Rural round-up

22/02/2021

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

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

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

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

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

M. Boris review gets underway – Annette Scott:

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

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

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

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

A winning formula for good cows :

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

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

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

Dairy conversion Otaki style – Peter Burke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mental health: young farmer recalls decision to quit farming >

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

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

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

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

 


Rural round-up

04/02/2021

Pandemic’s silver lining – Anne Boswell:

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

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

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

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

Outlook for 2021 ‘bristling with risk’:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zespri secures labs for taste tests – Richard Rennie:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offal market lifts on pandemic demand – Shan Goodwin:

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

01/02/2021

B+LNZ awaiting CCC’s recommendations:

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

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

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

 

Building people capability on Lanercost:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Rates rise targets plantation forestry – Colin Williscroft:

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

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

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

Shedding sheep hot under hammer :

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

16/12/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1980s downturn recorded in book – Linda Clarke:

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

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

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

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

Strawberry prices squished as exports drop :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does resilience really mean? – Lorraine Gordon:

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

12/12/2020

Freshwater reforms may stifle farm profitability by 83% per year – report  :

Farm profitability across the Ashburton District is expected to decline 83 percent per year due to the government’s freshwater reforms, a new report states.

The changes are aimed at improving the quality of waterways and include new rules for winter grazing, nitrogen pollution and farm intensification.

The desktop report, requested by the council, notes dairy farming takes place on nearly a third of the district’s agricultural land and would be the hardest hit financially.

“The regulations will challenge existing farming systems with a number of established farm practices needing to change, and new technology and innovation adoption will be required.” . . 

‘We’ve been given a real wake up call’ – Alice Scott:

Will Halliday says he acts much the same as a farmer on a drafting gate when new proposals and ideas come across his desk.

“In terms of biosecurity and animal welfare, there is a lot to keep ahead of when it comes to New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry. The expectations of our trade partners are very high. For me it’s keeping an eye on the horizon and making sure the demands and regulations put forward are achievable in real world situations.”

Part of the “drafting” process involves consultation with the
B+LNZ farmer councils.

“Talking to our people on the ground that are actually out there doing it and discussing what will work and what won’t. . .

Sheep farming runs in the blood – Mary-Jo Tohill:

The Robertsons were not meant to continue sheep farming.

In 1998, the West Otago couple were advised to go dairying. It would be more lucrative. But it was the dual-purpose Romney all the way to the bank.

“The accountant thought we were crazy,” fourth generation sheep farmer Blair Robertson said.

“We sacked the accountant and got a new one.”

Borrowing to buy the family farm at Waikoikoi between Tapanui and Gore has meant huge debt servicing and it has been a tough grind for the past 20 years, but they are living their particular dream. . . 

A life’s work of plant breeding – Richard Rennie:

Ten years after the kiwifruit sector was all but wiped out by Psa, Te Puke plant breeder Russell Lowe takes some humble satisfaction knowing his work brought it back from the brink to become the country’s highest value horticultural crop.

Lowe has been part of Plant & Food’s kiwifruit breeding programme at Te Puke for 30-plus years and while just retired, he continues to keep a watching brief on how future breeding work is coming along.

Today’s world-leading kiwifruit breeding facility is a far cry from the wooden bungalow, maize crops and pile of orchard posts that greeted him and his wife when they arrived in the early 1970s. 

He had got the position after completing a major in chemistry at Canterbury and building an interest in horticulture while working in the Horotane Valley over the holidays. That had been followed by a stint at the then DSIR Research orchard in Appleby in the Tasman district as a horticultural technician. . . 

Proudly sponsoring Surfing for Farmers since 2018:

Our Kiwi farmers and growers leave everything they have on the field, they give their all to support New Zealand’s economy and ensure we have access to the very best food and beverage. However, this does take a toll on their wellbeing and mental health. Helping farmers and growers take care of their mental health is as important to Ballance Agri-Nutrients as the health and safety of our own team, that’s why we are a founding partner of the Surfing for Farmers programme.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of New Zealand farmers is an important topic,” says Jason Minkhorst, GM Sales, Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

“When you consider all the factors that farmers deal with on a daily bases such as working remotely, animal welfare, financial pressure, consumer demands, media and lobby group commentary, long hours and weather events like drought, it is easy to understand why mental health is an issue in rural New Zealand. . . 

Network 10 signs Rabobank to help Farm to Fork cooking show

Agribusiness lender Rabobank is partnering with Network 10’s television cooking show Farm to Fork.

The bank – a global specialist in food and agribusiness and one of the leading providers of Australia agricultural financial services – has joined with Network 10 and Farm to Fork’s producers Dual Entertainment as a partner in season two of the television program.

The show, which airs nationally on weekday afternoons, aims to help inform Australians how to eat and live well.

The program aims to inspire viewers to not only cook at home but also have a better appreciation of where and how their food is grown. . . 


Rural round-up

07/12/2020

Real meat is green – Viv Forbes:

Wandering recently through an arcade popular with the green smoothie set, I saw a sign boasting: “Plant Based Meat”.

Someone should advise those nutritional dunderheads that all real meat is plant-based. Real beef and lamb are built from live plants like grasses, lucerne and mulga, plus salt, minerals and clay; the best chicken is built mostly on seeds and shoots of wheat, corn and grasses plus a few worms, insects and gizzard-grit; and when I was a kid our bacon was built by porkers from pollard, whey and vegetable scraps.

Cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, deer, bison, rabbits, turkeys and kangaroos have a long history of providing meat for our ancestral hunters and farmers. In tough times the gatherers and gardeners collected and cultivated survival foods like wild onions, seasonal fruit, cabbages, tubers and grass seeds. But there was always a celebratory feast when the hunters returned with high-nutrition meat. . . 

Meat sector’s five-year targeted plan – Neal Wallace:

The meat sector has outlined four goals for the next five years, which it says will target the sustainable growth of value and enhance people, animals and the environment.

The heart of the strategy, set by Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA), is to generate sustainable profits, premium value, vibrant communities and to be trusted guardians. 

Sustainable profits will come from greater innovation, performance and productivity; premium value from creating and capturing value; vibrant communities from economic growth and employment; and trusted guardianship from being guardians of reputation, animals, water and land.

The latest strategy follows the Red Meat Sector Strategy from 2011 and establishes the priorities B+LNZ and the MIA will work on with industry partners over the next five years. . . 

Contribution to wellbeing recognised – Mark Daniel:

Farmstrong is tipping its hat to the farmers and growers of New Zealand who have contributed to it winning two awards at the recent 2020 New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards.

Farmstrong took out the sector leadership and overall honours with the Supreme Award. The judges highlighted that Farmstrong’s intense focus on the mental health of the rural community…”with a programme that seeks to engage with farmers in a relatable and authentic way, which a generation ago would have seemed unlikely”.

“Everyday farmers and growers have driven this programme by sharing their personal wellbeing stories and, with it, giving other farmers and growers the permission, confidence and practical ideas on how they can invest in their own wellbeing,” says Farmstrong project manager Gerard Vaughan. . . 

Big toys for old boys – Tom Hunter:

Attentive readers of this blog – especially our TDS-infused Lefties – will have noticed that I haven’t been posting as much as normal, even as an important US election has been playing out.

There’s a simple reason for this, and it’s based on something I spotted some months ago via our linked blog, Home Paddock.

With the border closures in early 2020 every agricultural contractor found themselves in trouble because they had come to rely upon a flow of young English and Irish guys who knew how to drive combine harvesters, side-dressers, planters and the rest of the complex, computerised machinery that is the basis of modern farming. Think of them as the harvesting version of snow bums who follow Winter around the world’s skifields.

As a result of this, contractors have been forced to call on guys like me; old bastards who last drove tractors decades ago. But the call had gone out, so in the manner of the Soviet call for all hands on deck in 1941, I decided to give it a crack. . . 

Fonterra forks out for Christmas – Hugh Stringleman:

The 20c increase in advance payments will deliver $300 million more into farmers’ bank accounts, more than half of it before Christmas.

The new range is $6.70 to $7.30 and the midpoint has risen from $6.80 to $7.

When back-paid, the 20c increase in advance payments will deliver $300 million more into farmers’ bank accounts, more than half of it before Christmas.

The widely anticipated upgrade for the milk price accompanied its first quarter trading results, including a 40% increase in normalised earnings compared with the previous corresponding period. . .

Brexit is a betrayal of Britain’s farms – James Rebanks:

I think George Eustice, the PR man turned Secretary of State for the Environment, was still telling homely stories about his Cornish farming grandfather when my mobile phone starting ringing. I was moving my flock of sheep down a lane with my sheepdogs and had planned to catch up with the news when I got back to the farmhouse. I looked at the missed calls then stuffed the phone back in my pocket.

Lots of people, including journalists and friends, were calling to ask what I made of the new agricultural policies announced by Mr Eustice. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised: I wrote a book called English Pastoral about how farming and nature in this country got into this mess, so people expect me to have some kind of intelligent opinion on what is happening and whether it is good or bad. And so, having read the documents and listened to Mr Eustice, here is mine.

Our agricultural policies are going to change — hugely — from what they have been under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). And since the tragic decline of biodiversity on British farmland happened under that policy, this is overall a welcome development. . .


Rural round-up

06/12/2020

B+LNZ has ‘farmers’ backs’ over new rules:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says it has “farmers’ backs” and will not stop advocating for them over the controversial freshwater rules.

In an update to farmers, chief executive Sam McIvor said the organisation had met Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker in the past couple of weeks and it would seek meetings with Climate Change Minister James Shaw and newly appointed Forestry Minister Stuart Nash.

“Our focus has been on changes to the essential freshwater rules, making progress on the certified freshwater farm plan, holding them to their promises on issues like carbon farming and asking for a pause on new environmental rules. We’re also collaborating with other industry groups on these issues,” Mr McIvor said.

Farmers had identified three key issues with the freshwater rules, including arbitrary resowing dates for winter grazing on forage crops which many farmers were not able to meet because of climatic and soil conditions. . .

Fruit growers ‘doing their best’ to hire suitable NZ workers – Tess Brunton:

Central Otago fruit growers are rubbishing claims they’re turning down New Zealanders for local fruit picking work as they would prefer cheap foreign labour.

It follows union concerns that plenty of people are applying for jobs, but are waiting weeks for replies if they get them at all.

Orchard owners have been calling for the government to allow in more seasonal workers from Pacific countries to help with the summer fruit harvest.

Stephen Darling runs Darlings Fruit in Ettrick, Central Otago, growing mainly apples and apricots. . .

New chair of Safer Farms and two new directors announced:

Safer Farms has welcomed three new Directors to its Board, including Lindy Nelson who has also been announced as the organisation’s new Chair.

The Agri Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) co-founder has taken over from Justine Kidd, who has chaired Safer Farms’ since its formation in 2017 and will remain on the Board.

Federated Farmers’ Vice President Karen Williams and Zanda MacDonald Award Winner Jack Raharuhi were named as the new Directors at the organisation’s AGM.

Kidd said the high calibre and large number of applicants for the positions were a true testament to the passion the industry has for its people. . . 

GO NZ: Waitaki Valley girls’ weekend – hiking high country wine region – Anna King Sahib:

Getting high in the Waitaki back country, hot-tubbing and gin – all the ingredients for a great girls’ away weekend, writes Anna King Shahab

A couple of days in the Waitaki Valley, inland from Ōamaru provided the chance to follow the footsteps of those who farm our food, and to taste the fruits of the country’s youngest wine region.

Our girls’ weekend away had been built around a simple, wholesome concept: a walk on the farm. We’d booked in with new guided walk operator Sole to Soul Hiking – the passion project of Sally Newlands Juliet Gray, best friends making a living on neighboring farms in the Hakataramea Valley, a 50-minute drive inland from Ōamaru. The impetus of Sally and Juliet’s business is to share the numerous benefits they experience daily when walking the high country they farm – a workout, yes, and also a connection with the land and environment, an awareness of where and how our food is raised, and a chance to practise mindfulness. . . 

Silver Fern Farms celebrates Plate to Pasture Award winners:

Coromandel beef producers Brent and Kara Lilley have received the Silver Fern Farms 2020 Plate to Pasture Award for their exceptional consumer focus.

The Awards, now in their 7th year, celebrate suppliers of lamb, beef, venison, and bull beef who consistently supply quality stock and produce food with the consumer front of mind.

All Silver Fern Farms suppliers are assessed on the specification & presentation of stock, their Farm Assurance status, supply direct via Silver Fern Farms Livestock agents, Shareholding, Supply volume & timing and use of FarmIQ tools. . .

A dairy solution to Australia’s out of control feral camels – Denise Cullen:

Australia has the biggest feral camel population in the world, but one farmer is working to change public perception of this ‘pest’.

Ten years ago, Australian cattle grazier Paul Martin decided that he couldn’t stand to see another camel shot.

In the 1800s, camels were shipped to Australia from the Middle East, India and Afghanistan to help open up the country’s vast remote interior. They were later released into the Australian wilderness en masse with the advent of mechanised transportation.

With their energy-storing humps, broad toes that support their weight on sand and ability to eat 85 percent of even tough and thorny vegetation, they were perfectly suited to the dry, desert conditions which make up more than one-third of the continent.  . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

05/12/2020

Government’s climate change emergency declaration: Government must shift its attention from offsetting emissions to reducing emissions from fossil fuel use:

With the New Zealand Government declaring a climate change emergency, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has renewed its call for the Government to put in place tangible measures that will lead to real reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use and limit the amount of pollution that can be offset through carbon farming.

“The science tells us that carbon dioxide emissions need to decrease significantly if the global community is to meet the temperature goals set in the Paris Agreement, yet carbon dioxide emissions have increased by nearly 40 per cent in New Zealand since the 1990s,” says Dylan Muggeridge, Environment Policy Manager at B+LNZ.

“The changes made to the emissions trading legislation earlier this year provide huge incentives for fossil fuel emitters to offset their emissions through large-scale planting of exotic trees, rather than incentives to change behaviour, reduce emissions and decarbonise the economy. . .

Regenerative agriculture is not redundant but can be misguided – Keith Woodford:

Arguments about regenerative agriculture illustrate the challenges of creating informed debate. More generally, democracies depend on voters understanding complex issues

The overarching title to this article, that regenerative agriculture is not redundant but can be misguided, contrasts with a recent Newshub article stating that “regenerative agriculture is a largely redundant concept for New Zealand” and hence “largely superfluous”.

According to the title of the Newshub article, “NZ farmers adopted regenerative agriculture years ago”. The supposed source of these claims was a retired university professor called Keith Woodford. That’s me!

The problem is that I don’t believe I have ever used the words ‘redundant’ or ‘superfluous’ in relation to regenerative agriculture. What I do say is that it has to be science-led and not simplistic dogma. Unfortunately, in many cases the dogma is not consistent with the science. . . .

Fonterra provides update on its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range and first quarter performance:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today narrowed its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range, reported a solid start to the 2021 financial year and reconfirmed its forecast earnings guidance. 

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says as a result of strong demand for New Zealand dairy, the Co-op has narrowed and lifted the bottom end of the forecast Farmgate Milk Price range from NZD $6.30 – $7.30 per kgMS to NZD $6.70 – $7.30 per kgMS.

“This means the midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, has increased to NZD $7.00 per kgMS.

“China is continuing to recover well from COVID-19 and this is reflected in recent Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auctions with strong demand from Chinese buyers, especially for Whole Milk Powder, which is a key driver of the milk price. . . 

CEO begins six-month notice period after giving intention to leave:

Greg Campbell, Chief Executive of Ravensdown has notified the Board that he will be leaving the role and has started his six-month notice period. This gives the Board time to search for a suitable replacement for Greg who has been CEO of the farmer-owned co-operative for eight years.

Greg explained that the time felt right to move on, but there was no specific role lined up. “I’m a director on several boards and that seems enough at this point. I’ve been a CEO for different organisations now continuously for over two decades so it will be good to pause, take stock and see what life holds in store.”

His pride in the Ravensdown team and all it has accomplished – especially coming through for the country as an essential service during Covid-19 – is undimmed. . . .

Silver Fern Farms helps Kiwis share the love with family and friends in the US this Christmas:

Silver Fern Farms is making it easy for Kiwis to share a taste of New Zealand with their US friends and family this Christmas. By ordering from its newly-launched US website us.silverfernfarms.com, Kiwis can still send Silver Fern Farms’ premium quality, grass-fed New Zealand lamb, beef and venison direct to the doorsteps of their US-based loved ones in time for Christmas dinner.

Silver Fern Farms’ Group Marketing Manager, Nicola Johnston says thanks to the company’s US distribution centres, it’s a perfect option for people who’ve missed postal cut-off dates to the US, but want to send something special and memorable to Americans looking at a Christmas with restrictions on gatherings.

“Kiwis with friends and family over in the US are feeling farther away than ever this Christmas. We know that connecting over delicious food is a special part of the holidays, no matter what hemisphere you’re celebrating in, and while we can’t all get together just yet, we can help Kiwis share the love through a care package of Silver Fern Farms’ finest New Zealand pasture-raised red meat products.” . . 

Hannah – Hannah Marriott:

See the good in what you do and what you can contribute to society.

In January 2013, Hannah Marriott hit “send” on her Nuffield Australia report on individual animal management in commercial sheep production. Her report outlined the findings from her one-year scholarship, which took her to New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Kenya to complete her studies into using objective measurement to optimise production through to product.

Agriculture has always been a passion for Hannah, who through her Nuffield Scholarship, uncovered more about how objective measurement could deliver production benefits to commercial sheep producers.

As a second-generation sheep producer, Hannah grew up on her family’s property near Benalla in Victoria. . . 


Rural round-up

30/11/2020

The role of red meat in healthy & sustainable New Zealand diets :

For the last 25 years, the Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s health and nutrition portfolio has been underpinned by a strong scientific evidence base which continues to evolve through the release of a new report, titled The Role of Red Meat in Healthy and Sustainable New Zealand Diets.

The report pulls together the breadth of information of a complex topic, which we hope will help inform the many discussions around feeding a growing population well. The report includes the human evolution of eating meat, red meat’s nutritional contribution to the diet of New Zealanders, it’s role in health and disease and where New Zealand beef and lamb production, and consumption fits within our food system and ecosystem. The farming practices of our beef and sheep sector is profiled capturing all facets that reflects our pasture-raised systems here in New Zealand.

Compiling the report required a range of expertise from across New Zealand, which has cumulated in a piece of work that navigates through the scientific evidence of the ever-evolving areas of nutrition and environmental sustainability, and the interfaces which brings them together – sustainable nutrition and food systems. . . 

B+LNZ’s Rob Davison wins Outstanding Contribution Award:

Long-serving Beef + Lamb New Zealand economist Rob Davison won the Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand’s Primary Industries Award at this year’s Primary Industries Summit.

This prestigious award recognises a New Zealand-based individual, within the primary sector, who has been considered a leader in their field of work for 20 years or more.

In selecting the recipient for this prestigious award, the judges were looking for long-standing commitment to the New Zealand primary sector, passion for the sector and its future and actions or initiatives that go beyond their day job and benefit the industry, the community and country.

In his forty-plus years with Beef + Lamb New Zealand (and the organisation’s previous incarnations), Rob has done all of this and more. He is highly respected by farmers, the wider industry and his work colleagues within B+LNZ.  This was recognised by him being awarded an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List. . . 

Fruit-picking worries remain as growers lament dearth of Kiwi labour – Tom Kitchin:

Growers say fruit may still be left to rot, despite the government promising 2000 seasonal workers from the Pacific can come through the border to help with the harvest.

They claim thousands of workers are still needed and New Zealand employees are hard to come by.

The employers will have to pay isolation and hourly work rates while the seasonal workers are locked down for two weeks in hotels.

Bostock New Zealand’s John Bostock, from Hawke’s Bay, said this was not about cost saving, but Kiwis willing to do the work were difficult to recruit. . . 

 

Eastpack adds robots to packing lines as part of $155m investment – Carmen Hall:

Robots will pack kiwifruit at Eastpack this season as part of a 12-month, $35 million investment plan across its business.

The company has commissioned an automation conversion on its largest 14 lane kiwifruit grader with three massive robots and a number of automated packing machines.

But expense could stand in the way of new technologies replacing thousands of seasonal workers despite an ongoing labour shortage. However other packhouse evolutions had become game changers as the industry continues to boom.

Chief executive Hamish Simson said in the last five years the company had pumped more than $155m into increased storage capacity at its sites and innovation including automation technology. . . 

Moving to Mangawhai to experience the miracle of lambing – Chrissie Fernyhough:

From 10,000 acres at Castle Hill Station in the Canterbury high country to 25 acres on the clay soils at Hakaru in Northland has proven a big reach.

Hakaru is an old settlement on the east coast, midway between Mangawhai and Kaiwaka, an hour and a half north of Auckland. The property lies beautifully to the north and looks down into a green valley where the Hakaru River flows in the shade of old tōtara trees.

To the north, I have what I love in a view – the near and the far: paddocks, pine shelterbelts, the odd house lit up at night and, in the distance, the bush-covered
Brynderwyns – a range extending from Bream Bay in the east to the upper branches of the Kaipara Harbour to the west. . . 

Thankful for resilience in life and agriculture – Tsosie Lewis:

It has been a hard year: COVID-19, lockdowns, urban riots, a contentious US national election, and even murder hornets.

So as we approach Thanksgiving, I am focused on making extra time to think about the good things in our lives.

One of them is resilience.

This idea occurred to me the other day when I was standing in line at the grocery store, here in New Mexico. The guy ahead of me at the checkout was about my age. He made a comment that I’m starting to hear more and more. . . 


Rural round-up

27/11/2020

Farmgate prices for red meat set to fall – Sudesh Kissun:

Red meat farmers are being warned to brace themselves for a dip in market returns.

A new report from Rabobank says reduced global demand for higher-value beef and lamb cuts in the year ahead will see New Zealand farmgate prices for beef and sheepmeat drop from the record highs experienced over recent seasons.

In the bank’s flagship annual outlook for the meat sector, Global Animal Proteins Outlook 2021: Emerging from a world of uncertainty, Rabobank says a slow and uneven recovery in the international foodservice sector, combined with weak global economic conditions, will reduce demand for higher-value New Zealand red meat cuts such as prime beef and lamb racks. . . 

NZ venison ‘facing perfect storm’ – Annette Scott:

Despite currently facing the perfect storm, the deer industry is confident New Zealand farm-raised venison has a long-term future.

With the covid-19 resurgence disrupting key venison markets across Europe and the US, NZ venison processors and marketers are making major efforts to again find new outlets for farm-raised venison cuts.

Many countries and regions have reimposed hospitality lockdowns, meaning expensive cuts such as venison striploins are sitting in freezers in Europe and the US waiting for restaurants to re-open.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says the current situation is a challenge with the bulk of NZ venison sold to the US and Germany destined for the food service. . . 

 

Challenges ahead but opportunities abound – Colin Williscroft:

Melissa Clark-Reynolds is stepping down from her role as independent director at Beef + Lamb NZ at the end of the year but she is excited about the future of the primary sector. Colin Williscroft reports.

In-market strategies used to market and distribute New Zealand-produced food will need to be increasingly agile during the next few years, Melissa Clark-Reynolds says.

With food service overseas under pressure due to lockdowns, the emphasis has gone back on retail sales and she predicts traditional markets will be disrupted until at least 2022.

However, the current importance of retail avenues does not mean outlets such as supermarkets are going to have it all their way, with direct-to-consumer products gaining an increasingly strong foothold. . . 

Shearing company scoops business award

Higgins Shearing, Marlborough, was named the Supreme Award winner at the NZI Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) Business Awards last night.

The company was one of seven category award winners announced at the Public Trust Hall in Wellington.

“We strive to break through the status quo of the shearing industry,” owner Sarah Higgins said.

Higgins said that her inspiration comes from passion for the job. . . 

Family lavender farm flourishing – Mary-Jo Tohill:

When there’s a will there’s a way.

That would just about sum up things for the Zeestraten family when they first came to a bare paddock in Wanaka about eight years ago, and began to establish their 12ha Wanaka Lavender Farm.

With the lavender beginning to bloom for a new season, co-owner Tim Zeestraten (37) recalls a journey that began 25 years ago when the family moved from Holland.

“My opa (grandfather) was a tomato grower, which my dad, Jan Zeestraten took over. I was probably — actually most definitely — going to be next in line to continue the family tomato farm, which I was very excited about at the young age of 10. . . 

New England Peonies enjoy bumper peony season on the Northern Tablelands – Billy Jupp:

THEY are one of the most highly sought-after features of Australia’s spring wedding season and are often the centrepiece of a couple’s special day.

Despite COVID-19 forcing many people to postpone their nuptials, 2020 still proved to be a stellar year for peonies.

The colourful, full-bodied flower was still in high demand and the chilly winter conditions on the state’s Northern Tablelands proved to be the perfect breeding ground.

New England Peonies owner Barry Philp said this season was one of the best in his family’s 20 years of growing peonies on their Arding property, near Armidale. . . 


Rural round-up

19/11/2020

RCEP good for New Zealand:

New Zealand’s benefits from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are wider than just tariff relief, says ExportNZ.

ExportNZ Executive Director Catherine Beard has welcomed the signing of the RCEP trade deal which formalises New Zealand’s trading terms with 14 Asia-Pacific countries.

“Having nearly a third of the world signed up to better trading rules is a great achievement,” Catherine Beard says.

“It will make exporting within the RCEP bloc, easier, faster and more profitable. . . 

Ahead of the game – Tony Benny:

Embracing technology to get an accurate picture of soil moisture in the variable soils on his two farms has allowed Canterbury dairy farmer Peter Schouten to maximise production at the same time as minimising his environmental footprint.

Schouten milks about 2200 cows on the two farms near West Eyreton, North Canterbury, relying on irrigation to grow pasture and crop to feed them.

“We were a little bit ahead of the game installing moisture metering because we saw some potential benefits in having that for ourselves.” he says. . . 

Love what you do, do it with love – Cheyenne Nicholson:

As Mark Twain said, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is particularly true for a Matamata dairy farmer whose life may be hectic, but says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ask anyone who knows Catherine Newland and they’ll tell you the same thing, she loves being busy. With several different caps to switch between, and another being added to the mix in November with the arrival of her first child, Catherine says the key to juggling it all is making sure you’re doing things you enjoy.

“A lot of people would call what I do work. I don’t think of it like that. On the weekends when I’m out with my husband Rhys doing farm jobs it’s not work, it’s just us out there getting things done and enjoying ourselves. It won’t feel like a juggle if you’re enjoying what you’re doing,” she says. . .

It’s time for Fonterra to define the new path ahead – Keith Woodford:

Fonterra has spent nearly three years stabilising its finances. The focus now has to be on finding the path ahead

It is now approaching three years since Theo Spierings’ departure from Fonterra was announced. The focus ever since has been getting Fonterra back into a stable financial situation.  When Spierings left, Fonterra was in big trouble with lots of stranded and unprofitable assets.

That stabilisation process will essentially be completed over the next 12 months. In what direction does Fonterra then head? . . 

Beef + Lamb Genetics launches beef programme:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics is launching a future-focused beef programme designed to generate more income for beef producers and the economy while protecting the environment.

Dan Brier, B+LNZ Genetic’s General Manager, says modelling has shown that through this programme, farmers can increase the beef industry’s income by $460 million while improving the environmental and social outcomes for their farms and communities.

The programme, which builds on previous work by B+LNZ Genetics such as the Beef Progeny Test, is the industry’s response to increasing demand for high quality food produced with a lower environmental footprint. . . 

Beef + Lamb NZ proud to partner with Peter Gordon’s Homeland:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand are delighted to announce a partnership with Homeland – world-renowned chef Peter Gordon and his partner Alastair Carruthers’ new venture.

Best described as a food embassy, Homeland is a dining room, film studio, cooking school, food innovation hub and community space; with the goal of connecting food and people – and boosting trade.

Peter Gordon, who returned full time to New Zealand after spending 30 years in the UK, said he was grateful that the focus of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s support was on the community work.

“Central to Homeland’s mission is its work with communities. By embracing the many cultures that call Aotearoa home, we can learn and grow from its diversity and share that unique food knowledge with others. Beef + Lamb New Zealand saw that vision and we are thrilled their support can help Homeland in our ambitious community work.” . . 


Rural round-up

10/11/2020

RSE worker shortage ahead of cherry harvest – Neal Wallace:

The new season cherry harvest begins in Marlborough in three weeks and growers are still none the wiser whether they will have sufficient pickers.

Labour prospects are even more clouded when the main summerfruit picking season starts in January, requiring 7000 people at its peak.

The costs of leaving fruit on the trees is substantial, warns Summerfruit NZ chief executive Richard Palmer.

Harvesting of the country’s main export cherry crop in Central Otago starts in mid-December and he says if 30% is left unharvested that represents a loss of more than $20 million in export revenue. . . 

Fields of courgettes go to waste because growers can’t get workers – David Fisher:

Brett Heap is surrounded by food gone to waste – rows of courgettes he couldn’t get picked because his expert and specialised workforce can’t get into the country.

His story is a peek behind the curtains of a looming disaster everyone saw coming and – it appears – no one knows how to solve.

New Zealand is heading into peak harvest season and there aren’t enough workers to get fruit off trees or vegetables from the ground.

“This could be my last crop,” says Heap, who grows courgettes near Waipapa in Northland. “I’m at the point where I’m not going through it again. . . 

Why this nutritionist says we should eat more red meat :

Independent nutritionist Mikki Williden says Kiwis shouldn’t be afraid of eating red meat.

Recently the Heart Foundation suggested people should consume less than 350g of unprocessed red meat a week to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

This amount was “super low”, Williden told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“It would be a rare case where I would encourage people to have less than 160 grams cooked which might equate to about 200 grams raw – and then across the course of the week – that is well in excess of what the Heart Foundation is recommending.” . . 

 

Beef + Lamb NZ announces 2021 Ambassador Chefs and new ‘Young Chef’ award:

For twenty-five years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand has been shaping the careers of chefs around the country. Each year the Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chef programme selects those who are creating and serving incredible beef and lamb dishes in their restaurants. These chefs drive innovation and creativity within the foodservice sector.

With the challenges that Covid-19 has brought this year, Beef + Lamb New Zealand will be carrying over their four current Ambassador Chefs – Tejas Nikam, Paddock to Plate Waikato; Phil Clark, Phil’s Kitchen; Jack Crosti, Mela and Norka Mella Munoz, Mangapapa Hotel into 2021.

In addition to this, and to celebrate 25 years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand are offering a one-off opportunity for a young emerging chef to be named as the Beef + Lamb Young Ambassador Chef 2021. . . 

The secret – shear determination – David Hill:

Peter Casserly has hung up his blades after adding his name to another world record.

The 72-year-old master blade shearer came out of retirement earlier this year to compete in the 60th Golden Shears in Masterton, before being invited to shear a special sheep at the Poverty Bay A&P Show last month for charity. And it was the charity aspect that appealed to him.

“I don’t think you ever retire, it’s like riding a bike. Somebody’s always got a pet to shear or a couple of sheep on their lifestyle block to be shorn. You just fade away in the finish,” Mr Casserly said.

“At the end of the day the anxiety and the tension of it all is getting too much. . . 

LIC enabling agricultural improvements in Ethiopia:

LIC is enabling agricultural improvements in a country more renowned for coffee than cows with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ethiopia has around 60 million cattle, one of the largest bovine populations in Africa. Its combined herd produces about 90% of the country’s milk with additional supply coming from camels, goats and sheep. With a population of more than 110 million people, Ethiopia has a growing demand for animal products including dairy, meat and hides but this is currently limited by a lack of decision making tools and the ability to provide insights from the livestock sector.

The collaborative initiative, Project aLIVE (A Livestock Information Vision for Ethiopia), is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and aims to provide timely insights intended to increase production on farms in Ethiopia and decision making at a government level. . .

The food standards debate has shown this Government must be closely watched – Joe Stanley:

The food standards debate has shown this Government must be closely watched if we are to protect our farming industry, says Leicestershire arable and beef farmer Joe Stanley.

So, in the end, Government blinked.

It wasn’t a very big blink, it must be said. Blink, indeed, and you might have missed it.

But, nevertheless, at the eleventh hour (plus fifty-nine minutes and fifty nine seconds), Ministers finally conceded – mere days before the final Commons vote on the Agriculture Bill – to placing the Trade and Agriculture Committee (TAC) on a statutory footing, giving it a formal role in advising Parliament on every future trade deal and its repercussions for British food and farming. . . 


Rural round-up

08/11/2020

Clarity on rules wanted – Yvonne O’Hara:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand continues to seek clarity from the Government on the new Essential Freshwater rules, including requirements concerning low slope maps for stock exclusion, winter grazing regulations and farm plans,chief executive Sam McIvor says.

BLNZ had extensive consultation with about 4500 farmers across the country during the submission process and got a “good measure” of farmers’ views and concerns.

“We did get some positive changes made, particularly around restrictions on land use changes for sheep and beef farms.”

However, there are still three key issues with the rules. . .

Award winner takes value from farm tour – David Hill:

Winning the Zanda McDonald would have been beyond Jack Raharuhi’s wildest dreams when he left school.

“I left school at a very young age and chose the wrong pathway in life — drugs and cars. So my dad put me on one of his friend’s farms for a few months and I absolutely hated it.”

But after a while, Mr Raharuhi found “riding around on a farm bike” wasn’t so bad, so he put his head down, studied hard and worked his way up.

The 27-year-old dairy farm manager for Pamu (formerly Landcorp) recently enjoyed a farm tour around New Zealand last month after winning the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award. . . 

The winds of change :

When New Yorkers Anders and Emily Crofoot took over Castlepoint Station on the eastern Wairarapa coast in 1998 they had to make some big adjustments, quickly.

Gone were the freezing winters and reliable summer rains – replaced with year-round growth, frequent summer droughts and relentless wind.

The Crofoots quickly discovered that looking after their farm’s soil required a shift from traditional thinking and practice.

Two attempts at sowing pasture in a conventionally cultivated paddock—and two spring gales that blew about a third of the seed straight out to sea each time—convinced them that there had to be a better way to establish pasture in this climate. . . 

Zespri weighs up partnership with Chinese kiwifruit growers – Susan Murray:

Zespri is considering co-operation with Chinese kiwifruit growers who are illegally growing New Zealand’s gold G3 kiwifruit.

Since late 2019, unlawful plantings of the variety in China have almost doubled to 4000 hectares.

Growers in New Zealand pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per hectare to grow it and Zespri will continue looking at legal channels to protect its plant variety rights.

But Zespri chief grower and alliances officer Dave Courtney said it had been advised to trial working with the small growers in China, in the hope this would prevent more plantings. . . 

MBIE investigating frozen fries import threat:

The New Zealand potato industry are relieved that the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) trade remedies team has now launched an investigation into the proven threat of surplus frozen fries being imported into New Zealand.

This MBIE decision was based on the positive evidence the New Zealand potato industry provided in their application completed in September this year, as part of the Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) Pandemic Industry Recovery Plan.

The application was in response to the threat of increased dumped imports of surplus European frozen fries, to the NZ potato processing sector. The dumping and threat, combined with the effects of supply chain disruption caused by Covid-19, created an extraordinary situation that required investigation. . .

Harvesting downgrade fears allayed – Gregor Heard:

FARMERS throughout the northern cropping zone generally received good news when they returned to their harvesters last week after rain delays, with limited reports of weather damaged grain.

Yields continue to please, while farmers in southern NSW, Victoria and South Australia retain confidence of strong yields, although harvest will be some time off yet for many due to the cool finish to the cropping season allowing crops to mature slowly.

Meanwhile, the Queensland harvest is edging closer to completion, with good quality grain partially making up for slightly disappointing yields.

“A lot of people in my area on the Darling Downs have just about finished their harvest,” said Brendan Taylor, Agforce grains section president. . . 


Rural round-up

28/10/2020

Back the sector that backs New Zealand – Sam McIvor:

The biggest issue currently facing our industry is environmental policy, writes Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor.

Farmers are passionate about being good stewards of their land and want to do the right thing. However, the scale and pace of new government regulations is impacting the financial viability of farming, affecting farmers’ confidence in their industry and having adverse effects on mental health.

In the next government term, we need to see improvements in the essential freshwater regulations to make the rules workable for farmers so they can get on with achieving the desired water health outcomes.

Meanwhile, the government must get fossil fuel emitters to reduce their emissions rather than just planting their pollution on our farms. Limits must be set on the amount of offsetting allowed in the ETS before it’s too late and further swathes of productive sheep and beef farmland are converted to forestry for carbon farming. The RMA isn’t the right tool to fix this problem, but we can work with the government on what is.  . . 

Meat forecast raises questions – Neal Wallace:

Forecasts that this year’s export lamb crop could be below 18 million for the first time has observers questioning what the impact will be.

Beef + Lamb NZ’s (B+LNZ) new season outlook is forecasting the value of meat exports to fall $1 billion to $7.4bn in the coming year due to market uncertainty from the covid-19 pandemic and increased competition for beef markets.

The report forecasts a lamb crop of 22.3 million, of which 17.4m will be processed for export.

Last year the crop was 23.3m, of which 18.7m were processed. . . 

Sector needs breathing space – Neal Wallace:

Farming leaders say they can work with the incoming government but are asking for space to allow the sector to adjust to regulations introduced by the previous administration.

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) chair Andrew Morrison says a priority for the next three years will be developing and enhancing trade, especially free trade agreements with the UK and European Union.

But he is asking that the Government give farmers time to implement new freshwater and climate change rules and regulations.

“Don’t give us more stuff, let us deliver this stuff first,” he said. . . 

Van der Poel, Glass re-elected by farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers have returned Jim van der Poel and Colin Glass as DairyNZ directors for another three-year term.

Van der Poel, who chairs the industry-good organisation and Glass, chief executive of Dairy Holdings Ltd, saw off a challenge from young Ashburton farmer Cole Groves in this year’s director elections.

The result was announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Ashburton last night. . . 

History underpins infant formula operation – Richard Davison:

French food and drink giant Danone enjoys closer links to New Zealand — and particularly the deep South — than might at first be apparent. Richard Davison finds out more about the company’s plans for its Clydevale, South Otago, operation as it invests $30million in green energy, and in its latest boost to local employment.

Danone, founded in Barcelona, Spain in 1919 by Isaac Carasso, and perhaps best known for dominating the yoghurt and dairy food markets in Europe, is better known domestically for its foothold in the infant formula market.

Brands such as Aptamil and Karicare are familiar names to many a Kiwi mum, and the latter brand also has a close historical association with a key New Zealand identity.

New Plymouth-born Sir Truby King was a noted innovator in many areas and, during the early 1900s, ran a dairy farm and logging operation in remote Catlins hamlet Tahakopa. . .

From defense to disruption, how companies are approaching sustainability in the food system:

When Mary Shelman, an internationally recognized thought leader and speaker, takes to the stage, there are many accolades and qualifications she could list to introduce herself. But she always starts like this:

“You’ll see that I live in Boston. You know, I was at Harvard Business school, but I’m from Kentucky. And not only Kentucky- my Dad was a farm equipment dealer there, and then when I was in middle school, he bought one farm and then a second farm.”

The generations before her -on both sides – were all from Kentucky.

 “Always in agriculture, always too poor to own their own land,” she said.  . . 


Rural round-up

26/10/2020

GE bogged down by ambiguous rules – Richard Rennie:

Over a year after the Royal Society Te Aparangi report on genetic engineering called for an overhaul on regulations, New Zealand continues to lack a framework that can accommodate the rapidly advancing technology.

Dr David Penman, who was co-chair on the society’s investigating panel, told delegates at this year’s gene editing forum there was too much focus on the processes behind gene engineering (GE), rather than taking an outcome-based approach to what it could deliver.

“The regulation needs to be proportionate to the risk. For example, mutagenesis, using radiation to find gene mutations is not genetic engineering, but targeted gene editing is,” he said.

He says there also remained an enormous diversity of acts that scientists and researchers have to pick through when contemplating such technology.  . . 

Farmers must lead regen ag debate – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand farmers risk having regenerative agriculture defined for them if they do not take ownership of the debate around its meaning.

Alpha Food Labs founder and co-chief executive Mike Lee says that could lead to an unfavourable definition forced on them and farmers losing control of the narrative.

Speaking at an NZX-Beef + Lamb NZ webinar on what regenerative agriculture meant for New Zealand, the US-based food strategist says the debate over what regenerative agriculture is must be a producer-led movement.

He says rather than thinking about the term, people should think about their mental framework around leaving the earth in a better way than when they got here. . . 

Tradie farmer living her dream – Cheyenne Nicholson:

A Waikato farmer is thriving on the challenge of a new dairying career alongside a successful lighting business. Cheyenne Nicholson reports.

OKOROIRE dairy farmer Laura Mitchell is all about tackling a challenge. And, growing a successful business during a pandemic is definitely that. Throw in a new career path in dairying and raising her three-year-old daughter Amber, and you could say Laura has her hands full.

The idea of being a farmer herself was never really on her radar despite always being drawn to the land and growing up on her parents dairy farm. At 16, she decided school wasn’t for her anymore and opted to leave and gain qualifications in a trade. . . 

Tales of the land girls shared at Maungati – Simon Edwards:

Among the crowd of more than 120 who travelled to Maungati, near Timaru, on Sunday to remember the World War II ‘land girls’ were two particularly special guests – Sadie Lietze (nee Stuart) and Daphne Attfield (nee Williams).

Now in their late 90s, the pair represented the last of the ranks of the New Zealand Women’s Land Service (WLS).  Like Joan Butland of Auckland, whose health didn’t permit her to make the trip south, they were among the more than 2,700 young women aged 17 to their early 20s – many of them from the cities – who in the 1940s kept farms and orchards going when men were called up to fight.  Their efforts were crucial in an era when New Zealand was still the offshore farm of Britain and locals as well as tens of thousands of American servicemen in the Pacific needed to be fed. . . 

Made with Care: Great cheese needs great milk:

With one and a half decades of experience in cheese making, Cathy Lang knows her stuff when it comes to cheese and is excited to be involved in NZ Trade and Enterprise’s international “Made with Care” campaign.

The campaign is designed to grow awareness, preference and demand for New Zealand food and beverage products by demonstrating the care we take when we produce them.

Now more than ever, amid a global health pandemic, consumers are looking for safe, nutritious and premium quality food and beverage that is ethically produced and tastes good too. New Zealand’s combination of exceptional natural resources and experienced food producers, like Cathy, sets us apart and perfectly positions us to meet the needs of consumers. . . 

Can cattle grazing be good for the environment? – Eric Tegethoff:

 The ancient plains of Montana once hosted herds of animals that grazed the land. Now, cattle and other domesticated animals do that work.

According to former environmental lawyer and author Nicolette Hahn Niman, the planet actually is grazed far less than it used to be. Her book “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production” explores the benefits of raising cattle and the positive effects it can have on the land – when it’s done correctly.

“Rather than so much attention being paid to the negative impacts of cattle when they’re poorly managed,” she said, “we should be focusing on the tremendous benefits of well-managed grazing.”

Cattle ranching has been criticized by some as contributing to climate change. However, Hahn Niman said, well-managed grazing can improve soil health and even help sequester carbon dioxide. She said it also can help keep water in the soil. . . 


Rural round-up

23/10/2020

Farm profit 26% drop predicted – Sally Rae:

Average farm profit before tax on sheep and beef farms is predicted to fall 26% this season amid continued uncertainty due to Covid-19, Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s new season outlook says.

The report, released yesterday, sets the scene for a challenging year with declines predicted in both sheep meat and beef export receipts as the pandemic affects global economies, consumer demand and trading channels.

Lamb export receipts were forecast to drop by almost 15% and co-products to decline about 8% compared with the 2019-20 season. Beef and veal export revenue was predicted to decline by 9%.

The uncertainty in the export market would be reflected in farm-gate prices and subsequent farm profitability, B+LNZ’s chief economist Andrew Burtt said in a statement. . . 

Jobs warning over migrant worker rules – Sally Rae:

Jobs are in jeopardy in the meat processing and exporting sector unless the Government recognises the essential role of its skilled migrant workforce, the Meat Industry Association has warned.

About a third of the country’s 250 halal processing workers would have to leave New Zealand next year due to the Government’s one-year stand-down policy, MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said in statement.

The loss of those people, along with ‘‘hundreds of other essential meat workers’’, could result in reduced production and job losses in New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry, Ms Karapeeva said.

“Most of the 42 halal processing plants in New Zealand now operate between 10-12 months per year. A shortage of skilled halal processing people could result in production at many plants being limited to six months in the year, which would mean processing of livestock for farmers is severely disrupted and employees might be let go. . . 

New woman at the helm of IrrigationNZ – Annette Scott:

Irrigation New Zealand is to be guided by a new chief executive in a new location and with a refreshed strategy. Annette Scott talked with Vanessa Winning about her new role.

FORMER DairyNZ farm performance manager Vanessa Winning is looking forward to leading New Zealand’s irrigation sector as it heads into a new era of management and renewed focus.

Winning has been appointed the new chief executive of IrrigationNZ, taking up the role in the organisation’s new Wellington base.

Following a review of the organisation’s activities the board, in July, put renewed focus on solving the tension between the fundamental need for irrigation in a post-covid NZ and the sector’s increasingly restricted license to operate. . . 

Campaign launched to help keep New Zealand Food and Beverage in hearts and minds of global consumers:

A global campaign designed to grow awareness, preference and demand for New Zealand Food and Beverage products in the key export markets of Australia, China, Japan, the USA and the UK has launched today.

The campaign, titled ‘Made with Care’, is being led by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and is part of a wider ‘Messages from New Zealand’ country brand campaign, which sees Tourism New Zealand (TNZ), NZTE, Ministry for Primary Industries, Education New Zealand and New Zealand Story join forces to promote New Zealand’s brand on the world stage.

New Zealand’s food and beverage industry is a key player in our economy, accounting for close to 46% of all goods and services exports in the past year. In 2018/2019, the industry had a combined revenue of $71.7 billion, with exports reaching more than 140 countries. . .

CBD lifts mānuka value higher – Richard Rennie:

If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, then a snap-pack of Manuka honey may help you down a daily dose of CBD. Richard Renniespoke to Derek Burchell-Burger of Naki New Zealand about the company’s ground-breaking cannabidiol-infused honey nutraceutical.

For centuries cannabis and honey have been remedies used by assorted civilisations, and a Taranaki-based company is combining the two as a unique nutraceutical product.

“Indigenous cultures have been putting medicine in honey for generations, honey is a very good delivery system,” Naki New Zealand global marketing manager Derek Burchell-Burger said.

With Manuka honey’s popularity rising particularly over the covid pandemic, the company saw an opportunity for adding the therapeutic cannabidiol (CBD) to leverage off Manuka’s health and healing claims. . . 

 

Highly productive dairy farm and cropping operation placed on the market for sale:

A former market gardening operation now fully converted into a highly productive dairy farm and supporting cropping unit in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has been placed on the market for sale.

The 153.9-hectare property at Otakiri some 24-kilometres west of Whakatane milks a herd of between 410-430 cows to produce between 133,000-153,186 kilogrammes of milk solids annually, while also producing maize and silage for the herd.

The farm is made up of seven freehold land titles – all with a flat topography and linked by an extensive and high-quality network of crushed-lime races – with the maize and silage grown on a pair of 7.5-hectare blocks within the property. . . 


Rural round-up

13/10/2020

Vegetation grown on farms offsets agricultural emissions

Farmers are welcoming an independent study which has found New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms are already close to being carbon neutral.

The study, led by Dr Bradley Case at the Auckland University of Technology, estimated the woody vegetation on farms was offsetting between 63% and 118% of their on-farm agricultural emissions.

If the mid-point in the report’s range was used, on average the woody vegetation on sheep and beef farms was absorbing about 90% of these emissions.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor said absolute greenhouse gas emissions from New Zealand sheep and beef production have reduced by 30% since 1990.

“This research shows that of the remaining emissions, the vast majority are being offset by the trees on our farms and New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are well on the way to being carbon neutral by 2050. . . .

Oxford University researchers are pushing for a new method of measuring greenhouse gas emissions and their warming impact

Myles Allen, Ph.D., a professor of Geosystem Science and head of the Climate Dynamics Group at Oxford Martin, University of Oxford, has a beef with how the impact of methane emissions on global warming is wrongly calculated — and then misconstrued to blame livestock for climate change.

He and his Oxford Martin colleagues have proposed a new metric called GWP* (global warming potential – star), which focuses on the warming effects of the different gases, rather than their rate of emissions. The current mischaracterization of methane’s impact on warming, Allen told The Daily Churn, ignores the “white elephant” in the room — fossil fuel-based carbon dioxide emissions. This in turn could lead to misguided policies that inaccurately target animal agriculture.

“If we all turn vegetarian, but we don’t do anything about fossil fuel emissions, in five years we’ll be in exactly the same position we were before,” Allen says of rising global temperatures. But “we’re vegetarians.” . . .

Southland farmer makes finals – Sally Rae:

Helping people is a big part of what makes Bernadette Hunt “tick”.

Mrs Hunt, a Chatton farmer and vice-president of Southland Federated Farmers, is a finalist in the primary industry leadership award in this year’s Primary Industries New Zealand awards which will be announced at a function in Wellington on November 23.

Balancing farming, family — she and her husband Alistair have two primary school-aged daughters — and rural advocacy was a “real juggle” and there were certainly times when the balance was not right.

However, she was a firm believer in volunteering — “that’s what makes communities tick” — and also role modelling that to her own children. . . .

Title ton: shearer celebrates milestone :

A South Canterbury farmer has become the first person in the world to win 100 blade-shearing finals. 

Tony Dobbs won the open blades title at the Waimate Shears Spring Championships last night, a competition he first competed at in 1979.

Dobbs won the title by shearing four sheep in 14 minutes and 48 seconds.

He beat the reigning individual world champion Allan Oldfield, who is also from South Canterbury. . . 

Feet first :

Draining abscesses on cows hoofs may be a mucky job but Johan Buys loves it.

“When I get rid of that I can get rid of the pain,” he says.

Johan is known as ‘The Hoofman’ and spends his days tending cows’ hoofs, curing lameness.

He says it’s hugely satisfying watching a cow that limped in for treatment, leave for the paddock pain-free. . . 

Wairarapa sweeps 2020 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, 2020 best year yet:

Wairarapa Olive Oil makers have swept the annual NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards, winning four of the five major awards for Olive Oil Excellence, with the region’s growers also taking home 58 medals.

Beginning in 2020, the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards recognise excellence in NZ Extra Virgin Olive Oils (NZ EVOO). This year’s winners were announced tonight at the Olives NZ 2020 Award Ceremony.

Four Wairarapa Olive Growers received top awards: . . 


NZ sheep & beef farms nearly carbon neutral

09/10/2020

Science backs claims of New Zealand farming’s low emissions:

Independent research has found New Zealand’s sheep and beef farms are already close to being carbon neutral and strengthens calls for the formal recognition of on-farm sequestration.

The study led by Dr Bradley Case at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) estimates the woody vegetation on New Zealand sheep and beef farms is offsetting between 63 percent and 118 percent of their on-farm agricultural emissions.

If the mid-point in the report’s range is used, on average the woody vegetation on sheep and beef farms is absorbing about 90 percent of these emissions.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO Sam McIvor says absolute greenhouse gas emissions from New Zealand sheep and beef production have reduced by 30 percent since 1990.

“This research shows that of the remaining emissions, the vast majority are being offset by the trees on our farms and New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are well on the way to being carbon neutral by 2050.”

The study reinforces the importance of farmers getting formal recognition for the sequestration happening on their farms, says Mr McIvor.

“Currently, most vegetation on sheep and beef farms does not qualify for inclusion in the ETS because it does not meet the definition of a forest. If farmers are to face a price for agricultural emissions, it’s only fair they get credit for their sequestration. 

Farmers are liable for their animals’ emissions but get no credit for trees on their farms – that’s neither fair nor science-based.

“The focus to date on livestock’s climate change contribution has been on emissions, rather than on sequestration. But with any product it makes sense to consider the whole business – in this case, taking a whole of farm approach.

“The study should also reassure consumers that New Zealand beef and lamb is among the most sustainable in the world, and our farmers are making a significant contribution to addressing on-farm agricultural emissions.

“These findings should be of immense pride for New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers, the 92,000 people employed in what is New Zealand’s largest manufacturing sector, and all New Zealanders.”

Dr Bradley Case, Senior Lecturer in GIS and Remote Sensing in the Applied Ecology Department, School of Science at AUT, said there is a strong case for farmers to get credit for the sequestration happening on their farms.

“This is an integral part of He Waka Eke Noa, the regulatory framework that industry and government are currently developing to manage agricultural emissions and recognise on-farm sequestration.

“This research not only builds understanding of the overall greenhouse gas contribution of the sheep and beef sector, but will help inform the development of policy, and further reinforce the outstanding biodiversity on sheep and beef farms.”  

According to the AUT report, the woody vegetation is made up of 1.52 million hectares of native forest and 0.48 million hectares of exotic vegetation.

In addition to sequestering carbon, this vegetation delivers wider benefits for New Zealand’s biodiversity and freshwater ecosystems. 

“The report identifies where sheep and beef farmers can focus on to continue to build the native vegetation and biodiversity on their farms,” says Dr Case.

“The regional maps in the research indicate where management is most needed to ensure mature/old growth forests are managed to prevent them becoming sources of atmospheric carbon.”

Importantly, the net carbon emissions estimation assumed a net-neutral rate for soil sequestration so the amount of sequestration happening could be even greater.

“While there is fairly good information about soil carbon stocks, there is not good data about yearly changes in soil sequestration and the science on this is still in development.”

About the research

The AUT research was commissioned by B+LNZ. The report was written by Dr Bradley Case and Catherine Ryan and was peer reviewed by Dr Fiona Carswell, Chief Scientist, Manaaki Whenua -Landcare Research and Dr Adam Forbes, Senior Ecologist, Forbes Ecology, Research Associate and New Zealand School of Forestry, University of Canterbury.

Further points to note

The study has not quantified the sequestration taking place on dairy farms, but the findings are helpful for the dairy farmers who do have sequestration happening on their farms and would like to get credit for this. The beef emissions figure in the research includes an allocation for dairy-beef.

The report uses GWP100, because this is the metric used internationally to compare greenhouse gases and it allows researchers to estimate emissions and subtract sequestration on the same basis. 

B+LNZ has commissioned research by AgResearch to use this study to calculate a net carbon footprint for New Zealand beef and lamb and to investigate developing a carbon footprint using GWP*, a metric that new research indicates can better reflect the warming impact of different gases on the globe because of the way it accounts for short-lived emissions such as methane. . . 

New Zealand farmers are the most efficient producers of beef and lamb in the world.

This research adds to our environmental credentials by showing that almost all emissions from our stock are off-set by carbon sequestration on farms.

You can read the summary report here.

You can read the full report here.


Rural round-up

04/10/2020

Regenerative agriculture: let’s put these claims to the test – Catherine Wells:

Lincoln University’s Professor Derrick Moot and retired plant scientist Dr Warwick Scott have done an admirable job by drawing Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s attention to the pros and cons of “regenerative agriculture”.

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, a soil scientist, has written on the topic too. In an article for the New Zealand Herald’s “The Country section”, which challenged the notion that moving to regenerative agriculture with an organic focus will create a primary sector with more ability to help with Covid-19 recovery. Her conclusion: this is wonderful in theory, but doesn’t work in practice.

NZIAHS members should be lending their support – but the bigger issue which should perturb us is the attack on science itself in this era when easy access to the internet can spread fake news, deceptions, falsehoods, fabrications and canards faster and over a much vaster patch of the globe than a top-dresser can spread superphosphate. . . 

Banning nitrogen fertiliser would put food production back decades – Macaulay Jones:

When it comes to synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, good management practices should be encouraged, not an outright ban, writes Federated Farmers Climate Change and Trade Policy adviser, Macaulay Jones.

Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is suffering from a PR problem in New Zealand.

It’s regularly demonised and blamed for the degradation of waterways, for contributing to climate change and for enabling a perceived unsustainable growth of farming. Some are even calling for it to be banned altogether.

But while synthetic nitrogen fertiliser can undoubtedly lead to environmental issues if used carelessly, it’s this careless use which should be avoided – not the use of the product. . . 

Feds reject trade concerns – Colin Williscroft:

Federated Farmers is confident that scaling back new freshwater regulations or making amendments to climate change legislation will not hurt New Zealand’s prospects of future free trade deals.

As reported in last week’s Farmers Weekly, NZ’s top trade negotiator Vangelis Vitalis has warned sheep and beef farmers that their environmental and animal welfare record will come under close scrutiny, as countries search for ways to protect their own food producers who have taken a hit to demand for their products as a result of coronavirus.

Vitalis acknowledged that environmental regulations will come at a cost to NZ farmers, but says it could pay off in terms of providing improved market access under future free trade deals by helping to quell opposition to them in those countries involved.

Feds president Andrew Hoggard agrees with Vitalis that NZ both needs and has a good environmental record that can be presented internationally. . . 

Nearly 5 million ewes lost in 10 years – Mel Croad:

The breeding ewe flock continues to battle land use changes and wavering popularity with farmers. However, with many water regulations and policies negatively targeting cattle, sheep farming could find favour once again. Achieving any growth in ewe numbers will be hard in the next 12 months though.

The latest Beef + Lamb NZ Stock Survey estimates breeding ewe numbers held at 16.86 million head. While the breeding flock has stabilised, there could be a real inability to build numbers. The number of hoggets that dispersed this year is the greatest issue. Drought conditions forced farmers to offload hoggets rather than keep them as replacements. This partially explains why the 2019 lamb crop was recently revised higher by over 500,000 head. 

Forecasts peg breeding hogget numbers to be back by 740,000 head on last year, mostly within the North Island. Chances are not all these hoggets were mated this year, or would have even entered the breeding flock next year, but the significant drop in numbers creates a couple of issues. . . 

A precious endeavour:

A possum hunter, a farming couple and a young Polish man are part of the small community who live in Endeavour Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds where, even in this remote spot, the effects of the global pandemic are being felt.

Country Life visited the bay and discovered Covid-19’s tentacles have a long reach indeed.

Listen duration22:24

A hammock in the bush and a feed of wild goat is heaven to Endeavour Inlet’s Possum Gary.

The tall lean Southlander has been living on and off in the bush around the furthest reaches of the inlet in the Marlborough Sounds for about five years now, setting traps and living off the land.

Endeavour Inlet is at the Cook Strait end of Queen Charlotte Sound/ Tōtaranui, a good hour from Picton by boat. . .

Green Party activists told don’t use ‘big words’ when talking to rural voters and Travellers – Cormac McQuinn:

GREEN Party activists have been told not to use ‘big words’ when trying to appeal to rural voters as they may not understand what they mean.

Senator Róisín Garvey said party members need to “choose their words” adding that she learned this from working with Travellers.

Ms Garvey made the remarks at the party’s National Convention during a debate on the “anti-Green narrative” in rural areas that sees the party struggle to win votes outside the big cities.

The Clare-based Senator said of rural voters: “we don’t have to give them statistics on carbon this and climate that and use big vocabulary. . . 


Rural round-up

02/10/2020

Freshwater rules take toll on confidence – Sally Rae:

Southern sheep and beef farmers have experienced their worst fall in confidence in a recent survey by Beef+Lamb New Zealand, as the Government’s freshwater rules are cited as a major factor.

Nationally, confidence dropped to the lowest recorded level since August 2017 with less than half — or 46% of farmers — confident in the future of New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry compared to 58% in May.

Farmer confidence was down in all regions, except for the northern North Island, and the largest fall was in the southern South Island at 32% (down 27%), followed by the central South Island at 42% (down 19%).

In a statement, B+LNZ chairman Andrew Morrison, a Southland farmer, said sheep and beef farmers were increasingly concerned at the speed and scale of government-led reforms. . . 

26 million national flock down 2.3% – Sally Rae:

Sheep numbers in New Zealand have dropped 2.3% over the past year to 26.21million — a far cry from the 57.85million recorded in 1990.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual stock number survey estimated this spring’s lamb crop would be 4.2% lower — or 980,000 head down — compared with spring 2019, while adverse weather events could lessen that further.

Ewe condition during mating was poor to average due to lower overall feed availability while ewe pregnancy scanning results were 5%-10% lower due to dry conditions and feed shortages. Fewer ewe hoggets were also mated.

In a statement, B+LNZ Economic Service chief economist Andrew Burtt said drought meant farmers decided to have fewer hoggets, weaner cattle and cows mated which would have impacts on future stock numbers. . . 

Fruit picker shortage reaches new levels :

With closed borders and no backpackers or casual labour coming in, the fruit picking industry desperately needs more workers than ever before.

Today The Detail looks at why it’s so hard to fill the gaps and whether robots are the answer to the labour shortage for what even employers admit is a “shit” job.

Horticulture is a $10b industry and is one that will continue to grow despite covid-19.

But the lack of workers has been something that has plagued the sector for years, even before the pandemic. . . 

Work experience helps fresh talent into dairying

Gillian Saich from Invercargill is new to dairy farming and was thrilled when a dairy farmer offered her work experience on his farm.

Gillian recently finished DairyNZ’s GoDairy Farm Ready Training, designed to give Kiwis throughout New Zealand entry level training to work on dairy farms.

After the training, dairy farmer Edwin Mabonga from Otautau offered Gillian two weeks’ work experience and she jumped at the chance.

“It’s been brilliant to get hands-on experience. I have learned so much and have been involved in lots of aspects on the farm, including calving and milking,” she says.  . .

NZ cheese sales a lockdown silver lining:

Everywhere, everyone agrees that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years. For many NZ cheesemakers that has meant quickly adapting and finding new markets as farmers’ markets, some specialty retail food stores, cafes and restaurants closed during lockdown.

However there is a silver lining, while New Zealanders hunkered down staying safe they used their free time to explore and support NZ made produce, including New Zealand cheese, which is enjoying record sales.

According to Nielsen Scantrack[1] – a record of supermarket sales for the year to 9 August 2020 – total value for all cheese sales is up by 12.2% for the 12 months. Among these numbers is a strong increase for speciality cheese – up in value by 9.5%. Always a favourite with families, blocks of cheese are up 14.5% in value and grated cheese sales were up a whopping 25.1%. . . 

Silver Fern Farms awards additional scholarship in light of Covid crisis:

Silver Fern Farms has announced their Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships recipients for 2020, adding two additional scholarships this year, on top of the six normally offered, to strengthen their support for the industry through the challenges presented by Covid-19.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers has become even more important as the red meat industry responds to disruption around the world.

Over 60 people applied for this year’s scholarships. “They were asked to identify outstanding opportunities for the red meat industry in light of the Covid-19 crisis and to share the role they could play in New Zealand’s recovery. . . 


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