Rural round-up

10/05/2021

Fonterra boss Miles Hurrell says turning around the dairy giant has not been smooth sailing – Tina Morrison:

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell faced a daunting task when he was asked to take the helm of the country’s largest company in 2018, but he is getting the dairy giant in shape.

The co-operative owned by its 10,000 farmer suppliers and supporting some 20,000 employees was heading for its first annual loss since its creation in 2001 after a period of big expansion failed to deliver the promised profits and left it saddled with too much debt.

Hurrell, an 18-year veteran of Fonterra and head of the Farm Source unit that worked with farmers, talked with his wife and a few close friends who backed him to take on the challenge of what was looking like a tough couple of years.

“I was under no illusion at that point in time about what needed to be done,” he says. “Clearly we needed to go about doing things differently.” . . 

Living the good life after ‘bovis’– Sally Rae:

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for South Canterbury farmers Kelly and Morgan Campbell since their cattle were the first in New Zealand to be depopulated due to Mycoplasma bovis. But they have come out the other side with a new business venture. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

On a lifestyle block in rural South Canterbury, Kelly and Morgan Campbell are living the good life.

Residing in their dream home, surrounded by hundreds of happy hens, their seemingly idyllic existence belies the roller-coaster ride they have lived the past few years.

Morgan Campbell arguably summed it up best by saying: “it’s a crazy story … with lots of kinks and curves … along the way. Dead cows, IVF and chickens.” . . 

Sheep numbers plummet by 800,000 in a year – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s sheep numbers plummeted by almost a million in 2020, new data shows.

Figures from Stats NZ put the sheep population at 26 million for the year ended June 2020, a fall of 800,000 from the previous year and a far cry from the peak of 70 million sheep in 1982.

Stats NZ agricultural production statistics manager Ana Krpo said widespread drought conditions and feed shortages were a major factor in the 3 per cent fall.

“Hawke’s Bay had the largest decrease, with the total number of sheep falling by 12 per cent (346,000) from the previous year to a total of 2.5 million as at June 2020.” . . 

Too many customers, not enough grapes, Marlborough winemakers struggling to match demand – Hugo Cameron:

Key export markets are thirsty for Marlborough wine, but low grape yields mean that demand is outstripping supply.

Frost and cold weather early in the season led to smaller harvests from many vineyards in the area and the smaller crop could leave some wineries facing tough decisions on who they can supply over the next year, industry group Wine Marlborough says

Caythorpe Family Estate owner Simon Bishell said the grape yield was about 25 to 30 percent down on the normal volume.

The business had seen plenty of fresh interest, but supplying those new customers after a slim harvest was a challenge, Bishell said. . . 

100 years on the land – Shawn McAvinue:

The Frame family recently celebrated 100 years of farming Burnbank in Teviot Valley. Shawn McAvinue talks to Bill and Gwenda Frame about how four generations have transformed the land from an unfenced block covered in gorse and rabbits to a productive sheep and beef farm.

A blanket of snow covered the land when Bill Frame was born on the sheep and beef farm Burnbank in Teviot Valley, on New Year’s Day in 1932.

When the snow melted, rabbits covered the farm in Dumbarton, near Ettrick.

As the baby boy grew, so did the rabbit population, and a dream was born. . . 

Meet challenges head-on says Beef Achiever Tracey Hayes – Shan Goodwin:

IF there is piece of advice Tracey Hayes believes has the power to guarantee a prosperous future for every sector of Australia’s beef industry, it’s the idea of never shying from a challenge.

Don’t turn a blind eye to what’s difficult, regardless of how insurmountable it may appear. Instead focus on precisely that.

These were the words from Ms Hayes after she was named the 2021 Queensland Country Life Beef Achiever at Beef Australia in Rockhampton last week.

Ms Hayes is an agribusiness executive with a beef production background and a down-to-earth persona that has made her one of the most liked, and respected, identities in the cattle game. . . 


Rural round-up

01/05/2021

Canterbury irrigation scheme will hold farmers to account – Adam Burns:

Replacement consent for the Mayfield Hinds Valetta (MHV) irrigation scheme was granted after an independent commissioner released a decision last week.

The 10-year consent is subject to a series of conditions, including a 15 percent reduction in nitrogen losses by 2025 and 25 percent by 2030, auditing of farm environment plans, monitoring ground and surface water quality and remediation and response plans.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) can review the consent if improvements are unable to be achieved.

“This consent is granted on the basis that the significant adverse cumulative effects on the receiving environment will be reduced and there will be measurable environmental improvements within the consent term,” the hearing commissioner’s report states. . . 

Research into sheep farmers’ experiences – Annette Scott:

The call is out for New Zealand sheep farmers to help with a research project on the industry’s bioeconomic transition to sustainability.

Lincoln University Masters student Jemma Penelope is preparing to survey sheep farmers across all regions of NZ about their on-farm experiences and challenges as they strive for sustainability.

Penelope, currently undertaking her second Masters, is leading research projects that develop innovative solutions for the agri-food industry.

Having grown up and studied in Canterbury, Penelope then worked abroad in business management and conservation and environmental markets in several countries, including Australia, America and Canada, before realising a place for her back home. . . 

Sheep lead methane research – Richard Rennie:

A mob of low methane sheep are proving it is possible to produce less methane and grow a healthy, productive animal that farmers will want to put into their flock bloodlines in coming years.

For the past decade New Zealand scientists have largely flown below the radar with the work, but are enjoying world leading success in identifying high and low methane emitting sheep. 

The work means today researchers including AgResearch scientists, with the support of farmers through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium  have two flocks of sheep, one high and one low methane emitting, and have established a genomic profile over three breeding generations. 

These provide sheep breeders with useful and accurate data on what their animal’s “methane value” is, relative to its breeding value. . . 

Directors returned to Silver Fern Farms co-operative board:

Rob Hewett, Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited has been re-elected to the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited’s Board of Directors. Gabrielle Thompson, who was a Board Appointed Director, has also been elected to the Co-operative Board by farmer shareholders.

The Board was delighted with the calibre and number of candidates that put themselves for election. Those that were unsuccessful were William Oliver, Simon Davies, Rob Kempthorne and Charles Douglas-Clifford. We thank them for their ongoing commitment to Silver Fern Farms.

The total weighted vote represents 50.59% of total shares, compared to the 62.68% turnout in the previous election in February 2018. . . 

 

Lawson’s Dry Hills wins at the 2021 Cawthorn- Marlborough Environment Awards:

Lawson’s Dry Hills was awarded winner of the wine industry category at the 2021 Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards, announced in Blenheim on Friday night.

In February, Lawson’s Dry Hills became a Toitu carbon zero certified organisation making the company the only New Zealand wine producer to be certified with both ISO14001 (Environmental Management) and ISO14064 (carbon zero).

The Awards judges praised Lawson’s Dry Hills for their commitment to reducing their environmental impact. Awards Coordinator and Judge, Bev Doole said, “These internationally recognised certifications reflect the culture at Lawson’s to improve and innovate across a wide range of areas, including recyclable and biodegradable packaging, generating solar power and storing water off the winery roof.” . . 

Central Otago’s oldest remaining stone packhouse on the market for sale:

The oldest standing stone packhouse in Central Otago, forming part of a sprawling lifestyle property, is on the market for sale.

Set in the heart of New Zealand’s original stone-fruit growing region, the 8.4-hectare property at 3196 Fruitlands-Roxburgh Road is offered for sale by Bayleys Cromwell for $1,560,000 plus GST (if any).

“The property, affectionately dubbed ‘Stonehouse Gardens’, offers a wonderful blend of home, income, lifestyle and priceless local history,” says Bayleys Cromwell salesperson Renee Anderson, who is marketing the property for sale with colleague Gary Kirk.

“Roxburgh and the Coal Creek area saw the start of stone-fruit cultivation during the 1860s gold rush, when the Tamblyn family first imported stone fruit trees from Australia,” Mr Kirk says. . . 

 


Rural round-up

26/04/2021

Political expediency – Rural News editorial:

Moves by the Government to end New Zealand’s live export trade is more about politics than ethics.

Sure, it argues that the trade “does not uphold New Zealand’s reputation for high standards of animal welfare” and that it does not fit with the country’s “social conscience”. But that is just – to coin a phrase used by Gulf War veteran General Norman Schwarzkopf – bovine scatology. These claims do not marry with the actual facts. The reality is that the Government is shutting down a legitimate $500 million trade because it polls well to ban it.

The screaming skulls from the likes of SAFE, Greenpeace and other so-called animal activist groups have got in the Government’s ear and won them over by feeding constant, unchallenged misinformation about the live export trade to the public.

David Hayman, spokesman for the Animal Genetics Trade Association, is right on the money when he describes the Government’s decision as one that is aiming for short-term political kudos. . . 

Meat plant delays – Neal Wallace:

Container shortages and shipping issues are forcing some meat plants to work shorter weeks, as companies grapple with the largest prime beef kill in over 30 years.

Alliance Group has on occasion reduced operating hours at its Smithfield and Pukeuri plants in the South Island and Silver Fern Farms (SFF) has on three instances reduced processing capacity at one of its plants as they manage logistical issues.

The shipping logistic problem affects all species, but coincides with a record prime beef kill.

AgriHQ analysts report 637,700 prime steers and heifers have been killed in the year to March 27, 92,000, or 17%, more than the previous record kill, which was last year. . . 

Otago Action Group keen to carry on :

The Otago-based Bruce District Action Group is transitioning to a self-funded group now that the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) has ended. The group wants to ensure its members can continue to build on the gains they have made.

Group facilitator, Abacus Bio farm consultant Simon Glennie, said the seven group members had originally been part of a farmer discussion group, before switching to become and RMPP Action Group with a business focus.

“This group had already been working together so had a lot of confidence and trust,” he says.

The group undertook the RMPP Taking Ownership of Your Financials programme with farm accountant Lawrence Field early on. . . 

Harvest begins at New Zealand’s biggest cannabis crop

Tens of thousands of cannabis plants are being picked over the coming weeks, as harvest begins at New Zealand’s largest commercial medical cannabis crop.

It’s all happening on Winterhome farm, on the coast of Kēkerengū north of Kaikōura.

The Macfarlane family have farmed Winterhome for five generations, and sons Sank and Winston returned home to convert part of it into a 10 hectare cannabis crop.

“It’s exciting to be part of,” Sank Macfarlane told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . . 

Honest Wolf – accessories from the Turakina Valley – Country Life:

Sophie and Sam Hurley are turning some of their wool clip into bags, caps, wallets and laptop sleeves. They’ve been in business less than a year but orders are flying out the door – or rather rumbling down their gravel road towards their destinations.

Some days Sophie Hurley writes 30 hand-written notes to customers. Among other things, she always expresses her gratitude for their support of the wool industry.  

Less than a year ago Sophie and her husband Sam Hurley launched Honest Wolf – a line of accessories made from wool from the family farm, Papanui Estate.

The couple were spurred into action by the pitiful returns from wool. . . 

Nicola Sturgeon urged not to sacrifice gamekeeper livelihoods in pursuit of Greens’ policy support – Claire Taylor:

AN OPEN letter has been sent to Scotland’s First Minister, highlighting concerns that the Scottish Green Party’s election proposals could ‘destroy a significant part of Scotland’s cultural heritage’.

Behind the letter are the 5300 members of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, who believe their livelihoods and that of their families could be under threat, if the next government were to call an end to all game management and angling in Scotland – as proposed by the Greens.

The SGA claim that not only will such a move place thousands of rural workers on the dole, impacting on their wellbeing and the future prospects of their family, but would impose ‘crippling burdens’ on the public purse.

The letter urges Nicola Sturgeon not to bargain with the livelihoods of rural workers, in order to gain the Greens support over future policies. . .


Rural round-up

22/04/2021

Risks to our industry – Elbow Deep:

On the 14th of August 2020, Gulf Livestock 1 left the Port of Napier bound for China carrying 43 crew and 5,867 cattle. Seventeen days into its journey, after sailing into the path of a typhoon and losing power to its engine, Gulf Livestock 1 capsized with only one crew member surviving and all the animals on board perishing.

This tragedy spurred the Government to suspend live export shipments while a review was undertaken. Two months later shipments resumed but the writing was on the wall, public sentiment had been heavily against the practice for years, and last week the Government announced shipments of live animals would be phased out over two years’ time.

It doesn’t matter that the sinking of Gulf Livestock 1 was a maritime disaster unrelated to its cargo, the vessel had been flagged in both Indonesia and Australia for poor engine maintenance and improperly filed voyage plans, or that it was the only vessel to head directly into the typhoon while all the other ships in the vicinity sought shelter. . . 

Nor does it matter what the conditions were like on-board more modern livestock carriers; how much feed is available; how many vets are on call or even if that the animals gain weight on their journey. . .

Farmers struggling to access water for stock – Sally Murphy:

Dry conditions around the country are causing issues with stock drinking water supplies and crop production a new survey has found.

Nearly 550 farmers responded to Federated Farmers 2021 Drought Survey over the last couple of weeks, painting a picture of conditions.

The survey found with little to no rain farmers are struggling to access water for their stock as dams waterways and aquifers are either substantially lower than normal or completely dry.

Respondents also highlighted issues with authority operated schemes not able to monitor those who are taking too much water from urban development, causing those down the scheme to have too little. . . 

‘Designer’ deer herds touted to help farmers – Hugo Cameron:

A researcher looking at the different foraging behaviours of deer says it could help farmers create the perfect “designer herd” for their land.

AgResearch associate Bryan Thompson said individual deer had preferences for where they wanted to feed – ranging from intensive lowland farms to rugged high-country hills.

He said there was a range of factors that influenced where a deer wanted to forage, including its personality, health, social interactions, past experience, food availability and diet.

Thompson said if those foraging behaviours were better understood, it might be possible to create herds with deer that were suited to specific farms. . . 

‘Game-changer’ tool for agricultural aircraft safety – Riley Kennedy:

A new tool has been launched to make sure agricultural spreader pilots are safer in the air.

Mosgiel technology company TracMap released its new TML-A GPS aviation guidance unit yesterday at a special event at the Otago aerodrome.

The digital, touch screen system, which sits in the cockpit with the pilots, aims to make the pilots’ time in the air more effective, enjoyable, and eliminates one of their greatest risks.

The new system can detect wires, such as powerlines, and lets the pilots know when the hazards are near. . . 

Smaller vintage of exceptional quality:

The New Zealand wine harvest is nearing completion, and a superb summer throughout most of the country means the industry is looking forward to a vintage of excellent quality, according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

“All reports indicate the quality of the harvest so far is exceptional, and we are looking forward to some fantastic wines coming out of this year’s vintage,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

While it is still too early to confirm final numbers, it is clear the overall crop size is down on previous years. “There will be some variability across different parts of the country, but the industry is anticipating a significantly smaller vintage across several New Zealand wine regions this year.” . . 

Substantial Northland kiwifruit landholding placed on the market for sale:

A substantial kiwifruit landholding owned and managed by New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit producer – and with potential to convert vines to higher-value kiwifruit varieties – has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio consists of three blocks in Kerikeri, Northland. Combined, the three separate lots comprise some 12 hectares of kiwifruit growing operations in various stages of production – complete with irrigation and established shelters – and a further near 15 hectares of land.

The property is owned and fully managed by leading New Zealand kiwifruit growing and harvesting specialist firm Seeka. In their current format and configuration, the orchards within the Kerikeri block consist of: . . 


Rural round-up

13/04/2021

Red meat retreat – Neal Wallace:

This year’s prime lamb production is headed to be the lowest on record, reflecting low farmer confidence, and could result in fewer ewe numbers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) is warning.

The number of lambs likely to be processed this season is estimated at 18.2 million, a drop of 4.5%, or 900,000, compared to 2019-20, with total export production of 347,600 tonnes bone-in.

“This will be the lowest lamb production on record. Confidence in the industry is subdued,” the B+LNZ report said.

“Farm gate prices have eased from recent high levels, farmers are wary of the volatility of weather events and environmental regulation is weighing heavily on morale. Forestry is also spreading into sheep farming land. . .

Bills on tax creep and sound law-making deserve public debate – Feds:

A government committed to fairness and responsible law-making should not allow two bills recently drawn from the Member’s Ballot to sink without debate, Federated Farmers says.

“At the very least the Regulatory Standards Bill and the Income Tax (Adjustment of Taxable Income Ranges) Amendment Bill deserve to go to select committee for examination and public submissions,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard said.

The Regulatory Standards Bill would require any proposed legislation to be subject to clear analysis of the problem the legislation is aimed at solving, a thorough cost-benefit analysis of expected outcomes and adequate consultation with affected parties.

“Quite frankly with such requirements, the Essential Freshwater legislation and the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill – to name just two recent examples – would not have got through as written,” Andrew said. . . 

Resting in fleece – Annette Scott:

Choosing an end of life in wool has become a popular option as woollen caskets take off in New Zealand.

Ten years ago when Polly and Ross McGuckin launched Natural Legacy woollen caskets in NZ the idea struggled to gain traction.

“We were seen as eco warriors, there wasn’t the interest then, I was flogging a dead horse, but now people are waking up, the public is listening and the table is turning,” Polly McGuckin said.

“The world is changing and funeral homes want to do the right thing by being eco-friendly and sustainable – it’s a lot easier to talk about wool now, every year we are seeing interest grow. . . .

Love of the land a Shaw thing:

Farm Environment Plans are not just about cows, grass and other farm management practices, says Ross Shaw – they are an integral part of any farmer’s connection to the land.

Shaw, along with wife Karla and parents Jim and Helen, have a deep and strongly held philosophy about the land. That dovetails with his recent enthusiastic embrace of a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) – one of the many compulsory (by 2025) calls on farmers’ time and wallets in order to improve nutrient management and reduce farming’s impact on water quality.

Jim and Helen Shaw bought the Reporoa property 36 years ago when it was 62 hectares and with 150 cows; it’s now 400ha, with many more cows and farmed, for the last 13 years, with Ross and Karla.

It is also the subject of a long-held family belief in multi-generational farming and what that means in terms of custodianship of the land: “We are like most New Zealand farmers – we want to be here for multi-generations,” Ross says.  “We were farming in our own right [before joining up with his parents] and our kids will be the third generation on this farm. . . 

Relief in Australia as welcome mat goes out for New Zealand shearers – Sally Murphy:

Australian farmers are breathing a sigh of relief as much needed New Zealand shearers will now be able to travel over for their busy spring season.

Covid-19 border closures have meant nearly 500 New Zealand shearers who normally travel to Australia to help out have been unable to.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford said it’s been tough going with farmers paying almost double per sheep to have them shorn.

“It’s been really tough and there’s been months of delays. The standard rate over here for shearing a sheep is $A3.24 [$NZ3.51] but now in New South Wales which has about 40 percent of the country’s sheep it’s hard to get a shear for under $A3.72. . . 

China trade tactics didn’t hurt AUstralia as anticipated – Jamieson Murphy:

CHINA’S aggressive trade tariffs have cost the Australian economy millions of dollars, but the damage isn’t anywhere nearly as bad as originally anticipated, according to leading think tank economists.

Across the affected commodities, trade to China is down about 78 per cent. But the trade sanctions took place against the backdrop of COVID-19 which “significantly clouds the picture”, Lowy Institute lead economist Roland Rajah said. 

Nonetheless, one can parse the evidence to arrive at some conclusions and it would seem the impact has in fact been quite limited,” Mr Rajah said.

“Exports to China have predictably collapsed in the areas hit by sanctions, but most of this lost trade seems to have found other markets.”. . .


Rural round-up

28/03/2021

Call for native tree policy rethink – Colin Williscroft:

A farmer involved in a new initiative that’s calling for a radical change in thinking to meet the Climate Change Commission’s target of 300,000ha of new native forests by 2035 says it’s going to be a big ask – but that’s not putting him off.

O Tātou Ngāhere is a programme launched on Thursday night by Pure Advantage and Tāne’s Tree Trust that not only calls for greater ambition in meeting the commission’s target, but also seeks an urgent change to the way native forests are planted, managed and valued.

Tane Tree Trust trustee Ian Brennan, who runs a small drystock farm providing dairy grazing near Cambridge that he aims to half plant in native trees, says while pine trees have been the focus of a lot of plantings for those targeting carbon credits, he cannot imagine anyone regretting planting natives – although they are a much longer-term project. . . 

UK trade talks going nowhere, slowly – Nigel Stirling:

It appears that Britain’s trade negotiators haven’t yet caught up with the news that their farmers want tariffs on imported agricultural products scrapped.

Ditching high tariffs on agricultural products from countries which meet the same environmental and animal welfare standards as British farmers was one of 22 recommendations made by British Trade Minister Liz Truss’ Trade and Agriculture Commission earlier this month.

Britain’s farmers were fully represented on the commission by the representatives of the English, Welsh and Scottish branches of the UK’s peak farming lobby, the National Farmers Union (NFU), along with several other farmer bodies. . . 

 

Smedley runs faster with FarmIQ:

Running a 5660ha dry stock operation is a big ask at the best of times, but add in a teaching role and it can prove a juggling act which Smedley Station manager Rob Evans is more than up for.

Rob admits having a young crew of cadets to oversee helps him stay sharp, and has also encouraged him to look harder at the new technology out there that young cadets will be engaging with in their farming careers.

This includes FarmIQ, and for the past two years Smedley has been gradually adopting many of the features FarmIQ offers into its day to day operations, and for bigger picture planning during the season.

Initially when he started using FarmIQ Rob had been inputting stock numbers and feed budget data to give himself and staff a more up to date picture of feed supply-demand. This enabled him to share potential options with staff via the computer or cell phone. It has also meant he can get a real time picture across the station’s four blocks. . . 

Kiwi hunters likely to miss another roar due to police firearm licensing delays:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association says the backlog in Police’s processing of new and renewing firearms licences will mean that many New Zealanders will, again, miss out on hunting during the deer roar this March and April.

NZDA Chief Executive, Gwyn Thurlow, says “after missing out on the 2020 roar due to Covid-19 Lockdown, hunters are looking forward to the 2021 roar this March and April however many hunters will be forced to sit on the side-lines because of Police administrative delays in renewing their firearm licences.”

“Many hunters have been in touch to tell NZDA that they are one of the many people caught up in the huge backlog in firearms licence processing delays by Police.

“The timing is particularly unfair on hunters who rely on securing meat for their families at this time of year”, says Gwyn Thurlow, noting “the roar is upon the Kiwi hunting community but sadly a good number will miss out through no fault of their own, simply because of the administrative backlog at Police.” . . 

Biosecurity Amendment Bill has HortNZ’s backing:

Horticulture New Zealand is thrilled that the Biosecurity (Information for Incoming Passengers) Amendment Bill has been drawn from the Private Member’s Ballot.

‘When the border re-opens, it will be important to remind travellers of the need to be particularly vigilant when entering New Zealand,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘New Zealand’s top performing horticulture and other primary industries would be easily destroyed if a particularly virulent pest or disease entered the country. This would have catastrophic effects on exports and the New Zealand economy, at a time when things are already fragile. . . 

2021 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2021 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winner says he wants to contribute positively to the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry.

Sam Howard was named the 2021 Manawatū Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards announced at Awapuni Function Centre on Wednesday night. The other major winners were Karl Wood, the 2021 Manawatū Dairy Manager of the Year, and Josh Wilkinson, the 2021 Manawatū Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Sam won $10,465 in prizes and a clean sweep of eight merit awards. He is 50/50 sharemilking for John Gardner, on his 80ha, 240-cow Palmerston North property. Sam was also named the 2016 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

21/03/2021

B+LNZ defend rules approach – Neal Wallace:

Beef + Lamb NZ is defending its dealings with the Government in the face of farmers claiming they are not being hard-nosed enough.

There was an obvious undercurrent from many of the 150 farmers at this week’s B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill that their sector leaders and representatives are not being publicly assertive enough in criticising policy.

Wyndham farmer Bruce Robertson told the meeting the implications for his farm of the intensive winter grazing provisions were huge and he questioned whether bodies like B+LNZ have emphasised the impact of such policy on farm businesses.

Other farmers raised similar concerns, which were echoed by B+LNZ Southern South Island farmer council chair Bill McCall when wrapping up the meeting. . .

Extra time will enable development of practical winter grazing solutions:

Federated Farmers is pleased that the Government has taken the time to listen to and understand the practical difficulties that accompanied the Essential Freshwater rules on winter grazing.

“In announcing tonight a temporary delay until 1 May 2022 of intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules taking effect, Environment Minister David Parker has recognised workability issues need to be sorted, and that extra time is vital to ensure we get this right,” Feds water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“This is not kicking for touch. The Minister has accepted a commitment from regional councils and the farming sector to use this time to develop, test and deploy an IWG module and practices that will ultimately be a part of a certified freshwater farm plan.”

There is universal recognition that the Essential Freshwater national rules passed in August last year have a number of unworkable parts. The parts that relate to the regulation of intensive winter grazing were one of the first ones to take effect and therefore needed urgent attention. . .

Tropical fruit, coffee crops potential for winterless north :

A Northland family is preparing to harvest the country’s first ever commercial pineapple crop – and they are looking for more New Zealanders to grow the golden fruit and supply the country.

Linda and Owen Schafli moved to Whangārei from Hamilton 10 years ago with plans to grow tropical fruit, specifically bananas and pineapples.

Their vision was initially greeted by laughter from those they told, with not many people convinced it would work.

“Because it’s never been done before here in New Zealand, people thought it could never be done,” Linda said. . . 

2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The major winners in the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards aim to continue to grow their farming business while protecting the environment through sustainable farming.

Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category in the Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards held at the Airforce Museum of New Zealand in Wigram on Tuesday evening.

Other major winners were Maria Alvarez, who was named the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Mattes Groenendijk, the 2021 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Gamages say the networking, strength and weakness identification and recognition they gain through the Awards process were all motivating factors to enter again. Dinuka was placed third in the 2016 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager category. . .

2021 West Coast/Top of South Island Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

First-time entrants who embrace a sustainable version of farming have been announced as major winners in the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards. 

Mark Roberts and Sian Madden were announced winners of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year Category at the West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Industry Awards annual awards dinner held in Shantytown on Thursday night. The other big winners were Rachael Lind, who was named the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Manager of the Year, and Sam Smithers, the 2021 West Coast/Top of the South Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Mark and Sian are contract milkers and 20% share milkers on Stu and Jan Moir’s (Moir Farms Ltd) 215ha and 377ha Reefton farms milking 1300 cows across the two properties. They won $6,500 in prizes and three merit awards.

“We have a genuine passion for the dairy industry and are committed to farming sustainably and showing others how we do this for future generations.” . .

E Tipu 2021: The Boma NZ Agri summit set to spark innovation across the food and fibre sector:

Boma New Zealand is proud to present E Tipu 2021 | The Boma NZ Agri Summit, the biggest food and fibre event of the year featuring remarkable local and global guest speakers at the forefront of the industry.

Held on May 11–12 at the Christchurch Town Hall, E Tipu will see a mass gathering of both local and international thought-leaders, game-changers, business operators and like-minded attendees from the primary sector.

Amongst the confirmed guest speakers will be prominent business leader and respected CEO Paul Polman. Formerly CEO of Unilever, Paul is the Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE, an organisation that works with CEOs who are building their companies into beacons of sustainable business and leveraging their collective power to drive change on tipping points in their industry. . .

 


Rural round-up

19/03/2021

B+LNZ’s reaction to the Government’s intensive winter grazing announcement:

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says it’s encouraging the Government has accepted some of the Southland winter grazing advisory group’s proposals, including supporting an industry-led Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) module to farm plans in the coming year, and the delayed implementation of the winter grazing rules.

Minister O’Connor made the point to our Annual Meeting that more time is needed to work through the Southland group’s recommendations and to write robust policy as a result. We welcome this commitment to getting it right and look forward to working with the Government on this process.

“B+LNZ has been an integral part of the industry front-footing action on the ground. Our belief has always been that industry-led, tested and practical solutions achieve better results than arbitrary rules.

“B+LNZ led the development of the IWG module, and this module is already part of the B+LNZ farm plan launched today and which is being rolled out in the coming weeks as part of our commitment to supporting resilient, profitable farming businesses while achieving positive and lasting environmental outcomes. . .

Rural health workers decline Covid-19 vaccine due to ‘hours of travel’ – Rowan Quinn:

Some rural doctors, nurses and frontline health workers are turning down their first chance of getting a Covid vaccine because they would have to take hours out of their busy day to get one..

They fear it is a signal for what is to come for the wider rural community.

Whangamata doctor and Rural GPs Network chair Fiona Bolden said frontline health staff in the Coromandel have had the call up to get their first vaccination.

Some had not been able to take it up because they would have to make a return journey to Hamilton to get it, and do that again for the second dose three weeks later . . .

Pastoral lease reform back to the future? – Catherine Irons, Mike Britton, Allan Brent:

Will the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill achieve its objectives or will it turn the clock back, reviving old tensions

The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill, currently before Parliament, will end the 30-year programme called tenure review. Tenure review allows pastoral leaseholders to separate the land they lease from the Crown into two types: farmland where the farm is owned by them freehold and conservation land held by the Crown.

If the Bill becomes law, remaining pastoral leases will continue but with stronger rules limiting the changes leaseholders might make to their farming methods.

We are members of a newly established non-governmental organisation, the Environmental Law Initiative, and we think this Bill will in fact create greater problems in a climate-changed future. . . .

Saving Dolly – Owen Jennings:

The cow has become a much maligned beast of late.  She makes our rivers unswimmable, puts nitrogen in our drinking water, pugs the ground causing erosion and farts and belches poisonous Greenhouse Gases into the atmosphere.  No wonder people don’t want to eat her bountiful products anymore.

Of course, most of that, if not all, is blatantly untrue but it makes for selling copy, keeping well paid academics in their job and the green lobby groups’ coffers filled.

Take the bit about farting and belching.  The story goes that cows emit Methane as they chew their cud.  Methane is a potent Greenhouse Gas.  Greenhouse Gases trap heat in the atmosphere and warm our planet.  The story concludes it is going to get so hot we are all going to die.  Leaves Baldacci and Grisham in the dust.

Now for some balance.  Farms use huge amounts of CO2.  Dr Bradley Case at AUT found farms take in about 90% of the Greenhouse Gas they emit in the woody vegetation and trees alone on the farm. That’s not counting the grass which uses even more CO2 in photosynthesis.  Farms are a net sink. . . 

Native plants can boost crop yields new study shows – Hugo Cameron:

New research shows fruit and vegetable growers can utilise native bush to increase yields and protect plants from pests.

The Plant and Food Research study found having more native plants near crops could attract insects that help with pollination and combat some harmful pests.

Figures from the Ministry for Primary Industries showed insect-pollinated crops such as kiwifruit and avocados were worth about $2 billion to the national economy. . .

Foot and Mouth: hoping that painful lessons have been learnt :

SIR, – Your recent articles commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 2001 foot-and-mouth (FMD) outbreak brought back some bitter and heartbreaking memories for my family.

We had not been farming for long here and were in the process of building up a pedigree flock of 1000 Lleyn ewes when disaster struck as a result of a single ram being purchased at Longtown on that fateful day, February 22, resulting in the entire flock along with my wife’s cherished, prize-winning flock of Jacobs as well as some rare breeds being culled.

The irony for us was that not only was the ram and our flock never infected with the disease, but the nearest outbreak to us was more than 40 miles away

 


Rural round-up

17/03/2021

Ministry accused of stealing Taihape farm – Phil Pennington:

Government officials are being accused of stealing a farm bought by a central North Island town for their schoolchildren to learn agriculture.

Taihape people established the teaching farm on 12 hectares next to Taihape College 30 years ago but the Ministry of Education has taken it and put it in the landbank for Treaty settlements, and the school can now only lease it.

The Ombudsman is looking at whether to investigate.

“It’s very unfortunate. I think you could effectively say that the community asset has been stolen by the Education Ministry,” Rangitīkei National MP Ian McKelvie said. . .

New tax rules are flawed – Neal Wallace;

New taxation rules will create uncertainty and compliance costs to virtually every farm sales, warns Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).

The association’s NZ tax leader John Cuthbertson says the new legislation coming into force on July 1, is designed to reduce government revenue loss by forcing parties to sale and purchase agreements to agree on the allocation of sale proceeds to particular types of assets for tax purposes.

Cuthbertson says this is known as purchase price allocation.

“If they had just stopped there that would have been acceptable, but they have gone further, impacting the relative negotiating positions of the parties and adding uncertainty and compliance costs,” he said. . . 

A change for the better – Ross Nolly:

A Taranaki farmer has turned his entire farming operation 180 degrees and is loving the change.

When farmers change their farm system, it’s often just a case of making minor changes to streamline the operation. However, when Taranaki farmers Adam and Taryn Pearce decided to make changes they didn’t do things by halves.

The Pearces operate a 60-hectare, 180-cow farm at Lepperton. When they decided to change their farming system, it was not going to be just a small tweak for them to achieve that goal. . .

Few takers for safety subsidy – Country Life:

Of the 35,000 farmers and businesses eligible to access a subsidy for crush protection devices for quad bikes, only 270 have taken it up.

ACC injury prevention manager Virginia Burton-Konia says agriculture is a high risk area and quad bikes create significant costs to the scheme and therefore significant injuries for farm workers.

She says it’s not just farmers, but sometimes farm workers, whānau or manuhiri who are on farms.

“Last year ended up with $80 million worth of cost to the scheme focusing on injuries in quad bikes, you know we ended up with 566 I think injuries in 2020.” . .

A side hustle in saffron – Country LIfe:

Haley Heathwaite was looking for something “a bit different and a challenge” when deciding on a crop of her own to grow.

The former outdoor instructor is production manager with a Gisborne seed company and for the past four years she has also had a side gig growing saffron on eight hectares in Tolaga Bay.

The precious spice comes from the stigma of the crocus sativus – a pretty purple flower which blooms for just a few weeks in the autumn – and Haley says it sells for $57,000 a kilo at the moment. The painstaking autumn harvest is, however, counted in grams.

Haley says there are many challenges extracting the brightly coloured stigma during harvest including keeping bees away and dealing with morning dew. . . 

Location not size fuel reduction burns most effective within 1km of houses – Jamieson Murphy:

LOCATION is far more important that size when it comes to fuel reduction burns, a new study by the Bushfire Recovery Project has found.

The expert review of 72 peer-reviewed scientific papers about bushfires and infrastructure loss found fuel reduction burning was most effective at reducing housing loss when done within one kilometre of the property.

The Bushfire Recovery Project is a joint initiative between Griffith University and the Australian National University to inform the public about what the peer-reviewed science says about bushfires. . .

 


Rural round-up

07/02/2021

Dismay at conversion to forestry – Sally Rae:

Among the steps the newly  formed Climate Change Commission laid out in its recently issued draft advice to hit ambitious greenhouse gas targets was more forestry. It recommended slashing livestock numbers by about 15% by 2030 and planting 380,000ha of new exotic forestry by 2035. In North Otago, the proposed conversion of a 2590ha sheep, beef and deer property to carbon forestry is creating waves as concerns are raised about environmental impacts and fears that forestry conversions are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as other land use changes.  Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

“I just think it’s an absolute injustice, it’s a crime to have that land put into trees.”

North Otago farmer Murray Simpson has farmed Balmoral, near Tokarahi, for 45 years. The property neighbours Hazeldean, a 2590ha sheep, beef and deer farm in the headwaters of the Kakanui River catchment which appears destined to be planted out in pine trees.

The property is in the throes of being sold to New Zealand Carbon Farming — the largest provider of carbon credits in Australasia. Not mincing his words, Mr Simpson fears the development will be “an absolute shambles”. . . .

Exotic plantations to have a ‘crucial role’ :

The Forest Owners Association says the Climate Change Commission has endorsed the “crucial role” exotic forestry will carry out in meeting New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emission targets in 2030 and 2050.

In a recent statement, president Phil Taylor said the 380,000ha of new exotic plantations the commission anticipates will need to be planted between now and 2035 will be the “support act” for the commission’s targets of massive reductions of the overall carbon dioxide emissions from industry and transport.

“This decarbonisation has to be the thrust of meeting New Zealand’s climate change mitigation obligations. Anything else is delaying solving the problem. Pines are great at buying time, but they don’t cut gross emissions themselves,” Mr Taylor said. . .

Kiwi research on infant milk powder colour goes global :

A Wintec science student Rehana Ponnal has had research published in the International Dairy Journal late last year, a big accomplishment for an undergraduate student.

Done while Rehana was on a work placement at Fonterra, the research tested the effectiveness of using a colorimeter to measure the colour of baby milk powder. Rehana worked on the research with a number of other scientists, and the journal entry, published in September last year, gives positive results of their findings.

As a result of the research, Fonterra is procuring a colorimeter to continue their testing.

“Colour is measured because it’s an important aspect of a product. It’s the first thing you perceive. If milk powder was brown for instance, you wouldn’t buy it,” she says. . . 

Red meat exports reached record highs in 2020 :

The New Zealand red meat sector exported $9.2 billion worth of products during 2020, an increase of 1% on the previous year, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Overall exports during the year reached historically high levels – and were 7% above 2018 exports ($8.6 billion) and 21% above 2017 ($7.6 billion).

“The results demonstrate that New Zealand’s red meat exports have remained stable despite the challenges of the global pandemic,” says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. “That is great news for the New Zealand economy and for farmers.

We have a diverse market portfolio and last year exported products to 111 countries around the world. . . 

Wairarapa peas harvested for first time in more than four years:

Wairarapa peas are being harvested for the first time in over four years.

ban was placed on growing peas in the region in 2016, after the discovery of pea weevil.

Production was allowed to resume last year after the Ministry for Primary Industries announced the insect pest had been successfully eradicated. . .

Silver Fern Farms pulling out of contract with Hawke’s Bay’s Graeme Lowe Tannery, union says – Thomas Airey:

The union for workers at Graeme Lowe Tannery says staff have been told a large contract with Silver Fern Farms will not be renewed.

The Hastings tannery is one of the biggest hide processing plants in the country and is owned by Lowe Corporation.

Lowe Corp has interests in other agri-business companies, property and farming around NZ.

The tannery’s exact number of employees is unknown but in 2020 Graeme Lowe Tannery Limited applied for 80 employees to be paid under the initial Covid-19 wage subsidy, then 90 employees in the wage subsidy extension. . . 


Rural round-up

11/12/2020

Dairy farmer confidence is improving but there are challenges in export markets – Point of Order:

The dairy industry  has  recovered some  of  its  confidence, as  its  role  as the  backbone  of  NZ’s  export structure has  moved  into sharper  relief  in the  Covid-19  pandemic.

Rabobank’s  latest quarterly survey of  farmer confidence says  it  has improved from  minus 32%  to minus 23%, with  demand  for  NZ dairy products  holding up well  since the  previous survey  in September.

The  dairy  industry  over  past  seasons   has  been the  target  of  urban critics  for  so-called   “dirty dairying”, climate  change  warriors  who want a reduction in methane emissions,  and the  government, which is implementing  new  freshwater regulations. Internally the industry was  stricken  with  the  financial  woes   of   Fonterra.

Even  now  as the  industry absorbs the evidence  for greater  confidence,  it   is  not  without  strategic  concerns.  . . 

Fonterra’s new ‘carbon zero milk’  50 Shades of Green:

Reading this week about the launch of Fonterra’s ‘Five anchor milks are now carbon zero’ we learned that this product claim would be achieved by gaining off-sets through funding a solar farm in India and a wind farm in New Caledonia.

In our opinion the embracing of the ETS and the use of off-setting is being used simply as a greenwashing marketing tool and duping New Zealanders who perhaps don’t understand the nuance of offsetting on our country.

It’s the ETS and off-setting mentality that is currently ruining our rural communities, replacing good productive farms and displacing people that live and work there with carbon pine forests, that will, far from being a solution, grow old, rot and burn. A disaster of our own short sighted making. . . 

Survey confirms value of farm environment plans:

Recently released fantastic survey results from farmers in the Aparima catchment in Southland confirm the value of farm environment plans, Invercargill MP and National’s associate Agriculture spokesperson Penny Simmonds says.

The survey was of 151 dairy and sheep and beef farmers in the Aparima Community Environment project who are committed to addressing water quality issues and reducing their environmental footprint.

“The survey results confirm what National has been promoting – that farmer-led action and working with scientists and industry experts is most effective, not the over prescriptive, unworkable regulations such as what the Labour Government has put in place,” Ms Simmonds says. . .

Farmer bank pressure drops but so do satisfaction rates :

Fewer farmers are feeling undue pressure from their bank but satisfaction rates continue to slide, according to the Federated Farmers November Banking Survey.

Of the 1,341 farmers who responded to the survey independently run by ResearchFirst, 65.4% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their bank relationship. That’s down from 68.5% from the Feds’ survey in May.

“Satisfaction has steadily slipped over the past three years – in our November 2017 survey it was 80.8%,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said . . 

Seeka forecasts higher underlying earnings :

Strong sales, cost savings and significant one-off gains has seen kiwifruit exporter Seeka lift and narrows its full-year profit guidance.

The company expects underlying earnings between $15 million and $17m, compared with its previous guidance of between $9m and $12m

In a statement to the stock exchange, the company said the update reflected an improvement in its operational earnings, cost savings and the gain it expects from the sale and lease back of its Australian kiwifruit orchards. . .

Heartland launches farm term loan with self-serve online application:

Challenger bank Heartland has added another product to its growing list of digital offerings – this time for the rural market.

The term loan, called Sheep & Beef Direct, is designed for established farmers who are looking to buy or refinance a sheep or beef farm. In launching this product, Heartland is testing the appetite for a low-touch, online application that farmers can complete whenever and wherever – and they’ll be given an initial decision then and there.

Sheep & Beef Direct is the most recent of Heartland’s digital lending offerings. Joining the likes of Heartland’s Open for Business loans, car loans and home loans, it offers an online application which can be completed in minutes. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

09/11/2020

Coal burner ban could lead to rise in imported food – Horticulture New Zealand – Tracy Neal:

New Zealand may need to import more food if it bans coal boilers too soon, crop, meat and dairy producers say.

The industries regularly use coal fired heat to grow, clean, and manufacture food.

Dairy giant Fonterra stood apart from others in the food sector, saying it supported a ban on all new coal boilers. It also supported a transition period for phasing out existing boilers, especially those that produced low and medium heat, but acknowledged that it needed to align with availability of alternative energy sources.

It was in the same camp as environmental groups who favour a move away from using fossil fuels as a heat source. . . .

Slim pickings for apples – Sudesh Kissun:

Labour supply remains the top concern as the apple harvesting season approaches, says ANZ agriculture economist Susan Kilsby.

She says the horticultural sector is extremely worried about finding sufficient labour to pick and pack the new season’s harvest.

“The ability to access critical workers through the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme remains very uncertain and there will be significantly fewer backpackers looking for work this summer,” she says.

“There is little doubt that more New Zealanders will be employed, but it is extremely unlikely there will be sufficient locals available to fulfil these physically demanding roles.” . . .

Vets in short supply – Peter Burke:

Julie South, whose company VetStaff specialises in recruiting veterinarians, says there is a shortage of vets in New Zealand and that this has been compounded by Covid-19.

South told Rural News that even before Covid there was a shortfall in the number of vets in NZ. However, she says the closing of the border to experienced overseas candidates has made things worse and prospective candidates can’t get visas.

According to South, most of the vets that she recruits come from Ireland, the UK and South Africa. But she says others have come from places such as South America, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia and Europe.  . .

Hope rural sector’s value remains recognised :

The election result has delivered a historic and resounding result, for the first time under New Zealand’s MMP system a government has a mandate to rule outright without having to seek a coalition partner.

While the shift to Labour may have been somewhat expected in the more urban electorates, what was most surprising to many was the unprecedented wave of red votes that washed through largely rural seats.

These included long time National electorates of East Coast, Wairarapa and Rangitata, while in almost every electorate the party vote percentage flipped from National to Labour, typically by 20-25 percentage points.
For the rural sector, the confidence expressed in Labour to date will need to be maintained to prove the switch to red in the provinces has not just been a strategic move to shut out the Green party from a coalition government. . . 

Top ram breeder’s offer of a lifetime – Hugh Stringleman:

More than 70 years of sheep breeding comes to an end for Northland’s Gordon Levet when his best rams and ewes will be sold this summer. Hugh Stringleman reports.

SHEEP bred for worm resistance is the Holy Grail quest that has energised Gordon Levet for the past 35 years, which is about half of his working lifetime on Kikitangeo, the family farm near Wellsford first settled by his grandfather in 1874.

His objective has been to breed sheep with strong, quickly responsive immune systems, which will ensure survival and productivity, particularly in less challenging environments further south. . . 

Developing North Australia. What would China Do? – Carolyn Blacklock:

While Australia’s relationship with China has its ups and downs, this is just a symptom of geo-political realignment, and from this Australia needs to be pragmatic and take advantage of opportunities while not compromising our own interests.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s call for a global investigation into the origins and outbreak of the coronavirus sparked heated exchanges.

This was the right call as the Australian economy reels from impacts of the pandemic, and there is an overwhelming necessity to be better prepared if and when a future viral health threat emerges.

The arrest and detention of Australian journalists, ruthless trade sanctions and tariffs targeting our beef, wine, seafood and barely exports, and dispute over Huawei’s participation in the 5G network, are all part of the bluster and tit-for-tat rhetoric. . . 


Rural round-up

07/11/2020

Meat’s outlook looks reddish – David Anderson:

New Zealand beef and sheep farmers are facing more than 25% less income in the season ahead.

That’s the conclusion of Beef+Lamb NZ (BLNZ) in its recently released new season outlook for 2020-21. It is forecasting lamb export receipts to decline by almost 15% and sheepmeat co-products to decline by around 8% compared to the 2019-20 season.

Beef and veal export revenue is forecast to decline by 9% on 2019-20. “The uncertainty in the export market will be reflected in farm-gate prices and subsequent farm profitability,” says BLNZ’s chief economist Andrew Burtt. . . 

NZ challenges US farm subsidies :

New Zealand is questioning whether Donald Trump’s payments of billions of dollars to American farmers go beyond the limits allowed under international trade rules.

The Trump administration forked out US$12 billion in subsidies in 2018 to buffer American farmers from the fallout of the President’s trade war with China. It topped that up with another US$16bn in 2019.

Billions more were set aside after covid-19 dealt a further blow to US farm incomes, which are forecast to drop this year by 15% even after subsidies are accounted for.

According to one US report, payments from the federal government will make up 36% of American farm incomes this year – the highest share since 2001. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports to United States leap 50 per cent in third quarter:

New Zealand’s red meat sector continued to demonstrate its agility in the third quarter with exports to the United States growing by 50 per cent over the three months from July to September compared to a year earlier.

Total exports to the US reached $400 million for the quarter, closely followed by a 42 per cent rise to the UK ($71m) and Germany, a 25 per cent increase to $70m.

The growth in the third quarter offset a 25 per cent decline to China ($530m) although the value of sheepmeat and beef exports to China remains at an historically high level. Overall, exports in the third quarter were $1.69 billion, unchanged from the same period in 2019. . . 

Wool course plans national rollout – Neal Wallace:

The level of interest in a wool grading course has encouraged organisers to take it on the road.

Organised by the Southern Institute of Technology and held at its Telford campus near Balclutha, the plan is to buy a trailer to take equipment and samples to woolsheds to make it easier for people to access training.

The two-day block session for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) approved course held earlier this month, attracted 14 wool handlers from throughout the South Island.

The course is completed through distance learning and filing assignments; one on shed inspection and a grading report on a clip they prepared. . . 

2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarship recipients selected :

Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarship is pleased to support another eight aspiring New Zealanders to study and pursue careers in forestry, with its 2021 Scholarship recipients announced today.

Now in its third year, the Scholarships are increasing diversity in forestry sciences and engineering, with a strong focus on encouraging Māori and women to embark on forestry careers.

“Māori and women represent only a small percentage of the forestry workforce. Te Uru Rākau endeavours to change that and make the forestry and wood processing sector more reflective of our communities,” says Henry Weston, Acting Deputy Director-General Te Uru Rākau/ Forestry New Zealand. . . 

Heirlooms – naturally – for one Mansfield small farm business – Andrew Miller:

Mansfield’s self-confessed “small scale farmer” Simone Boyd is on a mission to show Victorians carrots come in more colours than orange and not every lettuce is green.

Ms Boyd, and husband Cam, grow vegetables on a small property in the north-eastern town, selling at farmers markets, to restaurants and now branching out into online sales through their Heirloom Naturally business.

She says heirloom vegetables are much like precious pieces of jewellery, or furniture, which are passed down from generation to generation, after being saved season after season. . . 

 


Rural round-up

28/10/2020

Back the sector that backs New Zealand – Sam McIvor:

The biggest issue currently facing our industry is environmental policy, writes Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor.

Farmers are passionate about being good stewards of their land and want to do the right thing. However, the scale and pace of new government regulations is impacting the financial viability of farming, affecting farmers’ confidence in their industry and having adverse effects on mental health.

In the next government term, we need to see improvements in the essential freshwater regulations to make the rules workable for farmers so they can get on with achieving the desired water health outcomes.

Meanwhile, the government must get fossil fuel emitters to reduce their emissions rather than just planting their pollution on our farms. Limits must be set on the amount of offsetting allowed in the ETS before it’s too late and further swathes of productive sheep and beef farmland are converted to forestry for carbon farming. The RMA isn’t the right tool to fix this problem, but we can work with the government on what is.  . . 

Meat forecast raises questions – Neal Wallace:

Forecasts that this year’s export lamb crop could be below 18 million for the first time has observers questioning what the impact will be.

Beef + Lamb NZ’s (B+LNZ) new season outlook is forecasting the value of meat exports to fall $1 billion to $7.4bn in the coming year due to market uncertainty from the covid-19 pandemic and increased competition for beef markets.

The report forecasts a lamb crop of 22.3 million, of which 17.4m will be processed for export.

Last year the crop was 23.3m, of which 18.7m were processed. . . 

Sector needs breathing space – Neal Wallace:

Farming leaders say they can work with the incoming government but are asking for space to allow the sector to adjust to regulations introduced by the previous administration.

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) chair Andrew Morrison says a priority for the next three years will be developing and enhancing trade, especially free trade agreements with the UK and European Union.

But he is asking that the Government give farmers time to implement new freshwater and climate change rules and regulations.

“Don’t give us more stuff, let us deliver this stuff first,” he said. . . 

Van der Poel, Glass re-elected by farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers have returned Jim van der Poel and Colin Glass as DairyNZ directors for another three-year term.

Van der Poel, who chairs the industry-good organisation and Glass, chief executive of Dairy Holdings Ltd, saw off a challenge from young Ashburton farmer Cole Groves in this year’s director elections.

The result was announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Ashburton last night. . . 

History underpins infant formula operation – Richard Davison:

French food and drink giant Danone enjoys closer links to New Zealand — and particularly the deep South — than might at first be apparent. Richard Davison finds out more about the company’s plans for its Clydevale, South Otago, operation as it invests $30million in green energy, and in its latest boost to local employment.

Danone, founded in Barcelona, Spain in 1919 by Isaac Carasso, and perhaps best known for dominating the yoghurt and dairy food markets in Europe, is better known domestically for its foothold in the infant formula market.

Brands such as Aptamil and Karicare are familiar names to many a Kiwi mum, and the latter brand also has a close historical association with a key New Zealand identity.

New Plymouth-born Sir Truby King was a noted innovator in many areas and, during the early 1900s, ran a dairy farm and logging operation in remote Catlins hamlet Tahakopa. . .

From defense to disruption, how companies are approaching sustainability in the food system:

When Mary Shelman, an internationally recognized thought leader and speaker, takes to the stage, there are many accolades and qualifications she could list to introduce herself. But she always starts like this:

“You’ll see that I live in Boston. You know, I was at Harvard Business school, but I’m from Kentucky. And not only Kentucky- my Dad was a farm equipment dealer there, and then when I was in middle school, he bought one farm and then a second farm.”

The generations before her -on both sides – were all from Kentucky.

 “Always in agriculture, always too poor to own their own land,” she said.  . . 


Rural round-up

21/10/2020

Urban New Zealand – you have been lied to – Jane Smith:

 Environmentalist and farmer Jane Smith says she wants to make urban New Zealand aware of the true long term costs of “headline-grabbing heroic environmental crusades”.

Urban New Zealand you have been lied to. You believed someone had your back, a master plan, a blue print for the future. In its place is a lonely black box. They say the devil is in the detail. There are no details – only hyperbole and headlines.

At record speed, New Zealand is blindsiding opportunities to embrace the unique advantage we have as a sustainable island nation.

As a humble food producer, environmentalist, taxpayer and common sense advocate I can’t help but analyse all aspects of policies, not just a one-sided narrow environmental view. . . 

Farmers want Labour to govern alone – Sally Murphy:

Farmers are anxiously waiting to see whether or not Labour will choose to govern alone or bring in the Green Party.

In one of the elections biggest surprises the strong National electorate of Rangitata swung with Labour candidate Jo Luxton winning the seat – becoming the first Labour MP to do so.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president David Clark said he has heard of farmers voting strategically.

“I think potentially plenty of farmers have voted Labour so they can govern alone rather than having a Labour-Greens government- there’s been a lot of chat around about that but each to their own, the people have spoken.” . . 

IrrigationNZ appoints Vanessa Winning as new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ is delighted to announce that Vanessa Winning has been appointed as the organisation’s new chief executive starting on Monday 19th October, based in its new Wellington HQ.

Vanessa is a strategic executive leader with over 20 years experience in the agriculture, banking and corporate sectors with excellent stakeholder management and engagement skills.

Vanessa was most recently General Manager Farm Performance at DairyNZ, where she led a large team across the country to help farmers improve their businesses and reduce environmental impacts. Prior to DairyNZ, Vanessa spent 18 years in banking; trade; product development; marketing and communications. Vanessa has a commerce degree in economics and management, and a postgraduate degree in marketing. . . 

The cavalry arrives — finally! – Sudesh Kissun:

The first batch of overseas drivers for local agricultural contracting work is expected in the country next week, says Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) chief executive Roger Parton.

He says 119 applications filed on behalf of members by RCNZ were approved by the Ministry of Primary Industries and passed onto Immigration NZ for final verification and issuance of visas.

After arriving in the country, the drivers will spend two weeks at a Government quarantine facility. The cost will be met by the sponsoring contractor. Visas are being issued for six months and this includes the two-week spent in quarantine.

Parton says contractors will be breathing a huge sigh of relief. . . 

Family farm and sport combine for simple balanced life – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Farmer, husband, father, multisporter: Hamish Mackay prides himself on keeping life simple.

He owns Spotts Creek Station, a 1300ha property in the Cardrona Valley, near Wanaka, that he runs himself, with a bit of help from his father and uncle.

“I don’t have health and safety, PAYE or employment contracts, because I don’t need to, and because it’s frustrating. Keeping things simple is my priority.”

The straight-talking eldest son of Don and Sally Mackay grew up on Motatapu Station, near Wanaka, one of four stations in the Wanaka-Queenstown high country leased from the Crown by Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain’s ex-husband, Robert Lange. . . 

New Tasmanian program to look at wool workforce needs – Caitlin Jarvis:

Tasmania’s shearer shortage will be put under the microscope as part of a new program run by Primary Employers Tasmania.

PET has secured funding from Skills Tasmania to run a program to examine the present and future workforce needs of wool.

Shearers and wool classers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the inability to move around the country.

Border restrictions and quarantine measures have left some shearers stranded in a state, other than the one where they normally live. . . 


Rural round-up

18/10/2020

Farmers have form filling issues with sustainability :

Controversial new rules to clean up streams and rivers have fired up election debates and brought an angry backlash from farmers, who say it will cost them tens of thousands of dollars – and won’t make the waterways cleaner. 

Today The Detail visits Chris Lewis at his 500-hectare dairy and dry stock farm in Pukeatua, on the border of Waikato and King Country, to find out what the freshwater regulations mean to him and to look at the work he’s done to tackle environmental damage.

The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater largely came into force last month. Rules on intensive winter grazing have been put back to May next year, and regulations on stockholding areas other than feedlots and application of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to pastoral land will be in force next July. . . 

Zespri on alert over mystery disease killing Italian kiwifruit – Esther Taunton:

Zespri is on alert over a mystery disease sweeping through Italian kiwifruit crops and leaving scientists baffled.

The disease, which growers call “moria” or “die-off”, begins in the roots of kiwifruit vines, which blacken and rot.

The leaves then wither and drop, leaving fruit exposed to the sun, and the vines dry up and die within two years.

According to The Guardian, the disease broke out near the Italian city of Verona in 2012 and hasaffected up to 84 per cent of vines in some places. . . 

New genetics company created by farmers – Gerald Piddock:

A group of farmers have created a new company to challenge the status quo of how genetics are delivered to the New Zealand dairy industry.

Called Matriarch Genetics Ltd, after the maternal bloodlines that bull breeders contribute to the national herd, its objective is to accelerate the genetic gain and genetic diversity of dairy animals.

Spokesperson Kevin Clark says it was born out of a combination of frustration and opportunity.

Dairy bull breeders were frustrated at the decline in the number of bull genetics companies were accepting into their programmes over recent years. . . 

Dunedin firm to build $12.5m boning system – Jacob McSweeny:

Scott Technology has won a multimillion-dollar contract to build an X-ray lamb boning system for Alliance Group’s plant near Invercargill.

The deal was announced yesterday morning to the NZX and is being lauded as a boost for the local economy in a difficult time.

The technology — worth $12.5million — will be developed at Scott’s Dunedin offices over the next 10 months.

It uses X-ray and vision technology to get more accurate cuts while also removing workers at Alliance’s Lorneville plant from being at the forefront of “heavy primal cutting activities,” thus making it safer for them. . . 

Southern scholarship recipients address red-meat opportunities – Yvonne O’Hara:
Silver Fern Farms has announced its  Pasture to Plate youth scholarship recipients for 2020, adding two additional scholarships on top of the six usually offered. That move was to strengthen its support for the industry through the challenges presented by Covid-19, chief executive Simon Limmer said. Southern Rural Life reporter Yvonne O’Hara speaks to the three southern recipients — Imogen Brankin, Leora Werner and Dan Ryan. The other successful applicants were Jack Monckton, Harry Hawkins, Joe Ward, Jazmine Burgess and Sam Phipps.

Scholarship and lamb for the flat

Now that Dan Ryan has been named as a Silver Fern Farms’ Pasture to Plate scholarship recipient, he is going to have to make good on what he promised to spend the money on.

Mr Ryan is in his final year of a commerce degree at Lincoln University, majoring in supply chain management, global business and marketing. . . 

IWSC awards New Zealand’s only gold medal wine to te Pa Family Vineyards 2020 rosé:

International Wine & Spirits Competition judges call te Pa 2020 Rosé ‘A perfect benchmark for the style’

te Pa Family Vineyards, the independently owned, Maori winery in Marlborough, is celebrating after winning the country’s only gold medal for wine, across all New Zealand wine categories, at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, based in the UK.

The winery’s te Pa 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé was awarded the only gold medal and the highest score (95 points) for a New Zealand wine in the fiercely competitive category.

Founder and owner of te Pa, Haysley MacDonald, who’s family lineage and history goes back to some of the earliest Maori arrivals to New Zealand, around 800 years ago, says he is delighted with the result and is proud to represent the New Zealand wine community on the world stage. . . 


Rural round-up

15/10/2020

Three years after the Morrinsville protest, farmers reveal if views have changed – Andrew McRae:

Five days before the 2017 election, 500 people took part in a protest in the Waikato town of Morrinsville complaining about how farmers were being treated. So, have feelings changed?

The 2017 protest was advertised as not being political, but the number of National and New Zealand First signs, and a lack of red and green made that an empty claim.

Morrinsville was selected as it was the home town of Labour’s then-new leader, Jacinda Ardern.

On the day, Lloyd Downing, one of the organisers, did not dispute who was the target, saying the politics of a Labour-Greens alliance was going to be “extremely difficult” for farming. . . 

Grower warns fruit will ‘rot on the ground’ as border remains shut to pickers :

A South Auckland grower says hundreds of tonnes of produce will “rot on the ground” and prices will be driven up at the checkout if borders remain closed to fruit pickers from overseas..

Immigration New Zealand has granted border exceptions to some offshore musicians to participate in a winery tour this summer. Measures have also been made to accomodate the Australian rugby team, the English netball team, the West Indies and Pakistan cricket teams, and the America’s Cup teams.

But for experienced seasonal fruit pickers, even from Covid-19-free Samoa, New Zealand’s border remains shut.

Founder of South Auckland-based strawberry grower Perrys Berrys, Francine Perry, told TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning the move was putting at risk hundreds of tonnes of fresh fruit and hundreds of jobs for Kiwis. . .

Fonterra farmers taking another step towards New Zealand’s low emissions food production:

They’re hot off the press and intended to help take the heat out of climate change.

Fonterra farmers are already among the world’s most sustainable producers of milk and now have an additional tool in their sustainability toolbox.

Over the last few days, Fonterra farmers have been receiving unique Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions profiles for their farms – the first time such a tool has been introduced in New Zealand at scale. The profiles form part of a Farm Environmental Report – which combines a GHG Report and Nitrogen Risk Scorecard.

Fonterra Director On-Farm Excellence, Charlotte Rutherford, says the reports are designed to provide useful insights for farmers to help identify opportunities for improvements on farm – providing indicators such as the estimated level of biological methane and nitrous oxide emissions per hectare, and the amount of emissions per kilogram of milk solids. . . 

Avocado exports drop amid air freight capacity woes :

Avocado exports appear to be the latest Covid-casualty due to shrinking air freight capacity.

Figures from Auckland Airport for August, the traditional start of the avocado export season, show an almost 60 percent drop in avocados sent by air to overseas markets compared to the same month in 2019.

Auckland Airport Aeronautical Commercial manager Scott Tasker said air exports to Korea and Thailand were particularly hard hit.

“That’s really reflecting a crunch in air freight capacity into those markets.” . . 

Colin McGillivray, 86, is still shearing sheep in regional Victoria after 70 years

At the ripe old age of 86, shearer Colin McGillivray from Gunbower, west of Echuca, has no plans to hang up the clippers.

He started shearing sheep in the late 1940s and — seven decades later — his love for the job is stronger than ever.

“It was dry as hell back then; there was no feed,” Mr McGillivray said, as he reminisced about his early days on sheep stations.

He recalls that on his first day on the job, he found himself shearing sheep alongside one of the world’s best, Kevin Sarre, who went on to become a five-time national champion, winner of the world’s premier shearing honour, the Golden Shears, and held the world shearing record in 1965 after taking the wool off 346 merinos. . .

Forest, frogs and film stars, renowned southern nature resort goes up for sale:

A South Island resort on a world-renowned scenic highway, whose guests include TV stars and international film crews, has been put up for sale.

The Whistling Frog restaurant and accommodation complex lies in the heart of one of New Zealand’s top nature-tourism destinations, the 56,000-hectare Catlins Conservation Park.

Famous guests have included British comedian Bill Bailey, Neil Oliver from the BBC Coast Series and Oscar-winner Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords. . . 


Rural round-up

14/10/2020

Dairy farmers rise to sustainability challenge :

The stories of Kiwi farmers leading the world in sustainable farming are being shared as part of DairyNZ’s Rise and Shine campaign launched this week.

“New Zealand dairy has a great story to tell and we are seeing that realised through public sentiment, with 73% of people recently surveyed being favourable toward dairy farmers,” says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“This is tremendous recognition for farmers playing a key role right now – dually supporting our economic recovery post-Covid while shifting how their day-to-day business operates to further deliver for environment, animals and people.”  . .

Farmers contribute to fundraiser for charity hospital – Jamie Searle:

An organiser believes up to 1000 bales of wool could be donated for the #Bales4Blair fundraiser.

Sarah Dooley said farmers in Southland and further north were getting behind the fundraiser, which is focused on providing wool insulation and carpet for the planned Southland Charity Hospital in Invercargill.

The fundraiser is named after the late Blair Vining who, along with his wife Melissa, campaigned to get better care for cancer patients. The campaign continues, and Melissa and supporters are eagerly awaiting construction of the hospital, starting in February.

Dooley, of Mimihau, and fellow farmers, Amy Blaikie, of Slopedown, and Brooke Cameron, of Mokoreta, launched the fundraiser a week ago. . . 

On a mission to destroy wilding pines :

The Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust is leading the way in New Zealand in the battle against wilding pines which are not only threatening biodiversity but helping to create tinder box conditions in parts of the country.

Country Life spoke to the chair of the trust, Dr John Hellstrom, about efforts to tackle the problem.

The skeletons of dead and dying pine trees stand above the native bush of Endeavour Inlet like sickly sentinels.

Their branches are dropping off and their trunks are white, in marked contrast to the lush green growth below. . . 

Sheep milking doubles income in Waikato – Gerald Piddock:

New sheep milking conversions in Waikato are delivering twice the per hectare income that the farmers used to earn from cows.

General manager of operations Peter Gatley says the new farms supplying Maui Milk this season are making around $14,000 a hectare, compared to $7000/ha a cow milking farm would typically earn.

“Income per hectare is a simple function of stocking rate, yield and payout,” he said.

“A ratio of six ewes per cow gives us about 17 ewes per hectare on Waikato dairy country. Our payout is $17 per kg of total solids, or about $3 per litre. Therefore, an average yield per ewe of 275 litres will deliver $14,000.” . . 

Too much time spent on chasing interest groups down wombat holes, beef producers told – Shan Goodwin:

HOW much the opinions of agenda groups working to shut down animal production actually count was a key topic put under the microscope at a beef industry event in Rockhampton this week.

Hosted by Agforce Queensland, The Business of Beef was run live at the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange as part of Brahman Week proceedings, as well as being live streamed.

A question on the best way to combat falsehoods about beef production and the environment brought passionate responses from the four well known northern producers who headlined the event.

Bryce Camm, who oversees his family’s integrated beef and cropping enterprise with interests across Queensland and is the current chairman of Beef Australia, along with being president of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, questioned how much money, and time and energy, the industry had spent “chasing every interest group down every wombat hole trying to appease them.” . .

Courgette prices fall back to earth:

Courgette prices were down 58 percent in September 2020 as the growing season resumed and more local produce arrived back on the shelves, Stats NZ said today.

Courgettes dropped to a weighted average price of $12.36 per kilo in the month, after reaching an all-time high of $29.60 in July during a trade ban from Queensland due to a crop virus. See Vegetable prices continue to grow for more information.

“The increase in domestic supply has filled the gap left by a shortage of imported courgettes during the winter,” consumer prices manager Nicola Growden said. . .


Rural round-up

08/10/2020

Changes just don’t add up :

Farmer Jane Smith claims that farmers find comments from David Parker, Damien O’Connor and the Green Party’s James Shaw nauseating.

“This is our licence to operate with our global trading partners and will attract added-value premiums,” she says.

“This lacks any metric or rationale,” says Smith. “We are creating our own hurdles at a rate higher than any other primary producer in the world. For every dollar spent on food worldwide, the farmer receives on average, less than 10 cents.”

This is a topic of discussion Smith often has with offshore peers around the Global Farmer Roundtable.  . . 

Critic calls for major investigation into freshwater reforms :

Award-winning, environmentally-focused farmer Jane Smith wonders whether she’s farming in North Otago or North Korea.

She is calling for a full review into the process behind Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) Fresh Water National Policy Statement – particularly around the recent legislation for winter grazing practices and land use categorised solely on slope.

“The public have been sold a sanitised version of the truth and are going to pay an unacceptable price for what I suggest is effectively an abuse of legislative power,” she told Rural News.

While Smith is opposed to the punitive regulations in their current form, it is the process that she is challenging – rather than the outcome itself. She says her time in a myriad of governance roles have shown the importance of transparency in procedure behind every decision.  . .

Fonterra sells farms in China to reduce debt get back to basics – Point of Order:

Dairy  giant  Fonterra  has  scooped in  $555 million by selling  its   China  farms  and is now aiming to unload   its yogurt business, a partnership with Nestle, located in Brazil, as  it  pursues  its  strategy of seeking  greater value, rather than volume,  in its  business.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell   conceded  the  China  farm  business

“ … has  been a tough journey for us along the way, we had to take an impairment to that asset in 2019 and again in 2020 so certainly they haven’t been as operationally effective as we would have liked.  That said, we have made significant progress of late and that’s put us in a better position to sell these assets.”

Fonterra  is  expected    to  use   the proceeds to pay  down  debt  which under  Hurrell’s  watch  has  already been trimmed  in the past year  to $4.7bn  after  peaking at  $7.1bn.  . . 

Lift in sheepmeat exports to Europe and UK shows importance of retaining WTO tariff quota:

New Zealand sheepmeat exports rose 12 per cent by volume and five per cent by value in August compared to a year ago, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

A fall in sheepmeat exports to China (-13% by value) was offset by a significant increase in demand from the UK and Europe despite the uncertainty of the fast-approaching Brexit.

A total of 2,044 tonnes of sheepmeat was exported to the UK in August 2020, a 43 per cent increase on August 2019. Exports to the Netherlands rose by 80 per cent and to Germany by 30 per cent. France and Belgium also saw increases. . .

New Zealand’s first plant-based milk bottle lands on shelves:

Anchor has added to its Blue range, with a new 2L bottle made from sugarcane – which is a natural, renewable and sustainably sourced material

    • The new bottle is an example of sustainable packaging which research indicates is increasingly important to consumers.

Anchor is set to launch New Zealand’s first plant-based milk bottle which is 100% kerbside recyclable, and aligns with Fonterra’s commitment to have all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Anchor Blue 2L in the new plant-based bottle will land on shelves across New Zealand’s North Island from October 13th. And while it’s still filled with the same fresh NZ dairy milk from Fonterra farmers – the bottle is made from sugarcane. . . 

Stahmann Farms plants close to 40,000 more pecan trees at Pallamallawa property near Moree – Sophie Harris:

Trawalla has well and truly cemented its place as the largest pecan nut farm in the southern hemisphere, with close to 40,000 more pecan trees planted at the Pallamallawa property in north west NSW over the past few weeks.

A total of 39,000 pecan trees have been planted on 195 hectares of Trawalla’s neighbouring property, Long Creek, over the past five weeks. 

This brings the total number of trees in the ground on Stahmann Farms’ Pallamallawa operation, including Trawalla, Red Bank and Loch Lomond, to 150,000. . . 


Rural round-up

02/10/2020

Freshwater rules take toll on confidence – Sally Rae:

Southern sheep and beef farmers have experienced their worst fall in confidence in a recent survey by Beef+Lamb New Zealand, as the Government’s freshwater rules are cited as a major factor.

Nationally, confidence dropped to the lowest recorded level since August 2017 with less than half — or 46% of farmers — confident in the future of New Zealand’s sheep and beef industry compared to 58% in May.

Farmer confidence was down in all regions, except for the northern North Island, and the largest fall was in the southern South Island at 32% (down 27%), followed by the central South Island at 42% (down 19%).

In a statement, B+LNZ chairman Andrew Morrison, a Southland farmer, said sheep and beef farmers were increasingly concerned at the speed and scale of government-led reforms. . . 

26 million national flock down 2.3% – Sally Rae:

Sheep numbers in New Zealand have dropped 2.3% over the past year to 26.21million — a far cry from the 57.85million recorded in 1990.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual stock number survey estimated this spring’s lamb crop would be 4.2% lower — or 980,000 head down — compared with spring 2019, while adverse weather events could lessen that further.

Ewe condition during mating was poor to average due to lower overall feed availability while ewe pregnancy scanning results were 5%-10% lower due to dry conditions and feed shortages. Fewer ewe hoggets were also mated.

In a statement, B+LNZ Economic Service chief economist Andrew Burtt said drought meant farmers decided to have fewer hoggets, weaner cattle and cows mated which would have impacts on future stock numbers. . . 

Fruit picker shortage reaches new levels :

With closed borders and no backpackers or casual labour coming in, the fruit picking industry desperately needs more workers than ever before.

Today The Detail looks at why it’s so hard to fill the gaps and whether robots are the answer to the labour shortage for what even employers admit is a “shit” job.

Horticulture is a $10b industry and is one that will continue to grow despite covid-19.

But the lack of workers has been something that has plagued the sector for years, even before the pandemic. . . 

Work experience helps fresh talent into dairying

Gillian Saich from Invercargill is new to dairy farming and was thrilled when a dairy farmer offered her work experience on his farm.

Gillian recently finished DairyNZ’s GoDairy Farm Ready Training, designed to give Kiwis throughout New Zealand entry level training to work on dairy farms.

After the training, dairy farmer Edwin Mabonga from Otautau offered Gillian two weeks’ work experience and she jumped at the chance.

“It’s been brilliant to get hands-on experience. I have learned so much and have been involved in lots of aspects on the farm, including calving and milking,” she says.  . .

NZ cheese sales a lockdown silver lining:

Everywhere, everyone agrees that 2020 has been one of the most challenging years. For many NZ cheesemakers that has meant quickly adapting and finding new markets as farmers’ markets, some specialty retail food stores, cafes and restaurants closed during lockdown.

However there is a silver lining, while New Zealanders hunkered down staying safe they used their free time to explore and support NZ made produce, including New Zealand cheese, which is enjoying record sales.

According to Nielsen Scantrack[1] – a record of supermarket sales for the year to 9 August 2020 – total value for all cheese sales is up by 12.2% for the 12 months. Among these numbers is a strong increase for speciality cheese – up in value by 9.5%. Always a favourite with families, blocks of cheese are up 14.5% in value and grated cheese sales were up a whopping 25.1%. . . 

Silver Fern Farms awards additional scholarship in light of Covid crisis:

Silver Fern Farms has announced their Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships recipients for 2020, adding two additional scholarships this year, on top of the six normally offered, to strengthen their support for the industry through the challenges presented by Covid-19.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the commitment Silver Fern Farms has to developing young people and their careers has become even more important as the red meat industry responds to disruption around the world.

Over 60 people applied for this year’s scholarships. “They were asked to identify outstanding opportunities for the red meat industry in light of the Covid-19 crisis and to share the role they could play in New Zealand’s recovery. . . 


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