs Limited.

Developing over the next five years it will home 320,000 laying hens with eight laying sheds amongst 90,000 native and exotic trees.

Better Eggs chief executive Gareth van der Heyden said it was a whole new way of poultry farming in New Zealand that would enable the hens to live in a natural environment while producing eggs in a sustainable manner. . . 

In the Know – A New Mental Health Program for Farmers :

In the Know is a mental health literacy program developed at the Ontario Veterinary College (University of Guelph) created specifically to educate the agricultural community. With support from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, several CMHA branches in rural and agricultural communities offer this training.

The four-hour mental health literacy workshop is designed to fit with farmers/producers limited availability owing to rigid daily schedules, distilling critical information and incorporating agricultural community culture. The workshop was developed in collaboration with stakeholder groups, including various agricultural sectors, mental health literacy trainers, government and representatives from social work, psychology, epidemiology, and education.

In the Know is meant for farmers, producers and persons with whom they have regular contact. This may include, but is not limited to, family members, peers and allies in the agricultural industry such as veterinarians, breeders, seed or feed salespeople, financial institutions, accountants or community members who have direct contact with farm owners/operators. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

13/04/2021

Red meat retreat – Neal Wallace:

This year’s prime lamb production is headed to be the lowest on record, reflecting low farmer confidence, and could result in fewer ewe numbers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is warning.

The number of lambs likely to be processed this season is estimated at 18.2 million, a drop of 4.5%, or 900,000, compared to 2019-20, with total export production of 347,600 tonnes bone-in.

“This will be the lowest lamb production on record. Confidence in the industry is subdued,” the B+LNZ report said.

“Farm gate prices have eased from recent high levels, farmers are wary of the volatility of weather events and environmental regulation is weighing heavily on morale. Forestry is also spreading into sheep farming land. . .

Bills on tax creep and sound law-making deserve public debate – Feds:

A government committed to fairness and responsible law-making should not allow two bills recently drawn from the Member’s Ballot to sink without debate, Federated Farmers says.

“At the very least the Regulatory Standards Bill and the Income Tax (Adjustment of Taxable Income Ranges) Amendment Bill deserve to go to select committee for examination and public submissions,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

The Regulatory Standards Bill would require any proposed legislation to be subject to clear analysis of the problem the legislation is aimed at solving, a thorough cost-benefit analysis of expected outcomes and adequate consultation with affected parties.

“Quite frankly with such requirements, the Essential Freshwater legislation and the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill – to name just two recent examples – would not have got through as written,” Andrew said. . . 

Resting in fleece – Annette Scott:

Choosing an end of life in wool has become a popular option as woollen caskets take off in New Zealand.

Ten years ago when Polly and Ross McGuckin launched Natural Legacy woollen caskets in NZ the idea struggled to gain traction.

“We were seen as eco warriors, there wasn’t the interest then, I was flogging a dead horse, but now people are waking up, the public is listening and the table is turning,” Polly McGuckin said.

“The world is changing and funeral homes want to do the right thing by being eco-friendly and sustainable – it’s a lot easier to talk about wool now, every year we are seeing interest grow. . . .

Love of the land a Shaw thing:

Farm Environment Plans are not just about cows, grass and other farm management practices, says Ross Shaw – they are an integral part of any farmer’s connection to the land.

Shaw, along with wife Karla and parents Jim and Helen, have a deep and strongly held philosophy about the land. That dovetails with his recent enthusiastic embrace of a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) – one of the many compulsory (by 2025) calls on farmers’ time and wallets in order to improve nutrient management and reduce farming’s impact on water quality.

Jim and Helen Shaw bought the Reporoa property 36 years ago when it was 62 hectares and with 150 cows; it’s now 400ha, with many more cows and farmed, for the last 13 years, with Ross and Karla.

It is also the subject of a long-held family belief in multi-generational farming and what that means in terms of custodianship of the land: “We are like most New Zealand farmers – we want to be here for multi-generations,” Ross says.  “We were farming in our own right [before joining up with his parents] and our kids will be the third generation on this farm. . . 

Relief in Australia as welcome mat goes out for New Zealand shearers – Sally Murphy:

Australian farmers are breathing a sigh of relief as much needed New Zealand shearers will now be able to travel over for their busy spring season.

Covid-19 border closures have meant nearly 500 New Zealand shearers who normally travel to Australia to help out have been unable to.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford said it’s been tough going with farmers paying almost double per sheep to have them shorn.

“It’s been really tough and there’s been months of delays. The standard rate over here for shearing a sheep is $A3.24 [$NZ3.51] but now in New South Wales which has about 40 percent of the country’s sheep it’s hard to get a shear for under $A3.72. . . 

China trade tactics didn’t hurt AUstralia as anticipated – Jamieson Murphy:

CHINA’S aggressive trade tariffs have cost the Australian economy millions of dollars, but the damage isn’t anywhere nearly as bad as originally anticipated, according to leading think tank economists.

Across the affected commodities, trade to China is down about 78 per cent. But the trade sanctions took place against the backdrop of COVID-19 which “significantly clouds the picture”, Lowy Institute lead economist Roland Rajah said. 

Nonetheless, one can parse the evidence to arrive at some conclusions and it would seem the impact has in fact been quite limited,” Mr Rajah said.

“Exports to China have predictably collapsed in the areas hit by sanctions, but most of this lost trade seems to have found other markets.”. . .


Rural round-up

01/04/2021

Dairy farmers warn of hidden costs of reducing climate gas emissions – Jonathan Milne:

The dairy industry says its already a world leader on the farm and is improving its factory processing, but worries about the impact of further emissions cut on its communities

Fonterra and Synlait are attempting to shift energy-intensive boilers and other industrial processes to renewables, but farmers are worried that one-in-three will go backwards financially.

Fonterra will publish its submission to the Climate Change Commission this morning. The cooperative, owned by 10,000 farming families, produces 20 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions – the vast majority of those from farming.

New Zealand’s dairy farmers have already reduced their carbon footprints well beyond global benchmarks, and have been consistent in saying they need more R&D investment from Government and industry to make further emissions cuts. . . 

Driven by passion for all things rural – Toni Williams:

Mt Somers farmer and businesswoman Kate Acland is passionate about the rural sector.

She knows it is facing enormous change with environmental reforms set to affect farm businesses, but wants to be at the table as the sector works to address the challenges.

She is on the board of Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand,has past involvement with the Strong Wool Action Group and has just taken a place on the board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand as the northern South Island farmer-director.

“I’m hugely passionate about the sector and future of our family farming businesses.

“Beef and Lamb is a fantastic organisation and I feel very strongly that it has a key role to play in the successful future of those businesses.’’ . . 

Quarter of farmers to measure emissions by end of year – Marc Daalder:

The He Waka Eke Noa primary sector partnership with central government says it is on track for 25 percent of farmers to be measuring their emissions by the end of the year, Marc Daalder reports

As submissions closed on the Climate Change Commission’s historic draft advice on decarbonising New Zealand, the primary sector is hailing the accomplishment of a crucial milestone: Some 11,000 farmers are now measuring their greenhouse gas emissions.

He Waka Eke Noa: The Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership was set up in 2019 as an agreement between the primary sector and central government to move towards all farmers measuring their emissions by the end of 2022 and a price on agricultural emissions by 2025.

In order for farmers to pay for the emissions from their livestock and produce, they have to know how much they emit in the first place. Already, 11,000 farmers are able to measure their emissions, He Waka Eke Noa programme director Kelly Forster said, and a quarter of the country’s farmers will be doing so by the end of the year. . . 

Shearing stalwarts lauded – Simon Henderson:

Family tradition and fine wool came together at a meeting of the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society as four stalwarts were awarded life memberships during a ceremony at the Lodge Manuherikia Kilwinning in Alexandra on Sunday.

Life member and past-president Graeme Bell, of Alexandra, presented the awards alongside senior vice-president Lane McSkimming and junior vice-president Janet Smith to Greg Stuart, Don Moffat, Allan Paterson, and John Nelson.

Mr Nelson first came as a helper to shearing shows in the late 1960s.

He started competing in shows before becoming a committee member in 1983, a role he had continued to the present day, Mr Bell said. . . 

Leaft Foods announces $20m programme to tackle global plant protein market and signals potential to lower farm emissions:

The programme will develop technology that extracts edible protein from New Zealand grown green leafy crops. Leaft Foods seeks to produce high-quality protein ingredients for use in a range of food products across the rapidly growing global market for plant-based foods.

Leaft Foods’ innovation is the co-production of a low-emission animal feed, optimised for ruminant nutrition that could significantly reduce farm nitrogen losses. On-farm trials will demonstrate a viable pathway to adoption and commercial uptake for New Zealand farmers and credentialing the system’s economic and environmental benefits.

“We are building on New Zealand’s reputation as a trusted producer of high-quality protein. Our vision is to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural systems and to meet the increase in demand for plant proteins that align with consumer values,” says Maury Leyland Penno, Founder of Leaft Foods. . . 

Bill Gates’ farmland buying spree highlights investment appeal – Judith Evans:

With productivity expected to increase, arable land is attractive — and can help meet carbon-neutral targets.

The Horse Heaven Hills in Washington State are known for wines, wind farms and potatoes. And, recently, swaths of the area have been bought up by Bill Gates.

The Microsoft co-founder acquired 14,500 acres of the fertile land in 2018, helping to make him the largest private farmland owner in the US, with total holdings of almost 250,000 acres, according to disclosures in the US publication The Land Report this year.

Gates may operate at a vast scale, but he is not alone. Although the global farmland market is still highly fragmented — in the US, institutional ownership is estimated to account for just 2.2 per cent by the US Department of Agriculture — investment by financial institutions and wealthy individuals has surged since the financial crisis, in relative terms. . .

 


Rural round-up

27/03/2021

Kill rate sparks breeding flock concern – Neal Wallace:

A high mutton kill has commentators worried the country’s core ewe breeding flock could take a sharp fall.

AgriHQ senior analyst Mel Croad says 3.1 million ewes were forecast to be killed this year, but up to February 13 – 19 weeks into the season – the kill was well on the way, sitting at 2.2m.

The five-year average kill for the remaining 33 weeks of the season is nearly 1.5m, potentially pushing this year’s ewe kill to about 3.7m.

Croad believes some farmers are looking at the capital tied up in breeding flocks and looking for less financial risk. . . 

Meat man’s mission ending – Sudesh Kissun:

It was around 27 years ago when Rod Slater agreed to step in as interim chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

He recalls getting a call from then-chairman Dennis Denton, who was worried about the future of the organisation. The chief executive had “gone AWOL” and things were looking dire.

Slater, then a board member of B+LNZ, had just sold out of Mad Butcher, the iconic NZ chain he had started with Sir Peter Leitch.

Slater told Rural News that was happy to help bail out B+LNZ. . .

Mid-Canterbury sheep milking business looks to expand – Maja Burry:

A Mid Canterbury sheep milking business is looking to establish itself as a major player in local industry with plans to take on more than 20 farmer suppliers over the next three years.

Matt and Tracey Jones from Sheep Milk New Zealand began commercial milking in 2019. As well as selling raw milk to other producers, they have developed their own fresh milk product range Jones Family Farm and a skin care range Sabelle.

Matt Jones said at the moment it had two farmer suppliers, but it would be taking on five more this coming season and 17 more were lined up for the season after.

“We’re building more processing facilities for that … because someone’s got to buy the milk and we’ve got to process it and sell it.” . . 

Millions of South Canterbury sunflowers heading for bottling plant – Eleisha Foon:

It’s hard not to miss the bright sea of yellow which turns heads just south of Timaru on State Highway 1.

Millions of sunflowers on a South Canterbury farm, are just weeks away from harvest.

Row upon row, standing two feet tall, they’re past their best now and are beginning to sag.

By next month the sunflower seeds will be processed into cooking oil, making it one of New Zealand’s only locally grown sunflower oil – soon to be ready for the domestic market. . . 

HortNZ welcomes Govt’s moves to improve housing supply – but not on highly productive land:

HortNZ says the Government’s latest moves to improve housing supply are welcome but the new houses must not be built on highly productive land used for vegetable or fruit growing.

‘Every New Zealander deserves a house just like every New Zealander deserves fresh, healthy locally grown vegetables and fruit,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive Mike Chapman.

‘We can have both but current policy settings favour housing over food security, and keeping New Zealand’s most highly productive soils safe from urban creep.

‘In August 2019, the Government launched its draft National Policy Statement on Highly Productive Land. This was at an event attended by two Government Ministers in Pukekohe, where some of the greatest pressures are. . . 

Actress Antonia Prebble joins Spring Sheep Milk Co to launch toddler milk:

Actress and mum to 20-month-old Freddie, Antonia Prebble is delighted to be helping introduce New Zealand to a brand-new source of toddler nutrition. Antonia is working with Kiwi company Spring Sheep Milk Co. as it launches its new premium Gentle Sheep Toddler Milk Drink, a product made with grass-fed New Zealand sheep milk.

Antonia was drawn to Spring Sheep Milk Co.’s gentle approach to nutrition for Kiwi toddlers and the rich nutritional and digestive benefits of sheep milk.

“I am really mindful when it comes to what I give Freddie to eat and drink, and working with the team at Spring Sheep, I saw early on that they are just as passionate about what goes into their product. . . 


Essential Day

25/03/2021

A year on from the level 4 lockdown, it’s time to celebrate Essentials Day:

This time a year ago, the whole of Aotearoa (and indeed the wider world) stepped up for the first big Covid lockdown. Together our nation united to face the largest health challenge facing the country since the First World War.

Everyone has their own memories of getting through that first Level 4 Lockdown and for so many it marked a period of terrible change, even an end of an era.

While we never want to belittle the myriad challenges people around the globe have faced since, we are forever aware of the large body of scientific research demonstrating the psychological benefits of gratitude. Tuning into what’s still good in our world (cognitive reappraisal) is a foundational skill for resilience. Multiple studies have demonstrated the psychological benefits of noticing positive events, gratitude, mindful awareness, positive reappraisal, the use of personal strengths and acts of kindness during times of significant stress and suggested the importance of these strategies for supporting people through the ongoing challenges of the pandemic (Waters et al, 2021).

Gratitude is just one positive emotion that serves to buffer and bolster mental health in times of adversity and stress, aiding recovery from loss and trauma via widening perceptual field and allowing people to see the big picture (Vernon et al., 2009).

Kim Tay, Director of Online Training from the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience says: “There’s no doubt the past year has been tough, and we don’t want to diminish that, but wherever you are on the spectrum of how the pandemic has impacted you, taking a moment to notice what’s still good in your world, and particularly who you are grateful for, is such a powerful way of broadening our perspective and enabling us to cope in the face of uncertainty, challenge and change.”

“The benefits of a grateful mindset and grateful orientation toward life would appear to be especially valuable in the midst of uncontrollable stress, such as that engendered by the coronavirus crisis”, reports Professor Lea Waters and colleagues from around the world in their recently published paper on psychological strategies for ‘buffering, bolstering and building’ psychological health.

And so, we encourage you, your colleagues, your teams, families, whanau and communities to make an intentional effort to tune into the good at this time. To pause and reflect, for a moment, on the magnificent job done by all the people involved with delivering essential services, on the extraordinary ways families coped with home- schooling, and the businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes doing their utmost to keep going.

Consider all those behind-the-scenes legends who keep New Zealand moving through adversity, never seeking the limelight or praise, and the massive contribution they make every day of the year.

We encourage you to take a moment to ponder, who is essential to you and your way of life? It could be anyone involved in keeping your whanau safe and healthy, the food flowing, the power on, the rubbish collected. Or simply someone you can’t imagine facing the tough times without.

Let’s call it, Essential Day, making it a chance to acknowledge everyone connected to those essential services who kept calm and carried on. And to all those in Aotearoa who keep working day in, day out for a better New Zealand.

Questions you can ask yourself and your teams:

  • Who are you grateful for?
  • Who wouldn’t you want to live without?
  • Who stood up for you last year – at work or home?
  • Who are you most proud of?
  • Have you ever thought of thanking the people behind the essential services in some way?

 


Rural round-up

24/03/2021

Govt ‘naivety’ cause of crisis – Peter Burke:

Johnny Appleseed is one of the largest apple growers in New Zealand; director Paul Paynter says the current worker shortage crisis in the sector can be sheeted home to Government naivety.

He says when Covid-19 first hit the country – with many people losing their jobs and overseas workers stopped from coming to NZ – the Government was quick to claim it would provide an opportunity for Kiwis to take up jobs in the ag and hort sectors. However, he says while there has been some uptake, the reality has fallen well short of the enthusiastic expectations.

“It was just naïve optimism on the part of Government,” Paynter told Rural News.

He says people are not coming to the Hawkes Bay to pick apples for a number of reasons, the major one being the lack of accommodation. Paynter says there is a housing crisis in the region.

Drinking (milk) to economic recovery – The Detail:

When the price of milk surged 15 percent on the global dairy market earlier this month, even the boss of Fonterra was shocked.

“It was extraordinary,” says Jarden’s head of dairy derivatives, Mike McIntyre. “I’ve been following these auctions now for the better part of 10 years and I’ve seen it previously, but only in the past where we’ve been constrained.”

That was 2013 when the whole country was in drought and very little milk was being produced.

This time, says McIntyre, it is being driven by China’s thirst for milk.

“Last year, the Chinese government came out and essentially issued a directive to the public to say, to ward off the ill effects of Covid they should be consuming more than a glass of milk a day.” . . 

Covid-19 vaccine: Concerns over future uptake in rural areas – Riley Kennedy;

The government is being encouraged to think outside the box when rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine into rural communities.

Earlier this month, the government announced its plan to deliver the vaccine to the wider public.

From May, priority populations will be able to get the vaccine and from July, the remainder of the population will be able to get it.

There have been concerns from some health professionals that the uptake among people living in rural New Zealand could be slow – given some have to travel a long way to see their GP and therefore don’t always bother. . . 

Investing in consumers’ trust – Neal Wallace:

Meat companies are using the Taste Pure Nature brand alongside their own brands as they target environmentally-conscious foodie consumers.

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) market development manager Nick Beeby told the organisation’s annual meeting that this demographic cares where their food comes from and are heavily influenced by digital channels such as food websites and bloggers who focus on natural foods.

They are considered a significant opportunity for NZ red meat sales, and Beeby says during the covid-19 pandemic consumers were increasingly discerning with their purchases, which was underpinned by the message associated with the B+LNZ developed taste pure nature brand.

“Consumers chose meat products that are better tasting, nutritious and satisfy environmental concerns,” Beeby said. . . 

A platform for red meat’s story – Neal Wallace:

A new website selling the virtues of red meat and dispelling some of its myths is being launched.

An initiative of Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA), the Making Meat Better website will tell the sector’s story, and provide information and data, while reinforcing the merits of red meat.

The 150 people who attended the B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill this week were told the site will provide data and statistics about the red meat sector, sell the virtues of being grass-raised, its nutritional attributes, while also extolling the environmental stewardship of farmers.

Data on the site will provide a balance to some of the criticism about red meat and farming by providing information on farming’s carbon footprint, action being taken on climate change and provide infographic resources that can be used.  . . 

 

Showgirls, rural achievers shine the way for ag :

The bush has a wealth of young talent who are turning their fantastic ideas and aspirations into reality.

You only have to look at the pages in last week’s Land to find young people who are ready to act or are acting on their projects.

And they are motivated – either by issues that some members of older generations might not want to confront such as climate change – or value adding to the great contributions of previous generations.

They are doing this despite the enforced isolation of the last year from the pandemic. . . 


Rural round-up

21/03/2021

B+LNZ defend rules approach – Neal Wallace:

Beef + Lamb NZ is defending its dealings with the Government in the face of farmers claiming they are not being hard-nosed enough.

There was an obvious undercurrent from many of the 150 farmers at this week’s B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill that their sector leaders and representatives are not being publicly assertive enough in criticising policy.

Wyndham farmer Bruce Robertson told the meeting the implications for his farm of the intensive winter grazing provisions were huge and he questioned whether bodies like B+LNZ have emphasised the impact of such policy on farm businesses.

Other farmers raised similar concerns, which were echoed by B+LNZ Southern South Island farmer council chair Bill McCall when wrapping up the meeting. . .

Extra time will enable development of practical winter grazing solutions:

Federated Farmers is pleased that the Government has taken the time to listen to and understand the practical difficulties that accompanied the Essential Freshwater rules on winter grazing.

“In announcing tonight a temporary delay until 1 May 2022 of intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules taking effect, Environment Minister David Parker has recognised workability issues need to be sorted, and that extra time is vital to ensure we get this right,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“This is not kicking for touch. The Minister has accepted a commitment from regional councils and the farming sector to use this time to develop, test and deploy an IWG module and practices that will ultimately be a part of a certified freshwater farm plan.”

There is universal recognition that the Essential Freshwater national rules passed in August last year have a number of unworkable parts. The parts that relate to the regulation of intensive winter grazing were one of the first ones to take effect and therefore needed urgent attention. . .

Tropical fruit, coffee crops potential for winterless north :

A Northland family is preparing to harvest the country’s first ever commercial pineapple crop – and they are looking for more New Zealanders to grow the golden fruit and supply the country.

Linda and Owen Schafli moved to Whangārei from Hamilton 10 years ago with plans to grow tropical fruit, specifically bananas and pineapples.

Their vision was initially greeted by laughter from those they told, with not many people convinced it would work.

“Because it’s never been done before here in New Zealand, people thought it could never be done,” Linda said. . . 

2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards aim to continue to grow their farming business while protecting the environment through sustainable farming.

Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards held at the Airforce Museum of New Zealand in Wigram on Tuesday evening.

Other major winners were Maria Alvarez, who was named the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Mattes Groenendijk, the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Gamages say the networking, strength and weakness identification and recognition they gain through the Awards process were all motivating factors to enter again. Dinuka was placed third in the 2016 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager category. . .

2021 West Coast/Top of South Island Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

First-time entrants who embrace a sustainable version of farming have been announced as major winners in the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards. 

Mark Roberts and Sian Madden were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year Category at the West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held in Shantytown on Thursday night. The other big winners were Rachael Lind, who was named the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Sam Smithers, the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mark and Sian are contract milkers and 20% share milkers on Stu and Jan Moir’s (Moir Farms Ltd) 215ha and 377ha Reefton farms milking 1300 cows across the two properties. They won $6,500 in prizes and three merit awards.

“We have a genuine passion for the dairy industry and are committed to farming sustainably and showing others how we do this for future generations.” . .

E Tipu 2021: The Boma NZ Agri summit set to spark innovation across the food and fibre sector:

Boma New Zealand is proud to present E Tipu 2021 | The Boma NZ Agri Summit, the biggest food and fibre event of the year featuring remarkable local and global guest speakers at the forefront of the industry.

Held on May 11–12 at the Christchurch Town Hall, E Tipu will see a mass gathering of both local and international thought-leaders, game-changers, business operators and like-minded attendees from the primary sector.

Amongst the confirmed guest speakers will be prominent business leader and respected CEO Paul Polman. Formerly CEO of Unilever, Paul is the Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, an organisation that works with CEOs who are building their companies into beacons of sustainable business and leveraging their collective power to drive change on tipping points in their industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

19/03/2021

B+LNZ’s reaction to the Government’s intensive winter grazing announcement:

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says it’s encouraging the Government has accepted some of the Southland winter grazing advisory group’s proposals, including supporting an industry-led Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) module to farm plans in the coming year, and the delayed implementation of the winter grazing rules.

Minister O’Connor made the point to our Annual Meeting that more time is needed to work through the Southland group’s recommendations and to write robust policy as a result. We welcome this commitment to getting it right and look forward to working with the Government on this process.

“B+LNZ has been an integral part of the industry front-footing action on the ground. Our belief has always been that industry-led, tested and practical solutions achieve better results than arbitrary rules.

“B+LNZ led the development of the IWG module, and this module is already part of the B+LNZ farm plan launched today and which is being rolled out in the coming weeks as part of our commitment to supporting resilient, profitable farming businesses while achieving positive and lasting environmental outcomes. . .

Rural health workers decline Covid-19 vaccine due to ‘hours of travel’ – Rowan Quinn:

Some rural doctors, nurses and frontline health workers are turning down their first chance of getting a Covid vaccine because they would have to take hours out of their busy day to get one..

They fear it is a signal for what is to come for the wider rural community.

Whangamata doctor and Rural GPs Network chair Fiona Bolden said frontline health staff in the Coromandel have had the call up to get their first vaccination.

Some had not been able to take it up because they would have to make a return journey to Hamilton to get it, and do that again for the second dose three weeks later . . .

Pastoral lease reform back to the future? – Catherine Irons, Mike Britton, Allan Brent:

Will the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill achieve its objectives or will it turn the clock back, reviving old tensions

The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill, currently before Parliament, will end the 30-year programme called tenure review. Tenure review allows pastoral leaseholders to separate the land they lease from the Crown into two types: farmland where the farm is owned by them freehold and conservation land held by the Crown.

If the Bill becomes law, remaining pastoral leases will continue but with stronger rules limiting the changes leaseholders might make to their farming methods.

We are members of a newly established non-governmental organisation, the Environmental Law Initiative, and we think this Bill will in fact create greater problems in a climate-changed future. . . .

Saving Dolly – Owen Jennings:

The cow has become a much maligned beast of late.  She makes our rivers unswimmable, puts nitrogen in our drinking water, pugs the ground causing erosion and farts and belches poisonous Greenhouse Gases into the atmosphere.  No wonder people don’t want to eat her bountiful products anymore.

Of course, most of that, if not all, is blatantly untrue but it makes for selling copy, keeping well paid academics in their job and the green lobby groups’ coffers filled.

Take the bit about farting and belching.  The story goes that cows emit Methane as they chew their cud.  Methane is a potent Greenhouse Gas.  Greenhouse Gases trap heat in the atmosphere and warm our planet.  The story concludes it is going to get so hot we are all going to die.  Leaves Baldacci and Grisham in the dust.

Now for some balance.  Farms use huge amounts of CO2.  Dr Bradley Case at AUT found farms take in about 90% of the Greenhouse Gas they emit in the woody vegetation and trees alone on the farm. That’s not counting the grass which uses even more CO2 in photosynthesis.  Farms are a net sink. . . 

Native plants can boost crop yields new study shows – Hugo Cameron:

New research shows fruit and vegetable growers can utilise native bush to increase yields and protect plants from pests.

The Plant and Food Research study found having more native plants near crops could attract insects that help with pollination and combat some harmful pests.

Figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries showed insect-pollinated crops such as kiwifruit and avocados were worth about $2 billion to the national economy. . .

Foot and Mouth: hoping that painful lessons have been learnt :

SIR, – Your recent articles commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 2001 foot-and-mouth (FMD) outbreak brought back some bitter and heartbreaking memories for my family.

We had not been farming for long here and were in the process of building up a pedigree flock of 1000 Lleyn ewes when disaster struck as a result of a single ram being purchased at Longtown on that fateful day, February 22, resulting in the entire flock along with my wife’s cherished, prize-winning flock of Jacobs as well as some rare breeds being culled.

The irony for us was that not only was the ram and our flock never infected with the disease, but the nearest outbreak to us was more than 40 miles away

 


Rural round-up

11/03/2021

Importance of sequestration highlighted :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says the Ministry for the Environment’s report “Net Emissions and Removals from Vegetation and Soils on Sheep and Beef Farmland” is valuable.

It recognised there was significant sequestration happening on sheep and beef farmland in New Zealand and was part of an ongoing process to build understanding of the issue.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says B+LNZ stands by the AUT research it commissioned that arrived at different figures, but the numbers are not the focus.

“We absolutely stand by Dr Case’s independently reviewed robust and credible research. While there are differences in some of the methodologies MfE used in their report – particularly their netting-off of all harvested forest that doesn’t take into account the replanting and additional new planting we know is happening – it reinforces the importance of on-farm sequestration. . . 

Working together on common goals – Colin Williscroft:

Beef + Lamb NZ’s new independent director Bayden Barber brings a mix of business acumen, governance experience and a Maori voice to the boardroom table. Colin Williscroft reports.

Bayden Barbour’s first meeting with his fellow B+LNZ directors was a workshop that also brought together board members from DairyNZ and Federated Farmers to look at a range of issues they have a shared interest in.

He says working together on mutual challenges makes sense, not only because it’s a more effective use of resources, but also because of the opportunities it provides to gain an appreciation of other views and approaches.

That includes complying with rules and regulations coming out of central government that increasingly require engagement with iwi and hapu right through legislation. . . 

Opportunities to reduce lamb losses – Dr Ken Geenty:

Lost production and income from lamb deaths at lambing can range from moderate to horrendous. This wastage can be minimised by sound animal health, good feeding management, and genetic selection. Ram purchases each year should focus on genetics, with high lamb survival. Ewes need to be fed to maintain ewe body condition score (BCS) of 3, with lamb birth weights between 4.2 and 7.4kg for multiples and singles respectively. With veterinary advice a sound animal health plan should be developed.

In planning to minimise lamb losses next lambing it is strongly recommended to revisit results from previous years. These may include causes of lamb deaths, most commonly starvation-exposure for light multiples and dystocia for heavier multiples and singles. Management to minimise these losses will include separation of pregnant ewes with multiples given preferential feeding in mid-late pregnancy, and those with singles fed less generously. The aim being to achieve the range of lamb birth weights shown in Figure 1.

Advance planning for pregnancy and lambing can include choosing and preparation of your best lambing paddocks for multiple lambing ewes. Preferences will be for easy contour, good shelter, and a feed bank at lambing of at least 1400kg DM/ha. . . 

Bee health still priority despite vote outcome –  Yvonne O’Hara:

Apiculture New Zealand will continue to focus on bee health and education as part of its strategies for the good of the sector, despite the majority of commercial beekeepers’ voting ”no” to the introduction of a commodity levy last week.

ApiNZ held a meeting on Monday, the first since the vote result.

Apiarist and board member Russell Marsh, of Ettrick, said while the outcome was disappointing, the commodity levy was just part of ApiNZ’s various strategies going forward.

He said bee health, sustainability and industry education were the key priorities. . . 

Kiwi skills sought after in Ireland – Anne Lee:

A Kiwi couple who moved to Ireland to further their dairying and science careers may have had the brakes put on their travel due to Covid, but it’s not stopping them from learning on the job. Jacob Sievwright and Katie Starsmore hope the knowledge they’re gaining will have a direct benefit to New Zealand. Anne Lee reports.

As the song says, ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’, but for a young Kiwi couple the move to Ireland has been an ideal way to build on their dairying and science careers and get to see a whole new chunk of the world – Covid-19 aside.

Jacob Sievwright and Katie Starsmore have been in Ireland since June 2019, and although the global pandemic has put the handbrake on their wider travels over the past year and they’ve been in the strictest lockdown level over recent weeks, their jobs mean they’re both classed as essential workers.

Katie works at Teagasc Moorepark on research that could arguably be deemed essential not only to Ireland but also to the planet – investigating ways to reduce methane emissions from cows and help limit the effects of climate change. . . 

Walgett’s Stone’s Throw Cafe enjoys influx of travellers due to COVID-19 pandemic – Billy Jupp,:

YOU would expect that opening a small business in the height of one of the worst droughts on record would be tough going.

Those seasonal conditions coupled with a global pandemic, which caused the entire world to isolate, seemed like a recipe for disaster.

However, the challenges have not just helped Waglett’s Stone’s Throw Cafe survive, but thrive.

Travellers who traded their international or interstate holidays for something more regional have provided a welcome boost to the Fox Street eatery and others like it across country NSW. . . 


Rural round-up

09/03/2021

IrrigationNZ seeks protection for small rural drinking water users :

IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning says that the Government’s Water Services Bill will collectively cost rural drinking water users upwards of $16 million.

IrrigationNZ has submitted feedback on the Water Services Bill this week to seek protection of small drinking water users in rural areas.

“We wholeheartedly agree with the intent of the three waters reform, and absolutely want to ensure rural communities have access to clean drinking water and not have another Hastings issue happen again, but there are a number of small individual farm owners and water users, which are being unintentionally captured by the Bill” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning.

She says the submission explains, through case studies, how an alternative pathway can be sought for farmers and water users that still delivers on the intent of the Government’s bill.” . . .

Tourist spot water stoush – farmers cop unfair blame at Bridal Veil Falls – Lawrence Gullery:

Farmers are being blamed for contaminating a popular Waikato waterfall even though a test suggests the water is safe to swim in.

Signs at Wairēinga Bridal Veil Falls blame farmland run-off for “cloudy” water at the falls, despite a Whaingaroa Harbour Care project that appears to have dramatically improved water quality in the last decade.

But, as thousands of tourists troop past the sign at the popular summer spot, the Department of Conservation said the signs would remain until its own review and water quality tests were completed.

Federated Farmers said the department needs to “get off its high horse” and acknowledge it’s taken too long to review the water quality issues at the falls . . 

Lifting leadership skills of co-op leaders – Sudesh Kissun:

Cooperative Business New Zealand (CBNZ) has expanded its governance training offering this year.

It says this is in response to the need for ensuring New Zealand’s cooperative shareholder governors (who often sit across multiple boards) have the right skill sets to be effective.

There are two courses specifically tailored to the co-operative model for aspiring / future directors:

A one-day introduction programme hosted by Westlake Governance. .

Better butter set to boom – Tom Bailey:

Beset by food fads and bad science, butter’s reputation is enjoying a sustained resurgence. Southern Pasture’s new senior vice president and general manager of post farmgate operations Tom Bailey explains why boutique butter is set to boom.

There’s no doubt butter is back. Since 2014, global demand for butter has increased at around 7% per annum.

Prices have hit multiple new highs and dairy farmers in key markets are turning to Jersey cows for their higher fat milk. It marks the reversal of a trend long driven by poor health advice and cheap convenience.

Butter’s boom to bust to boom. . . 

Q&A: Sandra Matthews on attending B+LNZ’s Annual Meeting & Showcase :

We talk to Sandra Matthews, a sheep and beef farmer from Gisborne about her takeaways from attending previous B+LNZ Annual Meetings ahead of the 2021 Annual Meeting & Showcase in Invercargill on 21 March.

Sandra, who sits on Beef + lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Eastern North Island Farmer Council, has attended B+LNZ’s Annual Meetings & Showcases since 2018 in the Gisborne region and then virtually ever since.

Sandra, why do you think it’s important to attend B+LNZ’s Annual Meeting & Showcases?

“It’s a great way to be kept up to date on what B+LNZ’s doing and what they’re working on in the future. . . 

Grass-fed Welsh lamb packed with protein:

Initial findings from recent analysis of PGI Welsh Lamb has revealed that meat from lambs reared on grass contain higher levels of protein-based amino acids and other nutritional benefits.

As part of the second year of testing on a major research project looking at the eating quality of Welsh Lamb, the most recent scientific analysis highlighted the presence of high amounts of amino acids which make up proteins, beneficial fats and minerals.

The Welsh Lamb Meat Quality Project looks at factors that affect variation in meat quality, as part of Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’ (HCC) five-year, three-project, Red Meat Development Programme that seeks to help Welsh farming prepare for an increasingly competitive global marketplace. . . 


Rural round-up

03/03/2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Golden Shears cancelled for first time in 61-year history :

The 61st Golden Shears, which were scheduled to be held in Masterton this week, have been cancelled.

The decision was made at an emergency executive meeting this morning, following the overnight announcement of a return to Covid-19 alert level 2 across most of the country and the escalation to level 3 in Auckland.

Confirming the decision, Golden Shears said entry fees and tickets would be refunded.

Tickets purchased online through Eventfinda will be refunded, competitor entries done online will be refunded online through PayPal, and those having entered non-website are being asked to email competitor name and bank account details to office@goldenshears.co.nz. . . 

A woolly great idea – Sally Rae:

Phenomenal” is how South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie describes watching the processing of Bales4Blair wool at a Timaru scour — and seeing the piles of donations from around the country.

Bales4Blair was launched in memory of Winton man Blair Vining, whose petition to create a national cancer agency was signed by more than 140,000 New Zealanders.

The wool was given by farmers to be made into insulation for the new Southland Charity Hospital.

The initiative was started by Mrs Blaikie, who pitched the idea to a couple of friends, Eastern Southland farmers Brooke Cameron and Sarah Dooley. . . 

’Stormy fruit’ provides ray of sunshine from Motueka hailstorm – Tim Newman:

A Nelson apple company is hoping its new product will bring a ray of light out of the gloom brought on by the Boxing Day Hailstorm.

Over the weekend Golden Bay Fruit launched its new “Stormy Fruit” brand, comprised of apples which suffered cosmetic damage in the hailstorm but were otherwise unaffected.

Golden Bay Fruit chief executive Heath Wilkins said while the company had been mulling over the concept for several years – the hailstorm had significantly increased the amount of fruit that would fall into the new product line.

He said a significant portion of the fruit was severely damaged by the hail and had to be immediately picked and discarded, but there was another portion of fruit that just received small indentations on the surface. . .

Want to earn at least $22 an hour? Kiwifruit packhouses up rates – Carmen Hall:

Kiwifruit packhouses are offering workers more money and flexible shifts in a desperate effort to avoid a labour crisis as another record-breaking harvest looms.

The harvest is expected to kick off within the week with 23,000 seasonal workers needed nationally – including about 20,000 in the Bay of Plenty.

Packhouses spoken to by NZME are offering major incentives – including flexibility across shifts alongside roles that could lead to fulltime employment.

Starting rates will be $22.10 an hour compared with last year’s average hourly packhouse rates of $19 to $20. . . 

Avocados from Oaonui on your toast – Catherine Groenestein:

A tiny coastal Taranaki community known for dairy farms and a natural gas production station could one day become known for its avocados.

Oaonui, 8 kilometres north of Opunake, was identified in last year’s Taranaki Land and Climate Assessment as an area suitable for growing the fruit.

The report was part of the two-year Branching Out collaboration between economic development agency Venture Taranaki and the food and fibre sector to investigate new commercial opportunities for the region.

Next month, representatives from the avocado industry will be in New Plymouth for a seminar on growing the fruit commercially. . .

Beef demand volatile but there are green shoots – Shan Goodwin:

WITH many of Australian beef’s largest destinations still well in the grip of COVID, and tightening supply of cattle at home putting a hefty price tag on product, the demand outlook could not be described as anything other than volatile.

However, there are some solid fundamentals in place that suggest the outlook is not all doom and gloom.

Global beef consumption is still forecast to grow, Australia enjoys a reputation for safe, high quality, consistent beef and a key lesson from last year was that stable, well-established markets shine through in times of turbulence. . . .

 


Rural round-up

22/02/2021

EU carbon tax: threat or opportunity? – Nigel Stirling:

New Zealand farmers have been quick to claim world champion status for carbon efficiency. So why are they so nervous about a planned European tax on the carbon emissions of imports? Nigel Stirling reports.

It has been described by the European Union’s top bureaucrat as the continent’s “man on the moon moment”.

An ambitious plan to decarbonise the European economy known as the “Green Deal”.

“The goal is to reconcile our economy with our planet,” European Commission president Ursula van der Leyen boldly declared when first revealing the plan in December 2019. . . 

M. Boris review gets underway – Annette Scott:

An independent review of the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme is aimed at identifying lessons that can be learned from New Zealand’s largest biosecurity response.

Driven by the programme partners, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), DairyNZ, and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ), the review is deemed best practice given the scale of the eradication programme.

It will also fulfil a commitment made to farmers at the start of the programme, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says.

“Eradicating Mycoplasma bovis is hard work, but with the whole sector working together we have made really good progress,” Van der Poel said. . . .

A winning formula for good cows :

A Waikato dairy farming couple have proven they’re at the top their game, taking out two prestigious titles at New Zealand’s largest cattle showing event.

Tom and Francesca Bennett, Te Hau Holsteins, had both the best Holstein Friesian cow at New Zealand Dairy Event and Tom also took out the World Wide Sires, All Breeds Junior Judging Competition. The family was also named Premier Holstein Friesian Exhibitor.

“It was awesome, I did the Pitcairns Trophy judging competition at the Waikato Show and came second, but Dairy Event was my first really big judging competition to win,” says Tom. . . .

Dairy conversion Otaki style – Peter Burke:

From the outside it still looks like a dairy shed except it is painted white with black cow-like symbols. From the outside it still looks like a dairy shed except it is painted white with black cow-like symbols. Near the Horowhenua town of Otaki, dairy conversion has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s not a case of converting sheep and beef farms to dairy farms, rather it’s a case of just converting old dairy sheds to country style tourist accommodation. Reporter Peter Burke visited two such conversions by two pretty special and creative women.

The two conversions are complementary – one offers an experience on a commercial dairy farm while the other has a focus on horses.

Stacy Faith and her husband Andrew milk 360 cows once a day to supply Fonterra. They separately milk 20 more to supply A2 milk for the vending machine they have installed at their farm gate. It’s a farm that has long been in the Faith family. . . 

From working at the dairy farm to owning it – Ruby Heyward:

Raspberry Cottage owner Sarala Tamang is farming with a twist, but not without some help.

Originally from Nepal, Mrs Tamang moved to Waimate in 2010. She bought the Raspberry Cottage business and the attached farm from couple Barry and Margaret Little in 2019.

For the six years prior, Mrs Tamang had worked for Mr and Mrs Little, caring for the berries as though they were hers – and now they are.

Using her experience, and with the help of the previous owners’ continued guidance, Mrs Tamang wanted to grow what the supermarket did not offer. . . 

 

Mental health: young farmer recalls decision to quit farming >

A 23-year-old who had dreamed of being a farmer since he was a child had to quit the industry after his mental health started to slip.

Dan Goodwin from Suffolk has shared his story during the annual Mind Your Head, a week-long campaign raising awareness of farmers’ mental health issues and the support available to them.

When Dan turned 18, he moved from Bury St Edmunds and attended a land-based college in Norfolk.

Throughout his studies, he enjoyed learning and the structure that his apprenticeship with a small family-run farm gave him. . .

 


Rural round-up

04/02/2021

Pandemic’s silver lining – Anne Boswell:

The recognition of farmers’ contribution to New Zealand’s food production system has been identified as a positive aspect of the covid-19 pandemic experience, according to a new study released by AgResearch.

One farmer experienced “a change in attitude among the public around how they value the security of food production and therefore the role of farmers in providing that food.”

Others noted “NZ agriculture is starting to be seen as an important cog in the mechanism again,” “greater recognition of the true value of agriculture and primary producers,” and “governments and communities recognised the importance to our standards of living that agriculture provides plentiful safe food and fibre.”

The study, conducted by AgResearch scientists, New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and several science organisations in NZ and Australia, surveyed farmers and others working in the agriculture and food systems in Australasia about the impacts of covid-19 in the period through to June 2020, which included national lockdowns. . . 

Outlook for 2021 ‘bristling with risk’:

Amid significant global turbulence, New Zealand agricultural producers are poised to enjoy a fifth consecutive year of general profitability in 2021, according to a new report by Rabobank.

In the bank’s Agribusiness Outlook 2021 report, Rabobank says while the outlook for the year is “bristling with risk”, and bumps are anticipated throughout the coming months, most agricultural sectors can expect to see average to above-average pricing, manageable cost inflation and production holding up well.

Report co-author, Rabobank senior dairy analyst Emma Higgins says that as 2021 gets underway, the world is still turbulent for New Zealand’s agricultural sector. . . 

Important for UK to convert trade liberalisation narrative to action as it seeks to join CPTPP:

In welcoming the UK’s application to join the CPTPP agreement, the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is stressing the need for the UK to convert its statements of commitment to leadership in global trade liberalisation to meaningful action.

“The UK’s application to join CPTPP is another great sign of its interest in advancing global trade liberalisation. However, the real test of UK trade leadership comes from how it honours its existing commitments and what it is prepared to put on the table in negotiations” says DCANZ Chairman Malcolm Bailey.

“Despite the UK’s strong statements of ambition, including for a high-quality UK-NZ FTA, we are yet to see it remedy concerns about diminished quota access following Brexit and we have detected hesitancy on its part to bringing real liberalisation to the FTA negotiating table. Avoiding a disconnect between intent and action is important if current and potential trade negotiating partners are to have confidence in the UK’s stated ambitions”. . . 

Zespri secures labs for taste tests – Richard Rennie:

Zespri has confirmed several laboratories have been approved for the next three seasons to conduct the vital taste profile tests for kiwifruit, a major component of grower payments.

Zespri’s chief global supply officer Alastair Hulbert says following an intensive three-month procurement process, a range of service providers have been selected for the tests.

They include AgFirst in Hawke’s Bay and Nelson, Hill Laboratories, Linnaeus, Pinpoint Lab Services and Verified Lab Services.

The replacement companies were necessary due to Zespri’s previous lab service Eurofins Bay of Plenty dropping the test at the start of last season, leaving the industry without the valuable test. . . 

Station site of lotus research trial – Yvonne O’Hara:

When the Garden family at Avenel Station say Lotus pedunculatus or Lotus uliginosus, they are not casting Harry Potter spells.

They are talking about the legume, Maku lotus (Lotus uliginosus)

It is a variety of trefoil that has been trialled on a 500ha block on their high country property since 2014.

Pat Garden and his brother Eion had sown lotus on the property in the 1980s.

Subsequently, Pat and his son Nick took part in the more formal research “Legumes for Hard Hill Country” trial, which was funded through the Sustainable Farming Fund, with input from PGG Wrightson Seeds, Grasslanz Ltd, AgResearch’s Dr David Stevens, and Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Offal market lifts on pandemic demand – Shan Goodwin:

OVERSEAS demand for lower-value red meat products as the pandemic continues to cut into household incomes has served the Australian offal market well, with prices across the board either firming or stable.

Meat & Livestock Australia’s latest co-product market reports shows halal kidneys recording the strongest growth, up 93 per cent year-on-year, while lungs and hearts lifted 45 and 28pc, respectively. Halal hearts averaged a solid $3.15 a kilogram, up 70c from December.

Liver prices averaged $1.28 a kilogram, 19c up month-on-month.

On the other hand, premium products such as tongue, thickskirt and rumen pillars eased somewhat. . . 


Rural round-up

01/02/2021

B+LNZ awaiting CCC’s recommendations:

Industry good group Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) says it is awaiting with interest what recommendations the Climate Change Commission (CCC) makes when it releases its draft blueprint for how the country could reduce its carbon footprint on February 1.

B+LNZ environment policy manager Dylan Muggeridge says they will be particularly interested in the advice the CCC provides on what proportion of emissions budgets and targets should be met by reducing absolute emissions of greenhouse gases as opposed to offsetting emissions through carbon forestry.

“B+LNZ has advocated for some time that the large-scale afforestation of swathes of hill country farmland into exotic forestry is not an appropriate long-term solution to the climate change problem,” Muggeridge said. . . .

 

Building people capability on Lanercost:

Growing people is as important as growing grass on Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s North Canterbury Future Farm Lanercost.

Developing skills in the individuals working on the 1310ha North Canterbury hill country farm is part of the Future Farm’s management plan and for manager Digby Heard, this means growing his knowledge about the administrative side of farming including recording and utilising farm data, financial management and compliance.

A skilled stockman, Digby has proven his worth in the physical operation of Lanercost, the challenge now is to further develop the skills he needs to take on future senior management roles within the industry without the administrative support he has been receiving at Lanercost. . . 

Be brave farmers. People are genuinely interested in what you do – Daniel Eb:

Urban Kiwis are interested in farming – they just need somewhere to see it in action. With that in mind, Daniel Eb, the man behind Open Farms, is encouraging farmers to be brave, open up their gates, and make farming relevant again.

In the very first Open Farms market research panel, a Kiwi mum told us something that stuck.

“I need to take my kids back to the source.”

She was talking about a sense of loss of the natural way of life. A yearning for realness, to get some dirt under the fingernails and reconnect with the places where nature and people meet – our farms. . .

 

Rates rise targets plantation forestry – Colin Williscroft:

Forest owners in the Wairoa district are unhappy at a recent targeted rates increase they believe is unfair, but other councils around the country have either already adopted or are considering similar moves.

The Wairoa District Council recently approved changes to its rating model that included new rates differentials.

The new rating system, which takes effect from July 1, consists of five differentials. Forestry carries the largest weighting at a differential of 4.0, with commercial at 1.6, residential at 1.0, residential properties valued at over $399,999 at 0.8 and rural at 0.7. . . 

Shedding sheep hot under hammer :

Bidding was competitive at the Mt Cass Station Wiltshire sheep sale in North Canterbury.  

Nearly 3500 sheep reached higher than expected prices at Sara and Andrew Heard’s farm and were sold to bidders from Kerikeri to Cromwell.

Wiltshires shed their fleece annually, have a large lean carcass, no dags and naturally high fecundity.

The Heards have been farming the breed for about 12 years because the hardy sheep do well on their 2500 hectare organic property, that spreads from the Waipara wine country to the coast. . . 

 

New ad campaign pushes back against ‘anti-meat’ sentiment :

A new advertisement campaign which aims to ‘push back’ against unbalanced and inaccurate coverage regarding red meat has been launched in Scotland.

Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI hit TV screens across Scotland as part of a new January 2021 industry campaign.

The 60-second STV advert, developed by Quality Meat Scotland’s (QMS), began on 20 January and runs until 2 February. . . 


Rural round-up

16/12/2020

Agriculture minister warned of impact of Covid-19 on industry’s future – Eric Frykberg:

Minister of agriculture Damien O’Connor has been has warned that the primary sector faces strong headwinds as the impact of Covid-19 lingers on into coming years.

In its traditional briefing to the incoming minister, the Ministry for Primary Industries said the global economy was forecast to decline by 4.4 percent this year.

Although agriculture withstood the impact of Covid-19 better than most sectors and enjoyed growth of 4.6 percent annually between 2010 and 2020, it would be exposed to weak demand from a nervous world economy, and some sectors were likely to struggle financially.

This problem would be especially severe as governments around the world eased back on fiscal and monetary stimulation, thereby reducing the buffer between ordinary businesses and general economic conditions. . . 

Government warned about potential spread of wilding pines – Eric Frykberg:

The government has been warned that without controls, wilding pines could cover one fifth of all New Zealand’s land area by 2035.

The warning came in a briefing to the incoming minister of biosecurity, Damien O’Connor.

These briefings come after every election and alert an incoming minister to the main problems that must be dealt with.

The briefing from Biosecurity New Zealand, which is part of MPI, said some progress had been made in dealing with wilding pines. . . 

1980s downturn recorded in book – Linda Clarke:

Mid Canterbury farmers today are among the most productive on the planet, but 35 years ago they were angry and bitter about government policies that were driving some from their land.

The rural downturn of the 1980s had a big impact on the district’s farmers and their families. The businesses of Ashburton suffered, too.

Emotional and hard decisions made then continue to have ramifications for some families today, says first-time author Alison Argyle, who has published a book about the downturn and its resulting grief, stress and challenges.

She spent nearly three years interviewing 40 farmers, workers, farm consultants, bankers, social workers and others and has woven their stories into a 130-page book called The Half Banana Years. . .

Strawberry prices squished as exports drop :

Strawberry prices fell 43 percent in November 2020 as COVID-19 border restrictions reduced exports, Stats NZ said today.

Soaring air freight costs since COVID-19 border closures has made exporting products much more expensive, and a shortage of international workers in the fruit picking industry has meant that growers can’t pick their fields fast enough, meaning that many berries are too ripe for exporting.

“With less exports there is more supply available for domestic consumption, causing lower prices,” consumer prices manager Katrina Dewbery said.

Strawberry prices were an average price of $3.45 per 250g punnet in November, down from $6.04 in October. . . 

Lamb numbers up, despite a challenging year for farmers – Bonnie Flaws:

Despite tough droughts and meat processing restrictions as a result of Covid-19, farmers have achieved a near record number of lambs this season.

For every 100 ewes, an average of 130 lambs were born compared with an average of 124 over the prior 10 years, Beef and Lamb New Zealand says.

Its Lamb Crop Outlook report for 2020, which forecasts the next year’s exports, showed the total number of lambs born this year was only slightly less than in spring 2019 when 131 lambs were born for every 100 ewes. . .

What does resilience really mean? – Lorraine Gordon:

Story brought to you by THE REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE ALLIANCE and FARMING TOGETHER PROGRAM.

In November 2019, off the back of the toughest drought in Australian history, my family farm at Ebor was ‘smashed’ by the Ebor fire at one end of the property and the East Cattai fire at the other end.

This took out approximately 20kms of boundary fence and $700,000 in infrastructure. These catastrophic fires completely devastated our landscape in a few hours.

Come March, we had just re-opened our farm tourism and function centre, when COVID-19 hit. This shut down our tourism business for much of the remaining year.

This is a familiar 2020 story for many Australians. It initiated a deep dive on my behalf into what makes people and landscapes truly resilient. . . 


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