Rural round-up

12/08/2020

Leading by example – Gerald Piddock:

Being responsible to their land, animals, people and their community has earned a Hawke’s Bay couple the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award. Gerald Piddock reports.

Being a responsible dairy farmer means more than just being industry role models to Nick and Nicky Dawson.

It involves working beyond the farm bubble in the wider community and nurturing the health of people, the environment and their animals.

“It’s all interconnected,” Nicky says. 

“It’s like a three-legged stool. You can’t have one without the other.” . . 

Time running out for ag contractors as spring approaches – Gerald Piddock:

October is looming as a crunch-month for agricultural contractors and dairy farmers as the scramble continues to find staff to drive machinery to plant summer feed crops and cut grass cut for silage.

Waikato Federated Farmers vice-president Ben Moore said there was huge concern that contractors would not have enough staff on the ground to meet demand from dairy farmers as border restrictions continue to prevent overseas farm machinery operators from entering the country to work this spring and summer.

The region was still recovering from last summer’s drought with feed reserves on many farms already low. 

Moore feared there could be a potential disaster if farmers are unable to get their summer supplementary feed supply organised and there was another very dry summer. . . 

Ag contractor training gearing up – Mark Daniel:

Agricultural contractors are warning about a severe shortage of skilled machinery operators for the upcoming harvest season.

The shortage is due to New Zealand’s closed borders, shutting out staff from overseas. In response, a number of training organisations are offering displaced local workers and jobseekers a basic grounding in the sector.

In the South Island, the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is promoting its ‘An Introduction to Agricultural Contracting’ course – based at its Telford Campus, near Balclutha. This initiative was the result of SIT’s discussions with Rural Contractors NZ Ltd (RCNZ) and some key players in the contracting sector in Otago and Southland – who all wanted to do something positive to address the need for trained contracting staff. . .

Lake Hawea to host world ploughing championships

The world’s best exponents of the art of ploughing are coming to Lake Hawea, but not for quite a while.

An Upper Clutha group of ploughing enthusiasts announced on Saturday they had secured the 2028 world championships.

That means 60 of the best “ploughmen” from farming communities around world will load up their tractors and ploughs, ship them to New Zealand and carve out furrows across the flat paddocks south of the lake.

Organising committee chairman John Osborne said his committee had spent two years preparing Lake Hawea’s case for the event, “basically trying to prove to the New Zealand executive we have facilities up here to have all these world guys here”. . . 

Industry hunters step up for annual event  – Jared Morgan:

Ask hunters where exactly in Central Otago they shot their haul in the annual Manuherikia Boar, Buck and Stag Hunt and they are unlikely to tell you.

They want to protect their turf and believe the results speak for themselves.

Yesterday marked weigh-in day in the annual three-day fundraiser for the Alexandra Scout Group.

It was heartland rural New Zealand at its best if the atmosphere at the weigh-in and prize-giving was anything to go by. . . 

Matching beef yields and consumer expectations :

ENHANCING the red meat value chain through a greater understanding of efficient use of farm resources, better use of grazing mosaics, and the production of cattle that reach and exceed domestic and export ready standards is the aim of a new four-year partnership for the west.

The University of Western Australia and Meat & Livestock through the MLA Donor Company have joined forces to coordinate and drive an integrated research and practice change program for the West Australian beef Industry.

The partnership, BeefLinks, will provide better knowledge and a range of technologies to support the sustainability credentials of products and interconnectivity between producers, processors and consumers. . . 

 


Rural round-up

01/05/2020

Broadband money ‘just a drop’ – Gerald Piddock:

A $15 million fund for ultra-fast broadband in rural areas is not enough to improve the technology for farmers.

“It’s a drop in the bucket,” Technology Users Association chief executive Craig Young said.

The Government money will upgrade some existing mobile towers and wireless backhaul that connects remote sites and for the installation of external antennae on houses to improve coverage. . .

Winter grazing drought hits farms – Gerald Piddock:

North Island dairy farmers are struggling to find graziers to take their cows over winter because many don’t have enough feed.

The effects of the drought across Hawke’s Bay, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Manawatu mean demand for graziers outweighs supply this autumn. 

Waikato Federated Farmers dairy chairman Ben Moore said farmers are getting calls from graziers saying they cannot take their cattle as planned.  . .

West Cost Regional Council reverses wetland decision – Lois Williams:

The West Coast Regional Council has reversed its controversial decision on wetlands – giving relief to sphagnum moss harvesters around the region.

The council rejected recommendations in February on a change to the regional plan, identifying significant wetlands and giving them additional protection.

The change would also have taken some wetlands off the list and made moss harvesting a permitted activity in those areas. But the council’s resource management committee voted against it, saying the plan change did nothing for other private landowners whose properties were still on the list. . . 

Forest Growers Levy Trust commits to support industry:

The New Zealand Forest Growers Levy Trust is anticipating borrowing and using reserves to maintain as much of its yearly work programme as possible.

The Trust has decided today (29 April eds) to reduce its work programme by a million dollars, following disruption to forest exports and production caused by the international spread of coronavirus.

But the Chair of the FGLT, Geoff Thompson, says it’s anticipating covering an even larger fall in its revenue and is planning on using reserves and borrowing so as not too significantly disrupt its funding of industry good activities. . . 

Kiwifruit gives March exports a golden glow:

Exports hit a new high in March 2020, driven by kiwifruit, dairy, and meat, even as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, Stats NZ said today.

The value of total goods exports rose $215 million (3.8 percent) from March 2019 to reach $5.8 billion in March 2020. This was a record for any month – the previous high was in May 2019.

The increase in total goods exports reflected a bumper kiwifruit harvest and higher prices for milk powder and meat. This rise was partly offset by a fall in log exports, particularly to China, in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. . . 

US could be weeks from meat shortages with shutdowns spreading – Michael Hirtzer and Tatiana Freitas:

Plant shutdowns are leaving the U.S. dangerously close to meat shortages as coronavirus outbreaks spread to suppliers across the nation and the Americas.

Almost a third of U.S. pork capacity is down, the first big poultry plants closed on Friday and experts are warning that domestic shortages are just weeks away. Brazil, the world’s No. 1 shipper of chicken and beef, saw its first major closure with the halt of a poultry plant owned by JBS SA, the world’s biggest meat company. Key operations are also down in Canada, the latest being a British Columbia poultry plant. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/04/2020

Back to the land after lockdown – David Slack:

With agriculture once again New Zealand’s main export earner, are farmers feeling needed again, and what are their prospects once the lockdown eases? David Slack reports from the farm gate.

There’s a photo of my grandmother and her sisters taken by their father in the late days of the First World War. It’s not the usual sort of photo of the time. They’re alive, it’s vivid. They’re up high in the Rangitikei backblocks. There are cows to be milked, they’re carrying cream cans. They look cheerful, they’re doing work that matters.

There were 16 of them in that family. Some of them went on to raise farmers, some raised city folk. My dad raised us to understand there was no future in farming. We didn’t doubt him, and we made our lives in town. . .

Primary interest: Time to cut the cord and let agriculture thrive – Steve Elers:

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said last year that tourism was New Zealand’s “largest export earner”, contributing $39 billion to the economy each year and directly employing more than 200,000 people.

Obviously, Covid-19 has upended the tourism sector, so Davis was left with no choice but to announce earlier this week that he has tasked Tourism New Zealand to lead a programme that includes the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Department of Conservation, and industry parties to “reimagine the way we govern tourism, how we market domestically and internationally, who we market to, and how we manage visitors when they arrive on our shores”. 

Another major sector upended because of Covid-19 is international education. According to the Tertiary Education Commission, international education “contributes $5.1b to the economy and is the country’s fourth largest export earner” – it also supports about 50,000 jobs. . .

Image sells our meat – Neal Wallace:

China is re-emerging as a significant buyer of New Zealand beef as its families continue to use home cooking skills learned when the country was shut down to control covid-19.

Many restaurants in China are yet to fully reopen and NZ beef appears to be an early beneficiary of growing Chinese retail demand as consumers look for meat from a country with a trusted food production system and a clean and green reputation.

But commentators warn we shouldn’t take this interest for granted, especially when other markets weaken as Governments try to contain the virus. . .

No letup for some works – Neal Wallace:

Most of the country’s largest meat companies will continue to process livestock over at least part of Easter to try to ease a developing backlog.

Selected plants run by Silver Fern Farms, Anzco and Affco will process over the long weekend to clear a developing backlog of stock, which, in some cases, has reached six weeks.

Southland’s Blue Sky Meats has started processing seven days a week and plans to work Easter and Anzac Day. 

Anzco chief executive Peter Conley said it will operate its beef plants on three of the four days over Easter. . . 

 

Coronavirus: Working and living in dairy farm bubble during Covid-19 – Lawrence Gullery:

Ben Moore counts himself lucky to be working on the land during the coronavirus outbreak.

He feels fortunate to still be earning an income, to pay the bills and provide for his family on their dairy farm in the Waikato.

“My heart goes out to those who can’t work,” Moore said. “We can still work, still pay the mortgage but I know there are many people out there who can’t.” 

Stuff is celebrating the coronavirus champions – including essential services workers like Moore and community volunteers – who are keeping New Zealand going though the lockdown. . . 

Prime cuts of beef are going to waste as well: After the scandal of £220,000 of milk being dumped every day during the coronavirus lockdown, GUY ADAMS investigates how the meat industry is coping – Guy Adams:

A couple of weeks ago, as panic-stricken shoppers descended on the nation’s supermarkets, Sainsbury’s and Asda quietly introduced a new product to their meat aisles.

Labelled ‘NO FUSS lean Polish beef mince’ and retailing for the bargain price of £2.95 a pound, it helped fill the empty shelves that had until very recently held Union Flag-stamped packets of best British beef.

Farmers, when they spotted it, hit the roof, accusing the rapacious retailers of flooding the market with cheap imports. . . 

 


Rural round-up

15/09/2017

Dairy conversions falling:

DairyNZ says a fall in the number of dairy conversions in Canterbury signals strongly that fears of a big rise in dairying there are unwarranted.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) reports 20 consents were granted for new dairy farms in the last financial year — nearly half last year’s figure and a huge drop on the 110 granted in 2011.

The last year in which only 20 conversions were consented was 2007. . . 

Dairy farming a game changer for Englishman

Poacher turned gamekeeper is an idiom as old as the hills, but gamekeeper turned Waikato dairy farmer? Now that’s new. The dairyman and former gamekeeper is Ben Moore, who with wife Lizzy farms 450 cows at Okororie, near Tirau in Waikato.

Ben, from Hampshire, in the south of England, was a professional gamekeeper of pheasants in Rotorua when he met Lizzy, daughter of Federated Farmers leader and former dairy industry director Tony Wilding, nine years ago.

New Zealanders would be rightly surprised to discover that right here at home exists a world straight out of Downton Abbey including plus-fours, gun loaders, ground beaters and all. . .

Rural sector underpins growth – Alexia Johnston:

South Canterbury’s rural sector is being credited as a major contributor to recent economic growth.

 Latest economic development figures from Infometrics show the Timaru district has experienced 1.3% growth in the latest June quarter.

That figure is well above the 0.8% recorded for wider Canterbury, but was below the nationwide figure of 2.8%.

Timaru district’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the year to June was $2318million. . .

Wings stabilise irrigators in wind – Maureen Bishop:

The design trials are over; now the field trials have begun for a new irrigator ”wing” aimed at providing stabilisation in times of high winds.

The galvanised wing is the brainchild of farmer Greg Lovett and kite-maker, inventor and engineer Peter Lynn.

The high winds of spring 2013 which destroyed hundreds of irrigators, prompted Mr Lovett to look at some method of stabilising irrigators which could prevent them toppling over.

He sought expertise advice from Mr Lynn. As a pioneer of kite surfing and buggying, and the holder of the record for the world’s largest kite, Mr Lynn knows a lot about wind and its power. . . 

Southland arable farm thrives when dairying flourishes :

Balfour arable farmer Chris Dillon says the first rule of arable farming is that you don’t treat your soil like dirt.

Dillon became the Federated Farmers Southland arable chairman this year and feels strongly that arable farmers deserve strong representation even if they are a small group in the region.

“Arable farms are a minority group in Southland but we play a very important part in it as well,” he says . .

Hail and wet weather take a toll on vegetables – Gerard Hutching:

Hail in Pukekohe and cold, wet weather throughout the country have hit vegetable crops but it is too soon to say how much more consumers might have to pay for potatoes, lettuce and cauliflowers this spring.

Pukekohe grower Bharat Bhana said the hailstorms which came through the region in the last few days had done more damage than wet weather, but in other parts of the country a wet spring has come on top of a soggy winter.

“Onions are smashed, lettuce have got bullet holes in them, looks like a flock of chickens has gone through,” Bhana said. . . 


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