Rural round-up

19/07/2021

Dismiss protesting farmers as rednecks at your peril, Prime Minister– Claire Trevett:

The rules sheet issued by organisers of Friday’s Howl of a Protest showed farmers have learned from the errors of past protests.

It warned those taking part not to get into “heated arguments with people.”

“We want to be the sensible persuaders, not a bunch of rednecks.”

It is a valuable lesson, which was learned in the 2017 farmers’ protest in Morrinsville over Labour’s policy to charge for the commercial use of water. . . 

Farmers are riled up over everything and they’ve got a point – Kerre McIvor:

It takes a lot to get farmers off their land. But Friday’s Howl of Protest saw a goodly representation of every man and his dog fire up the Massey Fergs and John Deeres around the country and take to the streets in protest.

There wasn’t just one issue that had got them so riled up.

Farmers don’t see why they should be taxed to assist high-income city dwellers into electric cars when the rural community has no alternative right now but to use internal combustion engine 4WDs to do their work.

It’s not just the ute tax, though. It’s the moves to pricing on agricultural emissions. It’s the higher environmental standards on water. It’s the protection of sensitive land aka the land grab. It’s all of the everything. . . 

Mayor slams Shaw’s SNA claim – David Anderson:

Grey District’s mayor is unhappy at the lack of response from government ministers about concerns from West Coast leaders and iwi on Significant Natural Areas (SNAs).

Tania Gibson is seeking the support of all rural and provincial mayors around New Zealand in the battle to protect landowners from having their land locked up by the Government’s proposed SNA process in the new National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB).

In a letter to her fellow mayors, Gibson lambastes the attitude and response of Environment Minister James Shaw to opposition to the SNA process and the rural sector in general.

She told her fellow rural mayors that Shaw’s comments – “It is only a few Pākehā farmers down south whipping this up, spreading misinformation because they have always pushed back against the idea of any kind of regulation of protecting environmental conditions on their land…” have angered and disgusted her.

Still working to breed better sheep – Shawn McAvinue:

Texel stud breeders Alistair and Karen McLeod sold their grazing block in Central Otago to move to the Maniototo to continue their dream of breeding a better sheep.

Mr McLeod said people had been telling him he might be ‘‘getting a bit too long in the tooth’’ to be buying another farm to continue stud breeding.

‘‘When it’s your passion and you love doing it, it’s in your blood.’’

The McLeods had known fellow Texel breeders Mac and Mary Wright for about 25 years, meeting as New Zealand Sheepbreeders’ Association members, Mr McLeod said

Waitaki winemakers beat overall trend – Ashley Smyth:

Waitaki winemakers have been among the lucky ones this year, reaping a solid harvest despite a challenging year for New Zealand growers as a whole.

Waitaki Valley Wine Growers Association chairman Andrew Ballantyne said this year’s harvest was good.

“I think us and Central [Otago] were the only ones that were sort of up … We’ve actually had a pretty good run here in the Waitaki. It was a good harvest.”

Ostler co-owner and managing director Jim Jerram said there was a widespread problem with some frosts in the spring, which caused “major reduction in crops” in some South Island regions. . . 

 

Jimmy’s Farm hailed for protecting UK native breeds :

Jimmy’s Farm has gained Rare Breeds Approved Associate accreditation for its efforts in educating about the importance of the UK’s endangered native breeds.

The Suffolk farm, run by celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty, has become the first recipient of accreditation, issued by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST).

The charity has administered am accreditation scheme for farm parks for many years, creating a network which makes an important contribution for rare breeds survival.

The new Approved Associate scheme provides the opportunity to extend the benefits of RBST Approval for the UK’s rare breeds. .  .


Rural round-up

26/06/2021

Farmer lobby groups defend teaching resource on climate change – Catherine Harris and Kate Green:

A teaching resource on climate change produced by meat and dairy interests is being criticised as targetting schools with a one-sided view on farm emissions.

The information focuses on the “important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population”.

Co-authored by Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, it explores “the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system”. . . 

Growing farming wellbeing awareness :

Working in the agri-nutrient sector, Calvin Ball says he has seen a significant change in farmers’ attitudes to health and safety in recent years.

Ball, the Northern 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, grew up on a Northland dairy farm, studied agriscience at Massey and began his career with an agri-nutrient company in 2013. After his OE in London, he returned to the company and is now Northern North Island regional sales manager, heading a team of nutrient specialists.

“Going out on farms, I have seen farmers’ attitudes change significantly since 2013,” Ball said.

“Back then, many could be pretty dismissive in their response to conversations about health and safety, but now they are much more on board with the requirements and attitudes are very different.” . .

Being green and profitable – Peter Burke:

A major, three-year research project is underway in Taranaki to see what can be done to practically reduce the environmental footprint of dairy farmers and, above all, ensure that farms remain profitable. Reporter Peter Burke looks at the initiative and how it’s progressing.

The project is led by Dairy Trust Taranaki in conjunction with Mark Laurence – DairyNZ’s regional leader in the province.

He heard about the trust working on a project called ‘Future Farming’, which was designed to see what farming might look like in the future with greenhouse gas and nitrate restrictions, as well as new animal welfare requirements, and still be profitable. . .

Icebreaker chief makes switch to carpet and wool company Cavalier :

The former chief executive of merino clothing company Icebreaker is heading to the strong wool sector.

Greg Smith will take up a new role as chief executive of the New Zealand carpet and wool company Cavalier in July.

The listed company last year announced it would stop producing synthetic carpets and would shift to wool-only.

Cavalier chair George Adams said Smith had extensive international business experience, running iconic New Zealand companies and helping them to scale on the world stage. . .

Focus turned to non-mānuka honeys at beekeepers’ conference :

Beekeepers from around the country have gathered in Rotorua to discuss challenges facing the industry.

The annual Apiculture Conference is being held over the next three days and is expected to attract about 900 people from the sector.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said one topic of discussion would be finding ways to add value for non-mānuka varieties – to solve the issue of low prices and an oversupply.

“The mānuka story has been very, very successful and has been a great platform to leverage New Zealand honey on the global market and what we’re saying is, it’s time for the other honeys to shine as well. . .

Defra unveils new green fund for farmers in National Parks:

Farmers in National Parks will receive more funding to help them make improvements to the environment, the government has today confirmed.

Land managers based in England’s National Parks or AONBs will also be able to use the funds to improve public access on their land.

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers based in these areas.

The government, announcing the programme on Thursday (24 June), encouraged those interested to apply from 1 July. . . 


Rural round-up

21/06/2021

Changing look for NZ lamb? – Nigel Malthus:

New Zealand meat producers will have to change their breeding priorities to take a full advantage of a new optical meat quality monitoring system being developed by AgResearch.

Clarospec system is designed to analyse meat cuts in real time as they go through a meat processing plant, using hyperspectral imaging to provide objective measures of meat quality.

AgResearch says the technology can provide information on key aspects such as structure and composition that influence flavour and texture.

“This technology will support a shift from volume to value and allow lamb producers to tailor production to meet the needs of global consumers,” project leader, Dr Cameron Craigie told Rural News. . .

Falling harvests nip NZ wine’s worldwide growth in the bud – Bevan Hurley:

New Zealand’s winemakers have enjoyed a $1.9 billion bumper year on the export markets, but now it’s the end of the golden weather.

At Trader Joe’s flagship wine store in New York’s Union Square, queues of shoppers stretched along East 14th St during the early months of 2021.

With restaurants closed to indoor dining, Manhattanites would often wait 30 minutes in the sub-zero temperatures during the depth of the Covid winter, eager to restock their depleted wine racks.

Once inside, the popular US supermarket chain’s chatty, knowledgeable staff were happy to share their thoughts on the Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blancs displayed prominently on their shelves. . . 

Rising Star: Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Quinn Morgan

Quinn Morgan laughs when you ask if he always wanted to be a dairy farmer as a kid.

“Growing up I was more in love with my Playstation. My stepdad was a dairy farmer for a few seasons but I was more a city-slicker type kid, rather than going out there and doing everything,” he told Country Life.

But after just one season as a dairy farmer, Quinn has won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award. Just as impressive; he’s only 26. . . 

Luxury eco-holiday in a dome at Lake Hawea, Wanaka – Isabel Ewing:

Jet boating, heli-skiing, skydiving, bungee – much of the tourism in the Southern Lakes region revolves around speed and adrenaline, but a family-owned business on the shores of Lake Hawea is all about allowing their visitors to slow down.

“People who come here live such busy lives, and it’s about getting them to unwind and just relax,” says Richard Burdon, owner of The Camp and Cross Hill Lodge & Domes.

“A lot of the American clients have pot plants on top of their ovens, and they don’t find that family time to slow down.”

Burdon and wife Sarah have owned the lakeside campground for 10 years, and they’re also third-generation owners of Glen Dene and Mt Isthmus Station, a working farm set in the jagged country framed by lakes Hawea and Wanaka. . . 

Time and place:

Working in a rural but desk-based role has really made Waikato/Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year Kieran McCahon reflect on the very different health and safety challenges of being “hands-on on farm”. 

McCahon grew up on his family’s 1000-cow dairy farm on Northland’s Pouto Peninsula, near Dargaville.

He gained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a Master of Management, majoring in Agribusiness, as a DairyNZ scholar, and joined DairyNZ full-time 18 months ago as a solutions and development specialist.

“I recently moved back to Northland to continue my role with DairyNZ, which also means getting more time on the farm,” McCahon said. . . 

Can dairy be sustainable? Yes and here’s why :

Frank Konyn figures there are about 150 breweries within a reasonable drive from his dairy farm in the County of San Diego, Calif.

He frequents 19 of them but it has nothing to do with grabbing a cold one after a long day of milking cows. Instead, he makes weekly stops to pick up something the brewers no longer want: spent grains that remain from creating some of the area’s trendiest microbrews.

On an average week, Konyn collects about 225 tons of the grain that serves as protein-rich feed for his nearly 900 milking cows. He has plenty left over for a nearby dairy farmer’s herd.

Konyn began hauling the unwanted byproduct in 2009 with a pickup truck. Today, he owns five semi-trucks and 40 “roll-off” containers that are 18 feet long and are left at each brewery to be filled. . . .


Rural round-up

18/04/2021

New report warns that we’re building over our food basket – Alex Braae:

The 2021 Our Land report has raised serious warnings about our most productive food-growing land being turned over to housing. Alex Braae explains.

What’s all this then?

The environment ministry and Stats NZ have produced a new report called Our Land, which outlines exactly what New Zealand’s land is being used for, or how it is being left alone. Over and above the stats, it also shows the connections between land use, the economy, environmental outcomes, and even human wellbeing. 

What’s the big takeaway from the report?

A major fear that gets outlined in detail is about the spread of cities and residential areas into highly productive land – the sort that is vital for the growing of food. One point the report opens with is that our cities were mostly founded near this sort of top quality land, because that allowed enough food to be grown to sustain them.  . . 

O’Connor opts for a ban on exports of live beasts (rather than tighter regulations) to demonstrate our high animal-welfare standards – Point of Order:

Commodities are leading the global economic recovery. International demand for grains, dairy and forestry products is extremely strong – driven primarily by increased demand from China, ANZ Bank  economists say in their latest NZ Agri Focus.

Dairy markets shot up in March, driven by strong buying from China, among challenging conditions to deliver product to market. Since then prices have stabilised near current levels, encouragingly, despite more product being added to the GlobalDairyTrade sales channel.

The recent strength in global markets, combined with a slight softening in the NZ dollar. has been supportive of farmgate milk prices. . . 

Heriot saleyards closure sad but inevitable– Shawn McAvinue:

The Heriot saleyards closing after being a community meeting point for more than a century is sad but the writing was on the wall, a West Otago farmer says.

Farmer Graham Walker owns a 394ha sheep and beef farm in Park Hill and was the second generation of his family to sell stock at the saleyards, about 50km west of Lawrence.

The saleyards were a social place, which brought the community together.

However, the closure was inevitable, as fewer sales were being held as years passed, and as health and safety regulations had tightened. . . 

From dairy giant to tiny player: Miraka CEO Grant Watson – Laurilee McMichael:

It’s eight weeks in and Miraka’s new chief executive Grant Watson says that so far, it’s been a steep learning curve.

“Information overload,” he jokes. “Lots to learn, lots to soak up. It’s a big industry, that’s for sure, lots of moving parts.”

Happily though, dairy is not a new industry to Watson, who took up the Miraka role on February 3, replacing departing chief executive Richard Wyeth, who had been with the company for 11 years and who had taken it from being a plan with a greenfields building site to a respected player in the New Zealand dairy industry. Wyeth is now chief executive of Hokitika-based Westland Milk Products. . . 

Rural postie makes last run – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It is the end of the road for a South Otago postie — but in a good way.

After 18 years, David Fenton (67) has parked his rural post truck. He delivered his last parcel before Easter, and the new owners, Jane and Richard Whitmore took over the run early in April.

In almost two decades, Mr Fenton has covered about 846,000km. And while somewhat miffed not to have hit the million km mark — he would have got close had he kept going for a few more years — he was pleased with the decision to call time.

“I’ve been getting super for two years, so I’ve been double-dipping. Colleen [his wife] is retiring soon, and we’ve got to get out there and see more of New Zealand. There’s a whole lot more we want to see and go back to see, while we have the health to do it. . . 

Blue Peter drops anti-meat message after farmer’s beef with BBC – Ben Webster:

The BBC has dropped an anti-meat message to children from its Blue Peter green badge initiative after it drew a furious response from farmers.

The children’s programme offered the green badges, similar to the traditional blue ones, for youngsters who demonstrated they were “climate heroes” by making a pledge to “go meat-free”, switch off lights or stop using plastic bottles.

Gareth Wyn Jones, a father of three who runs a 2,000-acre farm in north Wales, last week condemned what he described as a “sweeping statement” that overlooked the lower environmental impact of grass-fed British beef and lamb. . . 


Rural round-up

24/03/2021

Govt ‘naivety’ cause of crisis – Peter Burke:

Johnny Appleseed is one of the largest apple growers in New Zealand; director Paul Paynter says the current worker shortage crisis in the sector can be sheeted home to Government naivety.

He says when Covid-19 first hit the country – with many people losing their jobs and overseas workers stopped from coming to NZ – the Government was quick to claim it would provide an opportunity for Kiwis to take up jobs in the ag and hort sectors. However, he says while there has been some uptake, the reality has fallen well short of the enthusiastic expectations.

“It was just naïve optimism on the part of Government,” Paynter told Rural News.

He says people are not coming to the Hawkes Bay to pick apples for a number of reasons, the major one being the lack of accommodation. Paynter says there is a housing crisis in the region.

Drinking (milk) to economic recovery – The Detail:

When the price of milk surged 15 percent on the global dairy market earlier this month, even the boss of Fonterra was shocked.

“It was extraordinary,” says Jarden’s head of dairy derivatives, Mike McIntyre. “I’ve been following these auctions now for the better part of 10 years and I’ve seen it previously, but only in the past where we’ve been constrained.”

That was 2013 when the whole country was in drought and very little milk was being produced.

This time, says McIntyre, it is being driven by China’s thirst for milk.

“Last year, the Chinese government came out and essentially issued a directive to the public to say, to ward off the ill effects of Covid they should be consuming more than a glass of milk a day.” . . 

Covid-19 vaccine: Concerns over future uptake in rural areas – Riley Kennedy;

The government is being encouraged to think outside the box when rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine into rural communities.

Earlier this month, the government announced its plan to deliver the vaccine to the wider public.

From May, priority populations will be able to get the vaccine and from July, the remainder of the population will be able to get it.

There have been concerns from some health professionals that the uptake among people living in rural New Zealand could be slow – given some have to travel a long way to see their GP and therefore don’t always bother. . . 

Investing in consumers’ trust – Neal Wallace:

Meat companies are using the Taste Pure Nature brand alongside their own brands as they target environmentally-conscious foodie consumers.

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) market development manager Nick Beeby told the organisation’s annual meeting that this demographic cares where their food comes from and are heavily influenced by digital channels such as food websites and bloggers who focus on natural foods.

They are considered a significant opportunity for NZ red meat sales, and Beeby says during the covid-19 pandemic consumers were increasingly discerning with their purchases, which was underpinned by the message associated with the B+LNZ developed taste pure nature brand.

“Consumers chose meat products that are better tasting, nutritious and satisfy environmental concerns,” Beeby said. . . 

A platform for red meat’s story – Neal Wallace:

A new website selling the virtues of red meat and dispelling some of its myths is being launched.

An initiative of Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA), the Making Meat Better website will tell the sector’s story, and provide information and data, while reinforcing the merits of red meat.

The 150 people who attended the B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill this week were told the site will provide data and statistics about the red meat sector, sell the virtues of being grass-raised, its nutritional attributes, while also extolling the environmental stewardship of farmers.

Data on the site will provide a balance to some of the criticism about red meat and farming by providing information on farming’s carbon footprint, action being taken on climate change and provide infographic resources that can be used.  . . 

 

Showgirls, rural achievers shine the way for ag :

The bush has a wealth of young talent who are turning their fantastic ideas and aspirations into reality.

You only have to look at the pages in last week’s Land to find young people who are ready to act or are acting on their projects.

And they are motivated – either by issues that some members of older generations might not want to confront such as climate change – or value adding to the great contributions of previous generations.

They are doing this despite the enforced isolation of the last year from the pandemic. . . 


Rural round-up

09/02/2021

Environmental reforms putting more pressure on struggling farmers – Nadine Porter:

More mental health resources and shorter waiting times to access help will be needed to support dairy farmers trying to follow proposed new environmental rules, industry advocates say.

Rural Support Trust Mid-Canterbury wellbeing co-ordinator Frances Beeston said there had been at least a 30 per cent rise in farmers seeking support since Christmas, and she believed that would increase further as more environmental reforms were introduced.

The Climate Change Commission released a draft plan last week designed to help the Government meet its promise of reaching net zero emissions of long-lived gases by 2050, and reducing biogenic methane emissions by 24 to 47 per cent by 2050.

The plan noted current policies would lead to an 8 to 10 per cent reduction in New Zealand’s livestock numbers, but said a 15 per cent drop would be needed to meet the Government’s targets. . . 

More trees less stock – Peter Burke:

More science and technology, more trees and fewer livestock is the prescription that the Climate Change Commission has offered up in its draft report on how to reduce greenhouse gases in the agriculture sector.

The report covers all aspects of New Zealand society and includes agriculture. In the 200 page chronicle, the Climate Commission sets out a plan for NZ to meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2050.

It is a draft report, based on the commission’s own research and submissions from a wide range of organisations and individuals. It is now out for consultation before a final report is prepared by the end of May.

Commission chair Rod Carr says to achieve the Government’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050, there needs to be transformational and lasting change across society and the economy. He says the Government must act now and pick up the pace. . .

Will wool go the way of whalers? -Pete Fitz-Herbert:

“Being the best whale hunters in the world didn’t protect the whaling fleets.”

That comment from Climate Commission chair Rod Carr about New Zealand’s low-emission beef and dairy production, has Manawatu farmer Pete Fitz-Herbert thinking about the future of the wool industry:

In the future – will farmers be seen as whalers are now?

How long, before the last whale was harpooned off the coast, was the writing on the wall that it wasn’t the career choice that it once was? . . 

Why you should eat your heart out for ‘Organuary’ – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Encouraging people to eat more animal organs for Organuary may seem like a light-hearted response to the vegan movement, but research shows it could reduce greenhouse gases, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

Eating the heart of your enemy might seem a bit extreme these days but in the past it was an acceptable part of a surprising number of cultures – surprising until one considers food scarcity, that is.

Eating whatever was available was a matter of expediency and the lore that arose around what each part of the body signified shows an early awareness of basic function.

Eating the brain and tongue gave knowledge and bravery; the heart gave courage and power. . . 

MBIE funds hemp research :

A Taranaki-based medicinal cannabis and industrial hemp venture is part of a group that will investigate ways to turn hemp seed hulls into products for the global market. Greenfern Industries is part of a partnership that was awarded $145,000 in cash and in-kind funding for research into products created from the by-products of hemp seed oil processing. Greenfern will work alongside industry partners Callaghan Innovation and Hemp Connect as part of the project funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Bioresource Processing Alliance (BPA).

BPA invests in research and development projects with the aim of generating additional export revenue for New Zealand by working with the primary sector to get better value out of biological by-products.

Boarding school parents sick of borders closing ‘at the drop of a hat’ – Jamieson Murphy:

THE parents of interstate boarding school students are constantly worried that when they drop their children off at school, they may not be able to get home, with state borders slamming shut “at the drop of a hat”.

The Isolated Children’s Parents Association has called for a nationally consistent and long-term approach to border restrictions for boarding students.

ICPA president Alana Moller said while urban schools were closed for weeks during COVID outbreaks, many rural students were not able to return to their boarding school for months, even several terms due to border closures.

“Students from western NSW who board in Victoria weren’t able to go, because they weren’t sure if they could come back,” Ms Moller said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/01/2021

Tackling farmer health face to face :

Dr Tom Mulholland has made it his mission to look after the heart health of farmers for most of the past decade.

He has a 1988 retro V8 ambulance kitted out for doing blood pressure and cholesterol tests, but also, old fashioned house calls to be what you might call the ambulance at the top of the cliff for farmers under time and financial pressure.

Dr Tom has talked to thousands of people on farmers’ physical mental and social health, and saved and changed more than a few lives.  He’s also developed an app called KYND Wellness to help farmers track their own health. . . 

Orchardists counting costs of cherries ruined by downpours – Jared Morgan:

Central Otago fruitgrowers are still counting the costs of the New Year deluge that decimated this season’s cherry harvest.

Estimates sit at about 60% on average of cherry crop lost across the region, shaving millions of dollars in value off this season’s harvest.

Other fruit was also affected by four days of torrential rain punctuated by showers throughout the week and a week on from the rain starting growers were assessing how much fruit was still salvageable.

At Ripponvale, near Cromwell, Cheeki Cherries/Dam Good Fruit owner Martin Milne said his losses were a mixed bag. . . 

Filipino contract milker makes most of opportunities in Southland – Jamie Searle:

South Hillend contract milker Guillermo Tolentino is a survivor, but he shudders to think what would have happened to him without help from former Wreys Bush dairy farm owners Wayne and Angela Carpenter.

Tolentino remembers arriving in New Zealand in 2003, only to find out the details of the job promised to him on a Canterbury farm were different to what he agreed to and it didn’t work out.

Panic struck and Tolentino didn’t know what to do. The $1000 he had on him was to tide him over until his first pay packet. . .

Farewell to Sir Bob Elliott – Keith Woodford:

When I wrote the book ‘Devil in the Milk’ back in 2007, I introduced Bob Elliott in the very first paragraph. Bob was the Auckland paediatrician who first identified A1 beta-casein from milk as a big risk factor for Type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is the form of the disease that often strikes in childhood and then requires daily insulin injections throughout life.

In the years since then I have often thought that history will in time regard Bob as one of the great heroes of modern medicine. He sowed the seeds on which others have continued to build, with a particular focus on A1 beta casein but with those findings also having relevance to other food-derived opioids. . .

Shearing legend Sir David Fagan shears champion wool handler’s hair for charity :

Shearing legend Sir David Fagan used a crank-powered handpiece to shave former England World championships wool handling representative Natalie Crisp’s head in Te Kuiti on Friday.

This charity event was held during the North Island Speedshear Shearing Championship and is the latest of several fundraising shearing events.

Fagan, who retired from competitive shearing in 2015 with 642 open-class wins, surprised even himself with how clean his job was on the head-shave. . . 

 

Flatulent cows no long on the nose with seaweed solution :

Australian scientists and entrepreneurs have begun rolling out a commercial solution to a major source of greenhouse gases with a seaweed feed to block gassy livestock burps, and promising results offering more than a whiff of global potential.

Two Australian companies, CH4 Global and Sea Forest, are kicking off world-first commercial trials with major dairy and beef companies of a feed supplement they say can enable the livestock to become carbon neutral.

They are using intellectual property licensed to FutureFeed, CSIRO’s commercial venture, for a feed additive made from the native asparagopsis seaweed species, which reduces livestock emissions by more than 80 per cent. . .


Rural round-up

07/12/2020

Real meat is green – Viv Forbes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contribution to wellbeing recognised – Mark Daniel:

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

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

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

Big toys for old boys – Tom Hunter:

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

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

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

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

Fonterra forks out for Christmas – Hugh Stringleman:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

13/11/2020

MIA wary as second wave hits

New Zealand’s red meat trade continues to generate crucial export revenue but with the full economic impact of covid-19 yet to hit, the industry cannot afford to be complacent.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the red meat processing and exporting sector has been NZ’s success story during the covid-19 crisis but with further disruptions in the global markets expected, she urged caution. 

“The red meat processing and exporting sector has been a real success story during the covid-19 crisis and continues to generate crucial export revenue for the country when other sectors are facing significant headwinds,” she said. . . 

North Otago farmers call for more fire ponds  – Kayla Hodge:

A large fire has highlighted the need for a greater water supply in one of the “driest areas” in North Otago.

Last month, a blaze in a pine forestry block near Livingstone burnt through 611ha.

At a public meeting with officials last week, farmers asked if there was a plan to install more water in the area, to help fight fires.

One farmer, whose pond was used during the emergency, knew there was no water for the helicopters to use when the October 4 fire started. . . 

How are you dealing with change? :

Farming into the future is changing in New Zealand to meet consumer demand – but change can be scary.

 Sarah’s Country host Sarah Perriam has teamed up with Farmlands to bring you a thought-provoking seminar series at AgFest on November 13-14.

Join the conversation at the Farmlands site during AgFest dealing with change and advice on the season ahead from the Technical and Growth and Innovation teams.
You won’t want to miss these expert panel discussions covering topics specific to West Coast challenges, as well as dealing with national regulation changes. . . 

Car-racing farm manager artificially inseminates more than 25,000 dairy cows in 10-year career :

It is 3.15am on a calm spring morning as Dannevirke dairy farmer Tania Cresswell slides on her gumboots and heads outside.

The 29-year-old manages her parents’ 55-hectare dairy farm at Papatawa, milking 160 predominately Holstein Friesian cows.

Cresswell jumps on to a two-wheeler motorbike, giving it a kick-start. The engine roars to life, piercing the pre-dawn silence.

It is not long before the farm’s 14-aside milking shed starts to fill with cows gently jostling for position and eager to be milked. . . 

LIC invests in first of two start-ups to deliver more value to dairy farmers:

LIC has increased its level of investment in its AgCelerator™ Fund and announced its first two investments designed to deliver more value to New Zealand dairy farmers. The cooperative has confirmed investments in New Zealand-based TrackBack and Mastaplex.

Auckland-based TrackBack uses blockchain technology in the agriculture sector to provide trust and transparency through the supply chain for global confidence in quality, integrity and provenance. Fuelled by the pandemic, traceability is increasingly front of mind for consumers and the data LIC holds on animal health is an important contribution to providing quality assurances for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The other business LIC is investing in is Dunedin-based Mastaplex which has developed a proprietary mastitis testing device, Mastatest®.  . . 

New chief scientist Cathy Foley to get research out of the lab – Sally Whyte:

Australia’s incoming chief scientist wants to help Australia’s “fabulous” research move beyond the laboratory and “turn it into prosperity and impact”.

Dr Cathy Foley, currently the chief scientist at the CSIRO, will take over from Dr Alan Finkel at the start of next year, and she has a long to-do list, much of it continuing the work she has already been doing at the national science research agency.

The world-renowned physicist wants to continue increasing diversity in science, increasing work in national preparedness, and championing “research translation” – moving discoveries beyond the theoretical and into making a difference in people’s lives.

“We’ve got fabulous research in Australia, but everyone knows we haven’t necessarily been able to take that from the laboratory bench turn it into prosperity and impact in a whole range of ways,” Dr Foley said. . . 


Rural round-up

12/11/2020

Agriculture will change but pastoral agriculture will survive and prosper – Keith Woodford:

Agriculture will change but pastoral agriculture will survive and prosper.  It is all about international competitive advantage, new technologies and managing the environment. It can be done but it won’t be easy.

One of the regular questions I am asked about is the future of pastoral agriculture. It reflects a perspective that, given the issues of water pollution, greenhouse gases and changing consumer attitudes, perhaps New Zealand’s pastoral agriculture belongs to the past rather than the future.

A good starting point for a response is to reflect as to why New Zealand developed as a pastoral-based economy. Nature blessed New Zealand with a temperate maritime climate combined with a hilly and mountainous topography that is well suited to pastoral agriculture, but much less suited to crop activities.

Compared to much of the world, New Zealand’s natural competitive edge still lies in pastoral sheep, beef and dairy.   In contrast, the economics of broad-acre cropping and vegetable production are challenging in an environment where flat land is limited and where rain can occur, or not occur, at any time. . .

Low methane sheep a reality :

New Zealand farmers are the first in the world with the ability to breed low methane-emitting sheep.

A breeding value for methane emissions was launched in November 2019. It was the outcome of a 10-year breeding programme funded by the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.

AgResearch scientist Dr Suzanne Rowe has been leading the research programme and says for the past ten years, they have been running two closed flocks side-by-side, a low methane emitting flock and a high methane emitting flock. . . 

 

Science and agriculture well met – Yvonne O’Hara:

Combining genetics, parasitology and agriculture is a dream job for Dr Kathryn McRae.

She has worked for AgResearch at Invermay for the past six years and during that time has had several major genetic studies to her credit.

“I really enjoy the mix with the lab work with more practical hands-on work.”

She researched levels of pneumonia in sheep and oversaw the Invermay-based Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test (CPT). . . 

Plan to introduce insects to kill wasps :

The Tasman District Council wants to release two new wasp-killing insects to New Zealand.

It has applied on behalf of a wasp control action group to the Environmental Protection Authority, to release the wasp-nest beetle and a hoverfly.

The introduced insects would combat the invasive wasps that cost the country about $130 million a year in damage and control measures.

Wasps attack honeybees, butterflies, flies and spiders and can be harmful to people – sometimes seriously. . . 

Puro given licence to grow 10 hectares of medicinal cannabis:

Medical cannabis grower Puro has been granted a licence to plant 10 hectares of the crop.

Managing director of the Marlborough firm, Tim Aldridge, said it would plant more than 80,000 seeds and seedlings at Kēkerengū on the Kaikōura Coast.

Aldridge said the licence was in time to plant in spring. . .

Let’s have a more balanced debate on meat tax – Richard Young:

When it comes to talking about meat, and especially when discussing a tax on red meat, we must be careful to differentiate between livestock that are part of the problem and those that are part of the solution. While we agree that the polluter pays principle should be applied to food, and the sugar tax is a good example of this, there is a real problem with the blanket use of the term, ‘red meat’, which is freely used but is flawed on two counts. Firstly, it is generally used to refer to all ruminant meat, meat from pigs and all processed red meats.

This is irrational and misleading because these meats can be produced in very different ways which have very different impacts on nutrient composition and the environment. Secondly, in failing to differentiate between methods of production, the blanket use of the term ‘red meat’ is intellectually sloppy, creates confusion amongst the public and does more harm than good when used to advocate meat taxes. . . 

 


Rural round-up

07/10/2020

Weather leaves SI farmers feeling defeated – Neal Wallace:

Dean Rabbidge, who last week had five centimetres of snow on his farm but after thawing was inundated with between 60mm and 70mm of rain at the weekend, is normally a glass half-full type of bloke, but the Wyndham, Southland, farmer concedes his usual optimism is being sorely tested this spring.

“I’m over it,” he said.

“We’ve had no reprieve since the end of August.

“It has been weather event after weather event after weather event.

“We get three or four nice days then another weather event either rain, snow or wind. . . 

Southland’s ‘crazy weather’ makes freshwater rules difficult to follow

Flooding in lower Southland over the weekend shows how difficult it is for farmers to adhere to controversial new government regulations, Bernadette Hunt says.

“It is another example of why resowing by a regulated date, as opposed to when conditions are suitable, just doesn’t make sense,” Hunt, who is Federated Farmers vice president for Southland, told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

Hunt was referring to regulations in the government’s National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, which said farmers in Southland and Otago would be required to resow winter feed crop paddocks by November 1.

Although the sudden flooding over the weekend was unexpected, “crazy weather in October” was not unusual in the region, and any environmental regulations had to take that into account, Hunt said. . . 

Longest running field days all go :

The South Island Agricultural Field Days, held in Kirwee on the outskirts of Christchurch, will celebrate its 70th year in March 2021 with a bigger demonstration area.

Chairperson Michaela McLeod is describing it as the perfect opportunity to celebrate the industry that has been the backbone of New Zealand’s economy during the uncertain times of Covid-19.

“The agricultural industry has hardly skipped a beat over the past few months, and we see the South Island Agricultural Field Days as the perfect place for farmers, contractors and our industry to come together and share their stories, celebrate their successes and look for opportunities to improve their businesses. . . 

Kidding around on farm – Gerald Piddock:

An Auckland farmer has made the transition from milking cows to goats and has now established the largest goat farm in New Zealand. Gerald Piddock reports.

Matthew and Sarah Bolton established Oete Farm to showcase the dairy goat industry to New Zealanders.

Their success at this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards, where they won the supreme award along with four category awards for the Auckland region, validated the journey the business has undertaken since it was established six years ago.

Matthew says the awards success reflected the hard work and team effort from his 30 full and part-time staff spread across the 273-hectare farm at Patumahoe, west of Pukekohe. . . 

Tatua Co-Operative Dairy announces record earnings of $151m for year – Lawrence Gullery:

A Waikato dairy company credits its strong end of year result to its staff which adapted and worked through the Covid-19 alert levels.

Tatua Co-Operative Dairy achieved group revenue of $381 million, and earnings of $151m, in its financial results for 2019-20.

Group revenue was the income received from selling product, goods and services. Earnings was the profit before milk payments to suppliers and tax. . . 

Farming through risk – Tim Keegan:

I’ve lived through tornadoes and hailstorms—but I’ve never seen anything like the derecho that blasted across Iowa and the Midwest on August 10.

Only in the last few days has life on my farm returned to something that resembles normal. For nearly three weeks, we’ve been cleaning up, helping neighbors, and assessing the massive damage.

My family is luckier than a lot of my fellow Iowans. On our farm, near the town of Mount Vernon, the storm did a lot of damage to trees, buildings, and grain bins. It also flattened or damaged a lot of our corn. We’re still not sure how much of it we’ll recover.

But in so many places the devastation is a lot worse. . . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2020

Southland Federated Farmers ‘farmer morale at an all-time low’ – Logan Savory:

A Southland farming leader says the morale of farmers is at an all-time low as they navigate their way through “impractical” freshwater policy rules.

The new rules aim to improve freshwater quality within a generation, but they’ve proven controversial with farmers, many of whom will have to apply for resource consent to winter graze stock.

Speaking to a gathering of rural professionals in Invercargill on Monday, Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt said there was a massive divide between the understanding of farming from officials in Wellington to the reality of farming.

She said Federated Farmers had a difficult dilemma where they wanted to publicly raise concerns attached to the freshwater policy rules, but were wary of what it was doing to farmers’ mental health. . .

New Feds man keen to build – Peter Burke:

New Feds board member, William Beetham wants the organisation recognised for its significant contributions to NZ farming and society as a whole.

The sixth-generation farmer runs a major farming business, Beetham Pastural.

He says Federated Farmers has a long and proud legacy and has been involved in setting up a number of organisations – such as the insurance company FMG and the Golden Shears competition.

“We need to remember that we are not just an advocacy organisation and we need to tell the complete story about the inspiring contribution our farmers have and are making. We need to talk about the positive legacy of NZ farming and NZ Feds,” Beetham told Rural News.  . . 

Candidates for Fonterra election announced:

There are six candidates standing for two places on the Fonterra Board in 2020.

Brent Goldsack, Cathy Quinn, Mike O’Connor and Nathan Guy were announced on 14 September as the Independently Assessed candidates.

Incumbent Director Brent Goldsack is seeking re-election and chose to participate in the Independent Assessment Process. As a re-standing Director Brent automatically goes through to the ballot.

Nathan Guy, Mike O’Connor and Cathy Quinn were recommended by the Independent Selection Panel after their assessment process. . .

Building up potential of bumble bees:

Plant and Food Research scientist Dr David Pattemore would love to see orchards buzzing with bumblebees.

He’s part of a team that has developed a way to successfully breed bumblebees and now he’d love to see commercial beekeepers pick up the technology and run with it.

Dr Pattemore says bumblebees complement honey bees. He says they work at different times of the day and can work in higher winds and in the rain.  

And he says it makes sense to diversify pollination options. . . 

Raising meat rabbits proves food for thought for aspiring author :

Dana Thompson and her family are living off the land in South Otago and helping others who want to do the same.

Their property is perched on a barren hilltop behind Taieri Mouth, about 40 minutes south of Dunedin.

The family moved there to be self-sufficient four years ago. When they bought the land it was attractively priced for a reason.

“It’s pretty steep, we’ve got a big gully that runs down it and it’s covered in gorse,” Dana says. . . 

Fence – Uptown Farm:

“There’s always fence to be fixed.”

People say this all the time about life on a farm.

I don’t know if I heard it before I married a farmer or not. But if I did, I didn’t get it. Much like a lot of the people who say it, I wouldn’t have understood just how true it is. I didn’t know it wasn’t an over exaggeration in the least. If I had understood that, I might have thought twice before I said , “I do.”

But true it is. Fence isn’t a one and done kind of thing. You put it up. You fix it. You adjust it. Weeds and trees grow into it. You tear it down and build it new. Just when you do that a crazy cow comes along and rips it all down. . . 


Rural round-up

14/09/2020

Fertiliser levy for vegan fantasy would be handbrake on recovery:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the Green Party’s “farming for the future” policy, which would introduce a levy on fertiliser and cost taxpayers $297,000,000 over three years to subsidise “regenerative and organic farming methods”.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Agriculture will be a key plank in New Zealand’s economic recovery. The last thing our farming sector needs is a tax on efficiency in the form of a levy on fertiliser. Fertilisers help farmers produce more with less land, limiting the impact of agriculture on our outstanding natural landscapes. The Greens should be happy about that!”

“That the revenue from this tax will be spent on promoting ‘vegan plant-based practices’ adds insult to injury. The Government should focus on allowing the economy to recover, not wasting money on trendy environmental schemes.” . . 

Nothing sustainable without profit – Sudesh Kissun:

Chair of Dairy Environment Leaders programme Melissa Slattery believes that sustainable farming is highly important to young farmers. T

he Waikato farmer believes the upcoming generation of farmers are driven to learn and adapt, just like the previous generation did for the issues of their time.

“Opportunities will evolve for the new generation farmers who understand what is and will be required in terms of sustainability on farm,” Slattery told Rural News. . . 

Work together industry told – Annette Scott:

Verified sustainable production right across supply chains is key to New Zealand beef improving its standing on the world stage, says NZ Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (NZRSB) chair Grant Bunting.

The results of a pilot programme conducted by NZRSB and delivered at a field day on Rangitikei Station last week are proof NZ can do it, Bunting said.

The NZRSB, formed late last year, is about beef industry stakeholders from across the supply chain working to position NZ as a leading producer of beef that is safe and produced in a way that is environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.

“We need to ensure we not only keep up with other countries, we want to be world leaders,” Bunting said. . . 

Living the dream:

Kiwi agro-ecologist Nicole Masters is living the dream, touring ranches in the United States with her horse for company.

“I love being able to integrate my two loves which are soil and horses all in one place.”

Nicole has been working in the US for seven years now, pretty much full-time for the past three years, running workshops and coaching clients on how to build soil health and optimise water cycles.

Ranging from bison farmers to winegrowers, her clients are progressive operators who are interested in food quality and improving livestock health and pasture diversity. . . 

Ben Tombs wins Tonnellerie De Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker regional competition:

Congratulations to Ben Tombs from Peregrine Wines who came first in the Tonnellerie de Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker competition held on Thursday 10th September at VinPro in Cromwell.

Ben was back to defend his title from last year so was thrilled to be again raising the cup. Last year, as he was on the Burgundy Exchange, he was unable to compete in the national final, so is extra thrilled to be heading up to Hawke’s Bay in November this year to represent Central Otago.

Congratulations also goes to Jordan Moores from Felton Road who came second and Rachel Bradley from Burn Cottage who came third. . . 

Cattle might be secret weapon in fight against wildfires, experts say. Here’s how – Katie Camero:

Evidence shows that wildfires have become more widespread and severe over the years, with the ongoing West Coast blazes bearing testament to the worrying trend.

Firefighters and farmers have tricks of their own to prevent fires from sparking and to contain them enough for successful defeat. But there might be a secret weapon that hasn’t been getting the attention it deserves.

Researchers with the University of California Cooperative Extension set out to evaluate how much fine fuel — grasses and other plants known to start fires — cattle eat and how their feeding behavior affects flame activity.

The team concluded that without cattle grazing, there would be “hundreds to thousands” of additional pounds of fine fuels per acre of land, which could lead to “larger and more severe fires.” . . 


Rural round-up

21/07/2020

Coronavirus leads to uncertainty for slinkskin industry – Rachael Kelly:

Southland farmers may have to dispose of dead stock on their own farms this spring as the Covid-19 pandemic takes a toll on the slinkskin industry.

Usually dead stock is picked up by slinkskin companies, which process the skins for export, but Southland’s two processors were yet to decide whether they would collect dead lambs this spring.

And while company has implemented a charge for dead calf and cow collection, another has put their calf collection on hold.

Trevor Newton, of Newton Slinkskins at Mataura, said he had made the decision to put the calf collection on hold this season, and a decision on whether the company would collect dead lambs would be made ‘’in due course.’’ . . 

Mataura Valley Milk needs more money to stay afloat – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland milk company Mataura Valley Milk will require additional funding to stay afloat, after reporting a net loss of $47 million in the financial year ending December 2019.

The company, which earlier this year had been eyed up by a2 milk as a potential investment target, reported a projected funding deficit of $26 million by December 2020.

Financial statements were filed with Companies Office on July 14.

Shareholder China Animal Husbandry Group would provide financial support by helping to pay debts as well as offering possible cash injections and shareholder loans. The latter would not require principal or interest repayments if it would cause the company to default on debts. . . 

Rain in Bay helps but a long way to go – Peter Burke:

A Hawke’s Bay farm consultant is pleasantly surprised by what has happened in the region over the past few weeks, with rain falling in most places.

Lochie MacGillivray, who works for AgFirst and is also the chairperson of the Rural Advisory Group set up to help manage the drought recovery, says there has been an improvement in conditions. He says Hawkes Bay has had mild weather and soft rain, and the pasture response has been phenomenal.

“Typically, at this time of the year, farmers might think of having 9kg of dry matter growth, but right now they are getting between 12 and 14kg of dry matter,”

MacGillivray told Rural News. He says farmers will still have to conserve feed for their animals, but the good weather has enabled pastures to recover and shortened the time between now and the end of winter. . . 

Putting the fun back in farming – Andrew Hoggard:

 Federated Farmers’ new president Andrew Hoggard says farmers need more fun and less admin.

I have been involved with Federated Farmers leadership for 17 years now, starting out as the Young Farmers rep, then moving into the provincial Vice-Dairy role once I became an old fart at 31.

Now I have only three years left – or less if I really suck at my new job as national president.

Since taking on the role three weeks ago I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to what I would like to see achieved in my term

It’s certainly not lost on me the responsibilities that go with this privileged position within New Zealand’s agricultural scene. . . 

Keeping the lustre alive – Sally Round:

Despite the dire prices for wool, a couple in Kapiti are continuing a 130-year family tradition breeding sheep for their lustrous fleece.

Country Life producer Sally Round dropped in.

Ravenswood has a long history breeding the hardy English Leicester whose long curly wool has been likened to Bob Marley’s dreadlocks.

Its genetics contributed to the New Zealand Halfbred and Corriedale so it’s been a big player in the development of the country’s sheep industry.

Ravenswood is New Zealand’s oldest English Leicester stud, according to Fiona and John Robinson, who are continuing the family tradition and finding a niche market for their flock’s lustrous wool. . . 

Wandering steer Boris back after 13 years in the Canterbury wilderness :

A “crazy big” Angus steer who has wandered the mountainous Hurunui back country for nearly 13 years has returned home.

He turned up last week with a couple of Angus cows, and happily headed back to an easier life on the homestead paddocks of the 7000-hectare Island Hills Station, north-west of Culverden.

Station owner Dan Shand and his wife, Mandy, reckon the steer is at least 13 years old, and has been nicknamed Boris.

Boris still has the tag in his ear put there when he was weaned, but Dan says he will need his binoculars to read it, at least until the new arrival settles in with the bulls. . .


Rural round-up

01/07/2020

Regenerative ag’s mythology questioned – David Anderson:

The “mythology” of regenerative agriculture and lack of scientific evidence has prompted two renowned plant scientists to write to Ag Minister Damien O’Connor.

In the letter, Lincoln University’s Professor Derek Moot and retired plant scientist Professor Warwick Scott, express their concerns about the increased profile of regenerative agriculture in New Zealand media and farming sectors.

They have called on the minister to convene an expert panel of scientists to review all the claims made about practice.

“It is important that sound science drives our agricultural systems,” they say. “We believe such a panel should provide a robust critique of the claims made about ‘regenerative agriculture’ to ensure the public, industry and policy makers have a balanced and scientifically informed view of the ideas promulgated.” . .

Rachel Stewart on the Green Party and farmers:

To say Rachel Stewart isn’t backward in coming forward is somewhat of an understatement.

The self-described “ex-media, ex-farmer, ex-train driver” falconer has often ruffled feathers with her forthright opinions – especially when it comes agriculture.

So Stewart’s’ recent Twitter activity, criticising the Green Party and coming out in support of farmers, caught the attention of The Country’s Jamie Mackay, who invited her to talk on today’s show.

The Greens are moving away from their environmental roots and becoming too urban, Stewart told Mackay. . . 

Seeking new markets in the West – Keith Woodford:

Neither Europe nor the USA are going to do us any trading favours. It is all about self-interest

In recent weeks I have been exploring and writing about some of the challenges in finding new markets that would allow New Zealand to stem its increasing reliance on China. My focus in the last three trade articles has been first on North East Asia, then the ASEAN countries of South East Asia, then South Asia and Iran. This week I look further west to Europe and the Americas before completing the circle.

First to recap a little.

The emergence of China as the most important trading partner of New Zealand has been a function of natural alignment between what New Zealand produces and what China wanted, complemented by New Zealand also wanting what China has been producing at lower cost than anyone else. . .

Tomato red spider mite pest discovered in New Zealand for first time – Maja Burry:

A pest known for damaging tomato plants and other crops has been detected in New Zealand for the first time

Biosecurity New Zealand said two populations of the tomato red spider mite (Tetranychus evansi) were found near Auckland Airport and in Pakuranga as part of routine surveillance several weeks ago.

Tomato red spider mites are the size of a full stop and are very difficult to identify. The mite’s main hosts are plants in the Solanaceae family, including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. They also attack beans, kumara and some ornamentals – roses and orchids. . .

Juniper hunt seedlings could grow New Zealand’s first gin berry plantation – Robin Martin:

New Zealand is one step closer to establishing the country’s first plantation of Juniperus communis – whose berries are the key ingredient of gin – following a nationwide search for the elusive conifer.

About 40 trees were discovered as part of the Great New Zealand Juniper Hunt, and seedlings are now being nurtured at Massey University and at two locations in Taranaki.

Egmont Village lifestyle block owner Marlene Busby had aspirations of making gin herself when she snipped a bit of juniper bush at a garden centre some 30 years ago.

“At the time I sort of took a little bit. They were going to pull them out anyway so it didn’t really [matter] any way. . . 

Waitaki’s geological wonderland – Mike Yardley:

Crossing the border dividing Canterbury from Otago, the Waitaki River, is like a pathway into another world. A region built on the remains of prehistoric creatures from a vanished world. The wondrous Waitaki District has always been proud of its rocks, lustily exemplified by the creamy pure texture of Oamaru Stone that underpins the classic good looks of the historic town’s Victorian Precinct. But before hitting town, I ventured west into the heart of the Waitaki Valley, to delightful Duntroon, with its pending designation as a Global Geopark by UNESCO. As Australasia’s first Geopark, it threads together the spell-binding natural landforms, abundant fossil finds and rich cultural history of the Waitaki Valley, which was under sea when Zealandia drifted away from Gondwana. Seismic forces later thrust the ancient seabed upwards, at the same time that the Southern Alps were formed.

Robert Campbell, the wealthy land-owner and runholder established Duntroon in 1864, naming it in honour of his Scottish birthplace. This cute-as-a-button village is home to the Vanished World Fossil Centre, but before heading there, don’t miss Duntroon’s assorted trove of evocative landmarks. . .


Rural round-up

19/06/2020

Rural communities under threat from carbon off-setting farmers say – Bonnie Flaws:

Rural communities are being hollowed out as carbon investors buy up farm land at prices well over those farmers might pay, Pahiatua sheep and beef farmer Lincoln Grant says.

School closures were just one symptom of the trend towards increased pine plantations on former sheep and beef farms, he said. Tiraumea school, north of Masterton, is one school that closed its doors two years ago after changing land use led to dropping role numbers.

As farming families sold up and moved away, jobs went with them. . .

The challenge of meeting environmental rules – Peter Burke:

Complying with new and stricter environmental requirements is for farmers a major challenge worldwide.

When Rural News reporter Peter Burke was in Ireland last year, he met up with Professor Tommy Boland of University College Dublin (UCD) who, like colleagues in NZ, is looking to find practical solutions that farmers can use to reduce their environmental footprint and somehow meet the new standards of policy makers and politicians.

Tommy Boland has been to New Zealand several times and understands the situation in this country.

He says both countries are recognised for their efforts and achievements in environmental pasture-based meat, milk and fibre production, while leading the way in developing new approaches to ensuring future sustainability. . .   

Study beefs up meat’s importance:

New research highlights value of New Zealand’s red meat sector as the industry launches its general election manifesto. 

The red meat sector’s contributes $12 billion in income to the economy and employs almost 5% of the full-time workforce.

The study commissioned by the Meat Industry Association and Beef + Lamb shows the meat processing and exporting sector is also responsible for $4.6b in household income and represents a fifth of New Zealand’s productive sector. 

The release of the research by S G Heilbron Economic and Policy Consulting coincides with B+LNZ and the MIA launching a joint manifesto ahead of the election.  . . 

Terrible news: the avocado crime gangs are about to strike again – Hayden Donnell:

For four years running, at the exact same time of year, New Zealand has been savaged by gangs of avocado thieves. Hayden Donnell sounds the alarm about the country’s most predictable crisis.

They come every year like clockwork. As winter starts to bite, and our summer produce hits its peak price point, the thieves rouse themselves and head out to pillage. They always have the same target. They usually have the same MO. In the dead of night, they steal our avocados.

This year, their timing couldn’t be worse. Most New Zealanders are still reeling from the Covid-19 lockdown. We’re slowly readjusting to normal life: blinking like stunned owls at the white lights of the newly reopened retail stores. Struggling to remember the way to our offices. The last thing we need is another crisis. . .

Silver Fern Farms no available direct to customers with Gourmet Direct partnership:

Silver Fern Farms’ full retail range of natural, grass-fed, premium red meat products are now available to be ordered online and delivered direct to consumers across New Zealand thanks to a new partnership with Gourmet Direct, a nationwide e-commerce business specialising in premium New Zealand meat products.

Silver Fern Farms’ Group Marketing Manager, Nicola Johnston says the partnership with Gourmet Direct was a natural fit, with online shopping becoming more popular than ever following the Covid-19 lockdown.

“At Silver Fern Farms we are thrilled to partner with Gourmet Direct, who have developed a loyal customer base which values their selection of premium meats, product quality and superior customer service. . . 

Rail supporting Hawke’s Bay drought relief:

KiwiRail is helping the drought relief effort by shifting stock feed for free from the South Island to parched farms in Hawke’s Bay.

“On top of the Covid-19 crisis, the prolonged drought in parts of the North Island has put some farmers and stock under great stress,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.

“We move dairy products, beef, lamb, horticulture and viticulture for the rural sector so it is one of our most important customers, and we’re pleased to support it now at this time of need. . . 

 


Rural round-up

31/05/2020

Town-country split needs fixing –  Rob Hewett:

March 2020 in New Zealand saw a seismic change in the economic landscape.

Covid 19 here, there and everywhere. For some, the change is likely permanent. Who’d want to have shares in an airline?

Meanwhile in agriculture, the issues of environment, sustainability, emissions, to name a few, have not evaporated. Instead, they are likely to be more important than ever.

Covid-19-disrupted food supply chains made people think carefully about where their food was coming from, probably for the first time in their lives. . . 

Poll finds a growing public appreciation of NZ’s primary exports – and new trade stats underscore their importance – Point of Order:

NZ’s  primary  exports  held  up  well  in   April, again proving  the  country’s  farming  industries are  sustaining  the  economy   despite many  sectors being stricken by the  Covid-19  pandemic.

Almost   coincidentally,  a  UMR  probe  of    public  opinion about farming revealed a sharp swing  in  perception.

Instead  of  the  negativity   that had been  undermining  morale – particularly in  the  dairy industry,  triggered  by  anti-farming  lobby groups which conjured  up the slogan “dirty dairying”  to turn urban opinion against the  industry – the  UMR polling  showed  attitudes have tilted deeper into positive  territory. . . 

Synlait drops forecast milk pirce to farmers as dairy prices fall :

Synlait has dropped its forecast milk price for the season about to end and is predicting of a lower opening price for next season.

The dairy company is forecasting $7.05 per kilo of milk solids, down from $7.25.

This is slightly below Fonterra’s recent forecast of $7.10 to $7.30.

Synlait’s opening forecast for the 2020/21 season has been set at $6.00, which is in the middle-range of Fonterra’s forecast of $5.40 to $6.90.

In the 2018/19 season the company paid $6.40 kgMS to its 280 farmer suppliers. . .

 

Sanford interim results – diversity providing resilience for New Zealand’s largest seafood company:

Sanford Limited (NZX: SAN) has reported statutory net profit after tax (NPAT) for the first half of its 2020 financial year of $19.0 million, 17% behind last year’s result of $22.9 million for the same period. Adjusted (underlying) Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) of $23.2 million for the six months to 31 March, 2020. This represents a 29% decrease on adjusted EBIT from the same period last year ($32.6 million) or a 16% decrease on a comparable basis, when excluding the pelagic business which Sanford sold in March 2019. Total revenue was $245.5 million, a 7% decrease on the same period in 2019 ($265.0 million).

Sanford is New Zealand’s largest and oldest seafood company and has a diverse range of interests across fishing and aquaculture. In recent years, it has made a strategic shift into higher value products such as Greenshell mussel powders and high end branded salmon. . . 

The meat industry is trying to get back to normal. But workers are still getting sick — and shortages may get worse – Taylor Telford:

Tyson Foods, the largest meat processor in the United States, has transformed its facilities across the country since legions of its workers started getting sick from the novel coronavirus. It has set up on-site medical clinics, screened employees for fevers at the beginning of their shifts, required the use of face coverings, installed plastic dividers between stations and taken a host of other steps to slow the spread.

Despite those efforts, the number of Tyson employees with the coronavirus has exploded from less than 1,600 a month ago to more than 7,000 today, according to a Washington Post analysis of news reports and public records.

What has happened at Tyson — and in the meat industry overall — shows how difficult it is to get the nation back to normal, even in essential fields such as food processing. .

.

Buy local buy NZ wood:

With the current post-lockdown focus to ‘buy local’, the NZ Forest Sector Forum is posing the question – why isn’t New Zealand consuming more New Zealand wood and wood products?

According to MPI, approximately two-thirds of New Zealand wood is exported. Almost $6.93 billion was exported from NZ in 2018-19. On the flipside, New Zealand imported over $1.5 billion worth of wood products in 2019. So why are we importing a huge amount of wood products when we grow so much ourselves?

Wood products cover products that come from the woody part of the tree, and can be anything from logs to wood chips, sawn timber and railway sleepers to wood pulp. Uses for wood and wood products are constantly being reinvented, from multi-story construction to soft and absorbent toilet paper. . . 


Rural round-up

13/01/2020

OZ farmers suffer heavy losses – NFF – Sudesh Kissun:

Australian farmers have lost significant livestock in bushfires raging across the country, says National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson. 

Simson says many farmers had lost homes, livestock and infrastructure.

“While we don’t know exact numbers yet, there has been a significant loss of livestock in parts of the country, most recently in areas such as northern Victoria and the south coast of NSW,” she says. . . 

‘Sheer weight’ of multiple issues taking toll on farmers – Sally Rae:

The ‘‘sheer weight’’ of issues facing farmers in Otago and Southland is taking a serious toll on their mental health and wellbeing, a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Economic Service report says.

The annual lamb crop report, released this week, said morale among sheep and beef farmers in the two regions was low.

The implications for farming practices and effects on profitability of government policies announced affecting the sector were unclear but likely to be far reaching.

While policies covering freshwater and greenhouse gas emissions were prominent, the likes of Mycoplasma bovis, reform of the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme, tightening of bank lending arrangements, the One Billion Trees programme, winter grazing practices, biodiversity, urban perception of farming, and how to manage succession were also having notable impacts. . . 

New boss sees pastoral potential – Richard Rennie:

The vast grassland expanses of South America offer some exciting opportunities for Gallagher’s new general manager Darrell Jones.

Jones is a couple of months into his new role but almost 20 years into working for the agri-tech company. 

Formerly the company’s national sales manager he is excited by what his recent business excursion to South America revealed.

“We have had a presence in South America for some time but everything sold over there is basically from behind the counter. 

“We want to really work on what our point of difference is for electric fence systems there and a big part of that is farmer education.  . .

Farmlands moves focus forward – Neal Wallace:

New Farmlands chairman Rob Hewett wants the farm supplies retailer to shift its focus to meeting the anticipated needs of farmers five years in the future.

Given the requirement for farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address freshwater quality Farmlands needs to help its 70,000 shareholder-owners make those adjustments and that means supplying advice, services and technology they will need in the future.

“Farmers want a road map and hope and we are moving the company from being very good at providing something farmers needed five years ago to provide things we anticipate farmers will need five years from now.” . . 

Mechanisation new for the US – Tessa Nicholson:

The impetus behind developing the Klima stripper back in 2007 was a continual lack of labour during the pruning season.

Growers and companies all over the country were facing shortages and every year there was the underlying fear that pruning would not be completed in time for bud burst.

The Klima quickly caught the attention of grape growers in both New Zealand and Australia, but breaking into the US has until recently been a difficult one, says Klima founder Marcus Wickham. . . 

Australian celebrity chef samples both sides of the dining experience at Walter Peak High Country Farm:

Visiting Australian celebrity chef Justin North enjoyed a chance to sample the gourmet BBQ lunch menu before heading to the kitchen to work with Executive Chef Mauro Battaglia at Walter Peak High Country Farm in Queenstown on Tuesday 7 January.

North says the first impression when walking through the doors into the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant is the absolutely beautiful aroma.

“Credit to Executive Chef Mauro Battaglia and his whole team as it’s clear that a lot of love, care and thought goes into the food. You can see there is such a lovely culture within the kitchen team, and everyone is so passionate about what they are doing. You can tell it’s more than just a job to everyone.” . . 

 

The insidious flaw in the “Less Meat” argument — we need soil, not soy – Seth Itzkan:

The insidious flaw with the “less meat” argument is that it implies that meat is bad (when, of course, it isn’t) while looking the other way as it advances soil-depleting, GMO soy, faux meat products at the expense of nutritionally superior, regenerative beef and dairy alternatives that are essential for enhancing soil carbon, reviving pasture ecosystems, and just now gaining a foothold in supermarkets.

What Burger King and other franchises should do instead of carrying Impossible Foods paddies, is to insist that each region source at least 10% of their meats locally and via ecologically restorative production. That would jumpstart the food revolution genuinely poised to deliver a safe climate. . .

 


Rural round-up

21/11/2019

Top farm is 100 not out – Jo Grigg:

Fraser and Shelley Avery, Bonavaree, have taken out top place in the Westpac Bayleys Marlborough Sheep and Beef Farmer of the Year 2019 and a $32,000 prize package.

Together with Fraser’s parents Doug and Wendy Avery, the inter-generational farm partnership first made award headlines in 2010, winning South Island Farmer of the Year.

Since then the business has grown in scale to 2232 hectares (effective) and six staff but the successful recipe around direct grazing of lucerne has not changed. 

Doug and Wendy have moved off the farm but maintain an interest and Fraser runs the business while Shelley has started working full-time for St John Ambulance. . . 

Sustainability award for Stonehenge – Annette Scott:

Otago sheep and beef farmers Andrew and Francine Hore have been internationally recognised for their environmentally friendly farming.

The couple who are fourth generation farmers on the family’s 18,000 hectare Stonehenge property in Maniototo took out the Reda Group’s Sustainability Award.

The Reda Group, a Biella, Italy, leader in the production of Merino wool fabrics held its annual conference in Queenstown earlier this month where it crowned the Hore’s Stonehenge Merinos as its second ever sustainability award winner.  . . 

Will apple trees replace pines in North Canterbury?:

Apple trees could be replacing pines in North Canterbury.

Ngāi Tahu Farming has ordered tree stocks for planting a trial orchard in the Culverden/Balmoral area in 2021.

The initial 15ha commercial pipfruit orchard could be the first in the wider Amuri Basin.

The area is known for long, hot, fine days and low rainfall. Local farmers have been known to grow fruit trees successfully for home consumption and it was partly this knowledge that prompted Ngāi Tahu Farming to consider trialling horticulture as an option in the area. . .

Merino-judging debut leads to success, chance to learn – Sally Rae:

Harriet Gardner has had a successful first attempt at judging merino sheep.

Miss Gardner (25), who comes from a sheep and beef farm at Waihaorunga, near Waimate, won the merino junior judging competition held at the Paterson family’s property Armidale in the Maniototo recently.

That qualified her to compete in the junior judging competition at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch last week where she finished second.

She had previously won a cattle-judging competition, which saw her travel to Australia, but she had not tackled merino judging. . . 

Sisters maintain family tradition in Maniototo – Sally Rae:

It will be a sister act at Maniototo A&P Show in Ranfurly in February.

Siblings Margot Hall and Janine Smith will be at the helm of the show, as president and secretary respectively.

If their duties in those positions do not sound busy enough, Ms Smith will also be exhibiting about 25 sheep.

Mrs Hall was following in the footsteps of her father, well-known sheep breeder Ian Smith, who has had two stints as president.

Ms Smith took over last year from longstanding secretary Neville Wahrlich who was in the job for more than 40 years. “I haven’t got that in me”, she confided. . . 

Federal ‘green bank’ and Mike Cannon-Brookes back new ‘agrifood’ fund – John McDuling:

The federal government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Atlassian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes have teamed up to back a new $30 million venture capital fund targeting the “agrifood” sector.

The CEFC and Mr Cannon-Brookes’ personal investment fund, Grok Ventures, have each committed $8 million to Tenacious Ventures, which describes itself as “Australia’s first dedicated agrifood tech venture capital firm”.

Tenacious Ventures is seeking to raise $30 million and is led by Matthew Pryor, who helped found agrifood tech startup Observant, which was sold to India’s Jain Irrigation in 2017; and Sarah Nolet, CEO of agrifood tech advisory firm AgThentic.The fund plans to invest in early-stage startups focused on the agricultural supply chain and which are trying to lift farm efficiency and reduce waste. . .

Rural round-up

03/06/2019

Townies ringing the changes on rural folk – Nigel Malthus:

Decisions are being made about and for New Zealand’s rural communities by the 80% of the population who live in urban areas, say the authors of a new book on rural change.

Current trends favour a market led, business focussed approach to regional growth, but these trends downplay social and community considerations, and that needs further thought, the authors say.

Heartland Strong: how rural New Zealand can change and thrive finds that rural communities have enormous strengths which could be enhanced and maintained even in the face of inexorable change. . .

Debt problems rise only slightly – Nigel Stirling:

The number of dairy farmers struggling with high debt has risen slightly, according to the Reserve Bank’s latest stock-take of the health of the financial system.

In its twice-yearly Financial Stability Report it said the number of non-performing dairy loans reported by the trading banks has increased slightly.

“The dairy sector is continuing to recover from the two major dairy price downturns in the past decade. . .

Plan needed for competing wood demands – Fonterra – Gavin Evans:

(BusinessDesk) – Wood is a viable industrial fuel but greater effort may be needed to ensure that new demand from processors doesn’t strip supplies from existing users, Fonterra says.

Co-firing the firm’s Brightwater milk powder plant near Nelson on a wood-coal blend shows that wood is a viable means to reduce emissions from process heat, Tony Oosten, the firm’s energy manager, says.

Capital and fuel costs for new wood or coal boilers are now very close and the company could – were it to be building its Darfield 2 dryer in Canterbury again – do that with wood. . . 

 

World leading scientist teaming up with Fonterra on sustainability:

Professor Ian Hunter is a serial entrepreneur. Born in New Zealand, he started his first company at age nine and published his first scientific paper at age 10.

Now living in Boston, he’s the Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, the co-founder of 25 companies, and has more than 100 patents to his name.

He’s also working on a new project – a partnership with Fonterra to solve some of dairy farming’s biggest sustainability challenges.

Kakariki Fund to help horticulture starts accelerate growth:

A wholesale investment offer being launched this week is aimed at helping the emerging stars of the New Zealand horticulture sector accelerate their growth.

Kakariki Fund Limited, which is seeking $100 million, will invest in orchards, vineyards, plantations and farms to be co-managed by leading horticulture processors and exporters including apple growers Rockit Global and Freshmax, Sacred Hill wines, craft beer hop grower Hop Revolution, Manuka honey producer Comvita and kiwifruit grower and packer DMS Progrowers.

Kakariki is targeting annual investment returns of 10%*, which will be made up of earnings from the sale of crops through the partners and any increases in land values.  . . 

Meat is magnificent water, carbon, methane & nutrition  – Diana Rodgers:

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

There was a recent article in The Washington Post entitled “Meat is Horrible”, once again vilifying meat, that was full of inaccurate statements about the harm cattle impose on the land, how bad it is for our health, and how it should be taxed. Stories like this are all too common and we’ve absolutely got to change our thinking on what’s causing greenhouse gas emissions and our global health crisis.

Hint: it’s not grass-fed steak

In the few days since the story originally came out, I’ve been brewing up some different angle to write. I’ve written here, and here about the benefits of red meat, and how Tofurky isn’t the answer to healing the environment or our health. I keep saying the same thing over and over. Recently, I posted this as a response to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new claims that a plant-based diet is optimal. I also wrote about Philadelphia’s sugar tax here, and I don’t think a meat tax is any better of an idea, especially when the government is subsidizing the feed. I’m feeling quite frustrated. . . 


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