Rural round-up

August 25, 2019

Powering up well-beings could power up costs :

Federated Farmers is concerned the call on councils to “power up” the four well-beings re-introduced into local government legislation will pile on more costs for ratepayers.

“Councils up and down the country have lost the battle to keep rates increases in touch with inflation, and debt levels are soaring.  Many can’t keep up with the costs of activities and infrastructure maintenance/replacement that most residents would count as core – water, stormwater, flood protection, local roads, rubbish and recycling collection,” Feds President and local government spokesperson Katie Milne says.

“Yet Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has just exhorted councils to power up ways communities can realise their ambitions for social, economic, environmental and cultural priorities.”  . . 

Food giant Danone signs deal to grow Waikato sheep milk industry – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand’s emerging sheep dairy industry has graduated to the big league with the launch of a sheep milk toddler formula by global food giant Danone.

Nutricia Karicare toddler sheep milk powder will be 100 per cent New Zealand sheep milk from Maui Milk, which operates two farms on the western shores of Lake Taupo.

And Danone plans to launch a full sheep milk formula range next year under the Nutricia brand. . . 

‘Learn so much about yourself’ at dairy awards – Yvonne O’Hara:

One of Bridget Bell’s goals was to place in the top five of this year’s Southland Otago Dairy Industry awards.

She first entered the farm manager of the year section in 2018 and did not place, but she tried again this year and came second, which she was thrilled with.

Mrs Bell also won three merit awards: The Shand Thomson leadership award; the AWS legal employee engagement award and the Fonterra dairy management award.

”I really wanted the Fonterra award,” Mrs Bell said. . . 

Master farrier keeps his foot in the industry after 51 years – Gordon Findlater:

Brian Wilson (85) is a name anyone in the horse racing industry will recognise. The former farrier can still be found at Riccarton as the club’s plating inspector. On Saturday, August 10, race three in the Grand National Festival of Racing’s first event was named ‘Brian Wilson 51 years a farrier’ in his honour. Gordon Findlater catches up with him

Can you remember the first time you shoed a horse?

I would have been 14 or 15 on the West Coast and one of the guys that did have a horse was Jock Butterfield, who played for the Kiwis, and he wanted to put some shoes on this horse, so they gave me some tools and to this day I feel sorry for the horse. That was my first experience of shoeing a horse.

What was it like growing up on the West Coast back then?

I quite enjoyed it, but there wasn’t a great future. You worked in the forestry or the bush as we called it, or the mines. I came over here in 1951 and that’s when I really got involved in the horses. My brother was an apprentice jockey, so I thought, well, I’ll see how I go, but it wasn’t to be. . . 

IHC hopes for sheep farmers’ support:

This spring, IHC is launching its new Lamb Programme, urging sheep farmers to join with dairy farmers to support people with intellectual disabilities and their families in rural communities.

IHC’s Calf & Rural Scheme was hit hard last year by Mycoplasma bovis, losing half its usual income, in what was an incredibly difficult year for many dairy farmers.

IHC National Fundraising Manager Greg Millar is hoping farmers will now pledge a lamb or sheep to support children and adults with an intellectual disability in rural communities. . . 

The average US farm is $1.3 Million in debt, and now the worse farming crisis in modern history is upon us – Michael Snyder:

We haven’t seen anything like this since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Leading up to this year, farm incomes had been trending lower for most of the past decade, and meanwhile farm debt levels have been absolutely exploding.  So U.S. farmers were desperate for a really good year, but instead 2019 has been a total disaster.  As I have been carefully documenting, due to endless rain and catastrophic flooding millions of acres of prime farmland didn’t get planted at all this year, and the yields on tens of millions of other acres are expected to be way, way below normal.  As a result, we are facing the worst farming crisis in modern American history, and this comes at a time when U.S. farms are drowning in more debt than ever before.  In fact, the latest numbers that we have show that the average U.S. farm is 1.3 million dollars in debt

Debt-to-asset ratios are seeing the same squeeze, with more farms moving into a ratio exceeding 80%. Barrett notes each year since 2009 has seen an increase in the average amount of total debt among farmers, and 2017 was no exception. Average debt rose 10% to $1.3 million. The biggest increase was in long-term debt, such as land.

Farming in the 21st century has become an extraordinarily risky business, and countless U.S. farmers were already on the verge of going under even before we got to 2019.

Now that this year has been such a complete and utter disaster, many farms will not be able to operate once we get to 2020.

Minnesota farmers Liz and Bob Krocak were hoping for better days ahead as this year began, but things have been really tough and their debts have become overwhelming.  During a recent meeting with their creditors, Liz was so distraught that she literally burst into tears


Rural round-up

August 10, 2019

New research shows negative impact of mass forestry planting on productive sheep and beef land:

Large scale conversion of sheep and beef farms to forestry as a result of the Zero Carbon Bill will have a significant negative impact on rural New Zealand, according to research released by Beef + Lamb New Zealand. 

An analysis of Wairoa, where 8,486 hectares of sheep and beef farmland has, or is in the process of being, converted to forestry, shows forestry provides fewer jobs in rural communities than sheep and beef farms.

Rural consultancy BakerAg was commissioned by B+LNZ to compare the economic and employment effects of the conversion of sheep and beef farms into forestry.

The report, Social-economic impacts of large scale afforestation on rural communities in the Wairoa District, found that if all the sheep and beef farms in Wairoa were converted to forestry, then Wairoa would see a net loss of nearly 700 local jobs (the equivalent of one in five jobs in Wairoa) and net $23.5 million less spent in the local economy when compared to blanket forestry (excluding harvest year). . . 

Fonterra’s financial wellbeing and global auction prices are among the dairy sector’s challenges – Point of Order:

It’s shaping   up as a  tough  season  for  New Zealand’s  dairy farmers,  who  once  proudly  wore  the  label  of  the  “backbone of the  NZ  economy” , earning  by far the  largest  share of the country’s  export income.

So  what  are  the  problems  confronting  the industry?

Uncertainty in markets, for starters.   Prices  at the latest  Global Dairy  Trade  auction this  week slid  downward for  the fifth  time in  six  auctions.

The  Chinese  economy is under pressure   as  Trump steps up  his tariff  war.  Brexit  is a  threat which  could disrupt  NZ’s  dairy trade to  both the UK and EU markets. . .

Big tick for farmers – Neal Wallace:

The red meat industry hopes to ramp up its Taste Pure Nature brand campaign on the back of the latest international climate change report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is being welcomed by New Zealand farming leaders as an endorsement of our low impact systems and the importance of maintaining food production.

The IPCC says land on which we rely for food, water, energy, health and wellbeing is already under pressure and climate change will exacerbate that through desertification and land degradation potentially affecting food security.

The report’s advocacy of a balanced diet including animal protein sourced from resilient, sustainable, low greenhouse gas systems is an endorsement for NZ, Beef + Lamb chief insight officer Jeremy Baker says. . . 

FARMSTRONG: Maintaining fun is the secret:

Tangaroa Walker was the inaugural winner of the Ahuwhenua Young Maori Farmer Award in 2012 and has gone on to a successful career as a contract milker. Now he’s helping Farmstrong raise awareness of the importance of living well to farm well.

Tangaroa Walker remembers the moment he decided to go farming. 

“I was 11 years old and this guy drove up the driveway of our school in this flash car with his beautiful wife and hopped out.

“He was there to help set up a cross country course. I said ‘Hey man, what do you do?’ He said ‘I’m a farmer’. That was it. I ended up helping him out on his dairy farm when I was 13 and just cracked into it from there.”  . .

The secret to a carbon friendly environment may surprise you – Nicolette Hahn Niman:

I won’t keep you in suspense. The key to carbon-friendly diets lies just beneath your feet: the soil. We are so used to looking skyward when thinking about climate, this is a bit counter-intuitive.

An unlikely combination of building soils and practicing responsible grazing could help mitigate climate change. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Carbon in soils represents both a problem and an opportunity. On the one hand, soil’s degradation is truly alarming. According to the book Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, at the current erosion rate the earth “would literally run out of topsoil in little more than a century.” And soil is the source of one-tenth of the earth’s human-caused carbon losses since 1850. . . 

Cow virtual fence trials encouraging: Pamu – Jono Edwards:

A company trialling virtual fencing for cows in Otago using electronic collars says tests show encouraging results.

Pamu Farms, which is the brand name for state-owned enterprise Landcorp Farming Ltd, earlier this year trialled “e-Shepherd” cattle collars at Waipori Station, which it owns.

It took 100 Angus steers equipped with solar-powered collars that show their location through GPS.

When the animals moved near digitally set forbidden zones they were dissuaded with a buzzing noise which gradually grew louder. . .

 

Left behind – Annie Gowen:

The feed chopper was the only machine Bob Krocak ever bought new, back when he was starting out as an ambitious young dairy farmer.

He used it to chop acres of alfalfa and corn to feed his herd of Holstein dairy cattle, which repaid him with some of the creamiest milk in Le Sueur County. The chopper and its fearsome blades lasted through four decades of cold winters, muddy springs and grueling harvests.

Now, on a chilly Saturday morning, Krocak, 64, was standing next to the chopper in the parking lot of Fahey Sales Auctioneers and Appraisers, trying to sell what he had always prized. The 128 Holsteins were already gone, sold last year when his family quit the dairy business after three unprofitable years. . .


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