Rural round-up

January 19, 2019

Are farmers really just a bunch of whiners and whingers? – Pat Deavoll:

Farmers are forever getting it in the neck for being a bunch of whiners.

They are seen as operating in a constant state of discontent. Too much rain, or not enough rain. Crossbred wool on a downward spiral. The gross domestic product teetering on the verge of collapse. The price of grain too low; the cost of fertiliser too high. Too much compliance. The list of complaints seems endless.

I beg to differ. Sure, the ups and downs of farming make the news, but farmers have it far from easy, even in this day of uber-technology and precision farming.

I grew up on a farm in North Canterbury, and I still think of my father, who farmed from the 1950s through to the 2000s, as being the hardest working, most uncomplaining person I’ve ever known. . . 

Lamb prices exorbitant – Annette Scott:

Buyers at the 24th annual Rakaia Gorge lamb sales hope prices hold up this season with lambs going under the hammer at record high prices.

Agents and farmers alike acknowledged the strong demand for store lambs right across the board, reflecting a booming industry with sheep on a high.

Favourable weather has created an abundance of grass that is driving exceptional demand for both store lambs and capital stock.

Pushed by the continuing strong demand for store lambs in Canterbury, buyers bid up briskly on the 10,000 lambs offered at High Peak and Snowdon Stations to ensure they didn’t miss out. . . 

Grass surplus not wasted – Richard Rennie:

South Wairarapa drystock farmer Mike Warren has had to look to a mechanical mouth to help keep up with rampant grass growth on his 1200ha property. 

While working hard to control the grass quality on his steeper country by stocking it as high as possible he has been selectively baling up flatter country and now has the dilemma of where to store 540 wrapped bales, 150 hay bales and 50 bales. 

The property comprises 30% steep hill country and the rest flat to flatter. . . 

Wetlands labour of love – Toni Williams:

It has taken nearly 20 years, but the wetlands of the Riverbridge Conservation Park are doing just what conservationist Russell Langdon hoped – offering a habitat environment for nature to thrive.

The park, nestled about 500m from the Ashburton River at Westerfield, south of Ashburton, has been a labour of love for the Mid Cantabrian.

Thousands of back-breaking man-hours have gone into its development, taking the park from the bare farmland paddock it once was to a fully formed wetland with multiple ponds and native forest grounds, all mostly unplanned and planted to encourage wildlife to thrive.

And it is still not finished. . . 

Prime arable and grazing research station for sale:

After 72 years of contributing to local and regional research, AgResearch’s grazing and arable Research Station at Winchmore, North-West of Ashburton is to be sold.

Winchmore was originally purchased in 1946, with a focus on providing local research into the use of border dyke irrigation. Long term fertiliser trials were started in the 1950s and together the site has contributed to more than 500 science publications.

AgResearch Director of Infrastructure John O’Dea says, “Projects and priorities have changed in recent years, which has seen more research conducted on commercial farms or small scale intensive research. This means the Winchmore site has primarily focused on the long term fertiliser trials.” . . 

Eat-Lancet report good opportunity for New Zealand:

The EAT-Lancet Commission’s report on healthy diets from sustainable food systems highlights the importance of sustainable, grass-fed red meat produced in countries such as New Zealand.

“New Zealand is already adopting many of the strategies recommended by the report’s authors including committing to healthy diet goals, reorienting agricultural priorities to producing high quality healthy food in a sustainable way and supporting biodiversity,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Chief Insight Officer, Jeremy Baker. . .


Rural round-up

January 13, 2019

No rescue for Taratahi :

A rescue package for the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre was rejected by the Government last year, which left the national training provider no option but to face liquidation.

The Farmers Weekly has been told the package consisted of cost savings, a restructured business and courses, the planned sale of the 518ha Mangarata farm in the Wairarapa, a $6 million working capital cash injection and moratorium on refunding over payments to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

Last year the Government spent nearly $100m bailing out Unitec, Whitireia and Tai Poutini polytechnics. . .

The vegans are coming, so Kiwi farmers need to give us something to believe in – Daniel Eb:

Environmental limits, changing tastes and a redefined social licence are driving consumers away from animal proteins. In part two of a series on the rise of veganism, Daniel Eb looks at what New Zealand must do to get on board.

There is a sense of impending transformation ahead for agriculture in New Zealand. The world’s richest consumers – New Zealand’s target market – want products that speak to their identity. They are increasingly perceiving value in terms of experience, and are less willing to tolerate our production-first model. In short, they want something to believe in. In the second part of this series on veganism I outline a way forward, an opportunity to re-imagine our value as food producers and our impact on the world. . .

Postive start for wool sales – Alan Williams:

The calendar 2019 wool sales season in the South Island started brightly, with indications of business being written in China, and helped by lower volumes.

Crossbred prices remain at depressed levels and there are still issues to be faced, but the positive start was refreshing, with finer crossbred wools up to 6% dearer at Christchurch on Thursday, and strong wools up to 2% better, PGG Wrightson’s South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

The small volumes of new season’s lambs’ wool were keenly sought after, with prices well ahead.  . .

Meet the couple at No.1 State Highway, Far(thest) North – David Fisher:

At the point in the road where there is little left of State Highway 1, you’ll find Herb and Colleen Subritzky.

In the evenings they sit on the deck of their home, overlooking the road – New Zealand’s longest road stretching more than 2000km from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the south – nursing cold beers and listening to birds filling the silence of the Far North.

All day, buses and cars race by their home to cover those final few kilometres to Cape Reinga. At 6pm, the main parking area shuts and the flow reverses, dwindles then stops. From then until morning, it must be one of the quietest stretches of road in the country. . . 

Eight vie for Otago/Southland FMG Young Farmer title – Sudesh Kissun:

Two former workmates at the iconic Mount Linton Station are set to clash in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest.

Jacob Mackie and Allen Gregory, who are both 25, will go head to head in the Otago/Southland regional final in Milton next month.

“I can’t wait. I really enjoy the challenge of competing. It pushes your boundaries and makes you work on your weaknesses,” said Allen. . . 

Farmer credits his dog with fighting off attacking steer – Kristin Edge:

Johnny Bell reckons his little dog, Jade, saved his life by fighting off a steer that bowled the veteran farmer and was attacking him on the ground.

The canine companion then ran along the road to get help for her wounded master who had been knocked unconscious. Bell’s front teeth had been smashed out, his right eye severely bruised as was his ribs and legs.

What was not immediately evident was the Northland farmer was suffering a brain bleed. . .


Rural round-up

December 23, 2018

Farmers urged to focus on critical risks to avoid joining summer accident toll:

Summer is a busy time on the farm, but it’s also among the most hazardous periods for accidents.

Almost 550 farmers suffered injuries serious enough for them to take at least a week off work over the last summer (December 2017-February 2018) while there were three fatalities on farms.

Overall, trips, slips and falls, being hit or bitten by animals, hit by moving objects and incidents involving vehicles were the major causes of injuries, according to data from ACC. . . 

Russell forest possums ‘down 80 percent’ since 1080 drop – Lois Williams:

The recent 1080-poison drop on Northland’s Russell State Forest has been declared an outstanding success.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said results showed rats had been all but wiped out and possum numbers had dropped by 80 percent.

The aerial operation in September covered the Russell Forest north of Whangarei and Cape Brett in the Bay of Islands, and was the first since the mid-1990s. . .

Another assault on local democracy:

The Government should back off local government in the Hauraki Gulf and let the people decide their futures, says Federated Farmers Auckland.

The Government proposes to establish a Ministerial Advisory Committee to implement the Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan (aka Sea Change), clearly stepping on local government, says Federated Farmers Auckland provincial president Andrew Maclean.

“This move is just the latest assault on local democracy from central Government.” . . 

Project highlights nutrient loss challenges for farmers:

Work by farmers on a Hawke’s Bay project aiming to cut their nitrogen losses has provided valuable lessons and highlighted the challenges ahead.

The “Greening Tukituki” project that included two dairy farmers and two drystock farmers from the Tukituki catchment aimed to help them meet their nutrient loss obligations under the Hawkes Bay Regional Council (HBRC) plan change 6.

The project closes amid growing disquiet about the shortcomings in nutrient software system Overseer as a regulatory tool. . . 

Livestock farmers join the GIA biosecurity partnership:

Key players in the livestock farming sector have taken steps to protect their multi-billion-dollar export industries from pests and diseases by joining other primary sector organisations and Government in the biosecurity fight.

Industry organisations DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand consulted with their farmers over a year ago to join the Government Industry Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response (GIA). The final step in the process is the signing of the GIA Deed. . . 

Lightwire announced as partner in rural broadband milestone:

Lightwire announced as partner in New Zealand’s rural broadband milestone

Trans-Tasman telecommunications company Lightwire is proud to be a new partner of Crown Infrastructure Partners’ (CIP) Rural Broadband Initiative Phase Two (RBI2), providing significant additional rural broadband coverage across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regions.

This phase of the Initiative will take coverage to 99.8% of New Zealand’s population, bringing innumerable benefits to Lightwire’s rural communities. . . 


Rural round-up

December 21, 2018

Taratahi agri training operator in interim liquidation – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre has been placed into interim liquidation at the request of its board of trustees as declining student numbers saw its funding drop faster than it could cut costs.

The High Court yesterday appointed David Ruscoe and Russell Moore of Grant Thornton as interim liquidators after the board sought to protect the position of its staff, students, creditors and other stakeholders, the accounting firm said.

Taratahi is a private training establishment, employing 250 staff, and educating 2,850 students this year. It owns and manages eight farms across the country. . . 

IrrigationNZ welcomes new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ has appointed Elizabeth Soal as its new Chief Executive.

“IrrigationNZ has recently adopted a new strategy which focuses on creating an environment for the responsible use of water for food production. As part of the strategy we will be focusing on advocacy, encouraging innovation through sharing ideas and adopting new technology, developing a robust information base, bringing the irrigation sector, researchers and decision makers together to make better decisions for our future and creating world‑leading irrigation standards,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Board Chair.

“Elizabeth has a strong background in water management, law and policy and she will help contribute to all of these goals but she is particularly well qualified to contribute to national discussions as we seek to achieve solutions to complex issues around water allocation which result in good outcomes for both communities and the environment.” . . 

Feds welcome new IrrigationNZ chief executive:

Federated Farmers welcomes Elizabeth Soal as the new chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand.

Federated Farmers maintains an excellent working relationship with Irrigation New Zealand,” Feds water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Elizabeth has the credentials and background, including her strategy and policy work for the Waitaki Irrigators Collective, to help ensure INZ continues its excellent work.” . .

Federated Farmers disputes E Coli claims – Eric Frykberg:

There is no proof that E. Coli found in three Canterbury rivers came from cows, according to Federated Farmers.

Research commissioned by Fish and Game found dangerous pathogens in three Canterbury rivers – the Ashley, Selwyn and Rangitata.

Fish and Game insisted the cause was leaching from dairy farms.

But Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said the problem could be caused by wildlife, or human activity, as well as from animals. . . 

Research suggests we should take a harder look at the benefits of organic foods – Point of Order:

The Green Party’s food policy may need revisiting, in the light of research published in the past week.

The policy was introduced in May 2017 by Green Party MP Mojo Mathers, who lost her list place in Parliament at the general election.

How we produce, distribute and consume food is of critical importance to growing resilient healthy communities, minimising our ecological footprint and maintaining a
stable economy, she said.  That’s why food policy lies at the heart of Green policy. . . 

Reflections on the year that was – Allan Barber:

From a New Zealand domestic perspective the attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis has had the biggest impact on farming, most of it focused on the relatively small number of properties forced to cull their entire herd, some of it directed at those properties under surveillance or Notice of Direction, and some of it on the agricultural service industry, including meat processors, cartage contractors, stock agents and saleyards, as well as calf clubs and A&P shows.

MPI is cautiously optimistic the disease can be eradicated which would be the first time any country has achieved such an outcome. However there is still plenty of water to flow under the bridge before anyone can say with confidence that the hitherto impossible has been achieved. 2019 will almost certainly be the year we know for certain, one way or the other. . . 

Guy Trafford finishes 2018 with a GDT review, news of a new Fish & Game river survey, calling out plant-based-milk, and an update on the MPB eradication – Guy Trafford:

An ever so slight increase in the Global Dairy Trade price for whole milk powder with a +0.3% lift. It may not put much of a smile on farmers faces but at least it is a not a drop.

Overall the GDT went up by +1.7% with both butter and cheddar making gains with lifts of +4.9% and +2.2% respectively so not such a poor result. With this now being the second – be they small – lift in a row and we have to go back almost 12 months before we had a repeat of two consecutive sales lifting. Dairy Futures had predicted a higher 3% lift in WMP for this period and with volumes sold down 0.7% on the previous sale, which was also down, the remainder of the season still looks precarious. The next sale is on the 2nd of January 2019. . . 

New captain for 2019 Meat Blacks:

One of the final jobs of 2018 is to take a look at the 2019 Meat Blacks team that will lead the sector next year.

There haven’t been too many adjustments to make, though the sector has had a couple of big retirements from the leadership, lock Sir Graeme Harrison (ANZCO) and number eight James Parsons (B+LNZ Ltd) have departed this year. Linesman Martyn Dunne also retired from MPI and has been replaced by Ray Smith, fresh from Corrections (Ed: appropriately!).

As a result, we have a new captain Murray Taggart (Alliance), promoted from vice-captain, and new vice-captain Tony Egan (Greenlea Premier Meats) to lead the team. . . 

T&G Global profit dented by cheaper tomatoes, small grape harvest  – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – T&G Global says its annual profit will more than halve this year after cheaper tomatoes and a weather-affected grape harvest in Peru dented earnings.

Net profit will be $8-10 million this calendar year, down from $22.6 million in 2017, it said in a statement.

Lower tomato prices affected T&G’s covered crops unit while its Peru grapes division dealt with a smaller harvest, it said. . .


Farm Joke Friday

December 14, 2018


Rural round-up

December 14, 2018

Windsor Blue off to home of cheese– Simon Hartley:

Oamaru cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese has clinched an important export deal, having just delivered its first consignment of 100 rounds of Vintage Windsor Blue cheese to France.

Whitestone managing director Simon Berry said that to be shipping to Europe where cheesemaking was established showed that ”as new-world cheesemakers we’re coming of age”.

The first pallet-sized consignment, weighing about 250kg, was pre-sold to multiple customers and then delivered to France last month, with a follow-up order expected in the new year. . .

Grape, cheery growers competing for land – Guy Williams:

Wine and cherry growers are competing for land, resources and labour as both industries experience strong growth.

Mt Difficulty Wines co-owner James Dicey, of Bannockburn, said much of the planned investment in horticulture in Central Otago was expected to be in new cherry orchards.

That industry was undergoing a boom after several good years, with the total number of hectares planted in cherries poised to overtake grapes. . .

Farmers want DIRA gone – Annette Scott:

Farmers delivered a consistent message to the Ministry for Primary Industries when they met in Ashburton to consult on the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act review.

“We are a bit over it, and that’s an understatement,” Mid Canterbury dairying stalwart Ted Rollinson said.

His sentiment was largely echoed by all farmers at the meeting that unanimously agreed it’s time for open entry and exit to go, followed by raw milk regulations and access to regulated milk for Goodman Fielder. . . 

Approval given for Alliance to bring in workers – Alan Williams:

Meat processor Alliance has approval to bring in 100 workers from overseas for its Lorneville sheep plant in Invercargill.

They’re expected to be on hand for the peak February to May period, Alliance people and safety general manager Chris Selbie said.

“We’re delighted as it will make a real difference in addressing the staff shortages we had last season.

“We’ll start now to get on and find them.” . . .

Ahead with technology – Anne Hardie:

A cow chewing her cud has long been an indicator of cow health. Anne Hardie reports how monitoring collars can help show how a cow’s ruminations are affected by the state of their health.

Information from cow monitoring collars shows Adam McManaway and Kirsten Daymond the changes in ruminations and activity of every cow in their 465-cow herd so they know the state of their health long before an issue is picked up by eye.

Whether it’s calving, cycling, lameness, mastitis or anything that interrupts their usual grazing pattern, it will affect rumination and activity which is revealed on the computer graphs, or in acute situations prompt a notification from the phone app.

The couple are 50:50 sharemilkers 15 minutes north of Murchison in the Top of the South and were a demonstration farm for the Allflex Livestock Intelligence collars for the first couple of years. It was a convincing experiment for them and when it finished a year ago, they invested in collars for the entire herd which was a big financial commitment for a couple who had just taken on their first sharemilking contract. . . 

Local lingo keeps Uruguay pair on toes – Yvonne O’Hara:

Central Otago farmers have their own way of speaking, which makes it interesting for Uruguayan students Lorena Andiarena (21) and Ana Goncalvez (24).

Ms Andiarena comes from Salto and usually works on her parents’ 350ha beef property while studying to be a veterinarian. ‘

‘I have been all my life in agriculture,” she said. Ms Goncalvez is from Tacuarembo and had been studying farm management


Summer Christmas

December 10, 2018

A few years ago we spent Christmas in Canada.

For the first time a lot of the traditions we’ve imported from the northern hemisphere made sense there in a way they don’t here.

Our family accepted long ago that we’re in the Southern Hemisphere and our Christmas celebrations reflect that – keeping them simple and summery.

Beef + Lamb NZ is doing it’s best to foster the spirit of a southern Christmas:


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