Rural round-up

18/08/2021

Ongoing battle for river draining experience – Sally Rae:

As the microscope continues to focus on the Manuherikia River in Central Otago and its future minimum flows, rural editor Sally Rae talks to award-winning Omakau farmer Anna Gillespie about the stress the rural community is under.

They are two farmers farming – literally.

Central Otago couple Ben and Anna Gillespie trade under Two Farmers Farming, running a 400ha property at Omakau comprising a dairy grazing and beef finishing operation.

It was a challenging environment to farm in, with an average rainfall of about 450mm, temperatures in winter as low as -10degC and summer hitting more than 30degC, Mrs Gillespie said. . . 

Govt reforms ‘absolutely punishing’ – Neal Wallace:

Local authorities and industry groups warn they are being driven to breaking point by the volume and pace of Government legislation reforms.

One described the pace and scale as “absolutely punishing” and warned “it has the potential, unless managed very carefully, to break the system”.

Karen Williams, a former planner and current Federated Farmers vice president, says that pace shows no letting up, with parties given just one month to comment on the exposure draft of the first of three documents to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA).

“The RMA is 30 years old, so you don’t start looking at its replacement with one month of submissions,” Williams said. . . 

Carbon-farming economics are also attractive on easier country – Keith Woodford:

Given current carbon prices, the march of the pine trees across the landscape has only just begun. The implications are massive

My previous article on carbon farming focused on the North Island hard-hill country. If financial returns are to be the key driver of land-use, and based on a carbon price of $48 per tonne, then the numbers suggested that carbon farming on that class of country is a winner.

By my calculations, sheep and beef farms on this hard-hill country provide an internal rate of return (IRR) of around 2%, whereas my recent estimate for carbon farming was 9.7%.

Here I extend the analysis, still using a price of $48 per tonne, by looking at the easier hill country that Beef+Lamb (B&L) categorise as ‘Class 4 North Island Hill Country’. This fits between their ‘Class 3 North Island hard-hill country’ and the ‘Class 5 North Island intensive finishing farms’. . . 

Efficiency key to simple, profitable A2:A2 farm– Samatha Tennent:

A Waikato farmer has succeeded in creating a top farming business, as well as a career in the corporate world.

The desire to have a dynamic farming business as well as an exciting career off the farm, a Waikato farmer has come out on top in both.

And he got there by focusing on creating a simple, profitable farming operation with an efficient Jersey herd.

Zach Mounsey who is an equity partner and sharemilks 440 Jersey cows on 161ha at Te Kawa near Otorohanga on the family farm, which was the most profitable Waikato 50:50 sharemilker in Dairybase for 2018. He is also the general manager of milk supply for Happy Valley Nutrition (HVN), a new dairy processor aiming to produce high-quality infant formulas. . . 

NZ grower’s squash milk creates new export patch :

One of New Zealand’s largest buttercup squash growers is diving into Asia’s alternative proteins market with a plant-based milk.

Kabochamilk is a collaboration between Hawke’s Bay grower Shane Newman and Sachie Nomura, a Japanese celebrity chef who also developed a world first avocado milk.

Kabocha, a Japanese variety of squash, is a staple part of the Japanese and East Asian diet and New Zealand is one of the largest exporters of kabocha to Japan and Korea.

The Ministry for Primary Industries contributed more than $95,000 through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to help boost Kabocha Milk Co’s efforts to formulate, manufacture, and market a shelf-stable kabocha milk recipe that would appeal to consumers in Japan, Korea, China, and beyond. . . 

Commission publishes draft conclusion on base milk price:

Commission publishes draft conclusion on base milk price calculation

The Commerce Commission has today released a draft report concluding that Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price it will pay farmers in the 2020/21 dairy season is consistent with the requirements of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Fonterra set a forecast price for the season of $7.45 – $7.65 per kilogram of milk solids according to rules set out in its Farmgate Milk Price Manual. DIRA requires the Commission to review Fonterra’s methodology for calculating the price and to conclude on whether the calculation is consistent with the purpose of DIRA and the rules set in the Manual.

The regime is designed to provide for the setting of a base milk price that is consistent with efficient and contestable market outcomes. . . 


Rural round-up

24/04/2021

Looking after the land ‘a passion’ – Shawn McAvine:

Looking after the land is a “passion” for Central Otago farmers Ben and Anna Gillespie.

The couple won the 2020 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, and opened their farm gates in Omakau for a field day last week.

Mrs Gillespie, speaking to about 100 people on the day, said she and her husband were a “solid team”.

She did the “stock work and finances” and he did the “tractor work, irrigation and agronomy“. . .

The cost of getting soil fertility wrong:

Although many people on the planet are willing to pay more for New Zealand produce, productive land to grow that food and fibre is becoming unavailable here in our own backyard.

Both the current government and previous governments aimed to double export dollars from the primary sector.

In answer, ingenious farmers and growers have had to become more efficient with their inputs to do more with less land. The Ministry for the Environment’s report entitled Our Land shows export values of the primary sector doubled while available highly productive land halved between 2002 and 2019.

This was an impressive achievement, but not without impacts. Hitting the political ambition whilst reducing land use and environmental issues is going to require farmers to become even more efficient in the use of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. . .

Trans-Tasman competition expected to increase for dairy farms seeking workers – Maja Burry:

New Zealand dairy farmers are being urged to make staff retention a priority, with the trans-Tasman bubble expected to make the labour market even more competitive.

Both New Zealand and Australia’s primary industries are facing labour shortages, with border restrictions cutting off the normal flow of migrant workers.

A recent survey by the groups Federated Farmers and DairyNZ found almost half of the sector is understaffed, with a quarter of farmers unable to fill some roles for over six months.

The opening of the trans-Tasman bubble on Monday had resulted in some agricultural labour recruiters in Australia ramping up online advertising campaigns targeting New Zealanders – offering free airfares and good wages. . . 

A2 moves from a brand to a category – Keith Woodford:

Many more A2 milk and A2 infant formula brands are now emerging across the globe but market leader The a2 milk Company is struggling

A notable change has been occurring recently with A2 milk products now available from multiple manufacturers. That includes at least three brands of A2 infant formula available here in New Zealand. These offerings are the original a2 Platinum from The a2 Milk Company (ATM), plus relative newcomers Karicare A2 from Danone and Haven A2 linked to Zuru.

There are also now at least three A2 fresh-milk brands in New Zealand, these being Fonterra, Fresha Valley, and a strangely named “organic A3” product which, according to its owners, is also produced exclusively from A2 cows.

Internationally, there are multiple A2 brands of both A2 milk and A2 infant formula now available, particularly in Asia, to a lesser extent in the Americas, but with Europe still lagging. . . 

The harvest has passed but we are not saved – Tom Hunter:

So that’s it. The last of the maize has been chopped and dropped into bunkers, pits and stacks all across the Waikato.

I’ve finished my first, and likely my last season, on the harvesting teams. As always with such work it seems that time has run much faster than a start last September factually shows. About the only slow period was in January as the huge machines were prepped for the coming chore and eyes closely watched the growing maize to pick the right time for gathering.

This time of year has always been celebrated, so let’s start with Bruegel’s classic from 1565. . . 

‘A farmer with 50 cattle today will only be allowed to have 24 in 2030’ – Catherina Cunnane:

The Rural Independents have warned that the Climate Action Bill will “kill the economy while doing nothing to protect the environment”. 

They fear that “small farms will be in danger of disappearing and replaced by large corporate interests, while one-off rural housing will cease to exist”.

The group believe the bill will cause “immeasurable damage to Irish agriculture”, cause food security issues, lead to thousands of direct and indirect job losses across rural Ireland and create enormous and costly volumes of red tape. . . 


Rural round-up

10/05/2020

Drought relief: Teen encourages farmers to ‘bare all’ – Anusha Bradley:

A Facebook page for Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling with severe drought is being credited with saving lives.

The lack of rain, lack of feed and trouble selling, or sending stock to the meat works because of Covid-19 restrictions is putting untold pressures on farmers.

But one young farmer’s efforts are providing a little relief to those in need.

Poppy Renton, 19, set up the Hawke’s Bay Drought page on Facebook, which has attracted more than 2000 members within a week of going live. .

In 113 years on the Dasent family farm, they’ve never seen a drought like thisAnusha Bradley:

The rolling hills on the Dasent family’s farm in rural Hawke’s Bay are a sea of brown as far as the eye can stretch.

Their family has farmed here in Maraekakaho for 113 years and while they’ve experienced droughts before, it’s never been like this.

“We’ve only had 13mls of rain over the whole of April,” says Rhea Dasent, who is the fourth generation of Dasents to farm the land. . .

Farm ‘train’ could  clean rivers:

Combining his farming nous with years of experience as a research scientist means Waikato dairy farmer Richard Cookson is well placed to help solve one of the industry’s biggest issues – potential impact of pasture run-off to streams and rivers.

Cookson, who together with his wife Louise Cullen, runs the 320ha Springdale farm near Morrinsville, is trialling a unique system – he calls it a “treatment train” – specifically designed for use on farms with the type of flat terrain typical of much of the Waikato region.

As part of the project, he has constructed a small wetland near a drain on the farm to filter contaminants out of run-off which ultimately flows into the Waitoa and Piako rivers. . .

New Zealand horticulture exports grow to $6.2 billion:

New Zealand horticulture exports reached a record breaking $6.2 billion in the year ending June 2019 – an increase of $720 million from the previous year, and more than 10% of New Zealand’s total merchandise export income.

According to latest edition of Fresh Facts, published annually by Plant & Food Research and Horticulture New Zealand, the total New Zealand horticulture industry was valued at $9.5 billion in 2019. A significant $3.4 billion of this was fresh fruit exports, which grew by $54 million since 2018. Kiwifruit continues to be New Zealand’s largest fresh fruit export, valued at $2.3 billion in 2019. A whopping 545,800 tonnes of kiwifruit exports were sent overseas, two thirds of this to Asian countries. Apples were the second largest fresh fruit export, earning $829 million. New Zealand-bred varieties such as Jazz™, Envy™ and Pacific™ brand apples are popular with overseas consumers and made up a quarter of apple exports. . . 

Tractor sales down 60%: TAMA calls on Government to help save its sector:

The Tractor and Farm Machinery Association (TAMA) is calling on the Government to take urgent measures to help its sector in the face of plummeting sales.

TAMA President John Tulloch has written to the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor requesting action to encourage farmers and contractors to invest in farm productivity this year.

Specifically, TAMA wants the Government to review its low value asset write-off limit to bring it up to at least same level as Australia. The New Zealand Government has temporarily increased the threshold to $5,000 because of COVID-19 however the new Australian limit is $150,000. . .

Beef and Dairy grazing farmers take top regional spot at Otago Ballance Farm Environemnt Awards:

A passion for farming has led to Anna & Ben Gillespie being named Regional Supreme Winners at the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards, run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

The awards champion sustainable farming and growing through a programme which sees one Regional Supreme Winner selected from each of the 11 regions involved. All Regional Supreme Winners are in the running for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, with the winner of this national award to be announced at a later date.

Taking a strategic approach that plays to their strengths has paid off for this Omakau couple as they diversify and grow their beef and dairy grazing business. Highly conscious of the farm’s environmental impact, they’re anticipating future regulatory changes by taking action now. . .

Waterfront farm with development potential placed on the market for sale:

A boutique waterfront Northland grazing farm with extensive private headland beach access to the Kaipara Harbour has been placed on the market for sale.

The 92.7-hectare farm at Whakapirau some 13-kilometres south-west of Maungaturoto has been previously used for grazing a herd of approximately 200 heifers and rising cattle – leased out at a rate of between $220 – $250 per hectare annually.

The freehold property consists of some 15 rolling paddocks surrounded by small hills. The paddocks are segregated by a mix of post and batten and electric wire fencing. Farm building infrastructure on the harbourside property consists of a two-bedroom block home which has beach access via a formed track. . . 


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