Rural round-up

05/10/2022

Government ban is cancellation over collaboration :

A future National Government will review today’s law change banning live cattle exports, National’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“Despite National’s opposition, Parliament has today passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill into law, banning the export of live animals by sea from April next year.

“As New Zealanders grapple with a cost of living crisis made worse by the Labour Government, today’s decision signals more economic pain for farmers and consumers.

“An Infometrics Economic Impact Report says this ban will reduce New Zealand’s gross domestic product by $472 million and cost export cattle breeders between $49,000 and $116,000 per farm, every year. . . .

Live cattle export ban a golden opportunity missed for NZ ag – Nicola Grigg:

New Zealand has been robbed of an opportunity to shape welfare standards in the global trade of live animals, with the upcoming passage of a law that will end exports from this country as of April next year.

Once again, we have before us another example of a government that prefers a cancel culture, rather than a constructive culture. This ban came about on the back of the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 in 2019, in which two New Zealanders died.

That was a tragedy, and I do acknowledge those families involved.

But the livestock trade will continue whether or not New Zealand is part of it. Now, unfortunately, other countries with less rigorous animal welfare standards will make up for the gap in the market as New Zealand withdraws. . . 

 

Another record payout for Tatua’s 101 farmer shareholders –  Point of Order:

It  is  only  a star on the  horizon for  the  bulk  of  dairy  farmers — but  this is  what  they  may  aspire  to.  How  about  a  payout of  $11.30kg/MS?

That’s what the 101 farmer-shareholders in  the Waikato  specialist-product-co-op  Tatua  will receive — a  record — for the 2021-22 year.  Tatua will still retain close to $20m  to reinvest in the business.

Tatua  has reported group earnings equivalent to $12.65kg before retentions for the year ended July 31. This was up on the previous year’s earnings of  $10.43kg and was achieved in spite of Covid-related disruption and shipping issues.

The company said group income was $444m ($395m the  previous year), with earnings available for payout of $186m. Retentions were equivalent to $1.35/kg. . . 

Why keeping tabs of Tata suggests O’Connor should be quickening the pace in push for an FTA with India – Point of Order:

Among the many issues related to the performance of the export sector and how the Government might further help it is the case for negotiating a  trade deal with India.

Australia has secured a free trade deal with  what  is  the  planet’s  fifth-biggest economy.

In contrast, Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor says concluding a free trade agreement between NZ and India “is not a realistic short-term prospect”.

Intensive negotiations were held between India and NZ in the context of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA negotiations, especially in 2018 and 2019, before India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations in November 2019. . . 

Pasture-raised advantage New Zealand :

New Zealand scientists have conducted a ground-breaking research programme to explore the differences between pasture-raised beef with grain fed beef and alternative proteins.

Most of the global research around the nutritional, environmental and health impacts of producing and consuming red meat have been based on grain-finished cattle.

However, New Zealand specialises in free-range, grass-fed farming without antibiotics and hormones. Not only are the farming styles different, but so too is our pasture-raised meat.

Researchers, scientists, dietitians and nutritionists from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland recognised that difference and have undertaken a ground-breaking new research programme that compared pasture-raised beef and lamb against grain-finished and protein alternatives – products like plant-based alternatives. . . .

 

 

 

New research to future-proof New Zealand’s wine sector :

A new experimental vineyard in Blenheim will help enhance the supply of quality grapes for New Zealand’s wine sector into the future.

The new Experimental Future Vineyard facility, based at the New Zealand Wine Centre – Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa, will provide a unique resource for research into wine grape production. Operated by Plant & Food Research, the Experimental Future Vineyard will support productivity and quality aspirations of the New Zealand wine sector by developing new growing practices with improved environmental outcomes.

The new facility will be based within a 600m2 shelter, allowing researchers to control the vineyard environment and build knowledge that will ensure the wine sector is prepared for future challenges. The facility will enable research to be conducted within the vine and beneath the soil, and allow researchers to control aspects of the environment such as soil type and temperature and water availability.

“We’re excited to be a part of Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa,” says Dr Damian Martin, Science Group Leader Viticulture and Oenology at Plant & Food Research. “We know climate change will add to challenges facing wine production in New Zealand, with warmer days and more insect pests and diseases able to establish here. We also know that consumer expectations will continue to evolve, with increased focus on sustainability credentials. Being able to understand how best to grow excellent grapes that allow winemakers to meet their environmental, financial and societal requirements will ensure our wine sector can continue to grow.” . . 


Rural round-up

04/10/2022

Massive stockpiles as mānuka buzz fades – Richard Rennie:

Massive stockpiles of both mānuka and non-mānuka honey are the downside of a decade’s worth of double-digit growth as producers face the reality of disposing tonnes of product at severe discounts just to stay afloat.

Jane Lorimer, Waikato beekeeper and president of New Zealand Beekeeping Inc, said she expects to witness a lot of pain before any real gains come out of the industry’s current situation. 

The country’s total stock of honey in storage is estimated to exceed one year’s entire production.

“There will be pain before we see any real gain, most definitely. There are people who came into the industry thinking they would make money relatively easily out of mānuka, only to find they now have to exit.” . . 

 Mayor contenders agree on water storage and ‘broken’ council funding model – Simon Edwards:

They differed on priorities and approach but mayoral candidates for the Wairarapa’s three councils found some common ground on issues impacting farmers and the wider community.

At a 28 September election event in Carterton organised by Federated Farmers Wairarapa and Business Wairarapa, not one of the 11 would-be mayors had any quibble with an audience member who said more water storage in the region was vital.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said he was “laser-focused” on the five key focus areas of the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy:  “First is land use, and vital to that is water.  The only way to unlock our future is to unleash the delivery of the Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy,” Lang said.

There also appeared to be a high degree of agreement that amalgamation of Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa District Councils – probably as a unitary council (i.e. with both territorial and regional council responsibilities) – is on the cards. . . 

 

English hands to the plough – Shawn McAvinue:

English farm machinery operators are travelling to the South to bridge a “dire” staff shortage, agricultural contractors say.

Hunt Agriculture co-owner Alistair Hunt, of Chatton, north of Gore, said it was hard to find staff.

“It is slim pickings.”

Agricultural contractors would be busy up to Christmas, he said. . .

Winners announced in the  inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand awards  :

The winners in the inaugural Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Napier War Memorial Centre last night.

It was a celebration of the people, innovation, technologies and management systems that make New Zealand’s grass-based red meat industry world leading.

Andrew Morrison, Chairman of B+LNZ reflected on the achievements of the sector over the last couple of years and its resilience in maintaining strong exports in light of COVID-19. 

“Environmentally, our sheep and beef production systems are amongst the most sustainable in the world with around 24 percent of New Zealand’s native vegetation flourishing on our sheep and beef farms, and one of the world’s lowest carbon footprints.”  . . 

Highly regulated industry better than complete ban supported by research :

Live Animal Export New Zealand (LENZ) says that the passing of the Act banning live animal exports will damage the New Zealand economy and is out of step with the views of the New Zealand public.

According to an independent research report by science insights company Voconiq, over half of New Zealanders surveyed have confidence that regulation can hold the industry accountable.

Research respondents believe with better regulation the Government can hold the live export industry accountable (55% agree) and that rather than banning live export, New Zealand should raise the standards required of the industry (59% agree).

Eighty-five percent of New Zealanders either agree (54%) or are neutral (31%) that the live export industry is an important part of the agricultural sector in New Zealand. . . 

Industry partnership to launch meat-based vending machine meals in China :

Consumers will soon be able to buy ready-to-eat meals, made with New Zealand beef and lamb, from vending machines in Shanghai.

Major red meat exporters Beef + Lamb NZ, Alliance and Silver Fern Farms are piloting beef and lamb vending machines with meals ready for time-poor consumers.

Beef and Lamb spokesperson Michael Wan said the two Pure Box vending machines will be located in Shanghai’s busy business districts, offering another food option for busy workers.

Wan said buyers would be able to choose from six meals that had been co-designed by Shanghai chef Jamie Pea. They fuse traditional Chinese ingredients and flavours with Western food trends to highlight the taste of New Zealand-produced beef and lamb. . . 

 


Rural round-up

15/08/2022

Slow down! – Dairy News:

The latest Federated Farmers survey of farmer confidence paints a worrying picture.

Of the 1,200 surveyed, 47% consider current economic conditions to be bad — down 55.6 points since January when a net 7.8% considered conditions to be good. A net 80% expect general economic conditions to get worse — up 16.9 points for the same period.

The survey conducted last month showed production expectations have dropped into negative territory for the first time since its inception in 2009.

The message from farmers to the Government is clear, ‘slow down on new regulations’. . . 

Fears that Three Waters could pit hort against urban needs – Business Desk:

The horticulture industry is worried that Three Waters reforms will direct entities to secure the cheapest water supply for urban areas at the expense of food security.

The reforms in the Water Services Entities Bill would establish four water service entities that will take fresh water, wastewater and stormwater functions off local government. It recently came under fire from the auditor-general for being weak on public accountability.

Horticulture NZ spokesperson Michelle Sands told Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee that most horticulture is situated near urban areas and therefore shares water catchments with urban communities.

In its written submission, Horticulture NZ says over 80% of vegetable production is consumed in NZ, with much of the export crop heading for the Pacific Islands. Many fruit crops are also grown for domestic consumption. . .

Ideology out of control as policy decided on the hoof – Allan Barber:

Pastoral farming is coming under continual pressure from all sides.

It seems as though another piece of bureaucratic ideology directed at the agricultural sector emerges every week. 

The latest one, at least at the time of writing, is the recently amended National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB), and more specifically the proposed classification of Significant Natural Areas (SNA) under the legislation. 

Not content with this, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and Minister of Economic Development Stuart Nash are now reconsidering their previous decision to drop exotic forests from the permanent category of the Emissions Trading Scheme, saying these are now “unlikely” to be excluded.  . .

Don’t point the finger at farmers – Glenys Christian:

Farmers should not focus on the negative but sort out some red flags for the industry. Glenys Christian reports.

New Zealand agriculture does not need to be turned on its head, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive, Dr Alison Stewart told the recent Primary Industries Summit in Auckland.

But anyone watching television and scrolling through social media would get the impression it was “totally stuffed”.

“Why doesn’t NZ like what we’re doing in agriculture at the moment?,” she asked. It went back to the 1980s when Government deregulation and reforms “threw everyone up in the air” meaning a survive-or-die choice was faced. So farmers intensified their focus and efficiency of scale and transitioned away from mixed farming. The results were silos of intensive monocultures, where “dairying bubbled up to the surface”. . .

Crooks in the back blocks – Lynda Gray :

Rural crime is an increasing problem as more people struggle financially and illicit drug dealing becomes more widespread, Lynda Gray reports.

The increase in the incidence and frequency of known and suspected rural crime is borne out by last year’s Federated Farmers survey. The 2021 survey answered by 1200 Feds members showed more than half (52%) of the respondents had experienced or suspected they had been the target of rural crime.

That’s a 10% increase from the previous survey in 2016. Over the same period the frequency of rural crime increased with 37% reporting two or more incidents compared to 22% in 2016.

The stats will come as no surprise but raises the questions of what’s driving it, and what steps farmers can take to keep livestock, property and themselves safe from criminal harm. . .

Kiwi firm’s wool filters blast off into space :

A New Zealand wool product will be making its way into space later this month, as part of NASA’s mission to the moon.

An Orion spacecraft will launch on an unmanned test flight on 30 August ahead of scheduled manned missions.

On board for the ride will be Kiwi company Lanaco’s filters made from New Zealand sheep wool.

Lanaco founder Nick Davenport said it was the same technology as in the company’s personal protective equipment, face masks and home air purifiers. . .


Rural round-up

12/07/2022

Must Deliver! – Rural News:

Just as the entire country’s health system moved into a new structure last week, a fresh Rural Health Network was also launched.

Hauora Taiwhenua brings into one organisation nine separate groups who work in the rural health sector – including those working as Rural GPs, nurses, midwives, hospitals, researchers, community organisations and Maori.

According to the entity’s interim chair Dr Fiona Bolden, the main benefit of the new organisation is that it brings all the representatives of rural health and wellbeing into one place. She says, in doing so, it creates a very powerful voice in terms of rural health advocacy.

As Bolden says, this is a crucial time for the NZ health service as the new reforms take effect. NZ’s health service – especially rural – is suffering from underfunding and a lack of workforce planning. . . 

Langford appointed as new Feds vice-president :

Wayne Langford is Federated Farmers’ new vice-president after being elected to the position at the organisation’s annual meeting in Auckland.

The Golden Bay dairy farmer will be joined by three new board members, new dairy chair Richard McIntyre and two ‘at large’ members Sandra Faulkner and Mark Hooper.

Langford has served as Feds dairy industry chairman for the past two years.

President Andrew Hoggard was re-elected unopposed. . .

GWP* a hot topic on US and UK visits – Andrew Morrison:

Climate change and the need for countries to measure methane more accurately were high on the agenda during Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) recent trips to the United Kingdom and United States.

During the visits, B+LNZ staff identified opportunities to work with UK and US farming groups over the shared issue of climate change.

B+LNZ has been calling for the New Zealand Government to review the methane targets using a more appropriate metric such as GWP*, and to report on warming as well as emissions, for more than two years.

GWP* scales emissions over time, and better accounts for the different warming behaviours of short-lived gases like methane than the widely used GWP100 metric, which the IPCC has confirmed overstates the impact of methane when emissions are not increasing (as is the case in New Zealand). . . 

Wool meets hemp on high country station – Country Life:

Paul Ensor farms sheep and cattle at Glenaan Station in the Rakaia Gorge and co-owns a clothing brand that blends merino wool with hemp fibre.

The station in the Upper Rakaia Gorge extends from the river flats to the tops of snow-covered hill country.

Paul and Prue Ensor farm sheep and cattle on the property that Paul took over from his parents in 2004.

The Ensors run about 6000 fine wool-producing merino sheep. . . 

Floris Niu empowering Pacific women farmers with chocolate – Saturday Morning:

Floris Niu never imagined herself as a farmer, but a series of stress-related illnesses saw her return to her family’s land in Samoa in her late 30s and the move has brought both healing and success.

Niu, who grew up in New Zealand, is the founder of Ms Sunshine Organic Farms, which exports produce to New Zealand boutique chocolatiers and food manufacturers.

Her charitable trust is also running the first ever Pacific Cacao and Chocolate show, in collaboration with SPS Biota and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in Auckland on 23 July, which she hopes will raise awareness of the cacao industry in the Pacific. 

“It’s a trillion-dollar business, the chocolate industry,” she said, but the story of cacao in the Pacific was “not very well known”. . . 

What could Johnson’s departure mean for farmers? –

Boris Johnson is yesterday’s man. All eyes now are on who will put themselves forward to be the next Conservative Party leader and prime minister.

Mr Johnson currently seems determined to cling on until the results of the Conservative Party leadership contest are known, but Labour says if he does not go immediately it will call a vote of no confidence in the government, which could even trigger a general election.

George Eustice, who did not resign, is still a member of the cabinet and looks set to stick around, at least until Mr Johnson leaves, so there will be no immediate change at Defra. His silence this week has been complete.

However, the environment secretary is now without Rebecca Pow (minister for environment) and Jo Churchill (minister for agri-innovation and climate adaptation), who both resigned. . . 


Rural round-up

04/07/2022

Dairy welfare code needs work – Gerald Piddock :

Farmer organisations have called the proposed changes to the code of welfare for dairy cattle as big, complex and overly prescriptive.

The scale of change outlined by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) and presented to farmers last month is overwhelming, DairyNZ’s general manager for sustainable dairy David Burger says.

It was hard for farmers to assess the impact on their farm given the volume of change and the complexity of the document and the language used in it.

“Farmers are very concerned with it.” . . 

   AWDT chair steps down :

Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) chair Linda Cooper has stepped down after three years serving the charitable trust.

As part of its succession planning and maturing governance model, trustees Murray Donald and Keri Johnston have been appointed as co-chairs and took up their roles on 1 June.

Cooper has served the trust since mid-2019, leading it through further growth and extension of its impact across the primary sector, from farms to boardrooms.

“We’ve come through some challenging times with the pandemic over the past couple of years as we committed to investing in our programmes, and our women and men to help meet the future needs of the primary sector,” she says. . . 

Country Calendar uproar: Lake Hawea Station criticism is ‘raging tall poppy syndrome’ – Julia Jones:

This year hasn’t been short on emotion, debate and outrage, but the most surprising uproar for me has come from the Country Calendar episode on Lake Hawea Station.

I hadn’t seen the episode but started to see unhappy murmurs on Twitter on Sunday evening, then who could miss the onslaught that followed on Facebook. I was intrigued, wow, what terrible things had been said? How insanely outrageous was this episode? What epic conspiracies are being brewed up there in Hawea Station? I immediately checked out the episode.

After watching my first thought was, is that it? I wasn’t disappointed with the episode but couldn’t calibrate the incredibly negative comments with what I had just watched. So, I watched it again and took notes, I observed the language, the tone of conversation, noted the references to their own beliefs and listened hard to their philosophy. I don’t know Geoff and Justine Ross but after watching this I have a great deal of respect for them.

When did great business capability, strong values and following your belief system become offensive? . . 

Hawke’s Bay company now the world’s biggest scourer – Doug Laing:

The Hawke’s Bay-based company that is now the world’s biggest scourer of wool has committed $2.4 million aimed at helping New Zealand lead the way in the global wool market.

The investment comes in the form a contribution by WoolWorks, the sole-surviving scourer from 28 that once clogged the industry throughout the country and formed around what was best known as Hawke’s Bay Woolscourers.

The world’s biggest scourer by volume, it operates scours at Awatoto and Clive, and in the South Island at Washdyke. The contribution supports new industry-good organisation Wool Impact Ltd, which will work with brands and companies to get strong-wool products onto markets quickly and ultimately lift returns to farmers.

It comes as the sheep and wool industry starts bouncing back from declines which have seen the sheep population nationwide drop from its peak of 70 million in 1982 to 26 million last year – about two-thirds. . .

Predator Free 2050 on track to reach target says incoming boss :

The new boss of Predator Free 2050 says New Zealand is on track to reach the target and he is excited to be involved in the effort.

Rob Furlong, who has held leadership roles at The Whangārei District Council and Environmental Protection Authority, will take over the job as chief executive from Brett Butland on 11 July.

The government-owned charitable company was set up in 2016 to make a significant contribution to the government’s goal of removing possums, stoats and rats from Aotearoa.

Furlong said he always had a strong interest in the environment. . .        

 

The many uses of CRISPR: scientists tell all – Oliver Whang:

Smartphones, superglue, electric cars, video chat. When does the wonder of a new technology wear off? When you get so used to its presence that you don’t think of it anymore? When something newer and better comes along? When you forget how things were before?

Whatever the answer, the gene-editing technology CRISPR has not reached that point yet. Ten years after Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier first introduced their discovery of CRISPR, it has remained at the center of ambitious scientific projects and complicated ethical discussions. It continues to create new avenues for exploration and reinvigorate old studies. Biochemists use it, and so do other scientists: entomologists, cardiologists, oncologists, zoologists, botanists.

For these researchers, some of the wonder is still there. But the excitement of total novelty has been replaced by open possibilities and ongoing projects. Here are a few of them.

Cathie Martin, a botanist at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, England, and Charles Xavier, founder of the X-Men superhero team: They both love mutants. . .

Taranaki medicinal cannabis company secures lucrative export deal :

Medicinal cannabis company Greenfern Industries has secured a lucrative export deal that could be worth more than $1.6m.

The initial two-year agreement is an offtake order for the purchase of Greenfern’s Taranaki-grown medicinal cannabis.

An offtake agreement is a binding contract that formalises the buyer’s intention to purchase a certain amount of the producer’s future output.

Managing director Dan Casey said the cannabis will be for use in an overseas medicinal market and, depending on which chemotypes are supplied, could be worth in excess of NZD1.6 million over the contract’s duration. . . 


Rural round-up

27/06/2022

Seed cleaning ingenuity earns global spotlight – Rebecca Ryan:

From a shed in Awamoko, Johnny Neill is getting global attention as he grows his mobile seed cleaning empire. He talks to Rebecca Ryan about how he got into the industry and started building world-leading mobile seed cleaning machines in rural North Otago.

When Johnny Neill was first approached to build a mobile seed cleaning machine, he had no idea what it was.

Fast forward 20 years, and the world is watching the Oamaru man making advances in mobile seed cleaning that no-one ever imagined were possible.

Mr Neill grew up on a dairy farm on the Taieri Plain and finished his secondary school years at Waitaki Boys’ High School. After a stint in dairy farming, he moving to the North Island, where he trained as an engineer and met his partner Kim Lyttle. . . 

Strategy will help farming face change – Annette Scott:

Te Puna Whakaaronui Thought Leaders group chair Lain Jager says New Zealand needs a strategy that will take the country forward as a nation.

He says there is a short window of opportunity to invest and make progress.

Strategies that are incomplete will not attract investment and if you can’t invest in them then you can’t move forward.

“Without clear strategy and capacity to implement change this country will go backwards,” Jager told the E Tipu Boma Agri Summit in Christchurch. . . 

Half year report is a mixed bag – Mel Croad:

At the halfway mark for the year, sheep and beef farmers are searching for some clarity in terms of what the rest of the season is going to look like. But after a roller coaster couple of years, there is no blueprint to follow. 

Breaking it down, market conditions are mixed at best.

For lamb, global markets appear more comfortable with dialling down pricing expectations. 

These lower asking prices and softer demand stretch across most key markets.  . .

Award respect rural health contribution – RIchard Davison:

A rural South Otago GP says his recent national award is recognition for the wider community.

Dr Branko Sijnja has been named recipient of the Peter Snow Memorial Award for 2022.

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network gives the award each year to medical professionals making outstanding contributions to rural health.

Dr Sijnja (75) has been a GP in Balclutha since 1980, and retires from his role as Director of the Rural Medical Immersion Programme (RMIP) at Otago School of Medicine — his alma mater — next week . . .

Owners of unproductive land encouraged to grow black diamonds :

A Bay of Plenty truffle company is sharing the secrets of the industry in a bid to get landowners growing ‘black diamonds’ across the country.

Ohiwa Black Diamond Truffles is receiving more than $155,000 of Government funding over three years to share its knowledge with interested growers so New Zealand can grow enough truffles for a robust export industry. The business is also researching and developing new truffle products that incorporate the health benefits of truffles with traditional Māori rongoā (healing).

The business is run by Ohiwa-based couple Matui Hudson and Annette Munday. Since partnering with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund last year, they have held three workshops on truffle growing, with more lined up over the coming weeks.

“We’ve already received orders for around 10,000 inoculated truffle seedlings from several hapū, and we’ve helped a Kawhia whānau set up their truffière,” says Ms Munday. . . 

Chatham Island Food Co wins the top gong at the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards :

Producers spanning the breadth of Aotearoa from the Chatham Islands to Akaroa and its length from Southland to Northland were among the Champions in this year’s Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards, with Chatham Island Food Co named Supreme Champion 2022.

It’s the first time in the awards six-year history that seafood has taken out the top award.

Established by seventh-generation Chatham Islander, Delwyn Tuanui and his wife Gigi, Chatham Island Food Co has turned the Chatham Islands distance into a positive. It’s isolation – 800 kms east of the South Island – means a pristine environment which is reflected in the flavour and quality of its harvest. The business processes its marine harvest on the island, freezing in the flavour to share with seafood lovers across New Zealand.

Studying agriculture in Melbourne in the early 2000s was life-changing for Del. He met Gigi on his first day and came to appreciate the love for quality of seafood from the Chathams when cooking it for friends and later supplying it to top Sydney and Melbourne restaurants. In 2015 the pair purchased a rundown fish-processing plant on Wharekauri and Chatham Island Food Co began in earnest. Now they employ 25 staff and work with 30 fishing boats. . . 


Rural round-up

03/05/2022

O’Connor now will support law changes needed for Fonterra’s capital restructuring – Point of Order:

Agriculture  Minister  Damien  O’Connor has  overcome  his objections to  the  capital restructuring of  dairy giant Fonterra  and  says  the  government  will  now  amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act.

The dairy giant wants to make it easier to join the company, while maintaining farmer ownership amid falling milk supply.

O’Connor  recognises  Fonterra as a key part of New Zealand’s world-leading dairy industry and a major export earner for the economy, sending product to over 130 countries.

Around 95% of all dairy milk produced in New Zealand is exported, with export revenues of  $19.1bn a year. It accounts for 35% of NZ’s total merchandise exports and around 3.1%  of GDP. The industry employs around 49,000 people. . . 

Is this the technology to win Kiwis over to genetic engineering? – Nikki Macdonald:

You’ve heard of fermenting yeast to make beer, but what about brewing GM microbes to make bioplastic? Using designer microbes to make stuff in fermentation vats has been described as the next manufacturing revolution, with potential to produce everything from cow-free cheese to sustainable fossil fuel replacements. But is GE-free New Zealand ready for it?

Veronica Stevenson bet her house deposit on a bee.

Before using GM microbes to make stuff was all the talk (Impossible Burger, mRNA vaccines), Stevenson set out to find the genetic recipe for the plastic-like film that lines the nest of a solitary Aussie bee.

All she had to do was work out which bit of the bee’s DNA linked to the nest material and put that code into a micro-organism, which then makes it in a fermentation vat, or bioreactor. . . 

Country Calendar couple put hopes in hemp – Kerry Harvey:

Southland farmers Blair and Jody Drysdale don’t let fear hold them back when it comes to finding ways to make their family farm work.

“You can’t be scared of failing. Give it a go and, as long as you learn by your failures, get up and carry on again,” Blair says.

The couple are the third generation of the family to farm the 320-hectare mixed cropping and livestock farm. Jody and Blair and their three children – Carly, 13, Fletcher, 11, and Leah, nine – took over from Blair’s parents in 2008. . . 

Waikato diary farmers struggling with historic dry conditions

Waikato dairy farmers are struggling with the region’s dry conditions, with no decent rainfall expected to fall anytime soon.

NIWA’s latest hot spot watch shows things have got really dry in the region within the last couple of weeks.

The driest soils across the North Island, compared to normal for this time of the year, are in Northern Waikato – and it doesn’t look like the situation will improve anytime soon, with no decent rain forecast.

Bart Van De ven is a sharemilker in Springdale, near Morrinsville. . . 

Where did we get the idea veganism can solve climate change? – Anthony Signorelli:

Cattle have been denigrated as a major cause of greenhouse gases (GHG) and, therefore, a cause of climate change. When I first heard this as a former farmer, I thought: That’s preposterous! Do cows have more impact than fossil fuels? No way.

Big claims

So, I looked it up. Sure enough, a 2009 report from the WorldWatch Institute claims livestock accounts for 51% of GHG — more than industry, coal-burning electricity generation, and transportation combined. Whatever those guys smoke at WorldWatch, I’d like some for Friday night! That report is no longer available on the WorldWatch site. (Links go to a dead page. A reader sent me this one.) It’s not hard to figure out why.

The original story emphasizing the GHG contribution of livestock came from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). FAO published a study authored by Henning Steinfeld in 2006, which claimed that livestock produced 18% of global GHG and concluded that livestock was producing more GHG than the entire transportation sector. Although it is a mystery how WorldWatch inflated that to 51% three years later, the claim in the FAO study was eye-catching. Apparently, many eyes caught it, and then they read WorldWatch, too.

But there was a slight problem. . . 

Ravensdown secures co-funding to eliminate coal from aglime process :

Ravensdown announces today that it has achieved government co-funding to accompany the co-operative’s investment to install a biomass combustor at its Dipton lime quarry. Locally supplied wood fuel will replace coal in the lime-drying process – an important part of preparing the naturally occurring soil conditioner for use by Southland farmers and growers.

The co-operative’s commitment is being matched by funding through the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) Fund. The funding agreement with EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) commits Ravensdown to savings of at least 1,107 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum, reducing Ravensdown’s direct carbon footprint by almost 10%.

According to EECA, process heat accounts for over a quarter of New Zealand’s energy-related emissions, presenting a huge opportunity for businesses to take a lead in climate change mitigation. The GIDI Fund is part of the government’s Covid Response and Recovery Fund, established to drive economic stimulus and job creation through decarbonisation projects. . . 


Rural round-up

11/04/2022

Feed shortage a concern for dry south – Neal Wallace:

Dry conditions continue to grip farms in Southland and Otago, worsening already stretched feed supplies compounded by delays in getting stock processed.

Between 8mm and 30mm of rain fell over Southland and southern Otago this week, but temperatures have also fallen.

Weather forecasters are offering little prospect of significant regular rainfall for the remainder of April, although there another southerly next week could deliver a further 20-40mm.

“It’s still below average but much better than we have had in the last few months,” WeatherWatch chief forecaster Philip Duncan said. . . 

Global dairy prices weaken as China reduces its demand – Point of Order:

The ANZ world commodity price index hit a new record in March, lifting  3.9%.  Prices are very strong across most commodities, although none of the sub-indices are currently at record levels.

In local currency terms, the index gained just 0.5%, as local returns were eroded by a 3.1% gain in the trade weighted index (TWI).

While farmers were  digesting this  news, the latest global dairy auction  recorded a dip in prices as  demand weakened from Chinese  buyers.  The GDT  price index slid 1% to 1564 at the  auction following a 0.9% fall at the previous bimonthly auction.

Dairy prices have risen steeply at auction this year, pushing the index to record levels, as tight supply underpins demand. . .

Kiwifruit picker reveals secret to earning $60 per hour – Annemarie Quill:

Is it really possible to earn $60 an hour picking fruit? “Absolutely,” says Maketū’s Trish Townsend, who has been a kiwifruit picker in the Bay of Plenty for four years.

“I did $60 per hour yesterday, and I am looking forward to $90 an hour at Easter when we’ll be on time-and-a-half. As long as the weather stays fine, I will be going hard.”

Last month Stuff revealed that high pay rates of up to $60 per hour, and incentives such as cash bonuses, prizes and free transport, accommodation and food, are being offered to lure pickers to the kiwifruit industry, which is experiencing its “toughest-ever season” due to the impact of Covid-19.

The industry usually requires 24,000 people to pick and pack over a typical harvest, but is drastically short this season due to a lack of international workers, such as backpackers or seasonal workers from overseas. . . 

Cannabis farm gets 32m grant new generation coming into agriculture – Tessa Guest:

The government has given a cash injection to the country’s largest medicinal cannabis grower, saying it could become as successful as the wine industry.

Puro, a specialist cannabis grower near Kēkerengū, between Blenheim and Kaikōura, was given a $32 million grant today.

The $13m is coming from taxpayer money, and the remaining $19m is from private investors.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the “weird and wacky” grant would kickstart the organic medicinal cannabis industry in New Zealand. . .

Mountain bike trails put new spin on Whanganui farm – Country Life:

Sheep bleating and shearing machines whirring are sounds of the past at the Oskams’ old woolshed.

Nowadays you are more likely to hear the buzz of bike chains, the hiss of tyre pumps and the whooping of mountain bikers stopping for a break after whizzing around the trails above.

Bikes hang in the sheep pens, the sheep dip has been turned into hot showers and the wool sorting table is used for preparing feasts when there’s a big crowd.

Tom Oskam spent his boyhood here on the land which is snuggled into a bend in the Whanganui River. It used to be part of a much bigger farm used for sheep, beef and forestry.   . . 

New Ravensdown chair to focus on pathways to progress :

Hawke’s Bay sheep and beef farmer Bruce Wills has been elected the new Chair of Ravensdown as current Chair John Henderson concludes his term on 31 May 2022.

The former Federated Farmers national president is excited about the recently evolved strategy of the co-operative which is sharpening its focus on improving farmers’ and growers’ environmental and productive performance.

Bruce was voted in as a Ravensdown director in 2015, working closely with John Henderson who has been a director since 2004 and Chair since 2014.

“It’s been an eventful seven years on a Ravensdown board that, alongside the staff and management, have worked tirelessly towards a vision of smarter farming for a better New Zealand,” said Bruce. “I am passionate about Ravensdown’s role as the nutrient leaders in the areas of science, supply and solutions for an agsector striving for more sustainable ways forward.” . .

 


Rural round-up

08/04/2022

He Waka Eke Noa is now the main game in rural politics – Keith Woodford:

 Rural industry leaders are caught between unhappy farmers and unhappy ministers as they try to find a pathway through the GHG dilemma

The biggest game in rural politics for many years is being played out right now. On one side are some key Government Ministers saying that they are not impressed by current He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) proposals for greenhouse-gas levies being calculated at the level of individual farms. Their strong preference is that levies, at least initially, should be at processor level and passed down to farmers from there.

On the other side are what is probably a majority of farmers, whose preference would be for no levies at all, but who grudgingly support farm-level levies as definitely preferable to processor levies, and even more preferable than the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).  Further out to the side, there is another group of farmers who would like to stop any HWEN negotiations. This group, or at least some of them, are still arguing for no levies at all.

Stuck right in the middle are the 11 mainstream industry organisations, with DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb taking a leading role, and getting hammered from both sides. . . 

Labour failing kiwi exporters :

Kiwi exporters will miss out while Australians get ahead after their Government signed a free trade agreement with India, National’s Trade and Export Growth Spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“India and Australia have just signed a free trade agreement that would give 85 per cent of Australia’s exports tariff-free access to the Indian market, including lamb and wool, with wines and certain fruits having lower tariffs.

“Meanwhile, the New Zealand Government has made zero progress on a trade agreement with India, making Kiwis the poor cousins to Australia yet again.

“Our wine industry has to pay a 150 per cent tariff to get into India, while Australians now only pay 50 per cent. New Zealand’s lamb exporters currently pay 30 per cent to sell in India, and Australia now pays nothing. . . 

Bridging the divide between the health sector and rural NZ :

World Health Day brings an opportunity to reflect on the unique challenges rural communities face in accessing healthcare, infrastructure, and services essential to their overall wellness.

Dr Garry Nixon, head of rural section of the Department of General Practice and Rural Health at Otago University and doctor in Central Otago, says access to health services is a significant challenge rural communities are up against.

“Distance is a barrier and rural people don’t get the same access to specialist care. Providing good and accessible healthcare in rural areas means doing things differently to the way they are done in town – not simply providing scaled down versions of urban healthcare.”

Another major issue impacting the health and wellness of rural communities is the severe shortage of doctors and other health professionals in rural areas. . . 

Beautiful story behind award-winning Hawke’s Bay cheese producer  – Afternoons:

One of the big winners in this week’s NZ Cheese Awards was the Hōhepa Hawke’s Bay cheesery.

But Hōhepa, which was established in the 1950s, is a cheese producer unlike any other. It’s part of a charitable organisation that offers home-life care for people with intellectual disabilities.

Artisan cheesemakers work very closely with Hōhepa residents on many aspects of dairy farming and cheesemaking, manager Carl Storey told Jesse Mulligan.

“We have about 180 people that we support with various intellectual disabilities. They work on the farm, milking the cows, tending some of the livestock, they will help us in the cheesery – they make the cheese with us.” . . 

Agrichemical dangers addressed with New Zealand-first technology :

The health of agricultural workers exposed to harmful airborne chemicals is in the spotlight, with one company introducing New Zealand-first technology to limit exposure and help meet the need for increased protection.

A Massey University study found agricultural workers have the highest incidence of leukaemia of all New Zealand occupation groups, likely because of their exposure to chemicals[1]; and there are reports of vineyard workers refusing to operate tractor sprayers due to potential health risks. These can include cancer and respiratory disease.

Canterbury-based company Landlogic Ltd, which supplies New Zealand’s primary sector with machinery and technology, has introduced a new cab air filtration system to the market in a bid to increase worker safety.

The system is manufactured by Freshfilter, a world-leading manufacturer of cab overpressure systems designed to meet strict European standards. It is the first time the technology has been available in New Zealand. . . 

 

Green diesel restriction put silage season at risk – Tamara Fitzpatrick:

Farmers may be “at risk” of not getting their silage cut this year as many contractors are facing quantity restrictions when buying green diesel.

“Deliveries are restricted, there’s no doubt about it,” said Michael Moroney, CEO at Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI). “We are getting anecdotal evidence from some of our members that they are facing delivery restrictions.”

It comes after the FCI called on the Government last week to “ring fence” 200 million litres of green diesel in preparation for silage season.

“I talked to one contractor who needs 10,000L of fuel to get crops in over the next 10 days, but has only been given 1,500L,” said TD Colm Burke in the Dáil last Thursday. . . 


Rural round-up

02/04/2022

Call for transparency over Māori data – Nigel Stirling:

THE dairy industry wants the Government to come clean over its plans to demand special protections for Māori data in trade agreements.

The industry says it is in the dark about the Government’s new negotiating strategy and is worried if the demands go too far they could undermine New Zealand’s claims to greater access to trading partners’ dairy markets.

Dairy Companies Association chair Malcolm Bailey says talks for a trade deal with the European Union are already slow-going.

“We are conscious that if we are making a new demand of the Europeans in these negotiations we need to have a good understanding of what it is we are actually asking for and the value of that,” Bailey said. . .

NZ’s high melanoma death rates ‘no surprise’ – Gerald Piddock:

New research showing that New Zealand has the highest death rate of melanoma in the world is of little surprise, a health researcher says.

The disease causes the death of 350 people annually, with the cost of diagnosing and treating melanoma in NZ is estimated to be in excess of $51 million annually.

If 2020 rates remain stable, the global burden from melanoma is estimated to increase to 510 000 new cases and 96 000 deaths – a 68% increase – by 2040, the research by international scientists showed.

The rates were highest in Australia and NZ, followed by Western Europe, North America and Northern Europe. . . 

Rabobank’s performance points to our farm sector being in good shape – Point of Order:

Reflecting  the  surging prosperity in NZ’s  rural  heartlands, Rabobank  has  reported  an  after-tax   profit  of  $209m,  up $88m or  73%.

Rabobank NZ,  which is  owned in  the  Netherlands,  has  gained  ground  in  the  banking industry since  it  arrived  here in the  1990s by specialising in  lending to farmers  and  businesses in the food  and  agribusiness supply chain.

CEO  Todd  Charteris  says the strong commodity pricing over the course of 2021 enabled a number of clients to pay down debt which improved the risk profile of the portfolio and enabled the  bank to unwind loan impairments from the previous year.

“We remain positive about the long-term prospects for the [rural] sector and our intention is to further expand our agri-lending portfolio through new lending to farmers and other businesses across NZ’s food and agribusiness supply chain,” Charteris says. . . 

 

Overseas Investment Office approves Austrian aristocrat’s farm purchase for forestry conversion

An Austrian aristocrat has been given approval to buy another farm in Aotearoa and plant pine trees in it.

The latest round of Overseas Investment Office (OIO) consents show Johannes Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg has been given the green light to purchase the 445 hectare Te Maire Farm near Masterton.

Just over 300 hectares of the farm will be planted in pine trees which will be harvested in 2048, before a second rotation is planted.

Described as an experienced forestry investor by the OIO, Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg purchased three farms in 2019 for conversion to forestry. . .

Synlait first-half revenue and sales volume largest on record :

Dairy company Synlait has posted a strong first-half result driven by ingredients sales volumes, commodity price increases, and a one-time gain of $11.9 million from the sale and leaseback of property in Auckland.

Key numbers for the six months ended January 2022 compared to a year ago:

  • Net profit $27.9m vs $6.4m
  • Revenue $790.6m vs $664.2m
  • Other income including one-time gain $15.4m vs $1.6m
  • Underlying profit $68.4m vs $47.7m
  • Forecast base milk price $9.60 per kilo of milk solids . . .

NZ packhouse technology notches up firsts with asparagus producer :

New Zealand fresh produce software provider Radford Software has onboarded leading Australian asparagus producer and distributor Raffa Fields to implement a packhouse system entirely remotely.

Customer success manager Royce Sharplin said the partnership represented two key firsts for Radfords – a move into the asparagus sector and the first remote implementation of its packhouse solutions, due to the global pandemic.

“This reaffirms that our strategy to diversify into wider fresh produce sectors to complement our traditional kiwifruit, apple, citrus and avocado markets is on the right track,” Mr Sharplin said.

“It would have taken a lot of trust to implement our systems from afar. Go-live last August followed a condensed timeframe from scope to delivery, achieved by a strong partnership with an enthusiastic and proactive team from Raffa Fields.” . . 

 

Sustainable vision wins at 2022 Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards:

The 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners say everything they do is to a high standard, for the good of the industry and themselves.

Jono and Kerri Robson were named the 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards last night in Masterton. Other major winners were Amarjeet Kamboj, the 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, and Jacob Stolte, the 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Robson’s are 50/50 herd-owning sharemilkers on Dean Nikora and Alexandra Stewart’s 119ha, 350-cow Waipukurau property. They won $10.586 in prizes and six merit awards.

Jono and Kerri have entered the Share Farmer category twice previously, while Jono is also a past entrant in the Dairy Manager category. . .

 


Rural round-up

29/03/2022

Farmers unhappy crucial land will be lost of flooding over the government’s proposed hydro storage scheme at Lake Onslow – Kaysha Brownlie:

The Government is pouring millions into trying to fix New Zealand’s dry year electricity problem. 

But it’s also pouring water on people’s farms in the process.

A $4 billion pumped hydro storage scheme is being investigated against other options to create a battery to store power for when we run low.

One option would involve flooding Lake Onslow, a man-made lake 20 kilometres east of Roxburgh and roughly halfway between Dunedin and Queenstown.  . . 

New Zealand red meat exports top 1 billion in February but pressure mounting on sector :

Current strong export returns for New Zealand red meat face pressure in the coming months due to labour shortages and supply chain disruption, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

The industry exported products worth $1.1 billion during February 2022, with increases in value to all major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said current strong meat prices were compensating for a drop in the volume of exports, with sheepmeat volumes down 11 per cent and beef down seven per cent compared to February 2021.

“Absenteeism in processing plants due to staff having to isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic is adding to the pressure on our industry, which is already dealing with a significant labour shortage and ongoing global logistics challenges. . . 

Meat processors searching for skilled staff during challenging times – Yashas Srinivasa :

South Canterbury’s major meat processors are struggling in their hunt for staff.

Alliance Group’s Smithfield plant in Timaru is 30 workers short during what is an “extremely busy” processing period and require more halal butchers while at Silver Fern Farms, at Pareora, the shortage is around 150 for a season described as one of their most challenging.

Alliance Group general manager manufacturing Willie Wiese said like the rest of the meat processing and exporting industry, they are continuing to deal with labour shortage issues at their plants including Smithfield.

“The sector’s chronic labour shortage has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and border restrictions, which has prevented us from employing a small number of workers from overseas to help make up the shortfall in numbers we can recruit locally,” Wiese said. . .

How a Central Otago farm became Montana for Power of the Dog and the region’s film hopes :

Central Otago will be watching the 94th Academy Awards with anticipation as The Power of the Dog is up for a pack-leading 12 nominations.

The movie, a critical darling, was filmed primarily in Otago.

Dame Jane Campion has become the first woman to be twice nominated for best director, while its stars are also up for most of the major categories and the movie is tipped as favourite for best picture.

But closer to home it is the uncredited co-star – the sparse landscape of Maniototo – filling locals with pride. . . 

Wool Impact NZ plans for positive impact – Country Life:

Carpet marketer Wools of New Zealand says demand for woolen carpet is lifting and the new body forming to help the struggling strong wool industry will give it a further boost.

Wool Impact NZ will launch mid-year with the aim of working with brands to get strong-wool products into markets quickly and speed up returns to farmers.

Wools of NZ chair John McWhirter says in the past 6 to 12 months the demand for wool carpet has lifted from 15 percent of the soft flooring market to 20 percent.

“And what’s exciting about that is when you think about it, that’s actually a 25% increase in demand for wool carpet. Yes, it’s off a  small base. But it’s a clear signal that consumers are actually moving back to wool, to natural fibres and away from man-made fibres.” .  . 

 

 

Kabocha Milk Co wins 2 global wards for best health wellness drink and best plant based beverage with Kabochamilk :

 Fresh Kabocha (also known as pumpkin or squash – and not to be confused with ‘Kombucha’) has been eaten by the people of Japan, Korea & China since 1541. It is revered for its high Vitamin A & C content, and rich fibre and mineral content.

• Kabochamilk was created in collaboration between between veteran Hawke’s Bay grower Shane Newman and Japanese NZ celebrity chef Sachie Nomura with the goal of creating a visually beautiful, nutritious plant milk that isn’t affected by seasonality and can be consumed any time of the day.

• Kabochamilk upcycles NZ Kabocha and provides a high-value export opportunity – positively impacting nature and communities.

Kabocha Milk Co.– proudly made in the Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand has scooped another two international food innovation awards – this time at the 2022 World Food Innovations in London as the “Best Health and Wellness Drink” and “Best Plant Based Beverage” . . 


Rural round-up

28/03/2022

Not so fast – Rural News:

Predictions that NZ’s farming sector is in for a bumper year need to be put into context.

While many primary sectors – including dairy, horticulture and red meat – are experiencing record commodity prices, a number of factors are leading to some even bigger cost increases, which will mean less on-farm profitability.

As Rabobank NZ’s analyst Emma Higgins recently opined, “Rocketing input costs and crimped production in some regions will not translate into new benchmark profits”.

This is due to a number of reasons: the ongoing impact of Covid, the war in the Ukraine, growing inflation and the imposition of government-imposed regulations – to name just a few.

Worrying external deficit should give govt cause to shy away from calls to cull the country’s dairy herd – Point of Order:

Even  though NZ  is  reaping record prices for  its  primary exports, the  country’s current  account deficit  “exploded”  (the  BNZ’s  word  for it) in calendar  year 2021  to  the  equivalent  of  5.8% of  GDP,  or  $20bn. The  previous  year  the  annual deficit had been only  0.8%  of  GDP.

Economist  Cameron Bagrie  said  the current account deficit didn’t  get the  attention  it  deserved. The  BNZ’s  economists, noting there had been  a  very  big change in a  short  space  of time, said the deficit   is  the  largest   since 2009.

“It continues a rapid widening of the external deficit that we have been warning of for quite some time. The deficit is now getting to a level that some in the market and/or rating agencies might start paying attention to.”

Whether  the  government, preoccupied  with Covid  and  rising inflation, is  paying   any attention  isn’t clear — but  it  should be.  Some insiders  believe it is  beavering  away  on climate change  measures  that could have a  damaging effect on  farming  morale—particularly if the government goes  ahead with  measures as  proposed  by the Climate Change Commission to reduce  methane emissions  by  cutting cow herds by  15%. . . 

Otago pulls out the stops on its most insidious pest – Jill Herron:

When the rabbits spill off Otago’s land and on to its sea lion, seal and penguin-populated beaches, you know there’s a serious pest-control problem

For the first time in years – so many no one wants to put a number on it – non-compliance notices have been served on Otago landowners for letting rabbits run amok on their land.

A further 40 notices ordering immediate action or costly consequences are set to follow, as a shake-up in the pest department at the Otago Regional Council (ORC) last year starts to bear fruit.

Environmental implementation manager Andrea Howard, who has been in the role less than two years, concedes the ORC has had a “less than active stance” on the rabbit front and that this would have contributed to current numbers. . . 

Big names back NZ agtech breakthrough:

 Two global leaders in agriculture are helping advance world-first pasture technology designed, tested and made in New Zealand.

Investment from Gallagher and the Royal Barenbrug Group will fund wider farm roll-out and faster development for Christchurch-based Farmote Systems, company founder Richard Barton says.

Launched in Canterbury last spring, the Farmote System is a unique new way of automatically recording precise, consistent and reliable pasture data, 24/7. It now covers over 6000 hectares of farmland.

Fast forward

“We’re excited to have attracted new investment from Gallagher, as well as further investment from Barenbrug,” Richard Barton says. . . 

 

Export deal to see NZ wool carpet used in $1bn New York skyscraper :

A Kiwi company has secured a US export contract to supply one of New York’s tallest skyscrapers with its wool flooring product.

The $1.1 billion Brooklyn Tower will be home to hundreds of the city’s elite and will stand at 327 metres when it opens later this year, making it one of the world’s tallest residential buildings.

The new contract will see Bremworth supply over 3,000sqm of wool carpet for the 93 storey, supertall skyscraper and is one of the company’s largest ever installations of its natural fibre product in the US.[1]

The North American deal is the highest profile commercial contract for the company since Bremworth’s wool carpets were used in the refurbishment of dozens of US retail outlets owned by Cartier, the luxury French jewellery maker. . . 

Dairy giant Arla warns of supply issues unless farmers paid more – Emma Simpson:

The UK’s largest dairy has warned milk supplies could be under threat unless its farmers are paid more.

The managing director of Arla Foods said costs are increasing at rates never seen before and that farmers can no longer cover their expenses.

“Because of the recent crisis, feed, fuel and fertiliser have rocketed and therefore cashflow on the farm is negative,” said Ash Amirahmadi.

He added farmers are producing less milk as a result of the higher costs. . . 


Rural round-up

24/03/2022

ORC plan has far-reaching implications – Mark Patterson:

“Consultation on the Otago Regional Council’s new land and water plan has recently been under way,” writes Federated Farmers Otago president Mark Patterson.

The outcomes will set parameters for farming for the next decade or more.

Stage one is consulting the public on what are our shared visions for environmental outcomes in Otago. I would call it the kumbaya phase.

Everyone, farmers especially, cares about the state of our waterways and safe drinking water. While this phase is a necessary first step it’s hard not to see it as a box-ticking exercise given the outcome is heavily prescribed by the overarching national policy statement. . .

Don’t forget farmers when it comes to fuel prices – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Farming in New Zealand is under threat and overlooking the cost of fuel on-farm is yet another pressure, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

The reality of trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) was made startlingly clear this month.

When the price at the pump went up, the government announced a cut in fuel excise duties to allow people to continue life as usual.

The cut was an acknowledgment of the effect of fuel on the cost of living, which is part of the reason so many countries support fossil fuel subsidies. . . 

Forestry rules about to be upturned – Keith Woodford:

More forestry upheavals are coming as the Government foreshadows big changes to the rules of the game. Sheep and beef farmers including iwi are the big prospective losers.

In 2018, the Government announced that it was moving towards a new regime for New Zealand forestry within the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).  The plans included a new so-called ‘permanent forestry’ category for introduced species, also known as exotics.

The relevant legislation was passed in 2020 with regulations subsequently added for enactment on I January 2023. Industry has been moving forward on that basis. Things are now about to be upturned.

Over the last 12 months, the Government has been getting nervous about what it had set in place. It took a while, but Government now understands what some of us understood somewhat earlier, that carbon forestry has become the most profitable game in the country.  That was not what they intended. . . 

Protecting bees from killer mites:

The parasitic mite Varroa destructor is a severe threat to New Zealand’s honey bees. Since the mite appeared on our shores twenty years ago, affected bees have not been able to survive without human intervention.

Effective treatment for varroa is essential for protecting our most productive pollinators.

More bee colonies are now being lost due to varroa mites than any other cause, according to the latest Ministry for Primary industries annual bee surveillance report. This was the first time in the survey’s history that the mite had been most frequently attributed to colony losses, with queen problems previously being considered the leading cause.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says “Varroa wiped out wild bee colonies as it spread throughout the country, so it’s essential that beekeepers remain highly vigilant, check for its presence and treat hives with miticides – at the right time and with the right dose.” . . 

Career growth opportunities abound for Canterbury North Otago Dairy Industry Awards winner :

The winner of the 2022 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Industry Awards is excited about the opportunities for career growth within the dairy industry.

Will Green was announced winner of the region’s Share Farmer of the Year category at Trott’s Garden in Ashburton on Tuesday evening.

Other major winners were Jaspal Singh, who was named the 2022 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year, and Peter O’Connor, the 2022 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Will has tasted success in the Dairy Industry Awards as the 2018 Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Manager of the Year and was also awarded the National Runner-Up title. . . 

New Zealand Young Farmers welcomes new sponsors to the NZYF tournament series :

Four agricultural organisations have jumped at the chance to support the New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) Tournament Series.

With a rich 80-year history, the NZYF Tournament Series now consists of the Hunting and Fishing clay target shooting, Goldpine fencing, NZ Farmers Livestock stock judging and Tavendale and Partners debating competitions.

NZYF Board Chair Kent Weir says these sponsors have made a world of difference to the Tournament Series which starts at grass roots club level.

“It’s fantastic to have these businesses on board to support our Clubs with hosting their tournaments locally and at a national level as well,” he said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

17/03/2022

‘Unviable to grow produce’ in NZ: Farmers blame rising cost of energy, rates, wages, audits – Sally Murphy:

Increasing costs are putting a huge strain on vegetable growers, with some considering hanging up their tools.

Energy costs have almost doubled in the past year, the minimum wage has gone up and the price of on-farm audits are rising – making growing vegetables more expensive.

NZ Gourmet director of production Roelf Schreuder said the business needed to have audits for certification, water quality, chemical storage and health and safety, just to name a few.

“For certification for NZ Gap and Global Gap they come a couple of times a year and charge about $240 an hour to sit down and check the books, so growers are having to spend more time and money preparing for them as well as paying for the actual audit – it’s a big cost. . . .

Fruit and vegetables drive up annual food prices :

Annual food prices rose 6.8 percent in February 2022 compared with February 2021, Stats NZ said today.

This was the largest annual increase since July 2011 when prices increased 7.9 percent.

In February 2022 compared with February 2021:

  • fruit and vegetable prices increased by 17 percent
  • grocery food prices increased by 5.4 percent . . .

A farmer’s perspective:

After enduring COVID19 and isolating for 10 days, I was asked to give my opinion on how we managed the farm, family and staff.  Regardless of how people think of COVID19, whether it’s a she’ll be right mentality or you have ordered a pallet of Vitamin C along with toilet roll, the reality is you’re going to get sick.

We were prepared with a COVID plan.  We knew our legal obligations around milk pick up and we knew we needed to be a step ahead.  The virus hit us pretty hard and happened within a day of first contact. Within those first 24hrs I had rung our neighbours, our 2IC, Fonterra (area manager and milk collection), our bank, school and thereafter kept everyone updated.  We had a designated drop off point for food, medication and anything that was needed for the farm.  We were able to work most of the days out of necessity and kept away from our 2IC. We had to amend our milking times to be able to use a relief milker. To put things in perspective, adults were double vaxed with boosters. Kids not vaccinated. We still caught the virus but certainly didn’t need any outside medical intervention or Hospitalisation. COVID will affect people differently.

We got very sick and it was tough watching the kids going through it.  We lived on paracetamol, vitamins and electrolytes and we used my “My Food Bag”. We put the farm on sleep mode for about 5 days. We didn’t want to overwhelm staff with the extra workload so we kept the jobs to essential along with milking.  I would suggest checking your calendar and canceling all your appointments. We had a shed inspection during COVID but all went well. In hindsight I would have cleared the calendar.  We did have people call to the door and had to tell them our situation, most were thankful for our honesty, some were less than pleased.  Public perception has shown me people are scared and nervous.  At one point when the fever hit hard and the body ached and every orifice was evacuating someone drove into the driveway and I sure I heard, bring out your dead!  But after day 6 we were on the mend.  . .

Fonterra reports its Interim Results :

  • Total Group Revenue: NZ$10,797 million, up 9%
  • Reported Profit After Tax NZ$364 million, down 7%
  • Normalised Profit After Tax: NZ$364 million, down 13%
  • Total Group normalised EBIT: NZ$607 million, down 11%
  • Net Debt: NZ$5.6 billion, down 8%
  • Total Group normalised Gross Profit: NZ$1,607 million, down 7%
  • Total Group normalised Gross Margin: 14.9% down from 17.4%
  • Total Group Operating Expenditure: NZ$1,062 million, up 1%
  • Normalised Africa, Middle East, Europe, North Asia, Americas (AMENA) EBIT: NZ $250 million, up 25%
  • Normalised Greater China EBIT: NZ$236 million, down 20%
  • Normalised Asia Pacific (APAC) EBIT: NZ$158 million, down 33%
  • Full year forecast normalised earnings per share: 25 – 35 cents per share
  • Interim Dividend: 5 cents per share
  • Forecast Farmgate Milk Price range: NZ$9.30 – $9.90 per kgMS
  • Forecast milk collections: 1,480 million kgMS, down 3.8%

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced its 2022 Interim Results which show the Co-op has delivered a half year Profit After Tax of NZ$364 million, a Total Group normalised EBIT of NZ$607 million, and a decision to pay an interim dividend of 5 cents alongside a record high forecast Farmgate Milk Price.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the Co-op’s results for the first half of the financial year show it is performing well, while creating the momentum needed to achieve its 2030 targets. . .

Māori owned dairy company, Miraka, has appointed global food industry executive, Karl Gradon, as its new CEO :

Chairman, Kingi Smiler has welcomed Mr Gradon’s appointment which followed an extensive search.

“We’re delighted to appoint Karl as our new CEO. He has solid credentials and international experience in business development and strategy across the dairy, agricultural and primary industry sectors.”

Karl spent nearly 20 years in the dairy industry with Fonterra and Kerry Ingredients holding Senior Management positions in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the USA.

Since returning home, he has taken up a range of governance roles and directorships in economic development and business. Karl was also CEO of New Zealand Mānuka Group helping that business grow its Mānuka honey and oil production.” . . 

Groundswell NZ proposes emissions reduction plan :

The proposals put forward under the He Waka Eke Noa Partnership are so unworkable that Groundswell NZ is proposing its own alternative, Groundswell NZ leader Bryce McKenzie said.

“None of the options are workable and, like the Emissions Trading Scheme, they will deliver worse outcomes for the environment, farmers, and our country.”

“We back Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard’s view, that none of the options are long term solutions and that an emissions tax, without affordable and practical new technologies, would kill off the farming sector.”

“Groundswell NZ’s alternative is an integrated environmental policy framework incentivising and enabling on the ground actions across all aspects of the environment, including freshwater, indigenous biodiversity, and emissions.” . . 

                                                                   

Ukraine – how the global fertiliser shortage is going to affect food – John Hammond & Yiorgos Gadanakis :

We are currently witnessing the beginning of a global food crisis, driven by the knock-on effects of a pandemic and more recently the rise in fuel prices and the conflict in Ukraine. There were already clear logistical issues with moving grain and food around the globe, which will now be considerably worse as a result of the war. But a more subtle relationship sits with the link to the nutrients needed to drive high crop yields and quality worldwide.

Crops are the basis of our food system, whether feeding us or animals, and without secured supply in terms of volume and quality, our food system is bankrupt. Crops rely on a good supply of nutrients to deliver high yields and quality (as well as water, sunlight and a healthy soil), which in modern farming systems come from manufactured fertilisers. As you sit and read this article, the air you breath contains 78% nitrogen gas – this is the same source of nitrogen used in the production of most manufactured nitrogen fertilisers.

However, to take this gas from the air and into a bag of fertiliser takes a huge amount of energy. The Haber-Bosch process, which converts nitrogen and hydrogen into ammonia as a crucial step in creating fertilisers, uses between 1% and 2% of all energy generated globally by some estimates. Consequently, the cost of producing nitrogen fertiliser is directly linked to the cost of fuel. This is why the UK price of ammonium nitrate has climbed as high as £1,000 per tonne at the time of writing, compared to £650 a week ago.

Fertiliser inputs to farming systems represent one of the largest single variable costs of producing a crop. When investing in fertiliser, a farmer must balance the return on this investment through the price they receive at harvest. Adding more fertiliser, for a small improvement in yield, might not pay for itself at harvest. . .


Rural round-up

11/03/2022

Fonterra repeals vaccine mandate in favour of daily rapid antigen tests – Jean Bell:

Unvaccinated employees will now be handed a rapid antigen test rather than a dismissal letter

Fonterra is abandoning its hardline vaccine policy, opting for daily rapid antigen testing in a move employment law experts call “pragmatic”. 

The dairy giant was due to enforce a strict mandate on April 1, 2022, requiring all employees and contractors to be fully vaccinated.

But in an email note sent out to staff this week, chief executive Miles Hurrell says the company is changing tack. . . 

Omicron spread causing staff shortages in poultry industry – Maja Burry:

The poultry industry is reporting staff shortages of 45 percent at some Auckland plants as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.

New Zealanders consume about 125 million chickens each year – but the strain on processing capacity is forcing the industry to revise the number of chicks being hatched to help ensure farms do not become overwhelmed.

Poultry Industry Association executive director Michael Brooks said prior to the Omicron outbreak its members had already been struggling with staff shortages of about 10 to 15 percent, with the usual supply of migrant workers and backpackers cut off.

“I’m now hearing as a result of Covid that you’ve got some plants where they’re [experiencing] 45 percent loss of staff, so they are really working hard.” . . 

Shearing helped Adkins be cut above :

Tom Adkins finds it “mind-boggling” he will be footing it with the country’s best young farmers, after winning the regional competition.

The 23-year-old Upper Waitaki Young Farmers chairman competed in the Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year in Fairlie on February 26 and in February 27.

It was his first year competing at the regional level, and he found it “very challenging”.

“I’d been up to watch the grand final, and been to districts before, so I’d seen the polar opposites … thankfully it was a bit closer to district level than grand final,” Mr Adkins said. . . 

The giant puddle that could power New Zealand – Jill Herron:

It has been described as a “game changer” that would see fossil fuels disappear from our electricity generation.  Lake Onslow in Central Otago is proposed to be NZ’s Battery – but little is known about the place itself. Jill Herron reports.

Lake Onslow is man-made and started life as the delightfully-named ‘Dismal Swamp’. Bleak, windswept and utterly beautiful, it lies like a giant puddle in a depression high in the north-west Lammerlaw Ranges, near Roxburgh.

It’s an empty-feeling place, mostly made up of sky. Aside from a tiny breeze whispering through the tussock, the valley was quiet the day Newsroom visited the lake. The only sounds were distant honking geese and occasional growl of a boat motor, briefly propelling fishermen across the water to a prime spot, before falling silent again.

The lake is a unique and cherished brown trout fishery, set in a series of real-life Grahame Sydney paintings. . . 

Last-gasp tenure review plan panned as inadequate – David Williams:

The controversial tenure review process is about to end – will a Crown pastoral lease in Otago sneak through? David Williams reports

It could be the last.

A preliminary proposal to end the Lowburn Valley Crown pastoral lease suggests the freeholding of 44 percent of the 5814-hectare property, located in remote and steep country in Central Otago, between Lake Dunstan and Cardrona Valley.

The deal is racing to reach the “substantive” stage before a Bill before Parliament is enacted, closing the door on tenure review – a controversial process which ends pastoral leases through rights-acknowledging payments and dividing land into protected and freeholded portions. . . 

Cash back offer provides farmers with a ‘space for survival’ :

Safer Farms is reinforcing the value of crush protection devices (CPDs) on quad bikes and urging farmers to take advantage of a cash back offer.

Quad bikes contribute significantly to on farm fatalities. A CPD is specially designed to reduce the chance of serious injury or death in the event of a roll over.

Safer Farms is today launching ‘Control the Roll’ — a new campaign to raise awareness for the lifesaving cash back initiative currently available via ACC. A CPD creates a gap when it rolls over and meets the ground, taking the impact of the bike and keeping it off the operator laying underneath it. This increases the chance of a positive outcome for the operator in the event the quad bike rolls over.

The ACC cash back offer allows farmers to receive $180 (plus GST) cash back on up to two devices, including the Quadbar, Quadbar Flexi, and ATV Lifeguard CPDs. . . 


Rural round-up

26/01/2022

The carbon price marches on – Keith Woodford:

NZU investors are now driving the price of carbon as they play the market

As I write this in late January 2022, the carbon price in the open market is $75, with this measured per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). That is an increase of just over 10 percent since the last auction of units by the Government less than two months ago in December 2021. It is also 95 percent higher than the price of carbon this time last year.

The most recent 10 percent increase may not sound much. But the fact that the market price has now breached $70 is significant. It means that there is a developing consensus among players in the carbon market that, at the next auction on 16 March, the Government’s seven million NZU cost-containment reserve for all of 2022 will be exhausted.

If the reserve is exhausted in March, it is likely to be onwards and upwards from there for the carbon price, with three further auctions in 2022 unconstrained by any cost-containment reserve. . .

Economic boost of almost $14bn comes from lift in Fonterra milk payment – Point of Order:

While  most   of  the  economy  is  struggling  with the  impact  of the Covid pandemic, the dairy industry  is  riding  a  prosperity  wave.

In the  wake  of  high prices recorded at  last week’s Global  Auction,  the  big  co-op Fonterra has lifted its forecast milk payment to farmers for this season to a new record level  between $8.90 and $9.50kg/MS.. That’s up from its forecast in early December of between $8.40 an d $9kg/MS..

The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, increased to $9.20kg/MS from $8.70, the highest level since Fonterra was formed in 2001. The co-op paid farmers $7.54kg/MS last season, and its previous record was $8.40kg/MS in the 2013/14 season.

Global dairy prices hit an eight-year-high at auction last week, as tight milk supply has strengthened  demand for New Zealand’s most  significant export commodity. Prices have been supported this season by weaker milk production in this  country   because  of poor weather and higher feed costs. . . 

Alliance launches premium Wagyu beef offer for farmers :

Alliance has launched a premium Wagyu beef offer to farmers in a bid to increase value and meet consumer demand in its international markets.

The red meat cooperative is partnering with Southern Stations Wagyu who will provide the genetics from its Australian based Red Wagyu bulls to farmers here.

Farmers can sign a supply contract for cattle with a minimum of 50 percent red or black wagyu genetics.

Red wagyu and black wagyu are different breeds of Japanese cattle, both known for their high intramuscular fat content and marbling ability. . . 

A2 Milk share price surges on back of speculation of takeover by Canadian dairy giant – Gyles Beckford:

Rumours that the embattled specialty dairy company A2 Milk is being eyed as a possible takeover target is being credited with driving its shareprice more than 7 percent higher.

The Australian newspaper has linked A2 Milk to the Canadian dairy giant Saputo, which is reported to be close to making a big acquisition.

A2 has been [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/business/454339/a2-milk-changing-growth-strategy-after-china-infant-formula-market-forces-adaptions touted as a possible takeover target over the past year as it struggled to restore its earnings, profits and share price in the face of disrupted sales channels, excess stock and a slide in sales of infant formula in the key Chinese market.

A2 declined comment on the speculation. . . 

Traffic stopping sunflower field in Tararua a sight to behold – George Heagney:

A field blooming with thousands of sunflowers, intended to subdue speeding motorists, appears to be having the desired effect.

The striking sight even has travellers pulling off the country road to pose and take photos with the radiant backdrop.

Abbe​ Hoare planted 47,000 sunflower seeds in a half-hectare block near the roadside of her farm at Mangamaire, south of Pahīatua.

The sunflowers started flowering about 10 days ago and now the field is filled with bright yellow heads all facing east, which are expected to last until the end of February. . . 

World’s first CRISPR-edited sugarcane developed in Brazil – Daniel Azevedo:

Scientists from Embrapa Agroenergia in Brazil have developed the first sugarcane varieties edited using CRISPR gene editing technology. The edited sugarcane varieties are called Cana Flex I and Cana Flex II. The respective distinctive features are easier cell wall digestibility and higher sucrose concentration in plant tissues.

The edited plants are considered non-transgenic, or DNA-Free, according to Normative Resolution No. 16 (RN No. 16) of the National Biosafety Technical Commission (CTNBio), issued on 12/9/2021. Both developments used the CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), a “Nobel prized” and revolutionary gene manipulation technique discovered in 2012.

They respond to one of the biggest scientific challenges in the sugarcane sector: easy enzyme’s access into sugars trapped in cells, which facilitates ethanol production (first and second generation), and better extraction of other bioproducts.

In the case of Cana Flex I, the CRISPR technique silenced the gene responsible for the rigidity of the plant cell wall, in order to increase its “digestibility”. This means the enzymatic hydrolysis process – a chemical process that extracts compounds from plant biomass – is more efficient. . .


Rural round-up

23/12/2021

Governments risk throwing good honey after bad – Jonathan Milne:

Mānuka honey producers on both sides of the Tasman will want more public funding to escalate a contentious international court battle over whether any one group can own an entire variety.

Analysis: Nicola and Robbie Patrick are preparing to extend their small Tasmanian business producing manuka honey, to push into the lucrative UK export market. “We will obviously be looking at the opportunities that will be there,” Nicola Patrick says. “With our hives, we are not big corporate players – in Tasmania we are family-run businesses. We will never compete as far as volume is concerned. We are more about quality at a boutique level.” 

Their company, Blue Hills Honey, may be a small operator – but it is challenges like these that are worrying a group of New Zealand mānuka honey producers. After a costly and damaging legal defeat in the UK this month, that opens the doors to so-called manuka honeys from around the world, the New Zealand group reveals it is seeking English lawyers’ advice on mounting an appeal. . . 

New share ownership model needed to combat fragmentation in Māori farm incorporation

The outgoing Ātihau-Whanganui Incorporation chair says one of the biggest challenges facing the Māori farming organisation is the ongoing fragmentation of shares.

Mavis Mullins said the whānau of more than 9000 shareholders and descendants continued to expand as individual families grew, and many shareholdings were being broken into increasingly smaller fragments.

She said continued fragmentation would affect decision making, identity, connection and the wellbeing of shareholder whānau.

“I hope we never end up at a place where everyone owns a little bit of nothing because of that fragmentation and the disconnection of our whānau,” Mullins said. . .

Winner has found feet in the sheds Tracie Barrett:

Alexandra teenager Charis Morrell has been around sheep and shearing from before she could walk.

But it is only this year that the award-winning woolhandler has felt that “everything clicked” for her in the job.

The judges of the New Zealand Corriedale woolhandling championships at the Canterbury Shears in Christchurch last month took notice, the 16-year-old claiming her first senior title to add to three junior titles on lambswool over the past two seasons.

Champions run in the family — father Dion Morrell is a former shearing champion and world record-holder, and sister Pagan Karauria is also a world champion woolhandler. . . 

 

Farmers give $37,000 to Auckland Mission – push on to $100,000 :

The Federated Farmers “Farmers Feed Families” campaign is in its last week, and the farmer advocacy organisation is blown away by the generosity shown by Kiwis at Christmas.

Feds Gisborne President Toby Williams, who came up with the campaign to raise money for Auckland City Mission, says the struggle is real for families as a result of COVID-19 fallout, including loss of jobs or cutbacks to hours.

‘Farmers Feed Families’ encourages farmers and growers to consider giving a wee bit to the cause via a Givealittle page which links directly to the Auckland mission. As at today more than $37,000 has been given and the push is on to get to the target of $100,000.

“We can do this and I ask farmers and growers to dig deep this week,” Toby says. . . 

Animal ID compliance on the rise:

MPI push on NAIT compliance pays off with almost 90% in 2021.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is warning against complacency as rates of compliance with the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme continue to rise.

The scheme, which maintains a national database of cattle and deer movements, is a critical part of New Zealand’s ability to respond quickly to biosecurity threats, says MPI National Manager of Animal Welfare and NAIT Compliance, Gray Harrison.

“We take non-compliance seriously because of the potentially devastating effect these threats can have on industry and communities. . . 

Tree planting incentives ‘eroding’ Scotland’s food security :

Scotland’s food security could be ‘eroded’ if tighter tree planting safeguards on productive farmland are not implemented, NFU Scotland has warned.

While the union remains supportive of the integration of woodlands into farm businesses, it is ‘fundamentally opposed’ to largescale forestry expansion on productive farmland.

Such growth in recent times has been fuelled by non-agricultural businesses purchasing land for planting to offset carbon emissions and boost their green credentials.

At the same time, this is eroding Scotland’s capacity to improve its self-sufficiency in food, NFU Scotland warned. . . 


Rural round-up

08/11/2021

Farmers urged to create Covid-19 checklist :

Farmers are being urged to create a check list on how to run their farm in case they get Covid-19 and can’t do so themselves.

Federated Farmers and other industry groups arranged an online meeting where farmers could put questions to experts about the virus, isolating on farm and vaccines to experts yesterday.

One specific question was what would happen if they’re not well enough to take care of their stock.

Federated Farmers team leader of industry policy Julie Geange said from a legal stand point the responsibility for animal welfare sits with the owner of the animal or the person in charge. . . 

Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalists announced for season 54 :

The finalists for the FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 Aorangi Regional Final have been selected.

The preliminary stages of the contest have wrapped up for the region, with the top eight competitors selected out of 27, across two district contests (Aorangi North and Aorangi South).

Dairy farmer Peter O’Connor, DairyNZ Extension Partner Hugh Jackson, Senior Machinery Operator Lachlan Angland, Irrigation Management Technician Jess Cunliffe, new mother and casual shepherd Alice Perry, shepherd Tom Adkins, sheep beef dairy and walnut farmer James Hurst, and Daniel Durdle have qualified.

Only one person will win Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year, to qualify for the Grand Final in July, in Whangarei. . . 

Farmlands co-operative announces $8.1m NPBTR :

Rural service and supplies co-operative Farmlands has today announced an $8.1 million Net Profit Before Tax and Rebates for the 2020/21 financial year.

The result comes on the back of $2.7 billion in turnover and $1.1 billion in revenue. Farmlands’ more than 75,000 shareholders nationwide received $94.2 million in monthly rebates, discounts and loyalty reward redemptions over the course of the year.

COVID-19 again played a part in a result Chair Rob Hewett called “a pass mark and little more” and paid tribute to the hard work of staff across a challenging year. . .

Fonterra and VitaKey partner to enhance dairy’s contribution to health and wellness :

Looking to a future where it is likely that many foods will be more valued for their specific health benefits, Fonterra and VitaKey Inc. announced today a transformative dairy science collaboration to further unlock the benefits of Fonterra’s probiotic strains.

VitaKey specialises in precision delivery of nutrition – an emerging area of research that seeks to deliver the right nutrients, in the right amount, to the right part of the body at the right time.

Co-founded by Dr. Robert Langer, the VitaKey delivery technology platform for nutrients is based on technology licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and developed at the Langer Lab, the largest academic biomedical engineering lab in the world.

Utilising VitaKey’s proprietary technology and customised solutions, Fonterra is looking to design dairy products that incorporate targeted and time-controlled release of specific dairy nutrients, starting with probiotics, in a way that locks in the freshness for longer and allows the nutrients to be more active and beneficial in the body. . .

Applications open for 2022 Meat Industry Association scholarships :

Students considering a future career in New Zealand’s red meat industry are encouraged to apply for a 2022 Meat Industry Association (MIA) Scholarship.

Applications are now open for four MIA undergraduate scholarships, providing $5,000 a year for each year of study, and one post-graduate award of $10,000 a year for each year of study up to a maximum of three years for both. The association also runs a mentoring programme connecting the scholars with industry leaders.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the programme is aimed at scholars from across a wide range of study areas, who are looking to contribute their skills to New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry.

“Our scholarships provide a great pathway into a productive, innovative and progressive sector. Attracting skilled people and supporting their development is essential to the success of the industry. That in turn is critical to the prosperity and wealth of the country. . . 

Hazard classification underway for two fungicides :

A proposal to update the hazard classification of two fungicides, in line with changes recently made in the European Union and Australia, is now open for public submissions.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has initiated an application for a modified reassessment of the fungicides, propiconazole and tebuconazole. Both are active ingredients in timber treatments, and are also pesticides used on a range of cereal and fruit crops.

There are 125 mixtures approved for use in this country containing either propiconazole or tebuconazole. They can only be applied by trained professionals in commercial settings.

The EPA’s modified reassessment seeks to update the hazard classification of both substances, after investigations by EPA scientists, and conclusions from the EU and Australia on adverse health effects on the reproductive system. . . 


Rural round-up

05/11/2021

Hey Glasgow we’re way ahead of you :

Federated Farmers believes Climate Change Minister James Shaw should not hesitate to sign the global commitment to reduce methane by 30% by 2030, because New Zealand is already playing its part and working hard to become even better.

The pledge, signed by more than 100 countries, is a commitment to work together to collectively reduce global anthropogenic methane emissions across all sectors by at least 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030.

The pledge does not mean that New Zealand must or should increase our current domestic 10% by 2030 biogenic methane reduction target, which already goes well beyond what is required for the GHG to achieve warming neutrality.

The pledge is clear in recognising that the mitigation potential in different sectors varies between countries and regions, and that the energy sector has the greatest potential for targeted mitigation by 2030. . . 

Farmers are making good money from milk but they should brace to meet commitment to reduce the methane – Point of Order:

A surge in  prices  at the latest  Fonterra global  dairy  auction once  again underlines  how  New Zealand’s dairy  industry  is the  backbone of  the  country’s export economy.  At  the level they  have  reached, dairy farmers  can  look  to  a  record  payout    this  season  from  Fonterra.

Overall,  prices rose 4.3% in  US dollars, and, better  still, 5.1% in NZ$. Star  of the  show  was  the  cheddar  cheese  price, which shot up  14%,  with other  foodservice products also  strong.

The average price for whole milk powder, which has the most impact on what farmers are paid, lifted 2.7% to US$3921 (NZ$5408) a tonne, prompting speculation it will push through US$4000/t.

A  record  payout  is  already  mooted  by  some some  economists  in  the agricultural  sector. Above  $8.80kg/MS, it might  dispel  the  gloom  being  cast across the industry  by Cop26, where the  focus has  shifted to the  need  to  cut methane  emissions. . . 

Food security needs certainty :

The Government must act now to ensure New Zealand growers have certainty in how Covid will handled, says National’s Horticulture spokesperson David Bennett.

“We are indebted to our growers and producers that provide the food security our country needs at this time.

“But Covid is here and it will inevitably impact essential services such as growers. . . 

Kit Arkwright appointed chief executive of Beef and Lamb New Zealand Inc,:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc (BLNZ Inc) has appointed Kit Arkwright as the organisation’s new chief executive.

Mr Arkwright, who has been fulfilling the role of acting CEO during the recruitment process, has been with the organisation since 2017, most recently as General Manager – Marketing.

Prior to working for BLNZ Inc, he worked in the UK for Great British Racing – the central promotional body for the British horseracing industry – tasked with marketing the sport to the British public.

He succeeds Rod Slater, who retired earlier in the year after 27 years in the role. . . 

Horticulture students place in top three in international food marketing challenge :

Two teams of high-flying university students from Massey and Lincoln Universities have placed in the final three in the recent International Food Marketing Challenge.

The Lincoln University team, consisting of Grace Moscrip, Grace Mainwaring, Kate Sims and Emma Ritchie, came in third place. The Massey University team, consisting of Dylan Hall, Sre Lakshmi Gaythri Rathakrishna, George Hyauiason and Reuben Dods came in second place.

Massey student Sre Lakshmi Gaythri, who’s in her final year of her Agricommerce degree, says this year’s competition was essential for putting her learning into practice.

“It was a great way to challenge ourselves to learn about the structure of the agricultural industry in the US, working on the challenge problem and coming up with solutions all within a short period of time,” says Sre. . . 

Secure water supply offers exciting opportunities in Northland :

The new Kaipara water scheme now underway offers the opportunity to tap into this Northland farm’s horticultural potential. This Te Kopuru property provides a chance to secure an investment in a green field site with secure water access for high value horticulture, offering scale and superior soil types in a highly desired location.

Learn more about how the Te Tai Tokerau water storage project will transform Northland into a horticulture hub for high value crops – www.taitokerauwater.com

Horticultural investors looking beyond the Bay of Plenty for horticultural land with scale and water security can invest in a large Northland property offering excellent growing conditions. . . 


Rural round-up

04/11/2021

Growing regulation causing added stress for dairy farmers – Survey :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

2021 2022 Ballance Farm Environment Awards to proceed nationally :

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

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

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

Galatea dairy portfolio offers robust returns :

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

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

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

Our history with bee pollen :

Ambrosia – The Food Of The Gods

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

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


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