Rural round-up

06/05/2020

Turning the environmental table on urban households – Cameron Bagrie:

Farmers have worn the pointed fingers on the envirionment despite most playing by the rules and many doing even better than what the rules require. It is rural communities we can thank for much of the environmental progress we’ve already made.

There are isolated instances of poor behaviour – just as in any industry, but in aggregate, farmers are moving forward.

Increasingly, farmers have been required to operate under Farm Management Plans (FMPs), against which their environmental performance is audited.

City folk should consider what their equivalent of an FMP – call it a Household Management Plan – would look like. . .

New Zealand Agricultural Show cancelled  – Tracy Neal:

The South Island’s largest springtime event, the New Zealand Agricultural Show, has been cancelled for the first time since World War 2.

Organisers said public safety concerns and a fragile financial position were behind the decision to cancel this year’s November show.

The Canterbury A&P Association made the announcement today, saying the likelihood of a lingering response to the Covid-19 crisis made planning for such a large event untenable.

It was now also calling for public help to secure the event’s long-term future. . .

Two-pronged approach needed to address dairy staff shortfall:

DairyNZ is calling on the Government to work with the dairy sector to address a looming staff shortage for the coming season, that has been exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19.

By the end of September around 2500 visas are due to expire for migrant staff currently working on dairy farms. Many are based in Canterbury, Waikato, Southland and Otago. Both farmers and farm staff are desperately seeking certainty.

“We estimate that even if all migrant dairy workers currently in New Zealand were retained, there could be a shortfall of up to 1000 employees for the coming dairy season,” said Dr Tim Mackle, DairyNZ chief executive.

“This suggests that we are going to need to take a two-pronged approach to address the staffing shortfall that will include both retaining our migrant workforce and recruiting new Kiwis into our dairy sector. . .

NZ coconut and avocado oil producer to expand into the Pacific :

A New Zealand coconut and avocado oil producer, who is promising Pacific farmers much higher returns than they currently get, hopes to start operating within just months.

Whangarei-based Cocavo is headed by Chris Nathan who has been trying to set up operations in Fiji since 2018.

He said it’s taken awhile to find the right piece of land, and there were other difficulties, but they now have equipment, and building should soon be underway.

Mr Nathan said there is also strong interest from Luganville on Vanuatu’s Espirito Santo. . .

Safe domestic travel should be considered at Level 2:

The New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association and Game Animal Council are joining other tourism and recreation organisations in calling for an easing of domestic travel restrictions at Alert Level 2.

“Hunting guides, helicopter operators, accommodation providers and outfitters have suffered considerably through the lockdown,” says New Zealand Professional Hunting Guides Association President James Cagney. “Domestic travel will allow some of these businesses to restructure their offerings to New Zealand customers and keep operating.”

“While the industry has missed out on this year’s roar there is still fantastic late-autumn and winter hunting available, particularly for bull tahr, chamois, red stags and late rut sika. It would be fantastic if New Zealand hunters were able to get out and enjoy these opportunities and at the same time support the livelihoods of those in the industry.” . . 

Dairy processors warn on coronavirus disruption – Carlene Dowie:

Executives from two of Australia’s biggest dairy processors have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting markets in ways not seen before.

Bega chairman Barry Irvin and Fonterra chief financial officer Marc Rivers told the Pac Partners/Westpac 2020 Agfood Virtual Conference on Wednesday having diverse manufacturing options had allowed them to adapt.

Both pointed to immediate lower commodity prices but saw glimmers of positivity for the future.

And both said there was a need for further rationalisation of Australia’s dairy manufacturing base. . .

 


Rural round-up

05/03/2020

Tears for a life’s work – Tim Fulton:

Farming with Mycoplasma bovis is an alien experience, one full of officials and strangers in full-length protective jumpsuits washing down yards and troughs, for the Wobben family. Tim Fulton reports.

Despite being a hard-nosed man with a bent for confrontation Roel Wobben is crying for his cows.

The family will lose their 2700 cows and have already lost nearly as many young stock and bulls to a Mycoplasma bovis cull.

They milk through two sheds on their irrigated 710ha North Canterbury farm, doing about 500kg MS a cow and calving twice a year. There’s also a second 285ha farm nearby milking 900 cows, run by a contract milker. . . 

Open Farm day draws 5,500 visitors:

Over 5500 people spent the day on farms around the country on Sunday.

45 farmers opened their gates to visitors on Sunday for New Zealand’s inaugural nationwide open farm day.

Farms of all types and sizes participated: from high-country sheep stations in Otago to dairy farms in the Waikato and even an indoor, vertical microgreens producer in Wellington.

A wide range of activities were on offer for visitors, says Open Farms founder Daniel Eb. . .

Shearer is up for a challenge :

Colin Watson-Paul shore sheep for 30 years. 

Now he trains others, including seven women who recently learned to shear to raise funds for Farmstrong.

He says he got a real buzz out of teaching the novice shearers.

“Shearing’s easier said than done but they can all shear a sheep now. There’s been a lot of humour. They’re a great bunch of women, who will have you in stitches. Now when they go out they talk about sheep shearing, believe it or not.” . . 

New Zealand grass-fed butter in Whole Foods first:

Premium butter produced by Lewis Road Creamery has become the first New Zealand dairy product to be stocked US-wide by American supermarket giant Whole Foods.

The New Zealand grass-fed butter is now on Whole Foods shelves in 37 states, including in flagship stores in Union Square, New York, and Austin, Texas.

The butter is made from milk that meets a stringent 10 Star Premium Standard that covers grass-fed, free-range, animal welfare, human welfare, environmental sustainability, and climate change mitigation. . . 

Bega value-add strategy helps combat drought impact – Carelene Dowie:

Bega’s milk intake has fallen 13 per cent on the back of drought and increased competition for milk supply, hitting the company’s earnings.

But the half-year statutory profit of NSW-based dairy and grocery business lifted 3.5pc to $8.5 million, due to growth in its branded consumer and food-service business.

The company also pointed to improved performance at the former Murray Goulburn Koroit, Vic, milk-processing plant, which it acquired last year, the improvement in milk returns following the closure of its Coburg, Vic, factory and new toll-processing arrangements as contributing positively to the result. . . 

Farmers angry after senior government adviser says UK could import all food ‘like Singapore’ – Greg Heffer:

The UK has a “moral imperative” to produce its own food, the chief of the farmers’ union has said after it emerged a senior government adviser argued Britain could import all produce.

Minette Batters, the president of the National Union of Farmers, hit back at suggestions the UK could copy nations such as Singapore and import all its food.

In emails obtained by The Mail On Sunday, Dr Tim Leunig – an economic adviser to Chancellor Rishi Sunak – wrote that the food sector “isn’t critically important” to the UK and farming and fishing “certainly isn’t”. . . 

 


Rural round-up

15/02/2016

Earnscleugh put to trial – Sally Rae:

Alistair Campbell has clocked up a few kilometres perusing gullies on Earnscleugh Station – all in the search of the perfect dog-trial course.

The Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club’s annual trials will for the first time be held at the station, on February 21 and 22.

Mr Campbell, himself a keen dog triallist, said he had done ‘‘some miles” trying to find the right spot, even waking in the middle of the night thinking he had found it – only to find out, in reality, he had not. . .

Bank on bright side but farmers sombre – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers are facing another tough year but a ‘‘generally strong year” is being picked by Rabobank for most other sectors.

Solid demand in key offshore markets, recent progress in export development and generally tight global supply was likely to bring another good year for producers of beef, wool and horticultural products, food and agribusiness research general manager Tim Hunt said.

While beef prices had lost some ground in recent months, they remained well above multi-year average levels and were expected to receive support from a generally tight global market. . . 

Poachers, fed-up farmers and guns don’t mix – Andrea Fox, Mike Watson:

The potential for flashpoint confrontations between fed-up farmers and poachers on their land has never been higher, a farming leader says.

Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman and a Bay of Plenty farmer, is urging closer communication between rural households and police as landowners face increasing trespass intrusion by game hunters and livestock killers after free, and saleable, meat.  

“My big concern is farmers getting so frustrated with trespassers – whatever they’re doing on the property – that they’re running the risk of confrontation situations.  If you are regularly having stock rustled or whatever, you get bloody determined you’re going to catch them,” Powdrell said. . . 

Top shearers to meet Welshmen in second test:

Manawatu will host the fourth test when New Zealand’s top shearers meet the best from Wales.

The small town of Apiti in northern Manawatu will host the shearing test at its agricultural and pastoral show on February 27.

Then the final test will be held at Pahiatua on February 28.

New Zealand won the first test, held at Marton, and the second was won by the New Zealanders in Balclutha at the the weekend.

Kiwi shearers Dion King and Tony Costerhope took a  2-0 lead over Welsh shearers Richard Jones and Gwion Evans. . .  

Family gem hits the market – Jessie Davies:

AN OPPORTUNITY to bag a slice of one of the biggest and oldest grazing properties in the Bega district has opened.

For the first time since settlement the Collins family’s “Oakhurst” is being offered for sale.

The 388-hecatre (960 acre) property has been in the family for almost 150 years.

The property is priced at $1.4 million through LJ Hooker Bega. . . 

Stocktake of a new kind for farmers:

While farmers may be used to taking headcounts for stock, they’re now being asked to check the number of earth worms in their ground.

A handful of worms collected from a small clod of soil is an indication of a healthy productive pasture.

The Waikato Regional Council wants farmers to count the number of worms in a 20cm cube of soil, with 30 to 35 worms being the ideal number.

Worms increase the depth of topsoil and the carbon content by burrowing, digesting and mixing soil and plant residues. . . 

World-Class Cheese Judged by World’s Best:

New Zealand’s growing international reputation has helped secure the strongest international judging panel yet for the 2016 New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

Top critics from USA, UK and Australia will join local experts to judge more than 420 entries over a two-day competition this month.

Master Judge Russell Smith, one of Australasia’s most experienced international cheese judges and educationalists, said, “The Kiwi dairy industry is revered around the globe and we are also growing a reputation for quality cheeses and innovative cheesemakers, making the event a drawcard for high-calibre judges.” . . 


Rural round-up

14/11/2013

End in sight for TPP talks – Nigel Stirling:

Trade Minister Tim Groser says negotiators are on track for an end-of-year deadline to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks but whether it is met will depend on the leaders of the countries involved.

At last month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Bali TPP leaders, including New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, exhorted negotiators from the dozen Pacific Rim countries involved to step up efforts for the deal to scrap trade and investment barriers.

Groser said NZ’s chief negotiator David Walker had been involved in an intense round of meetings since the Bali talks. . .

Record price in N Canty:

An irrigated 129ha North Canterbury farm has sold at auction for $6.7 million, or $52,300 a hectare, a record price for a North Canterbury dairy farm.

PGG Wrightson Christchurch agent Peter Crean said Gairloch, sold by his colleague Athol Earl, was converted to dairy in 1995 and has milked about 450 cows, with production peaking at 188,000kg milksolids last season.

“We have a strong board of motivated buyers at present with few local dairy properties of this calibre available, so it was no surprise that the sale achieved such a positive result,” Crean said.

Five bidders took part in the auction and the room was full of others including bankers, farm valuers and neighbours, he said. . .

Minister pays tribute to drought heroes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has paid tribute to Rural Support Trust members at a function in Parliament tonight, thanking them for their work during the drought earlier this year.

“This was the worst drought in 70 years and a very tough time for many rural communities.

“Rural Support Trusts worked tirelessly to lift farmer and community morale. I want to salute them for the work they did in sitting around the kitchen table with so many farmers, supporting them to find a way through.

“They opened doors to vital support service and helped people to make better decisions for themselves, their families and their livelihoods.

“Many farmers are staunch and reluctant to ask for help. Their farms can be geographically isolated, and the stress can affect the whole family. . .

Speech to the Global Food Safety Forum – Nathan Guy:

. . .I’m very pleased that the Global Food Safety Forum has chosen New Zealand as the location for its first such event outside China.  New Zealand is a fitting choice, given the strength of the relationship between our countries, the importance of China as a growing market for New Zealand’s high-quality food exports, and our well-deserved reputation for having a world-class food safety system.   

Today I want to emphasise the critical importance of food safety – for the environment that supports us all, the health of consumers, and the strength of our economy. In particular, I want to emphasise how critical it is that we all play our part in that system.

New Zealand is in the business of food. We produce, process, retail, import and export food. Agriculture, fisheries and forestry, are central to our economic wellbeing, contributing 12.7% of GDPand representingover 11.8% of employment.

Food exports account for 54 per cent of New Zealand’s total export value and our food and beverage exports go to around 200 markets. . . .

New Zealand’s fisheries performing well:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has now released its 2013 summaries of the Status of New Zealand’s Fisheries which confirms most New Zealand fisheries are performing well.

Highlights from the 2013 review show that:

Both stocks of hoki have now increased for seven consecutive years and both are now well within or above their management targets. As a result it has been possible to increase the quota from 90,000 tonnes to 150,000 metric tonnes

The recent discovery of a new aggregation of Chatham Rise orange roughy has led to a favourable revision of the status of this stock. . .

What it takes to compete in the global dairy industry- Dr Jon Hauser:

The dairy industry is a hot topic in Australia at the moment. Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, a prized dairy asset in southwest Victoria, is up for grabs. There is currently a 3 way bidding war between local publicly listed dairy company Bega, farmer co-operative Murray Goulburn, and the Canadian dairy giant Saputo.

This week United Dairyfarmers Victoria organised a meeting of farmers in Warrnambool. The UDV is a farmer representative group charged with lobbying government and industry on behalf of Victorian dairy farmers. They invited me to talk about the global dairy market – what it takes to compete, and what industry capital and marketing structures are best suited to serving farmer interests. This article reproduces the main content of the presentation. . . .

New CEO for Dairy Women:

The Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board has appointed Zelda de Villiers as its new chief executive.

De Villiers, managing director of DeLaval New Zealand, has more than 20 years’ experience in the international agricultural industry.

She has also worked for DeLaval International in Sweden and NZ, where she has been based since 2009.

Before joining DeLaval, she spent the first 10 years of her career in the agricultural finance and rural banking sector in South Africa. . .

Farm Open Day showcases transformation of sunshine into food:

One of Canterbury’s most productive and most visited farms will open its gates to the public of Christchurch on Saturday 23 November 2013, with its inaugural Farm Open Day.

The Farm Open Day to be held at the Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) from 1.30pm to 4.30pm will enable visitors to find out how grass becomes milk, milk gets to the supermarket and all the bits in between.

“Farming is the amazing transformation of sunshine, nutrients and water into food (and fibre)” says Dr Andrew West , Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University and Chairman of SIDDC (South Island Dairy Development Centre). “The Farm Open Day will showcase that transformation from sunshine, nutrients and water through plants, into animals and into our kitchens, dining rooms and cafés.” . . .

Getting school students to cherish our water:

With the summer break just around the corner, us Kiwis will be heading to the beaches, rivers and streams to relax, swim and have some fun. But all that depends on the quality of the water. Lincoln University’s extension programme, Waterwatch, is an interactive programme that involves school students monitoring the ‘health’ of their local rivers or streams.

According to the 6th biennial survey Peoples’ Perceptions of the State of the New Zealand Environment released in 2011, the most important environmental issue facing New Zealand is ‘water pollution and/or water’. So freshwater is an area of particular concern to New Zealanders.

Thanks to the support of The Canterbury Community Trust, Waterwatch is able to provide a fun, flexible and accessible programme of hands-on activities that encourage the sustainable management of, and responsibility for, our waterways. . .


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