Rural round-up

June 17, 2018

Infected cattle bring opportunity for study – Sally Rae:

It will not be possible to control Mycoplasma bovis if an eradication attempt fails, given the present lack of understanding of the infection and the “gross inadequacy” of existing diagnostics, Emeritus Prof Frank Griffin says.

Otago-based Prof Griffin, whose career has focused on animal health research, described that as the “sad reality”.

He believed the Government’s decision to attempt eradication first was the correct one, even though it brought considerable public liability for taxpayer funding. . .

TB work will help fight M. Bovis:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis could be supported by the 25-year legacy of co-operation between OSPRI/TBfree and AgResearch in tracking and researching bovine tuberculosis.  Richard Rennie spoke to Dr Neil Wedlock, one of the country’s senior bTB researchers on what can be learned.

Collaboration between AgResearch scientists and disease control managers at OSPRI TBfree and its predecessor the Animal Health Board has led to important technical breakthroughs resulting in a drastic reduction in the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis in livestock.

Eradication of TB from the national herd by 2026 will be hailed as a disease control success story but there are some challenges to deal with before that happens. . . .

Trio share their travels through hills and valleys – Toni Williams:

You can’t go from mountain to the next mountain without going in the valley,” says farmer and author Doug Avery.

Mr Avery, along with Paul ”Pup” Chamberlain and Struan Duthie, was guest speaker at a Rural Support Mid Canterbury session at the Mt Somers Rugby Club rooms.

Rural Mid Cantabrians were encouraged to ”take a break” with the trio as they spoke of their life experiences – the ups and the downs.

From front-line policing during the 1981 Springbok tour, reaching rock bottom farming in drought-stricken Marlborough to cracking open emotions, they shared it all.

All three spoke of the importance of having a mentor, or a support network of people to help when times were tough. . .

Pure taste sours :

Meat companies have asked Beef + Lamb New Zealand not to launch the Taste Pure Nature origin brand in North America fearing it will confuse consumers and give competitors a free ride.

The Lamb Company, a partnership between the country’s three largest lamb exporters Alliance, Anzco and Silver Fern Farms, has spent 54 years jointly developing the North American market.

Its chairman Trevor Burt fears the origin brand will clash with its Spring Lamb brand. . .

Climate change discussion ‘direction of travel’ is positive – Feds:

The National Party’s five principles on which it will base emission reduction policies, including science-based and taking into account economic impact, are spot on, Federated Farmers says.

The Opposition’s support for a bi-partisan approach to establishing an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission was outlined by Leader Simon Bridges in a speech at Fieldays this morning.  National’s three other emission reduction criteria are technology driven, long-term incentives and global response.

“We’re delighted that the Coalition Government, and now National, have both signaled their recognition that there’s a good case for treating short-lived greenhouse gases (such as methane) and long-lived (carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) differently,” Katie says. . .

Different treatment of methane the right thing for global warming:

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) is pleased to see a differentiated approach, to treat methane differently to long-lived greenhouse gases, being given serious consideration in New Zealand’s climate change policy dialogue.

“Policy must be underpinned by robust science and be appropriate to the targeted outcome. If the outcome we want is climate stabilisation, then the science is telling us to treat long-lived gases differently to methane in policy frameworks” says DCANZ Executive Director Kimberly Crewther . . .

This generation of women not just farm wives anymore – Colleen Kottke:

For many generations, the heads of farm operations across America were likely to be men clad in overalls wearing a cap emblazoned with the logo of a local seed dealership or cooperative.

Back then, most women were viewed as homemakers who raised the children, kept the family fed and clothed, and were delegated as the indispensable “go-fer” who ran for spare parts, delivered meals out to the field and kept watch over sows during farrowing – all the while keeping hearth and home running efficiently

Although many of these duties were important to the success of the farm, they were often looked upon as secondary in nature. Today women are stepping into the forefront and playing more prominent roles on the farm and in careers in the agribusiness industry once dominated by their male counterparts. . .

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Rural round-up

June 11, 2018

Good farm practice plan launched – Richard Rennie:

A plan to put the entire primary sector on the same environmental page might set the scene for a wider industry plan encompassing greenhouse gas emissions, animal welfare, labour rights and sustainability.

A high-profile collective including DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, regional councils, Horticulture NZ and Irrigation NZ and the Environment and Primary Industries Ministries this week oversaw the launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan. . . 

Wiping out Mycoplasma bovis is a shot worth taking – Andrew McGiven:

So, it’s been nearly two weeks now since the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) announced the decision to continue to pursue Mycoplasma bovis eradication.

This decision was greeted with some relief by many farmers as it gave us all some clarity and reduced some of the Chinese whispers happening around the regions.

But there are plenty of farmers who are confused by this verdict and what the potential consequences may be for their businesses.

What I hope to provide here is some of the reasoning behind the decision that was reached and why it has been supported by all industry bodies and levy paying groups. . .

New Zealand gets it right – David Beggs:

NEW Zealand has just announced it will cull about 150,000 cows in order to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a disease that is hard to diagnose and which is well established in most of the world.

It’s not a nice disease to have on your farm. While there are no human health issues, Mycoplasma can cause a wide range of diseases and when it does, they don’t respond well to treatment. In a farm with no immunity, disease rates can be very high. There are major problems with production loss from mastitis, arthritis, pneumonia, abortion and more. Not to mention the stress caused to farm staff or the animal welfare implications of high disease levels. But our experience, and that overseas, shows that as time goes on, the herd builds up an immunity and disease levels become low in unstressed animals. . .

Nation figures the Fieldays wide influence beyond farms – Hugh Stringleman:

Thirty eight permanent staff members, up to 10 temporary workers including interns and 300 volunteers make the National Fieldays happen, National Fieldays Society chief executive Peter Nation says.

Most of the volunteers do shifts on all four days and have done so for many years, being very valued members of the Fieldays Family, he said.

On site this week will also be more than 100 emergency service personnel and employees of contractors like Allied Security.

Nation said more than 9000 people were inducted into health and safety, of which 2500 put themselves through the online induction. . .

Recommended by ‘I wouldn’t be drinking that water’: Poo dumping plagues Waikato – Katrina Tairua:

A Waikato farmer is worried truck drivers are dumping stock effluent on a road, next to a stream supplying drinking water to hundreds of people.

Others are also worried effluent discarded on roads could hinder efforts to stop Mycoplasma bovis from spreading in the region.

Marcel Hannon said he had, on multiple occasions, witnessed effluent being dumped on Waterworks Road, a rural route between Te Miro and Morrinsville. . .

Massive fund manager BlackRock reveals 5 per cent holding in a2 Milk:

One of the world’s biggest fund managers has emerged as a significant shareholder in a2 Milk with a 5.03 per cent stake.

In a notice to the NZX, New York-headquartered BlackRock said recent purchases had taken it from 4.99 per cent to over the 5 per cent threshold, thereby requiring it to declare its stake.

A2 Milk earlier this year become New Zealand’s largest listed company by market capitalisation after announcing another bumper profit and the formation of a joint venture with the world’s biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra. . .

Loro Piana: the world’s most majestic wool :

Noted for their soft wool coats, Merino sheep are everywhere in Australia and New Zealand, and they account for more than 50% of the world’s sheep population. The thing that sets Australian/Kiwi Merino apart from wool produced in northern climates is its superfine quality, however not all Merinos are superfine.

To qualify as superfine, the wool fibres need to be 19.5 microns or less – 
a micron being a thousandth of a millimetre (the average human hair is about 60 to 70 microns). In short, the smaller the fibre, the softer and
 more comfortable it is against the skin, hence the allure for luxury brands. While Australia is home to around 75 million sheep, only 18 million produce wool finer than 19 microns. In New Zealand, there are 32 million sheep, but only a modest 2.2 million of them yield fibre under 21 microns. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 8, 2018

Beef + Lamb New Zealand calls for tailored approach towards emissions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the government’s commitment to setting a new carbon target and considering accounting for the differing contributions of specific livestock emissions as consultation on proposed Zero Carbon legislation gets underway.

“With severe weather events like droughts and floods becoming more frequent, sheep and beef farmers feel the impacts of climate change first hand and are aware of the challenges climate change brings”, says B+LNZ CEO Sam McIvor. “We know that everyone has to do their bit to meet this challenge, and as a sector we’ve already reduced greenhouse gas emissions from livestock by 30 per cent since 1990.

“We’ve also set the target for our sector to be carbon neutral by 2050 as part of our new Environment Strategy and we’re progressing a range of actions to help build on the good work that farmers are already doing. . . 

Gas differences recognised in Zero Carbon consultation:

Federated Farmers is heartened that impacts on the economy, and the difference between short and long-lived greenhouse gases, are becoming more prominent topics in our discussions about global warming and climate change.

Some of the choices and challenges in front of New Zealand get an airing in the Ministry for the Environment’s consultation document on the Zero Carbon Bill, the Federation’s Climate Change spokesperson, Andrew Hoggard, says.

“It’s a positive that the ‘Our Climate, Your Say’ document, released today, recognises that methane from livestock is a recycling, not accumulating, greenhouse gas. Methane has a half-life of around 12 years, whereas carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. . . 

Economists concerned by risks of ‘M. bovis’ – Sally Rae:

Economic risks associated with Mycoplasma bovis are rising, economists say, and a beef farm in Ranfurly is one of the latest properties confirmed with the disease.

Last week, it was announced eradication would be attempted, at a cost of $886million, and entailing slaughter of a further 126,000 cattle.

In BNZ’s latest Rural Wrap, senior economist Doug Steel said there was much more to it than the initial impact on production from culling cows. . . 

Devold role continues a passion for wool – Sally Rae:

Craig Smith’s passion for wool never dims.

After about 28 years in the wool industry, Mr Smith remains a staunch advocate for the natural fibre, which he described as “the most amazing product in the world”.

This month, Mr Smith — previously business development manager at PGG Wrightson Wool — began a new job as general manager of Devold Wool Direct NZ Ltd.

Devold is a Norwegian-based high performance wool clothing brand which dates back to 1853, when its founder came up with the idea of knitting wool sweaters for fishermen. It celebrated its 165th anniversary last weekend. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand proposes levies increase to meet future challenges:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) today launched consultation on a proposal to increase sheepmeat and beef levies to accelerate investment in a range of key programmes.

B+LNZ is seeking farmers’ views on the plan to increase the sheepmeat levy by 10 cents to 70 cents per head and the beef levy by 80 cents to $5.20 per head.

If adopted, the rise would mean an average sheep and beef farm would pay an additional $260 per annum and an average dairy farm an extra $55 per annum. . . 

Arable Industry Honours Two of its Finest:

A leading advocate for biosecurity and a 30-year contributor to organisations that support growers were honoured at the Federated Farmers Arable Industry conference in Timaru yesterday.

Former Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) CEO Nick Pyke was presented with the Federated Farmers Arable Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award and North Canterbury farmer Syd Worsfold was named Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year in recognition of his contribution over the last three decades to the arable industry and stakeholder groups, Federated Farmers, FAR and United Wheatgrowers. . . 

Helping dairy farmers avoid FEI penalties with supplementary feed:

It’s three months away but New Zealand dairy farmers are already preparing for the impact of Fonterra’s new fat evaluation index (FEI) grading system, which comes into effect on September 1.

Fonterra established the FEI test to measure the fat composition in the cow’s milk it collects, to ensure it is suitable for manufacturing products that meet customer specifications.

The use of palm kernel expeller (PKE) as a supplementary feed has been identified as a key influencer on high FEI levels in dairy milk. A by-product of the palm oil extraction process from the fruit of the palm, PKE has become increasingly popular as a feed option in dairying, due to its relative low cost. However, high use of PKE can impact the fatty acid profile of milk, and has led to manufacturing challenges for Fonterra with certain products. . . 


Rural round-up

June 7, 2018

We can’t have any beef with the MfE on the matter of meatless days – can we? – Point of Order:

It might not be the facile question of the day but it deserves a place as a front-runner for the title.

It came from RNZ’s Guyon Espiner when interviewing Sam McIvor,chief executive of Beef and Lamb NZ.

The interview  (HERE, duration 4′ :37″0) was a reasonable followup to an idea which won headlines and air time for James Shaw, Minister for Climate Change.

New Zealanders should eat one less meat meal a week, he suggested. . . 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand welcomes launch of Good Farming Practice Action Plan

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed today’s launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan as providing a whole of sector approach that builds on the good work already being done by individual industries.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO Sam McIvor says that the launch of the Good Farming Practice Action plan is an exciting opportunity for New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

“This is the first time that farming and horticulture leaders, regional councils, and central government have come together and agreed to a set of good practice principles, and actions to implement those across the country”, Mr McIvor said. . .

Horticulture supports action plan for water quality:

With the communication tools available today, consumers are able to access information about the origin of their food and make buying decisions based on how food producers show responsible and sustainable farming practices, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“It is important for our fruit and vegetable growers to show they are using best practice when managing their properties and that they are offering healthy food,” Chapman says.

“So we support today’s launch of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan for Water Quality, on World Environment Day. . . 

More dairy farmers feeling financial pressure:

More farmers are feeling under financial pressure, and satisfaction with their banks has slipped, the May 2018 Federated Farmers’ Banking Survey shows.

The biannual survey drew 1,004 responses, more than double that of the last survey in November.  While results indicate the vast majority of farmers are still satisfied with their banks, those saying they were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ fell from 81% to 79% since November.

The fall was particularly pronounced for sharemilkers (68.5% satisfaction, down from 77%) although for them the drop was mainly driven by more of them having a neutral perception rather than being dissatisfied. . . 

Shearers moot 25% pay rise – Neal Wallace:

Shearers and woolhandlers look set to receive pay and entitlement increases of up to 25% this season as the industry tries to retain and recruit skilled labour.

The recommendation from the New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association is part of a three-year strategic plan focused on improving the association’s profile, lifting recruitment and retention rates, improving training opportunities and improving health and safety.

The industry has struggled to retain and recruit young people.

Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said the pay rise would also address the gap with Australia and help retain NZ wool harvesters. . . 

NZ orchards audited after biosecurity concerns :

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is seizing plant material from five apple and stone fruit nurseries across the country, as a precautionary measure against biosecurity risks.

The seizures some after an audit found incorrect record keeping at a US facility which is responsible for screening apple and stone fruit plant cuttings before they are imported.

MPI response manager John Brightwell said following the March audit, it put an immediate stop to imports and began tracing plants imported from Clean Plant Centre Northwest – Fruit Trees.

Mr Brightwell said about 55,000 plants had been traced and five affected nurseries and a small number of growers were told plant material will be seized from their properties. . . 

MPI’s seizure of fruit trees unlawful:

The New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated, which represents commercial plant producers, is challenging the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI)’s intention to use section 116 of the Biosecurity Act to seize fruit trees that have been caught up in the US quarantine issue.

MPI announced today that it would be seizing approximately 55,000 fruit trees from 4 nurseries around New Zealand. It follows an MPI audit in March which uncovered incomplete and incorrect record keeping at a US facility, which is responsible for screening apple and stone fruit plant cuttings before they are imported. . . 


Rebuilding trust

May 29, 2018

The government’s decisions to attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is an expensive one, but not eradicating it would be even more costly:

The Government says it has reached an agreement with farming sector leaders to attempt to eradicate the disease from New Zealand.

The cull, of around 126,000 in addition to the 26,000 already underway, will take place over one to two years.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said to not act would cost even more than what would be spent on trying to eradicate it – $886 million.

$1.3b over 10 years was the estimated cost of not acting.

“Today’s decision to eradicate is driven by the Government’s desire to protect the national herd from the disease and to protect the base of economy – the farming sector,” Ardern said.

“This is a tough call – no one ever wants to see mass culls. But the alternative is the spread of the disease across our national herd,” she said.

“I personally do not want to look back on this time … and say I wish we had tried harder.

“We have this one shot to eradicate, and we are taking it together.

“We want New Zealand to be free of it,” Ardern said.

The Government will meet 68% of the cost and Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand will meet 32%. . . 

Farmers have mixed views on the wisdom of this decision but it’s backed by DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb, Federated Farmers and the National Party.

Culling all the cattle will be devastating for farmers and sharemilkers but at least the government has committed to much faster action on compensation claims:

Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said:

. . “I’ve also asked MPI to revisit the compensation process and they’ve developed a new streamlined approach for those whose animals are culled to enable a substantial payment within a matter of days.

“Farmer welfare is crucial and I’d like to thank the Rural Support Trusts for the work they’re doing. With this decision we know more help is needed and the Government and industry groups are committed to helping farmers through this stressful time. . . 

No-one thinks eradicating the disease will be easy and as David Williams writes, another  difficult task will be rebuilding trust in MPI:

. . When the dust settles, and the debate about eradication – or not – is over, MPI needs to start listening. Listening to farmers, to vets, to business people. Because I think MPI’s biggest job is not getting rid of M. bovis, it’s regaining trust. . . 

(MPI admits compensation payments have been too slow. Biosecurity response director Geoff Gwyn told Newshub: “I lose sleep over the fact there are people out there suffering as a result of the actions we’re putting on, and I know it’s cold comfort for them, but they are taking a hit for the national herd.”)

It doesn’t stop there, however. Criticism of MPI is also happening in the supermarket aisles, over the bar in rural pubs and over farm fences. Most importantly, it’s happening at the dining table, shaping the attitudes of the next generation of farmers. Many are probably saying the same things as the infected farmers – but some are undoubtedly going further.

In South Canterbury, there’s talk that there have been signs of disease in some herds for years. Given what’s happened, some are asking why authorities were told at all.

Trouble ahead

That’s the biggest problem. A few people tell me the way MPI has handled this outbreak means, they think, some farmers won’t be inclined to report problems in the future. They don’t think MPI has their back. This is not to defend such behaviour, but to give the authorities a heads-up. If that attitude spreads like M. bovis has, there’s trouble ahead.

As with TB, farmers must be confident that if they report a problem it will be taken seriously, they will be treated fairly and compensated quickly.

Without that confidence, some farmers will be tempted to quietly shoot and bury infected stock.

Of course, in Roger Smith’s perfect world, everyone would do the right thing. But human nature – as proved by the failure of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) system – tells us that doesn’t always happen.

MPI can’t possibly put field officers in every farm, so it has to rely on farmers to report problems. But this mood of mistrust, born of M. bovis, creates a climate of fear and self-reliance rather than faith in the system. The country needs faith, however, and it’s up to MPI to restore it.

What we’ve seen in recent months, however, is farmers turning on farmers, as the secrecy over which farms are infected leads to suspicion and accusation, not just about who knew what but when they knew it. The slowness or non-existence of compensation payments is an added stress. Businesses are failing, people are struggling and MPI is coming across as detached and cold-hearted.

At a national level, Federated Farmers says its members have to lift their game, particularly when it comes to animal identification and tracing. (Northland’s branch is calling for a full, independent inquiry about MPI’s approach to biosecurity.) Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has instructed officials to take a tougher approach to compliance with the tracing system, NAIT. These conversations should have been had years ago.

Problems with NAIT – both the system itself and compliance – must be addressed and addressed quickly.

The tougher conversations are to be had face-to-face with farmers. Yes, there needs to be a better job of selling the benefits of NAIT – that’ll help uptake. But the crucial conversations will be farmers telling MPI what they need, how best to help them and how, when the next outbreak hits – because it will – the ministry can improve its response.

Of course, just because the farmers are talking, doesn’t mean that MPI will listen.

MPI has lost the confidence of farmers.

They didn’t appear to realise the human and financial cost to farmers whose businesses have been threatened and the importance of clear communication and speedy settling of compensation.

Eradicating M. bovis must be its primary focus but it must take seriously the criticisms aimed at it and ensure that its systems and staff training improve so it and they regain farmers’ trust and are ready and able to respond faster and better to the next biosecurity incursion.

MPI’s media release gives some hope that it has already learned from its mistakes.

We understand this will be painful for farmers who are affected, and we are committed to looking after those who have Mycoplasma bovis on their farms.

If you are a farmer and need support, help is available through your industry group representative, individual response case manager, or the Rural Support Trust.

• Rural Support Trust: 0800 78 72 54

• MPI: 0800 00 83 33

Industry representatives:

• Dairy NZ: 0800 43 24 79 69

• Beef + Lamb NZ: 0800 23 33 52

• Federated Farmers: 0800 32 76 46

We’re calling on rural communities to support each other, especially affected farmers and those that appear to be finding it hard. If you have any concerns about someone you know, contact the Rural Support Trust or other community support services.

Download the Looking after yourself fact sheet [PDF, 813 KB]

Compensation

Compensation is available for anyone who has verifiable losses as a result of directions they are given by MPI under the Biosecurity Act to manage Mycoplasma bovis.

Farmers that are directed to have animals culled or their farm operations restricted under movement controls will be eligible for compensation. In particular, farmers whose animals are being culled will receive an initial payment for the value of culled stock within 2 weeks of a completed claim being lodged.

Learn more about Biosecurity Act compensation

Mycoplasma bovis compensation claim form user guide [PDF, 446 KB]

MPI must now ensure its actions match its words, and to date, this from Keith Woodford, shows they haven’t:

There are going to be huge challenges for MPI. To date, they have not covered themselves in glory. All members of their response team will have been working hard within imposed limits, but the MPI system has let them down with too many layers of management and an inability to make timely operational decisions for each farm.

The most urgent issue right now relates to all of the NOD (suspect) farms in the South Island that have their cows and their feed in different locations. As just one example of many, there is a Mid Canterbury farmer I know of who is caught in the constipated bureaucracy and as of today still cannot get approval to shift his stock less than two kilometres to another farm he owns (and which he agrees will then also become a NOD farm).

These cows need to be moved and should have been progressively moved over recent weeks as they were dried-off, if they are to have feed to eat. This farm is not one of the infected properties, rather it is just one of the 300 NOD suspect properties.

We don’t know how many farms are in this situation of cows isolated from their winter feed, but almost certainly well over 100. This is not the ‘gypsy day’ situation but something quite different. And it is a big animal and human welfare issue.

There should be no hold-up over permission to move stock from one block to another owned by the same farmer who agrees to it becoming a NOD farm.

The Government appears to be underestimating the complexity of the compensation claims. The challenge is that claims have to be ‘verified’, but loss of income claims are always debatable. Claim settlements require agreements on what would have happened and by definition that is impossible to verify objectively.

An MPI source advises that any claim over $75,000 requires five separate signatures across various ministries from within the Wellington bureaucracy after the technical assessors have reached agreement. Given the future tsunami of claims, from both infected and suspect properties, and the reality that almost no claims have yet to be settled except in partial amounts, there will be a need for a separate and preferably independent Claims Assessment Commission. . . 

 

This map shows the extent of the known spread of the disease. It looks bad and it is.

But so far all cases can be traced back to a single source, all infections are the same strain and nothing has been traced back further than 2015. It is a lot of farms and a lot of cows and devastating personally and financially for those affected.

Eradication will require a huge effort by the farmers affected and MPI and big changes within the dairy industry and those who support and service it.

 


Rural round-up

May 15, 2018

Farmer urges quad rollover protection – Richard Davison:

Hillend farmer Douglas Jack says a $600 quad bike rollover bar saved his life last month, and wants to see more people follow his lead by installing one.

Mr Jack was putting up a break fence adjoining a field of swedes on his 400ha sheep and beef farm near Balclutha on April 5 when disaster nearly struck.

“I was on the quad bike on a wee slope, nothing dramatic, when my rear wheel hit a large swede and boompha, I was over,” he said.

Fortunately, after seeing his uncle saved by a raised deck board on his Bedford truck during a similar incident as a boy, Mr Jack had long been a believer in rollover protection on his quad. . . 

Soil health main focus of field day – Ella Stokes:

More than 200 people gathered at the Clinton Community Centre on Tuesday in a bid to learn about farming for the future.

The ”Regenerative Farming Field Day” was hosted by Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

It began with talks from researcher Dr Christine Jones and senior researcher at AgResearch New Zealand Dr David Stevens.

They both discussed regenerative farming ideas, minimising bare soil, plant growing, diverse forages and rotational grazing.

Dr Jones has a PhD in soil biochemistry and spoke on the fundamentals of soil. . . 

The right way to protect rare plants on private land –  Jamie McFadden:

To most people, wiggy-wig is an unappealing, non-descript shrub. But to those of us that know wiggy-wig, it is a New Zealand native biodiversity gem. This plant is commonly known as Muehlenbeckia astonii or shrubby tororaro and naturally occurs on the drier east from Wellington to Banks Peninsula.

Wiggy-wig made headlines last week when Forest & Bird claimed that a Banks Peninsula farmer had cleared 1000 of these rare plants. To be fair to the farmer it is the sort of scruffy shrub that you might set alight or spray and it wasn’t that long ago the Government paid farmers to clear this shrub.

The Hurunui district is home to remnant pockets of wiggy-wig. Fifteen years ago a Hurunui farmer approached me about an unusual shrub on his farm. I identified it as a very healthy population of wiggy-wig. I asked the farmer if I could collect seed so we could grow and re-establish more of these rare plants throughout the district. . . 

How to find the best bull for your operation :

The decision you make about which bull to buy this season will still affect your business in four cow generations’ time – that’s 15 years from today. So taking the time to research your bull purchase now yields an exceptional return.

Here are B+LNZ Genetics’ five steps to find the best bull for your operation.

1) What do you want to achieve on your farm?

Where are you right now in your cattle performance and where do you want to be? Use these questions to create your breeding objective or genetic plan. For instance, you might be happy with your 95% scanning, but keen to see heavier weaners.

2) How do you choose a breeder?

Once you’ve set clear objectives for your herd, identify a bull breeder with similar objectives. Ask the breeder for genetic trend graphs. The graphs should show a positive upward trend for the traits that impact on your goals. If not, look for another breeder. . . 

Q and A Lesley Wilson –  Andrew Ashton:

Following the end of a busy fruit-picking season, Hawke’s Bay Today reporter Andrew Ashton talks to project management and event management expert and current Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association president Lesley Wilson – the woman who led the Australian Access Action Group campaign that ended with the Government taking Australia all the way to the World Trade Organisation and gaining meaningful access for New Zealand apples into Australia.

What will be the key things for horticulture and ag-based businesses to come to grips with to be successful in the future?

Doing more with less is the key to providing food for the world’s ever increasing population. The recent wholesale acknowledgement that there are limited resources (land, water and people), is driving positive change in the efficient use of natural resources and the training and retention of our people. . .

Cattle industry looks to defend ‘meat’ label from lab-grown and plant-based products –  Marty McCarthy, Matt Brann:

The peak body for Australia’s cattle industry says it is considering calling for reforms to prevent lab-grown meat from being labelled “meat”.

Experts think a commercial industry to supply meat grown from stem cells in a laboratory is achievable within the next decade and there is also rising demand for plant-based meat alternatives.

France recently banned the use of the words “meat” and “dairy” on vegan and vegetarian food labels, while farm lobby groups in the United States are calling for cell-grown and plant-based replicas to be labelled as such.

Cattle Council of Australia chief executive, Margo Andrae, said her organisation did not want to see a repeat of the dairy industry’s battle over the term “milk” and “dairy” and was considering its own defensive options.


Rural round-up

May 7, 2018

The threat of irrational environmentalism – Dr Doug Edmeades:

I never thought it would end. Certainly I never thought that I might be alive to see the beginning of its end.

I am referring to the Enlightenment – the intellectual movement that began in the 17th century. It saw the end of Dark Ages and ushered in the Age of Reason. Mystical and religious certitude and bigotry gave way to reason based on objectively derived evidence.

Rather than praying to God for a good crop you adopted the latest technologies to ensure the crop did not fail. And if it did fail it was not seen as a consequence of your failure to appease God through prayer, but because you did not fully understand or fully implement the best knowledge and technology. If you prayed it was for more science, please. . . 

Economic development is about more than wishful thinking:

The Government risks serious damage to New Zealanders’ livelihoods by replacing the real productive economy with wishful thinking, National’s Economic Development Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“On TVNZ’s Q&A this morning, Economic Development Minister David Parker spoke of his wish to reduce the number of livestock in this country. He said horticulture, such as growing apricots, would be better for the environment.

“He said the problem was that it was too expensive to pick fruit in New Zealand. But, no worries, we’ll invest in robotics. Robots will pick the fruit and the economy will surge.

“This is wishful thinking on a grand scale and it fails on so many levels.

“Mr Parker also admitted that the Government hadn’t done an analysis of what the economic impact of his proposed shift away from current land use. . . 

Plan to keep scheme farmer owned – Sally Brooker:

Farming leader William Rolleston has come up with a plan to keep the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme fully farmer-owned.

The former Federated Farmers national president, who farms in South Canterbury, outlined his idea at the federation’s South Canterbury provincial annual  meeting in Waimate on Friday afternoon.

The irrigation scheme, which has resource consent to use water from the Waitaki River on land towards Timaru, has struggled to get landowners to buy enough shares to make it financially viable. Originally aimed at a 21,000ha command area, it was reduced to 12,000ha last year. . . 

 

Quacker of a start for duck shooting :

Duck-shooting season is off with a bang, with tens of thousands of people turning out across the country for the opening weekend.

The season officially started at 6am yesterday and runs through until August.

Fish and Game’s spokesperson Don Rood said hunters were on good behaviour and there were no reports of serious injury on day one.

“That’s all credit to our licence holders for doing the right thing. We’ve been pushing the education message with them. Safety is the very first priority before anything else – no duck is worth a shooting accident.”

In 2016, three people were accidentally shot at the beginning of the season. . . 

Alliance beefs up offering – Neal Wallace:

Alliance Group has launched premium branded beef under the label Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef.

To qualify each carcase, irrespective of breed, is individually selected and visually assessed. 

It must have a high marbling score, low Ph range and extended wet aging.

The launch follows three years of research and will be targeted at the New Zealand food service sector and overseas markets. . . 

Farmers back in driving seat – Lindy Nelson:

Time, creative thinking, resources to create change and information all support us to turn business threats into opportunities.

Leadership well-applied and executed is one of those resources that inspires and supports action to respond.

Applied leadership was exactly what was demonstrated at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s recent workshop on the red meat sector story where our sector’s origin brand story, go-to-market strategy and response to the threat of alternative proteins were unveiled.

It was inspiring on a number of fronts – what the leadership team of B+LNZ has achieved and who it had collaborated with, its in-depth understanding of customers and detailed analysis of the synthetic protein threat and the knowledge that place of origin acts as a shortcut to consumer understanding and trust in our products.

All of this provides a strategy for action alongside the release of the origin brand story. . . 

Whare’s new lease on life – Toni Williams:

A  little red corrugated-iron whare will roll smoothly behind a vintage tractor in the Greg Donaldson Contracting Ashburton Wheels Week Plus street parade this month.

The whare  will be taking its place among members of the Ashburton Vintage Machinery Club in the parade on the final day of the Wheels Week Plus  programme.

  The club has about 100 members, so expect to see a few vintage machines. The whare, which sits on a truck chassis, plays a big role in the life of Ashburton Vintage Machinery Club president John Hall. It holds warm memories and its walls are lined with memorabilia — newspaper clippings, places and events Mr Hall has visited. . . 

 


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