Rural round-up

March 27, 2018

MPI cattle cull “the right thing” – Jono Edwards:

The  farming industry is viewing a Mycoplasma bovis cull of more than 22,000 cattle as a tragic necessity.

The Ministry for Primary Industries announced yesterday it would begin a cull of 22,332 cattle today on all infected sites after scientific testing and tracing confirmed the disease was not endemic.

It was working immediately with farmers to kill the stock on the 22 active infected properties which still contained cattle, it said.

The disease can cause pneumonia, abortions, lameness and mastitis and can result in the deaths of infected cows. . . 

Sheep goes for $8k at first NZ auction of Beltex ram lambs – Maja Burry:

About 300 people attended the first ever sale of Beltex ram lambs in New Zealand on Friday.

The Beltex, whose name combines Belgium and Texel, are a breed of muscle heavy sheep that have higher meat yield.

Beltex breeder Blair Gallagher said the interest around the inaugural sale, which was held at his mid-Canterbury farm was very positive.

On offer was 16 purebred Beltexes, 20 Beltex-Poll Dorsets, 18 Beltex-Suffolks and 10 Beltex Perendales. . .

Farmers given food for thought – Sally Rae:

Hakataramea Valley farmers have been given some food for thought with the suggestion they could market their products directly to consumers.

The idea was raised by Prof Keith Woodford during a field day at Waikora Station last week organised by the Hakataramea Sustainability Collective.

The collective, set up in 2016, comprises a group of farmers whose aim is to assist and encourage the protection and enhancement of the valley’s environment and promote profitable and sustainable farming practices for future generations. It has been working closely with the New Zealand Landcare Trust, Environment Canterbury, the Department of Conservation, Fish and Game, local iwi and the Waimate District Council to ensure a collaborative and cohesive approach. . . 

Thermal imaging reveal Tekapo pests predator – Kathy Guthrie:

When Sam Staley went to the Defence Force’s Tekapo Military Training Area back in 1996 to run the Military Camp and Training Area for a three year stint, one of the tasks at the time was pest control. Today, 22 years later, he’s still there, and so are some of the rabbits, but after two decades of the comprehensive rabbit control operation which Sam initiated, the rabbits are nothing like the problem they used to be on the 19,000 hectare military site.

“The training area is unique,” Sam says. “It’s a very special bit of dirt! It’s probably the most intensively managed, non-grazed piece of high country land in Canterbury. It includes unique and nationally threatened plants and native fauna like alpine weta, rare butterflies and moths and many endangered vertebrates such as the Mackenzie Basin skink.” . . 

Robots are trying to pick strawberries. So far they’re not very good at it – Dan Charles:

Robots have taken over many of America’s factories. They can explore the depths of the ocean, and other planets. They can play ping-pong.

But can they pick a strawberry?

“You kind of learn, when you get into this — it’s really hard to match what humans can do,” says Bob Pitzer, an expert on robots and co-founder of a company called Harvest CROO Robotics. (CROO is an acronym. It stands for Computerized Robotic Optimized Obtainer.)

Any 4-year old can pick a strawberry, but machines, for all their artificial intelligence, can’t seem to figure it out. Pitzer says the hardest thing for them is just finding the fruit. The berries hide behind leaves in unpredictable places. . . 

Dairy farmers plea for help after Dean Foods ends milk contracts –  Sarah Gisriel:

Sixteen percent of the nation’s dairy farms are in Pennsylvania, but that industry is in crisis.

Two weeks ago, life changed for 26 farmers in Lebanon and Lancaster counties.

“I went to the mail, and in it was a certified letter from Dean Foods,” said Alisha Risser, the owner and operator of an 80-cow farm.

The letter told farmers that Dean Foods was ending its contract by June 1, due to a market surplus of milk.

“It’s the most difficult thing we’ve ever had to do in our lifetimes. To get that notice, and your world is absolutely rocked,” said Kirby Horst, of Lynncrest Holsteins. . . 

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Rural round-up

March 5, 2018

Upset farmers still in the dark – Annette Scott:

Farmers desperately seeking answers feel they have been left in limbo as the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis takes hold and still the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it has no clear idea how it got here.

The ministry has confirmed the outbreak could cost $100 million in tracking and tracing the spread of the disease and paying compensation to farmers. It initially budgeted for $35m.

With too many gaps and too few answers farmers are understandably anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate it, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said. . . 

Healthy Rivers plan drags out – Richard Rennie:

Waikato farmers have found an upside in the continuing delays plaguing the Healthy Rivers plan and believe critical dates in it might be pushed out beyond the original timeframe.

Despite being notified in October 2016 the plan was derailed late that year when Hauraki iwi objected to part of the catchment being included, subject to that iwi’s claim over its ownership.

That required the plan to be effectively split with the 12% or 120,000ha of the catchment affected by the claim becoming subject to negotiation between iwi and the council on Healthy Rivers conditions, before being re-notified.

But Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said farmers are conscious the plan has some specific dates in it requiring them to submit nitrogen reference points by March next year. . . 

Higher meat yield from Beltex breed – Nicole Sharp:

Former Invermay head Dr Jock Allison, his wife Hilary and Canterbury farmer Blair Gallagher had the Beltex breed on show at this year’s Southern Field Days.

Together with farm adviser John Tavendale, and their families, the group is behind Beltex New Zealand, which has brought the breed to New Zealand.

”They’re a double-muscled Texel, with higher meat yield, bigger eye muscle areas, bigger legs. It’s all a plus in terms of meat production,” Dr Allison said.

The breed was imported from the UK, and was originally from Belgium and Holland. . . 

Mānuka honey definition could change if new science is developed – Gerard Hutching:

The definition for mānuka honey may be revised if fresh science shows the need, Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Martyn Dunne says.

MPI first announced the definition on December 11 last year but beekeepers objected to an aspect of the definition that required a kilogram of monofloral or multifloral honey contain at least five micrograms of  2′-methoxyacetophenone (known as 2 MAP).

They threatened legal action, claiming it would cost the industry $100 million. . . 

Live goat exports to Asia in demand – Yvonne O’Hara:

More pure and composite meat goats are needed to fill four planned shipments of live goats and goat meat to Asian clients in the next few months, says Shingle Creek Chevon partner Dougal Laidlaw, of Clyde.

As the market for live exports was competitive, he did not wish to say which countries or clients the goats were going to.

However, he wanted to hear from farmers who might be interested in supplying or rearing goats, both for live and meat export as well as for the domestic top end restaurant trade.

”It will be a struggle to get enough animals,” Mr Laidlaw said. . . 

What turns some law-abiding Canadians into smugglers? The high price of imported cheese. – Nate Tabak:

Clara is a college student in Toronto, and in a few days, she’s flying home to Paris to visit her family and friends. She also stopping at a fromagerie to buy some cheese to bring back to Canada, specifically Comté, a cousin of Gruyere made under strict rules in the French Alps. 

“It’s not gooey, and you know it’s not going to give a scent to your entire suitcase,” Clara says. Comté is also a lot cheaper in France. It’s easy to find at supermarkets for the equivalent of about $6 or $7 a pound. In Canada, it’s both a lot harder to find, and it’s usually at least $20 a pound.

Clara’s yearly ritual becomes a source of anxiety when she flies back to Canada and prepares to face a border officer — and that dreaded question: “Are you bringing in any food?” . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 31, 2017

Beltex sheep breed focus of field day – Sally Rae:

The Beltex sheep breed will be under the spotlight at a field day in Canterbury tomorrow.

Former Invermay head Dr Jock Allison, Canterbury farmer Blair Gallagher and farm adviser John Tavendale, with their families, are behind Beltex New Zealand, which has brought the breed to New Zealand.

Three properties will be visited at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Canterbury Farming for Profit field day, looking at three different systems; lamb weaning, ram selection and calf rearing. . .

Fonterra doubts ETS for dairy – Richard Rennie:

As the new Government pushes for a zero carbon economy by 2050 a Fonterra submission on what a low emission economy means has highlighted issues it maintains challenge a transition into the Emissions Trading Scheme for dairy.

The new Government has indicated it wants farming to contribute to greenhouse gas emission costs, possibly incurring 5% of those costs initially.

The farmer co-operative has submitted to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the impact of a low emissions economy on economic well-being and production. . . 

Milligans Food Group joins GDT Marketplace:

Oamaru-based company Milligans Food Group is among three additional dairy ingredient suppliers to join Global Dairy Trade’s GDT Marketplace.

Milligans supplies and manufactures food ingredients, consumer food products and animal nutrition products.

Specialised food and food service products were manufactured, blended and packed on-site then marketed across New Zealand, Australia, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and the United States. . . 

Drop in asparagus crop blamed on wet weather:

Wet weather over the past few months is leading to a big drop in the amount of asparagus being grown this year, according to a grower near Levin.

Cam Lewis, the director of TenderTips in Horowhenua, said he was seeing a 50 percent drop in his crop and there was a lot less asparagus around this year

He said that was keeping prices up. . . 

Farmers Fast Five – David Clark – Claire Inkson:

Where we ask a farmer five quick questions about farming, and what agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Mid Canterbury Proud Farmer David Clark.

1.    How long have you been farming?

I grew up in the North Island and left school at the end of the 6th Form at a time when farming in New Zealand was very tough coming out of the ’80s downturn. I was very fortunate to be employed by the Cashmore Family at Orere, SE of Auckland. It was during this time that my employers showed me by example that there was a future in farming if you worked hard and did things well, this set me on my course.

2.    What sort of farming were you involved in?

My parents had been both Town Milk Dairy and Sheep and Beef Farmers and I was determined to make a start for myself so started contract fencing which then led into a wider range of Agricultural Contracting activities. In 1994 my parents sold their farm and I sold my contracting business and we pooled our resources and purchased a dryland sheep property at Valetta, inland Mid Canterbury. It soon became very clear that we needed to develop irrigation on the property in order to move to an intensive arable farm system. . . 


Rural round-up

August 12, 2017

Farming to end –  Annette Scott:

FARMING will have to shut down in Canterbury’s Selwyn district to meet national water quality standards for the region’s polluted Lake Ellesmere, Environment Canterbury has told the Government.

In a business case analysis provided to the Ministry for the Environment, ECan outlined significant fundamental change needed to bring the lake, one of New Zealand’s most polluted, into line.

“On the current basis to achieve Government freshwater outcomes as mandated it would mean taking all intensive agriculture, not just dairy, out of the play,” ECan councillor and Selwyn district farmer John Sunckell said. . .

Mycoplasma bovis update:

MPI’s progress in the response to the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was the focus of a well-attended public meeting in Waimate last night.

Around 100 people turned out to hear MPI officials and a number of industry body partners outline the current surveillance and testing regime and timelines, the robustness of disease containment measures and the actions farmers can take to protect their farms.

There remains no change to the number of properties with confirmed positive test results for Mycoplasma bovis – 2 farms, both within the wider Van Leeuwen group of farms. . .

Beltex lambs hit the ground – Annette Scott:

THE first lamb has hit the ground marking the beginning of an exciting new meat breed for the New Zealand sheep industry.

And for the partners in the venture it was almost more exciting than getting grandchildren.

Beltex embryos imported from England were transferred to four-year-old Perendale ewes on Blair Gallagher’s Mid Canterbury foothills Rangiatea farm in March. . .

Demand for vets ‘unprecedented‘ – Yvonne O’Hara:

As the southern dairy industry improves after seasons of low payouts and on-farm cost-cutting, some of the region’s veterinarian practices are finding it difficult to fill staff vacancies, a trend that is reflected nationally.

They are also in competition with overseas recruiting agencies, which are eyeing New Zealand to fill their clients’ needs.

The increasing demand for both production and companion animal vet services as practices get busier, is a good indicator of how well the economy is doing, New Zealand Veterinary Association’s Veterinary Business Group chairwoman Debra Gates said. . .

Catchment group and iwi join forces – Nicole Sharp:

The Pourakino Catchment Group and local iwi are putting a game plan in place for increasing plantings and improving water quality in the catchment by working together.

The group hosted a field day at Oraka Aparima Runaka marae recently, talking about the nursery run by the marae and how the two groups would work together to grow and plant trees in the catchment.

The group saw itself as a driver of change in Southland, as one of the earliest formed catchment groups in the region. . .

Too wet to sow pick-your-own verges for Palmerston North grower – Jill Galloway:

A pick-your-own garden is running to crunch point to get some vegetables planted so they’re ready for the week before Christmas, when everybody wants fresh potatoes, peas and berries.

Neville Dickey from Delta Gardens near Palmerston North said he was feeling the pinch of continual wet weather after 34 years of vegetable growing and meeting the Christmas market.

The 12 hectare block was on river silt, gravel and sand, and would dry out soon if there was a break in the weather, he said.

“There are not many years that have we have seen so much rain. We have had rain on and off since September last year.” . .


Shareholders back SFF

August 15, 2016

Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders have backed the board in its plan to enter into partnership with Shanghai Maling:

A strong majority of 80.4% of votes in favour of the 50/50 partnership with Shanghai Maling reinforced Silver Fern Farms Board’s position that the partnership is in the best interests of shareholders and the Co-operative.

The resounding support from shareholders came at a Special Meeting requisitioned by Messrs John Shrimpton, Blair Gallagher and a group which included 31 other shareholders who supported a statement stating they wanted to stop the $261m investment into Silver Fern Farms.

The 80.4% of shareholders’ votes in support of the partnership follows the result of the October 2015 vote, where 82% of votes cast supported the transaction. Both vote results exceeded the 75% Special Resolution threshold put forward by the Requisitioners. Chairman Rob Hewett said it was pleasing shareholders remained overwhelmingly supportive of the partnership.

“While the Board has clearly stated its view that the outcome of this meeting could not bind the company given the valid and binding approval last October, it is pleasing to see shareholders reaffirm their support and maintain their confidence in this exciting opportunity to create a sustainable Silver Fern Farms,” Mr Hewett said.

Mr Hewett said the partnership would create a strong Silver Fern Farms.

“This partnership will enable us to generate higher, sustainable returns for our shareholders.

“Shareholders have again made it clear they want progress for their company. They want meaningful change and are genuinely excited about the prospects presented through this significant investment and partnership with Shanghai Maling.

“The Board has strongly disagreed with the negative stance on the transaction taken by Messrs Shrimpton and Gallagher. They have caused significant disruption and their actions have been damaging to the company. Their allegations have proven to be entirely unfounded. Independent reviews by both the Financial Markets Authority and the Registrar of Companies have found no issue with the information provided to shareholders in October 2015 or the actions of the Directors.

Chief Executive Dean Hamilton said the process to complete the transaction had continued with all outstanding information now with the Overseas Investment Office for its consideration.

“We remain confident that we will achieve OIO approval prior to 30 September, and proceed to complete the transaction by 4 January 2017 as previously announced.

“The clear message from the voters is to get on with it, and realise this opportunity ahead of us.”

2610 shareholders voted representing 62.15% of eligible votes.

John Shrimpton says he accepts that shareholders have spoken.

New Zealand First which has also been a very vocal opponent of the plan continues to show it doesn’t understand the issue:

New Zealand First says Silver Fern Farms’ shareholders will regret selling majority control of their co-op to the Chinese but expects the Overseas Investment Office will greenlight it at breakneck speed.

“Today was the owners of Silver Fern Farms last chance to preserve one of New Zealand’s great assets for present and future farmers,” Mr Peters says. . . 

“How is it that foreigners can see value in what we produce, but the producers and this government can’t? Meat progressively joins forestry and increasingly dairying to condemn farmers as price takers at the bottom of the heap. . . 

This was a matter for shareholders not politicians.

SFF needs a large investment if it is to survive. Shareholders weren’t prepared to invest more and the company wasn’t able to get other investment from within New Zealand.

If the partnership doesn’t go ahead the company has no future, and even if it does get OIO approval, SFF has a lot of work ahead of it.

The deal leaves Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industries, farmers who prefer that model can choose to support that company.


Rural round-up

May 4, 2016

Frustrating waste of time and money, but it’s the price of democracy – Allan Barber:

The media release from Silver Fern Farms about the requisition for a special meeting to consider the resolution to form a partnership with Shanghai Maling reeks of the company’s frustration at what it sees as a complete waste of time. However, regardless of that frustration, the company has agreed to the requisition and will set a date for the meeting.

A group of 80 shareholders, led by John Shrimpton and Blair Gallagher, has passed the required 5% threshold to requisition the board to hold a special meeting in compliance with the Companies Act. Shrimpton cancelled a meeting with the board which he had arranged for 2nd May and which the board was keen to hold, so its members could learn and understand the purpose and legal justification of the requisition.

Not surprisingly the board sets out a list of very cogent reasons why it considers the requisition a waste of management time and resources, notably 67% of shareholders have already voted with 85% in favour of the deal, SFF would be in breach of contract if it pulled out and there would be no legal obligation on the company as a result of the special meeting. . . 

Females rule in the stud cattle world – Kate Taylor:

With a twinkle in his eye aimed at wife and daughter-in-law sitting at the table with him, David Thomson says “women rule the world” in his business… the cattle business.

“If I was buying a bull, I tried to make sure it had a good dam line behind it,” he says.

“On this rolling to steep limestone country, calves pick up a lot from their mothers, such as temperament and ability to walk. Chances are, if you have a toey cow she’ll have a toey calf and will be culled.” . . 

Rural Health issues brought to the Beehive:

Rural health issues will be brought to the Beehive this week during the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand’s’ (RHANZ) ‘RuralFest’ conference.

RHANZ, which is made up of 42 membership organisations, are gathering in Wellington for the inaugural RuralFest – to discuss and determine the top health and well-being issues facing rural communities.

Rural GP Dr Jo Scott-Jones says RuralFest is a flagship event for RHANZ, who represent a united voice from across multiple rural sector organisations. . . 

Pee could be the key to pest control -Conan Young

A Christchurch researcher may have found a way to dramatically increase the effectiveness of possum traps.

Poison remains the most effective means of controlling possums, but trapping is preferred near towns and cities. Photo: 123RF

At present the success rate for possum traps can be as low as 30 percent, but a new lure which replaces icing sugar with possum urine has increased the kill rate by as much as 25 percent.

Lure creator and Landcare Research scientist Janine Duckworth said possums spent more time at the traps set with urine and were more likely to trigger the trap. . . 

Farmers and cyclists – the dark side of social media – Marc Gasgoigne :

I’m a dairy farmer and I’m also a cyclist. Sometimes I wonder if I’m one of the most hated people in New Zealand.

Whenever dairy farming features in the news there are plenty of knockers queuing up to put the boot in, apparently we are the cause of many of the world’s problems, from global warming to polluting the rivers to abusing baby cows.

But now cyclists are featuring in the knocking machine. First there was the publican in Rangiora who banned cyclists wearing lycra from entering his premises, saying it was offensive to his patrons.

Then there was a Facebook post abusing cyclists, ironically on the NZ Farming page (NZ Farmer has no connection with NZ Farming).  . . 

Farm takeover! Planting GMO corn – Uptown Farms:

Two weeks ago, April 23, was the day I had been waiting for since I successfully coerced my farmer husband into letting me take over sixty acres! 

To read about #my60Acres from the start, go here and scroll down to the bottom!
 
It was finally planting day!   Picking the right time to plant involves a little bit of planning, some major guessing and hopefully some good luck!
 
Long before planting however I worked with Matt to figure out exactly what type of corn seed we would use. . . 


Rural Round-up

May 2, 2016

EU ramps up dairy production again – Keith Woodford:

The EU has now released dairy production statistics for February 2016 and from a New Zealand perspective the news is all bad. Daily milk production has increased 6.5% from January to February. Some increase was expected – February is always higher than January on a daily basis – but the extent of the increase is a surprise.

The combined January and February production is up 7.4% from last year, and February production, once adjusted for the leap year, is up almost 10% on a daily basis from January last year.

There are some glimmers of hope in other parts of the world, and I will come to that later in this article. First, more about Europe. . . 

Silver Fern Farms’ response to requisition for shareholder meeting:

On 13 April, Silver Fern Farms received a requisition led by Mr John Shrimpton and Mr Blair Gallagher, representing a group of 80 shareholders. The requisition is for the Board of Silver Fern Farms to call a special meeting of shareholders to consider the following resolution:

“Resolution: as a Special Resolution:

That the shareholders of Silver Fern Farms Limited (the Company) hereby approve the proposed partnership of the Company with Shanghai Maling and the restructure described in the Notice of Meeting and Shareholder Information Pack dated 28 September 2015 by way of this special resolution of shareholders.” . . 

Quit humanising animal agriculture – Kellie for Ag:

There is a difference between human and humane. I think people are forgetting that very important difference.

The last few weeks I’ve been dealing with animal rights activist on my Facebook page and I was quite stunned at what they were saying to me. One of my ‘favorites’ was, “How would you like it if I raped your mother and killed your father and siblings?”.

This comment bothered me in more than just one way. First of all, don’t you dare threaten my family. Second, humans and cattle are not in the same ‘playing field’. Survival of the fittest isn’t about equal rights for everyone.

If animal rights activist had their way: . . .

Livestock broker tackles broncos – Sally Rae:

He’s a bronc riding, world-record setting “stick-throwing” stock agent.

At just 21, Madison Taylor has already represented New Zealand in two very diverse activities, pipe bands and rodeo.

Now living in the Hakataramea Valley, Mr Taylor works for South Island-based independent livestock broking firm Peter Walsh and Associates. ……….. 

Schools to help name biosecurity puppies:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has proudly welcomed six new biosecurity puppies and is giving New Zealand schools the chance to name one of them.

Working biosecurity detector dog Aria gave birth to the beagle puppies (three boys and three girls) in March. They are collectively called “G-litter”.

The floppy-eared puppies will undergo intensive training to work at New Zealand’s ports and airports where they will sniff out food, plants and other items that could pose biosecurity risk to New Zealand. . . 

Side event chance to connect:

Attend the South Island Dairy Event 2016 in Invercargill and invest in yourself and your business.

That’s the message from Side event committee chairwoman Heidi Williams, who wants dairy farmers to set aside June 20 to 22 for the dairy conference.

Organised by farmers, for farmers, the annual programme was designed to promote thinking and debate, and help like-minded farmers to network and find inspiration, she said. . . 


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