Rural round-up

20/04/2022

Flying high on the seeds of success – Sally Rae:

Topflite is a quiet North Otago success story, growing from humble beginnings amid the district’s farmland to one of New Zealand’s leading pet food brands. Business editor Sally Rae talks to general manager Greg Webster about joining the family business and the opportunities Covid-19 has afforded it.

When Greg Webster was growing up on a farm in rural North Otago, he vividly recalls his father, Jock, telling him never to be a farmer.

It was the 1980s — an era that was “so tough” for farmers who were battling crippling drought and huge interest rates.

“They were under the pump. Some of that probably rubbed off,” Mr Webster recalled this week. . . 

Freeze-dried meat for natural treats – Ashley Smyth :

Oamaru pet food brand Topflite has unleashed its latest project, Hound.

Topflite Hound is a line of minimally processed, freeze-dried meat treats for dogs. The treats were made from grass-fed, low-stress beef and cage-free chicken and were as natural as possible, which aligned with the brand, marketing manager Carolyn Webster said.

The product seemed a “logical next step” for the company, who already specialised in small animal pet food.

General manager Greg Webster had done some research into the market years ago and saw the opportunities in dog treats, so it had been on his radar for a long time. . . 

 

Staggeringly exciting research may save sheep farmers :

Livestock researchers around the world can now remotely detect ryegrass staggers in sheep using on-animal sensors.

This follows research findings from an international team – including researchers from Lincoln University and CQ University in Central Queensland.

Results from the study means that, in the future, farmers will be able to act quickly and move sheep to new pastures when they begin to display the signs of (grass) staggers – potentially improving their bottom line by $100 per hectare.

Grass stagger is caused by the consumption of plants such as phalaris and ryegrass – common in both Australia and New Zealand – that are infected with toxic strains of endophyte. It can be fatal if animals have experienced prolonged exposure to toxic pasture. . . 

Permission to discharge milk among regional council’s new consents – Brendon McMahon:

Westland Milk Products has been granted a renewed consent by the West Coast Regional Council to discharge milk waste to land from its Hokitika factory.

Council consents and compliance manager Colin Helem said the application, to discharge milk and milk by-products to land where it may enter water, was to renew the previous consent which was due to expire.

The non-notified consent allows the company to discharge on to areas at Ngāi Tahu Forestry’s Mahinapua, Kaniere, Waimea and Nemona forest blocks.

This was one of 15 non-notified consents issued by the regional council during March. . . 

New licence great news for Kiwi cannabis patients :

“The industry’s first licence renewal and expansion will enable Helius to produce New Zealand grown and made medicinal cannabis products – something Kiwi patients have been waiting for since the inception of the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme. It’s an exciting milestone,” says Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Helius was New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis business to achieve a GMP Licence for Manufacturing Medicines in July 2021, covering the first products to market.

The Ministry of Health has now renewed and expanded Helius’ licence allowing the Auckland-based company to make active ingredients onsite from raw cannabis material.

Every New Zealand GP can now prescribe medicinal cannabis for any health condition, with Kiwi-manufactured products using imported active ingredients available for the past six months. . . 

GOR Woollen Mill set to be one of the largest in Australia under expansion plans – Rochelle Kirkham :

An alpaca farm and woollen mill’s move to Ballarat will add a highly-regarded ‘paddock to product’ business to central Victoria and create a new tourism drawcard.

Great Ocean Road Woollen Mill, now known as GOR Woollen Mill, is in the process of relocating its alpacas to Burrumbeet and setting up new machinery in Delacombe, near Ballarat.

The move from the business’s previous home in Ecklin South near Timboon was driven by a need to be on a bigger site to keep up with demand for their alpaca fibre and be located closer to their customer base.

Owners Nick and Isabel Renters have had a big week starting to unpack seven crates of new wool processing machinery from Italy at their Delacombe factory. . . 


Rural round-up

12/04/2022

Meat prices expected to lift as processing capacity returns – Sally Rae:

The “very tricky patch” for sheep and beef farmers is set to continue in the short term, with Covid-19 at its heart, Westpac senior agri-economist Nathan Penny says.

In his monthly meat report, Mr Penny said the Omicron outbreak had been felt most acutely in meat processing plants, where it had caused very low operating capacity and delays in processing.

Some plants were operating at as low as 40% capacity and, as a result, some processing delays had blown out to about eight weeks.

Some bookings were being cancelled at the last minute as plants did not know how many workers would be available day to day. . .

Dairy farmers share solutions to attracting and keeping staff :

DairyNZ will host a webinar on attracting and retaining farm staff in a difficult labour market on 20 April.

Bay of Plenty contract milker and former DairyNZ consultant Jordyn Crouch is one of four guest speakers who will discuss how New Zealand can design dairy workplaces to attract great employees.

Kellogg Rural Leadership project interviews with leading farmers led Crouch to identify four ways dairy workplaces could become more attractive including flexible rosters and pay scales; fostering leaders not managers; developing safe workplace cultures that allow autonomy and innovation; and sharing a common purpose on-farm.

“Involving your farm team is the starting point to improve your workplace,” she says. . . 

RubyRed alert: Zespri’s first commercial red kiwifruit exports on the water – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand’s first commercial volume harvest of red kiwifruit is heading overseas, and with returns to pioneer growers looking juicy, there will be keen interest in the results of this year’s Zespri growing licence round.

Marketer Zespri released a further 350ha of RubyRed brand licence this year in a closed tender bid, the results of which will be announced from May 2.

The New Zealand grower-owned company said it was expecting a total red crop of around 140,000 trays this year. That’s double last year’s harvest, which was used for market trials sales.

Around 100ha was expected to produce the red fruit this year from a total of 415ha already licensed. . .

Gorsebusters of Ōkārito Lagoon – Lois Williams:

The phenomenal work ethic of a volunteer army has the gorse scourge at a West Coast beauty spot in retreat

For the second year running, volunteers from all over New Zealand have descended on picturesque Ōkārito Lagoon in South Westland to attack the gorse menace that threatens the Unesco World Heritage site.

“Gorsebusters”, the phenomenon sparked almost by accident last year by Ōkārito businessman Barry Hughes, is back bigger and better than ever as the West Coast basks in a record-breaking Indian summer.

The tiny community is hosting more than 80 people who arrived this week from as far away as Auckland, paying their own way to help out, armed to the teeth with loppers, pruning saws and other weapons of gorse destruction. . .

Organic medicinal cannabis a huge opportunity for NZ:

“New Zealand organically grown and manufactured medicinal cannabis products will be in huge demand internationally, taking the country’s newest industry to a whole new level in the future,” says Carmen Doran, chief executive of Helius Therapeutics.

Her comments follow the Government announcing a $32.2 million joint project with New Zealand’s largest and only organic certified medicinal cannabis grower, Puro, to accelerate the growth of the industry.

A key workstream will see New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis processor and manufacturer, Helius, working alongside Puro on research and development and the creation of an organic manufacturing road map.

“Our ambition is to take Puro’s organically produced high value biomass and manufacture it here in New Zealand to organic certification. Achieving both organically grown and organically manufactured will create a significant premium differentiation for Helius and other local medicinal cannabis companies as well,” says Ms Doran. . .

 

Milford road the one road trip every Kiwi needs to do before the tourists return – Brook Sabin  :

Kiwis love hidden gems, so we’re on a mission to find them. Undiscovered Aotearoa is a video-led series by Brook Sabin and Radha Engling to show you the best of New Zealand.

The call from Mum brought a tear to my eye. Since the pandemic started, I’ve been lucky enough to travel to every region in the country. I’ve seen New Zealand at its best, without the usual hordes of international tourists. And she wanted to know one thing: where is the one place I should see before tourists return.

My answer was emphatic: you need to drive New Zealand’s most beautiful road, weaving through the mountains to Milford Sound. But I added a note of caution: many people don’t do it quite right. They don’t realise there are many stops that make the journey almost as beautiful as the destination. So I volunteered to act as a tour guide.

In the past few weeks, I’ve made the trip twice. Once to gather photos for this story; we were given rare permission to get drone shots along the road, under strict conditions. The second was with my gorgeous mum. . .


Rural round-up

21/03/2022

Dairy prices expected to remain elevated in the near term, but longer-term outlook less certain — Global Report :

Dwindling world milk production looks set to support buoyant global dairy commodity prices over coming months, but with the Russia-Ukraine conflict creating a wave of uncertainty in markets, the longer-term pricing outlook remains much less clear, Rabobank says in a recently-released report.

In its “Global Dairy Quarterly Q1 2022: How high for how long?”,the agribusiness banking specialist says weather-related issues, high or rising production costs and lingering disruptions from Covid-19 resulted in milk production growth faring worse than previously anticipated in the final quarter of 2021.

“These challenges have impacted dairy farmers from all the key production regions around the world, and among the “Big 7” dairy exporters – New Zealand, Australia, the EU, the US, Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina — production is now expected to fall by 0.7 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2022,” Rabobank senior agricultural analyst Emma Higgins said. . . 

Vegetable prices tipped to go higher due to spiraling costs :

Horticulture New Zealand says vegetable prices will continue to increase if the Government does not support growers to find ways to reduce the costs of growing.

‘There is a crisis developing in commercial vegetable production in New Zealand. Input costs have soared over the past 12 months, not the least being the cost of fuel,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Reducing petrol excise duty by 25 cents a litre and road user charges for three months is a positive step for most New Zealanders. However, this has no impact on the significant increase in the cost of diesel for use on the farm, orchard or market garden.

‘Between December 2021 and March 2022, the cost of diesel has increased from $1.67 a litre to $2.41 a litre. . . 

Young Waikato Dairy Award winners see value in judges views :

The major winners in the 2022 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards are a young couple who believe that progression is possible and your limits are only what you perceive.

Brian Basi and Rachel Bunnik were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Waikato Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at Claudelands Event Centre on Monday evening. The other big winners were Andrew Macky, who became the 2022 Waikato Dairy Manager of the Year, and Edward Roskam, the 2022 Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Brian and Rachel are contract milkers for Dick and Liz Johnson on their 72ha, 230-cow Putaruru property for the past two seasons. They won $14,828 in prizes and four merit awards.

Brian placed in the top five in the same category last year and believes judges analysing their overall farming business and performance was a key benefit of the awards programme. . . 

Varroa increasingly responsible for NZ bee colony losses :

New Zealand beekeepers have reported varroa to be the most common reason for over-wintering hive losses for the first time, according to the recently released NZ Colony Loss Survey.

The 2021 Survey found varroa was responsible for nearly 40% of all losses. This marks a change in the primary cause, with queen problems having consistently been attributed as the key reason for colony losses in the past six years of the survey.

The Survey noted that an estimated 5.3% of all living colonies were lost to varroa and related complications over the 2021 winter, significantly higher than the 1.6% recorded just five years ago.

Beekeepers surveyed reported a number of reasons for the losses due to varroa; including reinvasion post treatment and timing issues with treatments. Nineteen percent believed their varroa losses were due to ineffective products. . . 

Australia’s biggest customer pressured to give kangaroo products the boot – Chris McLennan:

Australia’s biggest export market for kangaroos has the jitters.

There is a big push from the Netherlands for the European Union to give Aussie roo products the boot now free trade talks have begun.

The EU is our biggest market for kangaroo meat and leather worth about $130 million annually.

Traditionally the light and strong kangaroo leather has been highly valued by sporting apparel companies. . .

Spring Sheep Milk Co wins Company-X Innovation Award:

and the Company-X Innovation Awards goes to . . . the Spring Sheep Milk Co.

The smart Kiwi business began in 2015 and now sources sheep milk from 12,700 grass-fed Zealandia sheep, its own breed, from dedicated farms across the Central North Island.

The milk is spray-dried into powder at Waikato Innovation Park at Ruakura in Hamilton and is used to create high-value nutrition products. Its early life nutrition range, including Gentle Sheep Toddler Milk Drink and nutrition powders are sold in China, Malaysia and New Zealand. Sheep milk is one of the most nutritious milks available and may be helpful for people with stomach or digestion intolerances.

Grass-fed New Zealand sheep milk is one of the highest quality milks available in the world and is clinically proven to be more easily digested and absorbed than cow’s milk, making it the ideal base for premium nutrition products. . . 


Rural round-up

18/03/2022

World dairy prices ease from record peak but the industry is the big driver of export receipts as trade deficit widens – Point of Order:

Dairy prices levelled  off  in  Fonterra’s  latest  Global Dairy Trade auction  but  remain  close  to the  peak reached  at  the  previous  auction  a  fortnight  previously.

The GDT price  index  eased 0.9%  to 1579, the second-highest level on record, down from 1593.

Dairy farmers   who  had  seen prices  surge  in  the  past  five  auctions  may  have  been disappointed.  But  as Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny pointed  out, uncertainties around global dairy demand arising from surging Covid-19 case numbers in China, the world’s largest dairy market, is likely to have weighed on prices.

Fonterra  has  steadily  raised  its  forecast payout  to  the  $9.30-$9.90kg/MS range – the  highest it has  ever been – as  the  GDT index  has  climbed  18%  this  season. . .

Kiwifruit harvest needs ‘all the help it can get’ – growers :

With travellers wanting to take a working holiday now able come to Aotearoa for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the kiwifruit industry is highlighting there are plenty of jobs on offer.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers chief executive Colin Bond said pre-Covid New Zealand welcomed about 50,000 working holidaymakers into the country each year.

His industry required 24,000 seasonal workers for picking and packing roles and backpackers had traditionally make up about one quarter of the workforce.

“This year a record crop of over 190 million trays are forecast to be picked. Each tray has about 30 pieces of kiwifruit, meaning the industry needs all the help it can get.” . . 

Instead of being the best in’ the world be the  best ‘for’ the world – Sarah’s Country:

   In an environment where farmers & growers may be thinking it’s all coming at them, Becks Smith can see the light at the end of the tunnel when we condense the overwhelm and see the challenges through a more holistic approach.  

New Zealand farmers naturally have an inter-generational view of stewardship of their land, but sometimes need support to bring the right expertise together when they are on the next level of their sustainability journey.

Becks Smith discusses with Sarah Perriam, host of Sarah’s Country, how her career journey as a vet in Central Otago, alongside farming with her husband’s family, is evolving into the social enterprise The Whole Story.

She shares her insights into how to take small steps towards change and how important to pull an advisory board around our farmers that are all on the same page. . . 

UK and NZ animal health associations welcome regularity co-operation :

The animal health associations in the UK (NOAH) and New Zealand (Agcarm) have welcomed the publication by the countries’ regulatory agencies of guidance that will enable simultaneous review of animal medicine marketing authorisation applications in the two countries.

Arising from discussions between the UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the guidance document ‘United Kingdom-New Zealand Regulatory Cooperation: Guidance on Veterinary Medicines Simultaneous Reviews’ will serve as the foundation to enable these simultaneous reviews to happen.

This comes as a far-reaching trade deal has also been announced between the two countries, which includes an animal welfare chapter with a clear statement that animals are recognised as sentient beings. Provisions include a commitment to increased bilateral cooperation, as well as working together in international fora to enhance animal welfare standards. . .

Biosecurity New Zealand’s annual report supports Aotearoa’s beekeepers :

Biosecurity New Zealand’s annual Winter Colony Loss survey results are out now and show that the country’s beekeepers are serious about working together to support a strong bee industry.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist Richard Hall says more beekeepers than ever took part in this survey, the seventh so far.

“This level of involvement and our beekeeper’s transparency in self-reporting shows how seriously they take biosecurity, and how valuable Biosecurity New Zealand’s support is in strengthening the bee industry.

“Strong biosecurity systems and management of pests and diseases are essential to production and the data gathered this year will help beekeepers identify where they need to focus their management efforts,” says Dr Hall. . . 

The Nevis – New Zealand’s highest public road – Jane Jeffries:

Having spent a large part of the summer in the Queenstown region we decided to explore The Nevis – New Zealand’s highest public road.

I was a little nervous, as I hate scary roads, but secretly wanted to do it. The thought of driving up the Remarkable ski field road makes me anxious, with sheer drops and no barriers. So a rugged road, with tight corners, possible oncoming traffic reeked of danger to me.

This classic piece of New Zealand road is only open in the summer for 4wd vehicles as it’s snow-bound in winter. The valley can be accessed from Bannockburn, just outside of Cromwell or Garston, near Kingston at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu.

Which ever way you start The Nevis, make sure you allow time for a meal at the legendary Bannockburn pub, the food is fabulous.  . .


Rural round-up

14/03/2022

He Waka Eke Noa caught in crosswinds – Keith Woodford:

He Waka Eke Noa was always going to be controversial. Right now, it is in some trouble.

Four weeks have slipped by since I last wrote about the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) proposals for dealing with agricultural emissions of methane and nitrous oxide. During that time, DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb have been conducting roadshows around New Zealand trying to convince their members to support the HWEN proposals.

If the HWEN proposals are accepted by farmers and the Government, then this will be the framework for agriculture’s greenhouse gas (GHG) levies through to 2050. So, we have to get it right.

My assessment is that the roadshows are not going particularly well. I make that judgement in part from the flood of emails I am getting from upset farmers, but more importantly because of the fundamental flaws within the current proposals. . . 

Rural sector calls for fuel price relief – Sally Murphy:

Rural industries struggling with rising fuel costs are calling on the government to reduce fuel taxes to make it more affordable.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed the oil price up to US$109 (NZ$159) a barrel – resulting in the price at the pump tipping over $3 a litre here.

Rural Contractors chief executive Andrew Olsen said contractors would have to pass the increased costs on to farmers, which would lead to increased food prices.

“When the product lands in a supermarket at a much higher cost it’s probably going to raise eyebrows,” he said. . .

Why are global dairy prices so high? here’s what you need to know :

Recently, global dairy prices hit a record high.

Last week the average price at the fortnightly global dairy auction rose 5.1 percent to $US5065 ($NZ7370) a tonne, after rising 4.2 percent in the previous auction.

The Global Dairy Trade price index hit 1593, breaking the previous record of 1573 set in April 2013.

Prices for other products were up too – wholemilk powder, butter, skim milk powder, and cheddar cheese. . .

Backing rural New Zealand – Christopher Luxon:

In my very first speech as National Party Leader, I said that our farmers are not villains.

Our provincial heartland has felt taken for granted for too long.

I’m proud to lead a party that is committed to standing up for farmers and rural communities – committed to representing you, championing your causes, and reducing the regulatory burden you face.

One of the things I’ve consistently heard loud and clear as a Member of Parliament is how New Zealand’s rural communities are feeling innundated by costs, rules and regulations flowing from Wellington. . . 

Horse and plough add French touch to Marlborough vineyard – Country Life:

A Clydesdale named Gordon is bringing an extra touch of France to Marlborough’s Churton vineyard.

Under the expert guidance of his French handler, Gordon is in training for the autumn ploughing season after a summer kicking up his hefty hooves on this beguiling block of vines above the Waihopai Valley.

Sam and Mandy Weaver set up the vineyard on 51 hectares of former sheep and beef country 30 years ago and are in the process of handing on the reins to sons Jack and Ben.

Biodynamic principles guide them in everything they do so a horse and plough to gently till the strip between the vines fitted in well with their vision for the vineyard. . . 

Boundless opportunities for Bay of Plenty Dairy Ward winners :

The major winners in the 2022 Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards, Scott and Rebecca O’Brien, are passionate about their business and the dairy industry and believe there are endless opportunities at all levels.

The couple were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held at the Awakeri Events Centre on Friday night. The other big winners were Hayden Purvis who was named the 2022 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year, and Thomas Lundman, the 2022 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Scott (39) and Rebecca (41) are 50/50 sharemilking over two farms – Rory & Susan Gordon’s 260ha Galatea 650-cow property, and Peter & Cathy Brown’s 100ha, 250-cow property. They won $9,800 and four merit awards.

Scott grew up on a dairy farm, and when it was sold when he was 13, he knew the journey hadn’t ended for him. “I just love working with animals and the diverse day-to-day tasks of being a farmer.” . . 


Rural round-up

08/02/2022

NZ”s border opening ‘too little too late’ – horticulture industry chief

New Zealand’s five-stage plan to reopen the border has come “too little, too late” for the RSE Scheme and does not spell the end of challenges currently crippling the industry, officials warn.

They say more could and should have been done to avoid the crisis facing the 2021-2022 harvest season.

From 28 February, New Zealanders will be able to arrive back from Australia and expatriates from the rest of the world can return from 14 March.

Aotearoa was expected to open to foreigners from visa-waiver countries such as the United States no later than July. . . 

Rhys Roberts crowned New Zealand winner of top agri-award:

An entrepreneurial approach to primary production has resulted in Rhys Roberts of mid-Canterbury receiving the 2022 New Zealand Zanda McDonald Award.

Rhys Roberts is Chief Executive of the Align Group, who operate 7 farms, a market garden, and are vertically integrated with a yoghurt brand and milk processing facility.

The Zanda McDonald Award, now in its eighth year, supports talented and passionate young professionals in the ag sector from Australia and New Zealand. Rhys will receive an impressive trans-Tasman prize package centred around mentoring, education and training that is 100% tailored to his needs.

Roberts is passionate about food production and future workplaces. He’s currently running a regenerative agriculture project trial to monitor farm productivity, animal health, human health and environmental outcomes. His focus on building a ‘future workplace’ has resulted in creating a market garden that feeds his team through the fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and eggs from their farms. All of the team are on fully flexible rosters, and can manage their own schedules, choosing shifts that suit them. This frees them up for about 1000 hours combined per year, which they reinvest into the community.

Zanda McDonald Award Patron Shane McManaway says “Rhys is highly ambitious, and he’s prepared to break the mold of the past and do things differently. Some of the results he’s seeing, due to his innovative approach, are nothing short of exceptional. He has a strong environmental and wellbeing focus, as well as creating a significant difference to the company’s bottom line. As judges, we were extremely impressed and inspired by his leadership, and know he has a very strong future ahead of him.” . . 

Luring Kiwis back to farm essential amid border closures – Adam Burns:

The agricultural sector in North Canterbury has expressed relief at the Government’s border reopening plan, but those on the ground have highlighted a wider issue farmers are facing – a lack of home-grown skilled labour.

This has been compounded by farmers being unable to secure skilled workers off shore, due to a tightening of restrictions at the border over the past 24 months, causing significant strain for many in the primary sector.

Record low unemployment, which dropped to 3.2 per cent this week, further underlined how competitive the labour market was becoming.

But the agricultural industry is relieved some respite may be on the cards as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined a phased plan on Thursday to reopen the country. It starts with vaccinated Kiwis and other eligible workers from Australia from 27 February. . . 

NZ red meat sector achieves record exports during 2021 :

New Zealand’s red meat sector exports reached $10 billion in 2021 despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The exports represented a nine per cent increase on 2020. The value of red meat and co-products exported in December 2021 was also up 22 per cent year on year, at just over $1 billion.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said the sector had worked tirelessly in the face of ongoing global logistical challenges to continue to achieve the best possible results for farmers, the 25,000 people working in the industry and for the New Zealand economy.

“Despite all the disruptions and labour shortages, we were able to make the most of the global demand for red meat and generate record export revenue. . . 

Western Australia wool industry fears shearer exodus following NZ border opening

Kiwi shearers in Western Australia (WA) are already planning to return to New Zealand after the country announced its border reopening plan.

If they do return, WA’s wool industry may be unable to keep up with demands for shearing, putting animal welfare and lambs’ lives at risk.

Aromia Ngarangioni, a shearer in the Great Southern region of WA, estimates 60 percent of shearers working in WA are New Zealanders.

Like many, it has been years since Ngarangioni has been able to go home. . . 

 

NZ Dairy Industry regional wards dinner go ahead in red :

With judging for the 11 regional programmes underway around the country, the New Zealand Dairy Industry Award’s attention is turning to the regional award dinners being held in March and April.

After consultation with regional teams and national sponsors, the much-anticipated evenings will continue, following government guidelines for events in Red level.

“We know these award dinners are an important part of the rural community’s calendar on many levels, which is why we will follow government guidelines to deliver an evening where success can be recognised and celebrated,” says NZDIA General Manager Robin Congdon.

“This means the dinners will have a maximum attendance of 100 people, who will be required to show vaccine passes at the venue. . .


Rural round-up

31/01/2022

MIA Immigration Minister risking food production:

At a time when supply chains are already frayed, the Government’s inaction on border class exceptions for time-critical workers could have an impact on food production and distribution in New Zealand, National Leader Christopher Luxon says.

“Workers for the grain harvest are needed here in February, but because of Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi’s inaction they’re unlikely to get here on time which could mean late and limited supply of essential food, like bread.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced on 12 December last year that he had created new border exceptions for 200 mobile machinery operators, 40 shearers and 50 wool handlers.

“The Immigration Minister should have sprung to action to enable these workers to get visas, but he sat on his hands for six weeks and didn’t sign off instructions allowing the workers to apply for their visas until 21 January. . .

Marlborough farmers turn to barge travel as road repairs drag on – Maja Burry:

Farming in Marlborough’s Kenepuru Sound has turned nautical, as locals wait for road repairs to be completed following a storm in July last year.

The storm caused significant damage to Kenepuru Road, leaving farmers no option but to use barges to shift tens of thousands of sheep and cattle and bring in farm supplies.

In December, residents were allowed to start using Kenepuru Road againduring set times, but no trucks or trailers were allowed.

The phone hasn’t stopped ringing at Johnson’s Barge Services in Havelock since the storm. . .

Sri Lanka to pay $200m compensation for failed organic farm drive :

Sri Lanka has announced compensation for more than a million rice farmers whose crops failed under a botched scheme to establish the world’s first 100-percent organic farming nation.

The island country is currently reeling from a severe economic crisis that has triggered food shortages and rolling blackouts as the COVID pandemic sent the tourism-dependent economy into a tailspin.

Agricultural chemicals such as fertiliser were among the imports banned last year as authorities tried to save dwindling foreign currency reserves. The restrictions were lifted months later after farmer protests and crop failures.

The government will pay 40,000 million rupees ($200m) to farmers whose harvests were affected by the chemical fertiliser ban, agriculture minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said on Tuesday. . . 

Woolshed and a gym – Richard Gavigan:

THE DOCKING IS DONE FOR 2021 AND it’s not a record result. Last year we did 152% lambs docked to ewes mated, our best ever. This year, despite a lift in scanning, we slipped to 142%.

Tight feed conditions during late pregnancy and lambing, the result of slow pasture growth and Porina damage, didn’t help. More significant was the effect of continuous cold, wet, windy weather during lambing.

My neighbour, Don, summed it up. “We didn’t even have a pet lamb this year,” he said. “The weather was too rough to go round them. If we’d gone out and disturbed the ewes and lambs we’d have done even more damage. As it was there were a fair few dead lambs behind rush bushes.”

We now need to focus on making the most of this year’s lamb crop. Pastures are high quality with the clover coming away, but the low covers have affected ewe lactation performance and lamb growth. With this in mind we decided to try weaning an early lambing mob of 300 cull ewes at around 70 days, with the lambs heading off to new grass on our equity partners’ property just down the road. The process has been successful, with both the ewes and lambs now doing well, and me feeling much better having made some decisions and taken positive action. . .

Hawkes Bay deer farm part of national project involving more than 2000 farms :

A Hawke’s Bay deer farm is part of a ground-breaking Ministry for Primary Industries-funded project providing a national snapshot of farm performance.

The four-year project is bringing together detailed physical/production, environmental and financial data from more than 2,000 farms across the dairy, beef and lamb, deer, arable and horticulture sectors.

“The significance of this project cannot be underestimated. It is the first time such robust data has been collected and analysed,” said Matthew Newman, who’s leading the project for MPI.

“Having quality farm data will enable better decision-making by farmers and growers, industry organisations and policy makers.” . . 

Sam Bain announced as 2021  Corteva Young Viticulturist of the Year :

Congratulations to Sam Bain from Villa Maria, Hawke’s Bay who became the 2021 Corteva NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year on 27th January 2022.

“I’ve finally got it!” he said with a mix of relief, pride and excitement, as it started sinking in that all his hard work had paid off.

Congratulations also to Jess Wilson from Whitehaven Wines in Marlborough who came second and Courtney Sang from Obsidian, Waiheke Island who came third.

The other contestants were Albie Feary from Ata Rangi, Tristan van Schalkwyk from The Boneline and Katrina Jackson from Chard Farm. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

28/01/2022

Farmers want to be critical workers as part of Omicron response

Farmers are warning of huge pressures on food supply if they’re not considered part of the critical workforce.

The government has laid out its three-phase plan to tackle Omicron, which would allow critical workers who are close contacts of a case to return to work after a negative rapid antigen test.

But they haven’t defined exactly which workers it covers yet.

Federated Farmers National President Andrew Hoggard told Checkpoint that farmers and other workers in the industry definitely met the criteria of being critical due to looking after animals and producing food. . . 

Farmers prepare as closed borders disrupt harvest amid Omicron outbreak – Samantha Gee:

With harvest season set to kick off for the horticulture sector in the top of the South Island, orchardists, growers and hop farmers are faced with staff shortages due to closed borders.

It is estimated the region needs 1500 more staff across a number of industries: hops, apples, pears, kiwifruit and pipfruit to name a few.

Valima Orchard business manager Matthew Hoddy, who grows apples near Nelson, said more than half of his 220 employees during harvest were made up of Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers and those on working holiday visas.

But February 2020 was the last time that car loads of travellers showed up at the orchard, looking for seasonal work picking apples. . . 

‘Razor’ shares rugby secrets with farmers :

Make sure you have someone to talk to when life gets tough.

That was the key message from Crusaders coach Scott Robertson and some rural mental health advocates at a packed gathering of the Ellesmere farming community recently.

Ellesmere Sustainable Agriculture Inc (ESAI), with support from the Ministry for Primary Industries, invited its members and community to listen to four speakers sharing their experiences around leadership, stress, anxiety and depression and the strategies to cope with the pressures life creates in rural communities.

A capacity crowd of nearly 100 farmers, their families and their neighbours were captivated by Robertson sharing some of the secrets of the culture that created the Crusaders dynasty, including their methods to handle setbacks and stress, which according to Robertson apply to both the rugby field as well as the farm. . . 

Quinedale Farm & Stud – a family affair

Taupiri dairy farmer Balraj Singh jokes that when he married his wife Hardeep, he ‘converted’ her.

He’s not talking about sports teams or coffee brands, but cattle breeds.

“I’ve been milking cows since I was 14-years-old, and I was brought up with Holstein Friesians,” he says.

“Before we got married, Hardeep had a small herd of 75 pedigree Jersey cows, but I convinced her to start milking Holstein Friesians. . . 

New lending rules could benefit sector – Nigel Stirling:

New lending rules wreaking havoc on residential borrowers have not had any noticeable impact on farm lending and could even spur the banks to look favourably again at the sector after a lean couple of years.

Since the start of December, banks have been applying extra scrutiny to loan applications in response to legislation designed to protect borrowers from saddling themselves with unaffordable levels of debt.

While the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act had seemingly been motivated by a desire to crack down on loan sharks, it has ended up capturing a far larger share of the market than ever intended.

Bankers are being extra cautious under pains of fines of up to $200,000 if they are found to have failed to follow the letter of the new law when assessing loan applications. . . 

Upland farmers face ‘income crisis’ in transition to new  schemes :

Upland farmers have warned they face an income crisis if significant changes are not made to the UK’s post-Brexit agricultural support system.

In a meeting with Defra, the NFU uplands forum said the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) failed to offer a meaningful return for the costs of managing upland landscapes.

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

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


Rural round-up

17/12/2021

Primary producers overcome big challenges (including govt regulations) to lift export revenue in latest forecasts – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s  primary  producers  deserve   a  Christmas bouquet – or a big hamper stuffed with goodies – as food  and  fibre  export revenue is projected  to top $50 billion for the  first  time   next  year.  They are achieving this despite  the challenges of regulatory compliance, increasing costs for inputs such as feed and fertiliser, Covid impacts on freight movements and constraints around labour availability.

Total export value is expected to rise 6% to $50.8bn in the year to June 30 2022, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report released today.

Ministers were quick to hop on the bandwagon, despite framing many of the  new regulatory constraints.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the healthy growth forecast across the majority of the primary industries showed the future of the food and fibre sector is bright. . . 

Science New Zealand 2021 Awards :

This year’s annual awards celebrated 24 awardees across three award categories – Early Career Researcher, Individual / Lifetime Achievement and Team. A Supreme Award winner was chosen from the 24 awardees. 

Supreme Award Winner

The AgResearch Breeding Low Methane-Emitting Sheep Team

AgResearch’s Breeding Low Methane-Emitting Sheep leads the world in breeding sheep that produce less methane. This innovation gives farmers practical tools to lower methane emissions on their farms. As methane is a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas, this could contribute significantly in helping to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions.

Gains made by using this technology in sheep flocks are permanent and cumulative. The team’s work is gaining momentum with other livestock industries, particularly cattle and deer. . . 

Student Jo Search helps fill vacancies in agriculture, fishing and forestry – Niva Chittock:

Student Job Search is coming to the rescue of farmers and growers crying out for skilled workers.

There’s been a 76 percent increase in the number of jobs it’s offering in agriculture, fishing and forestry.

At the same time, student earnings from these jobs have more than doubled, totalling just under $7 million in the last financial year.

Student Job Search places around 27,000 students into work every year. . . 

Rockit sees strongest year yet with 45% growth:

Innovative New Zealand apple company, Rockit Global Limited is celebrating its strongest season yet, with forecast turnover up 45 percent year on year in a tough economic environment.

Global demand for its snack sized apples is continuing to grow exponentially, with the high-performing business this year recording 33 percent growth in bin volume, resulting in over 75 million apples being packed and shipped to consumers around the world. Rockit is also forecasting orchard gate returns of around NZD $230,000 per hectare on mature orchards.

Rockit Global CEO Mark O’Donnell puts these impressive results down to a combination of the company ‘doing things differently’ on the global stage through innovation, backed by its disruptive new brand and great product.

“To see such a robust result among this year’s economic challenges is extremely exciting,” says Mark. “As global consumer demand increases – and more Rockit trees are planted to meet this – we’ve implemented leading edge automation and artificial intelligence to meet our strong growth trajectory and reduce reliance on manual labour across all parts of the supply chain– which is also creating higher value, and more innovative roles for our people.” . .

Hawke’s Bay pumpkin milk wins big in New York :

A Hawke’s Bay company making a pumpkin milk has been recognised at the World Plant-Based Awards in New York.

The product, known as Kabocha Milk, is produced by one of New Zealand’s largest buttercup squash growers.

The company said squash is staple part of the Japanese and East Asian diet and the milk allows them to make use of crops which aren’t export grade due to cosmetic blemishes.

It’s milk is stocked in two high-end Japanese retail store chains which plans to extend to 5,000 stores across Japan, Korea and China in the next couple of years. . . 

Australian manuka industry hails UK trademark decision as a victory for common sense:

The Australian Manuka Honey Association is delighted that the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has rejected an application by a group of New Zealand producers to trademark the words “Manuka honey”, recognising that it is a purely descriptive term for a type of honey. The decision will have widespread ramifications in jurisdictions beyond the United Kingdom.

In reaching its decision, the IPO accepted there was significant evidence that the general public understands manuka honey is not produced exclusively in New Zealand, but rather originates from a number of places including Australia.

Australian Manuka Honey Association (AMHA) Chairman Paul Callander said: “This decision is the right decision and a fair decision. The term manuka has been used in Australia since the 1800s and the Australian industry has invested significantly for decades in manuka honey science, research and marketing. It would be deeply unfair – and financially devastating – to deny that reality.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

14/12/2021

200 rural contracting drivers will be granted special entry visas, but farmers fear MIQ delays could cost lives – Alexa Cook:

Two hundred rural contracting drivers will be granted special visas as part of a border exemption for the industry.

The farming sector is grateful, but worries drivers will be delayed by the MIQ lottery system.

Farmers fear someone will die as shortage of experienced overseas workers leads to rise in accidents.
Sectors desperate for staff are still struggling despite promise to let in critical migrant workers.

This farm machinery is more transformer than tractor and takes highly-skilled drivers to operate.

Usually 400 come here from overseas – but only 125 have been allowed in. . .

International dairy workers needed to ease farmer stress :

DairyNZ is relieved the Government has listened to its call to allow more dairy farm assistants into New Zealand in January 2022.

However, the industry-good organisation says more workers are needed and is continuing to push for another 1500 dairy international workers to be let into the country for the 2022 dairy season. The workers will help alleviate crippling staff shortages that are having a serious impact on farmer wellbeing.

Earlier this year the Government said 200 international dairy workers would be allowed into New Zealand on a dairy class border exception – with 50 places available for farm assistants and 150 positions available for herd manager and assistant manager roles.

Today, the Government confirmed it will remove the restrictions on how many farm assistants, herd managers and assistant managers can make up the quota of 200 workers, and allow applications for all roles. . .

Border exceptions the first step in the process Feds says :

Federated Farmers is pleased to see the Government has approved border class exceptions for a number of international agricultural workers for early 2022.

The border exceptions will allow approved workers to assist with the shearing and arable sectors over their peak busy period. The Government has also made some changes to the current dairy worker border exception, allowing more dairy farm assistants to meet the high demand for entry level staff around the country.

“For seasonal work such as shearing and the arable harvest it is essential that we bolster our local workforce with talent from overseas,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“We are also pleased to see the settings are being changed for the dairy border exception. Farmers across the country are asking for boots on the ground to help milk and feed livestock and the dairy assistant is the right role for doing this.” . . 

O’Connor is confident the DIRA can be tweaked to give effect to farmer vote in favour of Fonterra’s capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Farmers    have  voted overwhelmingly  in  favour  of  a  capital  restructure  for Fonterra—- and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor,   who   previously  raised   concerns about the  plan,  now  says  he  is  confident the  government can  work   with the  board   to  get  the change   across the  line.

Fonterra chair Peter McBride last  week  told  Fonterra’s  meeting:

“Either we’re a corporate or we’re a co-operative. The current model, where we’re trying to have a foot in each camp, is not sustainable”.

Farmer-shareholders  made  it  plain  they  wanted  the  “pure”  co-op rather  than the corporate model. . .

Large spring deliveries of tractors and equipment meeting local demand :

Recent large deliveries of tractors and equipment reflect strong demand throughout the country on the back of strengthening commodity prices, according to Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA).

President Kyle Baxter said the second half of 2021 continued the exceptionally strong sales growth of the first half compared to 2020. Overall tractor deliveries to the end of November reflect an average increase in demand by 27%.

“There has been significant growth across the traditional lifestyle 0-60hp segment, which increased by more than 35%, while the 60-100hp horticulture, orchard, viticulture segment up 20% and the 100-120hp dairy sector up 9%.”

The biggest increase was in the 120-250hp mainly arable and dry stock farming sector, which increased 42% compared to 2020. The big agriculture outlays of 250hp+ increased by almost 36%. . . 

Outlook for wool mixed going into 2022 – Elders Wool:

The Australian wool market ticked along quite nicely last week in the penultimate sale before the Christmas auction recess.

There was enough business done in the few days prior to keep the trade active, and a volatile local currency added enough fuel to the fire to make it nice and warm – but not too hot.

In local currency terms, the market lifted by 14 cents a kilogram overall. This was US6c/kg and 8c/kg in Euro.

So, buyers overseas were not affected greatly, and could continue picking up their requirements. . . 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

26/11/2021

Carbon farming – farmer’s poem for the Prime Minister – Graeme Williams:

East Coast farmer and bush poet Graeme Williams is back with another poem for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Today he wants to take the Government to task over carbon farming and shares his poem, written at 2 o’clock this morning – his “least angry period of the day”.

Dear Aunty Jacinda,
From you we have not heard.
I’ve written to you twice before
And this will be my third.

I’m really, really annoyed
And I think it’s only fair,
That the reason for the annoyance
With the country, I should share.

Carbon farming will ruin us all.
Of that, I have no doubt.
I am acutely aware of the issues
And wish to share my views about. . . 

Alliance Group financial performance lifts – Sally Rae:

Alliance Group’s improved financial performance is a ‘‘favourable result’’ after another challenging year, chairman Murray Taggart says.

The co-operative yesterday announced an operating profit of $41.9million before tax and distributions for the year ending September 30, up from $27.3million last year.

Last year’s result was heavily impacted by a $19.9million provision for back-paying employees for donning and doffing. This year’s result included an allowance of just over $2million for that.

Revenue of $1.8billion was on a par with last year and a profit distribution of $8.5million would be made to farmer shareholders, in addition to $16.7million in loyalty payments already paid over the course of the year. . .

Fish & Game supports calls for forestry refocus :

Fish & Game NZ is supporting calls for an urgent rethink on the rapid proliferation of exotic forests currently being supported by central government, and instead refocus on native plantings for better long-term environmental and social outcomes.

The Native Forest Coalition – comprising the Environmental Defence Society, Pure Advantage, Road Donald Trust, the Tindall Foundation, Project Crimson, Dame Anne Salmon and Dr Adam Forbes – recently released a statement urging a shift away from “short-term thinking and siloed government policy” in tackling climate change.

Central to the Native Forest Coalition’s concerns is current policy favouring carbon sequestering in exotic pine plantations over native forests, which is being driven by high carbon prices. This is having a myriad of adverse impacts.

“While Fish & Game is behind initiatives to address the climate crisis, the current short-sighted focus on securing offshore carbon credits ignores significant long-term environmental and social problems,” says Fish & Game spokesman Ray Grubb. . . 

Lake Ohau narrative goes up in smoke – David Williams:

On closer inspection, luck played a bigger part in no one losing their life in last year’s Lake Ōhau Alpine Village fire. David Williams reports

It was the country’s most damaging wildfire in living memory.

The early-morning conflagration in October last year destroyed most of the houses in the Mackenzie Basin’s Lake Ōhau Alpine Village, burning through more than 5000 hectares, including conservation land.

The costs were eye-watering. Fighting the fire from the air alone cost more than $1.2 million, while insurance losses totalled about $35 million. . . 

The wizard of woolsheds for 41 years – Alice Scott:

If your woolshed has been built by Calder Stewart in the past 41 years, chances are Dave Mathieson probably built it.

Mr Mathieson (61) started out with Calder Stewart at the age of 20 and, apart from a short stint working on commercial builds in the late ’80s, he has enjoyed a career as a foreman specialising in woolshed builds.

Being based in Milton, Mr Mathieson and his crew will travel up to an hour and-a-half for work and in his early years he would often stay away.

“I probably stay away for one job a year, but I’d like to think I am mostly done with that now. After all these years, I am allowed to make that demand,” he laughed. . . 

Unvaccinated shearers continue to work – Annabelle Cleeland:

Unvaccinated shearers are continuing to work, despite Victoria’s sweeping effort to compel most agricultural workers to receive two doses of the coronavirus vaccine before Friday.

Victorian shearing contractors have complained to Shearers Contractors’ Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford about unvaccinated shearers and shed staff continuing work in a “concerning cash economy”.

“I thought the way it would roll would be that unvaccinated shearers would find work in NSW, but the concern I have is they have stayed and they are finding enough work in Victoria,” Mr Letchford said.

“We have tried the positive approach with these people who are resistant to being vaccinated. . . 


Rural round-up

19/11/2021

Timber shortage hits fencing contractors with weeks-long delays :

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

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

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

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

Checklist helps farmers to be Covid-19 prepared :

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

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

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

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

Maui Milk signs with new distributor after China trade expo :

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

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

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

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

Drive to grow skills across the food and fibre sector:

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

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

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

Residency edges closer for shortlist of new organisms :

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

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

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

Drench resistance silent production suppressor :

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

04/11/2021

Growing regulation causing added stress for dairy farmers – Survey :

A  new industry survey has found many dairy farmers are feeling under pressure, despite strong prices.

DairyNZ has just released its annual View from the Cowshed report, which was based on the feedback of 425 farmers who opted to be surveyed between April and May this year.

It found 17 percent of farmers were feeling more positive than they were last year, but double that number were feeling less positive.

More than half of those surveyed said they or someone on their farm had experienced a mental health issue in the last year. . .

Dairy is a key to New Zealand’s future – Keith Woodford:

No-one has yet found an alternative to dairy for New Zealand’s export-led economy

The New Zealand economy is export-led. That is the way it has to be for a small mountainous country in the South Pacific, largely bereft of mineral resources and with minimal manufacturing, but blessed with a temperate maritime climate and lots of rain.

Alas, both history and current realities tell us that New Zealand has limited international competitive advantage in relation to technology-based engineering. That statement will be offensive to some, but the hard reality is that we cannot be considered world-leading in relation to chemical, electrical or mechanical engineering beyond small niche areas. Nor are we internationally competitive in relation to manufacture of pharmaceuticals.  And when we do develop new technologies, it is not long before the owners typically set up manufacturing closer to the big international markets, using international equity to finance that move.

The painful reality is that pharmaceuticals, computers, televisions, cars, trucks, fuel and even much of our food comes from overseas.  That includes rice, bananas, apricots and most bread-making wheat.  Open the pantry door and have a look at the small print as to where most of the tinned food comes from. Most of it comes from Australia, China and Thailand. . . 

 

 Surfing for farmers kicks off for another summer – Maja Burry:

Farmers are preparing to get back out on the water, with the Surfing for Farmers programme kicking off again this month.

This year the initiative is being run at 21 different beaches around the country, with six new locations coming onboard and hopes of up to a thousand individual farmers taking part.

Surfing for Farmers was launched in Gisborne in 2018 and encourages farmers to take a couple of hours each week to head to the surf to help better manage stress and improve their mental health.

While some regional organisers were waiting a few more weeks for the water to warm, others were diving straight in, with an event planned at Ōhope Beach in Bay of Plenty tomorrow. . .

2021 2022 Ballance Farm Environment Awards to proceed nationally :

Despite the interruptions of COVID-19, the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust is delighted to confirm that the 2021/2022 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) will proceed as planned throughout the country, including the new Catchment Group Award.

Even with the disruptions caused by the changes to alert levels in Auckland, Northland and Waikato the awards have received a pleasing number of entrants across the country allowing the programme to continue albeit with some adjustments to ensure the safety of all involved. “Our regional committees have worked hard with the farmers and growers in their communities to ensure a worthwhile and rewarding programme can be completed,” said Joanne van Polanen, Chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust. “It is more important than ever that the great initiatives and work being done by farmers and growers is being celebrated and shared with others.”

The BFEA programme has been slightly adapted to make it safer and less onerous for entrants given the current COVID-19 situation. This includes the requirement for all judges and entrants to be vaccinated and one round of judging being used to complete the full judging process, thus limiting the amount of contact between entrants and the judging panels.  . . 

Galatea dairy portfolio offers robust returns :

With the New Zealand dairy sector re-asserting itself as a key global protein source, investment interest in the sector has been heightened in the past year.

This spring the opportunity to invest in dairy’s ongoing fortune has presented itself with a portfolio of properties in the Galatea district, southeast of Whakatane.

The Barkla Portfolio offers a platform for either an owner-operator seeking a larger-scale farm operation, or an investment group wishing to participate in a rural investment capable of delivering strong cash focused returns. . . 

Our history with bee pollen :

Ambrosia – The Food Of The Gods

Our story starts over 100 million years ago. Our world was very different. Two huge land masses dominated, Gondwana in the South and Laurasia in the North. The landscape would have appeared very different to our modern world – towering conifer forests, the first flowering plants had just started to bloom; dinosaurs ruled the land, flying reptiles ruled the sky and giant marine reptiles ruled the sea. Our descendants were little more than small, nocturnal mammals living in the shadow of the mighty T-Rex, Iguanodon and Triceratops.

The first flowering plants hailed the introduction of the hero of our story – the bee. The oldest record we have of a bee dates to over 100 million years ago, preserved perfectly in amber, and bees had probably been around for over 30 million years previously. . . 


Rural round-up

29/09/2021

Farmers grapple with ‘significant emotional stress’ and community pressure over forestry conversion sales – Bonnie Flaws:

A Wairarapa farmer Steve Thomson says selling his sheep and beef station to forestry three years ago was a difficult decision but he had struggled for two years to sell to other farmers.

Tensions around the issue of farms converting to forestry has been increasing because of the impact it could have on rural communities. But most see the problem as stemming from Government policy rather than greed, farmers say.

Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said there was no transparency about how much farm land was going to forestry because only the current land use is recorded at the time of the sale. . . 

Passion to serve rural New Zealand – Neal Wallace:

Wilson Mitchell is a young man on a mission. The University of Otago medical student is passionate about rural communities and the health and wellbeing of those who live there. He spoke to Neal Wallace.

Wilson Mitchell attributes the hours spent crutching and drenching sheep over weekends and school holidays for helping fuel his desire to work in rural health.

The satisfaction of an honest day’s physical toil is one reason for his infatuation but more so mixing with rural people and observing the dynamics of their communities.

He may just be 23 years old and five years through his studies, but Wilson’s commitment to rural health has already extended beyond good intentions. . . 

Daylight savings on the dairy farm: ‘The cows wonder why you’re an hour early’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Southland dairy farmer Bart Luton says his cows always notice something isn’t quite right when daylight savings hits.

“My cows will be wondering what I am doing in the paddock because I am an hour early or so. It takes them a couple of days to get used to it. They look around and think ‘you are too early’, and while you’re milking the cow flow will be a bit slower. They definitely need adjusting to it.”

Daylight saving time starts on Sunday when clocks will be turned forward one hour. Sunrise and sunset will be about an hour later than the day before and it will be lighter in the evening.

Canterbury farmer Alan Davie-Martin said cows were behavioural animals and knew when to gather at the gate. It usually took a few days for them to get used to the new timetable. . . 

Confident, not cocky: Uni student vows to run marathon in gumboots – Maia Hart:

A Marlborough teen who plans to run a marathon in her gumboots says the nerves are there, but she plans to “run it off”.

Emma Blom, who has moved to Christchurch to study at Lincoln University, is planning to run the Queenstown Marathon in November in her gumboots and overalls, to raise money for Outward Bound scholarships.

The scholarships would be aimed at people who work in the rural sector.

“I’m hoping to raise $10,000, so that four people can go on an 8-day discovery course,” Blom said.  . .

Deer industry to address emissions pricing – Annette Scott:

Deer farmers be warned, greenhouse gas (GHG) pricing is coming so get prepared, is the message from industry.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) is urging deer farmers to get up to speed with GHG pricing that will impact on the way they farm.

While Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ and DairyNZ are holding consultation meetings over the next two months, the deer industry as a sector will not be officially involved.

Deer Industry NZ chief executive Innes Moffat says despite standing alone it’s important industry’s voice is heard and is not drowned out by views of other industries. . . 

LeaderBrand’s ambitious construction plans forge ahead despite ongoing lockdown interruptions :

LeaderBrand’s construction plans on their ambitious eleven hectare undercover farming project is forging ahead despite the ongoing interruption from lockdowns over the past couple of years.

In October 2019, Kānoa, Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, confirmed LeaderBrand was successful in securing a $15 million loan to help fund the construction of their undercover growing facility.

The project will accelerate crop growth all year round in a more sustainable manner, help to mitigate weather impacts, and create more consistent product which will secure more jobs across the year. The technology incorporated in the greenhouses is innovative and will revolutionise the way LeaderBrand will farm in the future. This includes significantly reducing fertiliser and water usage as well as protecting soil structure. . .

 


Rural round-up

24/09/2021

The ETS is both a gold mine and a minefield – Keith Woodford:

The Government never foresaw the land-use forces they were unleashing with the ETS

In recent weeks I have written multiple articles on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) with a particular focus on forestry. This week I also had an extended interview with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ ‘Nine to Noon’.  However, there is still lots more that needs to be said.

The bottom line is that carbon forestry is now far more profitable than sheep and beef farming on nearly all classes of land. We are indeed on the cusp of the greatest rural land-use changes that New Zealand has seen in the last 100 years.

For many sheep and beef farmers, carbon farming can now be a gold mine. The key requirement is pastoral land that will grow an exotic forest that will not be destroyed by storm, fire or disease.  . . 

A new visa scheme offering 3 years in Australia to agricultural workers threatens to crush NZ’s primary sector – Aaron Martin:

Australians must be laughing at our immigration woes.

The Australian government has announced a new visa aimed at enticing agricultural workers by offering them three years of residency to live in rural areas. New Zealand, however, has no official pathway or plan for migrant worker residency.

Why is the Ardern government consistently the loser?

We have very proud history of sporting success against Australia. We love nothing better than to beat them at anything. We’ve had success on multiple fronts but, sadly, our government seems to come up the loser against theirs. . . 

The human cost of no response :

The Prime Minister’s ‘Be Kind’ message is obviously struggling to get past Wellington’s 50k boundary and out to Rural New Zealand.

You can tell because, if there was any response from her or her ministers to the concerns Rural NZ has, I’d know. To date, the tally is 0.

As both a farmer and National’s Agriculture spokesperson I find it deplorable.

The heavy-handed approach the Government has adopted in trying to reach unrealistic, impractical targets for water, climate change, zero carbon, emissions and land use, to name but a few, has placed enormous pressure on the farming sector. . .  

Fonterra completes reset, announces annual results and long-term growth plan out to 2030:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced a strong set of results for the 2021 financial year, reflected in a final Farmgate Milk Price of $7.54, normalised earnings per share of 34 cents and a final dividend of 15 cents, taking the total dividend for the year to 20 cents per share. The results come as Fonterra moves through its business reset and into a new phase of growing the value of its business.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the last three years have been about resetting the business. “We’ve stuck to our strategy of maximising the value of our New Zealand milk, moved to a customer-led operating model and strengthened our balance sheet.

“The results and total pay-out we’ve announced today show what we can achieve when we focus on quality execution and an aligned Co-op.

“I want to thank our farmer owners and employees for their hard work and commitment over the last few years that has got us to this position. Together, we’ve shored up foundations and done this despite the challenges of operating in a COVID-19 world.

“Although the higher milk price and tightening margins put pressure on earnings in the final quarter, this is a strong overall business performance, allowing us to deliver $11.6 billion to the New Zealand economy through the total pay-out to farmers. . . 

Hawke’s Bay A&P show cancelled over Delta risk fears – Maja Burry:

The Hawke’s Bay A&P Show, due to be held late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty and risks associated with the Covid-19 Delta outbreak.

Organisers said the executive committee of the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society met last night to review the risks and after significant consideration, made the hard decision to cancel.

The show was scheduled to run from October 20th-22nd. It’s one of the largest in the country and usually attracts 30,000 people to the Tomoana Showgrounds.

Society president Simon Collin said whilst the country was in differing levels of restrictions, and with Covid-19 cases still appearing the country, the event couldn’t go ahead. . . 

Scientists aiming to enhance the `human-ness’ of infant formula

AgResearch scientists think they have identified a unique new way to make infant formula more like breast milk and better for babies, using ingredients that could enhance brain development and overall health.

Research into this next generation infant formula could create new opportunities for New Zealand’s primary industries in a global market worth tens of billions of dollars annually.

With funding over three years recently announced from the government’s 2021 Endeavour Fund, AgResearch scientists Simon Loveday and Caroline Thum, along with collaborators from Massey and Monash Universities, are aiming to enhance the “human-ness” of infant formula produced from New Zealand ingredients.

“We’ve recently discovered a new natural source of nutritional oil that is surprisingly similar to the fat in breast milk,” Dr Thum says. . . 

Demand for NZ apples in India continues to grow – Sally Murphy:

An apple exporter says efforts to grow demand in India are proving fruitful with orders skyrocketing.

Although they only make up a small proportion of total numbers, exports of pip fruit to India have been growing.

Ministry for Primary Industries figures show last year 5.5 percent of apple and pear exports went there, but to July this year exports to India made up 8.2 per cent.

Golden Bay Fruit in Motueka has been exporting apples there for over 20 years. . . 

 


Rural round-up

20/09/2021

Lean on a gate, chat to a mate – Toni WIlliams:

‘‘Lean on a gate and talk to a mate’’ is the call from rural health advocate Craig Wiggins.

Mr Wiggins, who farms at Dromore, near Ashburton, has put the message out as a simple mental health campaign to help farmers and others out there struggling.

‘‘I’ve been doing a fair bit of work around farmer support and helping people through some tough times, and especially through Covid,’’ he said.

‘‘We are really, really trying to bridge gaps and talk to people, but it’s just not getting through to some people, and I know that one of the things we can do is just keep checking on each other and talking to those people that you haven’t talked to for quite a while.’’ . .

Agriculture industry voice needs reviewed – Robin Bistrow:

The agricultural industry is being let down in the environmental regulation space, Rural Advocacy Network (RAN) chairman Jamie McFadden says.

Mr McFadden said while Beef+Lamb, Dairy New Zealand and Federated Farmers all operated efficiently in the research space, through on-farm management, environmental issues, floods and gave good sound employment advice, no-one was looking after the farmers at the grassroots level of coping with the avalanche of environmental regulation.

‘‘Farmers are getting cross. Farmers are trying to work with a flood of regulations, but they are having to deal with way too many unworkable regulations,’’ he said.

‘‘They are struggling with the sheer volume of regulations — impractical stuff that is coming through.’’ . . 

Business booming in ‘wop wops’  – Ashley Smyth:

Bex Hayman has made country cool again with her jewellery and accessories brand Whistle & Pop. She makes time to speak to Ashley Smyth, while juggling farm life, lockdown and running a business with three small children.

Talking to Bex Hayman over the phone during lockdown, you can’t help but be buoyed by her enthusiasm.

As we bond over the joys of working from home with three children, she takes a peppering of Nerf bullets from 3-year-old William in her stride. . . 

Young Mackenzie inventors may hold answer to common farming frustration – Keiller MacDuff:

A trio of young inventors from Mackenzie College may have solved an age-old farming problem.

Year 11 and 12 students Amy Hay, 16, Hamish Ryall, 16, and Luke Jordan, 15, invented the Flexi Mat Frostease, a device that can be inserted into water troughs to prevent them from freezing over, as part of the Young Enterprise Scheme (Yes).

The Flexi-Mat is a circular-shaped bladder constructed out of layers of outdoor grade canvas and plastic welded together.

Amy said animals can push the mat down with their nose, allowing water to come up through the milk bottle lid-sized holes. . . 

Jordan Moores from Valli wins award:

Congratulations to Jordan Moores from Valli for becoming the 2021 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker of the Year.

He is thrilled to have taken out the title and very excited to go through to the National Final which will be held in Central Otago for the first time this year in late November. No doubt there will be a large local crowd supporting him in the build up and on the day. “I’m going to give myself the weekend off” he said “and then get back into the study and preparation. It’s really exciting to be going through.”

Congratulations also goes to Hannah Lee for coming second. Hannah is currently on maternity leave, so not only did she impress judges with her great winemaking skills and knowledge, but also her multi tasking skills as in between challenges she managed to check in with her little one who was there with her babysitter. Great work! . . 

UN calls for reform of $540bn farming subsidies to help climate – Emiko Terazono:

The UN is calling for reform of the world’s $540bn in farming subsidies to help the climate and promote better nutrition.

Livestock and food production are among the biggest emitters of carbon but also enjoy the most state support, it says in a new report. Financial support to farmers accounted for 15 per cent of agriculture’s total production value globally, with the figure expected to more than triple to $1.8tn by 2030 if subsidies continue to grow at their current pace, the UN warned.

Agriculture is a big contributor to climate change due to greenhouse gases emitted by deforestation, manure, agricultural chemicals, rice cultivation and burning crop residues. Yet farmers are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, be that extreme heat, rising sea levels, drought, floods or locust attacks. . .


Rural round-up

13/09/2021

Carbon farming will determine the future of sheep, beef and production forestry – Keith Woodford :

The carbon price is now high enough to change land-use sufficiently to blow away sheep and beef, but too low to significantly influence emission behaviours elsewhere

The concept of ‘carbon farming’ has been around for a long time. I recall carbon farming discussions with my colleagues at University of Queensland back in the early 1990s, but the industry has taken a long time to finally arrive.  Well, it is now here. And it has the potential to overwhelm not only the sheep and beef industries, but also have big impacts on the timber industry.

It is only six weeks since I wrote an article setting out that carbon farming is now considerably more attractive than sheep and beef on the hard North Island hill country. Then two weeks later I extended that analysis to the easier hill country. In a more recent article focusing on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), I mentioned that the same conclusion could be drawn for considerable parts of the South Island. All of those can be found archived at my own site https://keithwoodford.wordpress.com in the forestry category. . . 

South American curbs on beef exports bode well for NZ’s prospects – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s beef exports may suddenly be  in high demand from  overseas  markets, in   the  wake  of  the world’s largest beef exporter, Brazil, suspending its beef exports to its No. 1 customer, China, after confirming two cases of “atypical” mad cow disease in two separate domestic meat plants.

China and Hong Kong buy more than half of Brazil’s beef exports.   NZ’s  sales are relatively  modest, by comparison, but  reached  36%   of  our total  beef  exports   last  season.

The  other  big exporter  to  China,  Argentina,  in  June  decided  to   restrict  exports, with the  aim of  boosting domestic  supply.  Argentinian beef exports are to be  limited to 50% of the average monthly volume exported from July to December 2020. . .

Picking the better way to a better asparagus future:

Picking the way to a better asparagus future with robotic harvesting

A robotic asparagus harvester project led by growers and supported by the Government is set to reinvigorate the New Zealand asparagus industry, by alleviating ongoing labour challenges.

The New Zealand Asparagus Council (NZAC) and Tauranga-based Robotics Plus will work alongside New Zealand asparagus growers to develop a world-first commercial-scale autonomous robotic asparagus harvester to help address ongoing labour shortages in the industry and support growers to tap into high-value export markets.

The Government’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund is contributing $2.6 million to the $5.83 million project. . . 

September is bee awareness month:

This month is Bee Awareness Month and over the past 12 years Kiwis have celebrated our hard-working bees.

Not only do our bees produce a vital food source, as commercial pollinators they also play critical roles in our food chain, biodiversity and $5 billion Apiculture economy.

New Zealand has a healthy bee population with over 900,000 registered hives, however, we can’t get complacent about bee health. Bees all over the world face a range of threats including: biosecurity, climate change, disease, bugs and pesticides. If you want to play your part in supporting healthy bee populations, here are some simple and easy things you can do to help our bees. . . 

Scholarship gives young people boost into beekeeping career :

Young people interested in a beekeeping career are being encouraged to apply for the annual Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship, sponsored by Mossop’s Honey and Apiculture New Zealand.

The scholarship was set up three years ago as a way of giving young people the best possible start in the apiculture industry. The scholarship includes $2000 to be put towards best practice training and/or set up costs. It also includes membership of industry body Apiculture New Zealand for a year and attendance at the industry’s national conference in the year of the award.

Last year’s recipient, Bay of Plenty 18-year-old Angus Brenton-Rule, says the scholarship provided valuable support in his first year of beekeeping. As well as allowing him to buy resources to kick-start his career, Angus welcomed the opportunity to make connections with the wider industry through his membership of Apiculture New Zealand and his attendance at their June conference. “Conference was a really great opportunity to meet other beekeepers and hear about what’s happening in other parts of the country. I learnt lots.” . . 

Building community trust in agriculture – Jeannette Severs:

Call it social license, social trust or community trust – the bottom line is that consumers need a sense of connection with farmers in order to trust and rely upon their services and produce.

Personal relationships make the difference. That is the finding from a research project asking Australians how they feel about primary industries. It is also the experience of farmers engaged in paddock to plateagribusinesses. So why is there a critical belief that Australians don’t trust farmers?

Is it a beat-up of opinion circulated by commentators and mainstream media? Is it fed by the reactive responses of agri-industry organisations to criticism of Australian primary production?

The Community Trust in Rural Industries Program, funded by a number of industry research and development corporations in partnership with the National Farmers’ Federation and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries is a four-year project that analyses community perceptions of primary production – agriculture, fishery and forestry.  . .


Rural round-up

03/09/2021

Pine plantations extend lifetime of methane in North Island atmosphere :

North Island pine forests are prolonging the life of methane in the local atmosphere by as much as three years, climate researcher Jim Salinger says.

Dr Salinger said new computer modelling showed New Zealand had underestimated the impact of methane in its greenhouse gas emissions and would need to set tougher targets for methane reduction.

The modelling showed compounds called monoterpenes emitted by pine plantations in the North Island were extending the life of methane in the New Zealand atmosphere from 12.5 years to 15 years.

Dr Salinger presented the research to Parliament’s Environment Select Committee today. . . 

The Covid glitch in our supply chains – Sharon Brettkelly:

Our farm-to-fork process is usually highly efficient. But the Delta variant has blown a hole in the security of our supply chains, sparking questions about what changes are needed.

Rod Slater was only eight years old when he became part of the meat supply chain in New Zealand.

From his father’s butcher shop in Mt Albert, Auckland, he would head out on his bike with the meat parcels in the front basket to deliver to customers.

The 75-year-old recently retired chief executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand remembers his first delivery to a rest home when he had to crash his bike to stop it, and the meat came tumbling out. . . 

Common sense prevails over grazing rules :

Just days into her new role as National’s Agriculture spokesperson, Barbara Kuriger is pleased to see common-sense is prevailing in Southland.

The Government’s proposed intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules for Southland, were due to come into effect in May, but were deferred in March for one year, after the farming sector deemed them ‘unworkable’.

Last Thursday, the Government announced it’s now going to adopt almost all the changes put forward by the Southland Winter Grazing Advisory Group — which is made up of ag sector representatives.

A consultation document was also released and is now open for feedback on the Ministry for the Environment website. Submissions close on October 7. . .

What New Zealand farmers can teach the world – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Global food security is on a razor’s edge, but Kiwi farmers can show other countries what can be achieved whilst continuing to make more improvements down on the farm, writes Jacqueline Rowarth.

Recent food price increases in New Zealand are small in comparison with the rest of the world. The 2.8 per cent increase to the year ended July 2021 in New Zealand is nothing in comparison with the 31.0 per cent reported for the global Food Price Index by the FAO over the same time frame.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, food insecurity worldwide was on the rise.

The Economist’s Intelligence Unit (EIU) Index released at the beginning of the year stated that the pandemic threatens to erase “progress made in the fight to eliminate global hunger and malnutrition”. . . 

Hawkes Bay farmers watching gathering signs of a third big dry – Sally Murphy:

Conditions in Hawke’s Bay are being described as extremely dry as farmers prepare for another warm, dry spring.

For the past two years the region has been in drought over summer and it is looking like farmers could face a third.

Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers president Jim Galloway said they’ve only had about 280mm of rain so far this year.

“Underfoot it’s very dry, a lot drier than normal and certainly for this time of year. Some areas had a little bit of rain yesterday but it’s only enough to wet the top. . . 

Farms left with 70,000 surplus pigs amid labour crisis:

Labour shortages at abattoirs have resulted in a surplus of 70,000 pigs on farms across the country, the National Pig Association has warned.

The lack of available workers at processing plants is causing a significant surplus of pigs stuck on farms, the trade body said.

Most plant workers – the majority being eastern European – have gone back to their home countries following Covid-19 travel restrictions and Brexit uncertainty.

Meanwhile, pig producers are continuing to struggle with record costs and negative margins that have persisted since the start of the year. . . 


Rural round-up

30/08/2021

Produce having to be thrown away – Molly Houseman:

Rodger Whitson has had to start throwing away perfectly good produce as the reality of being a small business owner during lockdown sinks in.

He owns Janefield Paeonies and Hydroponics, which operates from his 4ha property just outside Mosgiel, growing lettuce and herbs, as well as strawberries and paeonies when they are in season.

Usually, that fresh produce is sold at the Otago Farmers Market and to select restaurants and cafes.

‘‘We only grow half a dozen product lines and good quality. We have got a really good customer base on the farmers market, and the few restaurants and cafes we deal with keep it niche,’’ he said. . .

Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Crop fed to cows in Northland as farmers’ markets closed – Peter de Graaf:

Some Northland food producers are being forced to feed valuable crops to cows because Covid restrictions have closed the region’s farmers’ markets.

Several growers spoken to by the Advocate have been lucky with the Delta outbreak coming just as they were between harvests.

Others, however, have been hard hit with no let-up in costs or work, but no income apart from the wage subsidy, which doesn’t fully cover staff costs.

One Northland egg producer is giving everything to a foodbank — a boon for struggling families but a blow to their own incomes — while one spring onion grower has reportedly been forced to plough in an entire crop. . .

No change to level 4 setting – Hort NZ – Sudesh Kissun:

Horticulture New Zealand says it has now been officially advised by the Ministry for Primary Industries that the settings for this Alert Level 4 are the same as those used last year in Level 4.

However, because this strain of Covid is far more virulent, more precautions need to be taken, it says.

There is no requirement to register with MPI as an “essential business or service”.

You will be considered a Alert Level 4 business or service, if you are one of the following: . .

Leader of the pack living best life – Sally Rae:

Surrounded by her much loved team of working dogs — plus pet miniature schnauzer Mickey — casual shepherd Kate Poulsen reckons she is literally living the proverbial dream. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about the career she has chosen in the rural sector.

Lockdown doesn’t really mean much is different for Kate Poulsen.

The 25-year-old East Otago casual shepherd is doing a lambing beat at Goodwood “tucked away out of it”, which really was not much different from usual.

For her line of work meant that she was often working by herself and, as far as she was concerned, as long as she had her dogs with her then it was “business as usual“. . .

Delay planned fires until after lockdown :

Farmers and lifestyle block owners in the Otago and Southland regions are being asked to avoid lighting fires until lockdown is over, to reduce risk to firefighters.

Southland’s principal rural fire officer Timo Bierlin says even well controlled burns will cause issues at present, because people see the smoke and dial 111 in the belief they are reporting an escaped fire.

Brigades will always turn out to 111 calls and have the protective gear and procedures to do this safely.

“But we would like our firefighters to stay safe in their bubbles and not have to respond to avoidable fires just now,” says Bierlin.

Deaf sheepdog learns sign language to round up sheep – Cortney Moore:

A senior sheepdog has learned sign language for herding.

Nine-year-old Peggy, a border collie from the U.K., lost her hearing and was handed over to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, according to South West News Service.

However, Peggy’s luck took a turn for the better when she crossed paths with Chloe Shorten, the British news agency reports.

Chloe, who is an animal welfare manager at the RSPCA’s Mid Norfolk and North Suffolk Branch in Norwich, England, provided Peggy a place to stay and access to much-needed training. . . 


Rural round-up

25/08/2021

Labour must stop flooding rural NZ with pointless and onderous regulations :

Labour’s latest regulatory hurdle for rural water schemes shows it is deeply out of touch with provincial New Zealand, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“As it stands, the Water Services Bill would expose tens of thousands of rural water schemes to disproportionate bureaucracy, just so they can continue supplying water between, for example, a farmhouse, a dairy shed and workers’ quarters,” Mr Luxon says.

“Despite warnings from National and major sector bodies at select committee, the bill will require Taumata Arowai to track down and register around 70,000 farm supply arrangements, each of which will need to write safety and risk management plans.

“We’re deeply concerned that the compliance costs and administrative burden this will create for farmers will be significant, while any supposed safety gains will be tiny. . . 

Shearing industry faces added challenges at busiest time of year – Chris Tobin:

The pressure is on the shearing industry as contractors juggle the usual challenges of inclement weather with the added restrictions of level 4 lockdown which has fallen at their busiest time of year..

South Canterbury Federated Farmers president and meat and wool chairman, Greg Anderson, said under level 4 restrictions which include social distancing and mask wearing, shearing was taking longer to complete with daily tallies down on usual numbers.

Anderson said there was now pressure to get pre-lamb shearing done.

“The time frame depends on when lambing begins, if it is in early September, the shearing will have to be done in the next week or so,” Anderson said. . . 

Should people really be thanking farmers for their morning latte? – Craig Hickman:

Like many silly ideas, the Thank a Farmer hashtag that has been popping up all over social media and which even made an appearance at the recent farmer protest can trace its origins back to the United States.

It was a silly sentiment when it originated there in the 1800s, and it hasn’t improved in the intervening 300-odd years.

I recently objected to the concept in reply to a social media post where a local young dairy farmer was berating his audience for not being more appreciative for the milk in their Sunday morning coffee while he was at work on the farm.

I was confused. My milk goes to the Clandeboye factory, where it is processed into either milk powder or mozzarella. Do I deserve thanks from the Sunday morning coffee sippers or is that reserved for the farmers who produce the 5 per cent of dairy product that isn’t exported? .  .

Yili and Westland “Cream Team’ create new product for China:

A cross-cultural research and development project has succeeded in harnessing the natural grass-fed goodness of milk from New Zealand’s remote West Coast into a product suitable for discerning Chinese bakers.

The product, Yili Pro UHT Whipping Cream, will be available to Chinese consumers this October.

Resident Director for Yili in New Zealand, Shiqing Jian, said the two-year collaboration between Westland Dairy Company Limited and parent company Yili had managed to overcome the inherent variability of grass-fed milk to produce cream with a consistency suitable for Chinese bakers.

Mr Jian said Yili’s growth as an international brand relied strongly on innovation and longstanding research and development investment. New product sales accounted for 16 per cent of Yili’s total revenue in 2020 with Yili now ranked the fifth largest dairy producer globally. . . 

Whittakers goes nuts for Canterbury with its new artisan block:

Whittaker’s has released its new Artisan Collection Canterbury Hazelnut in Creamy Milk Chocolate 100g block. Whittaker’s Artisan Collection celebrates New Zealand’s finest home-grown ingredients, and this is the first flavour that features premium produce sourced from the Canterbury region.

Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers with a keen eye may have already spotted the block at their local supermarket. It is available now in stores nationwide and via online shopping and there is plenty to go around, so Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers are encouraged to wait until their next planned supermarket shop to pick up a block.

Whittaker’s Canterbury Hazelnut in Creamy Milk Chocolate combines roasted Canterbury hazelnut pieces, sourced from Canterbury hazelnut co-operative Hazelz, with a silky smooth hazelnut paste and Whittaker’s 33% cocoa Creamy Milk Chocolate. . .

Country diary: the ups and downs of buying a retired shepherd’s flock – Andrea Meanwell:

I haven’t been to Ingleton since the 1980s, but the rocky landscape still inspires as much awe and wonder in me now as it did when I was a girl. We would come here on school trips to crawl into a cave or abseil down a pothole, but this time I’m here to discuss buying sheep from a retiring shepherd.

It is a difficult thing to retire and sell a flock of sheep, and it’s a difficult thing to buy one. I felt guilty for buying all of them, not some. And it brings to mind your own limited time as guardian of your farm. What will happen when I can no longer walk the length of the farm to gather sheep? Will I retire, or simply carry on doing what I can? Is the only realistic exit strategy death?

My mind is brought back down to earth as we arrive at the gate. I thrust my cash into my pocket and jump out of the car ready to look at the sheep. This will not be an easy conversation. How do you buy someone’s life’s work, their legacy? . . .


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