Rural round-up

July 6, 2020

The perils of growing food in the era of Covid-19 – Eric Frykberg:

More evidence has emerged of the perils of growing food in the era of Covid-19.

The main problem is that many essential workers from overseas cannot come in because of travel restrictions, either as backpacking working holiday makers, or Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme workers from the Pacific Islands.

This point was made repeatedly by agricultural sectors at a Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee yesterday.

Representatives of the strawberry industry told the committee that had done all they could to attract New Zealand workers – even growing strawberries on tables so that pickers don’t have to toil all day bent double. . . 

Rural water hijacked – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are worried Environment Minister David Parker’s decision to fast track Watercare’s consent to take Waikato River water for Aucklanders will come at the expense of their allocations.

There is concern farmers who were ahead of the Auckland Council’s water company in the queue for consent applications could now miss out because of the decision, Waikato Federated Farmers president Jacqui Hahn said.

“It’s not really right. A region should look after its own.” . . 

Farmers donate meat to charity :

A North Otago farmer who is among the first in the country to contribute to a new meat donation service is hoping others will follow.

Meat the Need is a national charity designed to supply meat to City Missions and food banks.

The meat is donated by farmers, processed, packed and delivered to those most in need.

Altavady Farm’s Kate Faulks was one of the first Silver Fern Farms farmers to support the cause, donating a cow and a beef steer.

She is part of a North Otago family business made up of four farms: two dairy farms (Providence farm, Fortitude farm), one dairy support farm (Living Springs Farm) and one dairy support/beef farm (Altavady Farm). . . 

Report shows swell in demand for irrigation – Daniel Birchfield:

A dry autumn helped the North Otago Irrigation Company pump out its third highest recorded volume of water to properties on its scheme since it was opened close to 14 years ago.

About 38million cum of water was delivered to 163 farmer shareholders, irrigating 26,000 hectares of land in the 11 months to May 31, the company’s report to the Waitaki District Council, presented on Tuesday, showed.

There was strong demand for irrigation over the peak summer period, after a typically slow start in October and November, which the report said was more than offset by demand in December and January.

The dry autumn which followed boosted demand further.  . . 

Hemp success at Darfield farm:

As one of the world’s most controversial (and misunderstood) plants, hemp is good for a whole lot of things: shoes, clothing, paper, you name it. And now it’s proven to be a perfect crop for the Co-op.

It was grown at Fonterra’s Darfield farm as a first-of-its-kind trial to see how hemp grows under dairy wastewater irrigation. They’ve found it’s a profitable, resilient and nutrient-gobbling alternative to the usual pasture grown at the 850ha Darfield farm, located just out of Christchurch.

While Hemp looks like cannabis, it does not contain high levels of THC, the psychoactive substance found in marijuana.

Fonterra’s Regional Farm Operations Manager, Steve Veix says the dry, hot Canterbury summers make it challenging to find the ideal crop to grow on-farm, which traditionally grows pasture. . . 

2020 Tonnellerie De Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year competition to go ahead:

Entries are now open for the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year Competition. Plans are well underway for the regional competitions to take place throughout September and the national final in November.

The competition is open to all those under the age of thirty involved in wine production. This includes cellarhands, cellar managers, laboratory technicians, assistant winemakers and winemakers.

The competition helps stretch the ambitious contestants as well as help them widen their network and start making a name for themselves. . .


Rural round-up

February 2, 2020

ETS legislation will increase costs for kiwis:

DairyNZ General Manager for Responsible Dairy Jenny Cameron is urging Parliament’s Environment Select Committee to carefully consider the implications ETS legislation could have on farms, families and communities and how they manage the impact of the transition to a low-emissions economy.

“We believe that the move to auctioning alongside the removal of the existing price cap is likely to result in a significant expansion to the revenue generated by the ETS and drive up costs” Ms Cameron said.

“The Bill could see emissions prices rise to $50 per tonne, which would mean emissions trading may be adding 14c to each litre of petrol and increasing power bills by up to 20%.

“While New Zealand farmers are not included in the ETS for their biological emissions, they are still included in the ETS for their emissions on things like power and fuel just like the rest of the country. . .

Oamaru Meats flat out – Sally Barker:

Oamaru Meats is flat out processing lambs, having regained its approval to export to China.

The company was shut down in mid-September last year after the Chinese Government suspended its permission to send beef. The situation was caused by beef fat packing that was not up to standard, director Richard Thorp said.

About 140 staff were stood down while Oamaru Meats, owned by China’s BX Foods, worked with New Zealand and Chinese authorities to reinstate the export access. . .

Mum is student winner’s role model :

Lincoln University student Ngahuia Wilson is this year’s Ravensdown Hugh Williams Memorial Scholarship winner.

Her commitment to the agri-sector, academic achievements, innovative thinking and passion shone through, Ravensdown said.

The $5000 scholarship is for Ravensdown shareholders’ sons and daughters studying for agriculture or horticulture degrees.

“It is going to open a lot of new doors and new paths to the things I’m passionate about,” Wilson said. . . 

New markets for new products – Neal Wallace:

Anzco has broadened the products it sells after research made possible by a Primary Growth Partnership. Neal Wallace reveals some of the new products and their uses that come from the carcase of a cattle beast.

Meat company Anzco has commercialised 26 new products as diverse as bones, blood and membranes for humans using research from a seven-year Primary Growth Partnership.

And its FoodPlus programme has identified more than 30 others and has a further eight ingredient and 10 healthcare products under consideration for commercialisation.

The $27 million Primary Growth Partnership is forecast to increase gross domestic product by $200m by 2030 and has increased jobs in the company by 102, many highly skilled and as diverse as advanced processing, technical product development and commercialisation. . . 

What about the potential of goat meat exports?  – Garrick Batten:

Long-time goat industry advocate Garrick Batten questions why NZ meat exporters have not capitalised on the inbuilt and growing Northern American demand for goat meat.

This is despite goat meat’s historically increasing prices. He also asks is why NZ pastoral farmers have not capitalised on the on-farm production advantages to produce that goat meat?

China already has the world’s biggest sheep flock; sheepmeat is well known so NZ product sales – especially mutton – have grown rapidly in recent years.

There are as many goats as sheep in China, all ending up as meat that is interchangeable with sheepmeat in the market. But our Chinese trade never mentions goat meat.  . . 

Tim Hortons pulls Beyond Meat off the menu, saying customers seem to prefer real meat – Michael Lewis:

Tim Hortons has pulled all Beyond Meat plant-based products from its restaurants less than a year after the national rollout, saying that its customers seemed to prefer the “meat option” in their sandwiches.

Under parent Restaurant Brands International Inc., Tim Hortons introduced breakfast sandwiches featuring a plant-based sausage patty in May of last year at nearly 4,000 locations, and then followed up with Beyond Meat burgers in July.

In September, the products were scaled back to Ontario and B.C. only, with the company saying that after some initial excitement, sales slowed as customers seemed to prefer the regular meat products. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 24, 2019

Former Manawatū rugby player directs Kiwi movie about farmers’ mental health – Sam Kilmister:

A former Manawatū rugby player has taken the plight of farmers’ mental health to the big screen. 

Hamish Bennett played a handful of games for the province in the late 1990s and he returns to Palmerston North on Sunday for a special screening of his first feature film, Bellbird.

Bennett lived in Manawatū while studying a bachelor of arts and a post-graduate diploma in teaching. During that time, he played rugby for Feilding Old Boys and donned the green and white four times across two seasons at halfback.  . . .

Stricter winter grazing rules hinted at in government’s first report – Rachael Kelly:

Farmers could expect stricter enforcement of winter grazing practices next winter, and they should be planning ahead for it now.

But the Winter Grazing Taskforce says there is no there is no united view and guidance on best practice for winter grazing in the industry and farmers are not all receiving the same information.

The taskforce was set up by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in response to environmentalists campaign against winter grazing practicesin Southland this winter. . .

National kudos for Kurow venture – Sally Brooker:

A family orchard near Kurow has earned a major national food award.

Waitaki Orchards, which featured in Central Rural Life in March, won the Inspire+ Artisan Awards’ ”frozen” category with its apricot, peach, golden plum and red plum sorbets.

Ellen Watt, one of owners Justin and Julie Watt’s eight children, is responsible for the sorbets. She spends Friday mornings in a commercial kitchen at the orchard, having attended a Timaru baking school for a year and spending nearly a year completing her food compliance qualification. . .

Cheese is the word bank report says – Brent Melville:

The time is ripe for the global cheese industry, agribusiness specialist Rabobank says.

And as with many New Zealand exports, all roads lead to Asia.

In its report, Global Cheese Trade Dynamics, the bank says strong demand prospects for cheese in emerging markets will drive much of the export market expansion.

The report says market opportunities will be underpinned by increasing cheese demand in emerging markets and deficits in those markets, as their domestic production remains limited . . .

 

Don’t blame meat for climate crisis say European farmers -t TOm Levitt:

Meat and farmed animals are wrongly blamed for the climate crisis without considering their benefits for society, argues a new campaign launched by the livestock industry in Europe.

Billboards appeared this week in Brussels metro stations together with a social media campaign #meatthefacts. The adverts are being funded by European Livestock Voice, which is backed by organisations representing EU farmers, foie gras producers and the fur and leather industry.

We believe this campaign is necessary in order to address misinformation,” said a spokesperson for Livestock Voice. The group said they want people “to think about the whole picture and all the consequences that simplistic speeches calling … for a ‘drastic reduction of livestock’ could have on Europe’s rural areas and on society in general.” . .

Vanilla Boom Is Making People Crazy Rich — And Jittery — In Madagascar – Wendell Steavenson :

About 80% of the world’s vanilla is grown by small holding farmers in the hilly forests of Madagascar. For a generation the price languished below $50 a kilo (about 2.2 pounds). But in 2015 it began to rise at an extraordinary rate and for the past four years has hovered at 10 times that amount, between $400 and $600 a kilo.

The rise is partly because of increased global demand and partly because of decreased supply, as storms have destroyed many vines, and a lot to do with speculation. Local middlemen have rushed into the market, leveraging deals between village growers and the international flavor companies that distill the cured beans into extract and sell it to the big multinationals like Mars, Archer Daniels Midland and Unilever. . . .


Rural round-up

September 12, 2019

Nurture our nature workers – Dr Tom Mulholland:

Over the past 20 years I have had the pleasure and privilege of working as a doctor in rural communities and, more recently, in my mobile ambulance. From D’Urville Island to the Chathams, Kaitāia to Bluff on remote sheep stations and arable farms I have seen how farmers toil and, more recently, boil at the ever-increasing pressure put on them.

None was more evident than on a recent trip to a remote valley that must be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It was picture-perfect, completely surrounded by snow-capped mountains under a crisp blue sky and with gurgling azure rivers. The air was clean and, with not a person or car in sight, it was the antithesis of urban life. I relaxed instantly as I  took in  the vista,  my lungs filling with mountain air.

However, the humans trying to  make a living in this stunning but harsh environment are far from relaxed. Scanning ewes, compliance and pastoral chores dealing with stakeholders, and the ever-increasing demands of conservation and people’s opinion make it an even tougher life. . .

Taming the black dog – Luke Chivers:

In the past year 685 people died by suicide. But the number of Kiwis affected by those deaths is almost immeasurable. Elle Perriam, 22, knows what it’s like to lose a loved one. She spoke to Luke Chivers.

The last memory Elle Perriam has of her boyfriend Will is of him laughing, making jokes and creating plans for the weekend.

Days later, he died by suicide. He was just 21.

It was a loss that came out of the blue for everyone who knew him, with aftershocks of grief and loss that rippled from his immediate family and through the wider community. . . 

Struggling youth ‘didn’t want to be judged‘ – Sally Brooker and Gus Patterson:

If Sam Robinson had his way, talking about your feelings would be a school subject.

The 29-year-old who grew up on a farm near Methven is itching to get his message across to mental health professionals and educators, as well as the rural people he spoke to during the recent Will to Live Speak Up tour.

Sam joined Will to Live founder Elle Perriam on the tour of 17 towns throughout the country.

Agricultural worker Elle established Will to Live last year to boost awareness of rural mental health issues after her boyfriend, shepherd Will Gregory, took his own life.

Sam told the Kurow gathering he had battled depression since 2008 but kept it to himself for a long time. That just compounded it.

”I was head boy, in the First XV and First XI – on the outside it looked like I had it all. . . 

Sustainability audits are next – Alan Williams:

Beef farmers will increasingly have to prove their farming systems meet sustainability rules, Rabobank says in its latest quarterly report.

The last 12 months has seen a noticeable step-up in the number and variety of mostly market-led initiatives as beef production comes under more scrutiny over the impact on animals and environment.

The impetus is coming from food retailers, food service companies, processors and producers in response to the changing dynamics, it said. 

And the pace of change will increase further. . . 

Fifty farms to take action:

New nitrogen-reducing project protecting waterways in Canterbury has nationwide relevance.

In the next two years, it is hoped 50 Canterbury dairy farms will be playing a leading role in some key research to further reduce nitrogen leaching into waterways.

Along with all the work dairy farmers are doing to look after their waterways, farmers nationally will be able to follow the project, called Meeting a Sustainable Future, which will focus on how farmers in Hinds and Selwyn can meet nitrogen loss limits and maintain profitable businesses under the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The project will build on sustainable farming initiatives many farmers have already begun and an official project launch event was held recently on a Canterbury dairy farm.

Under the LWRP, Selwyn farmers must reduce nitrogen losses by 30 per cent by 2022 and in Hinds by 15 per cent by 2025, 25 per cent by 2030 and 36 per cent by 2035. . . 

Hawke’s Bay: Rockit apple’s China store takeover earns top accolade :

Innovative Hawke’s Bay apple company Rockit Global Limited has received top international honours at the Asia Fruit Logistica Expo 2019.

The company, recognised across the world for its miniature Rockit apple variety, went home with the Asia Fruit Award for Marketing Campaign of the Year from the Hong Kong event last week.

The company’s general manager global marketing Sandi Boyden said it was a huge thrill to have been acknowledged for the impact Rockit has had within Asia’s fresh fruit and vegetable sector, principally in China, which now accounts for around 50 per cent of Rockit’s global sales. . . 

Kempsey high school students go on farm for work placement –  Samantha Townsend:

At a time when dairy farmers are faced with low milk prices and high input costs due to the ongoing drought – there is a ray of hope.

High schools students at Kempsey are opting to do work placement on farms including dairies where they see first-hand where their food comes from.

According to 2019 figures from Education Minister Sarah Mitchell’s office there are 3835 year 11 and 12 enrollments for agriculture, 1903 for marine studies (including aquaculture) and 2727 studying primary industries. . . 


Rural round-up

August 6, 2019

We’re on board but don’t kill the cash cow – Dr TIm Mackle:

Dairy farmers in New Zealand are world leading producers of low emissions milk, writes Tim Mackle, chief executive of DairyNZ.

We have a reputation for sustainability and we want to keep it that way. While we are committed to playing our part in the transition to a low emissions economy – alongside the rest of NZ – it must be done fairly and consider the science as well as the economic impacts.

There is more in the Zero Carbon Bill that we agree with than we disagree with, but we have serious reservations about the Government’s proposed 2050 methane reduction target of 24 – 47%.  . . 

Don’t sacrifice science for ideology – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Contrary to recent suggestions in the media, there is very little credible research supporting the success of homeopathic treatment of mastitis in dairy cows.

In fact, reviews published recently covering research since 1970 concluded that ‘homeopathic treatments are not efficient for management of clinical mastitis’. A second review covering research since 1981 concluded that ‘the use of homeopathy currently cannot claim to have sufficient prognostic validity where efficacy is concerned’. 

In plain English, if you want to cure your cow, use the antibiotics which have been the subject of rigorous research and been shown to reduce infection. And, of course, suffering. . . 

DairyNZ director Ben Allomes calls it a day :

DairyNZ director Ben Allomes will step down from the industry good body’s board this October.

One of DairyNZ’s Board of Directors for eight years, Mr Allomes was elected by dairy farmer levy payers in 2011, as one of five farmer-elected directors. Since then, the Woodville-based dairy farmer has played a key role contributing to the governance of DairyNZ and provided key support around a range issues, in particular around people and talent.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel credits Ben for his contribution to the board and his tireless advocacy for dairy farmers. . . 

The Innovative farmer: Generating innovation through a farmer and grower-led system of innovation – Matt Hocken:

Executive Summary

The genesis for my Nuffield Scholarship research was a sense that farmers and growers have a number of significant challenges or problems, both on-farm and off that have not been solved, or we are struggling to solve. As we milk, shear, tend and harvest, thousands of farmer and grower-minds around the country turn to these problems and to the dreams we have for the future. We think about our immediate problems, like how much grass have I got to feed my animals, or do I have a water leak?

We think about system problems, like how will I reduce my nutrient use, or what is my environmental footprint? We think about the tough problems like changing consumer preferences, or heightened society expectations and how can we reconcile these. Collectively we think and dream of a hundred thousand ideas. At the moment very little happens with many of these ideas. I want to change that. . .

Food chandeliers highlight grower’s gathering – Gerald Piddock:

Grabbing the low hanging fruit took on a new meaning at Horticulture New Zealand’s annual conference at Mystery Creek.

Decorating the main conference are four chandeliers covered with fruit and vegetables, providing a colourful reminder to growers of their contribution to feeding the New Zealanders.

The chandeliers – each weighing an estimated 200-500kg – contained 250-300 pieces of fruit or vegetables held together by cable ties or hooks similar to those used by butchers to keep the produce in place. . . 

‘Environmental misinformation is damaging British beef market’, Yorkshire farming leader says – Ben Barnett:

Inaccurate portrayals of livestock’s environmental role risk turning off shoppers from buying red meat at a time when British beef offers the best value for money, a farming leader has warned.

Amid the lowest farmgate prices for beef cattle in years due to a market oversupply, some retailers are offering price promotions on premium cuts.

Nonetheless, North Yorkshire farmer Richard Findlay said a culture of misinformation about the impact of livestock on the environment means consumers could spurn the chance to support British beef at a critical time for farm businesses. . . 


Rural round-up

May 31, 2019

Employment model tipped on head – Richard Rennie:

As dairy farmers struggle to hire and keep staff Woodville farmer and DairyNZ director Ben Allomes has tipped his farm employment model on its head. 

He and wife Nicky aim to attract and retain people in an environment that recognises effort and nurtures potential while recognising a work-life balance.

The challenges in attracting and retaining good people and a need to restructure their business two years ago presented the Allomes with a chance to look at how they employ people on their 750-cow operation.

“It also came from a realisation that if I was in this industry for the long haul and was relying upon key people then I had a duty to make it work for them.  . . 

Wellbeing Budget should have worked with farmers on conservation:

The 2019 Budget has left Federated Farmers questioning why the Government’s first Wellbeing budget has left a critical gap in its commitment to conservation.

There is no additional funding for the QEII National Trust or the Ngā Whenua Rāhui Fund. Plus, woefully inadequate funding for the control of wilding conifers, Feds Arable and Biosecurity spokesperson Karen Williams says.

The extremely modest increase in funding for the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme means its work will be going backwards in terms of managing this out-of-control pest.  

“We hoped to see the wilding conifer programme receive more like $25 million per year.  . . 

Farmers milk new technologies – Luke Chivers:

Winton dairy farmers Billy and Sharn Roskam believe tapping into modern technologies is the key to an efficient dairy operation. They spoke to Luke Chivers.

It is 7am.

As daylight breaks on the Southland Plains, Winton dairy farmers Billy and Sharn Roskam’s morning milking is well under way.

Their 36-bail rotary is filled with the steady hum of modern machinery – from automated cup removers to automated teat sprayers and heat patches. 

“It’s all about labour and efficiency,” Sharn says.  . . 

Taieri couple can stay and seek residency – Sally Rae:

A Taieri couple’s future in New Zealand is looking much more certain after they were told they can apply for residency.

Last year, nurse Pawan Chander faced deportation to India after her application for a work visa was declined by Immigration New Zealand, as her husband Harrie’s employment as herd manager on a Woodside was deemed “lower skilled”.

Following publicity about the couple’s plight, Mrs Chander was granted a 12-month visitor visa to line up with Mr Chander’s work visa, which expired this month. . . 

Innovation rewarded – Yvonne O’Hara:

John Falconer’s hydraulic, remote-controlled deer crush, which he designed, was one of the reasons he and wife Mary won the Gallagher Technology and Innovation Award at the 2019 Deer Industry Environmental Awards last week.

“The crush has been a game-changer for us,” Mr Falconer said.

Mr and Mrs Falconer, of Clachanburn Station, Puketoi, won the award for their use of “farming technologies to improve productivity and manage resources”.

They also won the Duncan New Zealand Award for “vision and innovation while mastering a demanding environment”. . . 

Costs up as farmers reinvest back into business:

DairyNZ’s newly-released Economic Survey 2017-18 shows farmers have taken advantage of increased milk income to catch up on deferred farm maintenance and revisit capital expenditure, previously delayed due to lower milk prices.

DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman said the annual farmer survey shows the largest increases in spend during 2017-18 (1 June 2017 to 31 May 2018) were on feed, repairs, maintenance and labour. But, it is likely expenditure has increased further in 2018-19.

“The 2017-18 season was difficult due to a dry spring/early summer for all regions. That affected pasture growth and peak milk production. It’s also the season that Mycoplasma bovis was discovered,” said Matthew. . .

Living off the grid for almost 80 years – Ciara Colhoun:

Margaret Gallagher has lived off-grid for almost 80 years.

When she was was born – near the Irish border in County Fermanagh in 1942 – it was not unusual for families to live without electricity and running water.

Margaret’s neighbours only began to update their homes in the late 1940s and 1950s.

But her family missed the opportunity to join the trend due to her mother’s death, when Margaret was 10, and her father’s ill health. . . 


Subsidies ignore science

May 29, 2019

The Carbon Zero Bill isn’t being led by science when it comes to methane:

Farmers should be able to use forests to offset methane and nitrous oxide emissions, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton says.

And he says fossil fuel emitters should not be allowed to use forest to offset their gas.

That will lead to better quality land use change.

Upton was responding to farmers’ concern the Government’s Zero Carbon Bill will lead to wholesale afforestation with inevitable land use change in response to climate change.

But the shape of that land use change can be better managed by farmers working together and taking a landscape approach to establishing forests rather than blanket planting by those seeking to simply offset their emissions, Upton said.

“That’s the bit I think needs to be thought about a bit harder.” . . 

Farmers are more than concerned about this.

We’re all exhorted to follow the science on climate change but the government is going against the science in allowing fossil fuel emitters to offset their gas with forests.

It’s doubling the damage by not allowing farmers to offset methane emissions with trees.

It’s also going against the Paris Accord which said emissions mitigation shouldn’t come at the expense of food production.

The sale of productive farmland for forestry is already having a negative impact or rural communities:

Subsidies for forestry are distorting the market for farmland, killing jobs and the science says it won’t work to offset fossil fuel emissions.

Politics, bureaucracy and emotion trump science and facts again and farmers and rural communities will pay the cost.


Rural round-up

March 25, 2019

Being solutions-focused key part of the role  – Sally Rae:

A rural career always beckoned for Selina Copland.

Growing up on a sheep, beef and cropping farm in Mid Canterbury, she was always out on the farm with her siblings.

At school, while she was interested in agriculture, the topic was never really pushed as a career which was disappointing, she said.

Originally, Ms Copland hoped to get into rural banking and she completed a BComAg, majoring in rural valuation at Lincoln University. . . 

Introducing the 2019 Sheep Industry Ambassadors:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand have selected two Sheep Industry Ambassadors to represent this country at the Australia – New Zealand – United States Sheep Industry Ambassadors programme (formerly known as TriLamb). They are Tom Whitford from Northern Waikato and Cameron Russell from Southland. New Zealand will be hosting the 2019 programme and the Ambassadors will be touring New Zealand in late March. This week we meet Tom Whitford.

Industry needs to raise the bar

Narrowing the gap between this country top operators and those at the other end of the scale is one of the challenges facing this country’s sheep industry.

This is according to B+LNZ’s 2019 Sheep Industry Ambassador Tom Whitford who says while this country has some outstanding sheep farmers, there are still a lot of average producers and lifting their performance can only be better for the industry as a whole. . . 

Dry weather cutting dairy production boosting costs – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand milk production fell from year-earlier levels for the first time in 11 months in February due to dry weather.

The country’s dairy farmers produced 165 million tonnes of milk solids in February, about 0.1 percent less than the same month last year, according to Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand data.

The decline was the first since March last year and trims the production gain for the season that started in August to 4.9 percent. . .

Oregon couple living the dream despite problems with predators – Sally Rae:

Bill and Sharon Gow reckon they are living the dream. The American ranchers, who were holidaying in New Zealand recently, run a cow-calf ranch in Roseburg, Oregon.

The operation was recently taken over by their son, Colton, although they still remain involved. The couple are first-generation ranchers.

Neither comes from a farming background, although it was Mr Gow’s lifelong dream from when he was a child. . . 

How can. Self-awareness and self-reflection ignite a farmer’s motivation to engage in leadership  – Ben Allomes:

Changing economic and social pressures in the rural sector mean farmers need to change the way they act and react to challenges if they want to survive and thrive. Strengthening rural leadership has been identified as a key opportunity to help famers to respond and adapt to their changing environment both on-farm and with in their wider sector. From the findings of my research, self-awareness and self-reflection are two recognised traits that show strongly in farmers who are performing well in leadership positions. The link between self-awareness and leadership is strong (Musselwhite, 2007), but the understanding of this link by farmers is limited.

By understanding their past, their experiences and actions, and connecting that with their personality type and leadership style, farmers will be more empowered and prepared to step into the leadership roles that are required to ensure the agriculture sector remains vibrant and adaptable in the future. When a farmer makes time to learn about and reflect on their past experiences, it creates a lightbulb moment. . . 

Food Crime Unit pledges tougher action on food fraud – Felicity Hannah:

Businesses that commit food fraud in order to lower costs or boost supplies could soon face criminal prosecutions.

The National Food Crime Unit’s new chief, Darren Davies, wants to see firms that fraudulently use cheaper substitutes criminally prosecuted.

Food fraud rarely makes the news. The last major one was the 2013 horsemeat scandal. Goods prone to substitution also include olive oil and coffee. . . 


Rural round-up

January 2, 2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly — 2018 year in review – Rural News editorial team:

As we bid farewell to another year it’s time for the annual review of 2018 in the primary sector as seen by the Rural News editorial team.

The good:

The great start award: to outgoing Zespri chairman Peter McBride for his level-headed, down-to-earth approach on taking up Fonterra directorship. An independent thinker and experienced hand. Is he the next Fonterra chair in waiting?

Straight talking award: kumara grower and Vegetables NZ chairman Andre De Bruin for honest opinion on drugs and employment issues – rather than the usual PR massaged ‘never say anything controversial’ comment that does not face issues head-on. . . 

Sodden, mouldy fruit dumped after rainfall destroys Canterbury harvests – Maddison Northcott:

Southern berry growers are feeling the squeeze as hundreds of kilograms of sodden, mouldy fruits are thrown away after the most devastating season in decades.

Paul Tapper, from Tai Tapu’s Tram Road Fruit Farm, said the unseasonably heavy rain throughout November and December destroyed crops and caused up to 300kg of strawberries to go mouldy before they could be collected. . . 

Japanese farmers set to face-off against NZ imports :

Japanese farmers are set to compete with cheaper agricultural products imported from New Zealand and Australia as the first tariff cuts under the re-jigged Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal take effect tomorrow.

Tokyo’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports that tomorrow Japan will axe tariffs on kiwfruit, grapes and melons, and cut tariffs on imported beef from the current 38.5 percent to 27.5.

It reports the number of stores selling New Zealand beef are likely to increase and a big company – Itoham Foods – is planning to sell more beef from its New Zealand subsidiary. . .

Fonterra strives for better year in 2019 – Samesh Mohanlal:

South Canterbury’s dairy industry has experienced a turbulent year with an increasingly “impaired” public perception adding to its woes, but Fonterra’s head of Farm Source for Canterbury, Marlborough and Tasman, Charles Fergusson plans to take the bull by the horns and clear the air in 2019.

The biggest hurdle of the year, the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis proved devastating for individual farmers, businesses and the wider community, and Fonterra posting its the first ever loss this year has also kept Fergusson busy.

“The year 2018 has been a tough one for the co-operative,” Fergusson says. . .

Extra production does not necessarily mean extra dollars – Pam Tipa:

The extra and hidden costs of bringing in feed can often mean increased milk production, but not increased operating profit.

In fact, sometimes producing the extra milk can cost money, DairyNZ research scientist Dr Jane Kay told a Northland Dairy Development Trust field day at Wellsford. . .

NFU brings industry together to discuss no deal Brexit:

The NFU brought more than 70 representatives from the agri-food supply chain together in London in December to discuss the impacts of the UK leaving the EU without a deal in place.

The NFU has been clear that the UK leaving the EU without a deal would be ‘catastrophic’ and is ‘not an option’ for UK agriculture.

The whole supply chain was represented – from seed to shop shelf – representing from pre and post farm gate. . .


Rural round-up

December 6, 2018

Dairy product prices climb as whole milk powder gains – Margaret Dietz:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy product prices rose at the Global Dairy Trade auction, stemming a decline that began in May.

The GDT price index gained 2.2 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago. The average price was a US$2,819 a tonne, compared with US$2,727 a tonne two weeks ago. Some 36,450 tonnes of product was sold, down from 42,966 tonnes two weeks ago.

Whole milk powder climbed 2.5 percent to US$2,667 a tonne. . . 

Dairy bosses are best employers:

In the first-ever Primary Industries Good Employer Awards dairy farmers Ben and Nicky Allomes won the top accolade, the Minister of Agriculture’s Award for Best Primary Sector Employers.

Woodville dairy farmers Ben and Nicky Allomes have been named the Best Primary Sector Employers. 

The couple, who own Hopelands Dairies, also won the Innovative Employment Practices award. . . 

Fonterra reaches provisional deal with Beingmate:

Fonterra Cooperative Group has reached a provisional deal with Chinese partner Beingmate Baby & Child Food to unwind their Darnum joint venture in Australia.

The joint venture – 51 percent owned by Beingmate and 49 percent Fonterra – produced infant formula products at the Darnum plant in Australia for Beingmate’s Chinese customers, and was a key component of Fonterra’s plan to expand its reach into China’s second and third-tier cities. . . 

Voting for the 2nd Fonterra Directors’ Election is underway:

Voting is now open for the 2018 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Second Election.

Only two candidates from the first election, Leonie Guiney and Peter McBride, obtained more than 50% support from voting shareholders. The Rules of the first election state that if not enough candidates obtain more than 50% support, there must be a second election. . . 

Dairy loan done on a handshake, details to follow:

It beggars belief that the Government has dispensed a $9.9 million low-interest loan to a dairy company without having finalised the terms, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Minister in charge of the Provincial Growth Fund couldn’t tell the House what terms he had in mind when he undercut commercial lenders to provide debt funding for a new processing plant.

“I wouldn’t blame any business like Westland Milk for accepting a cheap loan from a secure lender. . . 

Apple producer’s underlying profit looks to be at top end:

Apple producer Scales has had a bumper year with a record export crop lifting profits to the top end of guidance.

The company’s underlying profit was likely to be at the top end, or slightly exceed, the current guidance range of $58 million to $65m, in the year ending December.

Managing director Andy Borland said it was an excellent performance for the group, with all business units performing well over the year. . . 

New Landcorp chair appointed:

Dr Warren Parker has been appointed as Director and Chair of Landcorp, the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Shane Jones announced today.

Dr Parker is a former Chief Executive of Scion (the NZ Forest Research Institute) and Landcare Research, and was previously Chief Operating Officer of AgResearch. He currently holds a number of board roles including on Predator Free 2050 Ltd, Farmlands Cooperative Society, Genomics Aotearoa and is the Chair of the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group. Until recently he was Chair of the New Zealand Conservation Authority. . . 

Landcorp out of touch with real farmers:

Landcorp’s submission to Sir Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group (TWG) is a kick in the guts to rural communities, National’s Nathan Guy and David Carter say.

“Landcorp’s sneaky submission to the TWG proposing a water tax, nitrogen fertiliser tax and not opposing a capital gains tax proves how out of touch the state-owned company is with farmers on the ground,” Mr Guy says.

“With 6700 other submissions, why was Landcorp pressured to put in a submission that was more than a month late? The reality seems to be that the TWG are hell-bent on introducing environmental taxes and a capital gains tax, so they leaned on Landcorp to submit supporting more taxes and levies. . . 

New president and vice president elected to HortNZ board:

The Horticulture New Zealand board elected Barry O’Neil as its new President and Chairman at a meeting today. Mr O’Neil replaces Julian Raine, who has been President and Chairman for six years and who has made a significant contribution to horticulture for New Zealand. Mr Raine has stood down to pursue other business interests.

Bernadine Guilleux was elected Vice-President, with both positions effective from 1 January 2019. . . 

Busy orchardist advises small businesses start payday filing:

A Hawke’s Bay orchardist is advising fellow small businesses to be ahead of the game on payday filing.

This is the mandatory requirement from April next year for employers to file their payroll information to Inland Revenue every time they pay their staff.

Te Mata Figs owner Helen Walker has been paying her five staff fortnightly and sending across their details using the online entry method in myIR. . . 


Rural round-up

October 2, 2018

Fonterra’s China farms are a target for asset sales – Keith Woodford:

This is the first of a two-part series putting Fonterra’s China Farms under scrutiny. In this first part, the focus is on the origins of how Fonterra managed to entrap itself in its loss-making China Farms project.

Fonterra’s new leadership team of Chair John Monaghan, CEO Miles Hurrell and CFO Marc Rivers has made it clear in recent farmer meetings that debt reduction is a priority.  All options are supposedly on the table. However, the only way to achieve rapid debt reduction is by selling non-strategic assets. In that context, Fonterra’s China Farms must surely be lined up in the cross wires.

Fonterra’s China Farms have been loss-making for at least four years. Accumulated losses over that period, using market prices rather than internal transfer prices, total NZD $179 million EBIT.  These losses are before any contribution to Fonterra’s unallocated overheads of nearly $500 million per annum or paying interest on the borrowed capital. More detail on that in Part 2 of this series. . .

Planting a billion trees – Primary Land Users Group:

How does that relate to the Waikato Region under PC1?

The Government has set a goal to plant one billion trees over 10 years (between 2018 and 2027).

Why plant 1 billion trees? The short answer is because trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and turn it into wood, which holds carbon for as much as hundreds of years. Trees absorb CO2, protect the soil, improve water quality and create wildlife habitat. The long answer is because New Zealand has committed to reduce greenhouse gas levels which contribute to climate change. It has three reduction targets – for 2020, 2030 and 2050.

Urbanitess keen for a career in dairy :

One in five of all people wanting to take up a dairy apprenticeship is coming from New Zealand’s biggest city, and Primary ITO chief executive Linda Sissons says many more will be needed where they came from. Primary ITO (industry training organisation) and Federated Farmers are celebrating the first year of the joint Federated Farmers Apprenticeship Dairy. . .

Have your say on the dairy herd management scheme:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) wants to hear from the dairy industry and people with an interest in how the dairy herd improvement regulatory regime can help to ensure that New Zealand’s dairy industry remains world leading.

The dairy herd improvement regulatory regime has not been comprehensively reviewed since it was established in 2001, says Emma Taylor, MPI’s Director of Agriculture, Marine & Plant Policy. “It’s important the dairy herd improvement regulatory regime reflects the changing needs of the dairy industry. It’s timely to look at how the regulatory settings can better support industry both now and into the future. . .

Consuming milk at breakfast lowers blood glucose throughout the day :

A change in breakfast routine may provide benefits for the management of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Dairy Science. H. Douglas Goff, PhD, and the team of scientists from the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit at the University of Guelph, in collaboration with the University of Toronto, examined the effects of consuming high-protein milk at breakfast on blood glucose levels and satiety after breakfast and after a second meal. Milk consumed with breakfast cereal reduced postprandial blood glucose concentration compared with water, and high dairy protein concentration reduced postprandial blood glucose concentration compared with normal dairy protein concentration. The high-protein treatment also reduced appetite after the second meal compared with the low-protein equivalent.

“Metabolic diseases are on the rise globally, with type 2 diabetes and obesity as leading concerns in human health,” Dr. Goff and team said. “Thus, there is impetus to develop dietary strategies for the risk reduction and management of obesity and diabetes to empower consumers to improve their personal health.” . .

Capacity crowd expected at inaugural ‘Beyond Bovis’ seminar:

 Hundreds of farmers and rural professionals are expected to attend the inaugural ‘Beyond Bovis’ seminar in Hamilton next month Held in conjunction with the Waikato A&P Show the event is, according to the Director of Showing Waikato, Doug Lineham, the first of its kind in New Zealand, its goal being to rebuild and strengthen the New Zealand cattle industry in the wake of Mycoplasma Bovis (Mb).

The impact of (Mb) has extended beyond the breeding and animal containment strategies of individual farms to a widespread impact on the movement of all cattle,” Doug Lineham said. . .

 

Do the bullies drink milk, eat ice cream?

May 24, 2017

The increasingly strident anti-dairy campaigns are hitting dairy farmers’ children:

Children of dairy farmers are being bullied at school, just because of the work their parents do.

This was revealed by DairyNZ director Ben Allomes, speaking at a dairy farmers’ forum in Manawatu recently.

Allomes says such behaviour is terrible, and it seems the campaign against dairying is being ramped up as the September election draws near.

Dairy farmers are becoming very sensitive to criticism and feel ‘got at’ by the mainstream media, he says.

“When we start hearing more of the negative media stories it impacts more on us and we are more critical of ourselves and more aware of the impact.

“When you read and hear nothing but negative media stories it brings you down and you are more sensitive to it.

“Farmers get out of bed to do their best for their family and the rest of their country but then get cut to pieces. It isn’t pleasant… especially for kids at school being bullied.” . . 

Do the children bullying dairy farmers’ children drink milk, eat cheese, ice cream or yoghurt?

Do the adults who swallow the anti-dairying messages eat dairy products and do they realise how much poorer the country would be and how much less there would be to spend on social services and infrastructure if it wasn’t for the billions of dollars in foreign exchange which dairying earns?

The economic contribution doesn’t excuse poor environmental practices.

But contrary to too much of the media coverage, most farmers are not environmental vandals and are working very hard to ensure are farming sustainably and, especially, that they are looking after water ways.


Rural round-up

December 12, 2016

Alliance manager connected with land – Sally Rae:

Agriculture is in Heather Stacy’s veins, both personally and professionally.

Ms Stacy started work last month in the newly created role of general manager, livestock and shareholder services, at Alliance Group.

Brought up on a dairy farm in Gippsland, a major Australian dairy region east of Melbourne, she had always had a sense of adventure.

“Throughout my life and career, I’ve done a lot of different things,” she said. . . 

Driftwood puts sculptor in her happy place:

Meet Zeus, possibly the quietest stag in Otago.

He is also cheap to keep, does not require feeding and is proving quite a drawcard on his roadside location near Karitane.

Zeus is the creation of East Otago woman Sharon Cunningham, who has been making driftwood animals for several years.

She started with some small pieces, including a poodle, and then progressed to some larger pieces, including a pony, a pig and piglets and a dragon. ‘‘I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan so I had to make a dragon,’’ she said. . . .

Supply-driven global meat markets to put pressure on prices – Rabobank:

· High supply and competitive market expected to push down global meat prices

· China forecast to maintain record levels of pork imports into 2017

· More complex production market forecast, with pressure to mitigate threats including concerns over antibiotic use and greenhouse gases

· New Zealand beef production to remain restricted as a result of herd rebuilding. New Zealand lamb returns are being challenged by a strong currency, despite some improvement in export conditions in some markets. . . .

Lincoln University’s funding cut by $2.4m -John Gerritsen:

The Tertiary Education Commission cut $2.4 million from Lincoln University’s funding earlier this year, official documents reveal.

They show the commission decided the university’s Telford division should no longer be protected from enrolment drops by a funding guarantee introduced after the 2011 Canterbury earthquake.

The guarantee, or funding recovery exemption, ensured Canterbury universities and polytechnics were funded at their pre-quake enrolments even if they enrolled fewer students and it runs until the end of 2018.

The commission’s board removed the exemption from the Telford section “due to its significant under delivery and poor incentives”. . . 

New Chair for NZ Dairy Industry Awards:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Trustees have chosen Woodville dairy, beef and cropping farmer Ben Allomes as Chair at a recent trust meeting.

Mr Allomes has been a DairyNZ director since 2010 and a supporter of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards since he and his wife first entered in 2002.

Mr Allomes and wife Nicky won the Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Sharemilker of the Year title in 2008 and went on to win New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year. They still have the same sharemilking position they did then, plus an equity partnership, equating to 1300 cows. . . 

New Zealand orange roughy gest top  international sustainability tick:

New Zealand’s three largest orange roughy fisheries have been certified as meeting the international gold standard for sustainable fishing by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) (MSC release).

This achievement further demonstrates New Zealand’s commitment to sustainable fisheries management, Deepwater Group Chief Executive, George Clement says.

“This milestone achievement validates the seafood industry’s ongoing investment into sound, scientifically grounded fisheries management and our desire to have our main fisheries recognised as meeting the world’s most rigorous sustainablity standards,” he says. . . .

Orange roughy fisheries certified as sustainable:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed certification of several orange roughy fisheries by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

“This is a great success and recognition for a fishery that was in real trouble in the early 1990s,” says Mr Guy.

“A huge amount of work has gone into rebuilding this fishery over the years by industry and successive Governments. To now have it recognised as sustainable by an independent, international body is worth celebrating.” . . .

Potato industry further strengthen biosecurity partnership:

Potatoes New Zealand Inc. (PNZ) today signed an agreement with Government to better protect the potato industry it represents in managing biosecurity.

The industry group became the 14th partner organisation to join the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Biosecurity Readiness and Response. The Deed was signed by representatives from PNZ at a ceremony held on a potato farm in Koputaroa. Attendees included PNZ and Government representatives, the Hon Nathan Guy – Minister for Primary Industries and the GIA Secretariat. . . 

Potato industry joins GIA biosecurity partnership:

The potato industry has become the thirteenth industry partner to join the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“It’s very pleasing to have Potatoes New Zealand working with the Ministry for Primary Industries and other industry partners on biosecurity,” says Mr Guy.

“It means we can work together on managing and responding to the most important risks like tomato- potato psyllid. . . 

Nominations open for Beef + Lamb New Zealand governance roles:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is seeking nominations for two farmer director positions and a role on the organisation’s Independent Board Remuneration Committee.

In line with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Constitution, two electoral district directors will retire by rotation at next year’s annual meeting and they are Andrew Morrison (Southern South Island) and George Tatham (Eastern North island). . . 

Maintaining peat performance – Bala Tikkisetty:

Proper management of peat soils in the Waikato region is a crucial issue for both the profitability of farming and environmental protection, particularly as we head into summer.

A highly productive resource peat soils are, however, a literally shrinking resource as they lose moisture. But the good news is that there are strategies farmers can use to protect them and mitigate the impacts of their use on the environment.

Waikato region has about half New Zealand’s peatlands, some 94,000 hectares containing 2.7 billion cubic metres of peat. . . 

Image may contain: plant and nature


Rural round-up

September 30, 2015

Deer, sheep and cattle spread the risk in uncertain times – Kate Taylor:

Diversification is one of the keys to success for Central Hawke’s Bay sheep, beef and deer farmer Matt von Dadelszen on Mangapurakau Station.

Combining breeding deer, velvet stags, bull beef, breeding ewes and finishing lambs gives the von Dadelszens a mix of stock classes on the property at any time of the year… and a buffer when prices drop in one sector.

“The way we’re set up it’s easier to react,” he says. “Changes can be made quickly for different markets. Every year is a good solid year thanks to the diversity of the farm. We’re not at the mercy of one market.”

Matt and Paula von Dadelszen farm in partnership with Matt’s parents Ponty and Jane on the 1000-hectare property in the Flemington farming district, south of Waipukurau. They are on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s southern boundary with Horizons Regional Council with two-thirds of the farm in Hawke’s Bay. It is a summer-safe farm with an altitude of 370 metres above sea level up to 620m and an annual rainfall of about 1250mm. . . .

Cold winds bring death to East Coast farms – Kate Taylor:

Hawke’s Bay farmers still in the middle of lambing are counting the costs of this week’s rain deluge.

More than 400mm of cold rain fell at Trelinnoe, the Te Pohue property farmed by former Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills and his brother Scott. They started lambing the day before the rain began.

“There is hardly a lamb surviving,” Bruce Wills said. “It’s not good … finding it hard to find a live lamb anywhere. It’s frustrating and annoying to do all the work all year and then, flipping heck, Mother Nature comes and does her thing.

“A week ago we were talking drought. On our country once we get 350mm, even with all of our 15,000 trees and all our good work, Mother Nature takes over.” . . 

Farmers ‘would really struggle’ without Filipinos:

A North Canterbury dairy farmer who helps support migrants when they move to the area says she’s not surprised to hear Filipino workers falsified documents to secure visas.

Hundreds of Filipino workers on dairy farms are under scrutiny after authorities in the Philippines revealed dozens have arrived on visas based on false documents.

They are also looking into claims some of the men paid as much as $1,500 to a recruiter who falsified work experience and qualifications in a bid to get them a better job.

Sharron Davie-Martin is based at Culverden, North Canterbury and said there’s about 70 Filipinos working on local dairy farms and without them, farmers would really struggle. . . 

Concerns about water quality computer-modelling:

Waikato Federated Farmers is warning that there would be a massive impact on the local economy if computer-modelling to improve water quality in the region was followed through.

The modelling has been produced to look at the impacts of implementing changes, such as land-use and in particular moving away from dairying.

It is estimated it would cost anywhere between $1 and nearly $8 billion over a 25-year period to clean up the Waikato and Waipa rivers and their tributaries.

It is based on scenarios ranging from making the rivers suitable for swimming, fishing and healthy biodiversity, to no further water quality decline, but with some improvements, or just holding-the-line with no further degradation. . . 

$10k Rates Club Raising the Bar

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the formation of Federated Farmers $10k Rates Club – an informal grouping of members who share the unwelcome bond of payment more than $10,000 a year in general rates.

“The club has been a way for us to capture stories, gauge the trends in general rates and add another string to our lobbying bow,” says Senior Policy Advisor Nigel Billings, who helped found the club back in 2005.

The club remains strong but times have changed – and, as Nigel admits, it might be time for a rebrand.

“Unfortunately, $10,000 rates notices are not as rare as they used to be for those in our rural communities. We’re thinking we might need to change the name to the $15k Rates Club. It may even need to be $20k.” . . .

Rural theft is gut wrenching – Chris Irons:

Rural crime is getting out of hand and something has to happen or we may need armed defender callouts to rural communities. The recent spate of thefts in the Waikato has been sickening especially for sharemilkers who are doing it tough trying to stay afloat with the downturn in dairy prices.

Huntly farmer Philip Thomas had his four- wheeler stolen in broad daylight and then suffered the indignation of watching the thieves ride off brazenly out his farm.

As most farmers know quad bikes are key part of the daily running of our business, it’s not a toy, more a necessity. The Huntly farmer had all his aids and ropes stored on his bike which he needed for calving. . . 

NZ Dairy Awards Develops Future Leaders:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is proving to be a breeding ground for future industry leaders.

Six of the 10 candidates currently seeking election to the Board of Directors of DairyNZ cite their participation in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards on their curriculum vitae.

Two candidates, Ben Allomes, a Director seeking re-election, and Elaine Cook are former New Zealand Sharemilkers of the Year while another candidate Greg Maughan is a former longstanding chair of the Awards executive organising committee and former regional winner in the Sharemilker of the Year competition.

Another former regional Sharemilker of the Year winner is seeking election, Murray Jamieson, while Steve Hines is a past entrant and judge. Grant Wills has judged entrants in the awards. . . .

Treble Cone’s busiest ever snow season:

Treble Cone Ski Area (Wanaka, New Zealand) celebrated the Closing Day of a successful snow season that achieved a number of key milestones last Sunday.

This winter Treble Cone received it’s highest ever visitation since forming as a company in 1968 and installing the first rope tow in 1969, with a record number of skier visits in 2015.

The momentum and vibe at Treble Cone has been building over recent years, with stability in pricing coupled with tweaks and improvements across the guest experience.

Anticipation prior to this season was fantastic, with record online interaction and engagement, and increases in early bird season pass and pre-season lift pass sales.

Leading into winter 2015 Treble Cone introduced additional groomed intermediate trails in the Saddle Basin through summer earthworks and snow fencing which proved very popular. . . 


Nuffield scholars announced

November 2, 2014

A diverse group of rural New Zealanders has been chosen as the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars:

Nuffield New Zealand and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have announced the scholarships at a function in Wellington for West Coast dairy farmer Bede O’Connor; Woodville dairy farmer Ben Allomes; Rotorua-based DairyNZ regional leader Sharon Morrell; Whanganui farmer, entrepreneur and conservationist Dan Steele and Fonterra employee Satwant Singh from Morrinsville.

The five new Scholars join more than 145 others who have been awarded Nuffield Scholarships in the past 60 years, which has been a substantial investment in New Zealand agriculture’s past, current and future leaders, says Nuffield NZ chairman Stuart Julian Raine.

“Only a handful are awarded each year so a Nuffield Scholarship is one of rural New Zealand’s most valuable and prestigious awards. To be a Scholar is a life-changing experience.”

The Nuffield NZ Scholarship offers the opportunity for overseas travel, study of the latest developments in a number of leading agricultural countries and provides an introduction to leaders and decision makers not accessible to the ordinary traveller.

One of the current 2014 Scholars is Palmerston North potato grower, agricultural contractor and equity dairy farmer Paul Olsen.

“It has been a brilliant experience for me, seeing other countries and a variety of cultures, mind boggling but also eye opening. New Zealand has a huge opening for the future, in terms of things like food proteins and niche products, it’s there for the taking. It’s a massive opportunity for us to take on the challenge.”

Olsen says the Nuffield name opened many doors.

“I visited some massive operations – people wouldn’t hold back. It was 100 per cent nuts and bolts business information you wouldn’t get any other way.”

He says the contacts made and networks formed will last a lifetime.

“I made some very strong contacts and friendships, especially through the UK, Ireland and Scotland. Many of them are coming to stay here in the next 18 months or so as well, either travelling individually or finishing their own Nuffield Scholarship travels.”

Nuffield Scholars travel internationally for at least four months in their Scholarship year (not necessarily consecutively), participate in a Contemporary Scholars conference with 60 Nuffield Scholars from around the world and attend a six-week Global Focus Programme with an organised itinerary through several countries with other scholars. They also have their own individual study programme with a research report due at the end of their travels.

The 2015 research topics are likely to cover issues such as the internal growth potential of China; recognising and utilising New Zealand’s greatest asset – its people; farming communities’ responses to changes in environmental regulations or other constraints; the potential of “Brand New Zealand” and how having communities involved in conservation will show value in looking after the environment; and farmer understanding of their financial and overall business health focusing around budgeting, risk management, stress levels for farmers, suicide levels and farming pressure.

The five 2015 scholars are:

Bede O’Connor, West Coast

West Coast dairy farmer Bede O’Connor is milking 340 cows on 170 hectares near Westport and is an elected director of the Westland Dairy Co-op. O’Connor, 43, has achieved a 25 per cent increase in production over the past three seasons after purchasing his family’s farm in 2011. He would like to develop a self-sufficient farming system to combat the influences of more frequently occurring climatic events. He is a member of the West Coast TB Free Committee, West Coast Rural Support Trust and the West Coast Focus Farm Trust. He was a regional judge for the Dairy Industry Awards Trainee of the year and is an active member of West Coast Federated Farmers.

Sharon Morrell, Rotorua

Sharon Morrell is a regional leader with DairyNZ in Rotorua. Her role is a mixture of direct farmer interaction and leading a small team running discussion groups, field days and workshops. She also works alongside strategic partners, including the BOP Dairy Stakeholders Group. After gaining a Bachelor of Agricultural Science Morrell worked as a MAF farm advisor. With husband Ross she has worked on farm and raised four children. She did some supervisory and consultancy work before moving to DairyNZ in 2010. She attended the Kellogg Rural Leadership programme in 2011.

Dan Steele, Whanganui

Dan Steele is a farmer and conservationist living and working on Blue Duck Station – a 1460 hectare sheep and beef station and conservation project at Whakahoro, surrounded by Whanganui National Park. After working with his parents on the neighbouring Retaruke Station for seven years, Steele built Blue Duck Lodge in 2005, started Blue Duck Station in 2006 and founded the Wild Journeys commercial jet boats partnership in 2010.

Steele is involved with the Ruapehu Regional Tourism Organisation (Visit Ruapehu), Ducks Unlimited, NZ Wetland Care and the Whanganui National Park Conservation and Historic Preservation Trust.

Satwant Singh

Satwant Singh works for Fonterra during the week and on the family dairy farm near Morrinsville at the weekends. Singh, 30 and her husband Sunil Krishna live in Auckland – during the week she is part of the Fonterra Commodity Risk and Trading team as an Originator. One of her achievements is the Guaranteed Milk Price programme for farmers. She became an area manager for Fonterra in Morrinsville (2008-2012) after working as a Service Specialist for Fonterra (2006-2008). Singh has a Bachelor of Management Studies with Honours (Majoring in Marketing and Human Resources) and a Graduate Diploma in Accounting from the University of Waikato.

Ben Allomes

Dairy farmer Ben Allomes and wife Nicky own a half share in an 850-cow farm at Woodville; are 50/50 sharemilkers on a 400-cow farm at Woodville and a 215-cow property at Ruawhata; and also lease two other properties. Allomes is a farmer-elected DairyNZ director and on their local school Board of Trustees. He has been heavily involved with NZ Young Farmers, Primary ITO, Dairy Industry Awards, Fonterra Network and DairyNZ. While president of Young Farmers, 2007-2009, he helped to restructure and reposition the organisation and jointly led the development of the NZYF leadership “Pipeline” programme now adopted by industry “Generate” Steering Committee.

You can read more about Nuffield here and find a lsit of previous winners here.


Rural round-up

July 21, 2014

A balanced lifestyle – Sally Rae:

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards reinforced to South Otago couple Brendon and Suzie Bearman they were ”heading in the right direction”.

The couple, who farm a 245ha property south of Milton, received the Otago Regional Council water quality award, LIC dairy farm award and PGG Wrightson land and life award in this year’s Otago BFEA awards.

The opening date for entries in the 2015 competition is August 1 and Mrs Bearman encouraged people to enter. It was a good forum to promote farming in a positive light and the ”good things” people were doing on farms needed to be highlighted, she said. . .

Caution urged on intensification – Andrea Fox:

Not long ago Irish dairy leaders were saying New Zealand dairy farmers had lost the plot on cost competitiveness.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle recalled they gave him stick about the Kiwi move to higher inputs and this country’s flirtation with cow housing. 

Now the Irish are fearful they will go down the same road, with European milk production quota limits coming off next year. . .

Skills key to future success – Andrea Fox:

Sharemilkers will always be among us but the future pathway to farm ownership will be through the classroom, sector veterans say.

With the number of herd owners from the traditional nursery, 50:50 sharemilkers, shrinking in the past decade, from more than 3000 to 2229 last year, there is a question mark over who will be the dairy farm owners of the future as land prices, which spawned sharemilking, continue to rise.  

Sharemilker, farm-owner and DairyNZ director Ben Allomes said as the dairy industry grew in size and maturity, it would not be so much the sharemilking system that would be the ladder to farm ownership but an ability to work whatever system there was to get traction. . . .

Molesworth Station: From ruin to redemption :

The story of Molesworth is one of ruin to redemption, says the author of a book on the iconic high country station.

”It’s sort of a heroic theme really and a lesson in fantastic land management,” says Harry Broad, the journalist and conservationist behind Molesworth: Stories from New Zealand’s largest high-country station.

Harry is one of the authors at next weekend’s Marlborough Book Festival, where he’ll share stories of the incredible history, landscape and people of Molesworth.

The 180,000-hectare Marlborough station was ”close to ruin” by 1937, due to poor management, aggravated by low wool prices, a plague of rabbits and winters that could kill a third of its sheep. . .

Beef, lamb exports near peak – Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand beef and lamb exports are at almost record levels for the first nine months of trade this season.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand figures show lamb exports reached $2.06 billion for the nine months to June, despite volume dropping by 3.6 per cent and the disadvantage of a strong dollar.

The buoyant meat export figures are in contrast to recent slumps in dairy prices. In a shock fall, dairy prices dropped 8.9 per cent at the latest Global Dairy Trade auction earlier this week and are down about 35 per cent from recent peaks. . .

 

Single farmers looking for love – Kelly Dennett:

A new Facebook page that helps farmers find love has created a stir in the provinces.

NZF Singles invites country folk seeking companionship to post their photo and information for others to peruse.

The applicants could see who liked or commented on their photo and add them online accordingly.

For those seeking something a little more casual, a Russian roulette style system called Second Chance Sunday invited people to post their Snap Chat names or phone numbers on the wall for others to get in touch.    . . .


Allomes win Sharemilker of Year

May 26, 2008

When you’re overseas it is a little disconcerting to realise how little New Zealand features in other countries’ media. Tonight I’m feeling the same way about rural news in our own media.

 The Sharemilker of the Year competition took place at the weekend. Had I not been listening to the Farming Show at lunchtime and heard Jamie McKay interviewing Ben Allomes, who with his wife Nicky, won the national title I wouldn’t have known anything about it.

 Ben aged 30 is National President of Young farmers and a two-time finalist in the National bank Young Farmer contest. He and Nicky have purchased their first farm, 50% share milk 400 cows on one farm, 250 cows on another and lease a 140 hectare beef block. They also have three children aged 4, 2 and nine months.

 

A Dominion profile   (published when they won the regional final in March) explains how they wrote down their goals.

One was to have $1 million in assets in 10 years. “We wrote it down but we didn’t tell anyone,” he says. “We didn’t want to hear other people’s negative views. But seeing it in print made us believe it was possible.”

 

Later, they attended a Dexcel strategic management course and wrote a new mission statement: “To have a happy healthy family and a low-stress sustainable farming business providing freedom and security.” They were both 22.

By dint of heard work they are well on their way to achieving their goals and their story is one which ought to appeal to town and country alike.

While they are proud of their achievements, they don’t want people to get the impression it has all come easy. “We’ve had to work hard and make sacrifices,” Mrs Allomes says.

“While other people our age were spending their money on their social lives, travelling overseas and buying flash cars, we were staying at home and putting aside every penny. We could spend up now, but that will come later. We think we can make better use of our money on the farm for now.”

“We want to enjoy our time with our kids now,” Mr Allomes says. “That’s the beauty of working on a farm; it’s your home as well as your workplace. And we want our children to be brought up knowing what hard work is all about; that money has to be earned, not taken for granted.”

The full awards list is here.

 

 


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