Rural round-up

August 1, 2020

A ticking time bomb – Sudesh Kissun:

Our dairy industry risks been exposed to a ‘ticking time bomb’ of unethical players unlawfully passing off New Zealand-made and packed milk powder products in China as supplements for babies.

A Kiwi entrepreneur has warned Rural News that the issue could easily become another food safety headache for the NZ dairy industry in the lucrative Chinese market.

Jane Li, a China dairy market consultant who operates retail stores in China, says formulated milk powders with added whey protein concentrate, lactoferrin and colostrum are being repacked by some Chinese-owned companies here and sold as supplements for infants and toddlers in the China market. . . 

MPI says it will act:

MPI says it takes the claims made by Jane Li seriously and where it has evidence that exporters are not meeting their requirements, it will take action.

Li says New Zealand’s dairy industry risks being exposed to a ‘ticking time bomb’ of unethical players unlawfully passing off New Zealand-made and packed milk powder products in China as supplements for babies. 

“We take complaints against New Zealand businesses very seriously,” a MPI spokesperson told Rural News.

He says that the safety and wellbeing of the public is central to the rules and requirements New Zealand has in place to ensure food and beverages are safe and suitable. 

Expecting flight attendants to become dairy workers is unfair:

An Auckland academic and innovation advisor at Tech Futures Lab Richard Rowley is not surprised that former Air New Zealand flight attendants don’t want to become dairy hands or social workers, describing such change as too confrontational, not to mention unfair.

“The slow start to fill 1000 vacant dairy farm jobs, and the fact that employers in several sectors are struggling to fill vacancies isn’t because everybody’s happy to be on welfare,” says Rowley. “It comes down to the fact that what we do is tied to who we are, and for some, the leap of faith is just too great.

“Our education system has largely not produced adaptable people. The people who struggled at school will be the same people who are challenged by changing careers because it was drummed into them that they are not good learners.”

Rowley says that when it comes to shifting career, self-esteem and confidence play a huge part. As a result, most people will see only obstacles, including age, experience, and physical ability. . . 

Seeds sown for strong elderflower future –  George Clark:

If you think a trip overseas could inspire a future career, you may be right.

Just ask Addmore owner Kate Addis.

The seeds for her Geraldine-based elderflower business were planted in 2002 after a stint abroad in Dorset, England, where she had been travelling.

Her elderflowers were grown locally and the beverages bottled in North Canterbury. . . 

Right tree right place, the solution to New Zealand’s afforestation question:

With discussion growing around NZ’s afforestation targets and farm conversions to forestry, like many groups, the New Zealand Forest and Wood Sector Forum is advocating for the right tree in right place for the right purpose as the obvious solution.

The farm vs forest debate is not a new one, but has certainly been more heated in recent months, with industry commentary from both sectors.

As with many groups, the New Zealand Forest and Wood Sector Forum is advocating for a unified approach, with the right trees, in the right places, for the right purposes as the answer.

This means taking a measured approach to the question of land use. Rather than buying a title and saying it will be solely for one use or another, we need to examine the land under the title, and decide what the best use is for each piece of land. In other words, some hill country farmers would benefit from having some of their land under forest, while some forest land could be better used for food production. . . 

Continued growth for the mighty avocado industry :

The New Zealand avocado industry has finalised the 2019-20 season results. The 2019-20 avocado season saw avocado export volumes up to 3.8m 5.5kg trays, an increase of 26% on the previous season. Asian markets including Thailand, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan received 35% more volume, meeting the industry’s objective to grow volume to the Asian markets.

Industry returns for the 2019-20 season are $154m, and increase on the previous year of $10m. The New Zealand market sold a record 2.7m trays worth over $50m demonstrating kiwis growing love of the wonderfully healthy avocado. For the first time in a number of years there was no break in avocado supply, as growers held on to one crop while the new crop matured on the trees. This also avoided the spike in pricing that often accompanies the lower supply but increasing demand.

Investment into new plantings continued in 2019 with over 120 new avocado properties registered between May 2019 to May 2020. New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association Inc. Chair Tony Ponder says New Zealand’s avocado industry is in a position of growth and development. . . 


Rural round-up

July 16, 2020

Government tinkering with the ETS only gives the fossil fuel industry a get out of jail free card – Corina Jordan:

The recent tinkering with the flawed Emissions Trading Scheme will mean little to many New Zealanders.

But the outcome will. That’s because the proposed changes won’t address climate change issues, but will lead to large-scale land use change, with a devastating impact on our landscape and continue to allow fossil fuel industry a get-out-of-jail free card.

These policy and economic instruments that sit within the Climate Change Response Act and the Emissions Trading Reform Bill allow fossil fuel emitters unlimited ability to offset their pollution by planting trees.

The pastoral industry is effectively being asked to pick up the tab for other industries’ pollution and we have seen a major increase in the sale of sheep and beef farms into forestry in the last year. . . 

NZ wood ad ‘implies farmers are dumb’ if they don’t embrace forestry – Esther Taunton:

Sheep and beef farmers are up in arms over an advertisement which they say implies they’re stupid if they don’t plant trees on their land.

The NZ Wood advertisement, screened on TVNZ One on Sunday night, opens with footage of a smoking chimney, gridlocked traffic and melting ice.

“The time to stop runaway global warming is running out,” a voiceover says. . . 

 

Falling co-product prices prompt changes – Allan Barber:

The sale of Wallace Group’s tanning, rendering and composting operations in the Waikato, Northland and Manawatu is the latest step in the consolidation process of what is often termed the fifth quarter of the meat industry. Since it began in the late nineteenth century the industry has had to invest significant capital in facilities which were not just designed to process animals for meat production, but also to dispose of the parts of the carcase left over from its primary purpose, otherwise known as by-products or more politely co-products.  

 Co-products include hides and pelts, tallow, meat and bone meal, tripe, tendons, blood and intestines for sausage casings and more recently medical applications. Apart from meal and tallow their market value has really suffered in recent years, the worst effects being experienced in the leather industry which has seen prices for hides and, more particularly, pelts lose much of their value. Wool on pelts have minimal value, while shorn pelts are now negative or are going straight to landfill, while hide prices, especially for cull cow and bull, have been affected by changes in fashion and consumer preference for non-animal products. Wool which used to have a comparable value to the meat return has unfortunately declined to the point where it is now shorn more for animal health than profit reasons. . . 

Regulation risks hindering innovation – Allan Barber:

The fast pace of regulatory change by the government poses a challenge for farmers trying to earn their social licence to operate.

The Emissions Trading Reform Bill and the proposed Essential Freshwater Policy are the two latest examples of regulation which are set to be introduced into law before the Election and will inevitably impose serious costs or penalties on farmers as currently drafted Some provisions run counter to good, common sense farming practices, and the ETR has the potential to side swipe the sheep and beef sector, as it incentivises the conversion of sheep and beef farms into forestry.

Representative organisations, Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, are working hard on behalf of their members to mitigate the most heavy-handed aspects of the regulation, while at the same time providing farmers with information and tools to enhance on farm environmental performance in line with the comprehensive set of commitments made last year. . . 

Just when you thought wheat yields couldn’t improve :

Ashburton arable farmer Eric Watson has taken out the Guinness World Record for the Highest wheat yield for the second time, beating his former record crop density by 607 kilograms per hectare.

Mr Watson, who farms with his wife, Maxine, at Wakanui, produced an incredible 17.398 tonnes per hectare wheat crop, beating his previous record crop grown in 2017 that delivered 16.791 tonnes of wheat per hectare.

On average, irrigated wheat yields in New Zealand produce about 12 tonnes per hectare, demonstrating how remarkable the latest record is as an achievement admired by the wider industry, and providing insights into innovations for future growth.

Mr Watson was thrilled with the result as he strove to continually improve and make advancements to his yields and farming operation. . . 

Campaign champions farmers’ work in boosting bees:

A week-long initiative has commenced today looking to champion the work done on farms to provide habitat for bees and other pollinators.

Bees’ Needs Week, taking place from 13 to 19 July, is an annual event coordinated by Defra working alongside farming and conservation groups.

Bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in food production and agriculture, and are also vital to wider ecosystems in the UK.

Scientists say pollinators contribute the equivalent of more than £500m a year to British agriculture and food production, by improving crop quality and quantity. . .


Rural round-up

June 30, 2020

Migrant numbers reduce ‘in silence’ as Kiwis move into farm jobs – Lawrence Gullery:

An agency which helps farms source overseas staff believes the Covid-19 fallout is being used to manage migrant workers out of New Zealand.

Christiaan Arns, the managing director of Auckland-based Frenz, a recruitment and immigration agency for dairy farms, described the state of New Zealand’s immigration rules as a “complete shambles”.

The short term picture is clear, the pandemic has forced borders to close.

But the medium to long-term outlook is confusing, Arns said. . . 

Red meat opportunities ‘if we’re quick enough’ – Sally Rae:

The Covid-19 situation has provided opportunities for New Zealand’s red meat sector to capitalise on — “if we’re quick enough”.

That is the message from Michael Wan, global manager of the New Zealand Red Meat Story for Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Likening it to the equivalent of the panic buying of toilet paper here and in Australia, Mr Wan said there had been a “massive run” on red meat in the United States.

As people hunkered down over lockdown, they were stocking up their freezers, concerned they might not be able to access fresh protein. They had reverted to cooking traditional types of food and wanted to keep well and boost their immunity, he said. . . 

Dunedin geneticist looking to Africa – John Gibb:

When the world starts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, big agribusiness opportunities will open up for New Zealand, Dunedin geneticist Dr Bruno Santos believes.

Brazilian-born Dr Santos has welcomed his recent promotion to partner at AbacusBio and said that would increase his ability to provide input into the international company’s future.

The agribusiness consulting company was ‘‘hugely passionate about making a difference to agriculture and has great scientific credentials as well as on-farm pragmatism’’.

‘‘Bruno leads projects for AbacusBio in the genetics of many species from sheep to rice,’’ the company said. . . 

Great to meet ewe: Introducing sheep via Zoom to fans worldwide :

A sheep farmer who is making money from virtual tours of her farm does not believe people will give up on the idea of visiting New Zealand to experience things for themselves.

With the world in lockdown, people are having to get creative in their pursuit of overseas adventures.

Sheep farmer Angie Hossack who used to host visitors from all over the world via the Farmstay programme, has discovered another way to make money.

Her popular online farm tour ‘Meet the Woolly Sheep on My Farm‘ takes place on her 10-acre block south of Rotorua. . . 

Fermenting for good :

Three and four-year-olds in the rural village of Clevedon have developed a taste for sauerkraut.

The kindergarten children have been making sauerkraut under the guidance of Kelli Walker who has set up a fermentary just out of the town.

Clevedon is about 35 minutes south-east of central Auckland.

Under Kelli’s supervision, kids there squeeze out cabbage and watch the sauerkraut ferment and burble away before taking it home in jars to devour – much to the surprise of their parents. . . 

North Queensland photographers acknowledged among world’s best – Sally Gall:

Townsville-based freelance photojournalist Fiona Lake has been acknowledged as one of the best in the world in the field of agricultural photography.

In the early hours of Saturday morning Australia-time she was announced as the winner of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalism 2020 Star Prize for Photography for her exquisitely-composed aerial image of a bullock team published by the Queensland Country Life last September.

Ms Lake’s entry had earlier in the evening been announced as the winner of the nature/landscape category.

Commenting on the news, she said the win highlighted the affinity that rural Australians have with their animals. . . 


Rural round-up

June 20, 2020

ETS will see more farmland lost – David Anderson:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) believes the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will see huge swathes of productive farming land converted into trees for carbon farming.

It says there is no disincentive in the updated climate change policy to stop significant land use change away from productive and sustainable pastoral agriculture to exotic plantation forestry for the purpose of carbon farming.

The red meat lobby claims this failure will take the focus away from actually reducing fossil fuel emissions.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says his organisation is concerned by the lack of government action to limit the amount of carbon farming available through the ETS to offset fossil fuel emissions.  . . 

Blocking MFAT advice on forestry bill ‘concerning’ says Initiative:

The Government’s refusal to let its skilled public servants advise a Select Committee about new legislation is “deeply concerning,” said The New Zealand Initiative.

Today, the Environment Select Committee published its final report on Minister Shane Jones’ Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Bill. Despite the Bill’s many flaws – and an unprecedented chorus of disapproval – it has emerged from the Select Committee largely unsubdued.

The Bill’s purported purpose is to create an occupational licensing regime for log traders and forestry advisers. It deems all forest owners to be “log traders,” thereby subjecting them to the registration and regulatory requirements of the new accreditation scheme. . . 

The ongoing search for new markets – India and beyond – Keith Woodford:

Finding new markets for NZ exports is challenging. Here, Keith Woodford looks at the Southern Asian countries of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and further west to Iran

In recent weeks I have been exploring opportunities for market diversification, given increasing concerns that New Zealand has become too dependant on China. I started by looking at China itself , with the key finding being that growth of two-way trade between New Zealand and China is a consequence of natural alignment for each other’s products, also facilitated by the 2008 Free Trade Agreement between the countries.

Next, I focused on other North-East Asian markets and specifically on Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The challenges with all of those include that their populations are either declining or about to decline. Also, their economic growth had either stalled or nearly stalled even before COVID-19 came along. That means that new trade requires elbowing out existing products rather than meeting new economic demand from consumers. . .

Deer cull will help families in need :

Venison is on the menu for New Zealand families in need — an annual deer cull in Fiordland will provide meat for foodbanks.

The deer cull in Fiordland National Park will this year provide 18,000kg of venison to New Zealand foodbanks and families in need.

Fiordland Wapiti Foundation typically would remove up to 1000 animals during the cull, and this year partnered with Game Animal Council and the Department of Conservation (Doc) for the initiative.

Fiordland Wapiti Foundation president Roy Sloan said that, weather permitting, by the end of July 600 deer from Fiordland National Park would be removed for processing into 18,000 1kg wild venison mince packets. . .

Rural focus welcome in health review but urgent action needed:

The NZ Rural General Practice Network today welcomed the Health and Disability System Review’s focus on addressing inequity in access to health care for rural communities, but said action was now needed with real urgency.

The new Chief Executive for the NZRGPN, Grant Davidson, said he would take time to digest the report and discuss it with its members, but welcomed the acknowledgement of the pressing need to address rural health.

“The first report noted that access to healthcare for rural communities was ‘unacceptable’ and the extent to which rural communities and their inequitable access to healthcare is a focus in this report is welcomed,” Grant Davidson . . 

Farmers helps save Pacific economies as COvid-19 brings economies to a halt – Mereia Volavola:

The Pacific Islands have been spared some of the deadliest health consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

But by taking away the tourists, the virus has dealt a huge blow to economies and jobs largely dependent on foreign visitors’ spending to stay afloat.

As of May, every destination on earth had put in place some form of travel restriction, according to the U.N.’s World Travel Organization, and all tourism in the Pacific has stopped as a consequence, depriving many communities of income. In Vanuatu, 70 percent of tourism jobs are estimated to have disappeared already.

In the midst of this crisis, small-scale farming has provided the region with crucial resilience . .

Allflex tech’s powering up Litchfields’ dairy op – Matt Sherrington:

The Litchfield family’s investment in technology from Allflex Livestock Intelligence is paying dividends within their southern NSW-based dairy farming operation.

Ian and Karen Litchfield purchased the 182-hectare Kariana, situated near Mayrung in the Riverina, in 2000, and over the years they’ve purchased three other blocks, which including Kariana cover 760ha of which 600ha consists of flat flood irrigation country.

Together with their daughter Amy and son-in-law Jack, the Litchfields milk 800 Holstein cows each year out of a total milking herd of 950 head with their flat milk supply sold into the year-round milk markets. . .


Rural round-up

June 19, 2020

Rural communities under threat from carbon off-setting farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural communities are being hollowed out as carbon investors buy up farm land at prices well over those farmers might pay, Pahiatua sheep and beef farmer Lincoln Grant says.

School closures were just one symptom of the trend towards increased pine plantations on former sheep and beef farms, he said. Tiraumea school, north of Masterton, is one school that closed its doors two years ago after changing land use led to dropping role numbers.

As farming families sold up and moved away, jobs went with them. . .

The challenge of meeting environmental rules – Peter Burke:

Complying with new and stricter environmental requirements is for farmers a major challenge worldwide.

When Rural News reporter Peter Burke was in Ireland last year, he met up with Professor Tommy Boland of University College Dublin (UCD) who, like colleagues in NZ, is looking to find practical solutions that farmers can use to reduce their environmental footprint and somehow meet the new standards of policy makers and politicians.

Tommy Boland has been to New Zealand several times and understands the situation in this country.

He says both countries are recognised for their efforts and achievements in environmental pasture-based meat, milk and fibre production, while leading the way in developing new approaches to ensuring future sustainability. . .   

Study beefs up meat’s importance:

New research highlights value of New Zealand’s red meat sector as the industry launches its general election manifesto. 

The red meat sector’s contributes $12 billion in income to the economy and employs almost 5% of the full-time workforce.

The study commissioned by the Meat Industry Association and Beef + Lamb shows the meat processing and exporting sector is also responsible for $4.6b in household income and represents a fifth of New Zealand’s productive sector. 

The release of the research by S G Heilbron Economic and Policy Consulting coincides with B+LNZ and the MIA launching a joint manifesto ahead of the election.  . . 

Terrible news: the avocado crime gangs are about to strike again – Hayden Donnell:

For four years running, at the exact same time of year, New Zealand has been savaged by gangs of avocado thieves. Hayden Donnell sounds the alarm about the country’s most predictable crisis.

They come every year like clockwork. As winter starts to bite, and our summer produce hits its peak price point, the thieves rouse themselves and head out to pillage. They always have the same target. They usually have the same MO. In the dead of night, they steal our avocados.

This year, their timing couldn’t be worse. Most New Zealanders are still reeling from the Covid-19 lockdown. We’re slowly readjusting to normal life: blinking like stunned owls at the white lights of the newly reopened retail stores. Struggling to remember the way to our offices. The last thing we need is another crisis. . .

Silver Fern Farms no available direct to customers with Gourmet Direct partnership:

Silver Fern Farms’ full retail range of natural, grass-fed, premium red meat products are now available to be ordered online and delivered direct to consumers across New Zealand thanks to a new partnership with Gourmet Direct, a nationwide e-commerce business specialising in premium New Zealand meat products.

Silver Fern Farms’ Group Marketing Manager, Nicola Johnston says the partnership with Gourmet Direct was a natural fit, with online shopping becoming more popular than ever following the Covid-19 lockdown.

“At Silver Fern Farms we are thrilled to partner with Gourmet Direct, who have developed a loyal customer base which values their selection of premium meats, product quality and superior customer service. . . 

Rail supporting Hawke’s Bay drought relief:

KiwiRail is helping the drought relief effort by shifting stock feed for free from the South Island to parched farms in Hawke’s Bay.

“On top of the Covid-19 crisis, the prolonged drought in parts of the North Island has put some farmers and stock under great stress,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.

“We move dairy products, beef, lamb, horticulture and viticulture for the rural sector so it is one of our most important customers, and we’re pleased to support it now at this time of need. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 18, 2020

Farmers must drive change – Colin Williscroft:

Catchment groups offer farmers the chance to take the lead in freshwater quality enhancement while maintaining profits. 

In the process they encourage thriving farming communities, presenters told a Beef + Lamb eforum.

Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective chairman Roger Dalrymple said community catchment groups let farmers make change from the bottom up rather than having it forced on them from the top down, which has often been the approach.

Farmers in catchment groups can help lift knowledge and education and have more control of pressure to make environmental improvements while ensuring their businesses remain sound. . . 

Tough road ahead for wool – Sally Rae:

The costs incurred in shearing crossbred sheep are starting to seriously impede the profitability of sheep farming, ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report says.

Strong wool prices were at the lowest level recorded this decade while shearing costs accelerated, a trend that would only continue. Returns were “absolutely dismal” and that situation was unlikely to improve significantly until existing stocks had cleared, the report said.

Wool had built up throughout the pipeline with in-market stocks elevated, local wool stores full and product starting to pile up in wool sheds.

End-user demand for coarse wool remained tied to carpet production. Wool carpets were generally still expensive relative to synthetic carpet which would make selling wool products even more challenging as global economic conditions imploded. . . 

Too important for lazy labels – Mike Manning:

The espoused benefits of regenerative agriculture have captured headlines recently. Proponents argue climate, soil health, waterways and food nutrition can all be improved by taking a regenerative approach. 

That’s quite a list for a cure-all.

Before we throw the export-dollar-generating baby out with the conventional-farming bathwater it pays to probe beneath the buzzword. Where did the concept come from and what is actually meant by the word regenerative?

The concept of regenerative agriculture originated from justifiable concerns about how continuous arable cropping can degrade soils, an example of which occurred in North American wheat and cornfields. The notorious dust bowls of the 1930s were the result of soil problems such as loss of organic matter, compaction, reduced water-holding capacity and diminishing fertility. . . 

New sheep breed key to organic success for Southland family :

Imagine a breed of sheep that requires no dagging, shearing, vaccinations or dipping. It is highly fertile, lives a reproductive life of 15 years or more and puts all of its energy into producing meat.

It has been a 30-year labour of love for Tim and Helen Gow and their family at Mangapiri Downs organic stud farm and this year they are busy selling more than 100 Shire stud rams.

The Gow family established their Wiltshire flock in 1987 after seeing them in England a couple of years earlier.

“Wiltshire horned are believed to have descended from the Persian hair meat sheep brought to Britain by the Romans as the first British meat sheep,” he said. . . 

Reproductive results: Bay of Plenty farm almost halves its empty rate:

A focus on cow condition helped Jessica Willis almost halve the empty rate on a dairy farm she managed for four years.

The 31-year-old ran a 48-hectare farm, milking 150 Holstein Friesians at Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty until May 2020.

The flat property was below sea level and got extremely wet during the winter and spring.

“It was a constant juggling act to ensure cows didn’t pug paddocks and damage pasture when it was wet,” said Willis. . . 

Farming for the future – Virginia Tapscott:

In a eucalyptus forest east of Monto in central Queensland, fat, glossy cattle have retreated to the shade to escape the midday sun. The sun in northern Australia stings even in the cooler months. Flicking flies with their tails, the animals seem completely oblivious to the vital role they have played in the transformation of Goondicum Station. They have enabled Rob and Nadia Campbell to capitalise on the dawn of an unconventional agricultural trade — natural capital.

Not only is the private sector paying them for their bushland and the carbon it captures, but the bank manager is on board too. National Australia Bank has recognised the value of environmental improvements that began at Goondicum in the 1960s, cutting interest rates on parts of the station under conservation. The grazing systems developed by successive generations of the Campbell family have allowed large areas of native vegetation to regenerate and encouraged native wildlife populations to increase. . . 


Rural round-up

June 8, 2020

Deer industry wary on reforms :

The deer industry remains cautious of the Government’s latest freshwater policy decisions given there is little expertise outside of the deer industry about to how minimise the impacts of deer on the environment.

While the revised regulations give deer farmers more certainty about farm compliance there are still several impractical implications for deer farmers, Deer Industry New Zealand chairman Ian Walker said.

“As an industry we have supported the need for farm environment plans so making them mandatory should not be a burden as long as the proposed farm plans address actual environmental risks and auditing reflects deer farming knowledge and understanding of deer behaviours,” Walker said. . .

Giving hill country farmers a voice – David Hill:

Growing up in Rangiora, Teagan Graham never imagined what experiences lay ahead in the sheep and beef sector.

The University of Otago student gained a Silver Fern Farms scholarship last year and then landed a summer internship with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, assisting on a project studying the future of hill-country farming.

Ms Graham is in the final year of a degree in environmental management and ecology, but little did she know when attending Rangiora High School that she could make a career in agriculture, as she was not from a farm.

‘‘You definitely can have a career in agriculture. I one-hundred percent believe it now,’’ she said. . .

Technology collars ewe super mums – Richard Rennie:

A mother’s love might be unconditional but new collar technology for sheep proves love can be determined by an algorithm, helping New Zealand sheep become more productive in the process. Richard Renniespoke to Smart Shepherd director Mike Tate about his company’s cutting-edge tracking device.

Thirty years ago when scanning technology was developed for commercial use in sheep pregnancy detection it was deservedly hailed as a leap forward in helping better measure ewe productivity.

But former AgResearch developer Dr Mike Tate said despite having scanning data sheep farmers have always faced a gap in understanding why scanning percentages are not usually matched by weaned lamb percentages. 

The Smart Shepherd technology will provide the data to fill that gap.  .  .

Horticulture student’s drive to push New Zealand’s high quality produce around the globe is rewarded:

The journey of New Zealand’s high quality nutritious food from farmer to fork is what drives Agcarm’s horticultural scholarship winner, Alexandra Tomkins in her goal to be a leader in food production.

The Massey University student is in her third year of a Bachelor of AgriCommerce degree and will put her winnings towards her student loan, which she says is “fairly daunting”.

Growing up in New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand before finishing her school studies in New Zealand, Tomkins says that, as New Zealanders, we don’t realise how good our produce is – that high quality is the norm.  She intends to share New Zealand’s story and encourage the food industry to be more consumer-centric and sustainable. . .

Big winners featured on small screen:

For the first time ever, the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will be screened on national television on Saturday 4th July at 7:30pm.

The Awards will be televised on Country TV’s Sky Channel 81 which will be accessible to all viewers without subscription. It will also be available online for those who do not have Sky.

“We’re excited about airing our National awards on Country TV and the additional recognition our finalists, partners and national sponsors will receive,” says NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon. . .

The global forest industry this quarter:

Global Timber Markets

    • There were relatively few price changes for sawlogs throughout the world in the 1Q/20 despite interruptions in trade and uncertainty in short-term lumber demand in many of the key markets.
    • The Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) remained practically unchanged from the 4Q/19 to the 1Q/20. This followed a period of two years when the Index was in constant decline.
    • Over the past two decades, sawlog prices in Eastern Europe have gone up the most on the continent, albeit from low levels, while prices in Central Europe have declined substantially, particularly in 2019. . .

Rural round-up

June 4, 2020

Market base is strong but . . .  Annette Scott:

Despite significant primary sector disruption from covid-19 and drought Beef + Lamb forecasts a positive outlook for sheep and beef exports this season. 

It’s mid-season update says beef, lamb and mutton farmgate prices will maintain their high levels.

That is supported by a strong start to the first half of the season and an expected weakening of the New Zealand dollar.

While the drought and covid-19 have both had impacts for farmers and meat processors the fundamentals look likely to remain strong for sheep meat and beef exports this year, Beef + Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt said.  . . 

Govt’s N fertiliser cap ignores basic science – Doug Edmeades:

Dr Doug Edmeades takes a look at the problems with the Government’s nitrogen fertiliser caps.

The Government’s recent decision to cap N fertiliser inputs at 190 kg N/ha/yr is doomed to failure because it ignores the basic science.

When an animal urinates, it applies N at the rate of about 500 to 1000 kg N/ha.

This is too much for the pasture and soil to accommodate and hence results in a huge excess of soluble N in a localised spot of soil, which is then subject to leaching into waterways. . . 

Pioneer in deer industry, conservation dedicates award to supporters – Liz Chen:

A man who received a Queen’s Birthday honour for services to wildlife conservation and the deer industry says the award is shared with everyone who’s made a contribution.

Murray Powell, now 89, established the Hilldale Zoo and Wildlife Park in 1969, now the Hamilton Zoo, and together with his late wife put significant investment towards the zoo’s development over the years.

The zoo is now one of Hamilton’s leading attractions with more than 140,000 visitors a year.

It runs successful breeding programmes as well as conservation and research projects for both nationally and internationally endangered species. . .

Face masks featuring New Zealand wool filters under ‘huge demand’:

A superior face mask product developed by an innovative New Zealand company using New Zealand wool is now under extremely high demand globally.

Farmers contracted to Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool) are supplying specialist-breed New Zealand Astino wool to air filter producer Lanaco, which uses it as the key ingredient in a vast range of air filtration applications.

Lanaco’s protective face masks which feature its ‘Helix’ wool air filters have now received a huge surge in demand since the global Covid-19 outbreak began.

Nick Davenport, CEO of Lanaco, says the company only started making face masks last year following significant research and development work, and is now struggling to keep up with global demand for the product. . . 

Rural Weekly to cease operation – Andrea Davy:

MY FIRST day working for the Rural Weekly newspaper I called a grazier in the Northern Territory who left me shocked.

As the Rural Weekly is among the News Corp publications that will cease all operations by June 26, it’s an interaction I have been reflecting on.

Coming from a daily paper where one of the biggest challenges of the role was convincing people to share their story, I had my spiel ready to go; I was geared up to convince this humble, most likely shy, station manager that sharing her life story with the masses was a good idea.

People are often wary of journalists; they consider us a nosy and untrustworthy bunch. . .

FAO sets the record straight–86% of livestock feed is inedible by humans :

As the media frenzy caused by a ‘planetary health diet’ proposed in a new report from an EAT-Lancet commission this month continues, it is perhaps timely to recall that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has set the record straight regarding not just the level of greenhouse gases that livestock emit (see yesterday’s posting on this blog) but also incorrect information about how much food (crops eatable by humans) is consumed by livestock. It’s not a lot.

The EAT-Lancet report summarizes scientific evidence for a global food system transition towards healthy diets from sustainable agriculture. The report concludes that a global shift towards a diet made up of high quantities of fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein and low quantities of animal protein could catalyze the achievement of both the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change. . . 

Anne Mottet, an FAO livestock development officer specializing in natural resource use efficiency and climate change, usefully informs us of incorrect, if widespread, information and understanding about the so-called ‘food-feed competition’. . .


Rural round-up

May 20, 2020

Kiwi lamb in limelight – Annette Scott:

Changing consumer demand in China has opened an opportunity for New Zealand lamb to take centre stage.

In a move to encourage online sales of NZ lamb in China, Beef + Lamb and Alliance have joined forces to launch a digital campaign aimed at leveraging the new consumer behaviour.  

The e-campaign is focused on driving online red meat sales as Chinese consumers seek out healthier food options in the wake of covid-19.   

“Alliance and B+LNZ are co-investing in the initiative to drive the awareness of NZ’s healthy and natural grass-fed lamb but ultimately to drive sales,” B+LNZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

Wallaby curse – Farmer refuses to be caught on the hop – Sally Brooker:

Wallabies have been marketed as a cute local attraction in Waimate, but farmers curse the day they crossed the Ditch.

The problems began soon after Bennett’s wallabies from Tasmania were taken to The Hunters Hills in the Waimate District in 1874 for recreational hunting.

Their population boom led to damaged farm pasture, crops and fencing, and native bush and forestry plantings.

A 2017 Ministry for Primary Industries report predicted the cost to the economy of not controlling wallabies in the South Island could be $67million within 10 years.

Anecdotal reports say the numbers are increasing again in the Waimate area. Many farmers are upset about it, but few would go on the record.

Walter Cameron had no such qualms. He has been dealing with wallabies at his family’s 3900ha Wainui Station, near Hakataramea, for most of his life and knows how to keep them in check.  . . 

High paying environmental jobs not realistic:

The Government’s $1.1 billion idea of redeploying people into environmental jobs is great in concept but difficult to turn into reality, National’s Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says.

“It’s a struggle to get Kiwis to take well-paying jobs in the horticulture or farming sector, so convincing people to become rat-catchers and possum-trackers in the numbers the Government is hoping for will be an enormous challenge.

“It’s all very well allocating the funding, but there’s no detail on how the job numbers will be achieved and this Government has a poor track record of delivering on their big policies.

“The $1.1 billion for 11,000 jobs means they’ve allocated $100,000 per job. There is no detail about how much of this is going to workers on the ground doing the environmental work and how much of this is going to added bureaucracy in Wellington offices. . . 

Training our rural doctors – Ross Nolly:

Attracting general practitioners to work in small rural areas has been challenging at times, which has led people to delay seeking medical care. Ross Nolly caught up with one Taranaki rural GP who says there are a lot of benefits to working in small communities.

In recent years finding doctors willing to work in rural general practices and rural hospitals has been difficult.

The Rural Hospital Medicine Training Programme is a subset of the Royal New Zealand GP College. It’s a relatively new programme and its aim is to give doctors an experience of rural hospital medicine. 

The programme has been operating at Hawera Hospital in South Taranaki for three years and shares some elements with general practice with many doctors practising rural GP and rural hospital medicine simultaneously. . . 

The power of community – James Barron:

Chairman of Fonterra Shareholders Council, James Barron on Fonterra, COVID-19, and the importance of community.

He waka eke noa – we’re all in this together. It’s a phrase that seems to be coming up a lot lately, and it reminds me how powerful community can be.

For wider New Zealand, the challenges brought about by COVID-19 have been significant.

But they have also presented some unexpected opportunities – to rediscover community spirit, spend quality time with our families, and do what’s best for the greater good. . . 

Tree planting is not a simple solution – Karen D. Ho and Pedro H. S. Brancalion:

A plethora of articles suggest that tree planting can overcome a host of environmental problems, including climate change, water shortages, and the sixth mass extinction (13). Business leaders and politicians have jumped on the tree-planting bandwagon, and numerous nonprofit organizations and governments worldwide have started initiatives to plant billions or even trillions of trees for a host of social, ecological, and aesthetic reasons. Well-planned tree-planting projects are an important component of global efforts to improve ecological and human well-being. But tree planting becomes problematic when it is promoted as a simple, silver bullet solution and overshadows other actions that have greater potential for addressing the drivers of specific environmental problems, such as taking bold and rapid steps to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. . . 


Rural round-up

May 18, 2020

Tears as convoy of trucks deliver donated bales to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers -Aroha Treacher:

More than 600 bales have been donated to drought-stricken farmers in the Hawke’s Bay as they struggle through one of the worst droughts the region has seen in decades. A convoy of trucks made the journey to Hawke’s Bay to drop off some much-needed relief.

“It’s so good to be here with this fantastic contribution of feed that’s come all the way to the Hawke’s Bay from farmers right throughout the Wairarapa,” says David Todd of the Rural Support Trust in Hawke’s Bay.

“There were tears we’ll say, and from big truckies. There was tears, so it’s quite a big deal,” says Poppy Renton of the Hawke’s Bay Drought Facebook page.

From here, the feed will be distributed out to needy farmers through the rural support trust. . . 

12 year-old photographer brings drought struggles home:

The Jowsey family are among many Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling with drought. The daily grind of feeding and watering stock on the parched paddocks is being documented on camera by the youngest in the family, 12-year-old Selby.

A rust-coloured paddock, a trail of sheep mid-trot, rolling grey hills and and a steely grey sky.

It catches your eye, this slightly tilted image of feeding out time on a drought-stricken farm in Hawke’s Bay.

Selby Jowsey, 12, says he’s tried to capture the moment. . .

Creativity in dealing with drought  –  Peter Burke:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is taking some creative initiatives to help farmers deal with the drought gripping large parts of the country.

Promoting alternative stock feeds, staging webinars and arranging feed coordinators are just some of the initiatives.

BLNZ North Island regional manager Matt Ward told Rural News that farmers are not only concerned with the immediate problem of the drought, but how they will be in spring.

He says supplies of baleage are very limited and his team of extension officers have been working to get what feed is available to the farmers that need it most.

Budget misses the boat on water – Annette Scott:

The Budget is missed opportunity for water, Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Elizabeth Soal says.

While the covid-19 recovery fund has $3 billion set aside for infrastructure Soal is not confident water storage and reticulation will fit the Government’s bill.

“We were really excited about the opportunity unfolding for water as we face huge economic challenges.”

But the Budget failed to deliver.

“This is missed opportunity,” Soal said.  . . 

Benefit uncertain in tense times – Hugh Stringleman:

Kiwi beef producers might not benefit from a significantly reduced Australian cattle kill this year, AgriHQ analyst Mel Croad says.

“Too many other factors are working in world protein markets to be sure that Australia’s expected shortfall will flow on to greater demand for our beef exports,” she said.

A predicted 17% reduction in Australian beef exports in 2020 might help stabilise world prices rather than increase them for other supplying countries.

Australia is going to do what it would in a normal year, without covid-19, and that is rebuild its herd after widespread rain. . . 

ProductionWise® and OverseerFM can “talk”:

FAR’s ProductionWise® farm recording package is now able to interface directly with OverseerFM, a development which will make nutrient management reporting a lot faster and cheaper for most ProductionWise users.

FAR ProductionWise Manager, Melanie Bates, says that enabling the two systems to ‘talk to each other’ was always a goal, and although it’s taken a while, testing shows that the benefits will be huge.

“Formal discussions with Overseer about the project began in January 2019, and late last year, the ProductionWise technical team, headed by Chris Day from Flurosat, and the OverseerFM technical team started working together to plan out the integration process via computer ‘json’ files. Chris has developed a very simple and visual way to build up the json file from recorded data in PW into OverseerFM. In simple terms, you can extract your ProductionWise data to a file that can be imported into the OverseerFM platform, allowing you to create your year-end analysis easily.” . . 


May the 4th . . .

May 4, 2020

Is this where I confess I’ve never watched any Star Wars films?

Such is the power of popularity, I do understand the reference though.


Rural round-up

April 30, 2020

Farmers ask government to align domestic, international emissions target – Eric Fryberg:

Two major farming groups have urged the Climate Change Commission to align New Zealand’s domestic policy with its international promises on climate change.

Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb said it did not make sense for the government to do one thing within New Zealand and something else for the rest of the world.

Their concern was based on the relative importance of different greenhouse gases.

Domestically, the government has legislated a different emissions reduction target for long-lived gases like carbon dioxide, compared with a short-lived gas like methane. . .

Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year finalists reflect depth and diversity in the industry:

Three woman contributing to the dairy industry in very different ways are this year’s finalists in the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award.

Ngai Tahu Farming Technical Farm Manager Ash-Leigh Campbell from Christchurch, Auckland based microbiologist and bio chemist Natasha Maguire and West Coast dairy farmer Heather McKay are all in the running for the prestigious dairy award managed by the Dairy Women’s Network being announced early next month.

Dairy Women’s Network Trustee and a member of the awards judging panel Alison Gibb said all three finalists came from such different directions and perspectives which highlighted the depth and diversity of how women are contributing to the dairy industry in New Zealand. . . 

Ag exports a ‘godsend’ – Pam Tipa:

Primary product prices will fall further this year but remain at reasonable levels before some improvement in 2021, according to BNZ senior economist Doug Steel.

However, the falls – so far this year – have not been as much as might have been expected, he says.

“The defensive qualities of NZ’s food-heavy export mix may well be a Godsend for the economy as a whole during the current turmoil. If nothing else, it is easy to imagine a new-found appreciation for where our food comes from,” Steel told Rural News. . .

Ritchie instrumental in driving positive change for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

Tim Ritchie came into the Meat Industry Association as CEO at the end of 2007, initially intended to be for an 18 month period, and retired earlier this month over 12 years later. His first task was the planned merger of the processor representative organisation with Meat & Wool, the forerunner of Beef + Lamb NZ, which was strongly promoted by Keith Cooper, then CEO of Silver Fern Farms, and Meat & Wool chairman, Mike Petersen.

The merger was doomed to fail after dissension among the processors, some of which failed to see how the two organisations, one a member funded trade association and the other a farmer levy funded body, could possibly work as one. History has clearly shown the logic behind the eventual outcome which has seen MIA and B+LNZ each carving out a clearly defined role to the ultimate benefit of the red meat sector. . . 

Cautious optimism over apple exports – Peter Burke:

NZ Apples and Pears says while it’s early days yet, apple export volumes for this year are only slightly behind last year.

Alan Pollard, chief executive of NZ Apples and Pears, says so far there has only been 25% harvested, but the signs are encouraging and he’s cautiously optimistic.

He’s predicting that it may be a reasonable year, but not a great year. . .

An historic month:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 50 less farm sales (-15.1%) for the three months ended March 2020 than for the three months ended March 2019. Overall, there were 281 farm sales in the three months ended March 2020, compared to 329 farm sales for the three months ended February 2020 (-14.6%), and 331 farm sales for the three months ended March 2019. 1,216 farms were sold in the year to March 2020, 15.9% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2019, with 32.6% less Dairy farms, 14.3% less Grazing farms, 26.1% less Finishing farms and 14.1% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2020 was $21,130 compared to $23,383 recorded for three months ended March 2019 (-9.6%). The median price per hectare increased 2.7% compared to February 2020. . . 


Rural round-up

April 28, 2020

Farmers must bide their time – Annette Scott:

The probability of a global recession is growing along with the likelihood of reduced consumer spending in all red meat markets.

The covid-19 pandemic has shifted demand for red meat away from food service to eating at home, Beef + Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt said.

Just how long that will take to reverse will depend on how long it takes people to be comfortable to eat out in restaurants again.

The key for New Zealand across the supply chain will be maintaining integrity, reliability and consistency. . .

Disaster plans made – Toni Williams:

Vicki and Hamish Mee are planning a ‘‘worst case scenario’’ for stock at their Mid Canterbury free-farm piggery.

The Mees run Le Mee Farms and also have a cropping operation.

Their planning follows restrictions during the lockdown period which stop independent butchers from opening, and make any sale of pork limited to supermarket stores, other processors or retailers which were open.

As imported pork was still allowed, the Mees were preparing themselves for a different future market post-lockdown. . .

Backing ‘best fibre in the world’ – Sally Rae:

Long-time wool advocate Craig Smith says his new role as chairman of the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests is about “championing the cause of wool”.

The council is an association of organisations engaged in the production, testing, merchandising, processing, spinning and weaving of wool and allied fibres.

Mr Smith, who is general manager of Devold Wool Direct, was the first New Zealander to be appointed to the global executive committee of the International Wool Textile Organisation, and he has also been heavily involved with Campaign for Wool, a global project initiated by Prince Charles. . . 

Meat plants back to near normal – Neal Wallace:

Meat processing throughput could be back at close to maximum on Tuesday when the country’s covid-19 response level drops to level three.

Final protocols are still to be confirmed but level three restrictions should enable meat processing to be close to full production, helping address the backlog of stock waiting to be killed, which has blown out to six weeks, Alliance livestock and shareholder services general manager Danny Hailes says.

At level three social distancing between workers drops from 2m, to 1m.

That should allow throughput for sheep to rise from  50% to 90% of plant capacity and beef from 70% to 100%. . . .

Online auction takes off – Annette Scott:

A handshake still carries weight for livestock trading firm Peter Walsh and Associates but with covid-19 it has been forced to change tack.

The lockdown changed that handshake to a tap on a keyboard as the company held to its first Livebid online auction last week. 

“With no saleyard operation we had to find new ways of moving livestock so we said ‘let’s keep it on the farm’,” Peter Walsh said.

With a smart back office team and the latest technology the independent livestock broker came up with Livebid. . .

Full fields, empty fridges – Laura Reiley:

Farmers in the upper Midwest euthanize their baby pigs because the slaughterhouses are backing up or closing, while dairy owners in the region dump thousands of gallons of milk a day. In Salinas, Calif., rows of ripe iceberg, romaine and red-leaf lettuce shrivel in the spring sun, waiting to be plowed back into the earth.

Drone footage shows a 1.5-mile-long line of cars waiting their turn at a drive-through food bank in Miami. In Dallas, schools serve well north of 500,000 meals on each service day, cars rolling slowly past stations of ice chests and insulated bags as food service employees, volunteers and substitute teachers hand milk and meal packets through the windows.

Across the country, an unprecedented disconnect is emerging between where food is produced and the food banks and low-income neighborhoods that desperately need it. American farmers, ranchers, other food producers and poverty advocates have been asking the federal government to help overcome breakdowns in a food distribution system that have led to producers dumping food while Americans go hungry. . .


Rural round-up

April 26, 2020

Mental health during a global pandemic:

Farmers are used to adversity. We are used to our livelihoods, and our families effected by forces beyond our control.

We watch as our entire crop is destroyed in a ten-minute storm. We grieve powerless, as disease rips through our herd. And we have seen our food stores burnt to the ground during times of conflict. We watch market prices tank when global production is good, we pray for rain, for markets, for health and for safety. And, on a daily basis we pray for an understanding of who we are and what we do.

Under the pressure of a global pandemic it is suddenly as if the entire world knows a little of what it is to be a farmer. We are perhaps at once the most connected and disconnected as we will ever be, we are a world experiencing fear, failure, grief, anxiety, and hope. And we are experiencing it together and all too often, alone . . 

Rotorua Lakes Council accused of ‘no show’ on SNAs – Felix Desmarais:

Farmers are “disappointed” after Rotorua Lakes Council failed to independently submit on a piece of government policy they say could result in a six percent increase in rates.

But the council says Local Government NZ submitted on its behalf and it does not submit on all proposed policy and legislation changes.

The National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) closed submissions on 14 March. . .

Review of methane contribution a step in the right direction:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed Climate Change Minister James Shaw’s request to the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to review and provide advice to the Government on New Zealand’s international greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The Climate Change Commission is best placed to ensure there’s consistency between New Zealand’s international and domestic targets, and to provide scientifically-sound, depoliticised advice to the Government.  We support Minister Shaw’s request to the Commission,” says B+LNZ’s Environment Policy Manager Dylan Muggeridge. 

“The Government took a world leading split-gas approach to the Zero Carbon Act and we ask that the Commission consider if New Zealand’s international target should be recommunicated as a split-gas target. “ . . 

Independent grocers ask for flexibility to open in alert level 3 – Indira Stewart:

The government has been asked for flexibility to allow more independent grocers and other food outlets to fully open at level 3, Horticulture New Zealand says.

The lockdown has crippled produce supply to New Zealanders despite supermarkets staying open and many independent growers and grocers say their businesses might not survive the next few weeks.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said the Covid-19 crisis had stopped nearly 30 percent of fresh produce making it to retail shelves. . .

Hunters should be allowed on conservation land:

Hunting restrictions at level 3 should be relaxed even further to allow for hunting on conservation land, National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“It simply doesn’t make any sense that it’s acceptable to hunt on private land but not conservation land.

“Many hunters don’t have access to private land and rely on their local conservation areas to take part.

“ACC data shows that hunting is a safe recreational activity and that those who participate take health and safety seriously. In terms of fatalities hunting is about six times safer than swimming and three and a half times safer than road cycling. . . .

Farm Environment awards recognise value of NZ farmers:

The Covid-19 lockdown has prompted organisers of New Zealand’s most prestigious farm awards to take an innovative approach when recognising this year’s top farmers.

The Ballance Farm Environment Award’s ceremony schedule was interrupted by the country going into lockdown on March 23, after the announcement of only two regions’ winners, Canterbury and East Coast.

“We were determined to keep up the recognition of our other nine regional winners, even if it meant we had to do away with the ceremony and occasion that accompanies it. So we will kick off on April 22 with our first “on line” ceremony, for the Horizons region,” says James Ryan, general manager for award backers the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. . . 


Thanks NZ ag supply chain

April 16, 2020

Rural round-up

March 30, 2020

Essentially we are struggling – Sarah Perriam:

It’s a nice feeling to be essential huh?

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

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

Rural businesses carrying on – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prof Griffin has spent a career in animal health research.

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

New associate director for Beef + Lamb board:

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

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

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

Badge ‘just a tremendous honour’ – Toni Williams:

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

March 14, 2020

Time for Trans-Tasman agritech co-operation? – Pam Tipa:

Should New Zealand and Australia be working more closely together in the agritech space to present a regional offer to the world?

Callaghan Innovation’s agritech group manager, Simon Yarrow certainly thinks so.

It could be similar to the way the Scandinavians have established a regional reputation in other fields. . . 

Bloody Good Boss workshops being run throughout New Zealand:

How to be a bloody good boss workshops are being run throughout New Zealand by the Dairy Women’s Network.

Delivered in conjunction with DairyNZ, PaySauce and Primary ITO, these four hour information workshops will cover the whole recruitment process.

The five employment pillars of skills needed on farm, recruitment, the interview process, contracts and orientation will be discussed in these sessions designed to support the Good Boss campaign that was launched last month in Wellington. . .

Turning rhetoric into reality – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth analyses the points made at this year’s Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre workshop.

The Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre (FLRC) workshop held at Massey University each February starts the year with a hiss, roar, new research and the latest from overseas.

The three-day workshop is one of the places where scientists, researchers, rural professionals, farmers and national and local policy makers can engage in rigorous debate. . .

‘Bringing Brand New Zealand Home’ At AgriFood Week 2020:

New Zealand AgriFood Week is enlisting several international thought-leaders to address the Week’s 2020 theme, ‘bringing brand New Zealand home.’

The week-long series of events, workshops and forums across the Manawatū covers the intersection between agriculture, science, food and technology and runs from March 16 to 22.

Adding international perspective to some of New Zealand’s biggest agri-food challenges is Dr Jessica de Koning, a rural sociologist from Wageningen University speaking on strengthening rural communities in the face of regulatory and environmental challenges. . .

Straight Off The Tussock chapter 2 – Tim Fulton:

HARD LESSONS

The Okuku Range is a cluster of hills 900m-1100m high, rising from the northern limit of  the Canterbury Plains and treading north-westwards to meet the foothills of the Puketekari Range. Jack grew up in the Okuku Pass which runs between it. 

I used to walk down to the White Rock limeworks to talk to the people over there or the men on the station, but I suppose I was a lonely kid in a lot of ways. I’d sit on the tractor with our neighbour Harry Gudex – helping with the farmwork. Used to go there for mercy every now and again. I was a loner but I enjoyed the men – seemed to get on with them and they didn’t seem to worry too much what I did.

For six weeks each summer from 1932 to 1934, we went to a holiday house at Leithfield Beach. But it was an awful place, with no conveniences whatsoever – an outside loo, kerosene lamps and primus cooker. I was absolutely infuriated with this – couldn’t stand the salt water or the sea, and I was a permanent pest there… perennially in trouble. Whenever we were there I couldn’t get back to the shearing quick enough. I loved it in the shed – flat out with the men – cutting dags off wool, whatever I could find. . .

Kiwifruit hold golden glow:

With the new season’s SunGold kiwifruit licensing tender due to open next month, expectations are that orchardist interest in the 750ha area being made available will be at least as strong as last year.

Last year’s SunGold allocation of planting rights averaged $290,000 a hectare, with a number of orchardists missing out on their desired allocation simply due to over demand for the popular planting option.

Snow Williams, Bayleys specialist rural and kiwifruit agent based in Te Puke says he would not be surprised to see the licence values at least match or even exceed last year’s values. . .


Rural round-up

March 12, 2020

Southern Dairy Hub to trial new winter practices for better animal welfare – Damian Rowe:

Cows being able to sit on biodegradable mats instead of mud will be trialled in a bid to improve their health during winter grazing.

Southern Dairy Hub staff with the help of scientists, engineers and rural professionals have teamed up to create concepts on how to improve the farm facilities for winter grazing.

Winter grazing techniques were put under the spotlight last year after a nationwide anti-grazing campaign highlighted some Southland cows standing in mud, and prompted the agricultural minister Damian O’Connor to set up a taskforce in response. . .

From the Ridge: our farms are already regenerative – Steve Wyn-Harris:

There is a bit of wheel reinvention going on.

No, that’s not quite the metaphor that I’m looking for. How about teaching granny to suck eggs? Something like that.

Regenerative agriculture is all the rage, the answer to all our ills.

Really? . . 

Developing leaders for tomorrow:

Last month, 21 developing dairy industry leaders started Fonterra’s year-long Governance Development Programme, with two days of presentations and discussions at Fonterra’s head office in Auckland.

Now into its 15th year, the programme is an intensive year-long commitment built around a series of workshops, distance learning modules and coaching. It exists to help identify and develop governance acumen in future rural leaders. Being custom designed in conjunction with Massey Business School to be specific to the cooperative context, it is unique in New Zealand. Attended predominantly by Fonterra farmer shareholders and herd-owning sharemilkers it is also open to members of other New Zealand cooperatives such as LIC, Silver Fern Farms and Foodstuffs.  . .

Connecting to grassroots New Zealand -Fiona Windle:

It wasn’t a typical Sunday for my family.  We packed a lunch, extra layers and headed an hour south from our home in suburbia Napier for an opportunity to see what goes on behind a farm gate as part of the inaugural nationwide Open Farms day. 

On arriving at Mangarara Station in Central Hawke’s Bay’s Elsthorpe, we followed the signs down a long windy driveway where we and other families were warmly welcomed from our hosts, Greg and Rachel Hart at their guest Eco Lodge.  Nestled in front of the farm lake, among rolling hills and native trees, it was a picturesque and peaceful setting, which had you immediately feeling relaxed, with a sense of belonging. . . 

Keep stock off harvested hemp:

Feeding hemp to livestock is strictly forbidden and as well as contravening the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act, doing so could put New Zealand’s red meat exports in jeopardy.

Matt Ward, B+LNZ General Manager North Island, says according to the Ministry for Primary Industries, hemp or hemp products used as animal feed are regulated under the ACVM Act 1997 and are classed as agricultural compounds.

It is an offence to use any ACVM that is not authorized and there are no hemp products authorized for use in livestock in New Zealand. . .

New 500,000 tonne market on offer as India opens its doors for Aussie malt barley – Gregor Heard:

AUSTRALIAN exporters could be sending malt barley to India as soon as April after the Indian government removed a critical phytosanitary requirement that acted as a roadblock to sales to the subcontinental nation.

It paves the way for a market industry insiders suggest could easily see Australian trade to Indian in excess of 500,000 tonnes in the near term, rising to up to a million tonnes with time to forge closer relationships.

Based on current malt barley prices, the cost of preparing the grain for export and sea freight sales of that volume would mean a windfall of in excess of $180 million for the Australian barley industry based on current Australian port prices of $280/t. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 6, 2020

Be a good boss and we’re unstoppable – Sudesh Kissun:

A dairy sector made up of good bosses would make us unstoppable, says Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Chris Lewis.

Good bosses would attract workers to dairy farms. “Therefore, the recruitment process would be more competitive and the calibre of those you employed would increase,” he says.

“Your staff would solve more problems, find more opportunities therefore you and your farm business would be more successful.” . . 

Where the big dry really hurts :

It was shaping up to be Bill Cashmore’s best year on the farm with record prices for beef and lamb, but the worst drought he’s ever known has put paid to that.

The deputy mayor of Auckland and his son Robert who runs the 1220-hectare sheep and beef farm in Clevedon, about an hour south east of Auckland’s CBD, will have to make some drastic decisions if no rain comes in the next couple of weeks.

It’s so dry old native trees growing next to a stream are dying and the brown summer grass has turned grey. Cashmore describes it as ‘fried”. . . 

The Golden Shears: Woolly sheep bring sheer excitement to competitors :

The country’s best shearers are gearing up for a busy day of finals today at The Golden Shears in Masterton.

Destiny Paikea, of Ngāti Whātua descent, has qualified for the Junior Shearing Final.

Paikea comes from a long line of shearers and grew up in the West Otago as a wool handler.

She eventually began competing in shearing competitions two years ago. . .

Average Canterbury farmer ‘just treading water’ – Nigel Malthus:

Half of Canterbury dairy farms aren’t operating profitably, says Ashburton farm consultant Jeremy Savage.

“The average Canterbury dairy farmer at the moment is just treading water: that would be the polite way of putting it,” he said.

“And that’s the average. If the average is just treading water there’s a number of dairy farmers . .

Sector comes together to support drought-hit farmers:

Northland Inc’s Extension 350 has combined with DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ to provide a reference point for farmers battling to respond to the effects of the worst drought in years.

This is being done by bringing together a number of Northland farmers who will share their responses to the situation via the Northland Inc website, with weekly updates on their current focus and actions.

“This sector-wide collaboration creates an overview to help farmers prioritise their actions, focus on their farms and manage their wellbeing through this extremely stressful period,” said Luke Beehre, Project Lead of Extension 350 (E350), the award-winning farmer-led and farmer-focused programme. . .

Fonterra chairman confirms retirement in October:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited (FCG) Chairman John Monaghan has confirmed that he will retire as a Director of the Co-operative when his current 3-year term ends at its Annual Meeting this November.

In a note to the Co-operative’s farmer-owners and unitholders, Mr Monaghan explained that his decision was the next step in the Fonterra Board’s development and succession planning.

“After 11 years as a Director, and having seen through the introduction of our new strategy, operating model, and with our debt reduction efforts well progressed, the timing is right for me and for the Co-op. . .

Pāmu welcomes major US investment in ag sector technology:

The investment by major United States company Merck and Co in FarmIQ, is an endorsement of the technology that Pāmu has been championing since the inception of the agri-tech company, Pāmu Chief Executive Steven Carden says.

“This latest investment from a global player in animal health and welfare confirms the vision we had when FarmIQ was started, which was to enable greater productivity by joining up the whole agriculture data ecosystem,” Mr Carden said.

Pāmu holds a 30% shareholding in FarmIQ and is one of its original shareholders and biggest customers. The company has actively championed changes such as the Health and Safety module widely used by FarmIQ customers. . . 

Key kiwifruit operator’s packing and coolstore property for sale while industry booms:

A medium-sized Takanini packhouse and coolstore used exclusively for post-harvest in the $2.9 billion New Zealand kiwifruit industry is on the market for sale and leaseback.

The 7,223 square metre Auckland Pack & Cool (Apac) facility on 1.1 hectares at 149 Phillip Road, Takanini packs and coolstores kiwifruit for export and distribution by the country’s single desk seller Zespri International.

It is one of the kiwifruit industry’s key post-harvest operators, with the resources to pack about 3.5 million trays each season, and a combined on-site and satellite cool storage capacity for 1.75 million trays. . . 

 


International call for IPCC to consider GWP*/GWP-we for greenhouse gas emissions

March 6, 2020

Sixteen agricultural organisations from England, Irealnd, Scotland, New Zealand and Wales have untied to call for different treatment of short-lived gases by the IPCC:

Climate change is one of the world’s most urgent challenges and farmers are amongst the first to see its impact on food production as they deal with the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather, such as droughts and floods.

But farming offers solutions, including:

    • Improving farming’s productive efficiency to reduce our GHG emissions
    • Farmland carbon storage in soils and vegetation
    • Boosting renewable energy and the bio-economy, to avoid GHG emissions from fossil fuels, and to create GHG removal through photosynthesis and carbon capture.

Agricultural organisations are calling on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to evaluate the more accurate global warming potential (GWP) metric of GWP*/GWP-we to measure the contribution of short-lived greenhouse gases to global warming.

All greenhouse gases aren’t equal. Fossil fuel emissions are long-lived, methane from stock is a short-lived gas.

Planting trees is just a bandaid for offsetting fossil fuel emissions, it is effective in offsetting methane emissions.

Given the scale of the climate change crisis facing the planet, we consider it vitally important that the best scientific information and tools available are being used to inform and build trust in the decisions that global and domestic policy makers are taking.

While GWP100 is the accepted metric for describing the warming impact of greenhouse gases, it is acknowledged to have shortcomings when it comes to the temperature response of short-lived emissions such as methane. GWP-we provides a more accurate measure of the behaviour of methane in the atmosphere and its net contribution to global warming.

Using metrics that inaccurately capture the contribution to warming of short-lived gases could lead to poor policy decisions. While all parts of our society must show leadership and play their part in addressing climate change, policy advice needs to reflect solutions that distinguish between the dynamics of biogenic methane and gases that persist in the atmosphere for long periods.

Too many policy decisions are based on emotion and politics, not science.

Whatever the IPCC’s decision on GHG metrics, farmers are committed to broad based action on climate change. We cannot afford to wait for more accurate measures to be developed: urgent action is needed now to improve productivity, conserve the carbon already in our pastures and grasslands, and store more carbon for the good of society.

The signatories to this call are National Farmers Union, National Farmers Union of Scotland, National Farmers Union CYMRU, National Sheep Association, Quality Meat Scotland, The Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, Country Land and Business Association, British Meat Processors Association, Hybu Cig Cymru, Ulster Farmers Union, The Livestock and Meat Commission for North Ireland, Scottish Beef Association, Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Meat Industry Association, and Federated Farmers.

Policy must take into account the difference between short and long lived gases, it must also take into account the value of what’s produced from what produces the emissions.

Methane, which is a by-product of food production should not be treated the same way as fossil fuel emissions from non-essential products and pursuits.


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