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. . .


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