Rural round-up

23/06/2022

New Zealand red meat sector representatives travel to EU ahead of crunch trade talks :

New Zealand red meat sector leaders head to Brussels this week as negotiations between the European Union and New Zealand for a Free Trade Agreement enter a critical stage.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva and Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor will be supporting New Zealand trade negotiators during the talks, which are being held just days before an end of June deadline to conclude an Agreement in Principle.

“Negotiations are coming to a crunch and this trip to Brussels highlights just how important these discussions are to New Zealand’s red meat sector,” says Ms Karapeeva.

“New Zealand has been a longstanding and trusted trade partner of the EU and our companies have been providing consumers with safe, nutritious and high quality product for decades. . . 

Biosecurity has taken the overall  #1 spot in New Zealand :

It will surprise nobody that for the twleth year in a row, world-class biosecurity has taken the overall #1 spot in the annual KPMG agribusiness industry leader’s priority survey, BiotechNZ executive director Dr Zahra Champion says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries suggest total exports of food and fibre products for the year to the end of June 2022 will reach a record $52.2 billion, up 9 percent on 2021.

“The growth comes from the dairy, horticulture, red meat, and forestry sectors, all delivering improved export returns.

“For others, the starting point was the disconnect between prices, profitability, and the green fields across most of New Zealand along with the uncertainty many farmers are feeling. . . 

Technology key to dairy’s future – Country Life:

Toilet trained cows may very well be peeing to order by 2032, agritech entrepreneur Craig Piggott says.

Well, in defined places on the farm, that is, and as a way of keeping dairy farming environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Technology around toilet training is one of the “threads” exercising the minds of Piggott’s team at Halter after the start-up’s phenomenal success using “cowgorithms” to farm dairy cows.

“If you can train a cow to move left and right … move them around a farm, then why can’t you train them to urinate in a shed?” he asks. . . 

Farmers shape a high value, high protein, low emissions future after meat and dairy – Jonathan Milne:

Government and industry investment could seed a new plant-based protein industry important to New Zealand’s survival on the global food market, according to a PwC report today

Jade Gray describes himself as a fourth-generation grocer. He’s worked on beef farms and in meat processing plants and butchers’ stores in Canterbury and China. He’s run a pizza restaurant. He knows about food – and he’s convinced there’s no real future in meat.

“I speak with a lot of farmers, I get heckled by mates and by strangers. It’s all good, it’s part of a good, fair and democratic society. But we’ve seen what happened to the wool sector in the past three decades, and we can’t allow that to happen to meat or dairy. We need to learn from that very harsh lesson.”

He argues we need to start turning over our paddocks to high-protein plants such as peas and fava beans. “We can create a whole new revenue stream for protein. The bonus is that brings more resilience. Or we can pitch ourselves against a major disruption that’s looking more and more likely in the next 10 to 20 years.” . . 

Lifeless market for meatless meat – Chloe Sorvino:

Ross Mackay and Eliott Kessas emigrated from Scotland with a dream. The longtime vegans founded Daring Foods, a meatless chicken-nugget startup, with the aim of reducing unhealthy meat consumption and creating more climate-friendly foods. At first, it caught on. Daring’s nuggets secured shelf space in Sprouts stores, Whole Foods and some Albertsons and Target locations.

Then came the big money. In October 2021, the Los Angeles-based brand, not yet two years old, raised $65 million at a valuation of more than $300 million. Investors included D1 Capital Partners, a hedge fund that’s backed companies such as Instacart, as well as DJ Steve Aoki and tennis superstar Naomi Osaka. All told, Daring has raised more than $120 million.

Less than a year later, however, the bottom is falling out. There are more than 100 plant-based chicken-nugget companies, many of them with products similar in taste and texture. To break out from the pack, Daring hired newlyweds Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker to take photos eating the faux nuggets while wearing lingerie. It was unclear whether the result — 1.2 million likes on Kardashian’s post; 5 million on a video Daring posted — was enough to goose sales. There’s simply too many brands struggling for space on supermarket shelves, and the rare chefs who adopt meatless products for their restaurants are reluctant to keep unpopular items on the menu. Consumers are ruthlessly weeding out the market while investors tread lightly now that money is more expensive than it’s been for a decade. . .

2022 harvest will help restore depleted New Zealand wine stocks :

New Zealand grape growers and wineries are breathing a sigh of relief following an improved vintage in 2022 that will help the industry rebuild stocks and sales, reports New Zealand Winegrowers.

“Going into vintage, wineries urgently needed a larger harvest as strong demand and smaller than expected crops in recent years had led to a significant shortage of New Zealand wine. That shortage has caused total New Zealand wine sales to fall 14% from the peak achieved in January 2021, even as wineries supported sales by drawing on stocks which are now at rock-bottom levels,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

In the domestic market, the same shortage has led to sales of New Zealand wine falling to their lowest level since 2004.

“There is no doubt we urgently needed an improved harvest this year after cool weather and frosts impacted Vintage 2021. The main challenge this year was COVID-19, which greatly complicated harvest logistics with Omicron rampant throughout New Zealand just as harvest began. This created additional pressure at a time many producers were already under pressure due to labour shortages,” says Mr Gregan. . . 

YILI scoops global innovation awards :

Global dairy giant Yili has scooped the innovation category at the 15th Global Dairy Congress in Laval, France.

Yili, which operates two dairy companies in New Zealand, and its subsidiary Ausnutria topped the tally for most awards at the World Dairy Innovation Awards held simultaneously with the Congress.

The awards were for packaging design, infant nutrition, intolerance-friendly dairy products, ice cream, cheese, and dairy snacks.

The judges noted that: “Yili have their finger on the pulse when it comes to identifying gaps in the market and creating brilliant innovative products that both taste and look great while simultaneously serving a purpose.” . . 


Rural round-up

17/06/2022

The methane issue is far from settled – Keith Woodford:

Big methane decisions lie ahead that will affect all New Zealanders

In late May, the eleven rural-industry partners in He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) reached internal compromises that were sufficient for all to sign-up to a joint greenhouse gas (GHG) document, which laid out the bones of how they think agriculture’s greenhouse gases should be priced.

It went right down to the wire before Federated Farmers agreed to add their logo.  Some of the other partners to the document were also less than happy, but the alternative of failing to come up with an agreement at all was even less palatable.

Now it will be up to the Government, taking account of forthcoming advice from the Climate Change Commission (CCC), to make some calls as to the path forward. . . 

Looming global good shortage highlights New Zealand’s role in climate action :

As a significant global food supplier, changes in New Zealand food systems may soon have substantial impacts.

New Zealand can feed 40 million people, or five percent of the diet of 800 million people with high quality food, AgriTechNZ chief executive Brendan O’Connell says.

However, the food supply impact from the Ukrainian war shows how production changes in one region or country impacts on others, he says.

Global food prices continue to strengthen as shortages loom for basic foods such as grains. This means there will also be a shortage of carbohydrates to feed livestock, ANZ research says. . . 

Crunch time for calculating farming emissions –  Jean Bell:

Farmers need not worry about their initial emissions result being held against them, says Beef and Lamb NZ.

Agribusiness leaders are urging farmers to crunch the numbers on their greenhouse gas emissions, as the primary sector continues its battle to avoid being lumped into the Government’s emissions trading scheme.

According to Federated Farmers, some businesses are concerned their initial results might be held against them in the future. But Beef and Lamb NZ, which funded a free online emissions calculator, says these numbers are confidential and won’t be shared.

Created by software developer Catalyst, Beef and Lamb NZ’s free-to-use online tool takes into account the area of open land on a farm (breaking this down into land that is under pasture, exotic vegetation, and indigenous vegetation), the amount of fertiliser, lime, and dolomite used, and livestock numbers on site. . . 

Team likely to travel to Australian national shearing and woolhandling championships

Shearing Sports New Zealand is hopeful it will be able to resume the annual home and away trans-Tasman test matches this year.

The last matches between New Zealand and Australia were held at the Golden Shears in 2020, a fortnight before the first Covid-19 lockdown.

But with the borders now open, New Zealand has been invited to send a team to Bendigo in October to compete in the Australian National Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.

Shearing Sports New Zealand chairman Sir David Fagan said it was likely a team would travel to Australia but a final decision would be made at the groups national committee meeting in August. . . 

Horticulture industry more than just being out on an orchard

An award-winning orchardist is hoping more people will get into the horticulture industry, saying there’s plenty of job opportunities for outdoorsy types.

Jacob Coombridge was recently crowned the winner of the 2022 Central Otago Young Grower competition.

The 22-year-old beat out seven other contestants in tests on irrigation, pest and disease identification, soil and fertilisers and risk management.

Coombridge, who works as an orchard supervisor at Webb’s Fruit in Cromwell, said it was great to see local growers come together and get involved in the competition. . . 

Tai Nelson wins Auckland Corteva Young Viticulturist of the year 2022 :

Congratulations to Tai Nelson, Vineyard Manager at Soljan’s Estate, who took out the title of Auckland/Northern Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year 2022.

The first of the 2022 Young Vit regional finals was held at Goldie Estate on Waiheke on Thursday 9th June where contestants from West Auckland, Waiheke and Matakana competed for the title.

Congratulations also goes to Dominic Bolton from Kumeu River Estate who came second and also Nicole Reynolds from Te Motu Estate on Waiheke, who came third. The other contestants, Leon Henson an independent viticultural consultant and Josh Kingston also did themselves proud.

“They all gave it their absolute all, tackling everything with a positive attitude and seeing it as a great opportunity to learn. There was a really upbeat atmosphere from start to finish with strong support from sponsors and industry members.” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at NZ Winegrowers. “This is what Young Vit is all about – it’s fantastic”. . . 


Rural round-up

02/06/2022

Rethink on GM policy needed – Richard Rennie:

John Caradus, scientist and chief executive of AgResearch’s commercial entity Grasslanz Technology, is pushing industry leaders, politicians and farmers to reconsider genetic modification (GM) as the primary sector grapples with the challenges of climate change, nutrient losses and disease. He spoke to Richard Rennie about his recent work reviewing GM globally.

There is a level of hypocrisy within New Zealand’s stance on genetically modified (GM) foods that does not sit well with John Caradus. 

He points out NZ consumers can shop for over 90 different GM foods produced from 10 plant species here, but NZ farmers are unable to grow any of them.

“We have a regulatory system that makes it extremely difficult for any entity considering doing so,” he says. . . 

Up to 6 week delay in cattle processing as meat works face backlog – Sally Murphy:

Processing capacity at meat works around the country is returning to normal but a backlog remains.

There had been a backlog for months due to staffing shortages as workers isolated with Covid-19.

That made it harder for farmers to offload stock, which caused huge stress, especially in areas where feed levels were tight.

An update provided to farmers by Beef and Lamb and the Meat Industry Association showed staff levels were now returning to normal and capacity from plant to plant was ranging from 80-100 percent. . . 

Keep driving innovation, meat sector leader says – Sally Rae:

Last week, Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva visited North Otago, the birthplace of New Zealand’s frozen meat industry. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae  about the state of the red meat sector.

It is time to celebrate.

That is the message from Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva to all levels of the red meat sector, from the farming community through to processors and other industry organisations.

Ms Karapeeva was in Oamaru last week for a function to mark National Lamb Day, the 140th anniversary of the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb arriving in the United Kingdom in 1882, and the centenary of the New Zealand Meat Board. . . 

Red meat exports achieve record April but markets prove volatile :

New Zealand red meat exports hit a record in April however ongoing volatility in China indicates head winds in the coming months, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported products worth $999.6 million during the month of April, up 16 per cent on April 2021 with the value of overall exports increasing to most major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said that while red meat exports continued to achieve good returns, there was some fluctuation in demand, particularly in China and the US.

“The value of overall exports to China was down six per cent year on year. There was also a small drop in the volume of both sheepmeat and beef exported. The reduction in sheepmeat was largely due to China, with beef exports to the US also dipping. . . 

Reaping rewards of maize crop – Shawn McAvinue:

In a bid to protect against the impact of dry conditions, a trial maize crop on a West Otago dairy farm will return next season and be more than twice the size.

Matt Haugh and his partner Kirsten McIntyre own Cottesbrook Dairy, milking 1450 cows across two platforms on about 470ha near Heriot.

Mr Haugh said pasture growth had been good for most of the summer but dry conditions started to bite in late summer and early autumn.

The dry conditions were an “absolute killer”, because the farm traditionally relied on rain at that time of year. . . 

NZ farmer wins world wood-chopping title – Carmelita Mentor-Fredericks:

How much wood could a Kiwi cut if a Kiwi could cut wood?

A lot – if Taumarunui sheep and beef farmer Jack Jordan and Tokoroa’s Cleveland Cherry’s performances at the Timbersports World Trophy event on Saturday in Vienna, Austria, is anything to go by.

However, it was Jordan who came out tops after taking on national champs, many of whom are lumberjacks from around the world, for the coveted title.

The competition, which is organised by Stihl France, sees 16 competitors take metal to wood as they face off using a variety of chopping tools to out chop each other – whoever chops the most wood in the least amount of time wins. . .


Rural round-up

13/05/2022

Farmers have good reason to be nervous about the ETS – Campbell Stewart:

As consultation by He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN, the primary sector climate action partnership) has rounded up, there are still a vast number of farmers who are nervous, confused and angry about what the future for managing agricultural emissions in New Zealand might look like, and for good reason.

The fast pace of law-making in New Zealand in recent years is unsettling. Not only for the rural community trying to get their heads around what it all means for them, but for a range of sectors, including participants in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

Farmers are grappling with HWEN’s two options for managing agricultural emissions – an on-farm levy or a processor levy. But the alternative of a blanket inclusion of agriculture in the ETS, which is the option if HWEN cannot convince the Government to adopt its suggested approach, is a particularly frightening prospect.

In its current form, the ETS isn’t working well for participants, particularly foresters. Adding complexity and workload for officials by including agriculture would be a disaster. . . 

Clock ticking on plan to keep agriculture out of the Emissions Trading Scheme – Stephen Ward:

The clock is ticking towards the end of May deadline for finalising a scheme to keep agriculture out the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), an issue of key interest to Waikato’s extensive dairy sector and other agricultural players.

Ngahinapouri dairy farmer Jim van der Poel, the chair of agriculture heavyweight DairyNZ, believes the final proposal from sector group He Waka Eke Noa will ultimately help farmers and others manage emissions-related financial risk better. Overall, he said it would also do more to assist Aotearoa to meet its international emissions reduction obligations as the world tackles climate change.

Besides his organisation, He Waka Eke Noa involves Beef and Lamb NZ, Dairy Companies Association, Federated Farmers, Foundation for Arable Research, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ, the Federation of Māori Authorities, Deer Industry Association, Meat Industry Association and Apiculture NZ.

Emissions related to nitrous oxide (from the likes of fertiliser and stock urine) and methane (from cows belching) are covered by what will be proposed by He Waka Eke Noa. It doesn’t cover farmers’ fossil fuel-related emissions. . . 

NZ dairy farmer looks to head up world body

West Coast dairy farmer and former Federated Farmers president Katie Milne is making a bid to head up the World Farmers’ Organisation, a Rome-based advocacy group that brings together farmer organisations and agricultural co-operatives from across the world. 

Milne has served on the organisation’s board for nearly five years and is standing for election as president at the upcoming general assembly in Budapest from June 7-10.

She is one of three candidates, something she says is positive.

“It’s healthy to have options and a lot of diversity of thought and debate on the way forward,” she says.  . . 

BNZ launches incentives for ‘green’ farmers

Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has launched an Agribusiness Sustainability Linked Loan (SLL) product available to all New Zealand farmers.

The term loan, a SLL available to all farmers no matter the size of their farm or industry, offers interest cost savings for achieving environmental and social targets including: Greenhouse gas reductions; eco-system protection; improved care for staff; protecting waterways; improving biodiversity; and animal welfare.

It is the first time a SLL has been available as a loan product to all New Zealand farmers. Environmental and Social targets are set and agreed with BNZ and progress independently verified annually.

“New Zealand’s farmers are working hard to achieve environmental and social goals and we want to support and incentivise their efforts,” says Dana Muir, BNZ head of natural capital. . . 

Turning theory into practicality – Leo Argent:

Kirsten Duess believes the findings of her research work into soil drainage in Southland will have benefits for other parts of New Zealand as well.

The final-year Lincoln University PhD candidate was the 2021 winner of the NZ Society of Soil Science/Fertiliser Association of NZ Postgraduate Bursary Award. The $5,000 award recognises the efforts and likely contribution to New Zealand soil science arising from a doctorate study.

Duess’ postgraduate research saw her lead a long-term field study on soil and catchment hydrology in Southland. The findings will help understand the role mole and tile drains play in that region’s unique landscape.

“We were interested in understanding the hydrology of a small catchment that is drained by a mole and tile drainage system on a sheep farm near Otahuti in Southland,” she told Rural News. . .

 

Pork industry wants welfare code extended to imports :

More than 3000 people have signed a petition calling for imported pork to meet the same animal welfare standards as pork produced here.

Started by Frances Clement, a policy advisor to statutory industry board, NZ Pork, the petition was presented to parliament on Tuesday.

NZ Pork chief executive, Brent Kleiss said New Zealand’s pork sector had high welfare standards compared to many other countries with less rigorous health, welfare and environmental regimes.

But over 60 percent of pork consumed in New Zealand was imported with most of it being produced in countries that farm pigs using practices that are illegal in this country he said. . . 


Rural round-up

06/05/2022

Farmer feedback reshaping HWEN :

DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) say they are taking farmer feedback on board and working to improve the agricultural emissions pricing options, including driving down administration costs.

Recently, roadshows were held across the country on the two options developed by the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership, He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), as alternatives to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says the Government has made it clear that the sector need to deliver a credible alternative otherwise the agriculture sector will go into the ETS.

“But that’s not the only reason we need to act,” he says. . .

Landscape like the moon – Sally Rae:

Leo Edginton reckons he landed on the moon this week.

Mr Edginton (39), one of the country’s top dog triallists, is competing at the South Island sheep dog trial championships which being are held amid the vast, rocky landscape of Earnscleugh Station, near Alexandra.

It was a far cry from his home at Mangaheia Station, a large sheep and beef property at Tolaga Bay, on the North Island’s East Coast.

With six dogs qualified for the championships — Larry, Kim, Bully, Robert, Deano and Bert, a mix of both heading dogs and huntaways — it was the most of any competitor. And he has seven qualified for the New Zealand championships in three weeks’ time. . .

Twenty years of forest restoration undone by poor fencing – Diane McCarthy:

One man’s work to restore native bush on Karaponga Reserve over the past 20 years is being undone by inadequate fencing.

Retired dairy farmers Steve and Lesley McCann have taken enormous pleasure in the recovery of native wildlife on and around their McIvor Road property, next door to the reserve.

Even finding the occasional gigantic centipede in the bathtub is a small price to pay.

The McCanns see it as a sign of the resurgence of native biodiversity, due to pest control and planting. . . 

Farmers keen to embrace diverse uses of drones in rural setting – Sally Murphy:

Growing interest among farmers in using drones has led a Southland catchment group to organise a field day to showcase the technology.

Otago South River Care is holding a field day today and tomorrow on a farm in Balclutha with over 80 people expected to attend.

Group co-ordinator Rebecca Begg said catchment group members often talk about innovation on farms and drones keep coming up as something farmers want to try.

“Many are interested but aren’t ready to take the leap yet, so we want to show them what’s available and get some of the technology down to the South Island as most of it is based in the North Island.” . . 

Ready. Set. Rockit – bold new campaign inspires courage  :

As millions of freshly harvested New Zealand-grown Rockit™ apples begin arriving into ports around the world, a bold new brand campaign kicks off harnessing the spirit of bravery.

From artists to fitness instructors to musicians to aspiring basketball players, relatable individuals feature in the compelling campaign, which encourages Rockit’s global consumers to push their limits and go further than they’ve ever gone before (whatever that might look like to them) and “Ready. Set. Rockit.”

With the creative heft of agency Special driving the interpretations of courage that run through this year’s campaign, Rockit’s CEO Mark O’Donnell says the message is bound to inspire. “We love the idea that any challenge – no matter how daunting – can be overcome by taking it just one small bite at a time,” says Mark. “The innovative campaign imagery showcases occasions where a little bit of bravery takes us into territory we’ve never known before – and we can overcome our fear, seize the moment, and really rock it.” . . 

Wattie’s record tomato harvest in 50 years:

Today Wattie’s marks the end of its tomato harvest season with some of the highest yielding tomato paddocks in the company’s 50-year history.

This season, Wattie’s have hit a new record with a crop of 140 metric tons per hectare. That is the equivalent of 5.6kg per plant or 14kg of tomatoes for every square metre and approximately a 5% increase on the highest yield previously achieved.

More impressive is that this is 40% higher than Wattie’s 5-year average yield. Twenty years ago, the 5-year average tomato harvest was 80 metric tons per hectare.

The tomato harvest season started in mid-February and since then, has been going 24 hours a day. Over this time, Wattie’s has harvested and processed 39,000 metric tons of field tomatoes. . . 


Rural round-up

26/04/2022

91 students enrolled with Growing Future Farmers in 2022:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) funds Growing Future Farmers (GFF) who aims to accelerate a graduate’s career from entry level Essential Farm Skills programme to advanced Farm Skills and Business Management.

GFF recently reported that 31 second year students and 60 first year students enrolled in the programme for the 2022 intake.

With a total of 91 students enrolled in 2022 Growing Future Farmers is cemented as the largest training organisation of its type in the country,” says GFF General Manager Cyn Smith.

Growing Future Farmers combines a range of specialised industry training and development with formal NZQA learning that includes classroom lectures, independent study, and group sessions. It is a two-year programme (46 weeks each year) with placements in 10 regions throughout the country. . . 

Winegrowers hopeful better harvest will allow renewal of stocks – Nicholas Pointon:

The 2022 grape harvest looks to have rebounded from the disappointment of last year allowing bigger production and winemakers to refill their cellars, after stocks were depleted a year ago.

The 2021 harvest was nearly 20 percent smaller than the previous year because of poor weather and wineries had to draw down on their reserves to meet market demand.

But reports are coming through from some makers of a much better year, with the stock exchange-listed company Foley Wines reporting its 2022 harvest was likely to be two-thirds higher than last year.

“The team across the business did a remarkable job in very difficult conditions,” chief executive Mark Turnbull said in a statement. . . 

 

Ukraine export woes prompt sunflower oil business to amend plans – Sally Murphy :

A New Zealand company is looking to more than treble its production of sunflower oil in response to global shortages.

Ukraine is the world’s largest producer of sunflower oil but due to the war its production is expected to be down 40 percent this season.

In a normal year it produces 7.5 tonnes of the oil each year, 7 million tonnes are exported.

Ukraine’s main sunflower oil producer is Kernel, its chief executive Ilevgen Osypov told CNN they’re struggling to get product to ports for export. . . 

Apiculture NZ secures funding for honey sector strategy :

Apiculture New Zealand has successfully secured funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, for a two-year project that will help identify how the New Zealand apiculture sector can achieve sustainable growth.

“The aim of the project is to establish a strategic direction for the apiculture sector by identifying actionable measures to enable sustainable value growth. This will be driven by a shared purpose, derived from engagement with all participants in the sector,” says Karin Kos, CE Apiculture NZ.

“The sector experienced huge growth following the quick escalation in demand from international consumers for New Zealand’s mānuka honey. But in many ways the sector’s response to meet that new demand has been unsustainable. Now is the time to understand how we can capitalise on the opportunities that have emerged, but at a rate that can be lasting, both for participants and the environment. Apiculture NZ welcomes the Government’s support to help us realise that goal,” says Ms Kos.

The work will look at opportunities to capture more value at all levels of the sector and understand what type of transformation, capability and innovation will be required to capture that value sustainably. . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest series regional finals a success :

The road to the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final is underway, with all regional finals now finished and competitors selected.

Seven FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Finalists, 14 FMG Junior Young Farmer of the Year teams (28 competitors) and 21 AgriKidsNZ teams (63 competitors) will be heading to Whangarei to battle it out for the top awards, this July.

Wanting to celebrate the regional final season loudly and proudly, New Zealand Young Farmers CEO Lynda Coppersmith has called it an absolute success.

“To have travelled across the country during the omicron outbreak, held seven great regional finals with minimum disruptions and selected all our incredible competitors – all with no outbreaks at our events – is a testament to our exceptional teams and volunteers who put this contest together and their dedication and resilience. . . 

Award-winning riverfront cropping and grazing property is place don the market for sale :

A multi-award-winning agricultural block which has been diligently nurtured for generations to produce high cropping yields and grazing conditions has been placed on the market for sale.

The flat contoured 109-hectare property close to Wairoa between Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay is known as Whakapau Farm and has sustained seasonal cropping of vegetables and grains, along with fattening of sheep and beef.

Whakapau Farm has been awarded multiple accolades by Hawke’s Bay-based agricultural and horticultural produce company Cedenco, including highest yield for sweet corn, Organic Grower of the Year, Highest Gross Return, and highest yield. . . 


Rural round-up

08/04/2022

He Waka Eke Noa is now the main game in rural politics – Keith Woodford:

 Rural industry leaders are caught between unhappy farmers and unhappy ministers as they try to find a pathway through the GHG dilemma

The biggest game in rural politics for many years is being played out right now. On one side are some key Government Ministers saying that they are not impressed by current He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) proposals for greenhouse-gas levies being calculated at the level of individual farms. Their strong preference is that levies, at least initially, should be at processor level and passed down to farmers from there.

On the other side are what is probably a majority of farmers, whose preference would be for no levies at all, but who grudgingly support farm-level levies as definitely preferable to processor levies, and even more preferable than the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).  Further out to the side, there is another group of farmers who would like to stop any HWEN negotiations. This group, or at least some of them, are still arguing for no levies at all.

Stuck right in the middle are the 11 mainstream industry organisations, with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb taking a leading role, and getting hammered from both sides. . . 

Labour failing kiwi exporters :

Kiwi exporters will miss out while Australians get ahead after their Government signed a free trade agreement with India, National’s Trade and Export Growth Spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“India and Australia have just signed a free trade agreement that would give 85 per cent of Australia’s exports tariff-free access to the Indian market, including lamb and wool, with wines and certain fruits having lower tariffs.

“Meanwhile, the New Zealand Government has made zero progress on a trade agreement with India, making Kiwis the poor cousins to Australia yet again.

“Our wine industry has to pay a 150 per cent tariff to get into India, while Australians now only pay 50 per cent. New Zealand’s lamb exporters currently pay 30 per cent to sell in India, and Australia now pays nothing. . . 

Bridging the divide between the health sector and rural NZ :

World Health Day brings an opportunity to reflect on the unique challenges rural communities face in accessing healthcare, infrastructure, and services essential to their overall wellness.

Dr Garry Nixon, head of rural section of the Department of General Practice and Rural Health at Otago University and doctor in Central Otago, says access to health services is a significant challenge rural communities are up against.

“Distance is a barrier and rural people don’t get the same access to specialist care. Providing good and accessible healthcare in rural areas means doing things differently to the way they are done in town – not simply providing scaled down versions of urban healthcare.”

Another major issue impacting the health and wellness of rural communities is the severe shortage of doctors and other health professionals in rural areas. . . 

Beautiful story behind award-winning Hawke’s Bay cheese producer  – Afternoons:

One of the big winners in this week’s NZ Cheese Awards was the Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay cheesery.

But Hōhepa, which was established in the 1950s, is a cheese producer unlike any other. It’s part of a charitable organisation that offers home-life care for people with intellectual disabilities.

Artisan cheesemakers work very closely with Hōhepa residents on many aspects of dairy farming and cheesemaking, manager Carl Storey told Jesse Mulligan.

“We have about 180 people that we support with various intellectual disabilities. They work on the farm, milking the cows, tending some of the livestock, they will help us in the cheesery – they make the cheese with us.” . . 

Agrichemical dangers addressed with New Zealand-first technology :

The health of agricultural workers exposed to harmful airborne chemicals is in the spotlight, with one company introducing New Zealand-first technology to limit exposure and help meet the need for increased protection.

A Massey University study found agricultural workers have the highest incidence of leukaemia of all New Zealand occupation groups, likely because of their exposure to chemicals[1]; and there are reports of vineyard workers refusing to operate tractor sprayers due to potential health risks. These can include cancer and respiratory disease.

Canterbury-based company Landlogic Ltd, which supplies New Zealand’s primary sector with machinery and technology, has introduced a new cab air filtration system to the market in a bid to increase worker safety.

The system is manufactured by Freshfilter, a world-leading manufacturer of cab overpressure systems designed to meet strict European standards. It is the first time the technology has been available in New Zealand. . . 

 

Green diesel restriction put silage season at risk – Tamara Fitzpatrick:

Farmers may be “at risk” of not getting their silage cut this year as many contractors are facing quantity restrictions when buying green diesel.

“Deliveries are restricted, there’s no doubt about it,” said Michael Moroney, CEO at Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI). “We are getting anecdotal evidence from some of our members that they are facing delivery restrictions.”

It comes after the FCI called on the Government last week to “ring fence” 200 million litres of green diesel in preparation for silage season.

“I talked to one contractor who needs 10,000L of fuel to get crops in over the next 10 days, but has only been given 1,500L,” said TD Colm Burke in the Dáil last Thursday. . . 


Rural round-up

31/03/2022

Practical and powerful resources growing great workplaces in food & fibre sectors :

Farmer Hamish Murray knows first-hand what it feels like to be short of the resources needed to create a great workplace. In 2014/2015, he and his family’s high-country sheep and beef farm suffered from one of Marlborough’s toughest droughts.

“My cup was empty; I had nothing left to give. When I reached emotional breaking point, it was obvious that to be successful at leading others, I needed to look at myself first. Soft skills aren’t a typical priority on-farm, but they matter the most if you want to attract, train and retain the best team.”

Hamish embarked on a series of coaching courses, mentoring and a Nuffield scholarship. Empowered by his new-found skills and knowledge, he then shared what he had learnt with his team.

“I worked out what I can control or change, and what I can’t. I learnt how to ask better and more open questions. We created a team, not a hierarchy. Accessing some very practical and powerful resources, improved my wellbeing, grew our staff’s self-awareness, and made our family business a better place to work.” . . 

Farmers stressed as Southland’s ‘green drought’ unlikely to break soon – Rachael Kelly:

John Smart looks out the window in the morning, sees the clear blue sky, and thinks it is going to be ‘’another crap day”.

He says he has never seen conditions so dry in his 30 years of farming in Southland, and he is worried that if rain does not fall soon, farmers are going to move from being ‘’stressed to really struggling’’.

“I’ve seen it dry before, but this is different. There’s no wind drying anything, and it’s staying warm even late into the evening.’’

Only 6mm of rain has fallen this month on the farm he is managing just outside Invercargill. . . 

Lack of staff, bad weather and Covid-19 creating challenges for wine harvest – Piers Fuller:

Ripe grapes don’t like the rain, and east coast vineyards are doing their best to get their harvests in before bacteria and mould takes hold.

After a hot summer the grape crops were in great shape, but heavy rains in February and March, and labour shortages are causing headaches for some wineries, particularly in Wairarapa.

Pip Goodwin of Martinborough’s Palliser Estate said it was “all hands to the deck” as they rushed to get their harvest in this year before the grapes were too “compromised”.

“It was a very challenging harvest. The fruit got a little bit compromised by the rain, and then we had no pickers.” . .

Race to beat ute tax – Neal Wallace:

Attempts to beat the ute tax, which comes into force on April 1, have been hampered by supply issues delays.

Vehicle retailers reported exceptional interest as potential purchasers try to beat the levy and replace their utilities, but supply issues have caused delivery delays of up to six months for some models.

The Clean Vehicle Act imposes a levy on high carbon-emitting vehicles, with the money used to rebate or subsidise the purchase cost of new electric vehicles (EVs).

Implementation has already been delayed from January 1 due to covid. . . 

Hunters advised not to release deer into new regions :

Ahead of the hunting season kicking off in earnest, OSPRI and farmers are asking hunters to think again if they are considering illegally releasing and relocating deer into new areas.

Deer hunters can unintentionally spread bovine TB by moving/releasing deer from one area to another area. Over the years OSPRI has worked hard to eradicate TB in possums from large areas of New Zealand. This work can all be undone by the reintroduction of TB infected deer with the potential of spill back of infection into the possum population.

Waikato farmer Leith Chick says Sika deer from the Central North Island in particular, pose a threat of infecting others if they are released in TB free areas.

“Farmers who are getting deer released onto their land should be aware that they are exposing themselves to the risk of bringing TB to their farm,” says Leith. . . 

Comvita partners with Save the Kiwi to help safeguard taonga species :

Comvita has partnered with conservation organisation, Save the Kiwi, in a significant sponsorship agreement that will ultimately provide more safe habitat for the iconic birds across the North Island.

Starting with Makino Station, home to one of Comvita’s mānuka forests in the lush Manawatu-Whanganui region where kiwi already reside, the ambition is that over time Comvita’s properties will become kiwi-safe habitats.

The partnership will see the implementation of predator management plans on land managed by Comvita that will enhance biodiversity and provide kiwi safe habitats to help the endangered population and other native flora and fauna thrive.

Save the Kiwi executive director Michelle Impey says partnering with Comvita is a new and exciting approach for kiwi conservation. . . 

 


Rural round-up

25/03/2022

RUC reduction brings no relief for farm machinery users – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to cut road user charges (RUC) by 36% for three months is cold comfort for contractors and farmers using off-road vehicles that will not qualify for the exemption, Federated Farmers says.

The cut, which will take place from late April to late July, is in response to the spike in global fuel prices. Transport Minister Michael Wood said the change was to support the road transport industry.

For the arable industry, the reduction in charges is too late for this season, with much of the harvest already completed apart from harvesting maize grain, Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

On Williams’ own farm, fuel costs for the three months during peak harvest had almost doubled from $4000-$7000 a month in 2020 to $8000-$9500 a month this year. . . 

Omicron: ‘major impact’ on staff shortages as apple picking peaks  – Tom Kitchin:

Some orchardists say Covid-19 is running rampant through their harvest fields.

It is peak apple harvest time across the country – and Omicron is not showing any signs of slowing down in the two busiest apple harvest regions – Hawke’s Bay and Nelson-Tasman.

Hawke’s Bay grows over 4700 hectares of apples and Nelson-Tasman is second with about 2400.

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrower’s Association chair Brydon Nisbett also runs his own 16-hectare two-orchard apple operation. . . 

Bacteria corralled for quality food outcomes – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann admits he has a dream to see a charcuterie of uniquely New Zealand meats and salamis, along with fermented dairy and plant products on the market someday soon. Richard Rennie spoke to him on how his and his team’s work on fermented foods will make that a reality.

Over the past four and a half years AgResearch’s Fermented Foods research team has managed to slice through tens of thousands of evolved bacterial strains to find those with traits most suited to enhancing the flavour and texture of meat, dairy, and plant fermented food types.

The tool that has enabled them to accelerate the natural process of genetic change, which would otherwise have been an almost impossibly time-consuming and frustrating process, has been a high-throughput robotics handling and assaying (screening) platform, developed by AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann and his team. 

“The platform’s technology allows us to take bacteria, subject them to rapid genetic evolution using sources such as UV light and then identify those evolved variants which exhibit a positive change towards the desired traits,” Altermann said.  . . 

Awakiki Ridges owners clearing out for retirement – Shawn McAvinue:

A couple of teenage sweethearts are looking forward to retirement on their sheep and beef farm in South Otago.

Howie and Marion Gardner (both 66) will hold a clearing sale on their farm Awakiki Ridges in Puerua Valley tomorrow.

Awakiki Ridges has come a long way since his parents, Clyde (now 93) and his late mother, Beth, bought the land and started developing it in the mid-1960s.

The property was once considered “the worst bit of dirt in South Otago,” Mr Gardner said. . . 

Sharing enthusiasm for red meat sector – Shawn McAvinue:

Maniototo man Dean Sinnamon’s new job allows him to pursue his passion for the red meat sector.

Mr Sinnamon, of Oturehua, started in a new role at Beef + Lamb New Zealand in January this year.

His job title is Central South Island South extension manager.

“It’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?” . . 

China tariffs causes Victorian harvest to tank Annabelle Cleeland:

The 2.1-billion litres of unsold Australian wine sitting in storage is wreaking havoc on Victoria’s grape harvest this season, as a storage shortage forces growers to leave grapes on vines.

Last year the nation’s wine exports plummeted $860 million, or 30 per cent, due to China’s crippling tariffs on bottled Australian wine.

China’s anti-dumping duty introduced the last march of up to 218pc for containers of two litres or less, and is set to remain in place for five years.

It has been a blow for the industry with Australia’s wine exports the lowest in nearly two decades, as the volume of wine sent overseas dropped 17pc to 619-million litres in 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

21/02/2022

No cheap entry to split gas options – Richard Rennie:

The cost to run the alternative greenhouse gas (GHG) system for the primary sector now under discussion could cost the sector as much as $90 million a year.

The He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) split-gas emissions proposal roadshow is now well under way across New Zealand, with farmers having a chance to get under the hood of the two schemes presented, both likely to hit farm profits by between 4-6%.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the estimate of up to a $90m a year cost was “quite possible”, but was also one that had been fully imputed into estimates of what the respective farm based or industry-based schemes are likely to have on farm profits.

“There is no doubt, when you scale up the costs at a farm level to an industry level it does come to quite a big number,” Mackle said. . . 

Carbon report calls for a more strategic approach – Colin Williscroft:

Short-term land-use decisions risk the long-term future of New Zealand’s rural landscapes and communities, according to a green paper by former Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule, however, some industry players are questioning parts of the paper’s content.

Managing Forestry Land-Use Under the Influence of Carbon calls for a more strategic approach to planting trees and outlines policy areas for urgent investigation to address the issue.

It was released ahead of a workshop early next month involving stakeholders, including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, councils, forestry interests, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and Local Government NZ.

Yule said the paper outlines the risk that short-term decisions will make to the detriment of long-term land-use flexibility, rural communities and export returns. . . 

New Zealand’s 2022 kiwifruit harvest begins :

New Zealand’s 2022 kiwifruit harvest has kicked off with the first crop being picked this morning in Te Puke and more kiwifruit to be picked around New Zealand over the coming months.

The 2022 season has the potential to be another record-breaking year with more kiwifruit produced than ever before. A forecast of at least 190 million trays will need to be harvested, overtaking last year’s record of over 177 million trays. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit.

Zespri’s new RubyRed variety is picked first which is then followed by the Gold and Green varieties. The harvest traditionally peaks in mid-April and runs through until June.

The sweet, berry-tinged tasting Red kiwifruit will also be picked for supermarket shelves in New Zealand and some overseas markets this year. 2022 marks the first year that RubyRed will be sold as a commercial variety. . . 

Kiwifruit grower and post harvest operator Seeka reports record revenue :

Kiwifruit grower and post harvest operator Seeka has reported a record revenue for the year driven by a rebound in kiwifruit volumes and a lift in production.

Key numbers (for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 vs year ago)

  • Net profit $14.9m vs $15.2m
  • Revenue $309.6m vs $251.5m
  • Operating earnings $56.8m $42.9m
  • Dividend 13 cents per share vs 12cps

The company’s net profit is down 2 percent as 2020’s result included a $5.6 million deferred tax benefit. . . 

Precision Growing technology takes top honours at New Zealand International Business Awards 2021:

A Bay of Plenty business dedicated to “the art of growing for a healthier world” is the supreme winner of the New Zealand International Business Awards 2021, announced tonight [17 February] at the Awards’ first-ever broadcast ceremony. 

The Supreme Award winner, Bluelab, provides high-precision measurement technology for controlled environment agriculture, including greenhouses, vertical farms and hydroponic production. Operating for more than 30 years, Bluelab is internationally recognised as an industry leader, and provides tools and systems to measure critical factors like pH, temperature and moisture levels when growing plants in controlled environments. 

Bluelab’s products are designed, manufactured and exported globally from its base of operations in Tauranga. Bluelab previously won the Excellence in Innovation category at the New Zealand International Business Awards 2019.   . . 

Producer prices increase in the December 2021 quarter :

Producer input and output prices increased in the December 2021 quarter, led by rising prices in dairy and construction industries, Stats NZ said today.

In the December 2021 quarter compared with the September 2021 quarter, prices received by producers of goods and services (outputs) increased 1.4 percent. Prices paid by producers of goods and services (inputs) increased 1.1 percent over the same period.

“Producer prices are increasing, but slower than in the middle of 2021,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said.

“Most industries had increases in input and output prices, with dairy and construction industries having the largest contribution to increases in overall producer prices.” . . 


Rural round-up

18/02/2022

Climate scientists urge countries to adopt split gas approach :

In a paper published in the prestigious Nature journal, 33 leading climate scientists call for countries to take a split gas approach when setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction, such as New Zealand did in our Climate Change Response Act (Zero Carbon Bill).

The paper also encourages countries to use a split gas approach when determining their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. 

The natural extension is that countries should report on warming rather than just emissions, something B+LNZ has been asking for for some time.  

The paper is an important and valuable contribution to conversations about reporting and targets. We’ll be using it as part of our ongoing advocacy efforts, alongside like-minded organisations such as the Meat Industry Association, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Deer Industry New Zealand and others. This means sharing it with Government officials and providing information to media outlets to build understanding.  . . 

Staff shortage still a struggle despite new policy – Neal Wallace:

Just a handful of foreign dairy farm workers and agricultural machinery operators have been granted access following Government changes to the class exception policy approved in December.

Data supplied by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) reveals just 51 foreign dairy farm workers and 15 mobile plant operators have been granted visas under the new class exception policy.

Despite pleas from the meat industry for a class exemption for Halal butchers, approval for inclusion in the scheme is yet to be considered by Cabinet.

The uptake of the revised policy is well short on the number the Government allowed for. . . 

Passion for farming goes a long way – Colin Williscroft:

Align Farms chief executive Rhys Roberts recently won the 2022 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award, which supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector. Colin Williscroft reports.

He may be chief executive of a company that operates seven farms, a market garden, a milk factory and a yoghurt brand, but Rhys Roberts’ pathway was one that has traditionally been followed by many in the dairy sector.

Roberts and his wife Kiri were Canterbury sharemilkers before joining Align Farms nine years ago as farm managers.

Then after a stint as operations manager, he was appointed chief executive in 2017. . . 

Woolly thinking pays off

Serial entrepreneur Logan Williams will be a guest speaker at this month’s East Coast Farming Expo.

He may only still be in his 20s, but Williams has a track record that is the envy of many. The inventor and entrepreneur has already developed and sold four inventions to international corporations, including one that could create a turning point for the struggling wool industry.

Williams is currently combining coarse wool with polylactic acid derived from corn starch and other polymers to produce Keravos pellets that can be used instead of plastic. Torpedo 7 is about to launch a kayak range made from the revolutionary material and trials are well underway with ski boots, furniture, and other products.

“Our factory in Hamilton can make four tonnes a day of these pellets, so the plan is that we partner with large companies who are already making product and away we go – plug and play,” he explains. . . 

Fonterra, NZX and EEX enter GDT partnership for future growth :

Fonterra has agreed a strategic partnership with New Zealand’s Exchange (NZX) and the European Energy Exchange (EEX) to each take ownership stakes in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) alongside the Co-op.

Subject to the approval of Boards, clearance from European or any other relevant competition law authorities, and finalisation of transaction documentation, the partnership is expected to be completed mid-2022, with Fonterra, NZX and EEX each holding an equal one-third (33.33%) shareholding in the global dairy auction platform.

Fonterra Chief Executive Miles Hurrell says the move to a broader ownership structure marks the next step in the evolution of GDT – further enhancing the standing of GDT as an independent, neutral, and transparent price discovery platform, giving it a presence in prominent international dairy producing regions, and creating future growth opportunities. . .

New Zealand’s first plant based milk bottle hits South Island shelves :

  • Anchor’s plant-based bottle, made from sugarcane – which is a natural, renewable and sustainably sourced material – is now available in the South Island.
  • The new bottle is an example of sustainable packaging which is something that is important to Anchor and its consumers.
  • Since the plant-based bottle was launched in the North Island in 2020, Kiwis have saved enough emissions to travel from Cape Reinga to Bluff 363 times*
  • Anchor’s plant-based bottle is recyclable in kerbside recycling collections . . 

Rural round-up

17/02/2022

RATs and lanyards keep top cheese company rolling in Phase 2 – Checkpoint:

A top cheese company is relying on rapid antigen tests (RATs) to keep it going as New Zealand heads into phase two of the Omicron response.

Whitestone Cheese has sourced the rapid antigen tests itself and is waiting to be confirmed as a critical business.

Under the test to work scheme, critical staff who are close contacts of cases can bypass isolation as long as they return a daily negative RAT test.

The aim is to keep food production and critical infrastructure operating as Omicron spreads.

But for Whitestone it has been a maze of rules and an expense to get this far.  . . 

Discussion paper outlines carbon farming threat to sheep and beef sector :

Urgent national policy changes are required to ensure the increase in carbon farming to meet New Zealand’s climate change obligations does not come at the expense of the country’s rural communities, according to a discussion paper released today.

The Green Paper by former Hastings Mayor and MP Lawrence Yule, Managing Forestry Land-Use Under the Influence of Carbon, calls for a more strategic approach to planting trees and outlines policy areas for urgent investigation to address the issue.

It has been released ahead of a workshop next month involving a range of key stakeholders including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, councils, forestry interests, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and Local Government New Zealand.

Mr Yule said the paper outlines the real risk that short-term land-use decisions will be made to the detriment of long-term land-use flexibility, rural communities and export returns. . . 

Mixed message – Rural News:

Farmers and growers can rightly feel somewhat confused about the mixed messaging coming from the Government about the risks to the sector from Omicron.

On the one hand, last week Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced that the Government had allocated $400,000 to support primary producers for contingency planning and response if farmers or growers get Covid-19.

“The Government is committed to keeping vital workforces going. Primary producers have always been essential workers throughout the pandemic, but as Omicron reaches further into our communities, we are stepping up to ensure we can protect the wellbeing of our rural communities,” the Minister claimed.

“Contingency planning by farmers, growers and lifestyle block owners will minimise the risk of further Covid-19 related disruptions, which can occur anywhere along the supply chain.” . . .

Sheep genetic potential holds challenges – Richard Rennie:

Growing pressure on sheep farmers over welfare concerns and climate change are demanding some shifts in what defines the ideal sheep. Richard Rennie spoke to AgResearch animal genomics scientist Patricia Johnson about her team’s work in trying to redefine sheep genetics in a shifting world.

Patricia Johnson likens the recent review she headed on New Zealand sheep and the potential to improve them through genetics as something of a “genetic warrant of fitness” for the species here.

“The work has really been a chance to reflect on where we are going with our sheep in NZ. After generations of breeding for more production, the industry is having to consider the complexities of breeding now for climate change and its impact,” Johnson said.

She acknowledges the significant and world-leading advances made in identifying methane inhibiting genetics in sheep. . . 

Multiple benefits of planting natives on farms :

Multiple potential benefits from planting native shrubs for use as sheep fodder are being researched as part of the Hill Country Futures Programme.

The project, led by Dr James Millner, Academic Dean – Agriculture, at Massey University, was launched in 2019. It currently has three trial sites for a range of native shrubs, looking at palatability, digestibility, protein content and other nutritional charactersistics as well as the Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) for a range of species.

Hill Country Futures is a long-term $8.1m programme focused on future proofing the profitability, sustainabiity and wellbeing of New Zealand’s hill country farmers, their farm systems, the environment and rural communities.

Overall, the research focuses include improving animal productivity, animal welfare, biodiversity and soil health, while mitigating soil eroision and climate change. . . 

Ag tech to drive labour efficiency no longer a now a must – Shan Goodwin:

ADOPTION of agtech that drives labour efficiency is fast becoming a necessity, rather than an option, in the cattle production business.

From drones doing water runs, fence checking and mustering to spraying weeds using artificial intelligence or remote devices removing the need for on-the-ground water and animal monitoring, the need for technology that replaces or improves labour has never been more intense.

Consultants and livestock agents say labour shortages are arguably the single largest issue producers are currently facing.

“It doesn’t matter whether you are in the rangelands or in a high rainfall area close to services – labour shortages are real,” said NSW farm business consultant John Francis, Agrista at Wagga Wagga. . . .


Rural round-up

19/12/2021

New report confirms trend of land-use change from pastoral farming to carbon farming :

The latest analysis of farm sales data confirms the increasing price of carbon in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is driving the conversion of whole pastoral farms into forestry, particularly for carbon farming.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is tracking data on farm sales for conversion into forestry as concerns continue to grow over the unbridled ability of fossil fuel emitters to offset their greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees on productive sheep and beef farms.

These policy settings are estimated to have helped drive the loss of around 800,000 stock units. There are also worrying signs that carbon farming interests are spreading into new areas and onto more productive land.

The latest independent report by Orme & Associates released today shows that in the first six months of 2021, 14,219 hectares of sheep and beef farmland were purchased with the intent for planting into trees (11,585 hectares of exotic planting and 2,634 hectares of planting of natives for honey). . . 

Are rural communities expected to run sausage sizzles to pay for hospital upgrades to manage Covid and holiday makers?

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network and Rural Hospital Network are shocked that the Government’s announcement of half a billion dollars to prepare hospitals for COVID-19 in the community ignores rural communities once again.

The Minister’s pledge to remove the postcode lottery of health care is not being demonstrated in his actions.

Where will Aucklanders and most of provincial New Zealanders flee to this summer? Where will they go next winter during ski season? To their holiday homes, baches, camping grounds, ski fields and Airbnb’s in our beautiful rural backyard.

When COVID hits these visitor hotspots, how are our rural health services and rural hospitals going to care for them? . . 

 

Waimea Dam investigation finds no wrongdoing:

An investigation into the construction of the Waimea Dam has found no evidence of impropriety or hasty, uninformed decision-making, says Tasman Mayor Tim King.

A report on the investigation, which was requested by a number of councillors earlier in the year, was received at a full Tasman District Council meeting on Thursday.

The investigation which looked at the appropriateness of the dam project was undertaken by PJ & Associates and overseen by the council’s Audit and Risk Committee independent chair Graham Naylor.

Staff were interviewed and hundreds of documents and reports were reviewed during the investigation. . . 

Lawyer engaged over West Coast stewardship land -:

West Coast councils have engaged a specialist lawyer in the hope of gaining the government’s ear as it launches the long-awaited review of stewardship land.

More than two million hectares of land was parked in the ‘stewardship’ box under Conservation Department management, when the Forest Service and other government departments were abolished in the 1980s.

About half of it is on the West Coast, where it makes up 30 percent of all public conservation land in the region, and cash-strapped councils are keen to see as much released as possible for development that could yield rates.

The massive job of deciding which of the 3000 separate land parcels belong in the conservation estate and which do not, will fall to independent panels appointed by the government. . . 

New Zealand blueberry prices set to drop leading up to Christmas:

The harvest for New Zealand blueberry varieties has now begun and growers are encouraging Kiwis to buy them as larger volumes come to market, with prices set to drop below $3 a punnet in the lead-up to Christmas.

Last year we consumed 8.6m punnets of blueberries in this country worth over $32m (an increase of 600,000 punnets and $2m on the year before). Blueberries New Zealand Executive Member and Exporter Rep Craig Hall says demand for fruit rich in vitamin C is now soaring around the world thanks to COVID-19, which will likely drive sales up even further this year.

“So far volume has been small on the domestic market, but we’re now getting into the main season and higher volumes are coming through. Both supermarket chains will be promoting blueberries this week and we’ll see the impact of greater supply and lower prices between now and Christmas,” Hall says.

“Post-Christmas, a larger quantity is exported to Australia as their season ends and that can affect New Zealand prices. . . 

CBB op-ed: Comparing beef with plant-based alternative proteins – Norman Voyles, Jr:

In mid-November, I traveled from my farming and beef cattle operation to Kansas City for an ag media event called “Trade Talk.” Hosted by the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB), this annual event offers ag industry broadcast personalities the opportunity to interview representatives from various organizations and companies, all of whom serve this country’s farmers and ranchers in some capacity. As the vice chair of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board this year, I did several interviews, and was quite frankly surprised by how many broadcasters wanted to hear what this guy from Martinsville, Indiana had to say.

They asked me all kinds of questions about the national Beef Checkoff, including many I’ve been asked before – how it works, what kinds of programs it funds, what impact are those programs having on beef demand and so on. However, one new question came up again and again:

What’s the Checkoff doing to address the threat that plant-based alternative proteins pose to the beef industry?

Honestly, this question wasn’t surprising. Like everyone else, I’ve observed news anchors and market watchers bring up plant-based alternative proteins consistently over the past few years. Some even referred to these products and others as “revolutionary” and “game-changing.” However, that’s not how some beef industry stakeholders view these protein alternatives. I’ve been involved in discussions that took me back a few decades when consumer concerns about beef’s role in a healthy diet weren’t considered all that important. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/12/2021

Hands on training to develop future farmers – Colin Williscroft:

AS MOST farmers know, sometimes if you want something to happen you’ve got to get in there and give things a push yourself, rather than wait for action from elsewhere.

That was certainly the case for the Growing Future Farmers (GFF) programme, which recently signed a funding agreement with Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) to help it attract and train more young people in the red meat sector.

After winning the B+LNZ Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year award in 2016, Dan and Tam Jex-Blake realised that if they wanted to do something about the skill shortage facing the sector, they had to be proactive themselves.

Jex-Blake says there was and still is an absolute need to get more skilled people on-farm and the pipeline of young people wanting to enter the industry was drying up. . . 

 

Passion for growing agri-business education – Kate Taylor:

The introduction of agribusiness to New Zealand’s secondary school curriculum was a team effort, but continues to be driven by the enthusiasm of Waikato teacher Kerry Allen.

Kerry grew up near Rotorua on a dry-stock farm that has been in her family for more than 100 years. She worked in a plant nursery at weekends, did a horticulture degree at Lincoln University and then teacher training in Christchurch. After teaching horticulture and then science at Hillcrest High School for 18 years, Kerry took a new curriculum and resource writing position with St Paul’s Collegiate School in 2014.

The idea of an agribusiness curriculum grew from parent feedback that general education wasn’t meeting the needs of the primary sector. St Paul’s introduced agricultural and horticultural science classes, then expanded into agribusiness by using standards from other subjects, re-contextualised in a primary sector context. That worked, but they wanted to take it further as its own subject. They started getting other schools on board and began the process of asking the Ministry of Education to introduce it as a new subject. . .

Deer venture enters new territory – Sally Rae:

“We live it. We love it.”

North Otago farmer Bryce Burnett is talking about his family’s passion for the deer industry and venison which they have been producing at their Kauru Hill property for nearly 40 years.

It was his father Russell who made the move into deer, during the early stages of the industry, buying 30 hinds from Mark Acland in 1982 to add to his sheep farming operation.

Bryce took over in 2000 with his wife Janice, and, two years later, the couple decided to focus solely on deer on the 360ha property, inland from Oamaru. . . 

Bird highway takes flight – Country Life:

There’s a new highway taking shape at the southernmost tip of the North Island but not for sheep trucks or milk tankers.

Farmers like Stu Weatherstone, who operates one of Wairarapa’s largest dairy farms, are getting in behind the scheme to create a bird corridor across the valley.

The four year Tonganui Corridor project linking the Aorangi range in the east and the Remutaka mountains in the west involves planting and protecting tens of thousands of trees on strips and pockets of farmland in the South Wairarapa valley.

It’s hoped the corridor will eventually link the ranges and allow birds, insect life and other native species to flourish across the basin. . . 

Wine industry commences major research programme to protect and enhance New Zealand sauvignon blanc :

Bragato Research Institute (BRI) is excited to announce today that through a partnership with the government, work has begun on its Sauvignon Blanc Grapevine Improvement Programme. The research programme will develop new variants of New Zealand’s premier wine varietal, Sauvignon Blanc, to make the wine industry both more resilient and more sustainable. More resilient by identifying traits such as drought and frost resistance, and more sustainable by seeking natural resistance to pests and diseases.

“The New Zealand wine industry has a substantial track record of coming together to create large R&D projects for the benefit of the industry as a whole. This will be the first national grapevine improvement programme in the country,” says BRI CEO, Jeffrey Clarke.

BRI has designed an accelerated 7-year research programme that will apply the latest genome sequencing technology, after using established tissue culture techniques. This will allow BRI to create up to 20,000 entirely new variants of contemporary New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and then screen them to identify plants that exhibit the most useful traits selected by the wine industry. . . 

‘Replacing meat with highly processed food would repeat the health disasters of the 1970s’ – Dr Gary Fettke:

Wading through decades of nutrition research led orthopedic surgeon Gary Fettke and his wife Belinda to discover how health concerns over meat consumption have been falsified by statistical manipulation, misinformation, and biased promotion, and underlined the propaganda war designed to create a fear of meat and  drive its replacement with highly processed plant products. Dr Fettke outlined the outcomes of his extensive research in his opening statement to the Senate Inquiry into definitions of meat and other foods earlier this week, which appears in full below.

THE 1970’s saw the blame pointed at saturated fat and the introduction of low fat, sugary processed foods.

That was a health disaster.

We cannot repeat that with the demoniSation of meat and replacement with more highly processed and fortified foods. . .


Rural round-up

11/12/2021

Tim Ritchie – iconic meat industry leader dies – Peter Burke:

A man who dedicated his whole working life to the meat industry died suddenly on December 5.

Tim Ritchie, 71, made an outstanding contribution in his many roles in the industry over more than 40 years working for Government, the private sector and the Meat Industry Association and its predecessor, the Freezing Companies Association.

After completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree in marketing and economics at Lincoln University, Ritchie embarked on a wide ranging international career in the red meat sector. He started off at Treasury but then moved to Towers International and then to Waitaki International, both in NZ and overseas. Ritchie told Rural News just after his retirement last year that working for Waitaki in London was the highlight of his career

“There as a 30 something year-old my job was to manage the Waitaki operation in the UK and Europe,” he said. . .

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It’s time to imagine New Zealand without production animals. Anti-farming lobbyistsprobably don’t mean this to be the outcome of their activities, but outcomes are difficult to predict, even when the predictor is an expert in the appropriate discipline.

Lobbyists are experts at getting noticed in the media. The negative coverage of agriculture this month has been extraordinary. Anybody who has read the press, listened to the radio, watched the television or gone to a cinema would be forgiven for thinking that New Zealand is an environmental cot case.

The reality is that pre-Covid, tourists rated the environment at the top of New Zealand’s attractions. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has the data. The reality is also that without dairy, beef and sheep, New Zealanders would not have a first-world and flourishing economy. . . 

Fonterra are farmers under ‘enormous pressure’ – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra chairman Peter McBride has acknowledged that despite the co-op’s improved performance, many shareholders feel under enormous pressure.

He says the rate of change on-farm, Covid, labour shortages and environmental reforms have pushed many farmers into protest, and others out of the industry.

He told Fonterra’s annual general meeting in Invercargill today that some of that change is being driven by regulation.

“More so, it is being driven by consumer, customer and community expectations,” he says. . .

Another day at the office for Pip – Simon Edwards:

Is this one of the best rural photos of the year (even decade)?

It was snapped earlier this week by Pahiatua farmer and Federated Farmers member Nick Perry and has already been seized on by media as a compelling shot.

This is how Nick described what happend:

While crossing a culvert on farm I heard a bleat from beneath me and thought ‘bother there’s a lamb in there’. Knowing full well extracting the lamb might involve getting wet I put off the decision until later in the day. But the bleat was still emanating from the culvert that evening so I selected my two most experienced working dogs, a huntaway and a heading dog, and explained the situation to them. . .

Family living the dream on beef farm – Shawn McAvinue:

An East Otago egg farming family is giving cropping and cattle finishing a crack in the Maniototo.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a field day at Rotherwood, a 737ha beef and cropping farm near Ranfurly, last week.

The farm is owned by the Winmill family — Jeff and Aileen and their children Nina and Ben.

Jeff Winmill, standing on the steps of the homestead, told more than 80 people at the event, about the purchase and transformation of the farm. . . 

Ag records to tumble for Aussie farmers – Liv Casben:

It’s set to be a record breaking year for Australian farmers thanks to strong growing conditions and high global prices according to a report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

If forecasts are realised, Australia’s agricultural production will reach a record $78 billion in 2021/22, with the most valuable winter crop ever expected worth $22.3 billion.

Meanwhile agricultural exports are also likely to hit a record $61 billion.

ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said the good results are expected to be enjoyed across livestock and cropping, with 30-year price highs being experienced. . . 


Rural round-up

04/12/2021

Redone foods not so satisfying – Anna Campbell:

Some years ago, I heard Honest Tea co-founder Seth Goldman speak. He is a vegan and had invested in Beyond Meats, where he was the chairman from 2013-20. He is now on to another venture, the PLNT Burger — a quick-serve animal-free chain, with their most popular menu item being “Cripsy Chick N Funguy Sandwich”.

When I heard him speak, he spoke of two key food trends — “undone” and “redone”. Undone being going back to basics. What our grandmothers cooked, simple, additive free, “naked food”. Redone representing plant-based and cellular meats, cellular eggs — basically anything you can imagine, reimagined.

The redone food category is an investment darling internationally, it attracted $US3.1billion ($NZ4.47billion) of investment in 2020, more than three times investment in the previous year. According to Boston Consulting Group, by 2035, alternate proteins could account for 11% of the protein we eat. This is a far cry from reports published and commentators’ opinions of less than five years ago, where there was a belief no-one would be eating animal-based protein within a decade.

Have you tried an Impossible Burger, or Beyond Meat burger? If you haven’t, you can buy Beyond Meat burgers at local supermarkets in the frozen section for the price of $12.50 for two patties. My husband does most of our supermarket shopping and when I asked him to bring some home, he point-blank refused, based on principle and price . He can be a stubborn fellow, so I had to make a special trip in the name of “market research”. . . 

Nutrient claims are crap! – Jacqueline Rowarth:

A debate has emerged in nutrient management and fertiliser advice, brought to a head by the hype about regenerative agriculture.

Proponents of the latter are telling farmers that the soil has thousands of years of nutrients and synthetic fertiliser isn’t required. The theory is that animals, including worms and other organisms, will make the nutrients available in their excreta.

The opposite approach from soil scientists is that to maintain soil quality, what is removed in animal and plant harvest (or lost to the environment) must be replaced. If improvements in soil quality are required (development), more nutrients than removed will be required. This maintenance or development approach was pioneered in New Zealand by soil scientists in the 1970s and 1980s. They initiated the Computerised Fertiliser Advisory Service with soil tests investigated, chosen for appropriateness for New Zealand soils and then calibrated for New Zealand conditions rather than those of the northern hemisphere.

New B+LNZ role a challenge and an opportunity – Colin Williscroft:

Kit Arkwright was recently appointed chief executive of Beef + Lamb NZ Inc, taking over from Rod Slater, who retired after 27 years in the role. Colin Williscroft reports.

Following in the footsteps of someone like Rod Slater can be something of a double-edged sword.

On the one hand you’re inheriting an organisation and brand that’s in good heart and a household name, while on the other, there’s some big shoes to fill.

For Kit Arkwright, he sees challenge as well as opportunity. . . 

 

Record low number of sheep measles cases detected :

The amount of sheep measles being detected across the country is at a record low of 0.44 percent.

Tapeworms in dogs produce eggs, which when passed to pasture in their faeces, are ingested by sheep.

The resulting parasitic infection doesn’t make sheep sick but causes cysts on the meat, affecting its quality.

Ovis Management, owned by New Zealand meat companies, sheep measles and educates farmers on how to minimise it. . .

Canterbury sheep Burt is more popular than ewe –  Maja Burry:

A Canterbury sheep called Burt has shot to TikTok fame, with one of the two-year old Romney’s latest videos amassing over seven million views.

Burt lives on a farm in Port Levy on the Banks Peninsula, where owner Naomi Abraham started posting funny videos of him during lockdown last year.

Abraham said Burt was a very special sheep whom she had raised since he was a lamb.

“My partner Tom works on the farm we live on and he brought him [Burt] to me one day because he had lost his mum and all the other lambs had already left the farm and there was this little newborn just floating around with no home to go to,” Abraham said. . . 

Defra unveils payment rates for Sustainable Farming Incentive :

The government has announced the payment rates for the UK’s new Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI), which will pay farmers to deliver environmental goals.

Defra Secretary George Eustice set out more information on the SFI on Thursday, which is being introduced as part of a post-Brexit reform of farmers’ subsidies.

The SFI – the first of the UK’s new environmental land management schemes replacing the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy – will be rolled out next year.

The reform is the most significant change to UK farming and land management in over five decades. . . 


Rural round-up

24/11/2021

Sometimes we forget where our watches come from – Peter Cresswell:

The weekend’s #Groundswell protests, and the #Groundswell movement itself, were intended to highlight the plight of the New Zealand farmer under an unsympathetic regime. Instead, however, the organisers have allowed it to become easily gaslighted as something it’s not. As racist, or anti-vax. 

And the important message has been lost: that it’s NZ farmers who allow us to live in first-world comfort — that it’s their exported produce that allows us to buy, at not unreasonable prices, all the technology of the world. As Ludwig Von Mises explained back before electronics took over:

The inhabitants of [Switzerland] prefer to manufacture watches instead of growing wheat. Watchmaking is for them the cheapest way to acquire wheat. On the other hand the growing of wheat is the cheapest way for the Canadian farmer to acquire watches.

The lesson remains the same. To paraphrase now, for us: . . .

‘It’s getting harder and harder to farm’ – Farmers rally for second protest :

Farmers and their townie mates are determined to keep pressuring the government to back off what they see as unnecessary expensive changes after Sunday’s nationwide Groundswell protests.

Driving tractors and utes, they clogged streets in all of the main centres on Sunday to have their say on the government’s Three Waters reforms.

It was the second time the Groundswell group had organised such action, calling the rally the “Mother Of All Protests”.

It was hard to get a handle on the exact numbers taking part, with everybody mostly remaining in their cars and socially distanced, but one thing was for sure: the protesters were rowdy. . . 

New coalition demands a halt to further large-scale exotic carbon farming :

The Native Forest Coalition representing the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Rod Donald Trust, the Tindall foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmond and Dr Adam Forbes, has released a policy statement and recommendations on native forests, highlighting the urgent need to halt the rapid proliferation of pine plantations driven by high carbon prices and short-term policy settings.

The Coalition strongly favours prioritising native forestry over exotics and argues that before seeking offshore carbon forest credits, government should invest in native forests, for their myriad of benefits, at home. The Coalition’s concerns are summarised in the policy statement below: 

“In tackling the climate change crisis, there’s an urgent need to move away from short-term thinking and siloed government policy. We need a shift towards joined-up strategies that also address the biodiversity crisis, the degradation of waterways and risks to rural communities.  . .

Online job expo hopes to entice seasonal workers for picking season :

A job expo which helps link job seekers with jobs in the horticulture sector is moving online this year.

Last year, Employment and Careers South held a series of expos around Southland and Otago to help those who found themselves unemployed due to the pandemic get jobs in the horticulture sector which was short staffed due to the border closure.

With summer just around the corner and the border still shut – some growers are still facing a worker shortage going into the vital picking season.

With Covid event restrictions the job expo called Super Summer Jobs has gone online this year. . . 

Hill Country Futures programme:

Innovative tools to support farmers and farm consultants in pasture planning are expected to become available next year as part of the Hill Country Futures Programme.

Lincoln University’s Professor Derrick Moot, who is leading several of the research areas that make up the programme, said findings from a number of projects are now being written up.

These include a simple model to help farmers forecast potential yields of lucerne for their properties, a national database of pasture growth data, and legume production data to help farmers assess the difference in productivity they could achieve by replacing resident pasture with improved pasture.

Hill Country Futures is a long-term $8.1m partnership programme, co-funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Seed Force New Zealand and PGG Wrightson Seeds. . .

Manawa Honey wins four awards at the London Honey Awards 2021:

A small honey producer from Ruatāhuna, in the remote Te Urewera wilderness, crowned Best Tasting Honey in the World earlier this year, has now won four awards at the London International Honey Awards 2021.

Manawa Honey’s Manuka Honey and Tawari Honey won Gold, and their Rewarewa Honey and Pua-a-Tane Wild Forest Honey won Silver. The London Honey Awards attract hundreds of entries from over 30 countries across the world each year. Entries are judged on a range of criteria including the general sense of enjoyment, taste and appearance.

These achievements and awards are now snowballing for this honey producer that has its community rather than commerce alone at heart. Ruatāhuna is situated deep in Te Urewera forest, home to the Tūhoe tribe. It has a population of only about 350 people residents and is a one-hour drive from the nearest town, Murupara and two-hour’s drive from Rotorua. . . 


Rural round-up

19/11/2021

Timber shortage hits fencing contractors with weeks-long delays :

A shortage of timber means some fencing companies are having to order product months in advance.

Shipping delays related to Covid-19 and an increased demand for new housing have tightened supply of timber this year.

Some have described the shortage of structural timber in New Zealand the worst in living memory.

Mike Renner, who runs Renner Fencing in Marlborough and sits on the board of Fencing Contractors NZ, said he had to order some materials three months in advance. . . 

Checklist helps farmers to be Covid-19 prepared :

Farmers: What’s your plan if someone in your family or among your staff tests positive for COVID-19?

As COVID-19 vaccination rates build and New Zealand begins to transition to coping with the disease without lockdowns and less reliance on managed isolation facilities, the agri-sector and Ministry for Primary Industries have been working together to ensure farmers are prepared.

The latest initiative is a checklist for farmers so that they can tick off preparation readiness in terms of personal wellbeing, and everything a neighbour or someone else coming onto the farm would need to know should key people have to go into MIQ or hospital – right down to the names of dogs and where their food is located.

The checklist is available on the Federated Farmers website and from the other groups that helped put it together: DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, NZ Pork, Deer Industry NZ, Poultry Industry Association of NZ and the Egg Producers Federation of NZ. . . 

Maui Milk signs with new distributor after China trade expo :

A New Zealand sheep milk producer with 13 Waikato-based suppliers has signed with a new Chinese distributor following an international trade expo in China.

The China International Import Export event is normally one of the largest expos each year, and despite Covid-19 forcing organisers to scale things back, it was still a significant show.

Twenty-two New Zealand companies took part in the event, including honey, wine dairy and fruit exporters.

Covid-19 restrictions limited expo visitors this year, but Maui Milk chief executive Leah Davey said there were still about 35,000 potential customers through the doors. . .

Drive to grow skills across the food and fibre sector:

A new partnership between Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games and Farm 4 Life Hub will allow participants in the third annual Allflex Clash of the Colleges to practise their skills before they take the field to compete against secondary students from throughout the mid and lower North Island.

The online video learning platform, Farm 4 Life Hub, has more than 750 videos, all focused on providing people with a better understanding of life and work in the rural sector. Founded by Dairy Farmer Tangaroa Walker, a Kiwi legend with an online social media following of over 250,000, Farm 4 Life Hub videos reach up to 1.6 million people per month, and the total viewership has surpassed 67 million since inception. Farm 4 Life is currently in the early stages of gaining accreditation for its educational videos.

Walker is an avid supporter of the New Zealand Rural Games Trust, and both parties are dedicated to lifting skill levels across the sector. . .

Residency edges closer for shortlist of new organisms :

A tomato plant virus is among seven organisms in line for deregulation, having recently established themselves in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) sought feedback on which new organisms should no longer hold regulatory status as “new” because they are effectively resident in Aotearoa. This deregulation process is conducted under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act, for species that arrived after 29 July 1998.

“We have carefully screened the shortlisted candidates, and no longer consider that they are new organisms because they’ve been present in Aotearoa for some time. This is not an assessment of whether or not we want them in the country, just a recognition of their presence here,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of the EPA’s New Organisms group. . . 

Drench resistance silent production suppressor :

Three years ago, Taranaki sheep and beef farmer Graham Fergus began investigating the reason for frustratingly poor lamb growth rates and discovered an underlying drench resistance problem.

It’s a problem that has been impacting on productivity and profitability and is proving difficult to reverse.

In May 2018, Graham carried out a full faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) and found black scour worms (a species of Trichostrongylus ) were resistant to all drench families tested. All other parasites were susceptible to all drench families tested.

After seeking advice from his vets, Graham implemented three parasite management tools targeting pasture, refugia and drenching. . .


Rural round-up

17/11/2021

Uncertain times ahead – Peter Burke:

NZ sheep and beef farmers will likely face different risks to their businesses in the coming years due to the Covid pandemic.

Beef+Lamb NZ’s chief economist Andrew Burt says there may be more volatility and risks that farmers will have to manage. He says these will be ones that they haven’t had to think about before or haven’t surfaced for over 20 years.

“It may be the case of unravelling the past and creating a new order.”

Burt confirms that while prices for meat are high at present, this is somewhat shielding significant rises in on-farm costs. He also warns that inflation could have a negative effect on farm profits. . . 

MIQ spots ‘bloody hard’ – Sudesh Kissun:

A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. A lack of spots in MIQ have become a barrier for getting international dairy workers into New Zealand. Securing MIQ spots remain the biggest hurdle to getting overseas workers for the dairy sector.

Five months after the Government granted border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, just a handful of workers have arrived in the country.

Now in the dairy sector is pleading for 1500 overseas workers to be allowed into the country and self-quarantine on farms before the start of 2022 season to ease a severe staff shortage.

Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis says a lot of behind-the-scenes work is going with the Government. . . 

How Tomato Pete got lost and found again – Rachel Stewart:

This a story about Tomato Pete – a name given to him by a farmer amused by his vegetarianism.

Tomato Pete is the son of a friend I’ve known since primary school. She had two children to one man, who soon became largely absent from their lives. As a solo mother she worked hard to raise the kids on her own and, as is often the way, it wasn’t all beer and skittles. But it was okay.

I would show up in my truck every now and then, always with one canine or another in tow. Tomato Pete, a quiet town kid, was about seven when I noticed that he really came alive when he was around dogs.

At 13 he got his first puppy. Pip, a gentle-natured black mongrel, became his constant companion. (He’s still alive today, and enjoying his well-earned dotage). . . 

NZ wins big at World Steak Challenge :

Three New Zealand red meat producers won big at the World Steak Challenge in Dublin.

Anzco and First Light Foods won a gold medal each in the ribeye section, while Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef won three gold medals.

Hundreds of beef suppliers from around the world had their finest products judged by an independent panel of chefs and experts at the prestigious event.

Alliance general manager of sales Shane Kingston says the win reaffirmed the status of Handpicked 55-Day Aged Beef as among the world’s best. . .

Gen Z it’s time to make your mark on New Zealand’s food and fibre sector :

Food and fibre sector leaders are counting on Generation Z (loosely defined as those born between 1995 and 2010) to take on the future of New Zealand’s food and fibre sector and meet the challenges it faces.

The key to attracting Generation Z (Gen Z) to the sector will be making them aware of the scope of opportunities across the sector, says Madison Pannett, the Kellogg Rural Leadership scholar behind the report, Generation Z and the environment – how can we use their passion to attract them into food and fibre sector careers?

“I have found my journey into the sector so personally rewarding, so I was keen to explore how to inspire young people to join,” says Madison, who now works for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) as a Senior Adviser in the Animal Welfare Liaison team.

“From my research, I found that Gen Z mainly associates food and fibre sector careers with roles on-farm and not with the wider opportunities that are available,” Madison notes. She says that sector leaders need to tell the story of the scope of rewarding and diverse roles available for Gen Z to contribute and work in line with their values. . .

Western Station buy-up goes way beyond government promises

The acquisition of five western stations by NSW National Parks now totals almost 400,000 hectares in the last year. If you add on travelling stock routes, a large land ‘grab’ would appear to be underway.

Graziers and the community that need them for their economies in the western division are rightly asking questions.

Although some of the purchases were flagged by the government, they are wondering what now is the wash-out from these buy-outs, given the original buy-up was estimated at 200,000 hectares.

It’s estimated that each station in private hands, adds about $500,000 a year into local economies. It’s certain that the national park version will do nothing like that. . .


Rural round-up

05/11/2021

Hey Glasgow we’re way ahead of you :

Federated Farmers believes Climate Change Minister James Shaw should not hesitate to sign the global commitment to reduce methane by 30% by 2030, because New Zealand is already playing its part and working hard to become even better.

The pledge, signed by more than 100 countries, is a commitment to work together to collectively reduce global anthropogenic methane emissions across all sectors by at least 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030.

The pledge does not mean that New Zealand must or should increase our current domestic 10% by 2030 biogenic methane reduction target, which already goes well beyond what is required for the GHG to achieve warming neutrality.

The pledge is clear in recognising that the mitigation potential in different sectors varies between countries and regions, and that the energy sector has the greatest potential for targeted mitigation by 2030. . . 

Farmers are making good money from milk but they should brace to meet commitment to reduce the methane – Point of Order:

A surge in  prices  at the latest  Fonterra global  dairy  auction once  again underlines  how  New Zealand’s dairy  industry  is the  backbone of  the  country’s export economy.  At  the level they  have  reached, dairy farmers  can  look  to  a  record  payout    this  season  from  Fonterra.

Overall,  prices rose 4.3% in  US dollars, and, better  still, 5.1% in NZ$. Star  of the  show  was  the  cheddar  cheese  price, which shot up  14%,  with other  foodservice products also  strong.

The average price for whole milk powder, which has the most impact on what farmers are paid, lifted 2.7% to US$3921 (NZ$5408) a tonne, prompting speculation it will push through US$4000/t.

A  record  payout  is  already  mooted  by  some some  economists  in  the agricultural  sector. Above  $8.80kg/MS, it might  dispel  the  gloom  being  cast across the industry  by Cop26, where the  focus has  shifted to the  need  to  cut methane  emissions. . . 

Food security needs certainty :

The Government must act now to ensure New Zealand growers have certainty in how Covid will handled, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“We are indebted to our growers and producers that provide the food security our country needs at this time.

“But Covid is here and it will inevitably impact essential services such as growers. . . 

Kit Arkwright appointed chief executive of Beef and Lamb New Zealand Inc,:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc (BLNZ Inc) has appointed Kit Arkwright as the organisation’s new chief executive.

Mr Arkwright, who has been fulfilling the role of acting CEO during the recruitment process, has been with the organisation since 2017, most recently as General Manager – Marketing.

Prior to working for BLNZ Inc, he worked in the UK for Great British Racing – the central promotional body for the British horseracing industry – tasked with marketing the sport to the British public.

He succeeds Rod Slater, who retired earlier in the year after 27 years in the role. . . 

Horticulture students place in top three in international food marketing challenge :

Two teams of high-flying university students from Massey and Lincoln Universities have placed in the final three in the recent International Food Marketing Challenge.

The Lincoln University team, consisting of Grace Moscrip, Grace Mainwaring, Kate Sims and Emma Ritchie, came in third place. The Massey University team, consisting of Dylan Hall, Sre Lakshmi Gaythri Rathakrishna, George Hyauiason and Reuben Dods came in second place.

Massey student Sre Lakshmi Gaythri, who’s in her final year of her Agricommerce degree, says this year’s competition was essential for putting her learning into practice.

“It was a great way to challenge ourselves to learn about the structure of the agricultural industry in the US, working on the challenge problem and coming up with solutions all within a short period of time,” says Sre. . . 

Secure water supply offers exciting opportunities in Northland :

The new Kaipara water scheme now underway offers the opportunity to tap into this Northland farm’s horticultural potential. This Te Kopuru property provides a chance to secure an investment in a green field site with secure water access for high value horticulture, offering scale and superior soil types in a highly desired location.

Learn more about how the Te Tai Tokerau water storage project will transform Northland into a horticulture hub for high value crops – www.taitokerauwater.com

Horticultural investors looking beyond the Bay of Plenty for horticultural land with scale and water security can invest in a large Northland property offering excellent growing conditions. . . 


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